The big payback

Team spirit: A couple months ago, SN&R’s loyal readers were treated to a sneak peak at the buffet of surcharges—on things like eating, drinking and parking—that Sacramento city officials were kicking around as possible sources of cash for a new downtown arena for the Kings (See “They play, you play,” SN&R Cover, August 28). Now that the final version of the long-delayed feasibility study is up on the city’s Web site, taxpayers may peruse the 357-page tome to find all the ways they could get stuck paying for the $538 million arena district. Negotiations are still under way between the city, the Kings and Union Pacific, which owns the old rail yards north of downtown, so number crunchers drew up two sets of numbers. In one, the Kings pay for 20 percent of the $293 million needed to erect the arena building itself, and in another, they don’t. So, what happens if the Kings won’t pony up? The amount they’d pay, $59 million, gets tacked onto another column: the downtown food-and-beverage surcharge. In other words, if the Kings can’t dig deep, then the folks who come downtown for burgers and beer will have to instead. Bites can’t wait to see how that issue gets resolved.

Not so incidentally, the wealthy businessmen who own the Kings still haven’t said anything about their own desires. When Bites phoned Kings HQ last week to find out when word would come from the team’s billionaire owners, non-spokeswoman Sonja Brown promised to call back in a couple days. She never did, making Bites wonder even more when—or if—some kind of edict ever would be issued by the team owners, whose name rhymes with “aloof.”

Dirty laundry: A new odor wafted across the Berkeley campus this weekend: the funny smell of Democrats airing their dirty laundry. The occasion was the daylong post-mortem discussion of the recall, in which operatives who ran the major campaigns came together to dish what was going on behind the scenes and in their heads during the bizarro political contest. With hundreds of journos and ivory-tower eggheads hanging on every word, Democratic Daddy General Bill Lockyer (baby in tow) dissed the hapless Cruz Bustamante and confessed to voting for Arnold. And two of the top Democratic campaign geniuses, Davis apologist Garry South and Cruz controller Richie Ross, traded frosty barbs over Bustamante’s doomed grab for glory.

There were lighter moments, such as when GOP consultant Sal Russo, who ran the Recall Gray Davis committee, blanked on the name of Ted Costa, the anti-tax crusader who started the recall. Arnold attorney Tom Hiltachk got one of the day’s bigger laughs. “[Arnold] didn’t say he wouldn’t raise special-interest money,” Hiltachk revealed. “He said he didn’t need the money.”

But unbeknownst to most attendees, an actual candidate managed to sneak in. Software engineer Georgy Russell—who achieved fame by hawking campaign merchandise including thong undies among the usual shirts, mugs and Frisbees—chatted up luminaries like South and Sean Walsh, Arnold’s media terminator. “Sean said I was definitely on his radar screen,” Russell said during lunch. “I think they were debating selling Arnold thongs after seeing my success.” The Silicon Valley Democrat, whose 2,073 votes put her in the top 40 finishers, also confided to Bites that she’d continue hawking merchandise on her Web site, “I’m coming out with a new line: ‘Don’t blame me, I voted for Georgy,’” said Russell, 26. She’ll have the usual stickers and shirts but “probably no thongs.”

All recall, all the time: Wary of postpartum depression, the man who helped midwife the recall through is now vowing to continue the battle. Former Republican Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian sent out an e-mail to supporters announcing the transformation of his “powerful Recall Gray Davis committee” into an ongoing concern that will now reach “beyond just the governor’s office” and into the Legislature: “I know from your e-mails that many of you are anxious to ‘finish the job,’” writes Kaloogian. “If there is a particular state legislator who you have found to be most egregious, please e-mail me their name along with an explanation of why you feel they should be shown the door by voters.” Looks like talk radio needs some new hits.