It Depends On What Your Definition of “Is” Is

Just when I thought it was safe to get out of the political water, I get pulled back in in a surprising way.  The latest turn on the Chamber of Commerce’s political mailers in the mayoral primary shows that monies far beyond the local limits were raised and spent.  The mailers attacked the business-as-usual cronyism at City Hall and the role of the city council, led by Cindy Chavez in the absence of a mayor, in various alleged nefarious and outrageous decisions. The topics were fine but not the implementation. 

Over fifty thousand dollars was raised by the Chamber from one controversial developer, Dennis Fong of Terry Gregory infamy, and the Tri-County Apartment Association.  According to our local campaign watchdog board, this was illegal. The Chamber spokesman, Bob Hines, calls it “discussing the issues” and elevating the Compac “profile.” Issues and profile? Mission accomplished, Bob. The issues were raised and the damage done. “Is” is now defined to nobody’s satisfaction. Just as Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff were able to raise their profiles, so too the Chamber has seen their name in lights. They were also able to amass a body count as high as the final scene of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

It was careless, it was avoidable and it was just plain dumb.

While big labor and its surrogates have savaged opponents and made a farce of our local campaign ordinance, they were at least halfway smart, some would say devious, about it. Their fingerprints were visible but not messy. On the other hand, to take money from a developer who was in the middle of an unwarranted condemnation, but who used ethically challenged lobbyists and actually bribed one council member, is taking poor judgment to George Bush-like heights. Maybe besides Fong and the Apartment Association crowd, they could have thrown in some less controversial donations from Saddam Hussein and Ken Lay. What were they thinking in taking such large amounts of money from so few?

In finally coming off the canvas as the municipal deadbeat of recent elections, the Chamber flaunted our campaign ordinance and became the “issue.”  Now, they are even “challenging” it in court to get it tossed out. Great thinking. We can return to the wide-open days of a few selfish developers and the win-at-any-cost labor block funding each and every election. It almost makes you nostalgic for the good old days when the most vicious and foolish forces in municipal elections were our gambling clubs.


  1. #1: Do you continue to cheer for Mr. Fong when he offers (Opus One) bribes to City Officials? Does he continue to offer bribes to City Officials today?

    Ms. Sinunu and Ms. Carr:  If elected,  will you prosecute both sides of such “transactions”, or just the recipient?

    When we all discovered that Terry Gregory was a crook, many seemed to forget that the offering of bribes is also a crime.

  2. San Jose’s limits on campaign fund raising are blatantly unconstitutional.  COMPAC will win in court. 

    You can’t just sit by and witness the unions send out hundreds of “volunteers” to knock on doors and leaftlet the town and not consider that a politival contribution.

    The Chamber is finally showing some “cojones” and is going toe to toe with the labor lobbyists.  Go get ‘em Pat!!

  3. Tom:

    I hope that in future blogs there will be an examination of the tatics of the SBLC, including those of Amy Dean, Bob Brownstein, Cindy Chavez and Phedra Ellis-Lampkins. 

    There are at least two sides to every story and I’m interested on your take on their tatics over the years.

  4. Tom, no, three wrongs don’t make a right.  Nonetheless, I continue to applaud those who champion the rights of the individual.  Eminent domain tactics have, for far too long, been mis-employed by government agencies.  Finally and at last, we’re seeing a reversal of this cancer-like behavior.  With the recent and misplaced U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this subject, we’re now seeing legislation in Congress as well as most of the States.  Thank goodness there are individuals out there to carry the banner… Dennis was one of them.

  5. 1 & 6 – Careful what you wish for…. Sure, there have been some abuses of eminent domain—fix those problems, but you sound like you are ready to get rid of eminent domain use completely. If that happens, it will cost you and me a lot more in tax dollars due to governments being forced into large payouts. It is a very complicated situation and I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I do suggest exercising caution on this issue.

  6. Talk about losers—how about that great “deal” we continue to get on our garbage. Thanks to Ronzo, the council may be backed into a corner and have to select ethically questionable NorCal because there are no other qualified bidders. And, just to sweeten the deal we’ll get to pay 25% more. It just keeps getting better.
    I’m waiting to hear GonzalesChavez tell us what a great deal this still is for us. Thanks a lot, Ron.

