Saturday, July 29, 2006

Welcome to Mayor Watch!

Welcome to Mayor Watch, the blog that makes sense of local politics. The goals of this blog are to a) take a long hard look at city hall and b) keep it real. Now if you haven’t had time to read the newspaper everyday for the past several months to track the San Jose mayoral race, you should know that I don’t blame you and more importantly I’m here for you. I understand why those of you without a burning passion for government skip the local politics section of the newspaper and go straight to Doonesbury. And how can anyone be expected to watch the local news while any one of the 9 CSI spin-offs is on? Hell, I’m surprised you’ve made it this far through this article when there are videos of fat singing kids at CollegeHumor or EbaumsWorld. Nonetheless, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick review of what has gone on thus far in the mayoral election…

In the beginning, there were ten. Five of them raised a sizeable amount of money and received a sizeable amount of votes. The other five are like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway? or the opinions of pop singers – they just don’t matter. So let’s stick to the ones that do matter. In alphabetical order:

Cindy Chavez was the frontrunner from the beginning and consequently the recipient of gratuitous attacks from all parties. Chavez, a City Councilmember from District Three, received and continues to receive a lot of bad press for her connections with San Jose’s pride and joy, Mayor Ron Gonzales. Their perceived alliance is based on their similar votes in the past, their titles as Vice-Mayor and Mayor and, let’s be honest, their Latino last names.

David Cortese is a Councilmember who was previously a businessman and School Board Member from East Side Union High School District. He was predicted to fare well in the primaries and was surprised to find that he didn’t.

Michael Mulcahy is a businessman and former executive director of Children’s Musical Theater San Jose. In order to curb lobbyism, Mulcahy promised not to accept any campaign contributions from lobbyists. This promise was made easier by the fact that Mulcahy is extremely rich. And I ain’t gonna lie – he was probably the best looking candidate for mayor too.

David Pandori, aside from having a last name that sounds like my favorite Indian food, is also Santa Clara County’s Deputy District Attorney. Most political hopefuls know that people have short attention spans and thus need their messages to be delivered succinctly. Rather than releasing a nice sound-bite however, Pandori wrote a novel. A Better San Jose by David Pandori is the War and Peace of mayoral literature.

Chuck Reed is a lawyer and a District 4 Councilmember who ran on a platform of ethics. I know what you’re thinking: Yeah right, I’ll vote for an ethical lawyer right after I wash my pet unicorn. But this guy is legit. After several years in the Air Force, Reed has a rigid persona that makes Dick Cheney look like Steve-O.

If any one of these candidates had received more than fifty percent of the vote, he or she would have become the mayor and this blog probably would never have been started (a scary alternate universe indeed). That didn’t happen, and thus the story continues. After all was said and done back in June, Chuck Reed came in first place with 28.8% of the votes and Cindy Chavez came in second place with 23.2% of the votes. In November, Chavez and Reed will face-off in what is quickly becoming a heated election.

-Governator Jr

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Other Big Race in San Jose

As rumors and accusations heat up the mayoral race, San Jose has forgotten about the other big race coming up this weekend. It’s time to put on our umbrella hats, eat some greasy food, and try and catch a glimpse as some of the fastest drivers in the world tear through the streets of Downtown San Jose. That’s right, the Grand Prix is back and has everyone up in arms.

Whether it’s the scorching heat or the fact that San Jose hasn’t seen a good brawl since Beavers Bar and Grill closed down, people seem ready to fight over this weekend’s main event. While some race enthusiasts eagerly await the thrilling entertainment, there are many who consider the Grand Prix to be a wasteful expenditure that creates more traffic in the downtown streets. To solve this debate, we’ve decided to create a little race of our own, pitting the biggest advocate for the Grand Prix, Cindy Chavez, against the biggest opponent, Chuck Reed (What a coincidence! They’re both running against each other for Mayor as well!).

