The Ghost Of Christmas Past

Doolittle341Congressman John Doolittle used to be one of my favorite targets back when he represented our fair county. He was a slippery fellow who wasn’t much into town hall meetings or the other public forums that his successor, Tom McClintock, used to rally the troops. Usually, you didn’t know John had been here until after he was already back at home in Placer County or Washington.

It was much the same for the cities and counties he claimed to represent, and he suggested that they would do better to hire lobbyists if they really needed his attention. His busy schedule didn’t allow for actual face-to-face contact with the natives.

Doolittle held a “safe seat” in the House, so he really didn’t have to cater to the rabble. He was a good Mormon boy with close ties to house majority leader Tom DeLay, an association that would come back to haunt him as he was dragged into the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal.

As a professional muckraker, I was duty-bound to comment on the unfolding drama. I did several cartoons in The Union, including this Christmas card pictured above. It didn’t warrant much comment when it appeared, but several months later I received an email from Doolittle’s office asking if I would consider selling the original.

It came as no surprise to me. Politicians see cartoons of themselves as a badge of honor, immortalized in pen and ink for some future history book. It didn’t matter that they were being crucified on the altar of newsprint. I replied in the affirmative and quoted an asking price.

His press secretary called and asked if they could pay with a credit card. Since I was not able to process plastic, she asked for alternatives.

“Well, cash in a brown paper bag would work for me,” I quipped.

After an uncomfortable moment of silence, she said she’d get back to me. She never did. I suppose my sarcasm was lost on her, since her own husband had been dragged into the inquisition. I didn’t know that at the time.

Doolittle managed to slip the hangman’s noose, but it wrecked his life and cost him his seat in Congress. I don’t follow him much anymore, but the last I heard he was employed as a lobbyist for the town of Colfax. He’s back in the business he understands.

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10 Responses to The Ghost Of Christmas Past

  1. Chris Peterson says:

    Lobbyists work the politicians; smart politicians work the lobbyists. But in the end, they’re all interchangeable.

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    Just googled Tom Doolittle, Jack Abramoff and the Mississippi Band Choctaw, Hmmmmm.
    Doesn’t KVMR feature a weekly Mississippi Band Choctaw hosted radio program instead of our own local Nisenan tribe on its Native American programming?
    Now, how did that happen?

  3. I figure the Feds didn’t prosecute Doolittle because Abramoff was the only person they had who would testify against him. It’s tough to win a conviction when your star witness has zero credibility.

  4. stevefrisch says:

    Perhaps because the Mississippi Band Choctow has a radio show!

  5. Judith Lowry says:


    • stevefrisch says:

      Judith. sorry I missed this question…..I have not clicked on Bob’s site for many days….

      I would have guessed a definition very much like the one you posted below from the group tracking “reservation shopping”. We had a panel at one of our SBC conference several years ago looking at this issue. I am pretty aware of the issue of qualifying tribal entities for the purpose of enabling casino gaming.

      But I do have to say I am not sure what you are saying regarding the “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” panel in 2009. The issue being addressed was mercury pollution, not gaming, and was pretty narrow….no hidden agenda there.

  6. Judith Lowry says:

    “What is reservation shopping?

    “In recent years, tribes around the country have been trying to locate optimum sites for casinos and then working to have them taken into trust. Whether the tribe has a connection to the land seems to matter less than whether the site has easy access to an interstate and a metropolitan area—large numbers of potential gamblers.”

    That quote is from a site for Citizens Against Reservation Shopping.
    Here’s more:

    “Reservation shopping redefines the term ‘sacred ground’ to mean ‘any land near an interstate highway with an interchange close to a metropolitan center.”

    This is from a Sierra Fund site:

    NEVADA CITY, 2 April 2009 – The Institute for Sustainability at Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee, in partnership with Sierra Business Council and The Sierra Fund, will host a community educational event on Mining’s Toxic Legacy on Friday, April 10, from 5-8pm.

    The event will feature a slideshow, presentation and discussion of the effects of mining in the Sierra. Speakers will include:
    Mike Thornton, The Sierra Fund, Mining Project Community Organizer
    Elizabeth Martin, The Sierra Fund, CEO
    Dr. Carrie Monohan, The Sierra Fund, Science Director
    Michael Benn Ortiz, Tsi-Akim Maidu Tribal Spokesperson
    Steve Frisch, Sierra Business Council
    Sandy Karinen, CA Department of Toxic Substances Control
    Come join us at the Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee Campus, 11001 Campus Trail, Truckee, CA 96161.


    In order to shop reservation land it’s really important to lay the political groundwork with influential groups and individuals and it is especially helpful if these folks are ignorant of the history of their lands and peoples. Or, as in some unfortunate cases, they know the truth but disregard the facts and act on their desires alone.

    I hope this is clear to you now. The threat was real and now it’s dissipated, but the melody lingers on at KVMR,

  7. Judith Lowry says:


    I want to add that there is a bright spot on the KVMR horizon.
    Alan Stahler, popular KVMR host and Union columnist has agreed to feature Nisenan programming on his show on a semi-regular basis.
    There is a lot of scientific education around Nisenan culture and much to be learned about their stewardship of these lands.
    In time and with experience, the Nisenan could have their own program on the air, and begin to “talk story” to the community with their rich, fascinating history from pre-contact to present. It’s what public radio should be about. It would be informative and substantive and of course entertaining.
    That’s the goal of CHIRP and the Nevada City Rancheria.
    The Nisenan are eminently deserving kind of support other tribal groups have been granted in this county for over a decade, IMHO.
    Todd Wahoske was the first to open the KVMR door to CHIRP and the NCR and make us comfortable when our voice was so faint and diluted. We thank him for helping. Now, Nisenan history is intact in its homelands, in its educational system and libraries and it’s time to bring it forth on public radio. What we have now is simply irrelevant and not at all how the Nisenan wish to be portrayed. They wish the play their music, sing their songs, and tell their story as no one else can, or should.

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