‘Remember the Alhambra Theater!’

This became a familiar battle cry after the glamorous Sacramento movie house was torn down in 1973 and replaced by a Safeway. But that’s only one of the city’s many great losses. Before the historic-preservation movement was ordered into existence by the city council in 1975, bungalows and Victorians were regularly mowed down in the name of progress. Since 1975, 850 buildings have been permanently preserved on historic registers. Countless others have new lives as renovated masterpieces in Sacramento’s six historic districts. In celebration, the preservationists are throwing a party. We’re all invited.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, at the Memorial Auditorium, fashion shows will feature Noelle Young’s reproductions from the mid- to late 19th century, and vintage clothes from 1910 to 1950 presented by the Sacramento Art Deco Society. Through exhibits and workshops, experts will teach you how to research the history of your house or how to rehab it. Longtime preservationists will show slides from the beginning of the preservation movement and introduce you to the original historians who came together to keep Sacramento’s history alive. Even the Memorial Auditorium itself will be on display. Tours will explore the pipe-organ room, with its 3,000 pipes, and the organ will rise from the basement to accompany two silent films.

Rally round the flag

Saturday, October 29, at the Capitol should be a rip-roarin’ good time, with enough charged-up, old-time rallies to make one’s political cup runneth over.

At 9:30 a.m., there’s a veterans demonstration to promote better benefits for those returning from Iraq, as well as to demand better post-service care for those who served. There also will be a pro-Minuteman rally supporting citizen border patrols, and an anti-Minuteman rally.

The veterans rally will be attended by retired Lt. Col. Charles Brown, an Air Force veteran running for the Democratic nomination in the hopes of challenging Representative John Doolittle next November.

“Basically, it’s ‘You promised the troops and veterans you’d take care of them,'” said Brown, who piloted both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the Air Force. He will be joined by former Bay Area Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, a silver-star recipient and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration.

George Main, president of the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, said that vets need more help and aren’t getting it from the Veterans Administration (VA). A recent decision by the VA to review diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, to reduce the scope of treatment available for it, is unfair to vets, Main explained.

“If they don’t have a ‘significant event,’ they will lose their benefits [for it]. They’re saying there has to be a verifiable stressor event. Your buddy has to explode next to you. Seeing a whole bunch of bodies isn’t enough,” said Main, who served in the Army.

Divide and conquer

Pacific Gas & Electric is worried about Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) customers. So worried, in fact, that last week the utility launched a signature-gathering campaign to put a measure on the June 2006 ballot in Sacramento County—allowing existing SMUD customers to cast an advisory vote on SMUD’s proposed expansion into Yolo County. PG&E insists that proposal will mean higher rates for existing SMUD customers, a claim that SMUD repeatedly has denied.

An advisory vote in Sacramento County wouldn’t be binding, but it could help persuade members of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) that Sacramento County voters also must be included in a later vote on SMUD expansion in the fall of 2006.

Such an election likely would pit Yolo County voters against the more numerous Sacramento County SMUD customers who worry that they will have to foot the bill for annexing the new territory. PG&E’s consultant Jeff Raimundo told SN&R earlier that such an election would be “a breakthrough” for PG&E.

“PG&E’s goal is to defeat public power by any means necessary,” said Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada, noting that PG&E is expected to spend lavishly on the campaign. “They have been quite successful in the past in defeating public power by planting these seeds of doubt in the minds of the public.”