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[whitespace] Hissing Contest: Assessor Larry Stone unsuccessfully fought the county auditor to allow the press to report on the details of a pending audit before it's officially released.

No Stone Unturned

Rarely, if ever, does the subject of an audit want to publicize the potentially embarrassing findings of such an inquiry. That is unless the subject of said audit is Assessor Larry Stone. With the much-awaited examination of his office due to be released just in time for the holidays, Stone has been doing all he can to "expose" county bean-counter Roger Mialocq for the budding Ken Starr that he is (without the independent prosecutor's sense of fair play and restraint). ... Stone recently took the unusual and ultimately unsuccessful tack of lobbying to make this month's so-called "exit conference"--a confidential final meeting between auditor and auditee before a report is made public--open to the press. "I say let the sunshine in," Stone proclaimed beforehand. "It's important to watch the dynamic of a meeting." Stone argued that the "dynamic" of the meeting could shed light on what was really going on. In this case, Stone had not-so-subtly suggested that Mialocq and his arch-rival, Supervisor Jim Beall, secretly wanted to raise property taxes. ... Instead of jumping at the chance to air the assessor's dirty laundry, Mialocq fought to keep the proceedings a closed-door affair. "Nobody can figure out why he [wanted] the press there," Mialocq shrugged, adding that "the exit conference is confidential because we need to ensure that the audit report is factually correct." ... Stone didn't get to test his risky strategy, though. Mialocq prevailed and the press did not attend the exit conference. This much is known about what took place: Stone's team accused one of Mialocq's consultants of inflating his résumé, tempers flared, voices exceeded normal conversation decibels, and the Rodge squad threatened to pick up their calculators and go home.

Got Work?

Former San Jose Assemblyman and current chair of the Coastal Commission Rusty Areias had hoped to hook up with Gray Davis' administration as secretary of the Resources Agency, but environmentalists weren't so keen on Ravishing Rusty becoming the man. It seems that tree-huggers thought Areias was never a reliable vote as a legislator and is too chummy with agricultural interests. Eye's Sacto-savvy sources say that Areias' benefactor among the Davis crowd was water wheeler-dealer Keith Brackpool, who gave the guv-elect bushels of campaign dough. Enviros openly voiced their suspicion of Brackpool, who is co-chair of Gray's 33-member advisory board on water and ag issues. The latest word from the capital is that Areias won't be getting a chance to exercise his secretarial skills after all--on Wednesday Davis named federal EPA official Mary Nichols to the post. "Rusty has campaigned so aggressively for this position," one wag commented, "that everyone is sick of him." ... Another local reportedly looking for work is former county supe and retired state Sen. Dan McCorquodale, whose name has been making waves at the Department of Fish and Game. ... One person who doesn't seem to be panting over the new administration is Mayor Susan Hammer. High-ranking whisperers reveal that Davis reps offered Hammer the top job at the Resources Agency, but she turned it down. A Hammerphile tells Eye that she doesn't want government work right now and prefers to stay close to those tennis courts at home.

Movin' On Up

Cheers and jeers are in order for former Merc political editor Phil Trounstine, who, the daily reported this week in a story buried on page 3B, has been named Gray Davis' communications director. First, the jeers. Merc Sacramento reporter Hallye Jordan failed to ask her colleague about the ethics of going to work for somebody he covered during the campaign. Could the intrepid Trounstine have pulled any punches in his coverage of Davis? He certainly was one of the state's most aggressive reporters when it came to costing it to zillionaire candidate Al Checchi in the primary. ... Eye-watchers will recall that earlier this decade Trounstine turned down an offer to become the flack-catcher for Mayor Susan Hammer. The Philmeister used the occasion to exact concessions from Merc bosses, like a new office, a pay hike and a promise that he'd be considered for editorial page chief Rob Elder's replacement after he moves on. Elder, however, is refusing to retire or kick the bucket. Trounstine, on the other hand, has suffered a heart attack and still sucks down a few smokes, albeit low-tar ones. In other words, he's got precious little time to achieve glory. ... Now for the cheers. Wait. There are none. Never mind.

Brain Power

Congressman Tom Campbell likes everyone to appreciate him for the pensive thinking-man he considers himself to be, carefully weighing the facts while burning the midnight oil. At his press conference this week announcing his decision to vote for impeachment, the Campster couldn't resist reminding reporters of his extensive academic credentials and how he teaches law at Stanford and yadda yadda yadda. Well, Eye hopes Campbell was applying his considerable brain power to the impeachment question during his an extended trip to Africa. According to a Campbell pal, Tom had just returned from his trip before announcing his decision to send Clinton to history-book hell. Apparently, however, deep thought wasn't needed on this one. "The matter is serious," Campbell lectured to the cameras, "the matter is grave, but it is not complicated." To Campbell's credit, he is one of the few House Reeps who can say he also voted to oust Speaker Newt Gingrich for his ethical lapses. One Tom-hater argues, though, that both votes were influenced by politics: In the first case, Campbell was under considerable local pressure to prove his moderation; in this case, with Campbell scoping a run for statewide office, he had to show conservatives that he can toe the party line if need be.

Driving Miss Trixie

Even lame ducks have wings. And Travelin' Trixie Johnson is still flapping hers even though she is in the final month of her San Jose City Council term. Johnson recently returned from the annual conven-tion of the National League of Cities in Kansas City. According to the city clerk's office, the four-day excursion is costing taxpayers an estimated $1,500. Sneers one City Hall home-boy, "She is leaving office Jan. 1 and still junketing on city money." City officials point out that Johnson's presence was more than justified because she serves as San Jose's voting delegate.

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From the December 17-23, 1998 issue of Metro.

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