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The Skinny: One of the good ones

Once again, the public’s loss is the private sector’s gain. The people of California are losing one of the good ones this week as super staffer Deborah Gonzalez, who is currently on the payroll for Assemblyman Mike Villines, is leaving the Capitol. Gonzalez worked for the last Republican Assembly Speaker, Curt Pringle, and former Sen. Chuck Poochigian before taking over as Villines’ policy director when Villines was Assembly Republican Leader. But no matter where Gonzalez worked, she was a valuable resource for members, other senior staff, and yes, reporters, about intricate policy details, the legislative history of a particular issue, or seemingly small but major nuances of legislative language. Next week, she will take over for Liz Snow as the policy guru and political counselor for the California Dental Association. Snow left her perch as director of one of the state’s most powerful PACs to head up political operations for the California Building Industry Association earlier this year. With the dentists, Gonzalez will be teamed up with her former counterpart in the Assembly, Danny Eaton, who served as Fabian Nuñez’s chief of staff. Gonzalez’s departure is just the latest example of the brain drain at the top of the legislative ladder, and is a bad sign for anyone who wants the Legislature, as an institution, to function and thrive. And as the next round of budget haggling looms around the corner, her absence will be felt.

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