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Tom's 1997 Diary

[whitespace] Tom McEnery Ground Control to Mayor Tom: San Jose's former kingpin Tom McEnery has been immortalized on the front of the San Jose Convention Center and depicted in this now legendary painting. Here he is shown surveying the fountains in Cesar de Chavez Park, possibly the peaceful site where he filled his journal for 1997.



For the entire year of 1997, we watched enraptured as ex-Mayor Tom McEnery vacillated and equivocated about whether he'd run for mayor again. As he went about his post-political business he teased his former constituents and supporters as well as political journalists. He extended his deadline to make a decision from Labor Day to an unspecified "fall" date, until he finally made up his mind last month.

Meanwhile, Metro probably dedicated more copy to McEnery than to any other San Jose politician. And although he griped about Metro's McEnery Complex, anyone who knows him (or have read his second book, The New City-State) knows that Tom loved being mayor and still loves being the center of attention.

In retrospect, however, it only made sense that he didn't run. McEnery has his fingers in a multitude of pies. He's got a cushy job as vice chairman of the San Jose Sharks. He hosts his own weekly radio show. He's working on his third book. He just

bought the film rights to the book Swift Justice and plans to write the screenplay. And he just cut a sweetheart $1.1-million deal with the Redevelopment Agency to rehab one of his apartment buildings (leaving us wondering if it pays not to be mayor).

But what about the heart of Tom McEnery, the academic man, the man of letters, the man of the times? After he announced his decision not to run for mayor, we found ourselves hungry to know more about him, his thoughts, his poetic yearnings, the gleaming pearls of his soul. Miraculously, in the clearance bin in the back of a strip-mall bookstore, buried in a dusty pile of marked-down copies of The New City-State, we found them. In one slim volume, the wisdom of Tom McEnery. One year of private musings, subtle observations and tortured internal debate by the former mayor who would not be king. Here they are, the highlights of Tom's Diary.

Jan. 1, 1997
New Year's Resolutions:

  • Make it into Sharks office at least once a week, and learn to pronounce the names of five Sharks players (haven't the Russians ever heard of vowels?)

  • Embark upon more scintillating subjects for my radio show (What is it with people that they can't remember the details of the show when I try to discuss them the next day?)

  • Learn how to use email

  • Pick a new movie project, and get it rolling. I paid good money for that beret.

  • Run for mayor. Or not.

  • Floss

Jan. 8
Had lunch at Eulipia with Frank Taylor and told him I could use a little help from his Redevelopment Agency fiefdom to fix up one of those rundown apartment buildings my brother and I own. Frank's nervous about the potential bad press, but I told him not to worry. There's no reporter in San Jose that Tom McEnery can't charm into complicity. (Memo to self: Invite Phil Trounstine to lunch at 840; pick up the check. Bill it to Sharks expense account.)

Jan. 19
Unbelievable! Along with dozens of other unfortunate pedestrians, got a jaywalking ticket while en route to the NHL All-Star game at the Arena. The damn cop didn't even recognize me. "Don't you know who I am?" I asked. "Of course," the flatfoot sneered. "You're Chevy Chase." Then he handed me the ticket. This would NEVER happen if I still carried the sobriquet of "big-city mayor." (Memo: Call Pandori and have him take care of fine. The Lexus could also use a wax. Also, see about getting that cop relegated to a bicycle.)

Jan. 25
Had this bizarre dream last night that I was standing in a roomful of people who were laughing. They looked at me and raised their coffee mugs in salute. I smiled, thinking it was one of my old mayor's breakfasts, only it turned out it was really the Mayor's Convocation, Susan's and not mine. Suddenly, Susan Hammer points at me and yells, "Seize him!" and these armed Jesuits (wearing electric-blue jackets, like the security guards at the Arena) came and carried me away. Woke up in a sweat.

Feb. 1
Listened to Jerry Brown's radio show. Jeez, that guy is a blowhard. Took notes.

Feb. 3
Attended Hammer's "State of the City" speech with Jill. Would have had a more entertaining evening watching the History Channel. Actually fell asleep about five minutes into her monotone. Jill elbowed me after I started to snore. Later, congratulated Susan on a great speech.

Feb. 9
Sweeps week is upon us at KEZR. Got to remind wife, kids and extended family to tune in.

Feb. 23
Whew, what a day! Made into Sharks office around 11:30. Worked 45 minutes on memo to boss asking for a raise. Threw out 11 pieces of junk mail. Went to Blake's for lunch. Read entire USA Today sports section. Was going to work out, but I'm beat.

