Grinches of the year!
Hipster-baiting homebuilders, shameless labor groups and the winners of SN&R’s annual awards for small-hearted Sacramentans!
A yuppie playground
For as long as this newspaper has existed, it has been a cheerleader for repopulating the urban core, for bringing new housing and many more people to the central city.
Yeah, never mind that. We’ve seen the vision of Sacramento 3.0, and it’s probably better if we just pave the grid and put up a parking lot.
Maybe you’ve seen it, too, like in the full-page newspaper ads for the Creamery at Alkali Flat housing development. The ads feature a young attractive white couple, straight out of hipster central casting. His beard, undercut (reverse mullet) and vest, his and her giant sunglasses, all seem a bit too on the nose. But wait, here’s a little asterisk at the bottom of the page letting us know these are “Real Sacramentans.” He’s a geologist, she’s a photographer. You couldn’t ask for finer specimens of The Creative Class, really.
The Creamery at Alkali Flat is just nine blocks from the new Kings arena and a “12 minute stroll from Wells Fargo Pavilion,” whatever that is. (Oh, they mean Music Circus?) Units start in the “high 400s.” The tag line under the Mr. and Ms. Creative Class Beardo is “Own the City.” Very subtle, gentrifiers.
Nothing should ever be called “at” Alkali Flat. You’re not “placemaking.” You’re not fooling anyone. Also, no one is ever going to call it The Handle or The Kay or DoCo or whatever dumbass brand your consultants came up with.
The marketing for The Mill at Broadway is improbably worse. The Mill’s “Live On” campaign is all about pretty 20-somethings dancing on beaches and getting tattoos and painting and yoga-ing and generally being hip and creative and childless while the earnest (or possibly coked-up) narrator babbles a hashtag manifesto underneath: “We do not wake up because we can. We wake up because we must.” What does that even mean? Who writes this stuff, Kevin Johnson?
Sure, it’s just a couple of lame ads. But all this “Own the City” stuff signals something to the rest of us working schlubs: The central city is being repackaged as a yuppie playground. The noncreative classes need not apply. (C.G.)The rapper, the thief
It was a sad, sad day when the Sacramento hip-hop community realized one of its own was a big-time thief.
And not like a thief who swiped watches from Macy’s—that would have been just fine. Task1ne, once considered Sacramento’s perhaps most promising emcee, stole raps.
Sometimes whole verses. On at least one occasion, an entire song. Verbatim. Consistently. Turns out, only a quarter of his catalog is original.
The worst part? He didn’t even apologize. After getting outed on social media, Task1ne went dark, apparently hard at work on his bizarre, hyper-edited YouTube video titled “Response.” He explained how he was getting too much attention too fast, how he couldn’t keep up with demand. Then, the kicker: “What bothers me the most is my choices … has brought out the worst in all of you. I’m sorry for that.” Gee, thanks. (J.B.)Pooh face
Cute lil’ Piglet from Winnie the Pooh is now one of the most divisive and Grinch-y figures in Sacramento. Crazy, right? It all happened when the city purchased a Jeff Koons porcine sculpture, named after and inspired by the lovable kid-lit character, for an eyeball-drying $8 million. Instant controversy! Critics viewed the Koons, which will be installed out in front of the new Kings arena, as a needlessly flashy and inappropriate use of public-arts monies. They also criticized the otherwise unimpeachable Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission for a lack of transparency when it came to the Koons selection process. SN&R gets it: Arts benefactor, K.J. donor and mom to Kings developer Mark Friedman, Marcy Friedman, wanted a Koons—so, she got it. Kudos to her for kicking down some cash to public art—but, c’mon, nothing is fine about that million-dollar swine swindle. (N.M.)Minimum wage, maximum Grinch
During the Sacramento minimum wage debate, politicians went on about difficult decisions and no-winners-here compromises. But screw that: Everyone involved in the city’s minimum-wage debate, from council members to the mayor, union leaders and restaurateurs, came to the table with hearts too cold. The mayor and fellow electeds were too motivated by passing anything. Chamber of Commerce and restaurant owners were too inflexible, despite the obvious wave of support for lifting workers out of poverty. And even labor leaders deserve some blame, for talking $15 to members, but arguing for a lower number behind closed doors. The entire charade undermined good government and sent a crappy message to workers: Take your 10-bucks-an-hour bump in 2016 and be grateful you’re not getting coal. (N.M.)Snark bite
Grinches get a bad rap around here, but sometimes you need someone a little cynical to call a spade a spade and say “that’s dumb.” That’s why @sac_snark is kinda like Batman: He’s not the contrarian we need, but the one we deserve.
