After her 10-percentage-point loss to labor leader Cindy Chavez on Tuesday for the seat once held by her mother, Blanca Alvarado, plus her defeat in the 2010 primary to represent District 1, does Teresa Alvarado have a political future?
Some had expressed dismay at Alvarado's reluctance to take the fight to Chavez, who as a former San Jose city councilwoman was criticized over spending and lost to Chuck Reed in a 2006 mayoral landslide.
"This campaign demonstrated two things: There may not be Blanca Alvarado coattails, and she needs to learn to be a more skillful candidate," said one political observer, who did not want to be identified. "She needs to hear that. She thought she could win by not offending anyone, including Cindy and labor."
But other observers insist Alvarado still has political wheels.
"She's extremely bright, and she knows how to connect with people," said San Jose State political science professor Larry Gerston. "I fully expect her to surface in the public domain and be an elected official at some point along the line. She has too much to offer."
Larry Stone, county assessor and Democratic power broker, agrees.
"I don't think for a minute that Teresa's political career is over," he said. "I think she would be a very viable candidate for the right office at the right time."
San Jose Giants no longer part of lawsuit group
You may recall back in May when we wrote that San Jose Giants President Dan Orum was insisting that his team has nothing to do with the "Stand for San Jose" group suing to block the city's ballpark plans to lure the Oakland A's. We had found that odd since the original Stand for San Jose lawsuit described the group as a "coalition of entities and individuals, including residents and taxpayers in San Jose and the County of Santa Clara, and the San Jose Giants."
Orum never returned our phone and email messages to explain, which hurt our feelings so much we took our kids to another A's game instead of his minor league Giants. A's co-owner Lew Wolff returns our calls.
But you'll be interested to know that when Stand for San Jose filed a new lawsuit last week, arguing that the city continues to maintain a ballpark land option agreement with the A's that they allege is void, it no longer lists the San Jose Giants as part of the group. It also has a shorter list of individual plaintiffs: Eileen Hannan, Michelle Brenot, Robert Brown and Robert Shields. Fred Shirey and Karen Shirey, named plaintiffs in the original December 2011 lawsuit, aren't named in the new one.
Ronald Van Buskirk, Stand for San Jose's lawyer, said the San Jose Giants aren't affiliated with the group now.
Assistant City Attorney Nora Frimann noticed the dwindling number of identified plaintiffs and said San Jose may challenge the group's "standing" to sue. A trial on the original case was scheduled for November, but the cases are expected to be consolidated.
Summary of police tactic disturbs some groups
There's an age-old police tactic to help ensure that confessions don't get thrown out of court. Nudge the suspect to pen an apology letter that can be used to counteract accusations that the confession was coerced.
The July newsletter of the San Jose Police Officers' Association outlined this tactic in such frank detail that it disturbed civil rights groups who view it as pushing the boundaries of acceptable interrogation.
The newsletter was proffered by a pair of veteran officers -- Detective Enrique Garcia and Lt. Paul Francois -- who also run a police consultation firm on the side. It offered helpful tips such as "sell the letter as a means of showing remorse" and tell a suspect that those who came before have also done it, citing those techniques as staples of sales professionals.
While interrogators should stop short of prodding a suspect into writing an apology, it suggested telling a suspect the letter won't make it into the police report, and leaving the suspect alone in a room to reinforce the letter's voluntary status.
J.J. Kapp, acting assistant public defender for Santa Clara County, called the tactic old hat -- but he sees how it might worry some.
"That does offend a lot of people, especially when a client is very unsophisticated," Kapp said. He added that the newsletter "takes the cloak off" of "the idea that this is something the client or subject wanted to do."
Still, Kapp acknowledged it's within legal bounds since police are allowed to use deception. Undercover work would be mighty difficult otherwise.
"This is not a trick," SJPOA President Jim Unland said. "By the time you're getting to an apology letter, you've presented enough evidence to show you've got the goods. I would think at some point they would look and go, 'the guy's guilty, it's a good thing officers caught him.'""
County finance director now facing a demotion
Santa Clara County Finance Director Vinod Sharma is getting demoted in the aftermath of former county Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.'s descent from board president to thief of public funds.
Sharma was a conspicuous character in the Shirakawa scandal, as he publicly downplayed concerns his controller-treasurer's office missed neon, flashing, in-your-face, red flags that the former supervisor used taxpayer funds for his personal entertainment in a yearslong spending spree.
County Executive Jeff Smith is sending Sharma to a lower-level controller job in the public hospital system. Deputy county executive Emily Harrison will take Sharma's job in the interim.
Sharma's new job does not have a salary set yet, but Smith said it will be "significantly less" than his current $181,929 base pay.
Without commenting on his motives, Smith described the new assignment as "important" to improving finances at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
"Vinod has a skill set that complements the new position better than the current position," he said.
We sure hope so. In May, Sharma told us the nearly $30,000 of inappropriate Shirakawa spending his office missed needs to be put in perspective because "out of a $4 billion budget, $30,000 is not a material amount."
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Tracy Seipel, John Woolfolk, Robert Salonga, Karen de Sá and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-975-9346.