Dude, where’s my car?

Tow job: Andy Ford didn’t see the signs. Neither did hundreds of other Midtown residents who had their cars towed during last week’s street re-paving project, which turned into a major financial boon for the city and the towing companies that do its bidding.

As usual, city officials had nothing but excuses and the run-around for the Bites minion who checked on stories like Ford’s, but the towing companies reported brisk business, and the rest of the evidence was out there on the streets.

Residents were alerted to the temporary tow-away zones on most streets with only single sheets of paper stapled to waist-high traffic markers placed next to the street at the beginning and end of each block, and maybe one in the middle. There were no fliers on doorsteps or anything else to let mid-block residents such as Ford know what was happening.

So after the towing began, people like Ford came home from work to find their cars gone. They complained, of course, but it did no good, because you really can’t fight city hall, not without serious munitions or your own newspaper column.

City officials may not admit their mistake, but they’ve acknowledged it by their actions: this week, the streets being repaved have lots more signs featuring clear, bold language. But Ford is still out a couple hundred bucks.

Anarchists get legal: Critical Mass bicyclists have clashed with Sacramento Police officers on and off over the last year, as the riders try to make their anti-car statements, and police try to keep them corralled, sometimes going on ticket-writing sprees to do so.

Well, after a hit-and-run incident last month was given short shrift by the cops, the organizing Bicycle Civil Liberties Union decided they’d had enough and are now organizing a lawsuit against the police department, details of which will be announced June 4 in front of the federal courthouse. At “high noon.” Cue the spaghetti Western music. Doody-doody-doo … rarr, rarrr, rarrrrr.

Smoke up: There are few more frenzied days at the Capitol than when the governor introduces his budget proposals, first with his preliminary proposal in January, then with his May revise after the taxes roll in. Bites generally shows up for the spectacle as much as anything else.

But this time, the content was fairly interesting, too, as a $23.6 billion budget gap forced Gray Davis to renege on his State of the State speech pledge not to advocate increased taxes. Sure, they were piddling little tax increases that will affect the poor more than the rich, yet they were still enough to create headlines in an election year.

More than half of the budget gap would be closed with loans and other financial gimmicks that will haunt us in future years, a third are some fairly deep cuts in state services, and 7.4 percent comes from increases in the vehicle license fee and cigarette tax.

In these press conference feeding frenzies, the only way to get your questions answered is to be a favored member of the press corps, or to be loud and lucky. Bites wasn’t either on that fateful day, and neither was Dan Morain of the Los Angeles Times, and that’s a shame because our unanswered questions seemed the most interesting.

Dan’s, which he shouted out—clear as a bell during a lull in the mayhem, and easily heard but ignored by the departing Davis—was whether the governor was ruling out increases in either personal income or corporate taxes.

Even Davis admitted that a big reason for the huge shortfall was tax laws that allowed the wealthiest 5 percent of Californians to write off losses from capital gains and stock options, but it is an election year and political courage is not Davis’ strong suit, so it’s no surprise that he’s ignoring that solution to the problem.

Bites’ question had more to do with sending the right message rather than actually solving the problem: “Does your cigarette tax revenue figure rely on people smoking at current levels, and are you concerned with the public health message that sends?”

Bites is still accepting belated answers from the Guv’s Office.

Oh yeah, and GO KINGS!