Archive for September, 2006

What’s a Lawyer Joke Between Lefty Friends?

September 29, 2006

You know it’s a lefty crowd when radio personality Will Durst kills the room with this line about Dick Cheney: “I did love that he shot a lawyer in the face and got him to apologize.” On second thought, that would probably go down well with any group save the Bar Association, but such was the tenor inside the gilded Grand Lake Theater in Oakland Wednesday at an event organized by Progressive Action: East Bay.



Conference Pushes to Help Ex-Cons

September 29, 2006

At a conference in San Francisco pushing for more ways to help ex-inmates adjust to life outside the clink, the crowd Wednesday was pretty much in agreement that increasing re-entry programs is good, for the inmates and for public safety in the long run.

But between the panelists calling for more resources and coordination, and offering up grim statistics to demonstrate the need, one named Dr. Barry Krisberg squeezed in a reality check. (more…)

HP on the Hill: The Buck Never Stops

September 28, 2006

The Hewlett-Packard folk testifying before Congress today passed the buck so many times, it should’ve been the trigger for some unlikely C-SPAN drinking game. Start with Larry Sonsini, who in an e-mail to board member Thomas Perkins had said he’d look into the matter, only, no he didn’t. He told House members that he’d merely asked HP’s legal folks (Ann Baskins, this buck’s for you) if they were within the law, and got a yes, and said so in an unofficial capacity without even knowing what “pretexting” meant.

Patricia Dunn, the chairwoman who took no responsibility for the scandal but resigned anyway, was amazingly disingenuous about the infamous project smeared with her fingerprints. Oregon Republican Greg Walden marveled to HP CEO Mark Hurd that e-mails showed Dunn involved in everything from resources used to the names of the two-part leak probe (Konas 1 and 2 — Dunn likes Hawaii), while saying her testimony put her involvement “at the 30,000-foot level.”


What Color Is Baskins’ Parachute?

September 28, 2006

Ann Baskins, who quit her job as HP general counsel this morning, is holding vested options worth a little over $3.6 million, according to an 8-K HP filed today with the SEC.

Those she gets to exercise before Nov. 22. And, under the terms of the severance agreement she negotiated with HP, the company will accelerate up to $1 million of her unvested options so that she may exercise them prior to Nov. 22, when all her unvested options will otherwise expire. (more…)

Eshoo [Heart] HP

September 28, 2006

Those damned reporters. All they want to do is bring Hewlett-Packard and Larry Sonsini down.

Not to worry, though. Anna Eshoo the Democratic representative whose district includes HP, and Sonsini’s firm decided to set things straight today at the House committee hearing on HP.

While the media is focused on the HP board and its Valley lawyers from Wilson Sonsini, “when you drill down, there was some shoe box lawyer” responsible for the bad legal advice, she said. Eshoo was referring to Boston attorney John Kiernan, who supposedly told HP investigators that their methods were legal.

After making that point, Eshoo made another point: she had to say hi to Larry.


Dunn Gets Sloppy

September 28, 2006


It was the obvious question, and Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, just asked it. All along HP ex-chair Patricia Dunn has maintained that she didn’t know investigators were impersonating directors and reporters — also known as pretexting — to obtain records of their telephone calls.


So, Walden asked, “how’d you think they were getting these phone records?”


“My understanding was that these records were publicly available,” Dunn replied during her Congressional testimony (view Webcast), that “you could call up and get these records, and it was a common investigative technique.”


Walden paused a beat. “You really believed that?” he asked, drawing a smattering of laughter. “I’m sorry, but you believe I could call up whoever is your carrier and [ask for your records]?  Your home, your office, your cell?”


E-mail Snooping Draws Fire in HP Hearing

September 28, 2006

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess this morning didn’t just focus on pretexting, the low-tech art of lying to people. Texas Rep. Michael Burgess got pretty worked up over a stealth technology that would’ve tracked a reporter’s e-mail (if it had worked).

Burgess compared the e-mail bug to a wiretap on the phone in questioning Fred Adler, a former FBI agent who works in HP’s security unit. Adler disagreed.

“This was not a real-time interception that involves the reception of personal data,” he parsed.

“It’s like going through the mail in my mailbox,” Burgess replied, incredulous.

“I didn’t go through your mail,” Adler said flatly.

“It gives me the creeps that someone would do that,” Burgess said a few minutes later to former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn.

“It is surprising that it’s legal, isn’t it?” Dunn replied, unusually contentious after a morning of slightly befuddled testimony.

Dunn also fought hard when Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns tried explicitly to get her to accept some blame in the scandal. Dunn referred to her submitted testimony and squabbled with the congressman a bit before insisting, “I do not accept personal responsibility for what happened but I’m very sorry.”

Stearns suggested the scandal might’ve led her to consider resigning.

“I did resign,” Dunn said, brightly offering to do so again if it’d help.

Elaborating more soberly on why she quit if the scandal wasn’t her responsibility, she blamed the press coverage.

“I think finally the board decided I was a major distraction to the company getting over this problem. They asked me to resign,” she said.

Brian McDonough

Sonsini Talks. And It Ain’t Pretty.

September 28, 2006

Larry Sonsini doesn’t like pretexting. He doesn’t even condone it, he told a congressional subcommittee probing Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess. In fact, he wants a law passed to prohibit it. (To help you kill your workday, C-SPAN’s running all the action from Capitol Hill live on its Web site.)

In a short opening statement, Sonsini condemned HP’s use of “pretexting,” or lying, to gain phone records of journalists and its own employees and directors in an investigation over boardroom leaks.

“It is probably illegal,” Sonsini told the committee. “We need to make it clearly illegal.”


Eshoo: What to Do About Leaky Boards?

September 28, 2006

It’s one thing to avoid going out of your way to avoid criticizing a major player in your constituency.

But Anna Eshoo took an extra step when she showed up at the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations’ hearing on Hewlett-Packard. Eshoo the Palo Alto Democrat, in whose district Hewlett-Packard sits isn’t on the subcommittee, but as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, she got permission to put her two cents in.

And those were two rather surprising cents: Eshoo became one of the few and perhaps the only politician to stand up for HP.


Baskins Quits and Takes the Fifth

September 28, 2006

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess hadn’t even begun when one big question was answered: What would HP General Counsel Ann Baskins say, given that she according to the company’s deposed chairwoman, Patricia Dunn approved sketchy investigative methods to figure out who was leaking boardroom discussions.

The answer: not much.