Those wacky politicos!

Streets aren’t safe, but strip clubs will be: While South Sac homeowners were up in arms last week over crime in their community, Sacramento police Lt. Tom Sweeney and the Sacramento City Council were busy discussing the finer points of collecting permit fees from adult entertainers. During the council’s February 1 meeting, a group of Oak Park homeowners complained that they’ve had all the gunfire and violence they can stand and suggested that the city is more heavily patrolling prosperous areas while leaving poor people on their own.

While Councilwoman Lauren Hammond was sufficiently moved to attend a packed Oak Park Community Center meeting two days later, others seemed more interested in moving on to Sweeney’s explanation of how cops are going to start collecting a fee from adult entertainers who work at local strip clubs. (Actually, it’s just Club Fantasy that would be affected, since other strip clubs all fall outside the city limits, not that Bites would know anything about it.)

When the council asked why the fee hasn’t been collected for the four years it’s been on the books, Sweeney’s explanation was vague enough that Councilman Ray Tretheway ended up asking for clarification, twice.

Never one to miss an opportunity for levity, Mayor Heather Fargo interrupted Sweeney’s second attempt with a comment that must have been reassuring for all the angry homeowners who’d just spoken. “Wrong answer,” smirked the mayor. “You should have said you were too busy patrolling Oak Park.”

Shelley’s other legacy: While press and politicians have obsessed, no doubt rightly, over the scandals leading up to Kevin Shelley’s resignation last Friday, they’ve been all but silent about the Shelley maneuver that first earned him so many enemies. Ironically, that silence was broken early last week when L.A. County Registrar of Voters Conny McCormack—frustrated that Shelley’s scheduled testimony was being postponed—held a press conference condemning him for the political sins of busting Diebold and requiring California elections to include verifiable paper trails by 2006.

McCormack—who appeared at her press conference holding a paper voting-machine receipt at arm’s length, as though it had been retrieved from a hazardous-waste Dumpster—is the same woman who, back in October, spoke to the notoriously unreliable 60 Minutes about the wonderfully consistent paperless electronic voting machines that can perform a “recount” in just nanoseconds, all at the push of a button.

“You are gonna get the same answer every time,” McCormack enthused. When asked if that really constitutes a recount, she said, “Oh, I think it’s a recount. And you know, do people really want to get a different answer?”

How reassuring.

So, while pundits debate whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will appoint an interim secretary of state with long-term career potential, Bites suggests Californians also keep an eye on exactly what efforts Shelley’s replacement may end up making to undo our new safeguards against election fraud. That is, unless we want to go the way of Florida and Ohio.

Why is this man smiling? California’s favorite actor turned governor turned president turned corpse gets his own stamp this week. Sadly, the Ronald Reagan commemorative-stamp ceremony was scheduled for Wednesday, which means Bites readers may have missed the opportunity to bow before the 11-foot-tall image of the Gipper on the west steps of the state Capitol. The stamp shows Reagan sporting that folksy smile, no doubt symbolic of his delight with George W. Bush’s adventures in Iraq. Political operative Sal Russo said as much in Bites’ invitation to the event: “It was Ronald Reagan who so firmly believed in freedom that he changed American foreign policy to go on the offensive against totalitarianism and gave hope to millions of people under the thumb of communism.”

Of course, it was also Reagan whose secretary of the interior, James Watt, believed environmentalism was getting in the way of the Rapture. In a recent essay on the rising influence of fundamentalism over American politics, Bill Moyers cites a report that Watt once testified about how “after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.” Bites likes to think that the real reason Reagan is smiling is because he knows the Bush Dynasty is doing everything possible to keep that apocalypse on schedule.