City Beat

True To Herself

Soon after winning her City Council seat in 2020, Katie Valenzuela made a decision that set the tone for her neophyte political career. She hired a man who made violent threats against the mayor and city manager.

As it turned out, Skyler Henry wasn’t violent. But his presence at City Hall prompted Mayor Darrell Steinberg and City Manager Howard Chan to seek a restraining order against Henry. The order was denied, but Chan changed several locks at City Hall to prevent Henry from wandering around.

When I asked Valenzuela why she would hire someone known for making threats against public officials, she said Henry was merely exercising his First Amendment rights. Refusal to hire him, she said, would make her a hypocrite, someone who disrespects free speech.

Two Down

Three months ago, the Bee announced its print circulation was 25,325. The number represented a one-year drop of about 35%. It signaled massive revenue losses, $17 million if annual subscribers paid $1,200. About 5% of digital subscribers also disappeared.

As a former Bee reporter who remembers when circulation topped 300,000, I type these numbers with sadness. In 2019, the Bee sold 93,000 copies daily.

I escaped the newsroom at 21st and Q streets 16 years ago, when I saw deep cracks in the Bee’s fundamentals. I knew management wasn’t capable or willing to address threats from online advertising and free news content. I decided the Bee had no future.

Assume Nothing

Robbie Waters was the last person on City Council who called himself a Republican. He served four terms representing Pocket and Valley Hi, then finished third in the 2010 primary. Career over.

Today’s progressive City Council members may think Robbie’s conservative faith sank him. But that’s not true.

Robbie—everyone called the old homicide cop by his first name—lost because voters wanted someone new. Another problem was Robbie didn’t campaign much. He was 74 and didn’t push doorbells. He bought cable TV ads and assumed re-election was inevitable. It wasn’t.

To The Rescue

For reasons I don’t understand, some people have a hard time figuring out Thien Ho. They think the district attorney wants homeless people thrown in jail. Or they think he enjoys “going to war” with city officials, an unfortunate exaggeration while real warfare compounds elsewhere.

Disingenuously, they claim he’s behaving like a politician.

For me, there’s nothing mysterious about Ho and his entanglements with Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other sinners on City Council. Ho wants to do his job. And he wants Steinberg and friends to do their jobs.

Field of Dreams

They take the stage like a Hollywood movie cast. Asian, African American, white. Three men and one woman. A doctor, a lawyer. Career politician. Community activist. A gay man. A Latino standing by. The only category not represented are Republicans.

The campaign for Sacramento mayor doesn’t officially start until December, when candidate nominations close. But the race has been underway for months, since Darrell Steinberg confirmed he wouldn’t compete for a third term.

Rental Disagreement

I’ve had several jobs over the last 50 years. Being a landlord was the worst.

I was a landlord for almost 20 years. There were good days, but they were rare. Even when the monthly rent check arrived on time, the joy was temporary. I couldn’t go out and spend all the money on booze and dinner.

A big chunk of my rental income was untouchable, sequestered for repairs and maintenance and taxes and fees and insurance. There were many months when I made no money.

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