It’s all good

Bites just wants to take a quick nibble here at the Sacramento Police Officers Association’s remarkably cynical move to torpedo budget talks because it didn’t get what it wanted on charter reform. (Lots of coverage elsewhere in this paper on the bigger charter-commission issue.)

Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty is pushing right back. He supports a ballot measure this fall asking voters to pay a bit more in sales taxes to pay for necessary services like parks and firefighters and, you know, cops.

But he also suggests writing a clause into the sales-tax measure saying that, “only departments which have undergone pension reform could receive that money.” Ouch. Good luck with that, but point taken.

North Sacramento native Rob Kerth had to give up his current seat on the SMUD board of directors to run for the District 2 city council seat he once held. Long story. Anyway, a couple of candidates are already launching their campaigns to replace Kerth as director of SMUD’s Ward 5, which covers the grid, north Sacramento and north Natomas and other points north.

First out of the gate is Benjamin Philips-Lesenana, who has worked with the California Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. Some regular readers might recognize Ben: He and his husband Lonnie were featured on an SN&R cover a couple of years back. They were one of those local couples who got married during those carefree days of June 2008. Before the bad men came with their ballot measures and magic underwear.

Bites also hears that Michael Picker is going for the Ward 5 seat. Picker was chief of staff to late Mayor Joe Serna. These days he’s Gov. Jerry Brown’s adviser on solar energy.

Two good candidates, and Bites has an issue to suggest:

When Bites first bought the Bitescave, SMUD’s oh-so-reasonable financing rates to install new energy-efficient windows and central air looked pretty appealing.

But like a lot of houses, the value of the Bitescave got hammered in the downturn. HARP refinancing was promising, but SMUD decided its wouldn’t cooperate with the refi without doubling its interest rates.

Moral of the story, the ratepayer-owned utility SMUD gouges its customers just like those mean old investor-owned utilities. You guys should look into that.

Believe it or not, Bites really is a bit shy about self-promotion (accompanying pretentious d-bag photo notwithstanding). Still a few readers may be interested in a secret podcast Bites has been working on with some friends. It’s called Sacramento Current, and it’s Sacramento’s oldest-living podcast on local politics and public affairs and art and punk rock and beer. Going about three months now.

This week the guest was documentary filmmaker Laurence Campling, who’s done fascinating Sacto-centric films on topics like the making of the new Crocker Art Museum and the history of Sacramento’s great floods. Last week Tom Negrete, managing editor of The Sacramento Bee and Jared Goyette, editor in chief of the Sacramento Press, sat down for a discussion about the local media landscape, and the week before that former Mayor Heather Fargo offered her take on the local political scene. You can listen to all the shows at

You can also come down to Del Paso Boulevard this Sunday for the GOOD: Street Food + Design Market. Along with the usual good food, art, music and other festivities there will be a trivia contest at 3 p.m. over at the Sacramento Temporary Contemporary Gallery (1616 Del Paso Boulevard). Bites and fellow podcasters Isaac Gonzales (, Phil Pluckebaum and Patrick Kennedy (Sac City school board) will be facing off against a bunch of smarty-pants artists. It’s going to be good.