10 great places to see beyond a bad reputation


USA TODAY 02/26/10

Travel destinations are a lot like high school social cliques: Most of what outsiders know about them is hearsay. The only way to discover what they’re really like is to go see for yourself, says Chuck Thompson. Which is what the freelance travel writer set out to do in researching his new book, To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism (Holt, $15). His conclusion: Some places with bad-boy reputations can be quite nice — once you get to know them. He shares his thoughts with USA TODAY’s Jayne Clark. 


 Its reputation as a sterile, authoritarian city-state is undeserved. “It’s a really vibrant town with a highly sociable population of happy people,” says Thompson. “They’re probably happy because they eat so well.” Check out the waterfront eateries on Clarke Quay. 323-677-0808; visitsingapore.com

Mexico City

Even fans of Mexico’s beach resorts often avoid its capital, figuring it’s a polluted mess populated by corrupt cops, kidnappers and drug cartels. Thompson himself was convinced the city was the “armpit of Mexico” — until he visited. “The people are friendly and helpful. It’s not filthy; I’d call it clean-ish. The architecture is amazing. And the perception that it’s dangerous is wrong. To me, the greatest danger is gaining 10 pounds. The taco snarfing is non-stop.” 800-446-3942;visitmexico.com

 Orange County, Calif.

 Sometimes written off as a sprawl of white-bread suburbs full of surgically enhanced reality-show housewives, the area also harbors some nice beach towns and shoreline. “I love the beaches,” Thompson says, including The Wedge in Newport Beach, for bodysurfing. Plus, it’s home to large Vietnamese and Latino communities. “It feels like a piece of world culture that exists nowhere else. It’s not this homogenized Caucasian-ville,” he says.714-/765-8888; anaheimoc.org

Queens, N.Y.

Most visitors to New York see no reason to venture beyond Manhattan. But this northern borough has some interesting neighborhoods, including historic Astoria. Worth the trip: the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, an indoor-outdoor European-style watering hole. “It feels like a different place,” Thompson says. 212-484-1222; nycgo.com

Caracas, Venezuela

 The antics of President Hugo Chavez, whom Thompson describes as “the latest in a long line of tin-pot loonies,” tend to hog the headlines. But this city of Miss Universes has its own physical attributes, including “glorious” architecture and dramatic mountains. Plus, spicy grilled meat arepas, “one of the world’s best street foods,” are always close at hand, Thompson notes.

Waikiki, Hawaii

 It’s a familiar story: A destination gets too popular and people start bashing it. As a seminal tourist haunt, Waikiki has suffered its share of taunts. But, Thompson says, “It is what it is because it’s a fascinating and beautiful place. Whether you approach it ironically or you really like hula dashboard girls, it’s still an iconic location with great hotels and restaurants.” 800-464-2924; gohawaii.com


Hardly the cow town it’s made out to be, it’s “by far the most beautiful bankrupt capital in the world,” says Thompson. “There’s a lot of money going in and out of there, and where there’s a lot of money there are also nice bars and restaurants,” many of them in Midtown. “In a very dysfunctional state, Sacramento retains what lured people to California during the Dust Bowl and Depression — orange trees, picket fences and a nice, bustling downtown. ” 800-292-2334; discovergold.org


Yes, we’ve had our political dust-ups, but not only does Thompson find Iran “friendly and safe and dedicated to hospitality,” its capital, Tehran, has one of the “most amazing” grand bazaars anywhere. “It’s a hyper-exotic experience like nothing in the States,” he says. “This is a society built around almonds and dates and hummus and backgammon. We should have all learned by now, no matter what side of the political divide you’re on, it’s ignorant to impugn an entire population because of a politician you don’t like.” daftar.org


“It’s not the prettiest city in Africa but it is one of its musical centers,” Thompson says. In Soweto, the historic heart of the anti-apartheid movement, visit Nelson Mandela’s home, now a museum, and the nearby apartheid museum. Another don’t-miss: Wandie’s Place restaurant. And yes, the city’s reputation for crime may be deserved, but “use common sense. Stay away from the rougher parts of town,” he advises. 800-593-1318; southafrica.net


Images of drug lords and kidnappers die hard, but Thompson found Colombia to be remarkable for its normalcy. “You’ll find people who like loud music and sitting around bars and joking and laughing,” he says. Plus, its countryside hasn’t been usurped by agribusiness, so “in many, many places there’s still a self-sustaining food culture.” colombia.travel/en

Discount Diva: Fast Food folks need to get it Right!

By Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Buffalo News-Buffalo New York

February 15,2010

I have lots of love for you folks working at the drive-through window. Trust me—I know how people can be. I can’t imagine the stuff you must put up with from rude, nasty customers. The pace must be crazy. I don’t know how you do it.

But I’m one of the nice ones. How about giving me a little love back?

People usually use the drive-through because they’re in a hurry, so it is particularly maddening when one’s greasy little bag is missing some key ingredients or contains the wrong order altogether.

If I double-check that you remembered the Splenda, it’s not because I think you’re stupid. It’s because I have driven away countless times without my little yellow packet and I’ll be darned if I’m going to do it again.

It may not seem like a big deal if I get my extra lettuce or whether there is ice in my drink. But when fast food is a person’s one little splurge, or she has been hankering for that special sauce since the morning meeting, it can ruin her day to get all the way home and dig into the wrong thing. Worse, there are serious food allergies and religious customs to take into account.

And don’t get me started on the little hang-dog faces that were all geared up for a special treat only to find something inedible (like a fiery chicken sandwich —it happened!) in their kids’ meal.

If I ask for decaffeinated coffee, it’s probably annoying that I ask again that you’re sure it’s decaf. But instead of getting offended, can you just do your best mental check to make sure that it really is? Because I end up with panic attacks, palpitations and sleepless nights when you don’t.

So, if I take two seconds to look in my bag to be sure I have my onion ring dip (why is it never in there?!), please don’t roll your eyes. Often, that sauce is the reason I chose your burger joint over the 8 zillion other ones out there.

And maybe you could read back my order to confirm it? It would help. And preferably at the window, where we actually can understand each other.

And yes, if I get all the way back to work to find out I have a beef taco instead of chicken, I’m going to eat it anyway. But don’t underestimate the grudge I will hold against your entire corporation for having to do so.

That’s why I think there should be a universal fast-food rule, whereby any person who has ever been stranded somewhere without a straw or forced to turn their car around to fix an order should receive a coupon for an entire free meal.

You know how people get when you mess with their food. Wouldn’t you like to have a magically appeasing, goodwill-building piece of paper at the ready? If companies want to make it up to us, they should keep a stack of those suckers underneath the counter. I bet the threat of having to dole out free product would increase accountability.

And just think of all the burger, doughnut, coffee and sandwich shops battling for market share in Western New York. If you knew one of them was literally guaranteeing you the correct order, which one would you pick?

Review: Strike’s Rocklin and “The Junk Funkies”

There isn’t much to do in the burbs at night.   After the Mall there is the Multiplex, 25 screens and surround sound.  If you want more, you’ll have to venture into the city.      Enter “Strikes” a Family  Entertainment Supercenter.  (with two locations in the Sacramento Area) where you can Bowl, Play Arcade Games, Lazar Tag, and have a drink at  Coach’s Bar and Grill.  Depending on the night you can play Trivia games, or become Lady Gaga for the night  and of course on the Weekends you can dance the night away.

Coach’s was very clean, a good size and flexable space. the food was average and reasonably priced.   On this Friday night, we found the service fair, the food arrived slowly and the staffing so so.    One patron seemed out of place  (a 10 year boy was sitting at one of the tables-an oversight?)

The Entertainment this evening were The “Junk Funkies” ($5.00 cover)  an funk/RB  cover band. The band has all the ingredients to be a very good cover band.      Dieman, the lead male vocalist has the  charisma to energize the audience but stops short.   Boom Boom Kitty, the lead female vocalist has the stuff, her strong vocal’s demands and gets more from the band.    Dancer,  Kissi Boots has the energy of a cheerleading team.   If only she could energize the rest of the band was good, but could be tighter.  The word “Lazy” comes to mind    At one point during the evening the band left the stage and into the audience, those who remained on stage seemed confused.

It’s a good time for bands in the Sacramento Area with venues opening all the time….

The Junk Funkies is a good band for Rocklin,  the crowd loved them, with more rehersal, they might find their way into the city.

race in america: The burden of being first

From Jackie Robinson to Bill Cosby to Diahann Carroll, those thrust into the role of First Black has to walk on Eggshells. So,too,with our first Black President.

