Quality of life

Tommy Clinkenbeard, 1954-2006.

Tommy Clinkenbeard, 1954-2006.

Crazy talk: Bites has not been feeling Bites’ usual happy-go-lucky self lately. Too many voices careening around in a dangerously overheated brainbox. So, if Bites appears to be showing signs of some sort of multiple-personality disorder lately, try to understand. The heat can make you say odd things.

Take, for example, the latest scam by local muckety-mucks to stick us with the bill for a new Kings arena. Get on the Internet and do some research on the last several arena scams and then tell Bites how this isn’t the worst deal yet for Sacramento taxpayers. There aren’t even any Rube Goldberg-inspired land swaps to raise money from private sources. There’s no more talk at all of trying to put a cap on the public contribution or getting the Maloofs to chip in something significant.

It’s just a straight-up arena tax. And so they’ve brazenly, perversely, titled this boondoggle the “Quality of Life Measure.”

You can’t afford a place to live? You can’t afford health insurance? Hey, you and the free market are just gonna have to work it out. But if you’re a billionaire team owner and a state-of-the-art basketball palace is a bit much for your budget, well, now that’s a “quality of life” issue.

First things first: One of our readers, a man known to Bites only as Gary, didn’t know whether to laugh or spit when he heard that our “quality of life” might be on the ballot this fall. It was July 20 when news broke that a crack team of dedicated public servants, men like Rob Fong and Roger Dickinson, had worked around the clock and finally brokered a deal to save the Kings. “I’m watching all the photo ops and hearing the sound bites about how the county’s really buckled down. Oh boy, we really got down to business and got the important stuff done,” Gary recalled. That same afternoon, Gary filed a complaint with the County’s Department of Adult Protective Services. Bites is leaving a lot of detail out here, to protect people’s privacy, but the short version is that he’s pretty sure one of his neighbors was getting beaten up by her grandkid. “The county told me that the grandmother should allow up to 10 business days to respond to her situation.” Some qualities of life are more urgent than others.

A quality life: Bites was floored last week when news came that friend Tommy Clinkenbeard had passed away. He was just 51 when he lost his life to cancer.

Tommy was an attorney in the public defender’s office for more than 20 years—working some of the most gut-wrenching and politically charged homicide cases. He defended Nikolay Soltys, because somebody had to do it, and was a tireless opponent of the death penalty.

But Bites most admired him for his work with Sacramento’s most marginalized citizens. He battled against the increasing criminalization of the homeless, fighting city ordinances that make it illegal to sleep outside—even if you have no inside to go to. He set up the free legal clinic for the homeless at Loaves & Fishes. He railed about the hellish conditions in the Sacramento County Jail for years—long before the media or our elected leaders bothered to pay attention. Mostly, he just kicked ass wherever he saw injustice. Looks like a lot of asses are going to go un-kicked around here.