Balm over Baghdad

Talking Iraq blues: Mark Williams, the local talk-radio host who hijacked a national television broadcast to brag about how the Gray Davis recall election was “born on his show”—a claim that provoked virulent enmity from KTKZ’s Eric Hogue and numerous other early adopters—finally has reaped the rewards of his own hype.

The KFBK host announced last month that he’s adding Fox News Live to his “ministry of political and social truth,” having been picked as a regular commentator for its Wednesday 7:20 a.m. slot.

But wait; that’s not all. Between taking shots at Democrats, liberals and other forces of evil, Williams may soon get some experience dodging bullets. He’s part of an elite guard of talk-radio hosts who are leaving for Baghdad on July 7. The 10-day mission will find them handing out cookies stamped with military insignia and broadcasting “the rest of the story” (as Bites’ radio hero Paul Harvey would put it) to the folks back home.

Although Williams may not be the most famous of the bunch—that distinction goes to Los Angeles-based commentator Dennis Prager—he’ll definitely be among friends. He’s being joined by KSFO host Melanie Morgan and her Move America Forward co-founder, Howard Kaloogian. Together, they’ll spend the week “blowing the lid off” other news media by telling the tales of “success, progress, democracy and freedom” that more-biased traditional reporters routinely suppress. Between broadcasts, they’re also expecting to locate weapons of mass destruction and hunt down Osama bin Laden.

Flight of the bumblebees: The happenstance exodus of talent from The Sacramento Bee continues with the departure of Emily Bazar, who in late 2003, along with Bee reporter Sam Stanton, examined how the post-9/11 Patriot Act collides with individuals’ civil liberties. Bazar, who has been with the Bee since attaining a summer internship there nine years ago, has been hired by USA Today to become part of a new general-assignment breaking-news team there, she said.

Bazar’s exit follows that of media and pop-culture writer J. Freedom du Lac, who departed for The Washington Post last month; Deputy City Editor Ken Chavez, who was hired by the Associated Press in April; 22-year arts writer Patricia Beach Smith, who retired from writing last month to head to the Crocker Art Museum; and photographer John Decker, who recently went from photographing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Bee to doing the same job for the governor’s administration.

Bazar opined that nothing was pushing loyal employees out of the McClatchy family.

“This is just a really great opportunity that presented itself,” she said, adding that USA Today may one day provide a platform for her to pursue international reporting.

Teamsters, cops and unions, oh my! The mudslinging is on the rise in the battle to decertify the California Union of Safety Employees (CAUSE), as those wily Teamsters go after the union that represents law-enforcement professionals, California Highway Patrol (CHP) dispatchers and other folks whose job it is to keep Bites in line.

Teamsters Local 228 filed June 15 with the Public Employment Relations Board, asking that CAUSE members be allowed to vote on whether that union will continue to represent them. On its Web site, CAUSE President Alan Barcelona bemoans that the current attack “comes from within the ‘brotherhood’ of unions. I placed this word in quotes because I cannot in good conscience consider either of them kin,” he adds, referring to “the Teamsters and the so-called California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS)—groups whose histories include numerous political scandals and questionable behavior.”

But Joseph Puccio, a CAUSE member and 40-year law-enforcement veteran, takes the opposite view about the election, which he expects will be held in September. Puccio says he’s pro-decertification because salaries of groups represented by CAUSE are “falling further and further behind” those in equivalent positions in the CHP and city police departments.

“You’ve got CHP patrolmen starting out who’ll make more money than a senior special investigator [for the state] with 20 years’ experience,” Puccio said. “It’s killing our recruitment. This is the end of CAUSE, and everybody knows it.”