Tofurkey roast

Worthy cause:
To support Big Brothers Big Sisters (and my favorite Big Celebrity candidate, Meredith J. Cooper), vote by Friday at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County site.

As a fund-raiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters, John Anderson and David Kim of New Urban Builders hosted a roast for Steve Bertagna at Canyon Oaks Country Club on Sunday. They invited people who know the retiring councilman—or at least would admit it—to take shots at him (and each other). I was one of them.

Biggest joke of the evening: Bertagna has been in office 12 years … and that’s just about how many people came out.

I put some effort into my presentation, so rather than let that work go to waste, here’s a bit of what you missed.

• • •

I wasn’t in Chico when Steve got elected. Or re-elected. Or re-re-elected. Thank the almighty: I got spared those campaign jingles. I won’t even attempt to sing one, lest I blow out the sound system. I’m assuming this stuff came from All Around Sound …

No? Ah, that’s why you all can hear me.

Actually, Steve sells good stuff. My wife brought in her car, asking for the best new system he had, and now she’s got the only Camry in Chico with an 8-track and a lava lamp.

Selling car stereos when the economy is down and gas prices are up makes about as much sense as a block party in Westside Green. OK, fine—as much sense as Sarah Palin at a Melissa Etheridge concert.

Steve says he’s retiring from City Council to spend more time with his family. But that’s not the real reason.

Steve Bertagna has been living a lie. The truth is eating him up. So I’m going to end his inner turmoil by outing him.

Steve is a liberal.

Sounds crazy, but answer me this: If he really supported conservative politics, why would he host a campaign event for Joe Valente? Steve’s hardly got the Midas touch with elections lately—just how many did he lose in 2006? [Two!]

Steve’s a liberal.

He drives a Harley hybrid.

He calls the president “a real tofurkey.”

He takes kickbacks from “Big Compost” and “Big Soy.”

He’s passionate about recycling—obviously, or why else would he keep reusing lines like “I’m going to plug my nose and vote for this…”?

Instead of “a chicken in every pot,” he’d like “12-unit density on every lot.”

Regardless of the reason he’s leaving, I’m really going to miss Councilman Steve. He’s a journalist’s dream—a great quote—and he’s got a special talent: He speaks just as clearly with or without a foot in his mouth.

He got some ribbing for saying he was “Dave Burkland’s biggest fan.” Too bad Steve’s only setting blows hot air.

You gotta love a guy who changes his vote on a cable surcharge after he had a flashback to opening his cable bill that month and getting mad about the charges. I don’t want to overgeneralize and say he’s nuts, but after that meeting, Maisie Jane dusted him with cinnamon.

Seriously, the Friars say they only roast the ones they love, and while I’m not planning to bunk with him at Burning Man, I honestly respect Steve for his willingness to look beyond the narrow prism of political labels and do what he thinks is right for the city.

Enjoy the time with the family—you’ve earned it.