Hoop schemes

Take it to our leaders: Sometimes leaders just get their asses handed to them. That was the case for local electeds Sacramento Vice Mayor Rob Fong and county Supervisor Roger Dickinson, who took a beating over the failed arena sales tax Measures Q and R.

A lot of folks are calling for payback for Fong and Dickinson come election time, but Bites isn’t ready to jump on that particular bandwagon. Bites just has a soft spot for people who stick their necks out for politically unpopular causes.

On the other hand, Bites has a special contempt for so-called leaders who do nothing when the chips are down. Bites is, of course, talking about Measure L, the proposal to expand SMUD into Yolo County. The initiative had a lot more going for it than the arena plan—cheaper energy in Yolo County, keeping ratepayer money local instead of giving it to PG&E shareholders. But Sacramento’s political and business leadership basically sat it out, barely making a peep while PG&E spent millions to defeat the measure.

“To me, it’s a classic case of misplaced priorities,” said City Council member and arena-tax skeptic Steve Cohn. Cohn’s day job is legal counsel for SMUD. It wasn’t just the city’s political leadership, but its captains of industry as well. “The Metro Chamber was all over Q and R, as if that were the highest priority,” Cohn complained. “If ever there were a proposal that was good for business, that would have resulted in substantial benefits for the region,” Measure L was it, he concluded.

When Bites called to ask the Chamber about its lack of support for Measure L, the query was routed to Dave Mason, the Chamber’s director of regional policy. Mason’s reply: “What’s Measure L?” The conversation went downhill from there.

Stern warning: Speaking of leadership, wasn’t NBA Commissioner David Stern supposed to sweep in right about now and sort out this arena mess?

Bites doesn’t really know how they do it in the big leagues, but when you need to have a series of meetings with all the muckety-mucks in a city, don’t you usually call ahead? You know, have your people call their people? Synchronize Blackberries or whatever? But the word from Mayor Heather Fargo’s office is that there’s been no contact from Stern or the NBA. “I haven’t heard a thing,” added Fong, who Bites figures would be on Stern’s short list as well. Same with state Senator Darrell Steinberg, another power broker on the last arena-go-round. Maybe Stern is just going to drop by unannounced. Maybe not.

Heatwave hits in December: Of course, sometimes our leaders just slip completely under the radar. That was what happened when Mayor Fargo and council member Bonnie Pannell held a little-noticed press conference last week to announce they had just brought the American Basketball Association to Sacramento.

You remember the ABA, don’t you? The funky freewheeling other pro-league that gave us the 3-point shot, Dr. J, the Spurs, the Nets, the Pacers, the Nuggets and a bunch of really awesome afros.

The NBA absorbed what was left of the ABA in 1976, but the league was resurrected a couple of years ago with new teams like the Fresno Heatwave, the Tijuana Dragons (featuring the wicked Worm himself, Dennis Rodman), and the Twin City Ballers.

Turns out the Heatwave just ditched its old cow town for the cosmopolitan Mecca of Sacramento. Team owner Reggie Davis said that Fresno just wasn’t very supportive of what he calls, “The most exciting brand of basketball around.” The league is still about innovating, featuring something called the 3-D rule, which awards more points for baskets scored off turnovers.

But it was Fargo who best summed up the clincher. “We’re looking forward to providing something for people who haven’t been able to afford to go to a game,” Heronner noted.

Indeed, the Heatwave already is being called “the River Cats of basketball.” Tickets will be 10 bucks, seven for students. The only hitch is that the Heatwave will be playing at Cosumnes River College. CRC athletic director Chris Hawken confirmed that means no beer. “I’d lose my job pretty quick,” he explained. Opening night is December 3 against the Maywood Buzz. Meanwhile Bites is forming an exploratory committee to build the Heatwave a new arena.