Wait ’til he gets his Haynes on you

Just say nose: Most politicians would step on a baby if it came between them and accepting an award. But not Senator Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, who was nowhere to be found when a plaque came her way last week. Ortiz took first place in this year’s “Nosey Awards,” which recognize outstanding achievements in the field of trivial, intrusive legislation. In an e-mail announcing the winners, Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, the organizer, lauded the “obsessed” Ortiz for “harping on the evils of soda in schools” and passing a bill to ban campus soda sales.

“Perhaps,” Haynes mused, “she figures if she starts with the nanny-state regulations on children while they’re young, they’ll be less likely to object to stupid, interventionist rules later in their lives when they’re adults.”

Haynes presented the coveted award—a plaque with a plastic nose mounted on it—to Ortiz’s chief of staff. “She was not happy,” Haynes told Bites. Ortiz was unavailable to accept her Nosey in person, and her office hung up when Bites called for comment.

Other winners included Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, who pushed a ban on outdoor smoking in apartment complexes, and Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Oakland, who crusaded to stop Jell-O-shot sales at liquor stores. “They’ll get my Jell-O shots when they pry them from my cold, inebriated fingers,” Haynes wrote.

Democrats swept the Noseys this year, though a Republican did make the cut last year. “He yelled at me,” Haynes recalled fondly, “for about 15 minutes.”

Astroturf wars: In our news section last week (“P.S. from Iraq,” SN&R News, October 30), Sgt. Garth Talbott offered up a reality check against all those forged letters from “hometown” soldiers that have been finding their way into the press. Papers across the country were suckered into printing feel-good form letters, purportedly from hometown heroes, in the latest, darkest and most callow twist on the art of “Astroturfing” (i.e. creating an artificial grassroots movement).

Still, jaded as we’ve all become, even Bites was taken aback by an angry “reader” who wrote in last week.

“Dear Sacramento News & Review,” begins an October 30 missive from Tina Kelly to SN&R headquarters. “Your upcoming miniseries The Reagans is nothing more than an attempt to smear the reputation of a great president.”

Bites was understandably shocked by Kelly’s revelation that a community weekly such as ours would be producing a miniseries on the Reagans, let alone one that set out to besmirch the reputation of Ronald and Mommy. Fortunately, this turned out not to be true.

It’s fairly unusual for people to confuse SN&R with CBS, the latter being a television network, but such errors are all the more likely to increase now that at least one provider of form “letters to the editor” has decided to cease and desist.

As of October 17, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has announced that users of www.gopteamleader.com now will be required to compose their own letters. Previously, the site had supplied form letters so that “team leaders” could effortlessly blanket the media with the latest disinformation.

SN&R long has been the recipient of such missives, none of which have seen print, thanks to our rule that letters must actually address stories that have appeared in our publication. But, according to anti-Astroturfing activist Bruce Forkus, “at least nine different GOP form letters have been distributed, which have been reprinted in over 250 newspapers and magazines, including Time Magazine, USA Today and the Financial Times of London.” Forkus also notes that “the ombudsman for The Sacramento Bee denounced the letters after the Bee printed one earlier this year.”

With the RNC finally out of our hair, Bites can devote more attention to helping script SN&R’s forthcoming miniseries, The Schwarzeneggers.