3 Lines: $10,000

Arresting development: Sacramento attorney Stephen Pearcy was intrigued by our recent article detailing how the Sacramento Police Department conducted a prostitution sting operation using a phony escort service they advertised in SN&R (“Sacramento’s Best,” December 27, 2001).

In particular, he focused on Classified Manager Jenna Bartlett’s comment that she didn’t like the paper being used in this manner, and that set his legal mind to wondering just how the paper might prevent cops from lying and placing more phony ads targeting amorous readers.

The answer, Pearcy believes, lies within his specialty of contract law. He said SN&R could send letters to local police agencies announcing a new policy of charging substantially higher classified rates to cops—say, thousands of dollars higher—on the grounds such fake ads damage the paper’s credibility.

On the front end, such high rates might discourage police from using the paper. But if they just ignored the new rates and surreptitiously placed ads anyway, SN&R could turn around and sue them for payment at the higher rates once the sting was stung.

Bites has to admire Pearcy’s legalistic gumption, although other readers have taken the more direct approach of complaining to the Police Department and Sacramento City Council about precious city resources being squandered on this victimless crime.

Meanwhile, Bartlett and SN&R News Editor Steven T. Jones (who penned the article) last week were subpoenaed by the attorney for one of the alleged johns busted in the sting, with the trial set for January 14 or 15.

At press time, there was no word on the outcome of the case or whether Jones’ big mouth had gotten him locked up for contempt of court, but Bites will be sure to let you know about anything juicy.

State of the Governor: Speaking of contempt, this week was a big one for Bites’ old friend Gray Davis. After doing a meet and greet with President George Bush over the weekend, the governor delivered his State of the State speech on Tuesday and was set to release his budget on Thursday.

Polls show that more and more Californians have adopted Bites’ perspective on our governor, seeing him as a soulless reactionary more concerned with looking good than doing good. But with $35 million in the bank and a political eternity left before the election, nobody should count him out.

It will be interesting to see whether Davis uses his spotlight this week to redefine himself, or whether he’s content with fighting a battle for the safe political center. Assuming frontrunner moderate Richard Riordan gets the GOP nomination, it could be decided by a few hanging chads.

Toxic times two: Those poor Mandella Community Gardeners just can’t catch a break, or a clean piece of dirt. First they get booted off the land they’ve hoed for the last couple of decades, then they get offered some toxic terrain as a replacement, and now they’ve been offered another plot of land … and it’s toxic, too.

With the existing gardens slated to be dug up and replaced with a residential and commercial project this summer, the Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) is trying to fulfill a promise to find a good replacement site for the displaced gardeners.

Last year, CADA announced plans to establish a new community garden site on 19th between R and S streets, only to discover that the soil was laden with lead, arsenic, chromium and other toxic tomato ingredients.

Now, they are planning to house the gardens over at 4th and W streets, claiming the site is just fine for those rabble-rousing green thumbs. But when gardener Evan Tucker got a hold of the site study, he saw that it, too, contains unacceptable levels of lead, arsenic and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

CADA officials have told the gardeners that they plan to clean up the site, but the gardeners are dubious—even more so after CADA head Tom Kigar at the last minute cancelled a planned meeting this week with gardeners on the issue, without committing to reschedule it.

Kigar didn’t return calls by press time, but Bites is betting that these long-embattled gardeners aren’t going to take silence for an answer.