  7. #2 Guardhouse—it may be a mere technicality, but I don’t believe Dennis Fong offered a bribe.  I believe he provided one when asked by Mr. Gregory.

    Far more troublesome is his alleged $50k contribution to COMPAC to help fund the anti-Cindy piece.

    Speaking of Mr. Gregory, does anyone know where he is and what he’s doing now?

  8. Jeffrey
      I have many times criticized the actions of labor as dishonest and unethical when they merited such comments. They have utilized money from our former No. 1 “evil interest”, Bay 101, to fund campaigns and were fined by the FPPC on a complaint by Mike Fox Sr. and David Pandori on that issue. Their lobbyists are sleazy and unethical in large measure.  Yet, the Chamber/COMPAC should not get off lightly for violating the limits of our ordinance and making it worse, trying to overturn the entire ordinance. It’s like getting caught speeding and then running away from the police to make matters worse. Pat Dando was right to exert influence and trying to breathe life into a moribund organization, but erred in the implementation. The “Mercury” criticism was sudden death by excess, far beyond Pat’s “offense.”  TMcE

  9. Three cheers for Dennis Fong, the lone sole who took on the Redevelopment Agency and City Council and staved off the worst kind of eminent domain, a taking of private property for another private individual’s use!!!  It’s crap like that caused the nationwide groundswell to make such takings illegal.

  10. #10: Mr. Fong was seeking (illegal) favors from Gregory, by arousing Gregory with crab and wine.  Gregory announced his price, and Fong willingly paid.

    Fong only squealed to the Merc after he discovered he had been double crossed.  Hold you nose with both of these characters.

  11. The whole Gregory episode played like a side show.
    OPUS is no symphony. Did I miss the scene where Dennis had a gun held to his head when he had to fork over the Vino.
      I recall Gregory’s victory over the Mayor’s choice. “Oh Darn” the Mayor must have said!
      Let’s have a show of hands of folks that know of like transgressions relating to past and present Wino Politics.
      Gregory got nailed for getting set up with a case of wine. Duh?
        Those of us that watch the parade from our horse shoe anvil, belive that, perhaps Gregory, and not the Curse of Quetzaqualtle, is what may have brought down the whole city council debachle.
        Hey if empty wine bottles could talk, could Nor Cal have the goods on other politicions.
        I was traveling behind a garbage truck several days ago and the term
    “Political Polution” poped in to my mind. I looked it up in the EPA guide book and could not find that statue. When exposure to it, it resembles Laughing Gas when combined with steam at 8am in the San Jose Athletic Club steam room.
        Let me try and sort this out.
      Gregory, a case of vino.
      The mayor, you name it,
      Cindy 4 mil+ you name it.
      Manny Diaz, DUH? 
      Then theres You know “Who”, A Half
          Million Dollar Plastic Snake
      My personal favorite,
          The One Million dollar Tonka Toys
          in front of our Stain-Less Steal Silly Hall
      Does any body feel like perhaps some one should grab the stearing wheel from the person that’s driving?
      I’m reserving my judement on Gregory until we can read “The Rest of the Story” in May.
      Silly thoughts for a perfect Wed. evening!
          The Village Black Smith

  12. Geez, I can recall opposing mayoral candidates, not you TMc, gratefully taking handouts from Garden City.  Most candidates owed a lot to them, not to mention most charities in this community.  Overall, perhaps this community was better off.  Always amazes me how most other communities are forging ahead with upscale gambling establishments who have ties to big Las Vegas casinos.  At least ours were locally owned and operated.  So now, we are so moral, led by our moral mayor, that we can eliminate their $5 million city tax bill annually.  Seems to me, and I said this years ago, this can bankrupt the city.  With our new Taj Mahal that’s not such a far off concept.  So, let’s pat ourselves on the back and be righteously moral, but bankrupt.

  13. Poor Cindy.  The Reedites knowing who runs the show at Reed Valley Tech, which offers bachelor degrees in standing for nothing until it is cleared by Victor, found out she supports Isreal, so she was blasted.

    Is Chuck supportive, or allowed to be supportive?

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