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HOWARD, RICE HELPS SEX SHOP SPREAD ITS GOOD VIBES … Sex and ice cream anyone? Bay Area sex shop Good Vibrations wants to grow, and they’re ready to tap outside investors’ wallets. Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, which has performed corporate and employment work for the store since 1998, is helping the shopper-friendly company expand nationally. In preparation, partner Michael Sullivan recently took the company through a conversion from a consumer co-op to what he described as a “Ben and Jerry’s” progressive corporate model, referring to the ice cream maker’s insistence on maintaining worker-friendly values. Good Vibrations is a sizable business, Sullivan said, bigger than most of the software companies he represents, and it is “consistently profitable and growing at double digits.” For almost 15 years, the owners have financed that growth out of their own pockets. Good Vibrations has evolved from a publishing house to a 100-employee, women-owned sex product retailer, with three Bay Area stores, a mail order catalogue and an Internet store. Officially called Open Enterprises Cooperative Inc., the company sells everything from books and videos to bondage and fetish accessories, and organizes pleasure parties and educational workshops. On March 29, the company announced its edge toward a more conventional general business corporation model to make it more attractive to investors. “Investors are familiar with that structure,” Sullivan said in an e-mail. “They’ll be able to deal with a corporate structure that they know and understand.” Its legal restructuring required an overhaul of the company’s capital structure, while “hard-wiring” its original values into its new bylaws, thereby barring a future board of directors from changing its fundamental values. Only the workers can do that. Part of the company’s democratic management style is high employee involvement in defining company strategy and procedures, including setting their own salaries. “Their corporate documents and structure will look familiar to investors,” Sullivan said. “But they’ll preserve their progressive policies and approach to governance.” Sullivan said it is remarkable how “unremarkable their legal issues are … but working through their corporate documents was a unique experience,” he added. “They didn’t just accept our boilerplate bylaws. It was important to Good Vibrations to preserve as much as possible of their progressive values in their corporate governance, consistent with creating an investor-friendly structure, and striking that balance wasn’t always easy.” In February, Good Vibrations opened a store in Boston — its first venture outside the Bay Area — and plans further geographic and online expansion. – Petra Pasternak LIVE, FROM SAN FRANCISCO … If you’re a Democrat public official in San Francisco looking for a friendly chat in front of a friendly audience, you can’t do much better than Al Franken’s radio talk show when he swoops in for a special broadcast from City Hall. On Tuesday, District Attorney Kamala Harris was interviewed by Franken, the Saturday Night Live alum, liberal political commentator and master of not-so-subtle book titles. (Among his bestsellers: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” and “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.”) At the outset of their conversation in front of a live audience, Franken began with the DA’s support of Proposition 82, the universal preschool initiative slated to appear on California’s ballot in June. “Now, maybe I’m stupid, but I don’t understand,” Franken began, apparently feigning confusion. “What could preschool, universal preschool, possibly have to do with crime?” That ushered in a monologue by Harris who explained that investing in education today would result in more productive (and fewer criminally inclined) adults tomorrow. Well, when you put it like that … all of a sudden, Franken was not only convinced, but had some agreeable research on the tip of his tongue. “Now, in fact,” he said, “there’s a recent Rand study that said that for every dollar spent on preschool … you save like $2.82 on the back side, in terms of people living productive lives and not committing crimes.” As the interview went on to cover post-prison job programs and the effect of crime on African-American communities, their only point of genuine disagreement seemed to be over the Democrats’ problems playing the criminal justice card. “What I think Democrats and people who believe in the principles of the Democratic Party have to do,” Harris said, “is to stop suggesting that our policies around law enforcement are geared and directed toward some idea that we want to release everybody from jail.” “That’s how we’re characterized,” Franken lamented. But Harris disagreed. As a political party, she said, “we’re not clear ourselves.” - Pam Smith EXCHANGING LEGALESE Joseph Cotchett has been playing host to a lawyer from Italy as part of an exchange program with the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. The Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy partner’s guest, attorney Adrianna Morganti, who practices banking litigation and international divorce, arrived March 25 and will be in the country through April 4. She is one of eight Italian lawyers who are visiting various firms around the country as part of a program designed to introduce attorneys, judges and magistrates from around the world to the American judicial system. “She is very impressed,” Cotchett said Thursday. “Yesterday, she was watching an argument in the court of appeals … She walked out and couldn’t believe that the justices were asking questions in depth the way they were asking.” By contrast, Cotchett says things in Italy seem to work more slowly. “To get anything past the Italian government, it also has to get past the Vatican,” Cotchett says. Morganti is staying in Cotchett’s guest house in Hillsborough and jetting around in his personal aircraft to attend depositions, settlement conferences and hearings in various courts around California. Los Angeles-based Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese led a delegation to Italy to select the attorneys for the program. (About 40 people applied, only a quarter of whom were selected.) He is also hosting a guest. The visiting attorneys are staying with various lawyers around the country and will all meet up in Washington, D.C., at the end of their trip. Past trips have included lawyers and judges from the People’s Republic of China. - Marie-Anne Hogarth

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