Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who is Larry Pegram? Why is he part of Reed's transition team?

Today the Mercury reported that Reed has created a transition team that will advise him on policy matters. Some of the names are very familiar, including:

Sharks President Greg Jamison, soccer star Brandi Chastain, San Jose State University President Don Kassing, and newly elected city council members Pete Constant and Sam Liccardo.

And some of the names may not be as familiar, such as Larry Pegram. Who is Pegram? Why should you care? Pegram is on the board of the Values Advocacy Council, a group that states:

We are pro-life
We encourage the use of adult and umbilical cord stem cells for research
We believe that God, not man, numbers our days
We work to preserve traditional marriage between one man and one woman

The Values Advocacy Council also sent out a questionnaire to candidates in the last election which asked candidates to answer yes or no to these questions:

1. I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.
I support a Constitutional Amendment to make this the law of the land.
I do not believe that “alternative lifestyles” are equivalent relationships to
traditional marriage and should not be taught as such in public school.

2. I believe abortion should not continue to be legal in the United States.
I believe that the procedure known as a “partial birth abortion” should be illegal.

3. I believe the doctrine of “separation of church and state” means that the government shall not establish a national or state religion (Establishment Clause, First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) but does not mean that religion should be totally removed from any and all governmental activity.

4. I believe that health, survivor and other benefits should not be made available to the “domestic partners” of School District employees.

5. The display of religious articles or symbols has a place on public school property.

6. Prayer has a place in the public school arena.

7. Do you believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught as an alternative to or along with the theory of evolution?

8. The “faith based” community should have a “place at the table” in public policy
matters, discussions, and debates.

9. I believe that sex education classes should be designed to promote abstinence.
10. I believe that parents have the ultimate responsibility for the education of our children and should be fully aware of and involved in the curricula to which their children are exposed in public school.

11. I believe that clubs promoting a Christian lifestyle should have equal status on the school campus as other clubs and organizations.

Pegram is clearly to the far right of most of the residents in our city, and one has to wonder why the Mercury failed to mention exactly "who" Pegram is, as well as the more obvious question of why Reed picked Pegram for his transition team. The issues that VAC and Pegram support, prayer in school, anti-choice, anti-domestic partners benefits, are not representative of a majority of residents in our area, and I would also suggest that many people would be at the very least surprised to see Pegram on Reed's transition team.

What advice will Pegram give to Reed? Will he "advise" Reed that we need to open up our public areas for religious symbols? Will Reed become a champion for the far right? We will have to wait and see what happens, my hope is that Reed starts to move a bit more to the center. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Removal Powers In Place

The San Jose Council acted last night in enacting policy empowering them to remove fellow officers from office. The legislation comes on the heels of the Gonzo scandals that have dominated city news for over a year now. Most disconcerting for Councilmembers was their utter lack of capacity to do anything meaningful to 'da Mayor for his ethical problems.

While empowering the local politic with the tools to make removal of corrupt officials possible is a good thing, getting carried away with these policies is not. I have not fully read the new enactment so I cannot pass judgment entirely. We had many lessons from the Gonzo scandal. One of which was that an impotent Council can allow corruption to remain unchecked. But we also saw how quickly our local media can cook up good-guy/bad-guy dichotomies. It was partisanship and mob mentality that brought about the Clinton impeachment trials. Politicians should be held to a higher standard than average citizens. But we should be ever vigilant that these removal procedures are reserved for the worst of the worst and not devolve into a new arrow in the political quiver.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Memo to Merc + Metro: THE ELECTION IS OVER!!!

This just in --- the election for SJ Mayor is OVER! Chuck Reed has won.

Hey Mercury News and Metro "editors": you can stop giving Chuck your blind praise now.

In today's Mercury News editorial and in the oh-so-prestigious SV411, the local media both provided the glorious Chuck Reed ass-kissing that they did so well during the election. The Merc talked about Chuck's "straight talk and clear focus on good government" and his "first sparks of mayoral leadership".

Wow. Chuck must have really done something meaningful, right? Wrong. He showed up at a Sunshine Reform Committee meeting and encouraged the members to accelerate their timeline. Oh yeah --- and he "told the members he wanted at least a progress report on the agenda of his first council meeting as mayor on Jan. 9". All he did was show up at a meeting and talk of aspirations?

SV411 reveals how deep the double standards of our journalists run: when Chuck comes and talks about doing things (*note: he did not actually do anything!*) it is the glorious accomplishments of the new Mayor... but when other officials talked and met and discussed reforms, the committee was "crawl(ing) along at a glacial pace".

All anybody has done so far is talk. Stop praising Chuck for doing the same thing. We all know that both media have their agendas. Well, you got your golden boy in office. You can at least wait before continuing your meaningless brown-nosing until (a) he actually DOES something or (b) he's up for re-election!