By: Leonard Pitts Jr

Miami Herald (2-21-10)

Jack Roosevelt Robinson had a temper. It flashed like lightning when he was confronted by the racial indignities one was required to endure if one was black in the 1930s and ’40s.

At age 8, he got into a stone-throwing confrontation with a white man whose little girl had chanted a racial slur.

As a lieutenant in the Army, he went off on a provost marshall who, not realizing the man on the other end of the phone was black, asked how he’d feel if his wife were forced to sit next to a black man.

Robinson was once court martialed (and acquitted) after he ignored a bus driver who ordered him to the back of the bus.

So this was not a man to whom turning the other cheek came naturally. Which made him far from the obvious choice for Branch Rickey’s great experiment. Rickey, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers, wanted to integrate Major League Baseball. He set out to recruit a black man who was both a great ballplayer — which Jackie Robinson was — and who could also restrain himself during that make-or-break first season of 1947, from responding to the racist slurs, threats and taunts that would inevitably come his way.

When they met in Rickey’s office, Rickey play-acted the kind of treatment Robinson could expect with a ferocity that left his shirt dark with sweat and Robinson’s fists clenched. At one point, the ballplayer demanded, “Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?”

And Branch Rickey replied, “I am looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back!”

Because Jackie Robinson was about to become a First Black — as in first black player in modern Major Leage Baseball. And First Blacks bear the burden not only of their own destiny, but also that of every other African-American who hopes to follow. First Blacks must represent.

It is a truism that seems especially timely during Black History Month in the age of Obama. Barack Obama is the ultimate First Black.

Understanding that may help explain why this president doesn’t always respond to provocation as some observers would hope or expect. There is a lot of anxious talk these days about willingness to fight back, and Obama’s perceived lack thereof.

And indeed, he has quietly absorbed unusual if not unique abuse during his candidacy and presidency. Not just Rep. Joe Wilson calling him a liar during a speech before a joint session of Congress and people showing up at political rallies with guns, not just shouting matches at town-hall meetings and a sign promising death to the president, the first lady and their “two stupid kids.”

No, what has been truly astonishing is the amount of crudely racist language and imagery flowing, not from isolated crazies, but from the offices of public officials. As in Rep. Lynn Westmoreland calling Obama “uppity” and Rep. Geoff Davis calling him “boy” and Dean Grose, then-mayor of Los Alamitos, Calif., sending out an e-mail depicting the White House with a watermelon patch out front, and Sherri Goforth, an aide to Tennessee state Sen. Diane Black, distributing an e-mail that shows the president as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop.

You’d think that kind of stuff would tee a fellow off. The fact that Obama does not seem teed off, that he seems so preternaturally detached in the face of nonstop attack, has some observers concerned.

Dee Dee Myers, who served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton, told USA Today, “Obama seems like he tries to talk everyone into what he believes — and that’s part of why we elected him, because he’s a calm, reasonable guy — but behind that, there has to be some fight. You have to be able to take a few punches and throw a few punches.”

George Mason University Professor Stephen Farnsworth told The Boston Herald, “Obama’s detached demeanor has won him little enthusiasm. Surely there is a middle ground between George W. Bush’s instinct to underthink and Obama’s tendency to overthink.”

An editorial in the New York Times said, “We don’t want Obama to turn into a hot populist, but he can be too cool and often waits too long to react at big moments.”

It is, perhaps, not too far-fetched to suspect that at least some of Obama’s coolness, his professorial detachment and above-the-fray disinclination to fight back, spring from his lonely history of being a First Black (first black president of the United States, of course, but also first black president of the Harvard Law Review). As a woman in politics is not allowed to cry, so a First Black is not allowed to lose his cool.

To be a First Black has historically meant to walk on eggshells, to constrain otherwise natural behaviors and responses for fear of how they will be construed. It is to know one’s actions impact not only oneself, but all those who look like you. So you learn to be cautious, to try and anticipate all the possible repercussions of what you do.

When Diahann Carroll starred as Julia and became one of the First Black women to headline a network sitcom, she scrutinized every element of the show to ensure it represented black folks well. She told The New York Times in 1968 that she was lobbying for Julia to wear an Afro, to have a family so as not to seem rootless, and to have markers of black culture and history in her life and that of her son, Corey.

“If a black child doesn’t get a sense of himself and his history from the beginning,” she said, “his self-image is destroyed.” Saving the self image of black children may seem like an awful lot to ask of a benign sitcom. But Carroll was a First Black, so Julia was never going to be just a benign sitcom.