The race begins, and immediately off the line Chuck Reed smokes Cindy Chavez as she pays $4 million to Grand Prix organizers to put on this extravagant event. But Cindy is looking to close in on Chuck as he stops to grab a bite to eat from a vendor which brought over a million dollars to San Jose at last year’s Grand Prix. Both drivers are now neck and neck and just as Cindy tries to pull ahead of Chuck, she ends up stuck in traffic behind a road barrier set up to line the Grand Prix track. Cindy pushes through the traffic with the support of the 54 different countries viewing the Grand Prix and she can see Chuck tearing down the final stretch. Just as Chuck gets ready to greet David Lee Roth at the finish line, a blur blasts by him and rips the red tape. The most amazing comeback in the history of racing, Cindy Chavez wins thanks to a $41.6 million gain for the city of San Jose!

There you have it, when all is said and done, the Grand Prix will end up boosting the San Jose city budget and will help business within the city thrive. This $4 million investment is projected to bring in $400 million over the next ten years. Now I’m no mathematician, but spending $4 million to get $41.6 million in one year seems like a pretty good deal for San Jose. So if you want to help San Jose, or if you just want to rock out to some David Lee Roth, be sure to come out to the city’s biggest sporting event of the year this weekend.

-SJ Rookie

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Wikipedia War

A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News titled “On Wikipedia, someone's adding mayor's troubles to his profile” revealed that the popular Wikipedia website, which allows visitors to edit the content of encyclopedia-like articles, has become a new battleground in the San Jose mayoral race. The public-edit feature, intended to democratize internet content, has instead politicized it as supporters advance the agenda of their candidate on the candidate's online entry. Although the Mercury article focuses on how this phenomenon has affected Mayor Ron Gonzales, who’s entry portrays him in all his indicted glory, it also highlights a definite bias against Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez. Chavez’s Wikipedia entry contains a section entitled “Norcal and Grand Prix Scandals” and alleges that Cindy has some sort of secret alliance (a la Survivor conetestants) with Mayor Gonzales. On the other hand, the Mercury article explains, “Mayoral rival Chuck Reed's entry is more flattering”. His entry has material on every single achievement of his life save the Outstanding Student of the Month Award he received at Woodward Elementary School.

Wikipedia entries may be deleted if they violate the Neutral Point of View policy, which states that all Wikipedia articles must be written representing views fairly and without bias. Proving bias is not a science. Instead of arguing for bias, people discovered that it’s easier to just go in and change it themselves. After the Mercury article was published, Wikipedia users started logging on and the entries began slowly evolving. For example, on the day the article was published, it reported that Chuck Reed’s Wikipedia entry praised the fact that he voted against “several actions which later proved to be far more expensive than expected”. The next day, that sentence was changed to state that Reed voted against “several actions which he thought were too expensive.” Not the boldest of changes, sure, but the editors on staff at Wikipedia would most likely delete something more saucy like “Write in Joe Schmo for Mayor!” And after dozens of similarly small but purposeful changes, the entries are looking quite different than they did on the day of the Mercury article.

The majority of changes occurred on Chavez’s entry. To balance the section on Cindy’s alleged scandals, entire sections have been added on her Sunshine Proposals and Public and Community Service. In addition, some of her high-profile endorsements have been added to the Campaign for Mayor section. In their attempt to “neutralize” the entry, Chavez supporters may have gone too far to the other side, thus prompting a request for deletion from a Reed supporter. The request claims that “Chavez supporters have been vandalizing this page” by adding “enthusiastic propaganda”. In response, the Chavez supporters wrote, “The edits made to this page eliminate some of the obviously biased description of the recent Mayor's race, information clearly intended to portray Ms. Chavez in a negative light.” As a result of the discussion, the man behind the curtain at Wikipedia determined that there is no consensus so that he would default to keep it.

Go see for yourself. Take a look at Chavez’s entry: ( and Reed’s entry: ( If any part of the entries stands out as opinionated or biased, change it. That’s the beauty of our modern day technology.

“Neutral Point of View: All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias."

-Governator Jr.