It's disappointing that this is what our news media have been reduced to. The election is over! It's time to start holding Chuck accountable, not praising him with rhetoric for something so marginal as showing up at a meeting and pressing for outcomes! When the reforms are effectuated, we'll be the first blog to give Chuck a thumbs up. But talk is CHEAP. Action - which Chuck has a very spotty track-record on - is what counts.

The bias in SV411's writing is hilarious lately. Anything connected to Cindy Chavez is automatically trash. For example:
"One Chavez-LeZotte idea rejected by the sunshiners would have allowed
neighborhood association leaders to blab on for twice as long as the two minutes
alloted to other groups, average citizens and assorted nut-jobs who address the

I don't entirely understand why that's so bad. Oh yeah, it came from Cindy Chavez.

Merc and Metro "editors": it's time to hold this guy accountable. Your duty is to be suspicious of leadership. Your obligation is to challenge rhetoric, not praise it. You both did such a great job on Chuck's campaign team. But the election is over. It's time to be real journalists again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What We Got With Chuck

The Merc discussed Chuck's transition team today which is built around Tom McEnery, Deanna Santana, and Vic Ajlouny. This announcement is disheartening for quite a number of reasons.

First, as we wrote about two weeks ago, many - even those that voted for Chuck - hoped that he would help San Jose come together in the wake of a nasty election. Many hoped that he would take a conciliatory tone in his newly elected position. Remember: the office of City Council is meant to represent specific geographic regions but the office of Mayor is charged with representing the ENTIRE city. Bringing these three stooges into the transition team does nothing to that effect. To the contrary, I'd be hard-pressed to find more divisive figures than Ajlouny and McEnery. The article, for instance, outlines some of McEnery's harsh rhetoric toward members of the Council. It is tough to imagine how Chuck is going to rise above partisanship and work WITH the Council when his right-hand man is spitting such vitriol. And don't even get me started with Ajlouny. This guy has pissed off more Bay Area Dems than I can count. Some have called him the Karl Rove of the Silicon Valley. It just doesn't make sense that Chuck would put a political strategist into such a central role. Now is the time to be REACHING out.

Second, we are disconcerted with the fact that Ajlouny is a Republican. McEnery, meanwhile, is a... American Independent? We have no problem with political and ideological diversity, but this team doesn't seem very diverse to begin with. Sometimes you gotta call a spade a spade and this looks like a pretty conservative transition team. The problem is that Chuck never sold himself as a Republican. This city is NOT Republican. Chuck boasted of Democratic endorsements and pretended to fit the mold of the mainstream values of the city. It is disingenuous to create such a transition team after running on a centrist platform without any ideological counter-balance.

Third, it is disgusting seeing more and more power being consolidated in the privileged few. McEnery, who comes from a long line of influential San Jose citizens, has been Mayor. He now writes a blog which has gained quite a bit of influence. And virtually every election cycle since the early 90's, the print media has stuck with McE's lackeys. It is ironic that Reed won on an "anti-machine politics" platform and is already installing the usual suspects!

Fourth, how silly does this make San Jose Inside look? Their creator spewed his romanticized rhetoric for months only to secure a prestigious post in the new Mayor's transition team? Maybe I'm mistaken, but didn't SJI at least pretend to be objective journalists? It would be as crazy as Fox News correspondent Tony Snow suddenly working as a PR man for George W. Bush... oh wait, that did happen. You get the picture. Will SJI still pretend to be the voice of the outsider when it's architect sits in the SJ ivory tower?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chu Throws His Name In The Hat

Longtime local activist Kansen Chu has announced he will run to replace Chuck Reed for City Council. Chu has a decorated political past and looks to be the presumptive Democratic fav. MW talked about Chu's likely opponent, Hon Lien, yesterday. As usual, SV411 has resorted to idiotic characterizations of the candidates by comparing Lien to a "Maxxum model" and introducing Kansen with the "chu dynasty" as the heading. Pretty funny, Sv411. I think I get the joke: his last name is Chu and there was a dynasty in China with the same name! That's really funny guys! You know what else would be funny? When talking about Taiwanese politics referring to Chiang Chin-kuo as "P.F."! Grow up guys.... Seriously.

We all know how SV411/Metro have built their distribution chain --- on the backs of the sex industry (porn, escorts, strip clubs, etc. which fill their weekly ad quotas). It's not surprising that their blog has resorted to sex appeal in discussing the new political candidate. If I'm Lien, I don't know if I'm flattered for the compliment or if I'm offended that my first characterization is based on my looks.

Either way, it's clear where the Reed machine will stand on this election. Get ready for COMPAC/SV411/McEnery/Reed/Merc/etc. to chime in with its typical rhetoric soon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chuck's Heir Apparent

Chuck's victory leaves a vacancy on the Council creating the prospect for yet another special election in San Jose. Rumors are that Chuck has already handpicked his favorite for successor. Chuck's buddy Hon Lien looks like she will throw her name into the hat to represent her district. Here is a little background info on Lien.

