The Capitol bureau of the San Francisco Chronicle is dramatically shrinking because of cost-saving cuts.
Two more veteran reporters, Greg Lucas and Mark Martin, announced they will be leaving the paper this week. Their departures come on the heels of the firing of bureau chief Paul Feist. The Chronicle has announced plans to lay off 100 editorial positions -- nearly a quarter of its staff.
The latest cuts mean the Chronicle's Sacramento office has been whittled down to two reporters, Matthew Yi and Tom Chorneau, after starting the year with a staff of seven.
Lucas, who has been with the Chronicle since 1988, e-mailed his friends and sources in the Capitol on Tuesday announcing his departure. He called his tenure "a fun-filled, action-packed, mind-expanding absolutely glorious 19-year ride."
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"At the Chronicle, I have been honored to work with many, many wonderful people over the years. I cherish having worked for so long at the same place as brilliant writers like Art Hoppe and Stanton Delaplane," he wrote.
Lucas told Capitol Alert that he is taking a buyout from the paper and leaving voluntarily.
"I am not exactly sure what I am doing next," Lucas said, whose last day is July 21, when the Legislature breaks for summer.
"I don't think I'm too old to learn the new trick of blog, although I'm troubled since it's a four-letter word like work and golf," he wrote in the goodbye e-mail.
Martin said his departure was in the works before the paper announced the job cuts. His last day will be Friday.
On Monday, Martin will begin his new post as a project manager at the Little Hoover Commission, where he said he will be working on some the same issues he covered as a reporter.
"Losing Greg and our editor, it is just fewer eyes on the Capitol," said Martin. "It is just going to be less coverage. It is too bad what they doing up here."
Lynda Gledhill, another former Chronicle reporter, left the paper in January to join the office of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. The Chronicle's Sacramento bureau editorial assistant Marshall Kirkland has also taken a buyout from the paper. Martin said Kirkland, who has been with the paper for 20 years, is looking for an office job around town.
As for future political coverage, Martin was somewhat hopeful: "Tom and Matt are really excellent, and they will do a great job."