Chavez Lobbied District Attorney Rosen to Not Prosecute Shirakawa

On January 22, five weeks before former Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. was charged with 12 criminal counts, Cindy Chavez met District Attorney Jeff Rosen for lunch at P.F. Chang’s in downtown San Jose. Chavez, who had supported Rosen’s Republican opponent, Dolores Carr, in 2010, immediately asked Rosen if he was running for re-election. It was an odd question, since there was no reason to believe the first-term DA wouldn’t want to keep his job and suggested a veiled threat by the de-facto leader of a political machine that had just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to field candidates against two City Council incumbents who’d crossed her. Then Chavez got down to business addressing the subject she’d come to discuss. Chavez let Rosen know that the DA’s office was perceived as being overly aggressive against minority politicians and that if his office prosecuted Shirakawa, it would not be viewed favorably on the East Side. “It wasn’t very subtle,” says a source familiar with the conversation. Not only did Chavez throw down the race card and lobby Rosen “not to do anything,” South Bay Labor Council’s new executive Ben Field also lunched with Rosen and echoed the message. County executive Jeff Smith has also acknowledged that he encouraged Rosen to hand the case off to the attorney general. In spite of the campaign to influence the course of the investigation, Rosen and veteran prosecutor Karyn Sinunu-Towery resisted the political pressure and successfully prosecuted Chavez’s political ally Shirakawa—they served four years together on the San Jose City Council. It stands as the county’s biggest political prosecution, both in terms of dollars diverted and number of felonies. (Councilman Al Garza was convicted in 1983 of receiving a $6,000 cash bribe and Terry Gregory pleaded guilty to 11 misdemeanors in 2005.) Chavez and Rosen split the lunch tab. Neither returned Fly’s calls seeking comments about the encounter.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

38 Comments

  1. Wow.  Pretty outrageous.  Do the other candidates have any comment on this? 

    Isn’t there another issue here. Is a disbarred lawyer allowed to lobby on issues related to potential prosecution?  I don’t know.  But previous commentators have posted about Ben Field’s checkered past.  Is this something that’s against the law?

    • The saddest part is that its no longer shocking Lily.  It is becoming quite apparent by the excellent investigative reporting of Josh & SJI that there is a huge problem with the integrity of many of our city & county elected officials. 

      It does not surprise me in the least that Cindy Chavez would first try to influence (through a veiled threat) the DA to protect her friend then rush in to try to get the seat for herself.  The fact that this person who wants to be the new Supervisor elected to the Board would lobby to shield a felon who stole from the public, who misused his tax payer funded staff budget, who has repeatedly shown mismanagement of fiscal and personal matters rather than stand up for the voters, for the citizens for the people of District 2 is nothing short of amazing. 

      Cindy Chavez chose her personal buddy & puppet Shirakawa over ethics, integrity or advocacy for the public interest. 

      SMARTEN UP SAN JOSE!  Cindy Chavez is another out-for-herself opportunist who will bleed us dry and not even feel guilty about it!

  2. Perspective is an interesting thing. Had that conversation taken place with, say, Sam Liccardo, perhaps it would have been interpreted as helpful advice for the next election: “If you prosecute him, the East Side voters might retaliate in your next election. It might not be worth trying to rip out his throat—after all, he’s pretty much done that himself.”

    One thing a world-class city needs is world-class journalism. Here in San Jose, our journalism identifies us as provincial—and that’s being generous. Attacks on public figures using innuendo, rather than facts, does nothing to benefit San Jose. In fact, this brings to mind Everett Dirksen’s ludicrous campaign smears against an opponent. Adults are not impressed.

    • So Chavez was just offering helpful advice? You actually think someone else might believe that?  San Jose Inside is about the only actual journalism this city has.

      • I believe you missed my point, which was that the information presented here as fact was open to interpretation. This article is not journalism, it is a gossip piece being presented as reportage. When gossip is substituted for factual information, it is often a sign that the facts contradict the opinion being presented.

        The people of San Jose deserve better.

        • San Jose certainly does deserve better.  Better than Shirakawa, Campos, Campos, Coto, Garcia, Chavez et al. 

