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Joe Simitian Gets Peppered at the Farmer's Market

Simitian held one of his 'sidewalk office hours' at the Cupertino Farmer's Market where he had a steady stream of constituents prepared to ask him pointed questions.

Regardless of any boundary redistricting confusion, State Senator Joe Simitian is yours, Cupertino, until the end of 2012. Well, yours and the rest of District 11 with whom he must be shared.

That was just one message Simitian delivered during his "sidewalk office hours" at Friday's Farmer's Market in the Sears parking lot when a constituent expressed concern over losing Simitian's representation in the ongoing redistricting process.

Simitian, who terms out in 2012, has made it practice to get out in the community for intimate conversations in myriad settings to make himself available to the people in his district.

Often it is at farmers' markets such as the one in Cupertino on Friday where he was found simply standing in an open-air setting, a table to his side where constituents could sign up for his email messages and find informational brochures, and aides quietly standing nearby to take notes for follow-up, or help answer questions.

"People were lined up from the time we got here," Simitian said.

And there was a steady stream for the duration of his 90-minutes of office time.

One constituent wanted to know Simitian's take on requiring legislators to make public their work schedules.

While not completely objectionable to opening up his calendar, Simitian said security and privacy concerns are only a portion of why he's not in favor of making schedules open to the public.

For strategic purposes, special interest and lobbying groups would be very interested in knowing the names of the people legislators' are meeting with and the organizations or companies those people represent.

"A legislator's schedule is a road map to his strategies, his plans," he said.

Open government regulations don't apply to special interest groups and lobbyists, and they don't have to adhere to the same rules as lawmakers, so they could easily use the information to their advantage by knowing who a legislator is meeting with, Simitian said.

Simitian fielded a variety of questions--including one man's personal dilemma with the Department of Motor Vehicles-- and did not leave anyone's question unanswered. Gladys Campodenica of Cupertino waited until the very end to get her chance to talk to Simitian.

Simitian's aides were anxious to keep the senator on schedule, but Simitian stopped, turned his attention to the elderly woman and said, "You've been so patient, of course I have time for you."

And then the sweet-looking little old lady zinged him: "Why don't you (legislators) give up your cell phones and cars? What are you doing to cut back?"

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