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Wednesday, Feb 19 1997
Kerr Gets the Call
In their first -- and biggest -- decision, the directors of the newly formed UCSF/Stanford Health Care presided over a bizarre double-take, which left Stanford with the upper hand in the power equation between the two institutions (see "Pinstriped Medicine," Jan. 29).

Within two days of being named CEO, William Kerr, head of UCSF Medical Centers for the past 19 years, stepped down to become chief operating officer. He was replaced by his chief rival and counterpart at Stanford, Peter Van Etten. Kerr's move was a trade down. COO, a position centered on day-to-day operations, is considerably less prestigious.

In a prepared statement, Kerr said merely that he realized he most enjoyed operations, an odd realization to make so late in the game, since he'd long been considered a front-runner for the CEO job. He was unavailable at press time to expand on the reasons for his sudden change of heart.

Van Etten, who has only been at Stanford since 1995, apparently was taken by surprise by the development. He had been considering whether to stay in the wake of the original news that Kerr had taken the top job.

UCSF/Stanford Health Care was created in November by the merger of UCSF and Stanford medical centers. (The medical schools will remain separate.) With Van Etten as CEO and former Stanford Health Services Chairman Isaac Stein as chairman of the UCSF/Stanford Health Care, the new entity is now heavily tilted toward Stanford. Van Etten predicts that the new medical giant's roster would likely include more UCSF top dogs in the coming months. "The purpose of this merger is to create an integrated organization," Van Etten says.

-- L.D.

Microsoft's Office Sweet
Silicon Valley contingent workers last week lost a skirmish in their battle with Microsoft for full-fledged recognition (see "Temporary Solidarity," Dec. 4, 1996).

Last October, a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the software company was in the wrong when it classified a large group of workers as contractors, thus avoiding paying benefits and withholding payroll taxes. This past Wednesday the court agreed to give the company's appeal a hearing before a rare 11-judge panel.

"The bottom-line question," says Amy Dean, who's been trying to organize Silicon Valley contingents through the South Bay Labor Council, "is still, 'Ought people with like levels of responsibility be treated the same?' " So far, the answer at many high-tech firms has been: not if we can help it.

-- Laurel Wellman

Not the Way It Should Be
A book-signing last week for Walter Cronkite's autobiography, A Reporter's Life, was marred by a mean-spirited gesture by the host bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera. "At the publisher's request, Mr. Cronkite will only be signing copies of A Reporter's Life purchased at Book Passage," read fliers the store handed out. Fans couldn't even buy a substitute volume to earn the right to the newsman's signature.

Two well-known booksellers in S.F. say the shakedown was simply bad business. "We've never, to my knowledge, refused anyone," says Bob Flagg, manager of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books.

"Absolutely, you could bring in your own copy of the book," says Elizabeth Sutherland, community relations coordinator at the S.F. Borders branch. "Why penalize somebody who shows they love a book by showing up at your store?" Good question.


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Lisa Davis


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