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In Absentia

Senator Dianne Feinstein and retiring Clinton cabinet high-rollers Federico Peña and Henry Cisneros couldn't make it in person to last Wednesday's "Salute to Ron Gonzales" at the Fairmont Hotel. Instead, all three sent videotaped greetings to the outgoing county supervisor's farewell fete. But they weren't the only politicos to skip the salute. San Jose Councilman David Pandori reportedly neglected to RSVP to the $25-a-head fundraiser for the Role Model Program. And he didn't even send a video. ... Eye contacted Pandori's office to find out why the councilman wasn't planning to attend the party along with every other councilmember, some of whom are burying some rather sharp Gonzales hatchets to attend. Was it a scheduling conflict, a doctor's note, or was this, indeed, a bona fide dissing? ... Pandori's staff faithfully explained the camera-shy councilman was "unavailable."

Push Poll TV

Imagine our surprise last week when Eye answered the phone to learn that it had been randomly selected to participate in a public opinion poll sponsored by, and about, Stanford University. Hee-hee. Sure, Eye said, ask away. Most of the questions focused on reactions to the offerings of Stanford's new, terrific cable channel 51, available in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. But the first few agree-or-disagree questions--"Stanford is an arrogant institution. Stanford wastes federal research money. The area would be better off without Stanford"--coupled with later questions such as "Would you be interested in taking a graduate level course at Stanford with academic credit for less than $100?" left Eye wondering if it were on the receiving end of a classic push poll (that is, where the goal is to influence rather than measure opinion). ... "I can see why some people might have suspected it had to do with other issues," Stanford market research wonk Jerold Pearson accedes, noting the university's current engagement in a number of contentious local issues ranging from a hospital merger to the school's never-ending quest to widen Sand Hill Road and enlarge the Farm-owned shopping center. Instead, Pearson tells Eye he put the poll together entirely on behalf of the school's new cable channel. "It's an audience survey," he explained, noting that only 400 "scientifically selected" cable subscribers were contacted and that most of the questions dealt with programming issues. The results, not yet calculated, are intended for internal use, Pearson says, but we won't be surprised if north county denizens are slap happy about the new channel, filled as it is with high-octane lectures on everything from brain chemistry to the origins of the Bible.

Leaping Leon

Despite her sisterly esteem for fellow Northern California Demo dame Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has already decided to back Feinstein's rival, former White House head waiter Leon Panetta, for the post of California governor once term-limited lame-duck Pete Wilson quacks off into the sunset (he'll run for president again in the year 2000, we're told, if his voice holds out). Eshoo's endorsement is considered a coup of sorts for Leon the Lion because, like his earlier endorsements from San Francisco's Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Willie Brown, it comes from Feinstein's political back yard. (Brown, btw, is still steamed that Feinstein backed his rival, former SF mayor Frank Jordan.) One interesting tidbit on Leon: If the affirmative action/racial preferences issue rears its ugly head in the next statewide contest, almost a certainty, the debate may focus on some rather interesting history. Back in the late 1960s, when President Richard Nixon was looking for ways to divide the left, he ordered his secretary of labor, George Shultz, to create what became known as the Philadelphia Plan, the first affirmative action program with explicit racial preferences. Although the ostensible goal of the plan was to redress racism, it had the side benefit of dividing the then-growing "poor people's campaign" organized by Martin Luther King Jr. from other elements of the civil rights movement. The Shultz assistant who worked on the Philadelphia plan? You guessed it: Leon Panetta, who bolted the reeps after Watergate.

Barney Watch

Scoping for celebrity skaters out at the downtown San Jose ice rink Tuesday, Eye was hoping to glimpse the elegant moves of of Rudy Galindo or Kristi Yamaguchi, but alas, came upon Barney the Dinosaur and friends, out of costume and looking more like a group of software engineers than the pre-school equivalent of rock stars. ... It seems that he of the annoying song and purple-upholstered frame is in town for a toddler-titillating stage musical out at the San Jose Arena, called Barney's Big Surprise, a kiddie extravaganza guaranteed to send parents running to their minivans when the house lights go up. Under questioning, the troupe politely declined to identify which member actually dons the bouncy purple suit for a living, saying only that Barney has multiple personalities. ... "The image of Barney as a whole is important to our audience," insisted Barry Pearl, who also plays Professor Tinkerputt in the show. On hand as well were David Franks and Carey Stinson, who shyly admitted to being close friends (read: "insiders") with the gentle giant.

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From the September 5-12, 1996 issue of Metro

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