When Don Gage left the Santa Clara Valley Water District board to become mayor of Gilroy, his colleagues at the Golden Spigot were tasked with finding a replacement for his South County seat. And for a few days this past week, the search had the sweet smell of one of those multi-ballot party conventions we see no more.
On the first ballot, the six trustees split their votes: Gilroy farmer Ralph Santos, a friend of ex-director Sig Sanchez, won the backing of old-guard board members Tony Estremera and Dick Santos, along with new chairwoman Nai Hsueh, a former district manager who represents the West Valley.
Ex-Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy got the votes of Linda LeZotte and Barbara Keegan. And Beth Wyman, a Morgan Hill consultant and historian, received the vote of board member Brian Schmidt. On the second ballot, Schmidt switched over to Kennedy, which left it at a 3-3 standoff between Kennedy and Santos.
Kennedy arguably had the better environmental and managerial credentials, but Santos represented the agricultural community, a critical South County interest which has long smarted at some of the policies of the Golden Spigot.
Finally, on Thursday, after Kennedy promised not to run for election in 2014, Hsueh agreed to switch her vote and support the ex-Morgan Hill mayor. If you're scoring at home, that means the board made a two-year appointment. And next year, it will be a free-for-all. If you like politics, you can't be distressed.
Loser doesn't get mad, he starts a newsletter
Television broadcaster Robert Braunstein may have lost last November's San Jose council election to Johnny Khamis, but to borrow from Dylan Thomas, he hasn't gone gentle into that good night.
In the time that he's not producing his Cal-Hi Sports show, Braunstein is pulling together a local newsletter entitled the Almaden Blossom Valley News (the best place to see it is by searching for "ABV News'' on Facebook.com).
"After I was done with the election, I wanted to find a way to stay involved with the community," Braunstein told us, explaining that the ABV News operates with a number of contributors, like a mini-Huffington Post. "I thought there was a need to get information out there in that specific Almaden Blossom Valley area."
The newsletter has not shied away from taking shots at Khamis. In one edition, it questioned the use of a council fund left over from Nancy Pyle's tenure. In another, it took a shot at how Khamis handled questions on Measure B at a forum on crime. The letter uses the imperial "We," referring to Braunstein in the third person.
Khamis is not amused. "I understand it's tough to lose a race," he told us. "But I've had so many phone calls and emails from people who are asking 'What is this?' that I'm wasting my time as a public servant."
Brown gets chance to fill county judgeships
Gov. Jerry Brown will soon have a chance to put his stamp on the Santa Clara County Superior Court's bench, where four judges have retired to open up spots for new judicial blood.
The veterans to leave the court include, most recently, Judges Jerome Nadler and Joyce Allegro, two former local prosecutors, and Judge Diane Northway. And, as usual, the 79-member bench, which had large turnover during former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure, is sure to have more openings in the coming year or two as more judges become eligible for full pensions.
Too soon to tell who might throw their hats in the ring, but Brown will get to make the appointments unless he takes too long to fill the seats. In that case, the open spots might go up for election.
The governor has been moving more aggressively around the state to fill judicial vacancies. Brown has already picked a few new judges in Santa Clara County, including former State Bar president James Towery.
Ex-council member questions the Scouts
Larry Pegram, the former San Jose City Council member who ran unsuccessfully for the District 9 council seat in 2010, remains busy as president of the San Jose-based Values Advocacy Council.
Pegram, who lost that 2010 council race to Don Rocha, is taking on the Boy Scouts of America after news that the youth organization's national board may drop its long-standing restriction on openly gay members and leaders.
"The National Boy Scout Council appears to be the next organization ready to fold on truth and values," Pegram wrote in an email being disseminated by Ronald Barber, Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 577.
"A departure from their long-held policies would be devastating to an organization that has prided itself on the development of character in boys and young men," Pegram continued. "For over a century the Boy Scouts have stood firm in regard to the Scout promise: 'To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and MORALLY STRAIGHT.' Will you take the time to remind the Boy Scout Leaders of the Scout Promise?"
Pegram closed with a pitch: "Thank you for supporting your local voice for biblical values in the public arena! You may make a donation to the Values Advocacy Council
Brown cites Yeats, or somebody, in speech
Gov. Jerry Brown's State-of-the-State speech impressed lots of folks with its wide-ranging use of citations -- everything from the Bible to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, gushed that it was "well crafted, lyrical at times, but also substantive."
But an Associated Press follow-up caught our eye. Turns out that a quote Brown attributed to Irish poet William Butler Yeats -- "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire" -- is of dubious provenance.
Yeats scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, the AP reported, could find no evidence that Yeats, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923, ever penned those often-quoted 14 words in databases that catalog his writing.
Brown is hardly the first to attribute the quote to Yeats. President Barack Obama did so in 2011 remarks at the White House.
The White House didn't answer the AP's query about the source of the quote. But Brown's office "pointed to online sources when asked about the validity of the quotation," the wire service reported.
The AP noted that one scholar suggests the quote may instead have originated with classical biographer Plutarch, who said, "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled," wording that can vary in different translations.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Scott Herhold, Howard Mintz, Tracy Seipel, John Woolfolk and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-975-9346.