Witch hunt!

Meet your District 4 councilman, another rich guy who doesn't like questions

Welcome to City Hall, Steve Hansen. You are off to a terrible start.

Let’s start with your pledge to give up your city council salary and instead put it into a “technology incubator.”

Most of us make just a fraction of the dough you pull down as a lobbyist for Genentech. (Sorry, “senior regional manager of state government affairs.”) It is great for you that you don’t need that money to live on, and can instead use it for your own projects. But what exactly are you going to do with the money again? Put it into one of those 501(c)(3)-type deals, where the public will never get to see the books? Because that’s not worked out so well in the past.

If you don’t want the salary, you could give it back to the general fund. There are plenty of other good uses for it. Better yet, why don’t you just take the salary that comes with the job, and give up the corporate-lobbyist gig? The council job is often described as “part time.” But it’s not, really. And $60,000 is hardly part-time money for most people around Sacramento, not even for most of the people who live in your district.

Sure, lots of council members have day jobs, and some are wealthy compared to the rest of us. But they don’t have jobs as lobbyists, directing corporate money to political candidates around the state. They don’t then turn around and ask those same politicians for donations to their own political campaigns, as you have done in your job.

We tried to talk about this once, remember? Well, actually you didn’t want to talk about it at all. In fact, you kind of flipped out and said that being asked questions like this was akin to “being thrown in the water like a witch.”

Is this how it’s going to be for the next four years, Steve? We last talked about this stuff on Election Day, and you haven’t responded since. Bites supposes that’s because it’s just like being burned at the stake when a reporter says something like, “Hey, Steve, I noticed that a lot of the candidates that Genentech donated money to over the last couple of years also donated money to your city council campaign—sometimes on the same day.”

Or, “Hey, Steve, it looks like Genentech doesn’t really give much money to local government candidates. But one rare exception is Jay Schenirer, your friend and the guy who appointed you to the city’s redistricting panel last year. Any connection?”

Or, “Gee, Steve, how do we know you’re not using your job at Genentech to leverage campaign donations?”

These are natural questions, given what you do for a living and the office you now hold and the public interest in knowing how one affects the other. But on Election Day, you made it clear how unfair you thought it was for any reporter to ask questions like that. You said, “I’m not the Pillsbury Doughboy, and I don’t appreciate being poked.”

Probably not. But it is the job you signed up for. Of course, you’re not the only one who doesn’t like being poked by reporters, Steve. Your fellow city-council newbie is Allen Warren, whose troubled personal finances and convoluted legal troubles actually cost him his endorsement from The Sacramento Bee—after SN&R brought them to light. He too acted like no one had a right to press him on his business.

And no one hates being poked more than Boss Johnson, whose lawyer rebuffed requests for information about Johnson’s controversial network of nonprofit funds by saying, “If the public wants more disclosure, the public should change the law.”

So, you’ll fit in fine, Steve. Which is too bad. What happened to “repairing public trust in government”? A couple of halfway-challenging questions and you are all, “Oh, I’m melting! Mellltiiing!”

Bites is not trying to torture you or crucify you on the cross like some sort Jesus of Midtown, Steve, though it may feel that way to you.

These are not even “pokes,” really, just the sort of routine questions that reporters are supposed to ask politicians. Though it should be said, the more you freak out, the more interesting those questions become.