You see the trees better when you’re not in the forest. I don’t know if someone said that, but someone should have.
Anyway, that’s the way I feel about San Jose City Hall. I left four years ago - close enough to have understanding, but far enough to have perspective.
At first, I missed the action. I certainly don’t now. It took me six months to get it out of my system. I know this precisely because that’s when I started my mornings reading the sports pages first, rather than local news and editorials.
I’ll write frequently about San Jose issues. I’ll usually discuss it within a larger framework: state, national, cultural, political, social, and business trends.
In San Jose, like many important cities, we do a lot of navel gazing. That can be a good exercise if it yields greater awareness. It’s bad if it limits perspective. It’s like a person who spends all day looking at his belly button. He removes a lot of lint, but bumps into a lot of walls. We need to look up now and then.
So here are some of the topics that I want to discuss in the coming weeks:
Councilman Terry Gregory - He’s the talk of the town—and the town consensus is that he isn’t fit for office. I even hear this from people who helped get him elected - former employees included. When your employees testify against you at ethics hearings, you’re probably not winning any management and leadership awards soon.
Most interesting story within a story: Gregory said he could take care of a political enemy by paying $50 to a crack head. Who’s the target for this low-life, low-budget assassin? Tell me your candidates.
I sat next to Mercury News VP and editorial page editor David Yarnold at a dinner recently and told him my guess is that he’s the man. My friendly advice to David: drive a different route to work everyday and be careful when you’re buying crack.
San Jose versus LA - I’m consulting for Bob Hertzberg who is running to be the next mayor of LA. I’ll write about the similarities and differences between the Garden City and Tinseltown.
My first read of the political culture: LA is more competitive and less polite than San Jose. There are four talented candidates willing to challenge an incumbent mayor in LA. That’s never happened in San Jose. Hurray for Hollywood.
Most Interesting Person I Met in 2004: Craig Newmark - I was backstage at a Howard Dean rally in Oakland prepping Governor Dean before his speech. (I was Dean’s California state director). Kevin Bayley came up to me and said, “Craig wants to meet you.”
I said, “Craig who?”
“Craig. THE Craig. You know, Craig’s List?”
“I don’t know a Craig Zalist.”
Kevin finally made me understand it was Craig Newmark – the founder of Craig’s List, the Bay Area’s uber website. Craig understands better than anyone the power of technology and how it can successfully build communities. More importantly, he believes it should.
Check out this profile and picture in Newsweek. Craig’s wearing giant bear feet slippers. Given Craig’s influence on important trends, someday we will all be wearing giant bear feet slippers.
If you have ideas for interesting topics, I’ll write about those, too. Please send me your feedback, your ideas, and even your unwanted Christmas presents. I’ll put them all to good use.
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