Campus cops get their guns on

Gun control: So far, terrorists have not been a big problem at the four Los Rios Community College District campuses. In fact, the biggest law-enforcement trouble faced by the district’s police force has been car burglaries, followed closely by students attempting to smoke marijuana in secluded campus locations.

So, Bites is surprised that campus cops have gotten an uncontrollable urge to start carrying guns. Good old-fashioned mace and riot batons—not to mention those four-cell flashlights they carry on their belts—have pretty much done the trick so far.

That’s all going to change on January 1, 2006, thanks to a controversial collective-bargaining agreement between the district and Service Employees International Union, the cops’ representative.

An Associated Student Government survey concluded that students on the four campuses are evenly divided on the issue, although the student government at Sacramento City College—the majority of whom oppose the move—are criticizing the implications behind a question about terrorist attacks on campus. At public forums held on the various campuses, however, the vast majority in attendance clearly opposed arming the cops.

Yet, on November 3—immediately following a hearing in which all speakers criticized the proposal—the district’s board of trustees voted 6-1 in favor of the agreement.

Nobody has explained yet precisely why the cops need guns, but speculation has gone in two directions: Critics suggest that either the cops could get better pay and benefits out of the deal, or the new district police chief, Rick Jones, who spent 32 years on the Sacramento police force, just feels better with a gun on his hip.

Meetings with remarkable men: Bites was delighted to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger’s promise this weekend that he’ll be complying with Proposition 59, the newly passed open-records initiative, by releasing his daily calendar. And though Arnold joked around that it’s not like he’s meeting with terrorist organizations, the public can’t be too careful these days. After all, this is the governor who “forgot” his meeting with Enron’s Ken Lay at the height of the California energy scandal because, as he told this paper, “at the time, he [the Enron executive] was not a star” (see “Thugs and Hummers”; SN&R Essay; October 2, 2003). Even after the miraculous recovery of said memory, Arnold’s description of the meeting dramatically differed from written records (see Jason Leopold’s update of his Project Censored-winning report at Now, if we could just get Dick Cheney and pals to make the same pledge for openness in government. (Hey, Bites can always dream.)

Surrealist movement: After nearly a decade of incubation, the Surreal Estates artist community in North Sacramento is looking a bit more, uhhh … real. The development finally broke ground on Saturday, November 6, and off-site improvements by the city and utilities are under way. Currently, six of 11 lots are spoken for. “Residence construction is set to begin in January,” explained organizer and artist Kim Scott. “We really need member-owners for the remaining five units for that to happen.”

Surreal Estates was conceived by Scott, Robert Charland and other local artists who were looking to create a cohesive arts community, something akin to co-op housing for working artists. Residents will build their own dwellings—with some support from contractors—combining their own sweat equity with a combination of urban-renewal grants and loans. Units will range from 700 to 1,000 square feet, each with detached studio space, and starting mortgage payments are projected to be $550 per month. Scott is quick to point out that “actual mortgage price is determined by the buyer’s income. … It’s like home ownership on a sliding scale.”

Scott says the unconventional project has survived “a bizarre maze of details and delays” but is finally on track. If you want to be one of the five artists who helps get it past the finishing line, you can get more info at