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[whitespace] Jesse Singh
Statuesque: Democratic fundraiser and tech CEO Jesse Singh is contemplating a run for mayor of Milpitas, where he's building a new home for his collection of statues.

Public Eye

Milpitas Beckons

TECH EXEC Jesse Singh isn't new to the political scene, but these days the deep-pocketed Democrat is thinking about getting off the sidelines and into the game. The host of big-ticket fundraisers with Al Gore and Bill Clinton at his statue-studded hilltop mansion overlooking the Almaden Valley might be on the ballot himself next year--for mayor of Milpitas. Singh, who owns BJS Electronics, says he has "a lot of friends pushing" for him to make a run, but he's "still debating right now" because of the total dedication required of a mayor. Other names being floated as possible mayoral aspirants are councilmembers Jim Lawson, Jose Esteves and Patricia Dixon, plus former councilman Ed Riffle. A more immediate hurdle for Singh, however, would be moving to the city he hopes to lead. Singh is currently building a new spread in the Milpitas hills, but he says if that's not ready by the time he needs to switch addresses, he'll just buy another house ... Asked who's talking to him, Singh only says it's "a lot of different people from a lot of ethnic backgrounds," including close pal Henry Manayan, the city's current mayor. Manayan says he'll be meeting with Singh in the next couple weeks. "He'd be good," Manayan says, "But we're not sure if this is the right position or the right time. He might also be good on a city or county commission." Eye also pestered Manayan about what he's thinking about doing after he gets termed out next year. He says he's not thinking that far ahead right now, but his plan is to go back into the private sector for a couple years. Manayan has other things to deal with right now, like turning in his overdue campaign finance reports. The reports were due in January, but since his campaign treasurer went on the disabled list following heart surgery, Manayan grumbles that he's "doing it all himself," and hopes to turn in the reports as early as this week. The sooner the better, though: the campaign fund is subject to fines for each day it's late with the report, and Milpitas Post Publisher Rob Devincenzi has filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Elusive Story

Last week, the Merc got called out on the carpet in a big way by Chron columnist Rob Morse, who challenged the Merc's chest-pounding that its riveting report on the so-called Monster Study--a 1939 University of Iowa "experiment" that forced unknowing orphans into stuttering--wasn't a big scoop after all. "In a chilling investigative story beginning Sunday," a Merc press release claimed, "the San Jose Mercury News reveals for the first time the complete story of a secret experiment conducted 60 years ago to induce a group of orphans to stutter." The Chron's Morse offered up as Exhibit A a 1999 novel, Abandoned: Now Stutter My Orphan by Jerome Halvorson. "After the novel appeared," Morse noted, "several papers, including the Portland Oregonian, recounted the horrible facts behind the novel. Now, two years later the Mercury News weighs in with its experiment at winning a Pulitzer." Eye quickly emailed Merc scribe Jim Dyer to issue the all-important you-gonna-let-him-get-away-with-that taunt, but Dyer turned it over to editor George Judson. Judson's response: "Have some people known about it? Of course. ... Yes, we knew about the Halvorson novel--which, of course, is a novel, that is, fiction, in which the experiment plays one part. It is also a self-published novel, briefly reviewed in a handful of newspapers. We carefully examined everything that had been published and concluded: this story is yet to be told." While Merc editors hold firm that Dyer's effort is the first time the "complete" story has been told, Eye proposes future Merc articles that are "incomplete" be labeled as such, as to avoid further confusion.

Knew Kname

Eye heard this week that Knight Ridder, which is struggling to wade through a worsening financial fiasco, will be changing the name of its web division. KnightRidder.com, already lean with a slimmed down staff, will be changing its name to Knight Ridder Digital, our source whispered. Calls to KR.com's PR flack went unreturned, but Jamie Glenn, the division's director of business planning, told Eye, "Yes, that's true," before clamping his lips shut about any details of the rechristening. Why? Sounds like KR wants to distance itself from anything that even sounds like 'dotcom.'

Time for Prime Time

Rumor around the studios at KNTV is that the ax is going to start falling soon. After pushing out some top talent, an ex-employee tells us, the brass over at Channel 11 are reportedly cataloging nitpicky slip-ups by producers, writers, reporters and anchors and urging everyone to shape up if they want to keep their jobs now that the station is just six months away from becoming the Bay Area's NBC affiliate. "It started a while ago," says one staffer, "It's got a lot of people freaked out." In a memo to staff obtained by Eye, VP of News Scott Diener also announced recently that morning show hosts Brent Cannon and Laura Garcia-Cannon will be bumping Doug Moore and Mary Babbit from their anchor spots on the noon newscast July 2. Diener and General Manager Bob Franklin didn't return calls. Moore, however, is already gone, having reportedly been told to clean out his desk one weekend after 19 years there. He didn't want to talk about why: "You'd have to talk to those people," the former anchor huffed. "I don't work there anymore and that's all there is to it."

Cheney Gang

Looks like the energy crisis is making everyone a little cranky, including Dick Cheney, who snapped at peninsula Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo last week in a meeting with her and 40 other members of the California delegation. As the Bush administration's main man on energy, Cheney had the unenviable role of being dangled like a piñata in a room full of mostly democratic house members from the Golden State (plus both senators), who are steamed that nobody in the White House wants to help the state. The Californians wanted the administration to order the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start doing what the "R" in its name implies, but Cheney wouldn't budge. Insiders say Cheney stuck to his guns in opposing price limits on the grounds that they would decrease supply and he kept repeating that price caps don't produce kilowatts. When Eshoo interrupted the VP to offer that price caps don't necessarily equal price controls, Dick didn't dig the distinction. "You're being rude," Cheney reportedly barked. Eshoo didn't bother to hide her displeasure at a press conference after the hour-long meeting on Capitol Hill, and told reporters the meeting was "the equivalent of the photo op visit the president made to California." Eshoo also informed reporters that Cheney kept checking his watch during the meeting.

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From the June 21-27, 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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