Planet Bollywood

Outsourcing opportunity: Like any Sacramentan who has a well-developed sense of irony—and who among us, at this point, doesn’t?—Bites appreciates the sentiment behind the name Citizens to Save California. Sure, it’s a front group for Arnold Schwarzenegger to circumvent those pesky state fund-raising limitations. And sure, it’s costing California taxpayers money by suing the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission in its attempt to get around those limitations.

But hey, if that’s what it takes for these “citizens” to “save California,” who is Bites to sweat the small stuff?

Still, even Bites had to wince at the revelation that Citizens to Save California is outsourcing work to that little-known province of California that goes by the name of India. Yes, friends, those wacky Citizens to Save California are exporting hundreds of thousands of dollars to workers in Pune, India, funneling the money through a Portland, Ore.-based company called Techspeed, which is helping them manage Arnold’s initiative petition drive. Hell, why waste all that money employing Californians when you can send it to a country that still embraces good old-fashioned, free-market virtues like sweatshops and child labor?

Of course, Citizens to Save California prefers to view the amount as a mere pittance, or, as the group’s general manager, Rick Claussen, put it, “maybe only a few hundred thousand” dollars in a $10 million petition drive to support the governor’s constitutional amendments.

“If I was sending 99 percent of every dollar out of the country, I’d say that’s something,” Claussen told the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Lazarus. “But I’m frankly amazed that anyone would make a big deal out of this.”

Bites is also amazed, but for pretty much the opposite reason: It’s been nearly a week since the Assembly’s Democratic leadership responded by immediately calling for hearings on the issue. And yet, so far, it appears the Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News are the only print media that bothered reporting the story in the first place.

Then again, maybe the state’s other newspapers are outsourcing their writing and editing to India.

Thick as thieves: Lest it be said that Bites spends too much time bashing the competition, it’s time to pay a compliment to The Roundup, the new Capitol-obsessed Web site from Scott Lay and Anthony York.

We love The Roundup’s especially droll coverage of state news and even enjoyed last week’s mildly snarky take on SN&R: “Speaking of opposition research, the Sacramento News and Review profiles California’s own Ann Coulter, spinmeister Karen Hanretty. [See “Wolf in chic clothing,” SN&R News, March 10.] The profile comes complete with wardrobe and manicure details. It also includes some kind words from Democrat Steve Maviglio: ‘Her skin is as thick as—I can’t come up with anything that thick,’ he says.

“Maybe Roundup readers can help Mr. Maviglio out. Send submissions for our ‘Karen Hanretty’s Skin is Thick as …’ contest.”

And the results? Zilch. “Every other time, we’ve gotten a flood of e-mails and bad haiku,” said Lay. “But this time, the people were just stunned into silence.”

Crime doesn’t cost, and speech isn’t free: And lastly, Bites would like to offer its own “selective enforcement” award to Sacramento’s District Attorney Jan Scully and her office, for their announcement Friday that there was “insufficient evidence” of trespassing or vandalism by the folks who thrilled TV crews with their live, on-camera invasions of private property. Maybe you saw them on the news, climbing up to Stephen and Virginia Pearcy’s Land Park rooftop and tearing down two successive soldier uniforms, which had been hung up there to protest the carnage in Iraq.

Although Bites is still pondering how televised interviews with the, um, suspects as well as national news coverage somehow constitutes insufficient evidence, we are intrigued by the district attorney’s de facto endorsement of such acts. Perhaps similar lenience will be granted to future vigilantes, maybe even those who take it upon themselves to climb up on strangers’ balconies and tear down their American flags, should they happen to be offended by what this country is becoming. So, thank you, Ms. Scully, for bringing those Orwellian nightmares just a little bit closer to reality right here in River City!