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Recall Me Anything but Late for Sausages

By Frank Gruber

In Italy where my parents live half the year, there's a sausage maker and pork butcher -- his name is Battisti. My father has gone to him for years to get his salame and pancetta.

Some years ago Battisti moved from the functional equivalent of his basement to a new and bigger plant in an industrial zone outside the medieval city of Todi.

I made a foraging expedition this summer to the Battisti plant with my father. Battisti still makes his sausages and cures his hams and bacon the "artisanal" way, but now his meat cutters hack away at the pork in a cutting room that rivals an operating room for cleanliness. It was broiling outside, but the salamis and hams cured in air-conditioned comfort. Movie theaters in Italy don't have air conditioning, but sausage factories do.

I only bring this up because I read in The Lookout that Santa Monican Heather Peters is running for governor in the recall election and that she justified her candidacy on the grounds that "traditional politics is a bit like watching sausage being made." ("Santa Monican Makes Recall Ballot," August 15)

Peters was borrowing from the old saw about how making laws is like making sausage, but based on my experience at the Battisti plant, either this is a gross canard against sausage makers or a backhanded compliment for politicians.

I am not only not running for governor, but I'm voting against the recall. It's not that I think Gray Davis is so wonderful. I don't.

I'm voting no from pure spite.

Pure spite against Darrell Issa and the rest of the right-wingers who didn't like the results of the regular vote and with no hanging chads available, brought on this mess.

Pure spite against the take no prisoners Republicans who held the state hostage during the budget stand off.

Pure spite against all the signature gatherers who have used ballot box government to bring California to the edge of ruin -- and I don't only mean the right-wingers.

Maybe if the recall loses, someone will propose amendments to the state constitution that would bring us back to the government we had 30 years ago -- during what now looks like a golden age.

At least Issa and the right-wingers are getting their just desserts. While Democrats bemoan the recall -- imagine how bad it looks from Issa's point of view.

Consider: Issa spent all that money, hard earned from selling car alarms, only to end up with a Republican candidate most likely to win who favors abortion rights and gay rights, gun control and more spending on schools, and whose economic advisor is Warren Buffet -- who thinks Californians don't pay enough real estate taxes.

It's enough to make a grown man cry.

Oh, yeah, it did.

I'm tempted to say the whole recall thing has been worth it just to see Issa's tears, but until we know the results, I don't want to jinx anything.

Meanwhile, the Democrats uncharacteristically did the smart thing. While there are four legitimate Republicans running -- Schwarzenegger, McClintock, Simon and Ueberroth -- the only Democrat is Cruz Bustamante.

Bustamante is perfect. He is not charismatic enough to entice droves of Democrats to abandon Davis, but he is experienced enough to give good Democrats someone to vote for after voting no on the recall and Latino enough, hopefully, to attract lots of Latinos to vote and, beyond the recall, into politics.

Whoever got John Garamendi to drop out deserves the William Jefferson Clinton award for "Democrat who can count using the fingers of both hands -- the right as well as the left."

Then there is the Arianna Huffington factor. As a fellow pundit, I'm watching her campaign closely, but I predict her total vote will be within three percent of the number of Prius registrations.

The whole thing may disgust enough people to save Gray Davis. If not, then if the Republicans split the vote of the privileged who are discontented, then maybe Bustamante will win with the votes of the unprivileged who are not.

* * *

Before too many weeks go by from the event, I must make note of the decision by the owners of the Four Points Sheraton to allow a card check election for union representation among their workers. ("Four Points to Hold Card Check Election," July 28)

If the old management at the Miramar had never tried to kick out the union, if the union had been able to organize freely at the other big hotels, as per the spirit of the National Labor Relations Act, then the living wage movement would never have arisen in Santa Monica.

Now that it's likely that more than fifty percent of Santa Monica's hotel workers will soon be organized, it's time to applaud the union leaders for keeping their eye on the ball -- organizing -- and to applaud management at the Loew's Hotel and the Four Points for meeting the union halfway, instead of doing the easy thing of hiding behind their narrow electoral victory over the living wage.

* * *

Speaking of meeting half-way, the revised deal for OPCC reached early Wednesday morning was obviously a good one for all concerned.

What killed me, though, was the stance of the City's arts community -- the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the galleries at Bergamot Station opposed the shelter because it would be bad for tourism.

I thought art and poverty were symbiotic? What about the romantic squalor of Montmartre, or the East Village and those early days in Soho?

If they're worried about real life, why not move the whole thing out to Westlake Village?

This year I think I'll divert my usual donation to the museum to OPCC.

Maybe they can set up an art therapy program.

The views expressed in this column are those of Frank Gruber
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Lookout.
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