Hometown atrocities

April 29 is the day of the big Unity Ball over at the Greater Sacramento Urban League. It’s a big year for the group, which runs job-training programs, GED classes, financial literacy and teen-pregnancy-prevention programs, among many other worthy endeavors.

The Sacramento league is turning 10 years old; the national urban league is turning 100. And so, following some list that matches anniversaries with precious materials, a formula Bites never really understood, the theme of this year’s celebration is “The Diamond Era.” Perfectly cut diamonds sparkle on all the invitations to the Unity Ball, and the sponsorship guide. For example, with a $50,000 donation, you can be recognized as a “red diamond” sponsor and have your corporate logo plastered on assorted schwag at the ball.

All this glitter got Bites wondering—what’s so great about diamonds?

In fact, aren’t diamonds kind of awful for poor people, especially poor people in Africa? When the folks over at the league were brainstorming this event and imagining the “red diamond” sponsorships they wanted, did no one mention, or even finding themselves thinking, as Bites did, about “blood diamonds,” brutal civil wars, child labor and all-around exploitation?


Bites called league President David DeLuz, by all accounts a good and thoughtful liberal, and told him the “Diamond Era” seemed just a bit un-P.C. But he wasn’t having it.

“Blood diamonds? Please. I’ve got other stuff to worry about,” DeLuz responded. DeLuz conceded that conflict diamonds are a tragedy in Africa, but added, “Why don’t people get up in arms about the education system? We don’t have any jobs. We’re cutting bus service so the people who do have jobs can’t get to them. Schools are kicking students out for bringing an aspirin to school.”

“Africa can wait. I’m concerned about what’s happening here in Del Paso Heights.”

Well, OK. Um, yeah … good point.

Bites had to laugh at the Bee headline last weekend, “Talk of enlarging zoo infuriates neighbors.”

Oh, talking about the Sacramento Zoo is just so infuriating! One Land Park resident said the mere notion that our tiny zoo might grow a bit was “atrocious.” Careful lady, don’t blow a gasket. It’s just monkeys.

And the Bee quoted Craig Powell, with the Land Park Community Association, saying the idea should be immediately put “back in the box.”

The zoo people should definitely be careful of Powell. A couple of years back, the man went all tea party on a proposed lighting assessment district near Freeport Boulevard. Rather than pay a little more in property taxes on some apartment buildings he owns there, Powell organized his friends to send 220 tea bags to Sacramento City Council offices, and some even showed up to a council meeting wearing tea bags on their lapels. Mind you, this was in 2008. Land Park, home of the original teabaggers.

It sounds like Mayor Kevin Johnson has been making the rounds again, pressing his fellow council members to revive the “strong mayor” initiative for November’s general election. At this point, the SMI is like the stock psychopathic killer in one of those cheesy slasher flicks. It just keeps coming back despite being shot, run over, electrocuted and impaled on a high wrought-iron fence.

SAVE Sacramento, the labor-Democrat group that knocked this thing out in the courts last month, is bracing for the return of boss mayor. A draft statement from the group that Bites peeped says that a “fully transparent, fully collaborative effort” at city charter reform is needed. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But just in case, let’s also put this sucker in the wood chipper, and make sure it’s really dead this time.