Get a job

Personal velocity: Now that Assembly brainiac Fred Keeley has been termed out, Bites has heard he said no thanks to being the top budget advisor to Governor Gray Davis and instead plans to take a job as director of the Planning and Conservation League.

PCL has been without a leader since longtime director Jerry Meral ignominiously stepped down just before Proposition 51 crashed and burned on Election Day. Meral found himself labeled a “whore” and “pimp” for larding up the proposition with goodies for developers, so it seems wise for the organization to bring in a highly regarded head like Keeley to repair its reputation and boost its stature.

So, is that what’s in store? Bites caught newly unemployed Keeley on his cell phone at the supermarket last week. He worded his response carefully: “The president of the Planning and Conservation League board has approached me concerning the executive-director position. I have great respect for that organization and the fine work that they’ve done over the years, and I suspect that the board or president will be making some kind of announcement soon.” Bites will be watching the fax machine for press releases.

A spokesperson for the governor wouldn’t say whether Keeley was offered the finance-director spot. Keeley said the gov offered him a job, though he wouldn’t specify which post. “Governor Davis was kind enough to offer me a Cabinet-level position in the administration, and I was very honored to be asked to serve.”

Inaction speaks louder than words: Two years ago, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District joined a lawsuit against the federal government, the Hoopa tribe and the Yurok tribe to block a promising restoration plan that would give more water for fish and natural habitat on the Trinity River.

Some of the water shunted out of the Trinity, 200 miles north of here, provides cheap hydropower to Sacramento before it is used to irrigate the farm fields of the giant Westlands Water District. The restoration plan would have cost the average SMUD ratepayer about $2 a year at the most. In joining the suit, SMUD staff put Sacramento ratepayers in the shameful position of carrying water for Westlands, the real instigator behind the suit and the one who has the most to gain from tapping the Trinity River.

This October, SMUD’s elected board of directors had a chance to drop out of the suit, to end the utility’s meddling and to reaffirm its commitment to “green” power. But, despite months of pressure from local environmental groups and ratepayers to stop litigating, the board refused and voted instead to “continue discussions.” And what do you know? Three weeks ago, as the board struggled to get its collective head out, SMUD and Westlands won the suit, effectively flushing the Trinity’s future down the drain.

The tribes are likely to appeal, but the feds might just sit it out. (Come on, we’re talking about Interior Secretary Gale Norton here.) Meanwhile, the rest of us can thank the SMUD board’s inspired leadership for saving about 17 cents on this month’s bill. Way to go guys.

Chip it good: So, you’ve packed up your grandmother’s porcelain Christmas ornaments (or the plastic ones you got at Target), and you’ve thrown the whole ball of Christmas lights back into the closet. Now you’ve got one naked, listing Christmas tree that probably doesn’t match the rest of your non-holiday décor. Bites suggests you let the professionals chip it, and chip it good. On January 4 and 11, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., RiteAid in West Sacramento; Farmer Bob’s Christmas Tree Farm in Fair Oaks; Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights; and four sites in Sacramento, the Kiefer Landfill, the North Area Recovery Station, the SMUD Corporation Yard and Waste Management Collection and Recycling Inc., will take your Christmas trees off your hands for free. Residents of the Sacramento area kept more than 210 tons of Christmas trees out of area landfills last year. For more information and for the addresses of drop-off locations, go to