Reality on parade

Reality bites: It can be a little intimidating wandering through Oak Park on a Friday night in January—the kind of trek that makes Bites appreciate the presence of our dedicated and professional police force. Last week, however, there wasn’t a cop in sight as Bites waited with a small group of residents on Martin Luther King Boulevard, preparing to embark on what was billed as an Oak Park Reality Tour. Organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the group met at Father Keith B. Kenny Elementary School, where it had arranged for a police representative to join the group. Community organizer Darci McDermott said that at first, Sacramento Chief of Police Albert Najera had agreed to the meeting, but he later delegated the task down the chain of command. By the time the 6:30 meeting time rolled around, though, it was clear no police were coming.

“We just want police to do their jobs,” said McDermott, who wondered why she got much more prompt and reliable policing when she lived in Land Park. Concerned about what they consider unequal distribution of police services, members of the group planned to present a short list of demands to Najera’s representative, including the doubling of car patrols during late-night hours and weekends (as well as bicycle patrolling during other hours), a 15-minute response time to emergency calls and a system of accountability to help enforce such commitments.

Having been stood up by the police, public works and most of the press, the mildly disgruntled group marched briefly down the boulevard, determined to at least make an impression on the neighborhood. Several brandished signs calling for a return of law and order to Oak Park, specifically mentioning drug sales and openly practiced prostitution on their streets.

Edgar Hilbert facetiously remarked that he’s thinking of hiring a prostitute as a baby sitter, since his daughter is obliged to use a sidewalk where such business takes place. “This should not be a dangerous place to live,” he said. Phyllis Fortson said she wasn’t surprised not to see a cop at the meeting. “I get my house shot up, and it takes them two or three hours to respond,” she complained.

Although one patrol car drove by during the short march, the officer in it showed no interest in the singing and waving crowd on the sidewalk. The whole thing reminded Bites of an old Bob Dylan line: “The cops don’t need you,” he sang, “and, man, they expect the same.”

All aboard: Anxious to reach Washington in time for the inauguration, but Arnold still hasn’t offered you a ride in his Hummer? No problem! You can join a merry band of peace and conservation activists on board the Peace Train, which will be making stops in Davis and Sacramento this Sunday morning. You can get more information by visiting or by calling Tim Castleman at (916) 489-8601. And fear not, Americans, the Peace Train has no connection to suspected terrorist Cat Stevens!

Terminal appointments: Having announced the 100 boards and commissions and 1,000 appointees he will terminate come July 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now faces the somewhat awkward task of getting people to work for these doomed entities. On Friday, he nominated Kenny G. Cherng and Dr. Steven Tan to the Acupuncture Board, one of the many groups targeted for elimination by his California Performance Review. He also nominated Dr. Laurie C. Gregg and Robert Sachs to the short-termed Physician Assistant Committee, which is also part of the endangered Medical Board of California. Welcome aboard, folks. Just don’t get too comfortable.

Desperate maneuver: Sacramento Housing Alliance head Ethan Evans has made a deal with his board of directors that he’ll dye his hair pink if Thursday’s fund-raiser at the Crest Theatre doesn’t sell out. Nashville’s Trailer Park Troubadours are headlining, and Evans has come up with a bunch of cute ticket packages (double-wide, single-wide, trailer and pop-up) to help him sell the necessary 700 tickets on which his endangered normalcy depends.