Feb. 27
Sent retiring planning director Gary Schoennauer an autographed copy of The New City-State and a signed 8x10 color portrait. Afterward, I realized a terrible thing: I think I gave him that for Christmas last year.

March 3
Drove by McEnery Convention Center. Parked car in red zone just so I could enjoy the splendor. What a fantastic city this is! (Memo: Call Frank Taylor to see if he can make sign bigger.)

March 15
Strange thing happened today. I was driving along in the Lex, and I heard this voice. Not like a loud, booming voice of God, but more like that guy on the Samuel Adams beer commercials. He says: "Run for mayor," only he pronounced it more like "may-errr." It was so odd. I looked around the car, fiddled with the radio to see if it was on, but everything seemed fine. (Memo: Switch to decaf.)

March 27
Didn't think I'd ever do this, but I went to the store--disguised in a baseball hat and sunglasses--and bought some Grecian Formula. I've heard that Preparation H is the product most frequently shoplifted from supermarkets. Well, I bet Grecian Formula is a close second. Thought I detected a smile creeping across the young cashier's countenance.

April 4
That suck-up Roger Lee called again. Pesky political consultants. Said I'd make a great candidate. Offered to run my campaign. Didn't want to hurt his feelings and launch him off the wagon or something. Told him I'd think about it.

April 9
Was heading toward work, but realized how late it was and went straight to Blake's. Read the sports page. Napped. Forgot to floss.

April 15
Finally decided to bring the shoe box with the W2s from all my employers to an accountant. Damn deadlines.

May 5
Read the Merc. What a massive waste of paper. Cinco de Mayo celebration got a little out of hand. Hey, I can't blame them. I'd want to riot, too, if the city gave my community a $500,000 statue that looks like wet scat.

May 9
Everyone's talking about Jack Davis' birthday party at the San Francisco Mart and pretending they're shocked. I hear they played a little hide-the-whiskey-bottle-in-the-booty. So what? And why wasn't I invited? I'm a fun guy. I showed them, though. I told the Merc that Davis and his perverted political associates had taken "grotesque license with their freedom." That'll teach 'em to leave me off the guest list.

June 1
Well, I'm headed to Ireland next month. I'm gonna let Pandori guest host the radio show while I'm gone. Hopefully, he won't go off on one of his group-home tirades. People listening to my show are accustomed to much more scintillating commentary. I figured I owed him since he's kept the Lex so clean this year. Probably should have let Dando do it, but she's pretty full of herself these days.

June 6
I think this Grecian Formula stuff is starting to kick in. My hair has gradually gotten darker. I don't think it's going to go purple, either. Pat asked me the other day if I've lost weight.

June 20
The Chronicle ran some awful puff piece about what a great mayor Susan Hammer has been. Hah! She couldn't get a laugh out of a crowd if she was wearing Jerry Seinfeld on her head. A city like this needs some personality, for crying out loud. San Francisco has Willie Brown; Oakland has Moonbeam Brown. Susan might as well be made out of wood. A couple of people have been hinting that I'm missed over there. But really, could I outdo myself? It would be difficult. (Memo: Call Chronicle reporter and chew him out. Off the record, of course.)

July 20
Traveled to my ancestral homeland of Ireland. What a beautiful country, but I just don't understand the younger generation's obsession with Sonny Bono there. Everywhere I went, it was "Bono this" and "Bono that." I just smiled and nodded like America considers Sonny a little hero, too. Didn't want to appear like an old fuddy-duddy to the youngsters. (Memo to self: Phone Sonny and ask for his support in mayor's race; appeal to youth vote.) ... Pandori picked me up from the airport. I let him carry my bags. Didn't see my name anywhere. Must talk to Airport Director Ralph Tonseth about that. When I got home, there were eight messages from Roger Lee begging me to run.

July 23
Strategy session with Mike Fox Sr. over how to break his deal with Ron Gonzales and support me instead. Mike balked. Secured Dick Lamm's endorsement, however; his payback for my pivotal endorsement of his presidential candidacy.

July 27
Revelation: The new library and new city hall names are up for grabs, and it would be nice to have a name-recognition anchor at that end of town. Being mayor again--it's starting to sound good. Heck, I already know how to do the job, and it's not like the Sharks won't keep my office warm for me.

Aug. 15
Pat called again. What a nagging overachiever. Starts off all chatty about my apartment deal and then says she wants me to make a decision about my career plans soon. I told her I'll probably be making an announcement around Labor Day just so she'd get off my back. I think she actually believed me!