          They are despicable in their actions and their total disregard for tax payers and the public.  They pretend they are all about the people but when it comes down to it they only look to advance their personal agendas (jobs)

          How many day care centers, parks, after school programs, health agencies, intervention programs etc didn’t get funding or lost out because Gluttonous George lined his pockets and misdirected tax payer money that he refused to pay back?  Yet he went days later BACK TO A CASINO TO BE COMPED MORE “FREE” STUFF. 

          ANY self proclaimed leader who lobbies on his behalf for leniency or forgiveness is an idiot and probably just as dirty. Enough with the excuses

        • Yeah, they should get the benefit of the doubt, except we’re talking about sleazy politicians here, like Cindy Chavez and George Shirakawa Jr. Didn’t Shirakawa get busted and have to go to jail?

        • Perhaps you’re right.  If so, then it would behoove Ms. Chavez to respond to San Jose Inside’s efforts to contact her for comment, and thus set the record straight.  But interestingly, she apparently felt that her input would not lead to a more flattering version of this story.  I wonder why she’d think that?

      • Yes sir, spot on…

        Next time I want to know who’s eating with Cindy, I’ll read The Fly, or check with The Flames…

        There is nothing improper with meeting the DA for lunch, if there was I doubt Mr. Rosen would have come… And there is nothing wrong with asking, “unsubtle”, pointed questions of our elected officials… The best way to find out is to ask. And sharing your take on the politics, well that’s what they call “democracy”…

        Ya’ll be good… Lemme know if Elvis shows up for lunch… At least that’s newsworthy!

        • Thank you for offering a little reality check.

          Yes, when everything works the way it is designed to, private citizens have access to public servants and have a voice in governance. All that has been proven here is that our District Attorney had lunch with a private citizen. An argument can be made that they discussed events taking shape at the time of that lunch. Mea maxima culpa—I discussed the current special election for county supervisor at lunch today with another pricate citizen! What our DA did is, fundamentally, not substantially different.

          I’m all in favor of holding our public officials to a high standard—as long as it is a realistic standard.

  3. PC67—Every person who gives or offers any bribe to any executive officer in this state, with intent to influence him in respect to any act, decision, vote, opinion, or other proceeding as such officer, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state.

    If you accept that in fashioning this felony offense it was the intent of the legislature to protect the honor and objectivity of public officials in carrying out their duties, and you accept that DA Rosen places considerable value on his ability to win another term, then it is hardly a stretch to view the alleged actions of Ms. Chavez in this affair as a form of bribery every bit as threatening to the sanctity of our judicial system as had she offered him an envelope stuffed with cash. 

    Too bad the DA didn’t interrupt Cindy’s pricey lunch with a courtesy reading from a Miranda card.

  4. Cindy Chavez is the embodiment of all the very worst of politics in the South Bay. Just like Amy Dean did a decade ago, Cindy harps about caring for the poor while enjoying a “top 1 percent” income well into six figures, all paid for with taxpayer money. When she’s done draining as much as she can from the public, maybe she too will move to Chicago and build a stately mansion next door to Amy. Maybe Amy and her husband will hire Chavez to help with their outsourcing business, shipping American jobs to India. (Google: Newport Avenue Group) These people are all bullies, hypocrites and frauds, and thank you San Jose Inside for exposing their dirty ways.

  5. I wish I knew what lousy journalism school the author graduated from to consider this journalism. It’s gossip, at best. In court it would be considered hearsay and ignored, which is exactly what I’ll do. Apparently Chavez has done something to personally offend SJI and the stench of your offended feelings is billowing throughout this piece. “A source familiar with the conversation,” really? Laughable. If it wasn’t gossip that “source” would have no issue with coming forward and acknowledging the conversation which seems to implicate Ms. Chavez.

  6. Ok So someone called “The Fly” is quoting a “source familiar with the conversation,” on a website that picks and chooses who it investigates and exposes based on past associations with Shirakawa and current associations with labor…. well that’s journalism San Jose style. Merc-Metro-SJI…its all th

