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[whitespace] Going Up: Congressman Tom Campbell shows why he's a millionaire--he invested in the drug company that makes Viagra a year before the impotency cure hit the market.

Millionaires Club

Credit Viagra for the bulge in U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell's trousers these days. Yes, the Campster's wallet is a little fatter now thanks to his prescient investment in Pfizer, the company that makes the flaccidity fighter. According to annual financial disclosure forms filed by Beltway brats earlier this month, Campbell invested up to $15,000 in the drug company in January 1997, long before Viagra was released and the stock shot up, so to speak. Pfizer's stock value has more than doubled in the past 52 weeks--something that should really get investors like Campbell excited. Unfortunately, Eye can't say with precision exactly how many shares the west-side congressman owns, since politicians only have to list their assets in broad ranges instead of specific amounts. ... The forms, however, provide enough information to show that Campbell's enviable family holdings qualify him to request Grey Poupon at exclusive parties with the other congressional millionaires. Also among those in the seven-figure club are South Bay reps Tom Lantos and Zoe Lofgren, who shares her checking account with hubby, San Jose attorney John Marshall Collins. ... In the interest of public disclosure--and sheer nosiness--Eye also decided to take a peek at how our local state lawmakers are doing financially. The latest disclosure forms show that state Sen. Byron Sher is the richest South Bay lawmaker in the Capitol, at least on paper. Sher reports assets totaling at least $1.16 million. Despite his reputation as one of the Senate's top tree-huggers, Sher has more than $100,000 invested in environmental scourges like General Electric, Mobil and Exxon. The retired Stanford prof explains he's had those stocks, which he inherited from his father, for a loooong time. "I'm not much of a trader. Moreover, I use gasoline like everyone else." Sher adds that his opponent raised the issue of his investments way back in 1980 when he first ran for the Assembly. "It's ancient history," he argues.

Mo' Money

Speaking of rich dudes, Applied Materials CEO Jim Morgan threw in some last-minute cash--$25,000 to be exact--to the Yes on Prop. 226 campaign, the initiative aimed at weakening unions' political muscle in the state. This caused South Bay labor diva Amy Dean to burst into an agitated soliloquy deriding Morgan's pet civic project, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley. Ostensibly, Joint Venture--which is run by Morgan's wife, ex-state Sen. Becky Morgan--is supposed to be a collaboration between the public and private stakeholders. This should also include labor's voice, Dean fumes: "This calls into question whether these guys are really about collaboration when Jim Morgan is helping finance something that would get rid of the political voice of one constituency in favor of another constituency [business]." Incidentally, Jimbo apparently took a different view of the initiative than some of his South Bay business compadres. The San Jose Chamber of Commerce, led by Steve Tedesco, opposed Prop. 226. Morgan is out of the country and couldn't be reached for comment.

Merc Madness

Working for the Mercury News can really be a blast--and last week was no exception. While taking a cigarette break in the wee hours Friday morning, a Merc hack reportedly heard two to three gunshots from the area of the paper's pressroom and summoned the cops. San Jose police came to the scene and discovered a .22-caliber bullet lodged between rolls of newsprint. While combing the parking lot for suspects, the cops stumbled upon a couple chillin' inside an '80 Lincoln Continental, reveals Officer Louis Quezada. The cops discovered a knife, vials of methamphetamine and a glass pipe--but no gun. Arrested were David William Jewell of Fremont and 39-year-old Susan Alberta Paulson, a Merc employee. The Merc, presumably after the whir of its own rumor mill reached a cacophonous roar, finally ran a small story on page two of its local section Wednesday, a mere six days after the event. Even with a spate of its own people to quote, the daily dutifully relied upon its trusty flack--police spokesman Louis Quezada--for the facts. ... The only employee quoted was Senior Vice President John Hammett, who was paraphrased at the end of the story saying he had no idea why anyone would want to fire in or on the corporate castle. Eye found this tremendously comforting, since Ridder Park Drive is no place for an employee skeet shooting range, even if it would offer entertainment to the gridlocked cars on 880. Of course, Merc editors may be wise to keep their traps shut. Somebody around there has a gun and, apparently, isn't afraid to use it.

Live! After Death

Lawyers for ex-San Jose Live! prez Charles Greener plan to file a $2 million claim against the city this week for allegedly screwing up his plans to sell the sports bar/club. Greener tried to unload the club--which permanently shut off its satellites and beer taps two weeks ago--last year to Jillian Entertainment Corp. But Jillian nixed the deal when the company discovered that the city hadn't renewed the club's conditional use permit. Greener supposedly tried to save the deal by securing a new permit from the city, but the club and Redevelopment Agency staff couldn't agree to terms. Greener and company hoped to argue their case before the Planning Commission, but agency staff repeatedly yanked the club's permit application from the commission's agenda during the past year, says club barrister Bill Gates. So, guess what's scheduled to appear on this week's commission agenda now that San Jose Live! has shut down? That's right, the club's permit application, Gates sniffs. This time, however, the city is asking Gates to put something in writing to take the item off the agenda. But Gates, smelling a veiled legal maneuver by the city, says no way. "The hearing before the Planning Commission," he proclaims, "will show the extent the city went to put our client's club out of business."

Turn Coat

Those who become political consultants often do so after contemplating running for public office and then realizing that it's safer to remain behind the scenes. But Greg Sellers, a consultant for Strategy Source, has long toyed with the idea of running for City Council in his native Morgan Hill. Finally, the thirtysomething daddy of two has decided, once and for all, that he's going to do it. "I'm looking forward to it," Sellers says. "We've got some good leadership on there, but there are some missing elements. I grew up in the community. And personally, it's a good time to run." By that he means that next year, an off-election year, there won't be as much work for those in his field. Still, he promises to work a reduced schedule if elected. And, yes, he's running his own campaign.

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From the June 25-July 1, 1998 issue of Metro.

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