Story of the Week: Milpitas Councilmember Steals Ex-Husband’s Mailbox?

Gadfly
noun ˈgad-ˌflī

1: any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
2: a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism

This story involves definition No. 2, but we’re not here to make fun of a strident citizen in the snarky manner you might expect. No, this Story of the Week focuses on a gadfly getting the best of an elected official. The whole deal is pretty absurd, so, of course, it happened in Milpitas.

The Milpitas City Council chambers was packed Tuesday night. A furor had erupted over the city’s consideration of outsourcing police duties. During the public comments portion at the beginning of the meeting, some people spoke about the need for a greater public safety presence. Then a gadfly by the name of Isaac Hughes—wearing shorts, a purple Polo and a sunhat—showed a video of Councilmember Debbie Giordano allegedly stealing her ex-husband’s mailbox.

Hughes’ bravado once he gets the mic is classic.

“I don’t want to be interrupted by anybody,” he says. “I’m not asking questions. … The city attorney will not interrupt me, because I know he knows my constitutional rights. Show No. 2.”

And off we—wait, technical difficulties.

“What happened to my video?” Hughes asks. “Make it work, I know they work. I know I’m not being sabotaged here.”

He wasn’t; Giordano was. Here’s video of the full meeting for more context. (Start at the 32-minute mark.)

The video clearly shows a woman get out of her SUV, put items into several mailboxes and then remove one mailbox from a fence before driving away.

“There she goes,” Hughes says. “She just stole a mailbox.”

Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, a long-time adversary of Giordano’s who had his own snafu at City Hall not too long ago, seems to take a little pleasure in the proceeding,

“I want to thank you, now,” Esteves says. “Thank you, sir.”

Giordano, clearly irked by her ex-husband’s friend showing a video of what he alleged to be criminal activity, asks Hughes to come back and answer some questions. He rightfully declines—any gadfly worth its salt knows that if the tables were reversed, an elected official wouldn’t answer questions during the public comments portion of a meeting. Giordano then says the two have a running history and enlists the help of City Attorney Mike Ogaz to find out if Hughes’ actions might qualify as the activity of a lobbyist. (Hughes says he is a friend of Mike Giordano, the councilmember’s ex-husband, and that he received the tape at no charge. He adds that the video is a few months old.)

Ogaz demurs, and Hughes cries out from the crowd, “I’m not a lobbyist.”

“OK,” Mayor Esteves says and starts laughing.

During his presentation, Hughes also said a case was filed with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. A call over to the Sheriff’s Office was not returned, and the District Attorney’s Office has yet to confirm a report was received. We’ll update once we know more.

(UPDATE: The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that case No. 12-158-0438E, a petty theft report, says that a mailbox was stolen June 6 in the 1900 block of Old Calaveras Road in Milpitas, an unincporporated part of town. The report states that the suspect pulled a mailbox off its post without permission of the owner and drove away with it. The victim is seeking prosecution for the theft of the mailbox, valued at $12. No arrests or citations have been made, as follow-up still needs to be conducted.)

Later in Tuesday’s meeting, the council decided to put an ordinance on the next agenda that public safety workers not be outsourced. It’s worth noting that no one made a bid to take over Milpitas’ policing duties, and even the Sheriff’s Office formally declined to submit a bid.

One could guess that the Sheriff’s Office wanted nothing to do with Milpitas’ foolishness.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

18 Comments

  1. Last I looked, theft of a mailbox is a felony in violation of Federal law – very serious business.

    Federal Law – Title 18, Section 1705:  “Whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposited therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

    The foregoing may result in the violator serving a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of $250,000.  Giordano’s ex-husband or the District Attorney should inform the local Postmaster who will, in turn, provide the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

  2. The Meyer of San Jose, (Me) Meyer Weed, also qualifies as a gadfly per definition #2. It seems that several of my Facebook posts to MercuryNews stories critical of SJ District 1 Councilmember and person who quit his membership in the SJPOA,  Quitter Pete Constant, raised the ire of Quitter Constant’s Budget and Finance Director Shane Patrick Connolly.

    Connolly sent me a private message accusing me of violating Facebook’s User agreement. He demanded that I change my name or he would report me and have be banned.  I sent him back a message pointing out the time and date stamp on his message indicated that he was using social media on City Time (ABOUT 10AM on a Tuesday when the Council was in session – maybe 9/18 @10:04AM Shane?) I reminded him of the City Policy that was in play at a time when other City Employees at the police department were facing discipline over tweeting Mayor Reed’s traffic ticket – in violation of the policy.

