Better know a district

It was great to hear last week that some of our local talent is eyeballing state office. Assemblyman Dave Jones, three-time winner of the 9th Assembly District, is hoping to move up to California insurance commissioner in 2010.

Bites is sure that Jones will do good things if elected. He’s made his career advocating reform and looking out for working people.

But politically, isn’t this kind of a dead end?

In the 17 years that insurance commissioner has been an elected office, it hasn’t exactly been a stepping stone to glory. Sure, former (two-time) insurance commissioner, Democrat John Garamendi, and current insurance commissioner, Republican Steve Poizner, have both announced that they’re running for governor in 2010. But really, aren’t they just keeping the seats warm for the real candidates?

The only person who’s brought any notoriety to the office was GOP pretty boy Chuck Quackenbush. Oh, that Quackenbush. The guy once tried to intimidate SN&R and its reporter Nick Budnick with a lawsuit when he investigated Chuck’s cozy relations with the insurance companies he was supposed to be regulating. Four years later, when it came out that he played favorites with political donors, Chuck had to resign.

Last Bites heard, he was a working as a sheriff’s deputy in southern Florida, where he managed to get his Taser taken away from him by a 57-year-old domestic-violence suspect. So Chuck shot the guy. The man was expected to fully recover, but Deputy Quackenbush got put on administrative leave for a while. After that, the trail goes cold.

Come to think of it, Dave, maybe boring isn’t so bad.

Rob Fong.

But who gets Jones’ Assembly seat when he leaves it in 2010?

City Councilwoman Lauren Hammond has been mentioned. But Hammond already tried for it and lost—along with Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson. She’d also have to decide whether to defend her city council seat that year or leave it for her Assembly bid.

Then there are Hammond’s cohorts on the council, Kevin McCarty and Rob Fong. There’s a reason that each of these guys raised oodles of cash for city council races in which they had no opposition. This Assembly seat is probably that reason. McCarty’s got nearly $150,000 dollars left in the campaign kitty. Fong’s got $170,000.

Fong’s also got the Guy Smiley jaw line and the political hair that seems to go with higher office. But history might be on McCarty’s side. Jones came from the same city council district—the 6th District, which takes in Tahoe Park, Avondale-Glen Elder and Elmhurst. Sen. Darrell Steinberg also served in that council district, as did five-term Assembly member and current Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly. In fact, this city council district is something of a springboard to political power. Insurance commissioner, not so much.

Sacramento’s pursuit of Joe Zeiden has become pathetic and embarrassing. The city has spent three years and $40 million cajoling, buying out and just plain bullying property and business owners along K Street on Zeiden’s behalf. Now Zeiden wants more money or he’s pulling out.

And for what? The possibility of a Z Gallerie furniture store and a suite of chain shops that could be found in any middle-market suburban shopping mall. The city’s vision for K Street boils down to a slightly more urban version of Roseville Galleria. Can Mayor-elect Kevin Johnson stop the madness?

After all, it was around this time last year that Johnson’s not-yet campaign manager David Townsend wrote in (the now-defunct) Prosper magazine that K Street was a quagmire, and Sacramento should “blow it up or move on.”

“Time to put out tax dollars and resources where people already live … where those millions of dollars can really make a difference,” Townsend reasoned.

Agreed. Stop the occupation now. Sacramento out of K Street!

But what are the chances that Townsend has Johnson’s ear on this one? Last Bites heard, Johnson thought K Street would look better with a Barnes & Noble and an ESPN Zone. Sounds like more subsidies and schemes to make K Street more like a dysfunctional shopping mall. That’s not change Bites can believe in.