Snooze fest 2003

In keeping with the cash-strapped times, Governor Gray Davis put on a subdued second-coronation party Monday night. A few guests who made long treks to Sac seemed pretty underwhelmed at the snooze fest, where thousands of supplicants who paid the cheapo $15 cover got the chance to wander the concrete floor of the cavernous, dimly-lit convention hall and graze on regular-guy stuff like tacos, steak and beans. Adventurous types could get Polaroids taken with California caricatures such as Shamu the killer whale, Mickey Mouse or a wax Willie Brown.

Bites tried to chat up Davis campaign consigliere Garry South, who is rumored to be thinking about working for a Democratic presidential aspirant. Dressed casually and looking relaxed with his wife, South said he’s still taking it easy while he decides what to do next.

The gov appeared at 7:30 p.m. “And people said I would never wear jeans,” he said, making a self-deprecating gesture to his denim duds. “How ’bout this!” After a quick dance and a little handshaking, he was gone by 8:20. With all the food tables picked clean, the crowd filed solemnly out.

Far more festive was the party upstairs for Treasurer Phil Angelides, with balloons, roots rock, bright lights and—for those attendees who didn’t lose their appetite after seeing the giant photo of a severed fetus head that an abortion protester was holding outside by the news vans—mountains of hors d’oeuvres piled to the ceiling.

But the best bash was across the street at the Sheraton, where the crowd of Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante supporters was far hipper and decidedly non-funereal. Upon walking in, however, Bites was shocked to find that the place reeked of pot smoke. Could Democrats, celebrating their hegemonic sweep of statewide offices, be so haughty as to blaze up in public? Well, no. Turned out to be sage. A woman burning a handful of the spice leaves said it was an American Indian custom to bring in good spirits and cleanse bad ones. Sounds like she was a Republican.

Ax must fall: Nevada County could have gone either way, but after two new county supervisors were sworn in this week, it’s going to be a very different board behind the dais. Progressives got their first majority on the board four years ago with a surprise dual win by Bruce Conklin and Izzy Martin, but when that group kicked off a big environmental initiative, conservatives declared war on Martin. She lost by a big margin last November. (Martin was profiled in the October 3 SN&R cover story “Izzy under assault.”)

The battle for Conklin’s seat, however, ended in a virtual tie. After a month-long recount concluded a couple weeks ago, Conklin ended up losing the nasty, yearlong race by a 19-vote margin, which gave the majority vote to conservatives. But even though the rookie supes—Robin Sutherland and Drew Bedwell—didn’t take their seats until Monday, things already had begun changing at the county building.

Sutherland and Bedwell, who both ran largely on a don’t-let-the-guvmint-take-away-yer-property-rights platform, also made it clear that, if elected, they’d want to get rid of county executive Ted Gaebler, who wrote the seminal 1985 book Reinventing Government. After the election, Supervisor Sue Horne, the non-partisan board’s lone sitting Republican, made it clear to Gaebler that the new majority would no longer need his services.

So, Gaebler cleaned out his desk on January 3. But, classy to the end, he resigned rather than waiting for the ax to fall—a move that will save the county tens of thousands because he won’t collect the generous severance package he had coming his way.

Gaebler told Bites he doesn’t have a problem with Horne’s request because he believes the board should be able to choose its top executive. Bites called Horne to ask what’s up with her grudge against Gaebler, but Horne slammed down the phone, grumbling about past SN&R coverage. Sorry, Sue.