One age old lesson of politics is the danger and probability of pendular politics. As far back as Oliver Cromwell, political history has commonly featured stories of leaders who climb to power by defining themselves against an "other" only to become the very thing they opposed initially. I hope for the good of SJ, Mr. Reed does not follow this inertia. Chuck's campaign was built on "taking down the machine" of San Jose politics. Whether or not this depiction of City Hall is accurate is beside the point. But for Chuck to already be handpicking successors smells like the beginning of a new machine being built. I have quite a bit of faith that Chuck won't walk down this road. But my faith in the Chamber of Commerce is considerably more dubious. The Chamber has already heavily backed its former leader Steve Tedesco. The question will be whether it plans to continue to aggressively pursue its political agenda by backing Lien. It will be interesting to see if the Chamber attempts to rebuild its machine that was dominant during the 80's. We'll keep you posted when we learn more...

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's Next?

As San Jose Inside ponders it's role in the future of San Jose, we here at MayorWatch engage in parallel introspection. The campaign is over and there was no Cindy-rella story. COMPAC, big business interests, Irvine developers, and the print media got their way and Chuck has won. Our single focus (admittedly) has been the Mayoral election here in SJ. The same should be said of SJI - although they're not gusty enough to admit it. Well, to be fair, they weren't only dedicated to destroying Cindy Chavez; they also were committed to obliterating Manny Diaz as well. Go read their immigrant-bashing comments today and I think you'll get my insinuation. But I digress. What is the next step?

One election we will continue to follow is the District 6 City Council race where it appears Pierre Oliverio and Steve Tedesco will face off in a run-off. This, of course, is the seat of esteemed Councilmember Ken Yeager who is on his way out. Tedesco is the former chair of the Chamber. You can guess how SJI and SV411 will weigh in on this one! The Pat Dando-COMPAC-Merc-McEnery upper echelon of SJ politics has done a good job of framing an "us-against-them" ethos where the evil amalgam of labor interests has dominated SJ politics for years. In doing so, they have tried to hide their influence. Tedesco is yet another of the Dando-ites who seeks to continue to turn the Council into an extension of the Chamber of Commerce.

Remain vigilant, friends. Let's do some research and find out about these two candidates!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Congratulations to Chuck Reed!

San Jose will have a new mayor come January 2007, Chuck Reed. Reed, a Democrat, will be the head of the 10th largest city in our nation, a city that will face many challenges and obstacles in the coming years. For instance we see that two of our neighboring cities may become host to major league teams, Santa Clara and Fremont. San Jose, largest city in northern CA will once again be "step sister" to smaller and less well known cities, and will also see local entertainment dollars flow outside our city (though in the case of Santa Clara at least the money will stay in the county.) It is my hope that Reed will take a leadership role in finding new ways to put San Jose on the map.

Cindy Chavez ran a strong campaign, and I anticipate that she will take some time off and hopefully run for another local office in the near future. I know both Reed and Chavez, both are "nice" people, both have strong ethics and morals, and while my support was for Chavez, I am hopeful that Reed will learn how to be a bit more daring in his vision for our city.

Further, how can one be upset when we still find our city lead by Democrats? Reed, a Democrat, will be joined by Sam Liccardo, another Democrat, and both candidates in the runoff for Yeager's seat are Democrats!

In the coming months we will be treated to two more elections in our city, one for Ken Yeager's council seat (District 6), and Chuck Reed's seat (District 4). Our city council will be filled with new faces in 2007, how these new council members perform will of course be covered here, as well as observations on our new Mayor, Chuck Reed.

If there is one "concern" I have about our recent local elections it is that we are seeing fewer and fewer women elected locally. San Jose's city council will have four women serving (out of 10 seats), and it is my hope that in upcoming elections we see more women running for city council.

Of course I can't "sign off" from this post without at least mentioning how GREAT Tuesday was for Democrats, and for our nation. Democrats took back both the house and senate, and our country will be the better for this change of leadership. Now we can see true oversight, now our nation has what our forefathers envisioned, checks and balances, now we can hopefully find a way to end our involvement in Iraq, we can address the health care crisis in our nation, the AMT can be addressed, and so many other issues can be brought to the table for discussion and action.

Enjoy your Saturday, and keep on checking back for more discussions on local politics (with a bit of national stuff thrown in once in a while.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Twilight Zone

Am I in the Twilight Zone? Really?

I wake up today - the day after election day - to a national revolution in the House and the Senate of Democratic values. This is probably one of the most dramatic shifts in Congress in my lifetime.

Then, I look at what happened in California - the most liberal, most progressive state in the Union... And somehow we re-elected our Republican Governor and put in a Democrat-in-name-only for San Jose Mayor? Hmmm. Are San Jose and California... more... conservative... than the rest of the country?

And then I flip on the news to hear Ed Gilispie talking about the importance of a recount and the imperative for accuracy.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone, folks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Big Democrat Victories Nationally

We'll see how the Dems fared locally and statewide soon...