When he became the First Black co-star of a network drama on I Spy, Bill Cosby pondered similarly weighty matters. His character, he told the Times in 1965, “is a Negro `good guy’ working equally with a white man for a patriotic cause — a premise which may not be accepted by every Negro watching. In other words, though the part is never the usual put down of the Negro people, I feel I have to be careful that it doesn’t become an exaggeration of another kind.”

To be a First Black, then, is to carry every other black always in consciousness.

Boxer Jack Johnson notoriously disregarded that dictum. The early 20th century black boxing champion was a brash man whose concerns never extended much beyond his own gratification. He openly dated white women, flaunted fancy cars and jewelry, taunted white men. Newspapers published fiery editorials against him, the government conspired to try him on flimsy charges. When he destroyed white champion Tommy Burns in 1908 to claim the crown, whites across the country rioted.

There was not another black heavyweight champion until 1937. Tellingly, it was quiet-spoken, noncontroversial and utterly unflamboyant Joe Louis, who raised no protest as sports writers called him a jungle beast and saddled him with a series of ludicrous, racially loaded nicknames: the Dusky Destroyer, the Copper Colored KO King and the Brown Bomber, to name a few.

Thus was the pattern set. Thus were the rules of the game written.

Barack Obama famously declines to speak much about race. When asked, he will answer, but he will seldom volunteer. There are two noteworthy exceptions. The first came when his former minister Jeremiah Wright made the topic unavoidable during the campaign. Obama responded with a speech widely regarded as one of the more eloquent and insightful analyses of the subject in recent memory.

The second came in July when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates got involved in a racially charged confrontation with a police officer. Obama weighed in with an opinion that the officer had acted “stupidly,” a remark that earned him widespread condemnation. One suspects the lesson he learned from that experience is henceforth to follow his gut instinct where race is concerned.

And Obama’s gut instinct is to downplay and minimize. It’s worth noting that even when he became the first black nominee of a major political party on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech — was ever a confluence of dates more pregnant with symbolism of racial progress? — his references to the history he’d made were earnest, but noticeably fleeting.

It’s not that Obama has nothing to say on the subject; his book Dreams From My Father was, after all, an elegant exploration of the conundrums of race and culture. But he seems to have made the decision, like other First Blacks before him, that he must govern himself closely here, else there will never be a Second Black to follow him. And as a racial barrier breaker, that is the ultimate measure of success.

So one learns to do a balancing act, seeking to acknowledge black but not be defined by it, not beconfined by it, to be what the times demand and the people need, to carry us all along for the ride and most of all, to represent. Even if, in the process, one loses the ability to simply be oneself.

In a series against the Phillies that first season, Jackie Robinson faced some the most vicious abuse he’d ever heard, a steady stream of bile spewing from the Philadelphia dugout.

“They’re waiting for you in the jungles, black boy!”

“Hey, snowflake, which one of those white boys’ wives are you dating tonight?”

“We don’t want you here, nigger!”

In his autobiography, I Never Had It Made, Robinson recalled thinking that this was more than he could take. “I thought, what a glorious, cleansing thing it would be to let go. To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create. I would throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons of bitches and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist. Then I could walk away from it all. I’d never become a sports star. But my son could tell his son someday what his daddy could have been if he hadn’t been too much of a man.”

But Robinson didn’t let go and when sports fans and sports writers condemned the Phillies for their behavior, manager Ben Chapman defended the team by saying this was baseball; the opposing player was always ragged upon. The implication being that if Robinson couldn’t take it, then maybe he didn’t belong.

Robinson took it. He took the screams and curses of the angry crowds. He took the boycott talk and the cold shoulder from his own teammates. He took the hate mail and threats against his family.

He took it all and led the Dodgers to the World Series that first season.

He took it because he was a First Black and all the other blacks, known and unknown, born and unborn, were depending on him.

“Not being able to fight back is a form of severe punishment,” he wrote shortly before his death in 1972.

“I was relieved when Mr. Rickey finally called me into his office and said, `Jackie, you’re on your own now. You can be yourself now

Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood.

View: Robbie Walters Should Resign

Sometimes its about appearances…………

Last April, Dan Walters  (Robbie Walters son) a permit clerk for the city allegedly overrode the city’s computer system.  Issuing 35 building permits to home builder K Hovnanian in the Natomas area.   FEMA placed a  well known and fought (by the city) building moratorium in Natomas in December of 08.

