Working stiffs

The state Assembly works 29 hours straight to pass a budget that only puts off the tough decisions for another year or two. Our local assemblymen, Republicans Rick Keene and Doug LaMalfa, recognized that and voted against the budget. Oddly, political analysts called the budget a victory for the minority Republican Party. Still, LaMalfa, in a press release, said the budget relies primarily on “an illegal $4 million car tax increase” and more than $15 billion in borrowing. LaMalfa said the Democrats’ claims of spending cuts are illusionary. “What they call cuts are really accounting gimmicks that would make the lousiest street magician embarrassed.” In LaMalfa’s defense, let’s just say that it’s hard to be eloquent after 29 hours on the job.

We called Keene’s office in Sacramento to get a comment and were told a press release was about to be sent to the media. Last week we reported the difficulties we’ve experienced getting information out of Keene and his staff. “If you have any questions, call Cliff Wagner in the Chico office,” suggested a very helpful Brent R. Ten Pas, Keene’s legislative director. I called Wagner, who told me he was working on a press release explaining Keene’s position but that it would most likely not be ready until after our deadline. Wagner, too, was receptive and polite. I told him, “Cliff, even more important than our getting that press release in time is just knowing that you are thinking of us.” Of course, we didn’t hear from Rick himself, but, just like LaMalfa, he must be really tired after that 29-hour shift.

If you want to run for governor and get your name on the ballot, it will cost you $3,500 and 65 signatures from your friends—at least those who are registered voters—and you must submit by Aug. 9. However, you can also declare yourself as a write-in candidate, which you must do by Sept. 23. I called the state Democratic Party in Sacramento to find out if there are fees and signatures involved in declaring yourself a write-in candidate. A woman named Jessica answered the phone, and before I could finish my question, she said, “Can you hang on a minute?” Sure. I waited several minutes and no one got back to me. I can understand why. The Demos don’t want to encourage anyone to run against Gov. Gray Davis. By the way, with the exception of the Green Party groups in Butte and San Diego counties, which are officially endorsing Peter Camejo for gov, the rest of the party’s county groups are against the recall. However, just to be safe, they recommend voting “No” on the recall and then voting for Camejo as a candidate. It’s sort of like the instant-runoff elections the Green’s are pushing, which allow a voter to make more than one choice when casting.

I recently stumbled upon the NBC reality show Who Wants to Marry My Dad? Good stuff with all the standard fare—lie-detector tests, unexpected twists and turns and a family that truly loves one another. I didn’t see the first episode, so I don’t know if Mom met an untimely death or just packed up one day and hit the road because Dad is one of those middle-aged balding guys who try to mask that fact by shaving his head. But it got me to thinking about possible spin-offs to the show. How about a bunch of younger women, gold-diggers if you will, vying through tests of physical and mental agility until just one is left in Who Wants to Bury My Dad? Of course, after that we have the funeral to deal with, and for this I envision two dozen muscle-bound young men going head to head to prove their superior strength until only six remain to earn the coveted title of “pallbearer” in Who Wants to Carry My Dad? Finally, the old man has to be buried on an island that contains a number of family plots. There are no bridges to this island; it can only be reached by boat. In this, the final spin-off of the reality series, contestants display their seamanship skills in Who Wants to Ferry My Dad?