Open mouth, insert elevator shoe

Ripping us off: Anyone who wonders how Arnold Schwarzenegger would fare as a future president might want to look at his handling of sovereign nations right here in California. Fresh from vetoing legislation that would have prevented “redskins” and other racial epithets from being used as sports-team names, Schwarzenegger managed to step further into it by telling voters “the Indians are ripping us off” last Thursday.

The statement, made during an anti-Proposition 70 campaign swing, was reported the next day by The San Diego Union-Tribune and is now making its way through a press corps that just loves our colorful governor’s feisty repartee. While European news service Reuters actually went to the trouble of seeking out a response from the American Indian community, many mainstream news outlets—including The Sacramento Bee—simply parroted the sound bite without comment on Monday.

Backers of Proposition 70, which would allow American Indian casinos to expand in return for payments equivalent to the corporate tax rate, say the governor has crossed the line “from anti-70 rhetoric into anti-ethnic rhetoric.” David Lent, a member of the Bishop Paiute Indian Reservation, characterizes Schwarzenegger’s comment as both insensitive and naive. “He acts like we’re in a Hollywood movie—like this is a sound bite for a movie that we’re going to make—and we’re not,” Lent told Bites, noting that half of all American Indian tribes are not even involved in gaming. “When the first Californians are being told that they’re ‘ripping us off,’ it just makes you wonder where this state is going.”

Downtown arena rises from ashes: Just when Bites thought the downtown arena was dead and buried, a storefront window at 729 J Street suggests otherwise. OK, so the slap-dash lettering proclaiming the forthcoming “Downtown Arena” looks a bit low-rent by Maloof standards. And, yes, the promise of “Burgers and Beer” suggests this may be somewhat less ambitious than the downtown arena that Mayor Heather Fargo and cohorts have been promoting throughout much of this century. Still, you take what you can get.

Actually, Bites was surprised by the quiet manner in which Fargo and the Sacramento City Council put a stake through the downtown arena’s heart last week. Fargo and company had spent considerable political capital—to say nothing of city funds on consultants—only to have the project go out with more whimper than bang.

To quote one observer of the city council’s unanimous vote to quash a proposed March referendum on the arena, the air went out of the Maloof-Fargo balloon, and then the balloon was quietly thrown away. Maybe now the mayor and council can concentrate their efforts on more affordable housing downtown instead of a palace for millionaires.

Still, all is not lost. After all, city politicians will still be able to drop by the new Downtown Arena for burgers and beer. And, hey, if they get there early enough, they can even get a piece of the action. As another sign in the window notes, “Naming rights available, inquire within.”

Good old boys: Bites isn’t exactly surprised that KOVR 13 News Director Jim Lemon still hasn’t returned calls about Stolen Honor (see “Moonies hold KOVR hostage,” SN&R Bites, October 14), the anti-John Kerry program being foisted on viewers across the country by the station’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting. Protesters are reportedly organizing a Saturday-afternoon picket of the West Sacramento-based station, which just happens to be Sinclair’s only California affiliate. (Lucky us.)

But our local Sinclair serfs aren’t the only area players in the Bush propaganda scheme. Jadoo Power Systems, a Folsom-based company funded by Sinclair Broadcasting and a Texas-based company fronted by a former Enron exec, announced on September 28 that it had received a federal government contract to develop hydrogen-powered surveillance equipment for U.S. Special Ops.

Bites especially likes the spiffy picture of Dubya pretending to use a Jadoo-powered camera after the company was invited to give a White House presentation ( Needless to say, any connections between the Bush administration and Sinclair Broadcasting are just happy coincidence.