It’s all wrong, Rob Fong

Child labor: Bites cares about stemming youth violence. Who doesn’t? But Bites is also a little cynical, so when Sacramento’s Vice Mayor Rob Fong showed up in the middle of a spirited Stand Together meeting at Hiram Johnson in late May, Bites wondered why the conversation turned from youth violence to the new Kings arena.

The meeting was hosted by Sacramento Area Congregations Together and focused on proposed solutions to youth violence, like faith-based mentoring and home visits for kids slipping toward truancy. All good stuff.

But when Fong was called up to the podium, he mentioned that he’d just returned from Vegas, where he was working on the plan for a new arena. (Yeah, that’s what Bites was doing in Vegas, too.) But then, one of the presenters, Diane Hollins-Gunning of the All Nations Church of God in Christ, cornered Fong with a request. Would the vice mayor promise to include internships for kids in his arena plan, she asked. Fong looked out into the audience. You could almost see him counting votes.

“Are you saying that you have young people who want to help us do stuff?” he asked Hollins-Gunning. The crowd bristled with excitement. “Diane, if you have people, we want them!” Bites was almost swept up in the applause. Almost. But it seemed sneaky, linking a new arena, which has had a horrible time attracting community support, to internships for kids. Bites wants kids to have jobs. But not doing the dirty work for a new arena.

Bass-ackward: While Bites is picking on Rob Fong, he deserves a shot for encouraging one of the worst downtown development schemes yet.

Thomas Enterprises, the developers in charge of imagineering the rail yards north of downtown, recently announced that they want to blow a big chunk of their land on a Bass Pro Shops fishing emporium.

According to a Sacramento Bee story on the plan, the sport-fishing supercenter will feature waterfalls, aquariums and boat showrooms.

“I think it could be a potentially great thing,” Fong told the Bee.

Sure, it could potentially be a great thing, if it wasn’t so completely boneheaded.

Let’s rewind three years. Here’s what City Councilman Ray Tretheway told SN&R when the developers were just beginning to craft their vision for the rail yards: “In 20, 25 years from now, there will be 10,000 people living right here.” Tretheway, along with others, imagined a high-density neighborhood built around public transportation that “truly invites Sacramentans to leave their cars.”

Today, we haven’t even broken ground in Sacramento’s model, 21st- century neighborhood, and the fix is on to plop the Death Star right in the middle of the transit village. Why not just cram a Wal-Mart in there and call it a day?

Then there are the readers’ comments following the Bee’s online version of the Bass Pro story. One reader said the megastore would be great because “it’s like an Ikea, for men.” Um, dude?

In fact, a lot of the readers gushed with an excitement that sounded almost scripted. “Oh man, please let this be true,” wrote one. “Bass Pro Shops rule!” wrote another, but with many more exclamation points. “Wow, Wow, Wow,” and so forth. Bites isn’t saying these folks are ringers, but it all sounds a little fishy.

On a sad note: This column once wrote Bret Daniels off as being “sheriffy enough” but having little chance of dislodging rival John McBlanas in the county sheriff’s race.

Unfortunately, Daniels’ true loss came the night before the polls even opened.

Here’s part of the message from Daniels that showed up in Bites’ in-box at around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning:

“I’m very sorry to have to say that my dad passed away earlier this evening after a courageous battle with cancer. I can’t express how much I will miss the person who had the most impact on my life and is the reason I am who I am today. He was a great and compassionate man.”

It was Daniels’ dad who loaned him the money he needed to jump into the race when nobody else would take on the Blanas machine. Bites would have liked to meet the man; he sure didn’t raise a quitter.