At the minimum this violation will result in Flood Insurance hikes throughout the city.

Robbie Walters is campaigning for his seat on the council.   His campaign finance Co-Chair is Greg Thatch who is an attorney for K. Kovnanian homes.

At the Feb 16, City Counsil meeting  while some his collegues expressed concern about increases of  Flood Insurance  for their constituents ,Walters grilled of City Attorney Eilleen Teichert  about fees to Kovnanian homes.

The attacks on the City Attorney is an indication of a man out of touch with his constituents.  This pushing of a button is far reaching…   In a letter dated February  from FEMA to Mayor Johnson (failure to enforce Floodplain Management would not be available for more 51,000 National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).potentially great consequence,under existing regulations, certain types of assistance could not be provided following a Presidentially-declared flood . No disaster assistance funds for repair or replacement of damage homes could be authorized. Additionaly,permanent repair and restoration of public facilities, such as damaged schools, could be prohibited.

Currently Sacramento has a 40 million dollar deficit. Wtih that push of a button the city has few choices, what ever that choice is, Sacramentians will pay.

Robbie Walters is the senior member on the council with nearly 20 years representing district 7.  Today, with  all the arrows are pointing in his direction., he should step down.

Sometimes at the end of the day, it’s all about apperances.

Agenda item 27 (Override Scandal Part 3)

The controversial item of the night(Tuesday, February 16th) was to be Agenda item 26.  The Mayor’s Charter Reform Package known in some circles as Strong Mayor II.  Mayor Johnson found he did not have the support  needed to put the measure on the June ballot at the earlier meeting and removed the item from the Agenda vowing to try again in November.

The tone in the room had changed when was time for  Agenda item 27.   Agenda 27 “Pursuit of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Issue Investigation.

FEMA  sent a letter to Mayor Kevin Johnson this week demanding that city officials come up with a “corrective action plan” over the next 60 days to address the 35 improper permits. Those permits were granted for homes to be built after a federally mandated building ban was implemented in Natomas while levees in the area are updated.

At risk would be flood insurance subsidies for 15,000 homeowners in Sacramento, and possibly disaster assistance.

This past April, Dan Water’s, the son of Councilman Robbie Waters (who’s district is in a flood zone) and a customer service supervisor is the city’s Community Development Department, overrode a department computer system to permit a home builder to construct homes in Natomas.

See Override Oct 23,2009)_________________________________________________________________________________________

The state of the council was one of  bewilderment.    The City’s Attorney’s office has hired an outside law firm to investigate the matter. The final report is pending.

Councilwoman Lauren Hammand (district 5) Say “The hair on the back of her neck is starting to curl.” ” Its a witchhunt”

Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell(district 7) ” People are starting to call, and they are angry about that extra $50.00 a year!”

Other council members had careful questions about the report.

The heat, this evening was between Councilman Robbie Walters(district 7)and City Attorney Eileen Teichert. (Robbie Walters son Dan Walters over rode the system)  the majority of his questions to the City Attorney had to do with fee’s and calculations for K. Hovnanian, the home builder at the center of this scandal.

The full report is due next week…stay tuned!!!!!

Eggs and Coffee

With a rare weekday off, James treated himself to breakfast…   A cozy coffee shop in the neighborhood.    After locating a good table with a great view, he orders.  Scrambled eggs, apple sausage, potatoes ,juice and coffee.    As he waits for his food he silently gazes out onto the street watching the passers by.

His silence abruptly ends when a  patron slams her chair into his….   Calmly, he waits for an apology.    Nothing.   the woman reads her menu.    After ordering, the women begins to make a series of phone calls,  the women speaks loudly into the phone….  directly behind him, he can here the other party on her phone.  One call after another fuels his anger…..   Everyone in the restaurant is held hostage with her conversations.       Several times he wanted to say something to the woman, for slamming into him and not apologizing, for her volume, but he decided against it.

Shake it off….he thought to himself.

Minutes later another woman came in and sat down at a table to his left.    She picked up the menu and ordered coffee.

James was enjoying his breakfast especially  the apple sausage.   All of a sudden there was this sharp oder,  he looked to his left and the women was polishing her nails at the table.       He looked over to her grabbing his nose….

