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Would You Pay Millions of Dollars to Fire This Man?: Then some Republicans have a recall effort they'd like to sell you.


Gray Hair Splitting

News that Fred Keeley has signed on to the team battling the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis got Nüz telephoning the Sac-based Planning and Conservation League, where Keeley is currently executive director, to find out just how serious the former state assemblymember thinks the threat of recall is.

"Very serious," said Keeley.

Pro-recallers have so far only garnered 20,000 of the 900,000 signatures required to qualify their anti-Davis measure for the ballot, but with $500,000 already in their recall kitty, Keeley thinks more money--and thus more signature gathering--is in the works, especially given the state of the state these days.

"If we want to have a referendum to see if Californians are unhappy with the traffic, the air quality, the economy, the educational system, fine, everyone will raise their hands and say they feel grumpy, but what's happening in California is part of a national phenomenon," he says.

And unlike the impeachment process, which follows strict standards of proof and evidence, in a recall all you have to do is get signatures of what Keeley jokingly calls the "We don't like Gray's hair" variety.

"I can understand why Davis has only 24 percent support," Keeley says. "He's not charismatic, and he doesn't appear to lead, which makes it very easy for someone with a clipboard to ask people how they feel about the energy crisis, the traffic, the economy and the loss of jobs, and if they don't like it, say, 'Sign here to recall Davis.'"

Keeley says the implicit message is "If you kick Davis out, things will improve."

"But they won't," he says. "People can disagree with Davis' budget--the ones the governor presented in both January and May were balanced. And I don't have to like or dislike Davis to dislike the event of a recall. It's bad for the governance of state, which is in bad enough shape without throwing this amount of destabilization and chaos into the mix."

Keeley observes that if there's momentum for a recall, there'll be no incentive for Republicans to sign Davis' budget, meaning the state could go 60 days without one. Assuming the recall measure does get on the ballot and that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Simon, Cruz Bustamante, Dianne Feinstein and Phil Angelides get on the same ballot as replacement candidates--and Keeley predicts they will, because the more people on the list, the fewer votes you need to get in--then Californians could end up with a governor who won 20 percent or less of the vote.

"If that happens, and you get a governor who's a Democrat, will Republicans line up to help find solutions to the budget, housing, transportation and education? If the new governor's a Republican, will the Democrats, who control both houses, line up to help, so that two years from now a Republican can run for a stronger election?

Meanwhile, Keeley's successor, John Laird, who's currently going through what he jokingly calls "finals week" in the Assembly, put things in concrete terms: "I've got 19 bills moving, with 14 over to Senate, and I know Davis will sign 14 or 15 of them, whereas a Simon or Schwarzenegger would only sign about two."

Let's Do the Time Warp

Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, in town last week for the sold-out Imagine America event at the Civic, made some pretty nifty suggestions for addressing America's woes-- taxing junk food to feed the hungry sticks out in our mind--but we recommend he dump the funeral parlor suit and invest in a pair of Elton John platform shoes if he's serious about becoming the president of a TV-governed land where, sad to say, size still matters.

As does gender, apparently--otherwise, why isn't Marianne Williamson, who drew countless ovations at Imagine America, making a run for prez, too?

Yes, yes, we know she's a spiritual luminary and not a politico, but as she herself said, those who pursued their higher consciousness for the past decades have abdicated the ground floor to the politicos.

"They're burning down the house!" she warned to wild applause. But her observation that today's peace movement differed from that of the '60s, "because back then we were stoned," was greeted with what some might interpret as an, er, stony silence.

Film Fest Notes

Santa Cruz was like Cannes West last week. Well, sort of, what with the stellar weather and a bevy of moviemakers in town for the second annual Santa Cruz Film Fest, which kicked off with Cheri Lovedog's kick-ass Prey for Rock & Roll (which is, by the way, coming to theaters this fall).

Unprecedented filmmakers Joan Sekler and Richard Perez were on hand to discuss their documentary, which paints Republicans as evil, Democrats are disingenuous and voters as highly vulnerable, especially given a compliant and money-hungry media.

Perez, who once worked for the newsrooms of CBS and Fox, said the major media have become "little more than PR firms for the White House and the Pentagon and other major institutions," while Sekler revealed that she and Perez had to pony up $100,000 just to use 12 minutes of footage from NBC and other major networks in their film. "Their footage costs $9,000 a minute," she explained.

Both admitted that though there's a lot of uncertainty about the Help America Vote Act and the move to use unreliable and untested systems, the crucial point is that without a paper receipt you have no way to track your vote. To find out more, check out www.notablesoftware.com and www.blackboxvoting.com.

Live From Shiva's Dance Floor star Timothy "Speed" Levitch, who appeared on Sunday, said his decision to become a tour guide was made when he graduated, needed a job and made a list of things he liked to do--things like appreciating beauty, performing, walking and talking in New York City.

"But what really pushed me over the edge was meeting international womankind on a daily basis when I was only 22 years old," he says.

With three days of the fest left, check out the local talent, June 4. Living in Missouri, which plays 7:30pm at the Riverfront, features plenty of local faces and, according to director and UCSC Film grad Shaun Petersen, could equally well be called Living in Capitola.

"It's about a state of mind, about people so inundated with entertainment that everything else seems bleak," he says.

Shawn Flanagan's thriller Judgment Call will have you counting local landmarks as well as bodies. It plays the Rio June 4 at 9pm, with Hoyt Peckham's Pacific Sea Turtles, which livens up conservation biology with soulful and sometimes hilarious footage of the endangered critters and the Mexican village leaders who would save them. The fest closes with Clark Brigham's rebellious (and local!) feature Save it for Later at 5pm (followed by Francis Ford Coppola's groundbreaking Apocalypse Now Redux) at the Rio June 5. Check out http://santacruzfilmfestival.com for details.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the June 4-11, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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