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12.24.08

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Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Valley News Notes

Grinch = Fail

Sometimes, even in bleak economic times like this, the Grinch doesn't have a chance. Just ask Leannette M. Spence, assistant vice president and personal banker at the Bank of America in San Jose's Cambrian Park. Last week, Spence had a customer who accidentally left her card in the bank's ATM. When the customer called in to cancel it, she learned that a $200 cash withdrawal had been made at the same ATM immediately after she left, which led to all kinds of anxiety on her part: was there a way to track down who stole it? Could she get the money back in time for Christmas? Just as things were looking dire, the customer discovered that another transaction had been made later that day: this time, a deposit for $200. Thoroughly confused, she was put in touch with Spence, who knew the story firsthand: After withdrawing the $200 on the lost ATM card, the person who had found the card walked into the branch and returned both the card and cash. It was the first time Spence has ever had someone return cash that didn't belong to them, and the timing couldn't be better. "It was pretty amazing," Spence said with that certain holiday glow. "With times as tough as they are, it's nice to see the goodwill in people."

Out at SVCN

Former Metro publisher David Cohen has been sacked as the head of Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, a company formed by Metro and sold to Cohen in 2001. Cohen ran it as an independent company for four years and then sold it to the Mercury News in 2004. The sale (reportedly worth something north of seven-figures) reduced newspaper competition in the valley, and the Mercury generally gave Cohen and editor Dale Bryant a wide berth in terms of calling the editorial shots. Earlier this year, SVCN stopped posting articles to its own websites and combined its online operation with the Merc's. Management termed Cohen's dismissal a layoff for cost-cutting reasons.


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