Gloves Come Off in Rocha-Pegram Race

Two weeks ago, Larry Pegram hand-delivered a letter to Donald Rocha, his opponent for the District 9 seat on the San Jose City Council. The three-page missive asked Rocha to pledge support for a doctrine labeled the “Pegram Principles,” obviously modeled on the “Reed Reforms” that helped Larry’s friend Chuck win the mayor’s job a few years back. (As if front-runner Rocha would have anything to gain by endorsing his opponent’s philosophy.) Pegram attached a personal note, essentially one of those “no-negative campaigning” promises: “Dear Don, I look forward to a campaign that is worthy of our constituents and is carried out in an honorable manner.”

Six days later, a public records request was received by San Jose City Clerk Lee Price. The request, submitted by James Spence of the San Jose–based Corporate Security Concepts, asked for Rocha’s expense reports, copies of all his emails (particularly those to and from the South Bay Labor Council), his reimbursement requests and his call records. Victor Ajlouny, Pegram’s (and Reed’s) political consultant, confirms that he hired Spence, a former SJPD officer whom Ajlouny advised during a failed run for the District 6 council seat.

Rocha was notified of the request when it was submitted. He pegged it as opposition research, naturally, and is bracing for some negative ads from camp Pegram in the near future—although he says he’s not too worried: “He’s got so much ground to make up that even if he did succeed on some level, I’m still ahead.”

Ajlouny says he doesn’t know why Rocha is worked up. “If there is something in his voting record that he has a problem with, then we’ll probably find it, and the voters will know about it,” he says. “If Don Rocha is proud of every vote he’s ever taken, and believes in every vote he’s ever taken, and thinks everything he’s done in public life can stand up to the scrutiny of the voters, then he’s got nothing to worry about.”

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

39 Comments

  1. “Ajlouny says he doesn’t know why Rocha is worked up. “If there is something in his voting record that he has a problem with, then we’ll probably find it, and the voters will know about it,” he says. “If Don Rocha is proud of every vote he’s ever taken, and believes in every vote he’s ever taken, and thinks everything he’s done in public life can stand up to the scrutiny of the voters, then he’s got nothing to worry about.”

    When did Rocha vote?  He was a Council staff person not elected official like Pegram

    Is someone going to do public records request for Pegram’s votes when he was on Council?

    • Good luck with public document requests to the City of San Jose.  I filed one with the city on May 19, 2010, just over 60 days ago, to obtain copies of material in the possession of the City and Mayor having to do with “San Jose 2020.”

      There should be a lot of material in the possession of the City’s Mayor inasmuch as he is the co-sponsor of the initiative along with County Schools Superintendent Charles Weis (currently embroiled with his own board about his administration of alternative schools).

      The Mayor’s lawlessness allowing him to ignore a public document request is typical of his behavior when he was Boss of Berryessa, even if the image peddled by his brother-in-law at the Merc was of a much kinder & gentler public servant.

  2. Let the sleaze begin. Just one more reason why I won’t vote for Pegram. Ajlouny has a poor track record in SJ of backing losing candidates and running dirty campaigns. As long as Pegram aligns himself with this kind of politics there is no place for him here in D9. It is unfortunate that the mayor continues to associate himself with Ajlouny—he doesn’t need that kind of connection and hurts his reputation.

  3. The city of San Jose needs Larry Pegram on the City Council.  We need to correct the failed policies of the past.  The policies of Cindy Chavez, Nora Campos, Terry Gregory, Ash Kalra, Forrest Williams, Ron Gonzales, Madison Nguyen and Nancy Pyle have brought San Jose to the brink of fiscal insolvency.

    • > The policies of Cindy Chavez, Nora Campos, Terry Gregory, Ash Kalra, Forrest Williams, Ron Gonzales, Madison Nguyen and Nancy Pyle have brought San Jose to the brink of fiscal insolvency.

      Wow! That certainly is a rogue’s gallery.

      I hope your trust in Larry Pegram is well placed.

    • George,
          Get a grip.  The outlandish tax’s on business has got us into this mess.  Have you seen what the City Manager has cost SJ.  Just look at the budget for her office.  Before she arrived and NOW!

  4. One persons issues are another persons “Dirty Politics”.  Seems just like sour grapes when they start tossing “Dirty Politics” and “Negative Campaigning” around.

    So many voters do want to know the extent of a candidates ties, and looking at Rocha’s e-mail correspondence with a powerful interest like the South Bay Labor Council is valid and information that should be public.  Just as an examination of Pelgram’s non-profit work.  Voters want to know, believe it or not.  Bring it out.

