Important as they are, we'd rather not think too much about sewage treatment plants, so they typically get apt but forgettable titles. A prime example: the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant, the massive, aging facility dating to 1956 that provides sewage treatment to 1.4 million residents in eight Silicon Valley cities.
But it doesn't have to be that way. San Jose officials have a much more colorful nickname for the plant based on its WPCP acronym. They call it the "Weepy Seepy," a term we love.
But that nickname understandably frustrates some of the hardworking folks whose sweat and tears keep it running. They also feel the formal title doesn't capture the breadth of their operation, which includes water recycling and pollution prevention programs.
So as the city plans to modernize the plant, staffers suggested it's time to upgrade its title. They want something that "better conveys its wastewater role and regional service area," said Kerrie Romanow, the environmental services director whose department runs the plant.
"The Weepy Seepy wasn't what they wanted to be anymore," Romanow said. "It's meaningful to our staff out there, and that's important to me."
The city has had some difficulty keeping technicians on the staff amid pay and benefit cuts to close budget deficits. So to give the troops a morale boost, Romanow's department held an internal contest to come up with a new working title for the plant.
Pollsters already out in force for mayor's race
So it begins: A full 16 months before the 2014 San Jose mayoral primary, pollsters were already in the field last week to test voter sympathies for Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and council members Sam Liccardo, Madison Nguyen and Rose Herrera.
Done by an outfit called Universal Survey (with a 646, or Manhattan, area code), the poll also mentioned other potential candidates like Sheriff Laurie Smith, state Assemblywoman Nora Campos, Councilman Pete Constant, and ex-council candidate Pat Waite. The main comparison questions, however, focused on the First Four.
A few odds and ends reported by our source: The pollsters asked what impact the endorsement of various groups would have -- including the South Bay Labor Council, the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the San Jose Police Officers Association. One question probed how the respondent would feel about a candidate who was a police officer. Another query dealt with home health-care workers.
Who was behind the poll? The home health-care worker question prompted speculation that it might have come from the labor side of the San Jose's great political divide. There was no immediate confirmation of that from the South Bay Labor Council. Meanwhile, a source on the chamber side claimed to be unaware of a poll. You can count on this: It won't be the last test of opinion. The questions are just getting started.
Labor won't say why Reed hurts business
Speaking of mayors, before San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed delivered his state-of-the-city spiel last week, his perennial adversaries at the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council sent reporters a "response" (can you respond to something before it's said?) designed "to make sure the record is straight on the real state of San Jose."
It asserted, without citing any evidence, that Reed's "austerity plan" has "killed the desire for business to locate here."
"With this Mayor, it's his way or the highway, and a lot of businesses are taking the highway to Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and San Francisco," newly minted Labor Council Executive Officer Ben Field said in the news release.
That struck us as odd. Say what you will about Reed's budget policies aiming to shrink the growing cost of government employee retirement packages, but he's been widely hailed as the darling of local business leaders. Even a cursory review of recent news accounts reveals a string of major economic development victories, many of which Reed personally lobbied for. Brocade. The Samsung R&D expansion. All Nippon Airways and Virgin America adding badly needed flights to the airport. Santana Row's planned expansion. Bass Pro Shops announcing its third California mega-outdoors store will be in San Jose. When Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino introduced Reed later that evening, he quoted a litany of glowing accolades from corporate executives about Reed.
It's also fair to say that local business leaders have been none too fond of the Labor Council's initiatives, most notably November's ballot Measure D that will raise the minimum wage in San Jose 25 percent starting next month, something businesses called a job-killer.
So we asked Labor Council spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross for examples of local businesses that had shunned San Jose because of Reed's "austerity" budget. No answer.
You heard it here last: Campbell hires manager
OK, it might not have been our finest hour in breaking news. On Wednesday, the Mercury News ran a story inside the local section saying that Amy Brown, the city manager of Campbell, was stepping down and a search was beginning for her replacement. It said the city was expected to hire Peckham & McKenney, an executive search firm.
That was partly right. After only a year in the job, Brown is leaving to take a job as director of agriculture and environmental management with Santa Clara County. Even in the ever-changing universe of city managers, that was a swift cup of coffee.
But on Tuesday night, the council made final what our Campbell reporter had forecast in an online report Monday: Brown's successor is Mark Linder, Cupertino's parks and recreation director and a former assistant San Jose city manager.
Linder, who will be paid $199,500, joins two other San Jose veterans as local city managers. Greg Larson, a former aide to Mayor Tom McEnery, is city manager of Los Gatos. Martín Bernal, a former staffer in the San Jose city manager's office, is city manager of Santa Cruz.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by John Woolfolk, Scott Herhold and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-975-9346.