Carly of Arabia: Here at Calbuzz, our Department of Erudition’s Division of Bibliographic Resources and Recreational Imbibing maintains one of the world’s most extensive databases of news and information sources.
So it was that we happened to peruse some archival reports of AME Info, the widely-known and widely-respected provider of business information in and about the Middle East. Wherein we once again were beset by questions about what former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina knew, and when she knew it, about HP conducting business with Iran, despite a U.S. ban on trade with that, um, controversial nation.
Loyal readers will recall our kudos to Mike Zapler of the San Jose Mercury News, who recently reported on how H-P used a Middle East distributor called Redington Gulf to sell “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of printers and other products” to Iran during the leadership tenure of Fiorina, who has launched a bid to capture the Republican nomination for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. In his piece, a spokeswoman stated that Fiorina was “unaware of any sales to Iran during her time at the company.”
Yet smack in the middle of Hurricane Carly’s 1999-2005 stint as CEO, on Oct. 5, 2003, AME Info reported that Redington Gulf had become H-P’s first Mideast distributor to surpass $100 million in transactions through its offices in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, “Iran and Egypt.”
“The seeds of the Redington/Hewlett-Packard relationship in the Middle East were sowed six years ago for one market – Iran – and one product group,” the story says (itals ours). “Today it boasts of covering the entire region and across multiple product groups and support services.”
The piece even includes a happy photo of five smiling fellas – identified as “the management of Redington Gulf FZE and seniors from HP” – joining hands to cut a cake in celebration of “this milestone achievement.” And some milestone it was: HP in 2003 named Redington their “Wholesaler of the Year,” according to the distributor’s web site.
But Beth Miller, speaking for Fiorina’s nascent campaign, insisted that HP was “not doing business in Iran at all” while the wannabe Senator was CEO.
“To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran, and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws,” Miller told Calbuzz. She also cited recent comments by Redington CEO Raj Shankar, also reported by AME Info (take that CB!), stating that his company sells HP printers and supplies to “approved Iranian customers” – who aren’t in Iran.
“Redington Gulf does not engage in any commercial activity in Iran,” Shankar said. “The company does not conduct sales, stocking or import activities inside Iran, nor does it transact payments from any customer or bank in Iran. The business model is such that Redington does not take the product physically to Iran. Redington fulfills those products (in United Arab Emirates), and it is then for the customer to take the product into Iran and engage in local commerce.”
Bottom line: When Fiorina formally enters the race later this year, we foresee rampant curiosity about HP’s 2003 “Wholesaler of the Year.”
[After-the-fact credit note: Although it was suggested to us by someone else before he used it, David Dayen over at Calitics was the first writer we know of to deploy the label "iCarly".]
Two faces of reform: Good-government reformers will take one look at the new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California and squeal with delight about the finding that 58% of likely voters say it would be a good idea to have a split roll property tax system – in which commercial properties gets taxed at current market value, instead of being limited in the same way as residential property, which has been the case since the passage of Proposition 13.
And the goo-goos will likely also get a thrill up their legs about the 54% who like the idea of replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority rule for the legislature to pass a state budget.
They may even get goose bumps about the 48% of voters who’d support replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority standard to pass local special taxes.
But before falling into a total swoon, these good folks should duly note that the same statewide survey found: 58% of likely voters say Proposition 13 is still a good thing; 64% still favor term limits; 65% would limit annual state spending increases; and 55% say laws passed by initiative are probably better than those passed by the legislature and governor.
In other words, California voters like the idea of major changes, but when it comes to actually making changes – don’t bet the house.
Two faces of Gavin: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom was sharp as a tack in an interview about his campaign for governor on KCRA’s “Which Way LA” Thursday.
With host Warren Olney flinging tough questions, Prince Gavin showed he can handle serious subjects in crisp sound bites – laying out the key constitutional revisions he’d like to see, his top priorities as governor, where he’d look for new revenue (tobacco tax, oil severance tax and vehicle license fees) and why he believes he was right to lead the way in standing up for gay marriage.
It’s clear that by routinely taking questions from the public and reporters (as opposed to, oh say, Meg Whitman, just to pick a name out of the air) Newsom has honed his campaign skills. As Calbuzz told Olney on his post-interview segment, Newsom’s political problem is not one of presentation; rather, he needs to convince enough donors that he’s a smart investment to put together the resources to run a serious campaign. And that’s a tough sell because Attorney General Jerry Brown – who’s about 20 points ahead of Newsom in serious polling — is especially popular with older voters. And about 68% of the June 2010 primary electorate is expected to be 50 and older.
But we gotta say – he gives good interview.
On the other hand: SF Weekly presents a decidedly unflattering portrait of Newsom in the Calbuzz Must-Read of the Week. Pulling more than its share of the local media’s load of responsibility for enlightening the rest of us about Prince Gavin, the paper published a terrific 4,622-word profile by Ashley Harrell, who interviewed boatloads of former advisers, consultants and supporters:
“Seek out the political operatives who once worked closely with Newsom, and you’ll find that a number have soured on the mayor. Ask them why, and you’ll be bombarded with his alleged character flaws. Among them: ‘thin-skinned,’ ‘disloyal,’ ‘friendless,’ ‘joyless,’ ‘Machiavellian,’ ‘craven,’ and ‘empty.’ One will tell you that Eric Jaye was ‘the best-paid babysitter in California.’ Several will diagnose Newsom with an acute case of narcissism.
“‘He’s probably the worst mayor in modern history,’ said Jack Davis, a strategist who has worked on the mayoral campaigns of Newsom, Willie Brown, and Frank Jordan. ‘I pity this poor state if lightning should strike and this cad becomes governor amidst the problems that the state has. He’d have a nervous breakdown. There’s no there there.’”
Must read II: The indefatigable Mark Z. Barabak offered up a considerably brisker profile of Newsom that, in a series of deft strokes, also cut to the core of what bothers lots of folks in San Francisco about their mayor – and explains why Brown runs ahead of Prince Gavin in SF.
“Still, to a striking degree, some of Newsom’s biggest backers — in civic groups and policy circles, among political activists and campaign donors — have in the last few years become some of the mayor’s sharpest critics. In a series of interviews, they expressed disappointment and accused Newsom, in words oft-repeated, of focusing more on self-aggrandizement and personal publicity than solving the city’s problems.
‘Once he’s said it and it’s printed in the newspapers, it’s done in his mind,’ said Jim Ross, a political consultant who ran Newsom’s 2003 campaign for mayor. ‘Then it’s on to the next big announcement.’”
This just in – U.S. land mass growing exponentially: A headline on the Huffpost home page last week read thusly: “Hundreds of states shut down to save money.”