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03.04.09

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Let's hope Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) has reconnected with some old high school friends on Facebook. They might be the only people who will talk to him anymore. Two weeks ago the state senator, whose district runs from Santa Barbara County to Los Gatos, alienated pretty much everybody on both sides of the aisle by refusing to vote for the state budget until he'd extracted a concession on open primaries. The concept, which would in theory favor moderate candidates, is a staple of reformers, but Maldonado managed to irritate even potential supporters. To wit: former District 27 Assemblyman Fred Keeley criticized Maldo's tactics. Ever the diplomat, Maldonado shot back that it was just "sour grapes" for Keeley, who was redistricted out of a political career when the gerrymandered wonder that is District 15 was created. "This is why we need an open primary," Maldonado said, "so we can keep extremists like Mr. Keeley from coming to Sacramento." But wait! Keeley now works for the reform group California Forward, which supports open primaries. Another concession Maldonado extracted was $1 million he demanded be cut from the budget for furniture for the "plush" office of State Controller John Chiang . Maldonado waxed outraged about this money, and Fly got grumpy too, envisioning mahogany desks and Tiffany lamps. The facts are a little less outrageous: steel cubicles for 741 employees moving from a prime location in downtown Sacramento to cheaper office space. Now the state is leasing two offices, the cheaper of them empty. Documents from Chiang's office show a savings of $250,000 a year in the new location. That's $1.5 million between now and 2016, more than enough to offset the $1 million in savings. But hey, what's a half-million between friends? Unless, of course, you don't have any left.


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