If you’re engaged with Sacramento’s elite on Twitter, your feed is overflowing with pointless boosterism, sponsored content pretending to be content and hot takes that don’t even rise to the level of unnecessary. And while it’s no revelation that marketing is disingenuous, or that politicians are bad at social media, having a voice of reason can be a ray of sunlight amid all the dreck. Sac Snark is 100 percent wrong about our website, though. (B.B.)Bad blockbuster
Forget CGI dinosaurs and superheroes. No summer blockbuster had the same staying power as the undercover videos produced by the Davis-bred David Daleiden and his anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress. Almost six months after the videos’ releases—which featured nothing more shocking than abortion providers discussing their work with the same professional frankness as an orthopedic surgeon—Republicans in Congress are still trying to strip women of reproductive rights, while hostility toward clinics has increased. The anti-choice rhetoric that Daleiden reignited culminated last month, when a white terrorist mumbling “no more baby parts” shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three. This is Daleiden’s true legacy, and reveals his videos for the snuff films they really are. Some Christian. (RFH)The Grinch Don
I feel bad dissing Vivek as a Grinch again this year, because it truly feels as if he’s improving, I mean, instead of firing George Karl last month when the team started at 1-7, he fumed in private. Good for you, Vivek. Drake’s made you a changed man! But that doesn’t change all the drama of this year: Interim-coach-turned-noninterim-turned-former-coach whatever-his-name-was, hiring a coach again before making Vlade Divac general manager and so on. This new arena and DoCo better be friggin’ awesome, Vivek, or it’s Grinches for life. For life! (N.M.)A bunch of lawyer BS
Kevin Johnson’s attack dogs at Ballard Spahr say they’re not collecting any fees for suing the city and SN&R. Rather, they are working pro bono—for the public good.
That’s rich. You know they’ll get paid somewhere down the line. For example, records obtained by SN&R show that Ballard Spahr were pitching their services to the city for work on the mayor’s downtown housing initiative, at the same time they were preparing to sue us.
Sacramento’s City Attorney James Sanchez shares in the blame for this lawsuit fiasco. His shop invited BS to take action to block SN&R from requesting public records related to the mayor’s use of city staff for his outside projects. While Johnson gets unlimited “pro bono” legal help, and the city attorney can spend all the taxpayer money it needs on the suit, SN&R has to ask readers to donate to a defense fund. Gawker Media (parent of the Deadspin site that has done some aggressive reporting about Johnson’s misuse of city resources and other, um, stuff) tried to intervene, which would have helped relieve some of the financial burden of defending against the suit. But the city attorney sided with Team K.J. and took action to block Gawker from joining, leaving SN&R financially isolated. Which, of course, is the whole point: to damage the paper. Pro bono. (C.G.)Streetcar named Grinch
This past summer’s streetcar-tax vote never should have gone to the ballot. It stood about as much chance of attaining a two-thirds majority as the mayor does getting favorable press from Deadspin. Nevertheless: Residents and property owners who voted nay on the proposed streetcar line need to rethink their affinity for an automobile-dominated city. We need to build infrastructure now that will get people out of their cars in the future, in the next 20 to 50 years. And residents who likened streetcar to the Kings arena subsidy, as a present to developers, get extra coal in their stocking this year. Grinch move, NIMBYs. (N.M.)
Death becomes grr
People just wanted coffee, or a sandwich—but then union hardball tactics went next nuclear. This past winter, the Local 46 carpenters union began picketing popular restaurants and coffeehouses. A couple of stooges would show up outside Magpie on R Street, or one of Insight Coffee’s locations, holding a huge banner, which declared that the spots “hurt families.” The picketers also brought with them a 15-foot-tall grim reaper blow-up doll. Mmm hmm. Back then, the carpenters union explained to SN&R that they were targeting the eateries because, as future tenants in the now-open Powerhouse 16 mixed-use apartments, they were complicit in a construction project that did not use union workers. SN&R is all for fair wages, and SN&R honestly can’t remember the behind-the-scenes wages drama on that project. But shameless picketing of local businesses that don’t even have a dog in the fight isn’t going to win union workers any points in this town. That’s just heartless. (N.M.)Moderate Grinches
Can we come up with a new name for California’s ascendant caucus of “moderate democrats” in the state Legislature. You know, the ones like Assemblyman Jim Cooper, the Elk Grove Democrat who torched efforts this year to reduce the state’s reliance on oil and gas and step up reductions of greenhouse gases.
