[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

Public Eye

[whitespace] The Man From Gray: Few Silicon Valley politicos got on the Gray Davis bandwagon before the primary.


The Gray Horse

One year ago, nobody would have guessed not only that Gray Davis was going to be the next governor, but that he would do it by blowing out the Reep opposition by 20 points. So it's hard to fault Silicon Valley pols for jumping on bandwagons with flat tires in the primary. (But this being a potshot column, Eye will make fun of wrong-guessing insiders nonetheless.) The number of local Democratic political leaders who backed Davis before June can be counted on one digit-challenged cartoon hand. Ahead of the pack were Congressman Tom Lantos and ... and ... and no one. Practically everyone else gravitated to early favorites but eventual also-rans Jane Harman and Al Checchi. "Everyone thought Davis was going to be a big loser," one pundit explains. "Let's face it, he isn't a very charismatic guy." Among the few who were supportive early and can expect a spot on the new guv's speed dial are San Jose labor attorney Brian Walsh, Davis pal Phil DiNapoli and operative David Ginsborg, propagandist for Tax Assessor Larry Stone. ... But it wasn't just politicos who screwed up. Most Silicon Valley business tycoons, such as Lew Platt of Hewlett-Packard, Wilf Corrigan of LSI Logic and James Morgan of Applied Materials, stuck to their Republican roots and went down with the Dan Lungren Titanic. (Venture capitalist Brook Byers showed his skill in picking a winner by investing in Davis.) At least valley business execs had a philosophical justification for their poor guessmanship: They considered Davis a stooge of the trial lawyers, as evidenced by his refusal to take a position on Proposition 211 a couple of years back. ... Just how bad did Lungren lose? Put it this way: He got fewer votes in LaLa Land than Los Angeles Sheriff Sherman Block. Block died five days before the election.


Ready or Not

Supervisor Pete "Primo" McHugh didn't have to accept the job as chair earlier this month when Joe Simitian decided to pass up the chance to work extra hours for the same pay. But Mike McInerney, McHugh's chief of staff, explains that it just made sense to take the job during an off-year. "Pete thinks he's ready," the Mike-meister chimes, "and he doesn't want to have to campaign [for re-election] and be board chair at the same time." Smart thinking, because Primo's going to need to focus on his campaign. ... The election may be more than a year away, but trial-balloon floaters are already letting loose some hot air, naming a couple of potential challengers to McHugh from Sunnyvale, including former mayor Pat Castillo. Pundits pontificate that a Sunnyvale candidate poses the greatest threat to McHugh because Sun City's size competes with Primo's home base in Milpitas. ... McHugh could find himself up against two significant behind-the-scenes antagonists: the Home Builders Association and San Jose Mayor-elect Ron Gonzales. Primo has ingratiated himself to neither in recent months. Unlike most South Bay Dems, McHugh stubbornly refused to endorse the Sunnyvale émigré for mayor. And developers certainly didn't appreciate it when McHugh's hillside-loving policy aide, Fadi Saba, filed an ethics complaint against a campaign committee controlled in part by the builders association. (Saba coincidentally has since been taken off the land-use beat in the office and been reassigned to handle transportation policy.) Though it isn't exactly as if HBA and its fearless leader, Mark Lazzarini, would have backed McHugh anyway. After all, he beat developer darling (and Gonzo ally) Pat Sausedo to get the job in the first place.


Unappealing Jose

Now that Superior Court Judge John Herlihy has given the thumbs-up to demolishing the Jose Theatre to make way for an apartment building, the history buffs at the Preservation Action Council are deliberating their next legal tactic to stall the wrecking ball. Appealing the decision isn't a given. PAC still needs money for its other court battle to save the Montgomery Hotel. Some preservationists think they have a stronger case for sparing the Montgomery than they do for the seismically unsafe 94-year-old movie theater. ... If PAC does go for an appeal, the group's attorney likely will focus on Herlihy's interpretation of "infeasibility." In his 18-page decision, Herlihy ruled that saving the auditorium is "infeasible" because it would conflict with the city's goals to build more housing and revitalize the downtown. But just because it conflicts with those goals doesn't mean saving the theater is "infeasible," preservationists argue. It should be noted that the city also has a goal to preserve its historical character.


Movin' On Up

As Eye predicted, San Mateo Supe Ruben Barrales is officially the heir apparent to Becky Morgan at Joint Venture: Silicon Valley. Barrales is going to quit his political job and take over Morgan's duties. It's a perfect gig for an up-and-coming politician who, in a future bid for office, can boast experience creating partnerships between the public and private sectors. Even though Barrales just lost to state Controller Kathleen Connell, he is still considered a rising star in the Republican Party. The GOP is desperate to make inroads among Latino voters--a point Eye suspects was not lost on Reep partisans Becky and hubby James, the dynamic duo behind Joint Venture. ... Meanwhile, Barrales is throwing his support behind wunderkind San Carlos City Councilman David Buckmaster to succeed him. The Buckmeister, who doubles as education director for the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, will first have to pack his carpetbags and move into Barrales' district.


Flying Tiger

Alum Rock school board prez Tony Alexander may be out of a job, but that isn't stopping Travelin' Tony from getting one more free ride courtesy of taxpayers. The board's frequent flier is taking an $821 journey to San Diego next weekend to attend a three-day state school board conference and participate in some last-chance elbow-rubbing. ... At first, district officials were going to force Alexander to cut his trip short so he could return before officially turning back into Citizen Pumpkin on Dec. 5. But now district luminaries in their infinite, gracious wisdom are allowing Alexander to have his full three-day junket. Eye-watchers will recall that during the previous fiscal year, Alexander managed to exceed his generous $10,500 travel budget. His critics also like to point out that Alexander's free-wheelin' spending habits come at a time when he has filed for bankruptcy. Sorry, Tony. No more free rides after this one.


Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to eye@sjmetro.com.


[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]


From the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.



Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate