Underdog will save you

Hounding big government: When the ordinary business of politics fails, savvy individuals traditionally have turned to large, anthropomorphized hound dogs to accomplish what mere humans cannot.

So, after last week’s scandalous tale about all the tax money that goes into cleaning up roadside bottles of urine between here and Reno (see “Urine the money,” Bites, June 26), Bites is delighted to announce that government excess finally has met its match. Meet costumed hero Wally the Waste Hound, who made his public debut last week at a press conference put on by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Bites contacted association president Jon Coupal to get the inside story on Wally, whom Coupal described this way: “about 6-foot-tall, brown, looks like a hound dog … slightly oversized head, but not outrageously so.”

Coupal checked the association’s Web site to see if there was a picture of Wally from the press conference, but to no avail. “There’s a picture of me, but not the hound,” he lamented. “I don’t know why they didn’t use the hound.”

Coupal said the identity of the individual who wears the Wally suit is “top secret,” but he was willing to entertain a few wild guesses.

Is it Arnold?

“How did you know? Geez, was it when he barked in that Austrian accent? No, it’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger,” said Coupal.

How about “Capitol punishment” columnist Jill Stewart?

“Uh, no, but she would be likely, as someone who abhors government waste!”

Coupal said Wally the Waste Hound’s identity must remain secret “for the same reason that you don’t know who the Kings’ lion is. It’s the mystique of the visual.

“These kinds of things are symbolic, like when you use Smokey the Bear,” said the association president. “They are admittedly props, but, having said that and having had a nice little chuckle, the issues confronting California are deadly serious.”

Coupal said his association has been “pursuing waste as part of the overall budget fiasco” for some time now and that week’s debut was just the beginning: “We’re going to be taking Wally the Waste Hound on the road.”

First, they came for our news racks: It’s only patriotic to support your city’s right to turn itself into a police state every now and then, but some people are beginning to wonder if Sacramento went a bit overboard in the shock-and-awe department during the recent ministerial-conference uproar. Bites, in particular, was surprised to see all of SN&R’s street-side news racks—freshly filled with issues sporting Darrell Steinberg’s friendly face—mysteriously disappear from downtown on Friday.

Afterward, bemused police officials gave SN&R a bit of a runaround when it came to figuring out who had arrested the racks and where they were all being kept. But days later, as life in River City returned to normal, the racks reappeared as suddenly as they’d vanished, showing no signs of ill treatment.

And, though it would be nice to get a warning before the next roundup, Bites joins the rest of the city in a collective sigh of relief: Without our newspaper racks to throw around the streets as deadly projectiles, the Hulk-like anarchists had no choice but to behave in a peaceful manor.

No ice cream for Dennis: Dennis Kucinich fans still stinging from an SN&R essay dismissing the candidate’s chances of actually being elected to the presidency also may be mourning a similar judgment by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Though co-founder Ben Cohen has voiced his support for Kucinich, the company has opted to make Howard Dean the object of its confection. A new flavor called Maple Powered Howard has been introduced at the company’s Vermont outlets.

Meanwhile, Dean has lent his voice to those who oppose the proposed sale of the Vermont-originated company to the likes of Nestle, saying it would be a shame to see the company’s unique character “homogenized.”

Kucinich fans, however, can take heart now that a poll from MoveOn.org placed him second among the nine Democratic candidates, with a 23.93 percent share (76,000 votes). But, as fate would have it, 43.87 percent of the vote went to the maple-powered candidate.