It’s a guy thing

As reported on SN&R’s breaking-news blog Snog last week, the Sacramento Police Officers Association has announced it is endorsing Kevin Johnson over Heather Fargo for mayor. (You really should go to the Snog, several times a day.)

SPOA vice president Detective Mark Tyndale told Bites shortly before the official announcement on March 27 that the cops were impressed by Johnson’s “vision” for the city. Yes, Johnson has yet to spell out anything, anything at all, specific about what he plans to do as mayor. In fact, the candidate has been deliberately vague about his platform, announcing early on that he wanted to “hear from the people of Sacramento” before he gives any details. Bites translation: “I’m going to spend a lot of money figuring out what polls well, then I’m going to stick to the script all the way to City Hall.”

So what’s the real reason that the SPOA is jumping on the Johnson bandwagon?

Could be that Johnson has promised the police union pay raises or other bennies that Fargo (or more accurately, Fargo and her eight fellow council members) haven’t delivered.

Or, more likely, it could just be they like the fact that Johnson has a johnson.

Consider the cops backed conservative Republican Ross Relles, a dude, in 2004. Relles didn’t even make it to a runoff. In 2000, they picked council member dude Rob Kerth in his failed mayoral bid. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s Fargo 2, cops/dudes zero. As one city council member, and Fargo supporter, told Bites, “I think it is kind of a locker-room thing. It’s like they don’t like women. … They all wanted to get his autograph.”

The Bee and other local media dutifully ran “major endorsement” stories the next day. And maybe it is major—at least more impressive than trotting out Jimmy “the Gramps” Yee for the cameras.

But given SPOA’s track record of picking winners in the 21st century, this may be more “no news” than bad news for the Fargo camp.

Not that Fargo’s exactly tearing it up. A couple of insiders have confided to Bites that Fargo’s a terrible fund-raiser, and now Johnson’s drying up all the money. And while Johnson’s campaign thus far has been all style and no substance, Fargo’s got the opposite problem.

Her State of the City address at Sac State on Friday was a hurried litany of minor accomplishments, delivered to a fidgety lunch crowd of Metro Chamber of Commerce members. It’s all stuff that should win her brownie points with mainstream voters—lots of new restaurants and hotels, $1 billion worth of hospital expansion in the central city, and the fact that Sacramento is, for the first time in a long time, considered by the Sacramento Business Journal the best place to do business in the region. She even touched on Sacramento’s growing green reputation, noting that, according to some poll or another, Sac is the third greenest city in California. “Which is good, considering we don’t have a coast, at least not yet,” she quipped.

All that stuff is nice—sure, some of it’s a little too mojito and faux-hawk for Bites, who prefers the old Hereford House over the Three Monkeys any day. Not exciting, but nice. Kind of like Fargo.

Weirdly enough, the best ideas that Bites heard all week came from people who aren’t running for anything—yet. Before Fargo’s speech, there was a short, too short, panel discussion between developer Dave Bugatto, City Manager Ray Kerridge and new police Chief Rick Braziel. When the moderator, Barbara O’Connor, asked the three to come up with two ideas that would make Sacramento a better place to live, they actually had answers.

There was Kerridge, asking the suits to close their eyes and imagine “an alternative city” with rows of shops and cafes along the underused alleys of Sacramento. Then Braziel came out of left field with this: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a downtown urban university? That’s one of the things I think is missing.”

Did you see how he did that? The guy’s a cop, not an urban planner. But he didn’t have to check with his pollsters before throwing out a solid, thoughtful idea. Braziel for mayor in 2012 anyone?