  7. FLY,
    This feels like another hit piece! First of all any body could have taken Georgie out several years ago! As I said to Scott Herhold, who were the idiots that bounced Georgie into his Dad’s position.
    I wonder why the politicions feel there are only 2 canidates. Cindy and Theresa.
    Did the Metro use up all of their ink on Georgie?
    Where’s the ink on the DA?
    Several years ago Jack VanZandt posted as the publisher of San Jose Inside, “Fixing the Mexican Heritage Plaza”  Oct. 4, 2007 he detailed the Nepotisum of then Blanca Alvarado and her children, husbands and who knows who else, as she sat on the Board of supervisors. OK, Lets not jump to conclusions. Duh!
      Alvarado and Cindy are one and the same. If I had to choose , I’d pick Georgie! Concider the vast amount of money that went to the east side all of those years and every publication kept their silence!
    Now the Metro wants Theresa, not Cindy!
      The Merc, never allowed any ink on the nepotisum that was ongoing at the MHC.
      So why now are we having to see all of the official photos on Sanjoseinside with bad ass Cindy in the barrel!
      The fly even brings up the 6000 dollar bribe Al Garza recieved from Gregory. It had nothing to do with Garza wanting to put trailer parks in Alviso?
      I’m feeling a fix comming on!
    FLY, the buzz on the street is Why has the Metro not jumped on the DA and his special treatment of his hard working boys?

    The Village Black Smith

  8. First of all, there is nothing to back this article up. Second, this is horrible journalism.

    Instead of writing “gossip” pieces, why don’t you write about facts that you can back up.

    You seriously think that Rosen wouldn’t prosecute Chavez for trying to bribe him if this is true?

    Come on people! Get real

  9. Isn’t this the same column that broke the news of Gonzales’ affair with Gisele (he married her) and the same publication that broke news of Shirakawa’s felonies (he’s goin’ to jail). If I were a betting man, like Shirakawa, I’d wager that this is reliable information. It makes perfect sense that Cindy would try and preserve her pocket vote on the board and would not hesitate to pull out a political threat. So the report is entirely consistent with the pattern of activity.

    And don’t think that the government lawyers’ efforts to stir up a lot of hay about the administrative leave pay Rosen gave a few of his managers. That seems like an attempt to put Rosen in check before he nails more corrupt SBLC-aligned pols.

    Attack the messenger rather than address the subject. Good strategy for Chavez and her supporters, since she runs from the public and won’t grant interviews.

    • I’m sorry…

      Every hairdresser in San Jose knew all about Ron Gonzalez and his then girl friend literally for month before the story “broke”, just when needed…

      And Mr. Shirakawa showed his stripes well before his first posting… A man pays his child support, people who don’t, especially when very gainfully employed, should never be considered for public office.

      But due to his father’s stellar reputation, enhanced by his sudden death, the son was swept into the Seat. It was wrong to attribute the virtues of the father to the son based merely on a family relationship.

      What makes SJI feel that choosing as the new Supervisor the daughter of this flawed son’s predecessor makes any sense? I know why Cindy Chavez did not challenge Mr. Shirakawa for the Seat in 2012, what is more interesting is why no one else did, he ran unopposed…

      Lot of wags out there but few leaders, apparently…

  10. I’m first interested in how all this very detailed, and highly speculative, information was obtained?

    Are the waiters at PF Chang really that attentive? I don’t think so, I’ve dined there…

    As for the words “pressure”, “lobby” and “influence”… They only appear to be suspicious in retrospect, with current knowledge. The inference being that the subject of the smear already had this knowledge, which is a huge stretch (we call that a hole) in logic. Something the writers of hit pieces rely on… 

    The fact that Cindy Chavez, Ben Field, Jeff Smith, or the Ghost of Mother Teresa appealed to the DA, and vocally supported Mr. Shirakawa or opposed a local prosecution which they believed might tend to divide the political realm is only “suspicious” after the Confession, not before.

    I’m sure the list of folks that advised, even helped and assisted the DA to prosecute Mr. Shirakawa is quite a bit longer. I could have easily, and happily, been in this group…

    Is that free expression of our Right to Speech also “suspicious”, potentially corrupt…?

