Showing the grapefruits

Snow close: First off, Bites needs to rant about trying to ski Kirkwood over the weekend and get into that three feet of fresh powder, only to have Highway 88 close down just three miles short of the resort.

OK, sure, avalanches happen and roads sometimes need to be closed during storms, but the thing that really bugged Bites and the hundreds of other would-be skiers who spent three hours waiting for the road to open was the lack of information.

The California Department of Transportation could have sent at least one guy up to let us know that the road wasn’t going to open all day, especially given the lack of phone service that could have allowed us to get that info on our own.

Instead, just when the skiers and snowboarders adjusted to the circumstances by building a jump alongside the road, a Sheriff’s deputy drives through announcing that the road won’t open and that we’ll be subject to arrest if we don’t leave immediately.

It’s no wonder kids today have such a problem with authority figures. Now back to our originally scheduled political commentary.

It’s only a flesh wound: Under the Monty Python esque heading of “I’m not dead yet,” the California Republican Party will gather in Sacramento this weekend for its spring convention.

California Republicans are as powerless as they’ve ever been in modern political history, with just one constitutional officeholder and about a third of the state Legislature.

Hopefully the GOP can use the convention to devise a better comeback strategy than their current one, which is centered on trying to blame the current energy crisis on the dominant Democrats. Yeah, right. It was those Democrats with their penchant for deregulation that threw us to the mercies of the free market. Apparently they must have had some dirt on then-Gov. Pete Wilson, forcing him to push and sign this plan against his pro-regulation sentiments.

Come to think of it, maybe Republicans should stick to that strategy after all. It’s right up there with Ross Perot‘s “Republican operatives are trying to sabotage my daughter’s wedding” schtick.

What about me?: Speaking of aborted energy crisis messages, state Controller Kathleen Connell tried to use the current controversy to remind us that we actually have a controller and that she is it, only to be denied her small sliver of the spotlight.

Connell scheduled a Feb. 8 press conference to unveil a new Web site that would have allowed Californians to track the state’s purchases of electricity and learn more about this billion-dollar hole we’ve decided to dig for ourselves rather than simply seizing a few power plants.

But then Gov. Gray Davis slapped Connell around a little bit, saying that if the public actually knew how its money was being spent, that could hurt the state’s bargaining position with power companies (not to mention Davis’ presidential hopes), so Connell killed the Web site before it was born.

Back into the cellar, Kathleen. We’ll call if we need you.

Mailbag: In the Bites mailbag comes this anonymous letter: “It seems odd to me that no newspaper or television or radio has anything to say about the location of the Cal-ISO other than it’s in Folsom. Do they really think there’s another milk truck out there? They are at 151 Blue Ravine Road. Do you have the balls to publish it and see if anyone demonstrates? Slim chance.”

Bites’ response: “It’s not a matter of having the balls, because Bites has balls the size of large grapefruits. It’s about civic duty and journalistic responsibility. You see, if Bites allowed you to tell everyone that the California Independent System Operator —an industry-supported body that bears at least some of the blame for allowing energy companies to exploit Californians—was located at 151 Blue Ravine Road (between East Bidwell Street and Crossing Way), then that could invite anyone from protesters to mad bombers to target them, and that would be irresponsible. Bites hopes you understand the need to self- censor in these troubled times."