The Forest And The Trees

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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  1. I’m pleased to see this blog site launched, and look forward to following your list of topics.

    I’m a married, retired guy with two grown children, a long-time resident of Santa Clara and active in Santa Clara city government.

    I hope to meet you sometime.

  2. Great Blog, and I am looking forward to your insight on local, state and federal politics.

    When do we get to place our bets on when Gregory leaves office?

  3. Great site.  I’m looking forward to Carlos Watson posting.  I watch him on CNN.  He’ great.  Didn’t know he was local boy.

    Gregory is gone or in jail in 3 months.  I got 50 bucks that says so.

  4. Jude, good comments, but now that you’re in journalism, at least in the blogosphere, remember to attribute. You are not the first to quote an unproved allegation—I saw city council members do just that at the censure hearings—as if it were established fact.

    Remember that the most sensational quotes about crack heads, Erin Brockovich and “pay to play” come from one individual (Craig Mann), with no corroborating witnesses. He’s also the former employee who testified; he lost his job with Gregory and has been out of work for a year, so he might not be an unbiased observer.

  5. Both the Mayor and the City miss you, though the former may not admit it.  Ron was never better than when you were with him. 

    This is not a dis of his staff.  They all have their strengths, but none has your wisdom.

    Like you, I have supported the Mayor when I believed he was right and have opposed him when I thought he was wrong.  I just wish he had more friends like us.

  6. Rich is correct that when Jude was with Ron G, the mayoralty clicked and the city clicked.

    What will be refreshing will be to read Jude’s perspective of politics around the state,  This is the one thing lacking in political junkie blogs, even my own, is a comprehensive look at the politics of the Golden State.