Aug. 29
Made it into the San Jose Athletic Club today. Got to keep fit. The body, after all, is the temple of the soul. Navigated the Stairmaster for about 10 minutes then hit the hot tub. Not very relaxing, though. The place was packed with grown, naked men. I had to do my underwear-under-the-towel thing again, which is always stressful, and half the time ends up with me wearing my underwear inside out. Jill thinks I'm being silly, but I just don't want anyone to think I'm queer.

Sept. 5
Pat keeps phoning, but I'm screening her calls. Returned her call when I knew she'd be out. Told her, "Maybe, maybe not!" I shouldn't tweak her, but it's all in fun.

Sept. 24
Metro ran a story with a bubbleheaded cartoon of me on the cover (my hair looks like seaweed) embracing the McEnery Convention Center. So what if my name is on the convention center? Don't these people have anything better to write about? What's their obsession with me? (Memo: Tell Frank Taylor to hold off on enlarging convention center sign.)

Oct. 1
Was shooting a few free throws in the backyard when daughter Sarah came home. She challenged me to a game of Horse. Who taught her how to do a reverse layup? I certainly didn't. Suffice it to say, I lost--badly. Went to Blake's to grab a beer and lick my wounds. Next time I think I'll stick to Scrabble.

Oct. 17
Damn, damn, damn. I'm getting a little nervous about having to actually campaign to be mayor. What if I lose? The McEnery legacy down the drain, that's what. Speaking of the drain, all the stress is getting to me. Called Hair Club for Men to inquire about rates and weaves. Haven't felt so nervous since I lost to Zoe Lofgren for Congress in 1994. (Memo: Call John Collins; make sure Zoe's not running for mayor.)

Oct. 20
I found myself thinking today about how the midlife crisis thing is for chumps. Crisis, schmisis. The key is to keep moving. Roger Lee has me almost convinced that I should run for mayor again, and it's not a terrible idea. A lot of people have told me they miss the mayor's breakfast. And it's not just the free mugs, either.

Oct.25
Margie Fernandes dropped out of the mayor's race. Says she doesn't want to subject her family to a nasty campaign. What a whiner! Sent Pandori my compliments for a job well done.

Nov. 13
Pat told Metro she'd run against me if necessary. Bottom line, she's getting a big head to go with that new hair. I think she forgets who MADE her WHO she is today. Hmmm ... possible subject for future show. "Who IS Pat Dando?" Must remember to take her off the Christmas list. Her little prayer breakfast Republicans will take care of her this year.

Nov. 27
Two words: Slam Dunk! The City Council unanimously approved the fantastic $1.1-million redevelopment deal I negotiated with my old pal Frank Taylor. What a great city! (Note: Time to do another radio show about the lack of ethics among today's politicians.)

Nov. 28
That damned Metro compared me to that little psycho Hamlet. Well, I ran down and picked up a copy of the Cliffs Notes, and I am nothing like Hamlet. He was never mayor of the 11th-largest city in the United States.

Dec. 2
Mercury News referred to me as a "low-budget movie writer." What a bunch of jerks. OK, so not too many people ever saw Still Waters Burn but it was an art-house film. ART. Dumb reporters don't know anything about art or politics!

Dec. 3
Bought film rights to Swift Justice. This thing could be a blockbuster! Maybe I can get Dabney Coleman or Jan Michael Vincent to star in it. "Low-budget movie writer." Hah! How about "Hollywood mogul"?

Dec. 5
Was supposed to go Christmas shopping, but with all these extra copies of The New City-State lying around, I'm just going to send everybody autographed copies. That, with a signed 8X10 portrait, is a very nice gift. People need to read more, anyway. (Memo: Do NOT send another copy to Gary Schoennauer.)

Dec. 9
I've decided to get my old job back! I think.

Dec. 10
Well, I'm not running. Roger Lee was crushed. David wept and then within five minutes was talking about his possibly running. I all but slapped him. I told them to quit their whining and get on the Dando bandwagon. This way, there will be room for all of us.

Dec. 18
Metro asked me to share some of my diary entries during the year. AS IF! Who are they trying to fool? I'll never cooperate with those body-piercing sensationalists. I told them that if they were at the Ford Theater on the night of Lincoln's assassination, they would have reviewed the play. If I showed those guys the shooter on the grassy knoll, their headline the next day would be "McEnery's Crackpot Theory." Hopefully, that will give them pause in the New Year. These people don't know who they're dealing with.

Dec. 20
Finally remembered to floss. Gums bled. 1998 New Year's resolution: Buy a Water Pic.

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From the December 31, 1997-January 7, 1998 issue of Metro.

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