It couldn’t happen here

Messin’ with Texas: When Texas Republicans called in the federales last week to chase minority-party legislators as they ran for the border, Bites took brief comfort in the delusion that, as the saying goes, it couldn’t happen here. Or could it? Many a harebrained political scheme has been hatched in Dubya’s old stomping ground and, in recent times, imported to Washington. Now, Republican Assembly candidate Jeff Gorell is looking to Texas’ part-time Legislature as a less-is-more model for how to improve government here in California. “I’m going to be campaigning on this [part-time Legislature] issue, and I think it’s a very popular one,” Gorell told Bites. “All the significant public-policy changes of the last 20 years had to be usurped from the Legislature—which was unable to act—and put on the ballot.” A former staffer for Pete Wilson, Gorell moved on to the California Manufacturers Association, where he advocated for the electricity deregulation that has left California in such good stead. Wilson, of course, has given Gorell his endorsement. But will they be able to get Tom DeLay to call in Homeland Security if anyone dares to disagree with them?

Shoes for industry: The words have been uttered by musicians, critics and even record-company folks for years now: “Those *#@!%#*s might as well be selling shoes.” The cause of such outrage was the growing influx of tone-deaf MBAs who infiltrated, dominated and conglomerated the music business throughout the 1980s and 1990s. So, Bites can’t help but note the irony of this week’s announcement that investment banker Lloyd Greif has been hired to find a buyer for Tower Records. For, although Greif may not know music, he sure knows a thing or two about shoes, having worked his magic for Skechers USA footwear. Greif, who’s also made things happen for the folks at Bumble Bee tuna, will be communicating to potential buyers just what it is that makes our homegrown record chain a desirable investment.

Strangely, this isn’t Tower’s first fling with footwear: a source close to the company says an overzealous advertising rep once made an agreement with the K-Swiss shoe company to put a large inflatable sneaker on top of the Broadway store, before cooler heads prevailed. Times have changed, of course, and Greif is already talking about how the Tower brand can be diversified further. “No shoes, no life,” anyone?

Captive audience: Bites, called to jury duty recently, spent a long morning and part of an afternoon packed into Room 203 of the Gordon D. Schaber Downtown Courthouse, at 720 Ninth Street, with well more than a hundred other responsible citizens. Some of us didn’t bring reading material, however, so we were quite pleased when a nice young man showed up with a handcart of boxes, which turned out to contain last month’s issue of Sacramento magazine (on the cover, news anchor of the month: KOVR’s Paul Joncich!). Then, he stuffed a number of copies into a wall-mounted magazine rack and passed others out to prospective jurors. Unfortunately, the glossy mag’s penchant for archaic pieces—“The Woman Behind the Man,” read one headline—along with gushing text so kneepad-friendly it made ad copy look objective, soon moved a number of jurors into a state resembling catatonia.

For those of us still awake, a few ceiling-mounted television sets droned overhead, all tuned to Fox News. Bites later asked a prominent local trial attorney, who would prefer to remain anonymous, if an on-the-ball defense lawyer could argue that broadcasting conservative-slanted “news” programming into a jury pool constituted jury tampering. “If the jurors aren’t paying attention in the courtroom,” he snickered, “I doubt they’re paying any attention in the assembly room.” Bottom line: It probably doesn’t matter.

One other thing: Upon entering the courthouse’s east entrance, on a wall to the right near the security X-ray machine, an American flag sticker is affixed; underneath it are the words “Stay the Course.” This slogan, which has turned up in a few well-publicized Clear Channel internal memos, would seem like the kind of partisan, pro-Bush message that shouldn’t be on display in a public building. Don’t you think?