Red scare

Good time had by all: After Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big speech last week, Bites asked Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte which line gave him the biggest laugh.

“The fact that he actually remembered Red Sonja, which was such a bad movie that you’d think that even he would have forgotten it. I’ve seen almost every one of his films, and I walked out on that one,” said Brulte, a longtime Arnold fan.

Bites also queried Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson about the wisecracks he and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton traded during the speech as they sat directly behind Arnie, visible to millions of viewers. Wesson wouldn’t divulge anything. “I’m just proud of myself that I did not crack an uncontrollable smile, but a couple of times he almost got me.”

Burton had plenty to say about the speech, including one candid quote he gave in response to a reporter’s question about Arnold’s threat to take his plans to voters: “I guess,” Burton said of the governor, “you know, sometimes we get carried away with our own bullshit.”

KFBK talk-show host Mark Williams happened to catch the remark on tape, and later that night, he took great glee in broadcasting it on his show, uncensored.

Arnold must not have been listening, if his remarks at Friday’s budget unveiling were any indication.

“John Burton has been absolutely hilarious,” Schwarzenegger said, responding to a question about his honeymoon with Democrats. “He’s a wonderful, kind man that has his own ways of dealing with things, you know, and just jumps up and screams and then sits down again and talks nice.”

Identity politics: Political hacks are quick to say that endorsements are nice to have but aren’t everything. Still, Dan Lungren’s congressional campaign shocked seasoned political observers last week when it announced that it had landed an impossible-to-get endorsement from an unlikely source: Mary Ose, his opponent in the March GOP primary.

Ose, Lungren and state Senator Rico Oller all are hoping to succeed outgoing Representative Doug Ose (Mary’s little bro) in the predominantly Republican 3rd District, which stretches from the Sacramento suburbs to the Nevada border.

Mary’s name popped up in a list of prominent endorsers that Lungren’s staff included in a January 8 press release announcing that the ex-attorney general’s campaign had raised $257,000 so far. Oller leads in fund-raising, with more than double that amount.

Seeking clarification, Bites immediately rang up Lungren campaign manager Brian Seitchik.

“It’s supposed to be Mary Bono,” Seitchik revealed, referring to the Republican congresswoman from Palm Springs. He said the campaign cleared things up in another press release that went out five minutes after the first. “It was an honest mistake that somebody made, and these things happen. Although we’d like to have her support, clearly we don’t anticipate getting it at this time.”

Unified apartheid? Bites is experiencing a little motion sickness watching school districts heave up and split apart and grind against each other like so many pressurized tectonic plates. This time, it’s because of Grant Joint Union High School District, which has been rethinking its boundaries since the 1940s, according to Peter Lee, deputy superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education. The district is revisiting a plan that was scrapped by the courts in the 1990s because it “promoted racial segregation.” Bites thought the court’s decision would have killed the issue, but in December 2003, the Sacramento County Committee on School District Organization adopted a “tentative recommendation” on a similar plan. The county’s proposal would divide Grant Joint Union High School District and its five elementary-school districts into two comprehensive K-12 districts, one in the north and one in the south. The way the county outlined district boundaries, north and south would be divided by a whole lot more than just Highway 80. The north district would serve primarily white middle- and upper-middle-class families with its three high schools. The smaller, more urban south district would serve primarily poor and minority students with a single high school. The county wants to get around the segregation issue with an open-enrollment process and free transportation, “to the greatest extent authorized or required by law.” Of course, given recent budget decisions, it remains to be seen whether transportation funds will even be available for students who want to district-hop.