    Rocha’s expense reports will help us to understand what type of person he is with our money.  Most likely, they will not show much, but if he has spent a couple nights in a high priced hotel when other opinions were available, or rented a full sized car or SUV when it was just himself, these are pertinent “Issues” in any campaign.

    Metro did an exposé years ago about the spending habits (dinners before council meeting with “the Hammer Girls”, high priced SUV Rentals, etc.)  The only council member to come out unscathed was David Pandori, who charged no expenses to the city.  This confirmed Pandori’s fiscal restraint while in office and showed he “walked the talk”.

    Yes, information on a candidate before the get elected are “issues” that should be brought out in the open.  I for one am looking forward to learning more ABOUT the candidates.

  5. 2007:

    Ajlouny is Paid 38000 by City
    after 22 pages of requests for what were Ajlouny’s duties and what was his work product:  2 pages were produced.
    As a community relations consultant for San Jose, Ajlouny, based in Omaha, submitted 4 two page invoices and four contracts, two one page emails detailed his work at 19,000 a page.

    Berryessa School District

    Ajlouny paid 49K

    three pages of paper generated

    Victor, whom are you trying to kid?

    • Is Vic the Jim Carville or Karl Rove of SJ?  I can’t believe someone who’s retired to Omaha is the best source of political advice for neighborhood leaders seeking advancement to council member?

      I’d make Vic an issue in the campaign if I was on the other side.  Maybe a spoof on that Salsa ad where they find out it was made in “NEW YORK CITY!”. 

      ANNOUNCER:“Where is (whoever is running) getting their advice on what the citizens of (cambrian, North San Jose, or whatever precinct) really want from their city?”

      PHOTO SPLASH with VOICEOVER “Vic Ajlouny, high priced hired gun in Omaha who fled San Jose for better opportunities elsewhere while we’re left trying to make things work for our families in this tough economy.” (Show OMAHA background with unflattering photo of this consultant)

      “Let’s make the right choice for SJ, vote (whoever is running against) in November”

      FADE to Image of candidate backed by SJ residents and neighborhood leaders in front of SJ or local landmark like a fire station.

  6. Ajlouny’s quote makes no sense.  Rocha does have a voting record, as a school board trustee.  Documents relating to his school board voting record are not in the possession of the City.  Rocha has no voting record with the City.  He was a council staffer and now RDA employee.

    That said, it’s not “dirty campaigning” to research your opponent, particularly your opponent’s record in dealing with the public fisc.  It would be dirty campaigning to distort the resulting information in presenting it to the public.

    • I know very little about either candidate in this race.  Having said that, I can deduce that Rocha, per your post, either was or is currently a city employee with either a councilmember’s staff and/or redevelopment.

      Which raises a neat point…public business conducted via city owned email systems is sort of public record.  You can withhold personnel matters and pending legal or financial details (redevelopment negotiations on a pending sale or project) for a time, but ultimately, everything done on city email belongs to the city (and ultimately the public).

      Reminds me of some delicate talks we had to have with some Associates and Partners at a law firm I was doing IT for where we explained the clear boundaries for work versus private email accounts.

      I’d say its fair game, especially if email documents more than lunch and social events with people with business before the city.

      Is lobbying professional staff a restricted activity, or is it just office holders who get sunshine under the Reed reforms?

      • Withholding information of the work of public employees should be the rare exception.  But politicians at all levels and the bureaucrats routinely break The Ralph Brown Act.

        The Reed Reforms haven’t really addressed this issue as they should.

  7. I voted for Robert Cortese in June (whom I believe was the best candidate running, and would have made an outstanding Councilman), but I’m definitely going with Larry Pegram in the run-off.  Both candidates have their flaws, but Don Rocha is simply too much a part of the same cozy, somewhat corrupt little political establishment that has governed this city for decades.  He might not actually be part of the problem, but its reasonable to assume he most likely is, at this stage.

    Larry Pegram may be friends with Mayor Reed, but the local political establishment is otherwise almost uniformly opposed to his candidacy, which stands him in very good stead, as far as I’m concerned.  I support the labor movement in principle, but it seems that the SBLC is little more than a lobby for increased pay & benefits for public employees…and that’s something we can’t afford.  Pegram is an enemy of the SBLC agenda, and that makes him a friend of San Jose.