    Of course not, the DA is an elected official, not the Pope, you can actually tell him how you feel…

    Now, if you offer him a couple nights at the condo in Lake Tahoe, you might have a problem…

    But pointing out political realities, as you see them, and asking pointed questions, is what people in politics do for a living…

    There are plenty of folks who might need cover from the fallout of Mr. Shirakawa’s misdeeds, most through no fault, other than trust, of their own. I don’t see anyone mentioned in this article who is among them…

    Ya’ll be good… But I’d keep that day job… At least until graduation…

  11. I read the Mercury news today,a 4 minute read. After a round of golf at Boulder Creek Country Club, The subject was “Whos on First”! What’s on second!
    A perfect discription of the politics of Our Village of Heart’s delight!
    Who let the Dogs Out Arff Arff!
    Where is all this going, You may ask!
    I have been active in community since Janet Grey Hayes, and Hank Lopez. Hank and I were sidekicks in the first grade. Joined the Navy and upon our dicharge, he chose to go into public Service. I went into manufactuering. I sat on his boards, and began to see the way politics sucked the life blood of any funds that were destined to help Hank in his commitment to our community.
    I made it my life’s work to document the apathy of those that pledge to help our community, as elected officials.
    It sickens me to understand that those that could help didn’t, those that could expose the neglet in their publications didn’t!
    When my dear friend Hank lopez passed away, I was left to go into the mouth of the Lion. What I found was a world of greed, favoritisum,& Nepotisum. The children of the Eastside, did not have a champion. Then, there appeared a woman named Micaela Fregosa, It was she that changed the Sal Si Puedes area.
    The EPA Came in and remains. No one took on the poverty, isolation,& 3rd world conditions, yes Right next door to the MHC. 
    This is but the tip of the horrific iceberg, that has been created by the lines drawn by the politics of San Jose.
    Of the 14 million given to the MayFair Initiative, lead by an Alvarado, none was spent to test children with High Blood Leads , until I personly called the Hewlet director and read her the riot act. The out reach person, was told to put the Blood Lead Issues on the back burner.
    I will close this rant, by saying that , Metro published, the MHC whacking me, after I called for audits of the festivals where there was a lot of cash floating around..
    Initially it was I that brought the Mariachi festival to the MHC in 1991. It did not take long for Blanca and the GI Fourm to include it into the 2 other cash COWS, 5 de mayo and the 16 of September. Life was good for those that had the political control.
      Hank is guiding my fingers as I unwind the past on my key board.
    My dear friend, Leonard McKay always told me , Chronical what you know and understand, then hide it well! There are thousands of reflection that have been shared with others. I am not the champion, only The Village Black Smith, shaping my future, on my Anvil one Strike at a time!

      The Village Black Smith

  12. Nice to see the pension pimps, the paid political consultants and the deluded marching in lockstep, staying on message and posting under all their various online pseudonyms.

    They all chime in unison how bad the journalism is. An outrage!

    Looks like SJI struck a nerve and some interesting information is coming to light. Cindy Chavez and Ben Field didn’t return calls or cooperate, so they don’t have much of a leg to stand on if they think they were treated unfairly. If they are truly interested in good journalism, they’d call reporters back, cooperate with information requests, make themselves available for interviews. They obviously don’t consider SJI worth their while … but then get their knickers in a twist when the outcome isn’t what they felt they deserved.

    If Cindy thinks the conversation was mischaracterized, then let her allow herself to be questioned and provide supporting documents. Otherwise, the record stands.

    Bottom line: Chavez stood behind Shirakawa all the way. She didn’t care if he was breaking the law and would have been happy to have him continue in office, gambling and stealing taxpayer money and championing anti-obesity, tobacco and voter reg gifts of public money to WPUSA.

    Chavez is Shirakawa in a pants suit, without a turtleneck. She doesn’t gamble in a casino. She gambles with public money, on a Grand Prix race, on a new city hall, on coming up with future operating budgets for neighborhood parks and community centers. She gambles that her behind-the-scenes dealmaking will not be exposed. That she can buy enough robocalls and Facebook adds to buy the election.

    The fact is, unless Chavez distances herself from convicted criminal Shirakawa and Gregory, and from FPPC-noncompiant, MACSA pension fund theft negligent Xavier Campos, she is an accomplice to their crimes.

    The board of supervisors needs integrity to clean up this mess. Is the recipient of numerous questionable county grants the right one to look after the public’s interests?

    Have at it unionistsas.

    • Chavez is Shirakawa in a pants suit, without a turtleneck. She doesn’t gamble in a casino. She gambles with public money, on a Grand Prix race, on a new city hall, on coming up with future operating budgets for neighborhood parks and community centers. She gambles that her behind-the-scenes dealmaking will not be exposed. That she can buy enough robocalls and Facebook adds to buy the election.

      Oh Boy you said it all right there!

  13. Why else would Chavez and Field lunch with Rosen in January 2013? Not exactly campaign donation season. Were they there to discuss gangs or improving public safety?

