Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mercury Dishes the Dirt But Doesn't Ask the Obvious Question

You could say that the South Bay election season doesn't officially begin until the San Jose Mercury News launches its first attack on its favorite local politics bogeyman, Santa Clara. By that criterion, 2008's election began Sunday with the Mercury's Internal Affairs gossip column stoking them old Santa Clara election conspiracy flames with a "he said, she said" story about Kevin Moore's seat.

Moore is running unchallenged for reelection this year, which strikes some as strange when there are eight candidates running for the other three seats.

The story being retailed by Internal Affairs is that Moore asked Mario Bouza not to run against him and to, instead, run for another seat.  A "friend of Bouza's" told IA that he was present when this phone call was received. Bouza also says that Chuck Blair -- currently making a second run against Jamie McLeod, after losing in 2004 -- called him and, I am not making this up, even former Santa Clara mayor Eddie Souza rang Bouza up to lay on the persuasion.

Excuse me, Eddie Souza? 

Souza hasn't been involved in Santa Clara politics for more than 15 years. In my experience, if you want to make sure you never get a return call from Eddie Souza, ask to talk with him about politics. It took me years to persuade him to talk with me, and when we did finally talk it was about the non-profit he helped found, Parents Helping Parents.

Athlete that he is, Moore wasted no time in returning the ball, claiming that Bouza in fact called him.  Chuck Blair seconded Moore, says IA.

Now, I heard part of this tale second hand at least a month ago. Having wasted way too much time in the past chasing mirages of political scandals that existed only in the minds of their beholders, I asked if anyone was willing to a) go on the record, and b) show me proof. No surprise, I never heard any more.

There's more than one thing about these stories that doesn't add up.

Moore beat Bouza by a big margin in 2004 and, if anything, he's even less likely to lose to him this time around. So I have difficulty imagining Moore making such a phone call.

But it's just as hard to imagine Bouza calling Moore. To say exactly…what? Hi, I'm thinking of running against you and was wondering if you would mind?

There's a similar story going back to 2004 about Moore phoning an opponent, Gap Kim, and suggesting that Kim run against someone else. But in that case Kim had the voicemail to prove it. In this case it's just Bouza's word against Moore's.

Or is it? There's one way to verify at least which way the calls went, if not the content of them, and I'm surprised IA didn't ask for it. (On second thought, I'm not, given the Mercury's conspiracy theory approach to Santa Clara politics.)

Let's see the call records. If Moore called Bouza, that call will show up as an incoming call on Bouza's number and an outgoing call on Moore's number. If Bouza called Moore, the calls will show up the other way 'round.

I say: Put up or shut up. Send them to me at and I'll publish them here. My guess? Let's put it this way. I'll be real surprised to see any call records.

(And for the betting folks among you, how long do you think it will be before the Woodward & Bernsteins at IA "discover" the long arm of Gary Gillmor somewhere in this?)