Exactly what is “moderate” about taking millions of dollars from oil companies and then doing their bidding? Thanks to so-called moderate dems, oil companies torpedoed Senate Bill 32, which would have required the state to use 50 percent less petroleum by 2030. How is this the “moderate” position when, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, 73 percent of Californians supported the policy? That included 73 percent of black respondents and 80 percent of Latinos—the folks who tend to live in neighborhoods with the most pollution, and who Cooper claims to be looking out for. Instead of “moderate” dems, maybe we should call them “radical corporate dems.” Or just Grinches. (C.G.)
Yes, Paul Petrovich’s Curtis Park Village will one day be better than the toxic patch of dirt that Union Pacific left behind. But you have to wonder what could have been, had the 72-acre former rail yard had ended up in the hands of another developer.
It’s not only regret over the bitch fit Petrovich threw about not getting entitlements for a 16-pump gas station. Never mind there are two gas stations within a half-mile, never mind that the site is right next to a light-rail station, never mind the whole development is supposed to be a “transit village.” It’s not just the bait-and-switch and the bullying tactics that Petrovich has become known for—like threatening the neighborhood with chicken joints and a Hobby Lobby (?!) if he didn’t get his way.
It’s the whole history of the project, the missed opportunity to do something better with all that land—right next to a community college and two light-rail stations!—instead of more suburban-style blah. And it’s the lame excuses from Petrovich and from certain city officials that, “It’s better than a toxic rail yard!” Sure, lots of things are better than a toxic rail yard. Even a gas station. But pretty half-assed nonetheless. (C.G.)Knives out
This really should go without saying, but in light of this year’s events it bears repeating: Stop stabbing people. When you’re out walking around in Midtown and some guy says something shitty to you, don’t stab them. For fuck’s sake, you stabbers! Is it something in the water?
In June, three local musicians were stabbed in an incident at 21st and O streets that thrust Sacramento (and skinny jeans) into headlines all over the web. In October, actual hero Spencer Stone, who thwarted a terror attack in Belgium, was stabbed multiple times after a verbal altercation. In November, two homeless people were attacked near the Safeway on R and 19th streets. Before we get too carried away with the fearmongering, though, it’s important to note the factors that aren’t as sensational—the possibility of PTSD as a factor in the June stabbing, the vulnerability of the homeless population to violence—will persist long after the headlines and news cameras go away. (B.B.)Un-Bera-ble
Progressives had high hopes for Dem doctor Congressman Ami Bera when he finally unseated conservative robot Dan Lungren in 2012. But his disappointing support for a refugee-screening bill last month only added fuel to the argument that he’s a Democrat of convenience, easily shifted by the winds of political self-interest. And the government-research website InsideGov certainly didn’t help his case by pointing out the Seventh District rep has only sponsored six bills this year. With Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones shaping himself as the “build a wall” candidate for 2017, it might be time for Bera to reacquaint himself with his constituents and get to work. (RFH)
It wasn’t a good year for Good Day Sacramento and celebrities. First came the local morning news show’s run-in with actress Cara Delevingne. Anchors Marianne McClary and Ken Rudulph had a rough time when they interviewed her via satellite about her film Paper Towns. Whether it was getting her name wrong (“Carla”), asking dumb, potentially sexist questions (“Did you read the book?”) or simply not understanding her dry sense of humor (at one point Mark S. Allen showed up to rebuke Delevingne for her lack of enthusiasm), the whole thing went down in flames, fast. To the point that Delevingne actually cut the interview short.
