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Fun Run: Council incumbent Cortese don't need no stinkin' votes.

Public Eye

David Is Goliath

Rumblings in the perpetually discontented business community about turncoat and labor-puppet-in-training David Cortese are turning out to be a lot of hot air. In what is at least a mild victory for labor, the councilmember is running unopposed for re-election. So much for the reward-and-punish school of politics. ... As late as last week, business fans complained that Cortese was placing desperate phone calls to them at odd hours to recover their waning support. Cortese supposedly had reason to lose sleep over support-base insecurities. His former allies within San Jose's economic fabric were declining to return his calls, one imbedded onlooker attests. And check writers threatened not to put their money where his campaign is. A Chamber of Commerce poll showed that support for him--and everyone else who isn't fiscal angel Chuck Reed--was weak. Of course, that was after Cortese championed labor's "community benefits" proposal, meant to ensure that some union pork is built into the city's cash-spilling redevelopment projects. But business's raw nerves failed to translate to a viable Cortese challenger. On Friday, Dec. 5, after the filing deadline, Vietnamese identity-politics booster Nam Nguyen, whose group United Asian publicizes local and national Asian-centric news, officially withdrew his candidacy. His background research revealed that Cortese was a good guy "who truly represents the people," Nguyen explained in a press release. Nguyen may not have been the strongest of rivals to challenge an incumbent. But perfectionism certainly isn't stopping some guy named Sidney T. Scarlett from challenging Forrest Williams, or Daniel L. Beasworrick from going up against Ken Yeager or even Euro-American lawyer Dale Warner from competing against Reed.

Mann Overboard

Cautious Councilmember Terry Gregory won't cop to any blood on the floor in the wake of the exit of his controversy-mired chief of staff, Craig Mann. Gregory swears that Mann chose to quit, a turn of events announced on Wednesday, Dec. 3. The freshman councilmember says gossip vultures are wrong; he didn't fire his buddy and most loyal supporter for buying high-tech toys and attending political conventions on the public dime as an East Side Union High School District Board trustee. Officially, Mann is leaving his $75,000 job in Gregory's office after only a year to spend time with his family and shift professional gears. ... If his departure has anything to do with East Side's Creditgate scandal, then he's the only one to pay a political price. So far other expense-abusing trustees, including Patricia Martinez-Roach and board president Manuel Herrera, have yet to atone. And as for Assembly candidate and former Superintendent Joe Coto, who handed out the credit cards and failed to set appropriate guidelines or monitor their use, any culpability for financial mismanagement has failed to ding his Teflon. ... Meanwhile, the East Side Chapter of the Classified School Employee Association is apparently teaming up with the East Side Teachers Association to challenge Mann's re-election to the school board. The group's unapproved minutes record union president Filiberto Zamora saying that he wants "get involved in replacing Craig Mann as board member trustee in next year's election. ... ESTA and the Benevolent Alliance [of East Side Employees] have agreed in supporting this idea." The election isn't for another year, and endorsement interviews don't even take place until next July. Mann tells Eye he's "dismayed" by the comments. "You can't begin to understand just how pained I am to learn this would even be a point of discussion between the two associations in the first place given my support of both." Then, he gets dramatic. "However, I am not naive enough to forget that we still live in a less-than-perfect society, one where emancipated, intelligent, prominent, principled and upwardly mobile blacks are still viewed by some as uppity niggers that must be stopped by any means necessary."

Money Balks

Clearly one of the several signs of the imminent apocalypse finally inched to the surface. That is, the Committee to Elect Responsible Republicans--by self-spread reputation, an unflinching champion of fiscal responsibility--refuses to pay a 2-year-old $10,137.17 mass-campaign advertising bill racked up on behalf of a batch of pols and the Republican Central Committee of Santa Clara County. One of Eye's team of snitches faxed over a copy of the outstanding bill showing that San Jose direct-marketing firm owner Robert Mattoch still awaits payment for a postcard printing, labeling, sorting and mailing project. Mattoch sent the bill to a collection agency, but with no luck so far, he's prepping to file a lawsuit. Perhaps former U.S. Congressman Tom Campbell, former state Assemblyman Jim Cunneen and other local Republican heroes whose names appear on the committee's heretofore stolen mailer should rethink giving out their real monikers since they're so easy to subpoena that way.

Roses Are Red

Speaking of freaky math, the county Board of Supervisors sits poised to take a cue on its cash-flow situation from the Harvey Rose Accountancy Corp. Some observers think that's pretty ironic. In the auditing group's Oct. 20 report to the board's Finance and Government Operations Committee, Harvey Rose patted itself on the back for scribbling out an 830-page report on ways for the county to comply with the state's spend-as-little-as-possible rule. The thing is, a quarter of the way through its assigned time frame to write the spendthrift's how-to guide, Harvey Rose has already whipped through a third of its $790,097 budget. As far as Eye can tell from the reader-unfriendly "appropriation status" Harvey Rose penned for the county, the money-management experts were supposed to spend about $200,000 by September but spent about $300,000 instead. "Harvey Rose is incompetent," charges Assessor Larry Stone. (Incidentally, Stone happens to support Harvey Rose target Latino-power candidate Joe Coto against Latina-power candidate Kathy Chavez Napoli for the Assembly seat that red-light-runner Manny Diaz is vacating.) He says any finding from these dollar watchers requires double checking. But while others in the county ranks (who are less intrepid than Stone or just plain mouthy) quietly talk smack behind their pet auditor's back, the county's relationship with its favorite math-whiz company stands tight. How many ways does the county love Harvey Rose? Witness the fact that Harvey Rose has a subsidized office on the 10th floor in the county building while the county's own internal auditing department isn't even on the premises. On another note, points out an Eye informant, only about half the hours Harvey Rose spends on its county audit has to do with actual auditing. The rest of the time is saved for budget review and board referrals.

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From the December 11-17, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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