San Jose's Democratic mayor has long frustrated local liberals with some of his moderate and conservative policies, and now he's making waves for endorsing a — gasp! — Republican in a statewide race.
Chuck Reed announced last week he is backing the GOP's Ashley Swearengin for California controller. Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, is taking on Democrat Betty Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization, for the open seat in November.
Mayoral endorsements for an election with a relatively low level of interest aren't usually big news, but Reed's pick has been covered in newspapers around the state because it's not typical for a big-city mayor to back someone from another party.
But those who've spent much time in San Jose City Hall won't be shocked at the decision by Reed, whose views don't exactly align with your typical Bay Area liberal. The Air Force veteran and Kansas native has not supported same-sex marriage (unlike most other prominent California Democrats), has made being fiscally conservative a hallmark of his administration and, most notably, continues to fight tooth-and-nail with public-sector unions that typically serve as a base for local Democrats.
In a news release announcing the support, Reed noted that he had worked with Swearengin previously as part of a coalition that brings together mayors of large cities from across California.
"She demonstrated the leadership and determination that we need to reform government and improve efficiency without regard to party labels," Reed said in his statement. "Ashley Swearengin's focus is not on partisan politics, but rather on getting the job done right. I'm proud to support her."
Education office keeps top official's calendar private
Want to know who's trying to influence California's governor or San Jose's mayor? Just check online for their work calendars -- which the governor's office and San Jose release and which courts have ruled are public domain.
But try finding out the same for top honchos of the Santa Clara County Office of Education. We wanted to peek at the calendar of Chief Business Officer Micaela Ochoa. We've heard the administrator, whose total compensation is at least $235,900, has been out of the office as often as twice a week while pursuing a doctorate degree. Certainly, she's not much available when we try to talk with her. But perhaps it's just us.
We found that the schedule of Office of Education administrators showed Ochoa missed all or part of Mondays and Wednesdays for six weeks in June and July. But office spokesman Ken Blackstone wouldn't confirm Ochoa's educational pursuits.
"Our employees take time off for what they want to take time off for, and that's up to them," he said.
The Office of Education's attorney, Maribel Medina, refused to hand over Ochoa's calendar, arguing that it would hinder the "deliberative process privilege" and undermine the office's ability to perform its functions. She notes that Ochoa meets with various employees, public officials and individuals.
"Providing the details of these meetings would create a chilling effect for those who meet with the CBO," Medina said. "In addition, it could in turn prevent the CBO from being able to fulfill the functions of her position."
The state Legislature, too, has resisted releasing members' calendars -- leading to a lawsuit filed last week by the Bay Area News Group and Los Angeles News Group.
But disclosing officials' calendars doesn't seem to be keeping the governor or officials in San Jose and many other cities from taking care of business. Wouldn't some sunshine on Office of Education operations tend to warm it up, not chill it off?
So far, Rosen's disciplinary actions have been upheld
It's one thing to discipline county employees; it's another to make it stick. District Attorney Jeff Rosen fired prosecutor Lisa Rogers for abusing her power by pressuring police to arrest her husband's ex-wife.
She appealed, claiming she was fired solely because she is severely hearing-impaired and relied on a stenographer funded by the District Attorney's Office. But the county Personnel Board sided with Rosen in May 2013, upholding her termination.
Now, she's filed an administrative appeal with Santa Clara County Superior Court. Odds are against her winning, but you never know.
Then there's prosecutor Daniel Carr (no relation to former DA Dolores Carr).
Rosen claimed Daniel Carr improperly withheld crucial evidence in a San Jose gang murder case until the brink of trial and suspended him in late 2012.
The suspension was the maximum penalty Rosen could impose short of demoting or firing the prosecutor, and it cost Carr four weeks' pay -- $16,500.
He immediately appealed the disciplinary action to the Personnel Board. But now, Carr and the county have agreed to public arbitration instead. No date has been set yet, but the arbitrator will be retired Judge Kevin J. Murphy.
S.J. political consultant Sandi Cutler dies at age 63
One of the more important political consultants in San Jose's history has died: Sandi Cutler, 63, who went by the name of Milt Cutler in his San Jose days, died last month of natural causes in Washington state.
In his most recent role, Cutler was the chief operating officer for Solid Ground, a community-based organization that helps the poor in King County, which includes Seattle.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the central California native helped foster the careers of several San Jose politicians -- among them, Jerry Estruth, Jim Beall and Blanca Alvarado.
A warm, quick-witted man known for a sometimes-acerbic campaign style, he also nurtured links to Christian conservatives. He played a role in convincing the San Jose City Council to adopt a rent relief ordinance.
Thirty-two years ago, Cutler labored to build a house on Whidbey Island in Washington State. As a vice-president of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, he became a nationally known advocate for natural medicine, a means of healing without synthetic drugs or chemicals. He had been with Solid Ground since 2012.
Why did he change the name he used from Milt to Sandi? "He liked it better," said a political consulting colleague, Rich Robinson.
Employees' union takes perks case to arbitration
When Attorney General Kamala Harris cleared Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen of any civil violations for giving paid leave to his top deputies to make up for a 5 percent bonus they lost as part of countywide cutbacks, we thought that settled the matter.
Not quite. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) -- which represents about 10,000 county employees -- has filed a grievance seeking redress. The union's argument is that "me-too" clauses in county labor contracts entitle its workers to equivalent perks.
An arbitrator who heard the case behind closed doors last month isn't expected to rule for several months. But the county now finds itself defending Rosen's actions after sharply criticizing them last summer.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Mike Rosenberg, Sharon Noguchi, Tracey Kaplan, Scott Herhold and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-920-5782.