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Where's the Lieb: New assemblymember holds out hope that Mr. Supportive will come around.

Public Eye

Grudge Report

Sure, there's good-neighbor Assemblymember Joe Simitian, who gives new colleagues a "starter-kit" gift basket filled with pens and a legislative who's who cheat sheet. But incoming Sacramento legislators shouldn't expect every returning lawmaker to be so friendly. Take, for instance, the case of veteran state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who seems to have no qualms about giving the silent treatment to wide-eyed freshman Sally Lieber, the former Mountain View mayor who whooped Santa Clara Councilguy Rod Diridon Jr.'s behind in a battle for the 22nd Assembly District seat. Lieber's been in office for about a week. Her 2003-04 Session Bill List is, of course, still empty. But Vasco, who rooted for Diridon Jr. in the election, swore to the Palo Alto Daily News that he'd "never recognize [that Lieber] won the election, because she didn't win fair," dubbing her campaign "just a bunch of lies." Well, that was just a week after the election; has the Vasco snub shown any signs of not becoming a three-car grudge? "It hasn't," reports unapologetic Vasco spokester Sue North. "This is the first week of the session, and to my knowledge, he hasn't spoken to her." No matter, she says. Since they're in different houses of the Legislature, "it won't affect his representation of his district in any way." Lieber, meanwhile, says she's still hoping to be buds. "We all say things in the heat of the campaign when emotions are running high," she says, forgivingly. "I'm looking forward to working with him." She says she hopes to cross paths with him often because "he's responsible for so many progressive policies."

The Doctor Is Out

Eye fans might recall the antics of Dr. Ian Edward Wickram, that boundary-challenged Stanford psychotherapist and nationally renowned biofeedback specialist who halted his career last year by getting caught giving hands-on sex treatment to his patients. Well, the California Board of Consumer Affairs sure remembers him. The department snatched away his license to practice psychology, effective Jan. 17. The state psych board also ordered Dr. Wicked to cough up nearly $12,000 to cover its investigation and prosecution costs. These are the latest in a growing list of hand slaps. Wickram pleaded no contest to one count of sexual exploitation with two of his patients. In October, the Santa Clara County Superior Court sentenced Wickram to 90 days in jail, five years' probation and 500 hours of community service. The doctor hasn't started serving his sentence, because he got a reprieve to recover from an illness. But he will, and the long arm of the law isn't done with him yet. Expert doctor-patient abuse attorney John Winer, who represents three of Wickram's former patients, forges on with a civil suit brought against Wickram and Stanford, the institution that supported his sex-therapy habit. "It's good news that his license got revoked," Winer comments. "The Bay Area is a safer place for patients." Winer says the next step in the civil case will be the court's decision on Stanford's motion to separate the three victims' complaints. "They don't want the evidence to come in that there's three different victims of Wickram, because it makes it harder for them to blame the victim," Winer says. "We want them together because it shows a pattern of Wickram's behavior and that [Stanford] should have been aware of the danger of Wickram's behavior before there was a criminal complaint." Wickram, who may be in Florida, Winer says, was unreachable for comment. Stanford did not return Eye's call by presstime.

Islam 101

Middle Eastern ideas matter, it now occurs to some learning facilities in the United States. So Stanford University is starting to teach about them. For part of its new foray, the Palo Alto university's law school harnessed the force of its Institute for International Studies to offer a new course called Islam and the Rule of Law. This 10-week lecture series started on Jan. 13 and is "part of a broader effort to provide more instruction about the Muslim world," wrote Lisa Trei, staff writer for faculty and staff news rag the Stanford Report. Clearly prompted by the reality of hostile sentiment toward America that manifested itself on Sept. 11, 2001, Stanford began a genius effort to hire people who know about Middle Eastern religion, politics and culture. It's a good thing, too, since classes in Arabic and Islamic history have drawn twice the number of students than usually sign up. Stanford administrators did not return calls by deadline. But associate dean and religious studies prof Bob Gregg told the Stanford Report last November that the school would probably hire two teachers for a new Islamic Studies program. The law course features lectures by Stanford's own Ahmad Dallal and Erik Jensen, and supplements their expertise with five teachers borrowed from other higher-ed institutions. Topics include historical, gender and economic facets of Islamic law. Stanford's School of Humanities & Sciences' Department of Religious Studies and Islamic Society also began hauling in other universities' experts for a separate yearlong lecture series on Islamic studies that started in October.

Sher Alike

Claws are starting to show in the race for termed-out state Sen. Byron Sher's seat, which is up for grabs in 2004. Ted Lempert, who used to represent the Assembly's 21st District, covering part of Sher's Senate District 11, is running against current 21st District Assemblyguy Joe Simitian. While insiders say Sher and Simitian are buds, the senator backed competitor Lempert anyway, as Eye reported in June. That, according to said insiders, was in exchange for Lempert's pulling out of the race against Sher in his re-election campaign in 2000. (You've got to give a little.) Now Lempert is ready to roll; he's hired Terris, Barnes & Walters, a San Francisco-based political consulting firm that boasts that its specialty is winning tough races, and for some reason he wants the public to know about this development. TB&W clients include Assemblymembers John Dutra, John Laird and (the heroically named) Joe Nation, and San Jose City Councilmembers Linda LeZotte and Judy Chirco, the firm highlighted on a press release it sent out on Jan. 17. Of course, TB&W hasn't won a state Senate race yet, concedes the firm's Michael Terris. Nevertheless, Lempert, head of public-education advocacy group EdVoice, seems pretty sure of himself. "One difference [between him and Simitian] is a clear record of major environmental leadership," says Lempert of his eight years in the Assembly, "bills that I have authored, not just co-authored." Of course, Simitian, a guy political types consider brainy, talks up his enviro-cred as well, having taken up causes like less car pollution and greener energy resources. So which of these two nice fellas has the edge? It's a contest. Politicos say Lempert is still an institution in Sacramento. "I think I will have been in the Legislature for four years, and Ted will have been out for four years," Simitian says. By the same token, he also gripes, "My colleagues and I have had to spend the last two years mopping up the budget crisis and the energy mess that was created by our predecessors, including Mr. Lempert. That has been the frustration for the last two years." And so the campaign season begins.


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From the January 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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