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RUN FOR AG COULD GET JERRY BROWN’S MOUTH IN TROUBLE Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown sounds off about current events on KGO every Thursday. Now that Brown is poised to announce a run for attorney general in 2006, should the station �� out of fairness �� give other prospective candidates time on the mike? Other potential contenders, such as state Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove, and Burlingame attorney Joseph Cotchett, of Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, haven’t clamored for airtime, but Brown and the station are mulling the issue. “That’s something that I’ve thought about,” said Brown, who plans to set up an exploratory committee to weigh an AG run. Brown has appeared on KGO’s news program weekly since he was elected mayor, said news director Greg Tantum. The station has a similar arrangement with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who appears on a similar four-minute segment every other Wednesday, and San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, who’s on Fridays. The station will decide what to do about Brown’s radio spots after he formally tosses his hat into the ring, Tantum said. KGO is weighing several options, including discontinuing Brown’s appearances until after the race or limiting Brown’s chats to Oakland city issues. “As a respected news organization we do feel a sense of fairness as well,” Tantum said. Brown’s time on the mike may not trigger Federal Communications Commission equal-time rules for candidates, one expert said. While radio stations must offer rivals similar access for campaign ads, news program spots are an exception, said Joe Berry, vice president of the California Broadcasters Association. Even still, many broadcasters take steps to eliminate even a small appearance of bias. “A lot of times, stations err on the side of caution,” Berry said. — Jahna Berry PLAYING NICE Law firms’ reputations as shark tanks may be changing after all. Four city law firms landed on “The Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” list published this week in the San Francisco Business Times. Bingham McCutchen ranked No. 5 among large companies — those with more than 500 employees. Carroll, Burdick & McDonough and Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy ranked No. 13 and No. 15, respectively, among mid-sized companies. And Foley & Lardner placed No. 8 in companies with 100 or fewer employees. For Bingham, the secret may lie at the bottom of a picnic basket or martini glass. Social activities such as picnics and happy hours are part of the glue that binds lawyers at the firm. “We have a lot of fun together because we enjoy spending time together. From what I hear that’s a very rare thing,” said Bingham senior associate Neha Nissen, who has worked in the firm’s Embarcadero office for six years. Boston-based Bingham McCutchen has about 224 lawyers in its San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Walnut Creek offices. The firm formed through the July 2002 merger of Boston’s Bingham Dana and San Francisco’s McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. Nissen said that most of her co-workers introduce one another not as “colleague” but “as friend, first and foremost.” Bingham Vice Chairman Donn Pickett said firm lawyers have a strong sense of shared values, which Nissen described as “commitment to diversity, helping one another rather than competing versus one another and giving back to the community.” The list was the first of its kind published by the Business Times and its sister publication, the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Managers were asked for input on a broad range of topics, including the firm’s work environment, compensation and opportunities for advancement. Employees anonymously answered a series of 18 questions, which included, “What do you like best about working for this company?” and “What would you change about this company?” At least 20 percent of a company’s employees had to respond in order to qualify. — Adrienne Sanders MAN AND NATURE The California red-legged frog and the Alameda whipsnake will be residing at a new golf course and housing complex set to be built in the Hayward hills. That’s what San Francisco federal judge Susan Illston ruled last month when she gave Hayward 1900 Inc. the green light to proceed with the project. The Hayward Area Planning Association and the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit to block construction of the Blue Rock Country Club Project on 1,600 acres of open space on Walpert Ridge. The groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, challenging the agency’s “biological opinion” that the project would not jeopardize the whipsnake or frog, which are on the list of endangered species. “The Blue Rock Project will have extensive negative effects on the critical habitat,” Illston wrote in her March 29 order. But the record shows “these impacts will be mitigated by compensation measures, such as the dedication of 1,917 acres for the preservation and management” of habitat beneficial to the whipsnake and frog. Philip Atkins-Pattenson, a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s San Francisco office who represents Hayward 1900, said the housing development would be concentrated on one corner of the site, leaving 1,200 acres designated as permanent open space. The golf course, too, has been designed to accommodate the two species, he said. Developers have designated a conservation area in the interior of the golf course and plan to elevate golf cart paths to protect whipsnake corridors. “It is a stunning project in terms of its environmental sensitivity,” Atkins-Pattenson said. But the Hayward neighborhood group and the Center for Biological Diversity say the measures to protect the species are inadequate. “Whipsnakes are super shy,” said Gregory Loarie, an attorney at Oakland’s Earthjustice, representing the plaintiffs. “They aren’t going to be going under these bridges under the golf carts.” The environmental groups have appealed Illston’s decision and have asked her to halt construction, set to begin May 20, pending the outcome of the appeal. — Brenda Sandburg JUNGLE VALLEY Nervous law school students regularly visit Fenwick & West’s Mountain View headquarters hoping to make a favorable impression. Later this month, scores of business school students will do the same. Fenwick is a main sponsor of the Jungle Business Plan Challenge, and the firm will host the event’s semi-final and final “pitch-off” rounds April 29-30, in which 32 teams of MBAs-in-training tout their visions for commercial success. The competition is more than just an academic exercise. Contestants will be vying for $45,000 in seed money, and, more important, the chance to start a relationship with Silicon Valley financiers. Last year’s competition featured judges from Charles River Ventures, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. Jungle Media Group, the event organizer, has not yet disclosed which Valley-based venture capitalists will be among this year’s judges. Samuel Angus, a partner in Fenwick’s corporate group, will serve as a judge for the second year in a row. After judging last year’s event in New York, Angus talked to the organizers about holding this year’s competition in Silicon Valley. “The sophistication of the plans is really quite high,” says Angus. “Often times the teams will be populated not only by students, but professors will be on the teams of advisers.” While Fenwick has picked up clients from business plan contests in the past, Angus says the main purpose of hosting the event is to spread the firm’s name among up-and-coming entrepreneurs. “It’s less for immediate client and recruitment and more to support and develop our reputation among these types of programs and business school people who are going to go on and become the movers and shakers of the business world,” says Angus. — Alexei Oreskovic

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