    Presently the Mayor is a Democrat, as are possibly all but one of the ten-member City Council (Pete Constant is a Republican, and a couple of the other Council members just might be independents, but more likely they are all Democrats).  Yet I can’t recall ever meeting someone who didn’t think that one-party rule was a bad idea.  It breeds arrogance, complacency, and corruption…which we presently have in spades.  Getting a second Republican on the City Council would help to break up the club-like atmosphere in City Hall, and hopefully force the other Councilmen to actually craft proposals that they must defend under substantive scrutiny.  We need a more adversarial environment at City Hall, so we can reach the truth, instead of having a bunch of chummy politicos smiling at us, handing us PR releases, and making the real decisions behind closed doors.  Will electing Larry Pegram accomplish all that?  Unlikely, but it will move us measurably in the desired direction.

    • Well stated Kevin. There’s presently a very narrow range of thinking at City Hall- a cozy PC liberal political establishment that has existed for the past 20 years that has encouraged waste and corruption and has steadily and inexorably propelled us to the brink of insolvency. Rocha would be more of the same. Pegram’s presence on the city council would help to interrupt the groupthink mentality that currently exists.

    • You do realize that Pegram already served on the City Council so he is much more a part of the political establishment than Rocha has ever been. He was part of the Fearsome Foursome that terrorized City Hall. You should do some research before you support him without knowing his background.
      Also, the City Council seats are non-partisan. Voting based on party affiliation is not necessarily the best way to select a candidate. Again, do some research.

      • > Also, the City Council seats are non-partisan. Voting based on party affiliation is not necessarily the best way to select a candidate.

        So, do we need to get your permission to vote on the basis of party affiliation?

        Is there some paperwork we need to submit?

      • He’s part of the political establishment from the 1970s.  If you really think that counts as compared to Rocha’s ties to the contemporary establishment, well, we’re just gonna have to disagree.

  8. > Will electing Larry Pegram accomplish all that?  Unlikely, but it will move us measurably in the desired direction.

    The Era of Obama is the era of lowered expectations.

    As low as your expectations for Larry Pegram are, they’re high enough compared to the alternative.

  9. I am not a resident in District 9, but I live in District 6. However, I did notice the investigator who requested records, James Spence who also ran for City Council in District 6 and lost. I have heard he is a former San Jose Police Officer.  Why is a former Officer helping Larry Pegram’s campaign, when Pegram ‘s Principles will clearly affect his fellow Officers’ and their pension/salaries?  That seems odd. Either way, I observe that Donald Rocha is the better candidate of the two.

    • > I have heard he is a former San Jose Police Officer.  Why is a former Officer helping Larry Pegram’s campaign, when Pegram ‘s Principles will clearly affect his fellow Officers’ and their pension/salaries?

      Jack:

      This is REALLY, REALLY a stretch.  I doubt that there is one voter this side of the Kuiper asteriod belt who will stress one brain cell worrying about this.

      There is something about Democrat political flacks that makes them imagine that they have to be cleverer and sneakier than Karl Rove.

      Why don’t you just say: “I don’t like Larry Pegram and I’m going to vote for Donald Rocha”.

      • Dear “Regular American”:
        As I had previously stated, I live in District 6 so I would not be able to vote for either candidate.  But, thanks for pointing out the obvious.  No brain cells were stressed worrying about this.  Glad yours are working.
        -Jack

    • Have you ever noticed the last few elections that you’re not only electing a specific person to the council but also empowering all their friends behind the scenes?

      This goes back at least a decade or two, but in some cases the actual council member is just a figurehead who votes the way their friends tell them.  And they don’t dare make a public statement or tough call vote without “checking in” with staff and advisors.

      That’s, I think, why people responded to the sunshine ordinances because it was clear the show wasn’t being run in the council chambers but rather with side deals and such that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

      So anyway…which of the candidates in the runoff is more likely to address the specific needs of the district residents?  If there’s need for a stop sign, or a community center or library issue and people who didn’t donate call the councilmembers office, who’s gonna pick up the cause and “fix it.”

  10. > Have you ever noticed the last few elections that you’re not only electing a specific person to the council but also empowering all their friends behind the scenes?

    > This goes back at least a decade or two, but in some cases the actual council member is just a figurehead who votes the way their friends tell them.  And they don’t dare make a public statement or tough call vote without “checking in” with staff and advisors.

    Right. 

    It’s as if they don’t have a mind of their own and they just read whatever someone puts on their teleprompter.

