Labor pains

Bee-S: Bites was puzzled by a recent editorial in the Sacramento Bee, blasting the Sacramento City Council for “meddling” in the labor dispute at Blue Diamond Growers.

It wasn’t surprising that the Q Street Colossus sided with management. That’s pretty routine. It was the suggestion that the council somehow had blindsided the company with its non-binding resolution asking the Blue Diamond management to play nice.

“You’d think … someone at City Hall would extend the courtesy of a telephone call, a fax, an e-mail, something,” the editors wrote. “But no. It was only Friday [December 1] that the company learned that Sacramento City Council will consider getting involved in its affairs.”

It makes for a good strong editorial. The only problem is that it is complete BS.

Mayoral aide Sue O’Brien confirmed that Mayor Heather Fargo met with Blue Diamond officials in November—well before the council passed the resolution, six votes to three. And then there’s a letter from Blue Diamond President and CEO Douglas Youngdahl, delivered to the city in early November, asking the council to ditch the resolution. All this shows that Blue Diamond knew precisely what the council was considering long before the vote was scheduled. It’s something a little bit of basic reporting would have revealed to the Bee editors. You know, a phone call, an e-mail, something.

Beecot!: Speaking of basic reporting, kudos to the Sacramento Business Journal for its own scoop on Team Scoopy. The Journal reported last week that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association is planning to picket Bee offices at 21st and Q streets on December 22, and to boycott Bee advertisers. For some reason, this bit of news hasn’t been in the Bee yet.

The CCPOA’s blog explained that the statewide “Beecot” is a response to a November 18 Bee editorial that basically accused the union of whining about generous pay and benefits while the state prison system implodes. The union also seems pretty furious that the McClatchy paper keeps referring to its members as “prison guards” instead of “recognized, legal and expressly preferred terminology,” which, Bites gathers, is “correctional officers.”

This is the same blog that gleefully reported a San Quentin death row inmate’s suicide, with the punchline: “If you can hear me over the flames, thanks. It was a good thing you did … a very good thing.” So, you can see these “correctional officers” are pretty sensitive souls—not the thugs they are painted as in the liberal press.

Editors of the Bee editorial board: If you can hear Bites above the great collective snore induced by the CCPOA’s impending “Beecot,” thanks. It was a good thing you did.

Be creative: Along with whiny, greedy prison guards, and anti-union editors, Bites has little fondness for developers. But the mission of one local development company makes Bites feel all warm and fuzzy. LJUrban describes its business model as “eco-urbanism.”

“We operate in the context of a triple-bottom-line,” explained LJUrban partner Jason Presley, “people, the environment and profit.”

That means leaving the green fields around Sacramento alone, while trying to make a little money with creative projects in the existing urban area. For example, the company is interested in preserving and converting the abandoned Newton Booth School at 27th and V streets, into row-houses. Some of the new homes could be three or four stories high.

It also means getting lots of input from the community. In that spirit, Presley is inviting his fellow citizens to grab some markers and come tag LJUrban’s company car, a sporty little electric number called the Zap Xebra. Presley wants folks to try and answer the question, “What is eco-urban?” Then they’ll print the responses on the side of the car.

Bites isn’t the deepest of thinkers, and figures eco-urbanism is one of those “know it when you see it” things. But there are plenty of smart folks around this town with ideas. And they are welcome to show up Thursday, December 14, at 6 o’clock at Old Soul coffee shop. That’s in the alley behind Crepeville near 18th and L streets. Check out for more information.