Blowing the cash

Big spender revisited: Assemblyman Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, held one of his signature fund-raisers last weekend, inviting donors to party with him at an Anaheim Jimmy Buffet concert for $1,600 a head. And it’s a good thing, too, because he needs the money.

Two more fund-raising reports have come out since SN&R detailed Ronnie’s habit of blowing campaign cash on everything except campaigns (“Spending trend,” SN&R News, December 31).

Calderon continues to spend his hard-earned campaign funds in Las Vegas, where he recently charged $2,177 for “meetings” at favorite haunts like the Venetian and Mandalay Bay casinos.

Calderon, who doesn’t face much of a re-election challenge, is expected to do his part by transferring dough to party causes so Democrats don’t lose seats this year. But he still hasn’t come through for his peers. Instead, Calderon dropped $14,085 to help his sister-in-law Marcella Calderon (whose hubby is former Assemblyman Tom Calderon) win a second term on the Montebello school board last fall. She won.

And it gets worse. As of last week’s campaign-finance filing, Calderon had just $20,010 in the bank—as opposed to other Dem backbenchers who have several times as much. At the same time, Calderon’s campaign accounts showed outstanding debts of $84,737. In other words, he’s broke.

Instead of returning a call, Calderon faxed a short statement: “I am confident that all of my campaign resources have been used in a manner consistent with accepted campaign practices. I am proud to be an integral part of the Assembly Democratic leadership and will continue to vigorously support the goals of our caucus.”

Pitching in with the fund-raising, it seems, would be the best place to start. Hopefully he lured a lot of rich parrot heads to Margaritaville.

Survival of the fittest: Upon first getting word of Sacramento’s seventh annual Darwin Day Celebration, Bites got all excited, imagining a whole day commemorating people who’d set themselves on fire, chased chickens down wells, etc. But co-organizer Anna Andrews said this event has nothing to do with those Darwin Awards, which make fun of people who have eliminated themselves from the gene pool by doing something preposterously unintelligent. “I get e-mails about that, the people who do those crazy things,” said Andrews, who prefers this event’s focus on the more positive aspects of Darwinism. The project began in 1998 as a way to “join free-thought people in town in one concerted effort,” said Andrews, who belongs to two such groups, the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area ( and Atheists and Other Freethinkers. She said they hit upon the idea of “celebrating something common to all of us, which is Darwin,” with guest speakers (this year, it’s Istanbul-born humanist author Taner Edis) followed by lots of birthday cake. “We always sing happy birthday [to Darwin], and for some reason that delights me,” said Andrews of the event, which will be held February 7 at the Sierra 2 Community Center’s Curtis Hall. “We’re not here to make profit but to educate,” added Andrews, who noted that advance tickets can be reserved by calling (916) 448-9373. “We’re an educational organization that lets people know they have the option of free thought. A lot of people don’t know that!”

Arnold vision: Free thought is one thing, but a free press is clearly asking for too much, especially in an era when the media are so carefully mediated by the interests who control them. So, Bites was hardly surprised to learn that—even as NBC negotiates with Maria Shriver—her husband’s pal Dennis Miller hired Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief political strategist, Mike Murphy, as consulting producer for his new CNBC political talk show. Inquiring about the apparent conflict of interest earlier this month, Television Times reporter Michele Greppi concluded: “At CNBC, no such questions are being considered, because Mr. Miller has made clear that his show, however political, will not be partisan.” Coincidentally, Republican heavyweights Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani are the first guests on Miller’s nonpartisan show.