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04.15.09

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Silicon Valley News Notes

The Fireworks Are Over

An entire generation has grown up with colorful pyrotechnics in the skies each Fourth of July above downtown's Discovery Meadow park. Now, after 18 years, the anniversary of America's independence will be a dark night in San Jose. Belt-tightening by sponsors, shrinking city grants and mushrooming costs for city services all conspired to douse the fireworks. "It's a business decision," says Fil Maresca of Filco Events, which has produced San Jose America Festival since 1998, first in conjunction with the Emergency Housing Coalition and later on its own. During that period, the cost of providing police, fire and other city services has increased tenfold, from about $7,000 to $70,000, Maresca says. NBC-11 took over as the fireworks show's lead sponsor after the Mercury News dropped out two years ago, but the broadcaster notified producers last year that it would be unable to underwrite the 2009 display. Meanwhile, city agencies decreased their commitment while seeking cost recovery for services they once discounted as a patriotic gesture or downtown stimulus catalyst. The remaining key revenue service—beer sales—wouldn't generate enough money to pay for the for city services. The announcement will no doubt come as a blow to downtown businesses already battered by the economy and downtown policing controversies.


Barry's Back to Blogging

Jude Barry, the longtime local political player and once-upon-a-time blogger, posted a cool piece last week on CalBuzz—the new blog hosted by former Merc politics editor Phil Trounstine and former Chron editor Jerry Roberts. Barry, who recently resigned a post managing John Garamendi's campaign for governor, likens the gubernatorial candidates to Silicon Valley companies. The SacBee's daily Capitol Alert summarized Barry's article thusly: "Jerry Brown is to Apple ... as Gavin Newsom is to Facebook ... as Antonio Villaraigosa is to Yahoo! ... as John Garamendi is to Sun Microsystems ... as Meg Whitman is to eBay ... as Steve Poizner is to Intel ... as Tom Campbell is to Wilson, Sonini, Goodrich, & Rosati." Aside from the clever comparison scheme, Barry's piece offers a break-down of Silicon Valley's historically meager role in statewide political campaigns. He closes the piece with a gentle but honest read on his former employer's chances, noting that "Garamendi trails known Democrats in the polls and Sun stock is at historic lows."

     

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