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[whitespace] Tim Draper Venture Voucher: Venture capitalist Tim Draper is unhappy with the ballot title Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office gave his proposed school-vouchers initiative.

Taking Initiative

In money-mad Silicon Valley, panhandling start-up company CEOs can spend weeks waiting for face time with Redwood City venture capitalist Tim Draper. But in the world of California politics where the fate of new ventures is now determined by Democrats, even a millionaire-maker like Draper, who happens to be a Republican, can get the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. To wit: It took two weeks for reps from Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office just to respond to Draper's recent request for a meeting. When Lockyer's gatekeepers finally got back to Draper, the AG's men said the Billmeister wasn't much interested in making room for Draper on his busy calendar. ... Draper, a former Pete Wilson appointee to the Board of Education, wanted a pow-wow to discuss the ballot title Lockyer's staff gave to his school-vouchers initiative, which would give $4,000-a-year in state funds to students to attend private schools. Bill's boys called it "public funding of private and religious schools," which, from a political standpoint, is the equivalent of "Vouchers suck." Draper says that the title is inaccurate: The money would be given to parents, not directly to private schools themselves. ... But reps for Lockyer, long a favorite of the voucher-haters with the California Teachers Association, told Draper that it would be inappropriate for the attorney general to meet with him. Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin notes that nonpartisan civil-service barristers in the department crafted the ballot title. The implication is that it would look overtly political for Lockyer to intervene. Draper tells Eye he still hopes to meet with someone from the attorney general's office--soon. Draper's troops haven't collected one signature yet and they must turn in 670,816 valid ones by Aug. 20 for the initiative to make the March 2000 ballot. At this point, it's more likely that Draper will just have to shoot for the November ballot or possibly even submit a revised plan to the lawyers to peruse and rename.

IPOs Are Cheap

There was plenty of media coverage devoted this week to the suspension of Mercury News high-tech gossip columnist Chris Nolan for accepting an insider's offer to get in on the ground floor of an IPO. But perhaps the most shocking detail to emerge was that Nolan makes more than $100,000 a year. In the context of debunking Nolan's claim that she made the stock move because she needed money, Merc executive editor David Yarnold sniped to the Washington Post, "She makes a six-figure salary. I think that's preposterous." Wait. Is it preposterous that she needed money or is it preposterous that she makes a six-figure salary?

Power Play

For the past few months, Calpine has been trying to sell south San Jose neighborhoods on its proposed electrical power plant in the north end of Coyote Valley. One of the company's most visible project-peddlers is Calpine consultant Lisa Poelle. Poelle is well known to Santa Teresa residents from her days as an aide to District 2 Councilwoman Charlotte Powers, job experience that no doubt made her appealing to Calpine. But her appeal might have diminished slightly since a blowup at a recent meeting of the council members' project advisory committee. One person in the audience suggested that Poelle had privately asked her old boss to remove activist Elizabeth Cord from the advisory committee and replace her with Jeff Dixon, someone not considered a "core member" of the Santa Teresa Action Group, a coalition led by Cord which is dead set against the power plant. Days later, Powers aide Andrew Mendoza explained that his boss never had appointed Cord, so, in effect, she couldn't have been removed. As a compromise, Powers agreed to appoint Jeff Wade to the committee at Cord's request. When reached by Eye, Cord would utter only a perfunctory "No comment." Poelle, meanwhile, dismissed the idea that she tried to persuade Powers to give Cord the heave-ho. Doing something like that would be a public relations nightmare, she says. "I would not be so silly as to use that kind of tactic," she insists.

Dear John

In spite of John Vasconcellos' hard work bringing disparate factions together to craft a medicinal pot plan, it seems that few in the debate hold the venerable San Jose state senator in high esteem these days. As Eye reported two weeks ago, friends of San Fran marijuana maven Dennis Peron, the author of the successful 1996 pot-medicine state proposition, sparked the buzz among activists that Vasco was selling out the cause. At issue was the senator's insistence that pot patients register with authorities in order to protect them from prosecution. But Peron isn't the only one grousing. So is terminally un-hip Gov. Gray Davis, who voiced his objections in a quiet but socially unacceptable fashion in the Legislature. The guv, through his minions, made a last-minute "request" to Assembly health committee chairman Martin Gallegos to hold up two Vasco bills--including the patient registration legislation--dealing with medical marijuana. "I found it to be profoundly disrespectful," a hurt Vasco confides. Davis violated usual legislative protocol by asking for a delay without the author of the bill's consent. The guv's etiquette breach caught the attention of Senate prez John Burton and Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, who told committee heads to disregard the guv's requests to stall bills. (By the way, Vasco's bills sailed through Gallegos' health committee.) Vasco has informed Davis' staff that he is happy to talk to the governor about his concerns. That is, of course, after he returns from his Maui vacation next month.

Aspiring Retiree

It came as no surprise when assistant sheriff Tom Sing recently announced that he would be retiring. After all, his old campaign rival, Sheriff Laurie Smith, had demoted him to sergeant, the consequence of a little post-election department reorganization. But as it turns out, rumors of Sing's retirement may have been greatly exaggerated. Sing, in fact, hadn't stopped looking for work. Sources say that Sing was a finalist for the police chief's job in Sunnyvale, a post abandoned earlier this year by the embattled Regan Williams. As of press time, however, the news doesn't sound so good for the Singster. Eye has it on good authority that Sing didn't make the final final cut. "It's too bad," sighs one Sing partisan. "He would have made a great chief."

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From the July 22-28, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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