Friday, January 6, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jean Godden

Brilliant, Sure, But Can He Write?

Will the real Bill Gates, syndicated columnist, please stand up? Gates, chairman of Redmond-based Microsoft, is not only his company's chief spokesman, head salesman and pre-eminent icon, but now he's moonlighting as a biweekly columnist, syndicated by The New York Times.

Does he do it all himself - read all the letters and e-mail messages and then sit down at a many-Windowed word processor and compose a column? Or does he have a ghost writer?

It's a subject worth pursuing. And, although Microsoft media-relations staffers were all tied up, a former company spokesman reported that columnist Gates is getting help from Pam Edstrom at Waggener-Edstrom, Microsoft's Portland-based public-relations agency.

When contacted, Edstrom - described in a Gates' biography as "a petite, take-charge dynamo" - said credit for the column idea actually goes to Microsoft Executive Vice President Steve Ballmer. She says the words are, indeed, Gates', but she admits Gates has some assistance.

"To leverage Bill's time, he sits down with a tape recorder once a month, picks a topic and expresses his ideas for half an hour to 45 minutes," she says.

"We have it transcribed and edited down. When we're finished, it goes to The New York Times Syndicate, where Gloria Anderson does the final editing."

And who, pray tell, is the closet scribe who takes Gates' raw thoughts and shapes them into a column format?

"We have a couple of people doing it," Edstrom replies. "Some of the work is being done by Peter Rinearson."

Ah. That's the same Peter Rinearson who won a Pulitzer in 1984 while a Seattle Times reporter. Reportedly, he's now helping on a book Gates also has in the works.

Chili day: Gov. Mike Lowry was all smiles Saturday after Washington State's Alamo Bowl victory over the Baylor Bears. The governor, a loyal WSU grad, placed a pre-game wager with outgoing Texas Gov. Ann Richards, a Baylor grad.

Lowry bet Richards a box of "premium Washington state apples" that the Cougars would win. Richards wagered "a pot of Baptist chili." Lowry's staff awaits the chili. But, odds are, they'll only get a recipe.

Tooth fury: Nancy Rising, 48th District Democratic chairwoman, received a bizarre request. An Eastsider called asking for help locating a liberal dentist.

Rising explains, "The guy said he was sick and tired of having a rubber dam and drill stuffed in his mouth and then being forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh."

Rising says she's located "at least one" liberal Eastside dentist.

Sea escape: Back from the Renaissance Weekend at Hilton Head Island, S.C., where they rubbed shoulders with the Clintons, are a couple of locals: Stephen Brown and his wife, Rose Yu. Brown helped found Entros, the interactive Seattle nightclub; Yu works in international trade.

Brown reports breaking bread with such famous personages as Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, reporter Peter Arnett and author Gail Sheehy. Because everything's off the record, Brown was reluctant to identify the only other Northwest attendee. A clue: "It's a powerful Microsoft person."

Vanity fare: Spotted in the Auburn area: A vanity plate that reads GTOVRIT. Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Local News section of The Times. Her phone is 464-8300.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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