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Dog Bites 

Golden handshakes, cat scans and tree controversy

Wednesday, Feb 2 2000
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Return of the Golden Handshake Reader Poll!
If all goes as planned, which of course it won't, Hearst will close the Examiner and complete its purchase of the Chronicle Feb. 15, after receiving no bids on the new Ex sales package, which now includes presses, delivery vehicles, and other things actually required to run a newspaper. (The new package was created when spoilsports complained the original sales package -- consisting of the Examiner name and three boxes of paper clips -- was -- how can we phrase this? -- worthless.)

In the meantime, we've certainly been entertained by all the speculation about exactly what the Examiner package might be worth; we seem to recall reading in one of the dailies that a single delivery truck would go for around $33,000. Now, Dog Bites spends an inordinate amount of time at the Kelly Blue Book Web site (it's a long, long story; say, want to go test driving with us next weekend?) but never knew that. And we bet you could double-park the thing a lot, too!

So, OK: building, delivery vehicles, printing press, cute editor -- but, of course, no share of the Joint Operating Agreement with the Chron, which, as far as Independent Publisher Ted Fang is concerned, means no deal. "Would a person have to be crazy to buy the paper without a share of the JOA? Yes," says the man whose name is regularly bruited about as a possible Ex purchaser. Nevertheless, Fang seems somewhat disgruntled by the Guardian's recent snipe that "[m]ost observers agree that the Fang family would have nowhere near the kind of money needed to buy even a stripped-down version of the Ex."

"That's interesting," he says. "We have gone from being the wealthy Fang family to being the poor-boy Fang family."

Oh well. Now that failed mayoral candidate and icky suit wearer Clint Reilly has actually filed his lawsuit attempting to prevent Hearst from purchasing the Chron, Fang may have more time to come up with the cash -- and Dog Bites will be interested to see whether U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is persuaded by the argument that a one-newspaper San Francisco equals a monopoly.

Walker, a conservative, multimillionaire Bush appointee who nevertheless favors legalizing drugs, is perhaps best known here in dot-com land for blowing Apple's famous look-and-feel lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft out of the water. As a law school dropout, Dog Bites is frequently called upon for impromptu legal opinions, particularly in the area of tort law vis-à-vis hair care products, and thus feels uniquely qualified to comment here. Do we think Walker will laugh at Reilly's suit? Well, let's put it this way: Are there file folder icons on your computer's desktop?

Once this small matter has been cleared up, the business of consolidating the two papers may, of course, proceed. (And let us say here that we hope a combined paper does not adopt the Ex's weird practice of referring to local residents as "Bay Areans"; who thought that one up, anyway?)

So now seems as good a time as any to revive our Golden Handshake Reader Poll, in which we ask our readers to select the Chronicle and Examiner columnists they think will be first up against the wall -- that is, first to get lucrative unsigning bonuses -- when the two papers merge.

Though we admit we've let things slide a little, we tallied the results only this morning and found Ken Garcia with a solid lead. Please visit our Web site (www.sfweekly.com) and use the pull-down menus to make your predictions on which columnists will survive the coming anschluss, which will, um, leave to pursue other interests, and when those leaving will leave. Remember, your vote counts!

Pick the columnist you think will be the first to receive the Golden Handshake:
He or she will get canned on:

My e-mail address is:

The Dog Bites Golden Handshake Reader Poll -- Interim Results

(Note: Due to rounding down -- except in the case of Jon Carroll, where we rounded up -- and the fact that we had to take now-deceased society columnist Pat Steger off the list, because it seemed in poor taste to leave her on, percentages do not total 100.)

Ken Garcia -- 29 percent

Lord Martine -- 17 percent

Stephanie Salter -- 10 percent

Jon Carroll -- 8 percent

Joan Ryan -- 7 percent

Ray Ratto -- 5 percent

Matier & Ross -- 5 percent

Art Hoppe -- 3 percent

Adair Lara -- 3 percent

Scott Ostler -- 3 percent

Rob Morse -- 2 percent

Leah Garchik -- 1 percent

C.W. Nevius -- 1 percent

About The Author

Laurel Wellman

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