Voyeurs, predators and pastors

The Next JenniCam? Sacramento mayoral candidate Mark Soble sure knows the way to Bites’ heart. Although Soble has little hope of dislodging incumbent Heather Fargo, that hasn’t deterred him from making some pretty cool campaign promises. In campaign lit he dropped off at SN&R headquarters last week, Soble says he wants to bring more transparency to government by putting a webcam in the mayor’s office. Think of it! Gee, that pesky mayor won’t return calls, Bites imagined itself thinking during the new Soble administration. Where could he be? Oh, there he is, practicing his putting.

Though Soble clarifies that he’s actually serious about the webcam plan, he also concedes that “it may be the most boring webcam anyone ever put together.”

Soble, 39, works as a fraud investigator for the state attorney general. Though he’s a political rookie, he does have experience dealing with politicos. He spent more than a decade as an attorney at the Fair Political Practices Commission, where he racked up $3.2 million in fines against a long list of candidates and officeholders whose names read like a who’s-who list of 1990s state and local political figures. (Among them is Chuck Quackenbush, against whom Soble boasts of a $50,000 megafine for campaign-contribution reporting in 1997.)

Better than the webcam idea, Soble’s ballot statement makes an equally tantalizing pledge (which sounds like it may be inspired in part by his parents, who are both journalists). “I will allow newspaper and television reporters full-time access to follow me around during the workday. There will be no secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms.”

Bites can’t gush enough about how great this is—especially after Fargo refused to release her schedule to SN&R—but Soble showed off his status as a rookie candidate by missing the point entirely. If he’s not going to secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms, why follow him at all? Especially if Bites can just kick back in its cubicle and watch the action on the Web. Right?

Boring or not, Bites eagerly awaits the day when everything the mayor does will be broadcast on the Web. Now that Sacramento Web icon Jennifer Ringley has unplugged her famous JenniCam site, maybe Soble could help put the city back on the Internet peeping map.

Lockyer springs into action: Bites’ New Year’s Eve was brightened by an incoming fax from Bill Lockyer, in which the attorney general called for an independent investigation into Michael Jackson’s allegations of ill treatment by arresting officers. How surprising that one complaint from a giddy pop star can trigger an immediate investigation, particularly when the 16 women who’ve accused Arnold Schwarzenegger of sexual harassment get nothing more than a bunch of slander thrown back at them. Bites’ wish for the new year: Lockyer will grow a spine so the rest of us can enjoy the ultimate reality series, the one starring the king of pop and the governor of California as zany jail buddies.

Excising the exorcist: All Pastor Jack J. Stahl wants to do is banish demons from the souls of the possessed by using the music of Tom Jones, but the BBC is having none of it. The Sacramento minister, whom it’s not unusual to find performing live exorcisms on his daily Internet radio show (which can be accessed through www.churchoftomjones.com), recently was filmed for Union Jack, a BBC Channel Four series hosted by Ozzy Osbourne’s son, Jack. “They contacted me to come out to the boardwalk at Venice Beach, where they do a lot of filming,” Stahl told Bites. “And we set up this area with signs that said, ‘Free exorcisms.’” Stahl, who dresses up as the Welsh pop star while exorcising his God-given rites, said he uses “the angelic voice of Tom Jones to help get me in touch with the Holy Spirit, because, to me, his voice is spiritual and soulful and supernatural. But the BBC was not amused. “They said the BBC considered combining Tom Jones and religion to be sacrilegious,” said Stahl, who also was excised from a BBC documentary on exorcisms a year earlier. “I don’t know what it is about the BBC,” mused Stahl. “I just know it’s great to live in America where we don’t have this kind of censorship, right?”