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[whitespace] Tim Draper
Venturing Out: The word from the office of venture capitalist Tim Draper (above) is that, contrary to rumor, Draper only wants the governor's seat and not any other statewide offices.

Public Eye

Exec Deathmatch

AS MOST EYE-WATCHERS KNOW, ex-eBay exec Steve Westly plans to seek the Democratic nomination for state controller next year. Westly, who now bills himself as a philanthropist, has already donated $300,000 of his own dough to his cause, as well as raised another $314,000. But are the Republicans looking to recruit their own moneybags candidate with high-tech cred? Some Dems have nervously mentioned to the Eye in the past couple of weeks that Redwood City venture capitalist Timothy Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvertson is taking a look at the controller's seat. Not too long ago, Draper was being touted as a future gubernatorial candidate. That was before his disastrous school voucher's campaign last year in which he spent more than $23 million in a losing cause. Now, sources are venturing that a post-Prop. 38 Draper might be humble enough to look at a low-glamour job like controller. Westly's lackey, Steven Aronowitz, acknowledges that he has heard the speculation about Draper. However, he says when he first heard it, he suspected that Sacramento Luddites might have mistaken the "Silicon Valley millionaire" they heard was running for controller for Draper instead of Westly because they knew the former techie from the recent vouchers campaign. ... Curiously, conservative Reep Dean Andal now a member of the Board of Equalization, transferred the $1 million he had raised toward his anticipated bid for controller to his new state Senate campaign committee. Should Andal opt to run for Senate that, of course, would make room for another Reep candidate to run for controller. ... But Barry Hutchison, Draper's spokesguy, suggests Westly doesn't have to worry about Draper taking him on. "At this time," Hutchison sniffs, "Tim isn't looking for anything but possibly the top spot [governor]. But we're clearly just at the looking stage." That should help quell any ill feelings at the office considering that Steve Jurvetson, Draper's business partner, gave $100 to Westly's campaign already.

Turn Style

Count yet another defection from San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales' staff. This time, senior adviser Meri Maben is bailing out of City Hall to become district office director for Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose). Maben, who ran unsuccessfully for city council in 1995, came aboard last year shortly after Betsy Doss, the mayor's education expert, announced her resignation. Maben was hired before Guisselle-gate and one City Hall watcher predicts, "It's going to be hard to find someone of her caliber who is a woman to join the mayor's staff." ... Over the past year, four senior mayoral aides have quit. Tony Arreola left to become a land use consultant, and Gonzo's longtime major domo, Jude Barry, quit in December amid rumors of a falling out. Maben's exit leaves the mayor's office without anyone who has refined connections to the city's labor liberals. But mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink put a pleasant spin on Maben's departure, saying, "It looks like it could open up a strong relationship between the mayor's office and Mike's office for stuff we have in common." ... Honda spinmeister Jennifer Van der Heide says she's still negotiating Maben's salary, but hinted that the new-hire will be taking a pay cut from her $72,000 city salary. "I can tell you," J-Van says, "that generally federal salaries are not as high as on the city level."

Career Carousel

It looks as if Joint Venture: Silicon Valley CEO Ruben Barrales will be stepping down to take a job in the Bush administration. A Joint Venture spokesman reveals that Barrales is being seriously considered by Bushies to become a deputy assistant for intergovernmental affairs (or something convoluted like that). Barrales, a former San Mateo County Supervisor, is one of those cosmic rarities otherwise known as a Latino Republican. Barrales was also an early Bush backer, even though John McCain hosted a fundraiser for him when he ran for state controller in 1998 against incumbent Kathleen Connell. His eagerness to help Bush got him into a little hot water when he was accused of mixing work with political pleasure. Barrales later relinquished his spot as co-chairman of Bush's California exploratory committee, conceding he shouldn't have engaged in such partisan behavior while commandeering an ostensibly nonpartisan group. The Rubester couldn't be reached by Eye's deadline, though a Joint Venture flack tells Eye that the organization's board will be meeting twice over the next two weeks to discuss how to go about finding a replacement. One intriguing person currently looking for work: Ex-Assemblyman Jim Cunneen. Jimbo, Eye-watchers will recall, lost his bid to succeed Reep Congressman Tom Campbell in November. Cunneen is a close pal of Applied Materials chief Jim Morgan and retired state Sen. Becky Morgan, who founded Joint Venture in the mid-'90s. Cunneen couldn't be reached for comment, but Eye hears that he's inquired at TechNet about replacing the lobbying group's Reep fundraiser, Lezlee Westine, who recently left to--you guessed it--join the Bush administration. ... Another newsmaker making career-changing news: Union arm-twister John Neece. Neece, the longtime prez of the local Building and Construction Trades Council, confirms reports that he's quitting in September. Neece was mum as to his future career plans, but sources say he will do what all other "retired" political hacks do--go into consulting. "I'm going to do something else in life," the one-time iron worker growls. "It's just time."

Blowing Smoke

Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado blows smoke out both sides of her mouth. On one hand, Alvarado is a champion of anti-tobacco programs and she is currently chair of the county's Prop. 10 committee, which oversees local spending of state tobacco tax money. On the other hand, Alvarado is a chain smoker who has tried many times without success--even joining smoking cessation programs--to quit. ... Her office on the 10th floor of the County Government Center is conveniently located near the outdoor stairwell, where the county's nicotine addicts go to fix. Smoking is prohibited inside the building. But apparently that regulatory restriction hasn't always stopped Alvarado from lighting up inside her office. ... According to a couple of secondhand smoking sources, Alvarado has lit up recently while being visited by constituents. One source says the supe even keeps a can of deodorizing spray around to combat the smoky smell. ... Alvarado's staff chieftain, Sylvia Gallegos, grudgingly admits that her boss has been known to puff in her office on occasion: "It's an addiction. ... As she says, it's one of her only vices left."

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From the February 22-28, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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