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[whitespace] Carl Guardino Alternating Currents: Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, is pushing state lawmakers to approve new electrical power plants. However, Guardino and his organization were neutral on a proposed power plant in San Jose.

Public Eye

Neutral Energy

THE STATE'S ROLLING BLACKOUTS have apparently helped the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group see the light. As was widely reported last week, the trade association that represents the valley's power-hungry big high-tech companies met with state lawmakers to press Sacto pols to increase energy production in California. According to news reports, Mangroup officials asked lawmakers to expedite approvals of new power plants, while also offering to curtail their own power use. This seemingly newfound conversion by SVMG CEO Carl Guardino and his clan sent a shock through corporate headquarters at San Jose-based Calpine, which is proposing a 600-megawatt power plant in Coyote Valley called the Metcalf Energy Center. The manufacturing group failed to put any juice behind Calpine during the disastrous November City Council hearings on the project. Even though many of SVMG's member companies backed Metcalf, Cisco Systems--which hopes to build its headquarters down the street from the proposed plant--opposed it, and Mangroup stayed on the sidelines. Now, a few power failures later, high-tech behemoths like Intel are threatening to halt expansion in California until the crisis is resolved, and Guardino is all charged up over power plant construction. Just not Calpine's proposed plant. "It's puzzling," allows Lisa Poelle, Calpine's PR pro. Poelle also says that the manufacturing group has yet to take a position on the proposed Metcalf plant in spite of its calls for more energy. Guardino says a subcommittee--armed with recently established approval criteria--will make a recommendation next week as to whether the Calpine project and other proposed power plants should get the group's blessing. Poelle remains skeptical: "We have no reason to believe [the manufacturing group] will endorse it." ... By the by, Eye hears from a well-connected Sacramento source that Calpine reps are trying to persuade Gov. Gray Davis to use his power to get Metcalf online. According to the source, Calpine is offering a seven-year contract at below market rates for energy produced from the plant. (Coincidentally, Davis' second term will expire in six years, if he's re-elected.) Poelle said she could not confirm whether a deal has been offered. Stay tuned--if the electricity is still on, that is.

Speaker Tweaker

On election night, former White House press secretary Mike McCurry predicted that his Democratic Palo Alto pal, Joe Simitian, would be the next speaker of the Assembly. A lot of local insiders have scoffed at the prediction, suggesting that the only person who really believes Joe Simitian will be the next speaker is Joe Simitian. In spite of the naysayers, the Frosh assemblymember is already proving he's got juice, getting himself appointed to choice committees like appropriations, budget, utilities and commerce (a timely one) and transportation. Most impressively, he was also named chairman of the budget subcommittee on education finance, a good platform for raising money from the state's higher education employees. "It could be handy," observes one sly Silicon Valley Simitian-watcher, "if you want to raise--and give away--the kind of money it takes to be elected Speaker." ... As most insiders know, in order to get the good committee assignments, pols need to donate a lot of money to their party's campaign cause. Not so coincidentally, Simitian cut a $50,000 check to the Assembly Demo Leadership Fund during the campaign. That's twice as much as anyone else from the South Bay delegation gave party apparatchiks (San Jose assemblyguy Manny Diaz gave $20K to the leadership fund and another $5,000 to the influential Latino Caucus). And the last available campaign finance records show that as of Oct. 21, 2000, Simitian had $233,797 cash on hand with no outstanding debts. That means he should have plenty of dough to give to his friends in need come the next election; Simitian, after all, lives in a safe district where he won't have to spend a lot to get himself re-elected.

Hit and Walk

On inauguration day the real action wasn't in Washington, D.C., but right over the hill in Santa Cruz where possible leftist-on-leftist violence nearly left a cyclist gored during a protest of King George's coronation. ... At 12:50pm, as protesters blocked Water Street, Eye saw driver Joseph Gutierrez, honking and gesturing wildly, turn his white GMC pickup, wheels squealing, into 28-year-old Shawn Duncan, who was cycling past the demonstration. First, Gutierrez rammed Duncan's bike with his left bumper and ran over the bike's rear wheel. Then his truck lunged afresh at Duncan, who scrambled out of the way, thereby narrowly escaping serious injury. Gutierrez, who lives in Santa Cruz and commutes to San Jose-based engineering firm Biggs Cardosa Associates, later told Free Radio Santa Cruz, "I voted for Gore. I'm a local. I would never hit anyone intentionally. I was trying to get to the bank before it closed." The cops apparently agreed, treating the incident as a traffic accident, even though witnesses were seemingly unanimous in their opinion that Gutierrez acted recklessly and irresponsibly. ... On Monday, an increasingly perturbed Duncan obtained a copy of the police report and discovered that he, Duncan, had been cited as having "caused the collision when he turned left against a red arrow." Says Duncan of the police's handling of the situation, "All they did was question me and make me feel nervous. Maybe they would have treated me differently, if I hadn't been unshaven and wearing a woolen beanie cap. A few months ago, they gave me a $300 fine when they saw me riding my bike on the sidewalk. One ticket was for riding my bike on the side walk; the other was for not listening to them when they said to stop."

Tropic of Cancer

Poor Liz Kniss. The newly elected county supervisor from Palo Alto had to miss this week's board meeting--which would have been her second--because of "family obligations." So while her four board colleagues yakked it up under the fluorescent lights at 70 W. Hedding, Kniss bravely soaked up cancer-causing sun rays in Maui where her husband's company, Agilent, was having its annual three-day business getaway. Ms. Liz managed to break away from her busy cocktail schedule to call Eye and let us know she wasn't playing hooky. In fact, Kniss says she had this trip penciled in on her schedule a year ago because she knew it would be her hubby Richard's last one. Richard, a senior veep at Agilent, is retiring in March and he'll no doubt be honored in some way at the company conference. Kniss insists she isn't even spending any time loitering on local beaches because as a fair-skinned redhead she avoids the sun. But she did concede, "I certainly don't mind being in the tropics where it's warm." Certainly.

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From the January 25-31, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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