Three Sacs full

Revamp from hell: Bites loves well-crafted anonymous letters from state employees, and one recently received regarding a certain department’s office makeover would have done O. Henry proud. The letter, which details various practical and aesthetic issues, goes like this:

Even as legislators conducted their annual wrestling match over the state budget, employees of said department were provided boxes and carts to load up their work materials so new carpet could be laid down. Certain walls were repainted a garish burgundy. The break room and the bathrooms were redone, and some executive offices were lavishly refurnished with redwood furniture.

At least one employee may have strained a back during the redecorating nightmare, and the letter writer estimated that the department’s 60-plus employees may have each lost two days work time in a department with a significant backlog. Someone, the anonymous complainer suggested, should be held accountable. And what department might we be talking about? A drum roll please: The California Board of Accountancy.

Colorblind: Not so fast, says Carol Sigmann, the board’s executive director. For one thing, the department has been slaving away in the same cramped, drab offices for a dozen years. Employees constantly were tripping over the frayed carpet and formerly had to hold the bathroom door shut with their foot while doing their business. The burgundy paint matched the office’s existing aqua upholstered chairs. The redwood furniture was purchased on the cheap from the California Prison Industry Authority.

Sure, at least one person strained their back, Sigmann agreed, but only because they didn’t take advantage of the movers who were on hand. And yes, the department does have a significant backlog in processing accountant licenses. That’s why it just created, with the Legislature’s approval, 17 new positions.

Sigmann acknowledged that the refurbishing had been an inconvenience for some employees, since, being a state agency, the department had to remain open. But she highly doubted that each employee had lost two days work. Which all sounds pretty reasonable to Bites, save one thing.

Do aqua and burgundy really go together?

Chronicles of Neva: Bites is sad to report that the deterioration of daily newspapers continues unabated, and no publication is going down faster than the San Francisco Chronicle. Currently losing $50 million a year, the Chronicle recently lopped off 25 percent of its editorial workforce, perhaps none more valuable than Neva Chonin.

For the past several years, Chonin’s wildly popular Live! Nude! Girl! column in the Pink Section has been one of the few reasons to pick up the Sunday Chronicle. Rumor has it that Chonin’s departure was not indiscriminate. Apparently, the editorial powers-that-be favored one-dimensional pop quizster Aidin Vaziri over the humorous, complex, thoughtful Chonin. The town may have been big enough for the two of them, but the ever-shrinking Chronicle was not.

Now that she’s been axed, the Pink—which hasn’t been pink for many a moon, to save money mind you, so in a certain sense this has been a long time coming—will no doubt be relegated to journalism’s dustbin, where the Monday through Saturday edition of San Francisco’s sole remaining daily newspaper already resides. What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Chonin will be deeply missed.

Meanwhile, Sacramento-based McClatchy Company’s malodorous misadventures on Wall Street reached new depths this week, dipping below $25 per share for the first time ever. At one point in the not too distant past, which is to say three weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee parent corporation’s stock seemed like one of the best bargains on the street. But that was before the subprime contagion started bringing down hedge funds and the entire stock market with it. Head for the hills as fast as you can. There’s a shit storm a’comin. God save us all.