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R.E. Graswich

Writer and Editorial Team

About This Author

R.E. Graswich is a journalist, author and media expert. His book “Vagrant Kings” is the definitive history of the Sacramento Kings basketball team. He was Special Assistant to Mayor Kevin Johnson, managed the Sacramento Voices program for the Maynard Institute of Journalism Education and worked for the Sacramento Bee, CBS 13 and KFBK.

Articles by this author

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.

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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.

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We Were Warned

The names were evocative, inspired by the river and people who lived, worked and played on it. Amen’s Landing, B and B Harbor, Cotton’s Landing, Stogey’s Landing, Shaw’s Landing, Captain’s Table, Wheeler’s Landing.

From Elkhorn to Freeport, a string of boat ramps, docks, waterfront cafés, taverns, picnic grounds and fishing camps made the Sacramento River levee accessible, enjoyable and essential to generations.

Today, below Miller Park and Downtown, old recreational haunts are gone. Some were destroyed by the river and its seasonal torrents. Others collapsed when operators tumbled into financial despair.

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They’re Off

Time to bet $50 on a harness horse named Roscoe P Coletrain. He’s no sure thing. Just a beautiful name.

I rarely bet horses on name alone, and almost never risk $50. I’m a $20 bettor, long shots. Anything over $20 depresses me when luck fails. Roscoe P Coletrain inspires dumb certainty.

The drive to Cal Expo is a reminder of how tough it is to make an old-fashioned, in-person wager on a harness horse. Trouble starts with finding the racetrack. I’ve watched races at Cal Expo for almost 50 years, navigated the parking lot hundreds of times.

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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.

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