There's nothing quite like a scathing note from longtime Santa Clara County Assessor and veteran valley pol
Larry Stone to help focus a controversy. Many say his searing Sept. 25 put-down of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce's recent endorsement of
Drew Spitzer -- whom he labeled "a truly fringe candidate'' -- vying for the Santa Clara Valley Water District board over Stone's better-known deputy
David Ginsborg made the group reconsider and reverse course last Thursday.
"Mr. Spitzer's longest employment (3 years) was a pizza delivery driver," Stone wrote with outrage.
But chamber president and CEO
Matt Mahood said that wasn't the reason the chamber dropped its endorsement of Spitzer -- it was over an embarrassing case of bad math. According to the chamber's political action committee bylaws, whoever receives a two-thirds vote wins the business group's endorsement. In this case, 21 voting members interviewed Spitzer, Ginsborg and Barbara Keegan, all competing for the District 2 seat being vacated by veteran water board member Joe Judge.
While Mahood wouldn't say, sources told us Spitzer received 11 ballots. But the PAC and chamber staff didn't check over their numbers before announcing Spitzer as the winner on Sept. 19.
"It was really a silly error," said Mahood, whose group on Thursday bowed out of any endorsement in the race and is
What motivated him to review the numbers last week?
"I'd actually been meaning to go back and check them,'' Mahood told us, adding that he didn't appreciate Stone's letter "because he didn't talk to me about it before he sent it" to both the chamber and PAC boards.
Spitzer didn't return a call from IA.
Constant's union card goes up for debate
Former San Jose cop-turned-City Councilman
Pete Constant has remained a dues-paying member of the San Jose Police Officers' Association. But perhaps not for long. Though the SJPOA endorsed him as a candidate, at least some in the union representing San Jose's now depleted and demoralized officer ranks want him out, calling him a traitor for supporting cutbacks to generous pensions and other perks he says are bankrupting the city.
On Monday, the SJPOA will hold a hearing to decide whether to expel Constant as a member. The stated reason is a lawsuit Constant filed calling SJPOA arguments opposing Measure B's pension reforms false and misleading. (A judge upheld one of Constant's complaints.)
Constant is fighting his expulsion, but lost a bid to demand an open public hearing.
"The POA is a private organization and it has never been the intention to allow members of the public to view internal union business, particularly when one member is making allegations against another member," a union attorney wrote Constant. "Thus, your request for an open hearing is granted but it will be open to POA members only."
Since the public will not be allowed, Constant has since been granted a request to also keep his hearing closed to general SJPOA members.
Some may wonder why he'd want to remain in a club where many despise him. He says he considers the SJPOA charges against him baloney. Moreover, he said, "quite a few people" in the police department support Measure B because they're worried about their own retirements and that without Measure B, the pension system might not be around for them in 20 years. Finally, he said he doesn't like being bullied. He believes his chances of winning Monday "are very good -- if it's a fair hearing."
DA Rosen will get his 5 seconds of L.A. fame
Moving from his beloved Los Angeles to attend law school in the Bay Area more than 20 years ago was a big adjustment for Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
But now, he's about to return -- in a truly L.A. way. He'll reappear next month on millions of television screens there.
Rosen has a part in a 30-second TV ad urging voters to approve Proposition 36, the November ballot measure that would ease the state's Three Strikes Law.
Starting in mid- to late October, the ads will run in Southern California, primarily because more voters there are undecided.
Rosen is one of only three district attorneys in the state to support the measure. The other two -- George Gascon of San Francisco and Steve Cooley of Los Angeles -- also will be featured in the ad.
Since the spot is so short, each prosecutor only gets to say a line or two. Earlier this month, Rosen went to San Mateo to film the ad. The producers had Rosen recite all the lines, including "Make the punishment fit the crime," so the campaign can choose the best one to include.
The role may help catapult the ambitious Rosen onto the statewide stage. But Rosen joked that his part is too minor to get him into the Screen Actors Guild, a real sign of having made it in star-struck Los Angeles.
'Little Saigon' issue goes quietly this year
Could the "Little Saigon" controversy finally be fading for good? Four years ago, the dispute within San Jose's Vietnamese community over how to brand a patch of Story Road dominated by Vietnamese shops led to noisy protests and a hunger strike at City Hall. It spawned a failed recall of the city's only Vietnamese council member, Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, who argued many disliked "Little Saigon" and proposed a compromise.
The protests died down after the city agreed to allow privately funded "Little Saigon" banners and a street monument on Story Road, but erupted anew in recent weeks with city resistance to adopting a formal resolution supporting privately funded "Little Saigon" freeway signage.
Nguyen backer Mayor Chuck Reed said the city wasn't opposed to the freeway signage but that another council hearing on the name would be needlessly divisive. But state transportation officials said they needed a city resolution to take action. Reed and Nguyen agreed last week to schedule a Nov. 6 council vote on that resolution.
But on Thursday Reed and Nguyen issued a joint memorandum recommending that the city formally recognize the Story Road area as "Little Saigon."
"Although we were unable to get everyone to come to an agreement, we felt that the majority of the stakeholders support the name," Reed and Nguyen wrote, adding that the formal "Little Saigon" designation will "better market the area to tourists and investors." But they remain adamant that no city money be spent on signage.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Tracy Seipel, Tracey Kaplan, John Woolfolk and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-975-9346.