Bullies and ballots

With less than two weeks left to go, this election seems to be bringing out a lot of ugliness in people. Even Bites, according to some observers, has let the old manners lapse a bit recently. But there’s a difference between being impolite or impertinent and just being a bully.

In his Saturday morning column, Bee columnist Marcos Bretón dismissed most of the mayoral candidates as being, “court jesters” and “not worth any more ink.”

Not surprisingly, long-shot candidate Shawn Eldredge shot off an e-mail, “I am offended by your article and am continuously disappointed in your words and actions.”

All pretty normal; that’s what these guys do. But then there’s Bretón’s surprisingly strange hostile response to Eldredge’s e-mail—which Eldredge promptly forwarded to half the city.

“There were literally times during the Bee’s debate where your comments and those of the other fringe candidates made me sick to my stomach,” Bretón told Eldredge, recalling the Bee/Channel 10 televised mayoral debate earlier this month. At other times, he added, “I was holding my head thinking I could be with my children instead of listening to you.”

Wow. Bites really feels for the guy, having these “fringe candidates” breathing up all his air. There he is, head in hands, fighting off the waves of nausea, brought on by doing his job. What a burden it must be, just trying to scrape up a living, getting paid to write about this terrible election process—it’s so messy and frustrating, and, egalitarian. Why, you couldn’t pay Bites enough to put up with what Mr. Bretón has to put up with every day. Oh wait, yeah you could.

It looks like the Sacramento Police Officers Association needs some Alka-Seltzer, too. Bites recently got a peek at an angry letter from the SPOA to SMUD Board Member Genevieve Shiroma. (Yep, Bites is working the other-people’s-mail beat this week.)

Readers may recall that Shiroma was one of several women, including former State Sen. Deborah Ortiz and former Mayor Anne Rudin, who held a press conference at police headquarters, saying there was something fishy about the way St. Hope handled its “impartial investigation” into a claim by a student that Kevin Johnson had touched her inappropriately. They wanted the Police Department to release the police report of the incident, and pressed the point that it looked like St. Hope had broken laws regarding reporting possible child abuse.

It seems like a reasonable request to Bites, figuring that a little sunshine goes a long way. But the SPOA was “disgusted and offended” by the request, and called it an “unwarranted assault” on all Sacramento police officers and Chief Rick Braziel. In the letter, SPOA president Brent Meyer demanded that Shiroma produce a public apology to city cops.

You have to read the whole letter to understand how over-the-top it is, detailing Shiroma’s “ignorant and wrong” assertions about the investigation, her “lack of any knowledge or understanding” of state public-records law. Never mind that Shiroma’s concerns about that investigation are shared by the federal government, which is conducting its own investigation now. Never mind that the department’s policy of not releasing the records is pretty flimsy, violating the spirit, and probably the letter, of the California Public Records Act.

“I don’t see why asking for information would provoke such an extreme reaction,” Shiroma said. “I have a right, as a citizen, to ask questions and not be retaliated against.” And the thing is, Shiroma actually sounded kind of rattled by the letter when she talked to Bites. “For a couple of days, I felt like I had a target on my back.”

Hopefully, it’s just a political target. “I regret that this Association ever supported your desire to publicly serve,” Meyer wrote. Not only is the SPOA never going to endorse Shiroma again in the future, they are actually taking back their endorsement of Shiroma in 2006. Bites knew police powers were expanding lately, but didn’t know they included time travel.