Drunk on power

Tales from the End-of-Session Bash

Last call: The arrogance of power finds telling manifestations in the waning days of the California Legislature’s session each year, and things get particularly ugly when you mix in copious quantities of booze, as policy-makers did at their End-of-Session Bash last week.

We all like to blow out the pipes after a big project, but these guys had yet to even pass a budget or deal with much of the session’s most important bills when they lit up the Sacramento Convention Center like a high school prom without chaperones.

When male legislators don pretty dresses for skits, you better believe there were some serious courage-building tequila shots involved. So the amount of slobber slathered all over every eligible and even not-so-eligible female in the room was high by even the standards of the Capitol, which seems to exempt itself from sexual harassment laws.

The most audacious example was the story widely circulated through the Capitol of a certain Senator getting slapped backstage by an Assemblywoman after he made a lewd comment about her skimpy dress. If only staffers felt enough power to slap a Senator.

Other spectacles were more public, like Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn bumping and grinding on stage with Assemblyman Lou Correa and then the Hip Service bandleader, who finally had to physically remove her so they could play their set.

And the party didn’t end there, as the legislators and staffers sloshed over to Simon’s afterward, where they were still smoking tobacco and boozing it up until 3 a.m. Yes, that’s no typo, and it’s no isolated incident either. When the session ends this Saturday night (if it ever ends), expect Simon’s to again be hopping well after other bars are forced by law to close.

Which takes us back to the arrogance of power. If legislators like to smoke cigarettes in bars that stay open past 2 a.m., don’t they think some of the rest of us might enjoy that as well? But just as it is with labor laws—from forcing unpaid overtime on staffers to hitting on them—our leaders feel above the laws they create.

11th hour predation: Anything can happen in the final hours of the legislative session, and it almost did to activists who have been trying to end corporate lending practices that prey on the poor and elderly. You may remember that activists got a law signed last year that limits some questionable practices, and that cities like Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento have considered even stronger measures.

Well, late last week came word that AmeriQuest and other lenders, with the help of senators John Burton, Mike Machado and Don Perata, were going to ram through a bill that would pre-empt such local measures. But when the stealth campaign made the papers and the activists came unglued, the effort had already unraveled by early this week.

As this week’s cover story documents, this just isn’t a time when corporations can pull their old tricks. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s predatory lending ordinance is still stalled by a questionable legal opinion from City Attorney Sam Jackson that cities can’t regulate lenders, an opinion so far rejected by the courts considering a legal challenge to the Oakland ordinance.

Neener, neener: You can’t get good help these days. Infinity Broadcasting, the media giant who discontinued Sacramento’s Tim, Chip and Lisa Show on 93.7 KXOA last month ("Live from New York, it’s local radio,” Capital Bites, SN&R, August 15), was unexpectedly forced to cancel the NYC-based Opie and Anthony Show (whose re-runs replaced The TC&L Show) just weeks later.

After an Opie and Anthony call-in stunt, involving a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for prizes, resulted in the couple’s arrest for lewd conduct, the company was swamped with demands from angry Catholics to fire the shock jock team.

Days later, they were off the air, leaving KXOA with a nine-hour hole in their midday programming schedule and a big flashing question mark on their Web site. When Bites tuned in last Friday, the station was filling the empty hours with classic rock tunes, sans DJ.

Maybe the station will switch to a 24/7 Howard Stern format? Anything except local talent and news that is actually relevant to Sacramento listeners.