“It’s not that bad she said”

As he was finishing his meal…the lady behind him was on yet another call and eating.    I should slam my chair into her’s he thought to himself.  Ah but, why,..there is room and I should be a gentleman about this……     he thought to himself.

But I came in here for a nice quiet breakfast. and its been anything but..      He he stood up, he bumped the ladies chair behind him….and apologized.

The bump made up for the irritation, all in all it was a good breakfast after all…..

Sacramento City Manager Quits

From the Sacramento Bee

Ray Kerridge, Sacramento’s embattled city manager, has resigned after four years in the job, saying the time is right to move on.

“I’ve been offered and accepted a position in the private sector,”

Kerridge said after sending a brief resignation memo to the mayor and City Council members after hours Wednesday. “It’s one of those bittersweet moments. I am excited and sad.”

Kerridge declined to say where he is headed, other than it is out of state, and will be soon.

His last day will be March 12, he said, leaving his bosses on the City Council little time to pick an interim manager to succeed him.

Kerridge’s resignation comes amid three years of declining city budgets, as well as infighting among City Council members and recent allegations of impropriety and poor management in some city departments.

Kerridge acknowledged his job hasn’t been easy lately and that he had been thinking for months about leaving.

“It is not a good time to be an elected official or an appointed official,” he said. “Everybody is trying to do the best they can.

“It is easier to work with a council when we are moving in the same direction. It has been difficult, but that is political life.”

Kerridge said he nevertheless feels he has left the city in a good position to balance the budget this spring, and believes the city may be only a year away from financial recovery.

Mayor Kevin Johnson declined to speak to The Bee about the resignation. But late Wednesday, he posted a lengthy comment on his Web site.

“There is never a good time to lose a highly skilled manager, but the idea of losing Ray now is deeply troubling to me – as troubling as the atmosphere at City Hall that I fear might have played a role in Ray’s decision,” Johnson wrote.

“The legacy of Ray’s leadership is easily summarized. For the past two years, the city of Sacramento has endured the worst of the most negative economic conditions our nation has seen in 80 years. During the economic crisis, Ray guided the city with a quiet but extraordinarily steady hand.”

Johnson is expected to hold a press briefing today to talk about next steps.

Councilman Steve Cohn said he was not surprised Kerridge is stepping down, “given some of the issues going on … between the mayor and some council members.

“The stress level is pretty high.”

The council, which has been fighting over Johnson’s proposals to increase his mayoral powers and build the Kings a new arena, now must find a way to come to a meeting of the minds on the critical choice of a new manager.

“We need some stability here,” Cohn said. “But we’ll manage. Ray will be tough to replace, but we’ll get through it.”

Kerridge previously worked for the city of Portland for 25 years. He came to Sacramento in 2004 as assistant city manager of development services, recruited by the Sacramento business community and former Mayor Heather Fargo.

He was credited with making that department more responsive to residents and bringing in a series of programs that cut red tape and fostered development.

The City Council made him interim city manager in January 2006, replacing Bob Thomas, who was forced out by the council. The council chose Kerridge as city manager two months later.

Developers and other business leaders laud Kerridge for transforming a city culture they said was marked by rigidity and stagnation. He also guided the city through an update of its general plan.

In recent months that legacy was tarnished by scandals in two city departments.

The building department that Kerridge helped streamline is the focus of an ongoing investigation sparked by the issuance of dozens of new home permits in the Natomas flood zone, an apparent violation of federal policy. That probe also is looking into reports of potential quid pro quo deals and thousands of dollars in uncollected building fees.

The Utilities Department is also under scrutiny. A grand jury investigation released last month found the city for years has improperly diverted utilities funds to pay for general government purposes.

Kerridge acknowledged those problems but said they were not why he chose to leave.

“This is a billion-dollar corporation,” he said. “There are always going to be issues.”

In recent months, rumors had circulated that some council members wanted to push Kerridge out. But he said he is leaving on his own accord.

Many at City Hall and in the business community were quick to lament his loss.

“I’m terribly upset about it,” said an emotional Councilman Robbie Waters. “We’re losing one of the best city managers this city has ever had.”

Steve Ayers, chief executive officer of Armour Steel, offered his kudos as well.

“Ray Kerridge clearly single-handedly reshaped this city, and this is a great loss,” Ayers said.

Steve Goodwin, president of Township 9, a large infill project in the city, said the resignation marks “a sad day” for Sacramento.