The clip went viral big time with media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly and Huffington Post weighing in to tsk tsk at the Sacramento anchors. Oof. Perhaps most embarrassing is that the Good Day folks, however, seemed unfazed by it all. That’s why by the time Patton Oswalt decided to live blog his experience watching Good Day from a hotel room somewhere near the 916 (“All the hosts of Good Day Sacramento are grand masters in the samurai art of ’Yell Talking.’ #yalkers”) we could only read along, cringe and agree. (R.L.)Just Grinch delete
Here’s a good one: This paper first, and then a healthy chunk of the local media, put Mayor Kevin Johnson’s email practices in the spotlight. So what does the city do? They decide to permanently delete tens of millions of emails and records! What a solution, eh? Thankfully, concerned residents filed an injunction against city email deleters in court, and a judge delayed and ultimately told the city not to delete about 15 million emails. But the rest of those records? Au revoir! Oh, yeah, why is this a bad thing? Well, consider SN&R’s investigation of the city’s water-meter install project: If our reporter didn’t have access to years’ worth of old emails, we never would have discovered needless expenses, and therefore never would have saved ratepayers $65 million! (N.M.)Who’s the real pimp?
A 23-year-old escort comes to Sacramento to escape a pimp, turns to the FBI’s Office of Victim Services for help—but then realizes they just want to squeeze her for information and flees back back into the life. The U.S. Attorney’s Office came down hard on journalist and former Sacramento resident Matthew Keys for a website prank, but Keys insists it’s because he didn’t give up his sources. And immigrant rights’ attorneys say that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement continues to try to circumvent a California law that protects undocumented immigrants from prolonged detention. Do these federal law enforcement agencies not have actual work to do protecting the homeland? And another question: In each of these three scenarios, who’s the real pimp? (RFH)Still Grinchy
Sheriff Scott Jones was our Grinch of 2014, so we’ll go easy on him this year. Not that he deserves it: The sheriff spied on people illegally with invasive Stingray technology and lied about it, criticized Obama on Capitol Hill and still does his best to get around state and federal immigration reforms. That’s about as charming as an eel, Mr. Jones. So, what does he do next? Run for Congress! (N.M.)Bad rap
Maybe it was people not understanding the difference between reputation and reality. Or maybe it was plain old racism. Whatever influenced it, Sacramento hasn’t been too cool about treating rap and hip-hop shows equally with other art forms. The biggest example is the city’s response to the shooting outside of Ace of Spades after a February Nipsey Hussle show. Both the city and neighboring businesses put pressure on the venue to halt its hosting of hip-hop shows, sending a clear message to rappers across the city: Your art is yet again on lockdown and under suspicion. To its credit, Ace quietly returned hip-hop and rap to the stage, but the fact remains that no other genre or art form around town has faced as much unwarranted scrutiny. (A.S.)Crazy train
After years upon years of avoiding the conversation, in 2015 there was finally talk of fixing light rail and Regional Transit. What child is this, a miracle! But then it was quickly obvious that motivation to improve services and safety on buses and trains was motivated by that pesky arena. “Gotta get all the poor people and bums off the light rail before Joe and Jane Season Ticket Holder converge on Sacramento 3.0.” The message from Sacramento’s business elite was unequivocally clear. Meanwhile, light rail is exactly the same as it was before the conversation started: expensive, unreliable, technologically antiquated, dirty and roundly dissed by riders. Yay! (N.M.)#SoDoSoPa forever
A place can be a Grinch, too. And we’re still bummed that the brains behind the forthcoming Downtown Commons, a.k.a. DoCo, never sent SN&R any swag bag goodies when they announced the new project’s launch. How Grinchy was that? Things were made right, however, when South Park blasted DoCo and similar projects for their flagrant yuppie pandering and overall basicness. #SoDoSoPa forever! (N.M.)Sports over arts
These days, it seems as though there’s a lot of Daddy Warbucks money being pumped into the Sacramento region. That shiny new downtown arena is probably the best example of such. There’s talk, too, about funding a new soccer stadium.
Too bad the open wallet philosophy doesn’t extend more to the local arts scene. Earlier this month Mayor Kevin Johnson announced he was abandoning efforts to build a new downtown performing arts center. Not enough donor monies, apparently. C’mon well-heeled arts lovers, it’s time to pony up. (R.L.)The K.J. way
We saved the Grinchiest for last: Mayor Kevin Johnson got sick of this paper’s constant snooping and questioning. So he just straight sued us, filing an injunction to prevent our reporters from doing their jobs—and costing this paper tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em—is that part of Sacramento 3.0? (N.M.)