    Shane said my response was a “veiled threat to report him” which would never be taken seriously if I were to follow through. He said that getting me banned from Facebook was his “civic duty” and actually would be judged a “sanctioned” use of social media by a City Employee akin to “taking out the trash” especially if the “trash” was a person who was so openly critical of “City sponsored news releases.”  (Note to all from Shane (R): Do Not Critcize City News Releases in these United States of America!) 

    Then he closed his second message to me covering the fact that he was sending me said messages on CITY TIME by saying he “ONLY” posts on his “PERSONAL SMARTPHOINE” and ONLY ON HIS COFFEE BREAKS.

    So…. Gadfly Meyer Weed’s last post was to the Merc’s IA piece last Sunday regarding Quitter Constant’s mind change where he demanded a closed meeting with the POA regarding his continued membership. I was an odd change since he was so adamant before that the hearing be open and that the public be allowed to judge its fairness.

    I spoke to a person who attended the hearing and learned that it went longer than anticipated due to the number of witnesses and documents submitted both for and opposed to Quitter Constant’s continued membership.  At that point it dawned on me that Quitter Constant would want to protect the identity of persons (especially current members of the SJPD) who testified in his behalf. I posted this to the IA comments section and shortly after received notice from FB that my account was deactivated for posting copyrighted material – listed were a photoshopped picture of Reed with Bozo the Clown Hair and nose and the caption “your time is up” and “You’ve been Chucked!”  –  My photo of Jim Carey as the Grinch (who looks a lot like Reed) and a side-by-side study of an etching of Vladimir Lenin pointing during a speech compared to Reed pointing in a similar fashion during a speech.

    I followed the “deactivation” appeal process, which consisted of verifying my account again only to receive immediate notification that my appeal was denied.

    So what’s the point? Free speech isn’t a value held by Shane Patrick Connolly and by extension his boss Quitter Constant – and by extension the Government of the City Of San José.  Nor is it in the realm of interest of Facebook. That’s fine I WILL find a work around that Facebook will accept. – or not – don’t really care. I wonder how the USA would have turned out without the “Cato and Brutus” Papers or the “Publius Papers?”

  3. As many of you have pointed out in the last few days, every time I run for election, my ex husband decides to try and hurt my campaign. Once again this is true.

    Many of you have heard about or seen the video of me removing the mailbox from my former home I lived in when I was married.

    The mailbox a hand painted mailbox and a gift from my mother to me when I was living there. I considered it a family heirloom. The mailbox was now rusting and looking bad. I took it, gave it to Harriet McGuire to restore and returned it in about a week. I did it as a gift to my daughter – to restore the mailbox that came from her grandmother.

    In the mean time a report was made to sheriff’s dept. When the deputy showed up at my door at 5:45 am on a Friday morning about 3 days after I got the mailbox, I explained everything to the deputy and gave him a copy of the email I had sent to Harriet asking her what the timeline was for restoration. After seeing it, the deputy said he understood and left.

    The following Monday or Tuesday, I shipped the mailbox to my daughter. At the same time, I mailed a picture of the restored mailbox, a copy of the mailing receipt, and a request for a copy of the report. I have never heard back from the deputy.

    The fact that it is now being reported that the case regarding a $12 mailbox is still open about 4 months later does not surprise me because of the close relationship between some of my political opponents and the Sheriff’s Department. And it is reported my ex is trying to have them file criminal charges.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Debbie Giordano

    • You committed a crime.  why no apology?  You had no good intentions by stealing property that wasn’t yours.  For a decade you have embarked on a campaign of harassment toward your ex and your daughter.  If anyone else committed this crime we would call it theft.  But not if you commit a crime.  Why are you so self entitled Debbie?

      Answer this question for the taxpayers of Milpitas – How did you persuade the city of Milpitas to pay for your college education off the backs of backs of the working poor.  You are a grown woman with a successful real estate business.  You make a great living, so how could you demand money for your personal education when so many brilliant kids have to go without.  I would like an explanation.
      Your actions are not fair to the rest of us who play by the rules.

  4. I’m going to move to Milpitas, it snow’s there.
    Doesn’t that clown Vic Aljouny have a puppet on that board there.
    Who ever that guy gives advice to, leaves a path of destruction. Talking to you mayor Rufus.