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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gavin Newsom Finds His Way to San Jose -- And So Did SF Weekly

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge newsom_in_sj.jpg

As part of his quest to become governor, Mayor Gavin Newsom held his latest "town hall" last night in San Jose. The question-and-lecture session attracted about 200 locals and a dozen protesters who trekked down from San Francisco. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed joked he'd invited the demonstrators to make Gavin "feel at home."

We'll spare you a major analysis for now. In the meantime, here are some random highlights of the evening:

• Newsom let slip that he will be announcing his own economic stimulus package today, which will include $25 million for no-interest loans to small businesses. He didn't make clear where the money will be coming from for his plan.

• Gavin has a foster brother who's been in and out of prison for dealing crack. He divulged that tidbit during a discussion about a federal judge's order this week to release thousands of inmates from overcrowded prisons.

• Quotable: "I will never say one thing publicly that is different from what I say privately."

• Is Gavin a Deadhead? When it came out that a questioner shared the same name as the Grateful Dead's late frontman, Newsom couldn't resist quoting Jerry Garcia: "You don't want to be the best of the best, you want to be the only one who does what you do." Somehow Newsom related this back to education, which, frankly, I didn't understand because I wasn't on acid.

• While Newsom charmed the crowd inside, demonstrators stood outside waving homemade signs like "Gavin Newsom: The Man Without a Plan" and "San Jose: Don't get sick in S.F." The protesters were part of an labor-supported group objecting to, among other things, Newsom's proposed budget cuts to public health. Quipped Gavin: "Chuck's right -- it does make me feel at home."

• Afterward, Newsom talked to reporters and seemed a little prickly when the Chron's Erin Allday mentioned something about new Board President David Chiu convening a meeting with labor and business leaders over the weekend to talk about solutions to the city's budget crisis. The Chron had reported that Newsom was "notably missing" from the meeting. Newsom grumbled to Allday that he's had many meetings with people (surprisingly, he didn't use the word "stakeholders") to deal with the budget, and he'd been having them before Chiu was even elected. Sounds like the mayor didn't appreciate being upstaged by the new North Beach supe. So much for that new spirit of cooperation in City Hall.

• Newsom, who has a major following on Facebook, definitely attracted a younger crowd than you usually see at a political event (at least one without Barack Obama as the keynote speaker). Whether this translates into votes at election time is questionable for a variety of reasons. To wit: After Newsom finished, I asked a young looking gal if she liked what she heard. She did. One problem - she's in high school and can't vote.

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