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[whitespace] Steve Tedesco Prepared for Take-off: Chamber of Commerce director Steve Tedesco says local business forces will spend $500,000 to defeat Measure O, even though the airport-traffic initiative's own authors have come out against it.


Public Eye

Plane English

Even though the Airport Traffic Relief Act's own authors have signed the ballot argument against their own initiative, airport expansionistas are still planning to wage a $500,000 campaign to ensure the March ballot measure's defeat. While this may be good news for campaign consultants Cliff Staton and Mary Hughes, San Jose voters may not enjoy all the junk mail they'll be getting around election time. The reason for the high-priced campaign: Airport boosters don't want to take any chances on traffic-weary voters passing Measure O, which they fear could kill the planned billion-dollar airport expansion. According to Chamber of Commerce executive director Steve Tedesco, a poll done earlier this year for the pro-expansion Committee for Responsible Transportation Planning showed support for the traffic-relief measure in the high 50s. "Anything that sounds like it will improve traffic," explains Tedesco, "will be hard to defeat. ... We knew that even if they ran no campaign, we'd still have to do what we're doing." ... Just a week ago, it looked like Tedesco and his minions might not have any organized opposition. That's because San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales negotiated a last-minute compromise with the initiative's authors earlier this month, who not only agreed not to submit an argument in favor of Measure O, but also promised to sign the argument against it. In exchange, the city promised to make several transportation improvements near the airport. But just because the initiative's authors promised not to submit a ballot statement for Measure O, that didn't mean other airport opponents couldn't do so. ... Shortly before the filing deadline last week, neighborhood activists from the noise-hating Citizens Against Airport Pollution (CAAP) submitted their own argument in favor of Measure O, in which they attack the mayor's compromise deal. "Hundreds of volunteers spent countless hours gathering signatures," the ballot screed says, "only to find that the authors of this measure privately negotiated a watered-down deal with the city." Among those signing the argument was former Mayor Janet Gray Hayes, who lives 10 minutes from the airport. "It all boils down to a matter of trust," Hayes argues, "and we don't trust the mayor and City Council" to keep all their promises.


Dubious Distinction

Usually, the San Jose City Council's appointment of an employee rep to the city's Federated Retirement System Board--which oversees $1 billion in worker pension fund assets--is a routine affair. Historically, the council has simply affirmed the person chosen by city staffers in an employee-only election. But last month when the council delayed the confirmation of this year's top vote-getter, longtime retirement board member Tony Cokely, insiders knew something was up. Their suspicions were confirmed when the council voted 7-4 earlier this month to appoint the second-place finisher, electrical inspector Mike Yoshimoto, instead of Cokeley. ... The coup leaders appear to have been Councilwoman Linda LeZotte, the council's liaison to the Federated board, and council members Charlotte Powers and Alice Woody, the liaisons to the Police and Fire Department Retirement Plan Board. Woody says that joint meetings between the two pension boards "have become difficult" over the past few years. "It was time for a change," Woody reasons. "Tony has been on the board for 16 years." Cokely says that he butted heads with members of the police and fire retirement board over the property management firm used for the two pension funds' joint real estate investments. ... More generally, City Hall politicos privately accuse Cokely of being disruptive and obstructionist, to which Cokely replies, "If not being a yes-man means I'm a bickerer, then, yes, I'm a bickerer."


Taxi Crab

The recent arrest of Sunnyvale City Councilman Jim Roberts for drunken public behavior--allegedly hitting an innocent taxi driver whom he stiffed, no less--was obvious fodder for media hounds. But what intrigues Eye most is how quickly news of Roberts' drunken exploits hit the street. According to city spokesman Dan Rich, KNTV started making calls early the same morning Roberts was busted. It certainly wouldn't be hard to imagine someone in the Sunnyvale cop-shop eagerly spreading news of Roberts' arrest. After all, Roberts opposed the 1998 binding arbitration ballot measure championed by the Public Safety Officers Association. One local labor operative--not a cop or firefighter--openly rejoiced upon hearing the news, happily speculating that the arrest meant certain death for the Republican Roberts' rumored desire to run for Assembly in 2002, the year incumbent Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) is termed-out of office. For the record, Roberts told the Sunnyvale Sun he is going to plead "not guilty" to all charges.


Fish Stories

A quick epilogue to last week's item on Salmon guitarist Aaron Goodwin getting tossed out of the Usual recently for behaving badly. Goodwin, it seems, takes umbrage with the suggestion that he shoved a lady. Not true, he protests. He says he accidentally knocked into her while dancing. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone," he tells Eye. "It was a total accident." As for the part about being drunk, Eye got that right, Goodwin concedes.


Mistaken Identity

Not too long ago, a political consultant (who shall remain nameless here) jokingly suggested Eye should investigate whether Assemblyman John Dutra (D-Fremont) and San Jose City Councilman John Diquisto were twins separated at birth. Indeed, the two 60-somethings do bear a striking resemblence to each other: Same stocky build, low forehead, wavy greyish hair, and significant shnozz. (See pictures above). But perhaps the best proof of their physical similarities happened during the Democratic Century Club luncheon this past week at Lou's Village. Eye was chatting with Diquisto near the back of the banquet room when Century Club president Jim Thurber handed the councilor a name tag to wear. Diquisto was too busy relating one of his trademark obscenity-laced anecdotes to notice that the name on the tag was John Dutra. When Eye pointed out the inaccuracy, Diquisto shrugged and continued to weave his tale. ... Toward the end of the luncheon, Thurber took the podium to thank all the elected officials in attendance including Assemblyman John Dutra, who, of course, was not present, though his doppelganger was. Afterward, an embarrassed Thurber--who has met both men on several occasions--explained, "I wasn't paying attention."


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From the December 23-29, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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