Is there a crime wave being directed at San Jose City Council members? On Tuesday, Councilman and mayoral candidate Sam Liccardo was talking on his cellphone in the breezeway behind City Hall leading to Fourth Street. He had put his bag down with his sport coat on top of it. "I turned my head talking toward the window for a minute or two," he told IA. "When I turned around, the bag was gone and the sport coat, too."
The bad news: Liccardo's bag included his new Lenovo laptop. The mitigating news: Because the laptop was new, Liccardo says, it did not contain much in the way of sensitive campaign records. He does not think there was any political motive for the theft -- though he jests that if there were, mayoral rival Dave Cortese would be using the jokes Liccardo had prepared on the laptop.
That wasn't the only incident. About three weeks ago, Councilman Pete Constant held a reception for the 100 or so neighborhood leaders in his district. Asking one of his people to go to Togo's for sandwiches with his credit card, Constant left his wallet on a counter so the card could be returned. By the end of the reception, the wallet was gone, with various pieces of ID. Then again, some of his identification had a limited shelf life. Constant leaves office at the end of the year.
Levi's expected problems with traffic, not purses
In the post-mortem of the debut of Levi's Stadium last weekend for an Earthquakes game, the criticism centered around the old bugaboos of traffic and parking, particularly the slow performance of the VTA's light-rail trains. But there was another issue, perhaps not as earthshaking but certainly as sensitive: Purses. In general, National Football League crowds know that the league has a policy against purses bigger than an iPhone 5. For security reasons, the NFL requires folks to carry a clear plastic bag instead. But this was not an NFL crowd: It was a soccer crowd, unused to the requirement. While there was some notice in the media, we heard from several women who said there was no warning sign at the start of the line to enter the stadium.
At the security desk, fans were offered the choice of taking their purse back to their cars or buying a plastic bag for $10 and leaving the purse with stadium authorities. A number of women chose that last route -- and the security people took in hundreds of purses. Because the handbags were gathered in a central location, retrieving them after the game took an even longer time. Some women simply gave up and went home.
Of course, things will improve. NFL fans know about the requirement. Anyone caught in the purse confiscation last weekend will not go through it again. Meanwhile, the 49ers say they are attempting to locate the owners of any purses that could be identified. Bob Lange, the director of communications for the Niners, says the stadium people have a lost and found in their office and will keep the purses there. It may be a little late for some fans.
"Speaking for my husband and myself," wrote one correspondent, "our LED TV, couch and free water are looking a lot more comfortable this football season."
Congresswomen's support may matter in judicial race
How much do endorsements really matter in the neck-and-neck judicial race between incumbent Judge Diane Ritchie and her challenger, prosecutor Matt Harris?
After all, Ritchie won her first term in 2008 over her endorsement-rich opponent, veteran homicide prosecutor Lane Liroff.
But Harris pulled off a victory in the June 3 primary even though she outspent him almost 4 to 1.
What did he have that she didn't? Among other things, lots of key endorsements. His latest is from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.
With that coup, Harris, who is a registered Democrat, now has Eshoo and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, the two top female politicians from the county, in his corner.
It sure won't hurt to put that on his ballot statement.
Jude Barry, a San Jose political strategist, who is not involved in the race, said the dual stamp of approval could prove significant.
"This will raise eyebrows and questions for voters about Ritchie," Barry said. "It's unusual for two highly respected female Congress members to support a challenger to an incumbent female judge. At the very least, a lot of voters will pause and give Harris a real look."
Ritchie's political consultant, Rich Robinson, had little to say about the endorsement, other than "I have nothing but admiration for the congresswomen."
Rocketship takes off in Tennessee, but not in Texas
Rocketship Education is celebrating its first school in the South: Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary, its second outside California. The Redwood City-based charter school operator crowed that the first day of school two weeks ago represented "the opening salvo in our effort to rethink education from the ground up in the Volunteer State," where students have traditionally lagged far behind on national metrics.
What Rocketship hasn't broadcast is its last-minute withdrawal from Texas, where it was considered on track to open 16 schools in San Antonio and Dallas. It had the enthusiastic backing of moneyed charter boosters, had sailed past a state review committee and had even hired high-profile staff -- Jarrad Toussant, who was education adviser to former Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker, now a U.S. senator.
Rocketship spokesman David Kuizenga explained the withdrawal this way in an email: "Our focus to grow deep instead of wide, working to open schools in our current regions as community need and our work with districts demands, is an acknowledgment of our overall network success."
Yes, the network did recently win approval to open schools in Redwood City and San Jose's Alum Rock neighborhood. But IA wonders whether the backpedaling could be related to falling tests scores in 2013, after a failed experiment in knocking down classroom walls and ballooning class sizes to 100 students. Or that a Rocketship school in Milwaukee, its first outside California, went under-enrolled last year.
That doesn't dampen the enthusiasm in Nashville, where Nashville native Adam Nadeau -- a former principal in San Jose -- has taken the helm at the new school, telling parents on the first day: "I came here to open a great school."
Kuizenga said Rocketship will continue to expand and that when it looks beyond its three regions and Washington, D.C. -- where a school is slated to open next year -- "Texas is on the shortlist."
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Scott Herhold, Tracey Kaplan, Sharon Noguchi and Paul Rogers. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 408-920-5782.