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Silicon Valley News Notes

Rearranging the Office Furniture

San Jose city officials, facing a $65 million shortfall, are penny-pinching everywhere they can. Or are they? Yesterday, the council signed off on cutting 52 positions. Another 18 employees could lose their jobs in March. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Nancy Pyle shelled out more than $6,000 to buy new furniture for her City Hall office. Pyle defends her purchase (which obviously isn't going to save even one part-time job) saying she cut costs elsewhere and saved money from her council office account to replace the ratty pink-polka-dotted furniture in her office. Each council office is allocated $262,882 for office expenses that include salary for staff and operating costs. It's not uncommon for councilmembers to replace outdated furniture when they are elected to office, says Kathy Sutherland, Pyle's chief of staff. In fact, she said, Pyle has been waiting (and saving) for four years to get rid of the 20-year-old furniture. "The old conference table was rectangular with legs that extended all the way to the edge, providing plenty of opportunity for anyone sitting along the sides to knock their knees on the legs," Sutherland says. That explains it.

Lean Dean to Merc Employees: 'Take Some Time Off'

The still-slumping economy appears to be giving Dean Singleton a free pass to continue slicing away at his newspapers. As if employees in his already decimated newsrooms aren't scraping by as is, Singleton's MediaNews is now requiring all of its nonunion workers to take a one-week furlough starting this month. The company has also negotiated an involuntary furlough with its unions, in exchange for fast-tracking a contract by Feb. 27. Forever playing hardball, the company refused an explicit no-layoff proposal offered by the Guild on Friday, according to a union bulletin. The Guild committee members made it clear that the furloughs are a one-time concession and are unlikely to be agreed to again. David Rounds, president and publisher for Bay Area News Group–East Bay, fired off an email to employees on Jan. 28, explaining that while the forced time off was an alternative to layoffs, he couldn't promise it would save the company enough money to prevent future firings. The best he could offer? "I am hopeful that an unpaid furlough will go a long way toward keeping future layoffs, if any, to a minimum."

Watch Dog's Tesla Scoop

When the Merc, KCBS and the Business Journal reported last week that Tesla had shifted gears and reversed direction, and might not be building a plant in San Jose after all, it was old news to readers of Watch Dog Silicon Valley. The upstart anonymous blog has been following serial entrepreneur Elon Musk's upstart electric car company closely for some time, in a series titled "The Tesla Chronicles." On Jan. 15, Watch Dog posted a piece headlined: Tesla Plans "Abandoned" in San Jose. The quotation marks in the headline are intentional—Watch Dog attributed the information to his/her "spies" in City Hall. In a slightly self-congratulatory follow-up post yesterday, humbly headlined "We Told You So," Watch Dog gently chided Mayor Chuck Reed's press secretary, Michelle McGurk, who told the Merc that the city is still "scurrying" to find new sites in San Jose: "If Ms. McGurk had just read Watch Dog earlier, she would have known the Tesla deal was in trouble and the City wouldn't have to scurry so much. ..."

San Jose: Fit or Fat?

Poor San Jose doesn't know if should do a few extra crunches or just give up and have another Twinkie. A recent Men's Fitness article listed San Jose as one of America's fattest cities—15th fattest city in the nation. But then Women's Health ranked San Jose No. 1 for health and No. 2 for fitness. And wait. Just last month, Men's Health ranked us sixth best city in the United States—first for health and fourth for fitness. So who is right? Well all three magazines swear that they sifted through mountains of data, analyzed every little decimal and remembered to carry the one. All three took in factors like number of gyms, recreational sports, parks, TV watching and more. But the Fly thinks this just goes to show you that statistics can be made to prove anything. Or perhaps San Jose is both fit and fat. Maybe just big-boned.


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