With Kerridge’s departure, Goodwin said he worries whether the city will be ready to kick-start development when the economy rebounds.

But Goodwin and others said they couldn’t blame Kerridge for wanting to leave city politics.

“City Council politics aside, this is a difficult time for a guy to be a city manager,” Goodwin said.

Fresh n Hot off the griddle: Mayor Johnson’s “Strong Mayor” DOA”

Mayor Kevin Johnson removed the Charter Reform Package (alas Strong Mayor II) from the Agenda at tonights council meeting.   At the outcome he had hoped to get approval in time for the June ballot.      He said, he will try again in November.

In short, he didn’t have the support.

In the last few weeks, the courts overturned Strong Mayor I, because it required a revision of the city’s charter. Revisions to the charter must be approved by the council before going to voters.

The challenge to Strong Mayor I was originated  from a former supporters of the Mayor.

Originally, he wanted

The power to appoint the City Manager with council approval and the power to fire the manager without approval from the council. The power to appoint the City Clerk,Treasurer and the City Attorney,again with the approval with city conncil, but fire them without. The power to appoint key department positions with council and fire them with out. Finally, the power to submit the budget and the power to veto changes made my the council.

In Strong Mayor II

There were concessions.  He proposed  an adoption of an Independent Budget Analyst Ordinance. A creation of an Ethics Committee and Term Limits for the Mayor and the Council.

Note:  Many member of the council has been there 10 or more years….ouch!

Only three of the council members are up for reelection this year and based on the tension inside “I” Street,  Strong Mayor is dead for 201 o


Loose Lips: Introducing Sepp Blatter

John Terry’s behaviour would have been Applauded in Latin Countries, says Sepp Blatter

London Times:  Ben Smith

The football world may have grown accustomed to Sepp Blatter’s spectacular gaffes over the years but the Fifa president put his foot in his mouth again today with a tasteless joke about John Terry’s alleged affair.

The Fifa president, who has previously stated that “homosexuality is more popular in women’s football,” and described Manchester United’s refusal to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to join Real Madrid as “modern slavery”, today decided to have his say on the controversy surrounding the deposed England captain.

“Listen, this is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries,” Blatter said. “If this had happened in, let’s say, Latin countries, then I think he would have been applauded.”

Terry flew to Dubai this morning in an attempt to repair his marriage amid allegations of an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the ex-partner of England team-mate Wayne Bridge. The revelations saw Terry, Britain’s highest-paid footballer, on £150,000 a week, stripped of the England armband, to be replaced by Rio Ferdinand

At Goodison Park last night, Terry showed the first signs of strain from the furore over his private life as his blunders cost Chelsea vital points in the Premier League title race. Louis Saha twice took advantage of errors by the centre half to give Manchester United, the French striker’s former club, a helping hand as Everton came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1. Terry will miss the FA Cup fifth-round tie at home to Cardiff City on Saturday after Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, agreed to give him time off.

Blatter also claimed today that there is a disrespectful prejudice against South Africa hosting the World Cup.

Phil Brown, the Hull City manager, said the terrorist attack on the Togo team in Angola during the African Cup of Nations put a question mark against this summer’s finals while Uli Hoeness, the Bayern Munich president, has said awarding the tournament to South Africa was “the biggest wrong decision” Fifa have made.

“I think it’s a nonsense to combine what has happened in an Angola, a terrorist attack for political reasons, and mix it up with the World Cup in South Africa,” Blatter said. “In Germany people like Uli Hoeness and also representatives of the professional leagues are saying we should not go there. But every year 11 million tourists go to South Africa and nobody says they should not go there.

“It’s a kind of anti-Africa prejudice, I think there is still in the so-called ‘old world’ a feeling that why the hell should Africa should organise a World Cup. Colonialists over the past 100 years have gone to Africa and taken out all the best things, and now they are taking all the best footballers. There’s no respect.”

Blatter’s best gaffes
March 2008 – On women’s football: “There are gay footballers but they don’t declare it because they think it will not be accepted in these macho organisations. Look at women’s football: homosexuality is more popular.”

April 2004 – On women’s football: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.”

July 2006 – On China inventing football: “We have to say thanks to the British associations – especially England – to have organised the game of association football. But you cannot deny the history that in China there is a recollection and evidence they played the game a thousand years ago.”

%d bloggers like this: