All in a day’s work

Mad money: Ever wonder what staffers in the state legislature do during these off months, when their boss lawmakers are back at home and the sausage-making bill factory is closed for the duration of the calendar?

Apparently, they obsess over how much everyone under the Capitol dome is paid.

They wonder things like: “What does Assemblywoman Mimi Walters’ Chief of Staff Gina Zari do that’s worth $84,000 a year?”

And: “Does Democratic consultant/enigma Irwin Nowick actually accept his $97,104 salary?”

The wonky Capitol Weekly newspaper annually publishes the salaries of workers in the state legislature. Names, job titles, wages. All there in ink and newsprint (and online at for comparing and contrasting.

Here’s another one: Press secretary for the Assembly Democrats Vince Duffy is paid $85,008 per year, while the press secretary for the Assembly Republicans, Morgan Crinklaw, receives $60,000. What’s up with that?

The Weekly has now put its salary search online. The first few days, it was searched more than 200,000 times, presumably by Capitol staffers hard at work.

True, more than a handful of those searches came from SN&R, as Bites typed through the tears of realization that even the average legislative employee (at a salary of $56,311) makes more before lunchtime than Bites is paid for this column each week. Ugh.

Sometimes you feel like a nut: The National Labor Relations Board this week slapped the Blue Diamond Growers with a list of 28 alleged labor violations stemming from efforts by the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union to unionize the downtown plant.

The most serious appear to be the firings of three union supporters, but there are also numerous allegations that company supervisors threatened workers with the loss of pensions or jobs if they choose to go union. The NLRB investigators also found evidence that management told workers unionization would lead to the plant being shut down. The company responded in a written statement that it was in the right to fire the three workers—but didn’t respond directly to the other charges.

The charges ought to raise red flags over at City Hall, since 10 years ago the Sacramento City Council gave the company a passel of money not to skip town for Fresno. In exchange for the bribe, Blue Diamond is suppose to keep the Sacramento plant open until 2010, and to maintain a workforce of at least 700 employees—even if they’re carrying union cards.

Indecent proposition: Bites figures that the governor takes little notice of the constant protests at the Capitol. But here’s one that might get his attention.

The Mendocino-based group Breasts Not Bombs (BNB) is calling on their fellow Californians to reject the governor’s fast-sinking fleet of reform measures, proclaiming that “Special elections are indecent! Groping women is indecent! Threatening teachers is indecent! … Driving a Hummer is indecent!”

BNB specializes in topless political protest and plans to bare witness on the west steps of the Capitol on Monday, November 7, at 3 p.m.

But the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has warned the group that they may be exposing themselves to some legal trouble if they parade in the buff.

“My understanding is that you don’t have a First Amendment right to take your clothes off in public,” said Officer Keith Troy, the guy who hands out the protest permits, adding that topless protesters will be arrested.

The group’s leader, Sherry Glaser, says that courts have decided long ago that protesting au naturale is protected by the First Amendment, and she said the group has never been threatened with arrest at other protests. “Usually the police show up, but they never do anything, except watch.” BNB planned to seek an injunction against the CHP in superior court this Thursday, November 3.

Officer Troy said the Capitol cops have never actually dealt with premeditated nudity before—though he did explain that, “There’s always the occasional wing nut who takes their clothes off for the wrong reason.”