Death and taxes

Bad date: If you look at the date of the SN&R in front of you, you’ll notice that this is, in fact, our September 11, 2003, issue. SN&R is distributed every Thursday, and this year, September 11 happens to fall on a Thursday.

However, if someone from the Franchise Tax Board of the state of California were to send you a notice on that Thursday, it would be a different story. A directive was sent out to employees warning them not to date any correspondence September 11. Employees were advised either to predate the correspondence September 10 or postdate it September 12.

Now at first, this decision might seem oddly superstitious—like those buildings that skip from the 12th to 14th floors—or, worse still, slightly Orwellian. So, Bites put in a call last Friday to John Barrett, the public affairs officer for California’s Franchise Tax Board. Barrett confessed that he had not yet heard of the directive, but in a return call, he verified that no notices would be generated with a September 11 date.

“It’s important to remember that all four of these airliners were coming to California,” explained Barrett. “They were California citizens—along with tourists coming to California, and, well, we know what happened to them. So, I think that it’s right and it’s just that we remember this day and don’t send out tax bills on such a day.”

Huff and puff: A glut of media gathered around well-heeled populist Arianna Huffington on the Capitol’s south steps Thursday afternoon, struggling to decipher her words above the din of James Brown’s “I Got You” as interpreted by Cool Heat, which was performing for the much larger American Heart Association rally over in the western quadrant.

After the event, which included a speech and the signing of a “Declaration of Independents,” reporters got their sound bites and dispersed, leaving behind a couple dozen admirers and one medical-marijuana activist. Bites watched with interest as Huffington signed everything in sight while waiting to be whisked away by handlers, never seeming to notice pot activist Peter Keyes standing right next to her with his big grin and trusty pro-pot placard (in Huffington’s defense, Keyes is probably two-thirds her height and therefore may have been beneath her traditional field of vision).

But just as Huffington was turning to walk away, your favorite set of disembodied teeth directed her to Keyes. We talked about how everyone had come out in favor of medical marijuana at the previous night’s debate (no small feat, considering that candidate Tom McClintock had just finished talking about the joys of his lethal-injection bill). Meanwhile, Keyes kept asking her what legislation she’d sign and what specific steps she’d take on behalf of the cause.

Huffington was vague about legislation but insisted she would take on the Bush administration and its attempts to undermine the initiative.

“So, would you expect your attorney general to sue?” pressed Keyes.

“Yeah, definitely,” said Huffington. “There would be a lot of suing of his administration under my administration.”

Waiting in the wings: While other lawmakers were frazzled by the end-of-session crunch, Senator Jackie Speier seemed happy and relaxed last week. Maybe that’s because she had just won a four-year fight to pass her financial-privacy bill. Or, maybe it was because she could be closer to her goal of succeeding Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante.

Speier is already running for the No. 2 spot in 2006, when she and Bustamante are termed out, and she’s already raised almost $1 million. But if Bustamante wins the top job next month, he’ll appoint his successor. So, the San Mateo Democrat chatted him up.

“We had a conversation. It was short,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “I respect his desire to contemplate other extraneous decisions after they become timely and not before.”

She characterized his reaction as “neutral.”

Speier wants to see women in statewide office again, which is ironic given that her only confirmed competitor so far is another female senator, Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, who, so far, sits on a much smaller war chest than Speier does. Bites also has heard that Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-San Diego, would like to be considered for the position.

But Speier said there’s another name out there: “I’ve heard [Senator] John Burton.”