  11. It is so good to see a Christian like Larry Pegram running for city council. We need someone who is not afraid of spreading His word in today’s world of sin. It will be refreshing to have someone in office who publicly supports marriage as just between a man and woman, and is also pro life and anti abortion, and knows that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes. Larry is a founder of the Values Advocacy Council which stands for these Christian values.
    http://www.vac.org/aboutvac.html

  12. Pegram’s fliers make him seem like a typical negative campaign bully.  This is confirmed by his participation in the “Fearsome Foursome”.  Mayor Reed and Council members like Pete Constant are already using Bully tactics behind closed doors.  Don’t let them add a new member to their Bully group. Vote against Pegram.

  13. ” So anyway…which of the candidates in the runoff is more likely to address the specific needs of the district residents?  – Both will do ok

    There are 3 races which are classic replay of Labor / Chavez vs Chamber / Reed election battle for candidates who will vote for Labor or Chamber issues

    Reed lost to Chavez in past Council races in

    his home District 4 match up –  Lien vs Chu

    and District 8 –  Waite vs Herrera

    What will happen in 2010’s Labor/ Chavez vs Chamber / Reed election races

    Council 9 –  Rocha vs Pegram

    Council District 5 – Campos vs Carasco

    County Supervisor –  Williams vs Wassermann

    Anyone want to guess who wins ? 

    Chamber / Reed will win 2 out of 3 and maybe 3 if Pegram wins

    • This may be a reasonable frame, except it doesn’t fit in District 9.  Pegram is not just a chamber candidate.  He is a “values” candidate who wants to push an agenda far out of San Jose mainstream.  He will push for library filters and insertion of religion into civic and social decisions.  That makes District 9 a very different animal from the economic conflicts that pit Labor vs Chamber.

      See Matthew’s post above.  Pegram needs to remain far away from City Hall.

      • >  He will push for library filters and insertion of religion into civic and social decisions.

        We already have library filters that the leftwing moonbats heartily approve of and actively encourage.

        Activist groups have long practiced the crude but effective technique of simply removing books they object to from library shelves and destroying them.

        No mess.  No fuss.  No evidence trail.  No one knows what happened.  The book is just “lost”.  Permanently.

        If Larry Pegram wants to remove a book from the library (which as far as I know he does NOT) and publicly makes his case, more power to him.  People can publicly disagree.

        The scary people are the nihilists who want to purge the libraries of politically objectionable thoughts and employ “revolutionary guerrilla” tactics to do so.

      • > He will push for library filters and insertion of religion into civic and social decisions.

        Ignorant and silly.

        EVERY politician will bring his “religious” perspective to the job.

        As a wise Greek philosopher observed:

        “One cannot NOT have a philosophy”

        Translating for public school victims who may have difficulty with double negatives: “Everyone has a philosophy”

        Not believing in anything IS a philosophy.

        If Larry Pegram brings to the job a philosphy based on personal responsibility and the golden rule, sounds fine to me.

        And if you’re REALLY worried about “library filters”, then you ought to be terrified about the Democrat’s sneaky, underhanded censorship schemes like “the Fairness Doctrine” and the “Disclose Act”.

        Democrats basically believe that people have “too much information”, and they are going to make things “fair” by making sure that everyone has the same, dumbed down, government provided information.

        Putting filters on libraries is not enough for Democrats; they want to put filters on TV and radio stations and on the internet.

        Shirley Sherrod agreed that Fox News and Andrew Breitbart should be shut down.  Many Democrats agreed with her.

        “Shutting down” is the ultimate filter.

  14. Not only is Mr. Pegram a fiscal conservative, he will be pro life, he stands for marriage being between a man and woman, he believes in family values, and will not tolerate the pro gambling and pro marijuana stance that our current mayor and council are pushing for.

    • Thanks for listing many of the reasons not to vote for him. He is so focused on non-city government issues that he will not serve the needs of his constituents. Let him push his holier-than-thou platform in church where it belongs.

    • Matthew,
      This is shocking stuff indeed. 

      My guess is that the next bombshell you’ll drop on us is that Pegram is against porn in our public libraries.

    • Thanks Matthew. You’re argument is very persuasive. I agree with you and will definitely be supporting Larry Pegram for District 9.

  15. So some local “non-partisan” race turns into a national referendum on values?

    Really?  Really?….no, really?

    Why is it that candidates make it onto the council knowing nothing about street maintenance, public pensions and performance based budgeting…but can talk intelligently about every non-city issue in the national news?

    Who’s got the disconnect, the candidates or the voters?