    This was the heat of the Shirakawa investigation. Seems pretty obvious why the lunch meeting was called.

    Doesn’t take a genius…

    • If your memory serves you well…

      In fact in early 2013 many people were talking to many others about Mr. Shirakawa’s fate, newspapers, columnists and a slew of resentful old warriors where shaking the bushes all around George Shirakawa. And not without good reason, even without the campaign contribution fraud and related offenses, he was out of his depth from day one and it was a matter of open speculation whether or not the SCCDA would act. And this was all based on what was “known” then and frankly what was then being discussed was ample ammo in an election, like the one that didn’t happen the year before, but not really rising to level of “corruption”, no quid pro quo, no smoking gun, as they say… Yet. 

      And in fact it wasn’t until investigators uncovered the blatant and very large diversion of “campaign” contributions to a private bank account and then discovered the multiple forgeries of the signatures on campaign documents covering every election excepting his very first one, that it was clear that they were not just dealing with a kid who owed the cafeteria a big bill and his homework was always late.

      But to infer that these contacts were motivated by anything other than a genuine concern for politics, and the real-life people involved in it, is the purest Yellow Journalism, and totally lacking in any evidentiary support.

      And after all, if the DA felt he was being unduly pressured both the Law and his Office provide him with the opportunity to respond in a transparent manner, he swears out complaint, begins an investigation, wears a wire, draws out the blackmailer and he brings charges…

      But since this article is so obviously irresponsible, and, as I’m told on good authority (and since all his actions to date support that telling, I accept it) the DA has an well deserved reputation for being both intelligent and prudent, thus he could not be the direct source for this… Writing…

      But if it sells one online ad or changes one vote, we’ll run it…

      Ya’ll be good… Okay…, I hear ya, but at least try…

  14. I don’t understand why this article has gotten so many, so hot and bothered.

    Did Chavez really believe that Rosen would care about not being viewed favorably in Shirakawa’s district?  Remember he would be the sitting DA, and that’s a County-wide post. Remember too that was in January.  That was before the time card scandal.

    When you get right down to it, Chavez and Ben Field are pretty much doing what you expect people in those sorts of positions to do.  Lobby politicians.  And when you get right down to it, people would be disappointed if Chavez didn’t get down and dirty.  She is not one of those people that you’d mistake for warm and fuzzy.

    What I’m more concerned about is Jeff Smith.  People in his position should not be as political as he’s been.  Now he’s got Rosen in a headlock over time cards.  That of course is to keep Rosen at bay over the way Smith’s financial people do business.

  15. Here is an after thought, to the Fly’s including, Al Garza, Terry Gregory, and George Shirakawa, what no Gonzo. These small time nuckle heads, were put in to the mix as pure “Shark Bait”.
      Why it is mentioned now, is to be determined. I seem to recall that Garza was wanting to turn Alviso into a trailer park community. OH NO!!!!!
    There is no mention of Theresa Alvarado, Patrica Roach, David Wall.
      Here we go again folks. Fly, where’s the dirt on Theresa, Patrica, David.
    It seems so obviously pathetic, to get the troups ranting about negatives when there are plenty of people that could be an important part of the Board of Supervisors in a positive way!
    Standing where I am, at my Anvil, am I the only one that sees the railroad job accomming down the usual worn out tracks?
    The institutionalized politics still prevails, across our Valley of Heart’s Delight.
    Patricia has always been in the game. This could be her moment. Sure beats the chosen two, we have been served up.
      Got Salsa!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
    The Village Black Smith

  16. “‘It wasn’t very subtle,’ says a source familiar with the conversation.” How many people do you think were at this lunch? Obviously this story (If it happened at all) comes directly from Jeff Rosen and is an attempt to get himself off the front page of the Merc and try and restore what image he has left. THINK People!!!

  17. David – I totally support you for Mayor. Do you have a web site? Email?

    Have you read the audit on the Fire Department Fire Protection? You should do so and watch the public safety committee meeting from last week. Seems Fire is hiding a lot of problems.

    I’m hoping the Fly will report on this.

  18. David has my vote, also. He knows the ins and outs of City Hall and nobody owns him. He is straight forward. If anyone can straighten up this mess, out of all of those running, I believe he can. VOTE FOR DAVID S WALL!!