Opposing Labor Forces Square Up, Drop F-Bombs at Starbucks

Post-election: When people stop being polite and start being real.

On Friday, Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote perhaps his most entertaining piece to date about the 2014 elections, recapping a public dispute between Bobby Lopez and Neil Struthers. According to the report, the two men, who stand on opposite sides of the labor playground, squared up on each other at a Starbucks.

And by square up, I mean they reportedly took competing cell phone pictures of each other, dropped some F-bombs and then rubbed their chests against one another. (Apparently, breakdance fighting has finally met its death.)

Lopez, former head of the San Jose Police Officers Association and current prez of the Fraternal Order of Police, gave substantial backing to Magdalena Carrasco in her East Side City Council victory over incumbent Xavier Campos. And by substantial backing, I mean his independent committee spent $100,000 to help her win—probably more than both candidates spent in the race combined.

Struthers, former CEO of the local Building and Trades Council, is a Campos clan inductee. He’s married to State Assembylwoman Nora Campos and brother-in-law to Carrasco’s vanquished opponent.

According to Herhold's account, Struthers stared Lopez down and snapped a photo while the latter was sitting in "a comfortable chair" inside Starbucks. Lopez then pulled out his phone and took a photo of Struthers to show he would not be intimidated. Touché.

I’ll let Herhold take it from here with the occasional aside:

“He says, ‘Bobby Lopez?’ You’re a piece of (bleeping) (excrement)’,” Lopez recalled. “‘You screwed my brother. And I’m going to (bleeping) get you’.”

First of all, if anyone deserved to get screwed in that race—and I’m not saying anyone did get screwed—but if someone did, wouldn’t it have to be Campos? We’re talking about a guy who won the 2010 election against Carrasco because of a fraudulent mailer, which has since been tied to Campos’ close buddy, convicted ex-supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.

Campos invoked the Fifth Amendment—to even his past supporters' chagrin. In his testimony, he refused to even admit that he's a councilmember and Nora is his sister! OK, back to Herhold:

“I was amazed at the public display of anger,” said Lopez, who said he stood up as the two men engaged in a bit of chest-bumping. “It was astonishing that he was that much out of control.”

Can you just imagine the faces of other Starbucks patrons? Two grown men bumping each other in line like a baseball ump and some crusty old manager who just knows that the strike should have been called foul. And here these customers thought they were only gonna get a latte.

Struthers said he could not recall using the precise words Lopez described. But he acknowledged there had been a confrontation.

“We’ve been through four years of people talking (excrement), of people writing (excrement),” he told us. “After a while, it gets personal. I told him how I felt.”

For a guy who can't remember if he cursed to then go about recalling the incident with curse words, I think it's safe to assume Struthers let loose. But to his broader point, anyone who would dare publish criticism (or thoroughly investigated reports) about Struthers and the Campos clan should best avoid Starbucks. And not just because their coffee sucks.

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

11 Comments

  1. I knew it…this electronic litterbox has turned into the National Enquirer. Thank you for the demise of intelligent reporting.

  2. Bobby Lopez is an idiot and just looking to get his name out there. Lazy police officer and a lazy POA rep. Time to just go away with Chuck and Pete.

    By the way Scott and the Mercuy News suck too. This Blog is sorry to say going down the same road.

  3. Some interesting points to ponder.

    Being neutral from Seventrees

    Yes, Campos Campaigners did seem to go out of their way to run afoul of campaign laws.

    However, as San Jose Inside reported, Lopez fostered an independent campaign effort that did not properly disclose its organizational backing, and seemed to comingle funds. Both are illegal acts, and Lopez, a former police officer would arrest anyone who broke the law for playing loose with the company funds as he did.

    So Lopez is hardly an angel, and has a dark side to his campaign efforts.

    The Southern California press outline that John Shallman has a terrible record of campaign finance shenanigans, Shallman is the one of the sleaziest campaign consultants around, and has been named in a campaign ethics complaint against Lopez and Carrasco.

    Carrasco has begun her time in the same ethical quagmire. She claims she did not know, but Carrasco and her ex husband, Kevin De Leon, the Vegas Kid, did help put together an independent expenditure. So Lopez, the Field Marshal of Political Sleaze, is hardly in a position to claim innocence, and one wonders about the political consultants in San Jose associated with Bobby the Sleaze Lopez, who will likely under questioning throw his coconspirators under the bus.

  4. I bet Dave Cortese was just as mad as Neil knowing that his endorsement of Xavier Campos was all for naught? Why did a candidate for maor endorse Campos as the best representative of D5? Are those the type of clowns he might choose for his administration? Who ypu are friends with says a lot about you.

  5. Note that the Santa Clara County Democratic Party also endorsed Xavier Campos (as a sole endorsement, when they have the option of making a dual endorsement, so could have endorsed Magdalena too, but chose not to. The question is, ‘why’?)

    • Labor honchos have overplayed their hand. For decades San Jose and Santa Clara County was a labor friendly place because everyone was prosperous but after the housing market crash and then the hit to the national economy local voters became more reform minded but labor doesn’t seem to want to take their share of the hit. They can continue to back shady, ethically and criminally challenged candidates and the public might take a while but they’ll weed them out eventually. SJ Dems lost some clout with their recent backing of Shirakawa and Campos. They could have and should have dual endorsed but they played an all in hand that was subpar.

  6. Josh,

    If you want to do some real reporting how about why our president is sending us back into a no win war in Iraq. Advisers, come on these are special forces, “Boots on the ground” as the president likes to say. I do not need a chest bump as a good story.

  7. There are some interesting things about this.

    1) Steve Veres, a contributor to Carrasco, works for Kevin De Leon. John Shallman lists Veres as client. Francisco Leal also has a relationship with John Shallman, another contributor to Carrasco. Both are being named as witnesses in the ethics complaint. Neither want to comment. Ps. remember K. Durkee, the treasurer who defrauded many elected officials? She is a close associate of John Shallman, De Leon, and Carrasco.

  8. If you look at Carrrascio’s paperwork, you will see John Shallman, his clients, and his sub vendors like Patriicia Duchene all over it. Now, Shallman decides to use a different company name in 2014 and works for an “independent committee?” Carrasco, Shallman, Francisco Leal, G. Crummitt, Bobby Lopez, Brad Chism, and Patricia Duchene, another vendor with a checkered past are all being named as witnesses in this messy business before the FPPC and the City Clerk. De Leon, he engineered the whole thing.

  9. Impressive. Usually stuff like this is orchestrated by Cindy Chavez. Why you crying? So many people told Carrasco to get over it when she lost, even though Camp Campos blatantly cheated. Poor baby X. Unemployed with no prospects

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