The full McClatchy

No penis envy: When The Sacramento Bee refused to take paid print ads for a comedy show coming next week to the Crest Theatre, Bites knew something strange was going down. Ed Kiley, press contact for the Northern California tour of Puppetry of the Penis, said the refusal to run ads in the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno Bees by McClatchy Co. was unexpected and ridiculous. “They’re scared of having the word ’penis’ out there in big, black, bold letters,” said Kiley. Pam Fisher, the Sac Bee account manager who said no, explained patiently to Bites that questionable ads always are run by “legal” (i.e., management). “I was told, ‘No,’ ” she said. “Anyway, that’s not our readers.” (Don’t half of them have penises?) But show producer David Foster thinks that’s a limp excuse. He offered another instead: “The mention of the word ‘penis’—a proper, scientific word for male genitalia—sends some in the media running!” (Bites hastens to add that the Puppetry ads were allowed—no problemo!—in SN&R.)

Interestingly, Bites found out that The Bee did accept ads last year for The Vagina MonologuesEve Ensler’s award-winning show to increase awareness about violence toward women. Jessica Higgins, a spokeswoman for the California State University at Sacramento Women’s Resources Center, said organizers couldn’t afford ads for the “V-Day” performances slated for this month. But last year, sponsoring organizations could, and paid for ads. Asked why the McClatchy papers accepted the word “vagina” in ads but not the word “penis,” Fisher said she had no idea. But Kiley thinks the whole thing smacks of a double standard. “It’s hypocritical,” he said. “If you can say ‘vagina,’ why not say ‘penis’?”

The cable guys: Access Sacramento Executive Director Ron Cooper couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the latest report to the Cable Commission. Prepared by an outside consultant, the report proposes chopping up to 75 percent of Access Sacramento’s budget and giving away one of its two TV channels to a local educational consortium. Fade to black.

“It’s going to kill us,” Cooper said of the local-access TV and radio stations he runs. Released last Monday, the report says all local cable operations—including KVIE, Metro 14 and the educational cable consortium—can expect less money this year, thanks to the dim fiscal future facing local governments. Cooper says he’ll get the short end of the stick, and he’s hoping community-access fans will give public input on the drastic proposal by writing to the local pols who sit on the commission or by showing up at the February 13 meeting, which would be the deadline for public comment. (More info is at

Access Sacramento’s channel 73, which is a pretty highly regarded operation in community-access circles, serves a lot of local nonprofit and non-English speaking groups and airs such shows as Parent Haven, Ask a Lawyer and Teen Talk. Public comments will be heard at that meeting, but the commission won’t act until the next meeting. Before the commission adopts anything, Cooper said, it should do a community-wide needs assessment.

Still, the whole thing has Cooper nervous. “If you get six votes out of 11,” Cooper said, “it’s a done deal.”

A tax that’s not a tax: Has Bites detected an emerging split in the Assembly Republican caucus? As GOPers continue their opposition to fattening revenues with any new taxes, fees, levies or donations, Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Roseville, wants to hike the Vehicle License Fee his fellow party members have vowed to keep down.

OK, OK, he doesn’t want to increase the fee for everyone—just drunk drivers. Leslie’s bill would charge motorists with convictions for driving under the influence higher registration fees for five years. Legislative number crunchers say it would raise $16 million. That’s a little short of the $4 billion Democratic lawmakers hope to raise, but it’s a start. But is it a tax hike? No way, says Leslie mouthpiece Brian O’Neel. It’s your decision whether or not you get popped for drunk driving. “It’s something everyone has a choice not to pay,” O’Neel said. Up the cigarette tax, too?