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Recent Poll Gives a Big Boost--to the Pollster

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sacramento--Palookaville North.

Roger Salazar is the press secretary for Gov. Gray Davis’ campaign, and in his latest artillery round to state political reporters, he scolded Bill Simon’s political strategist, Sal Russo, for gushing over the Probolsky Poll showing Simon six points ahead of Davis.

“Who? What do you take us for, Sal?” Salazar asked. “A bunch of palookas?”

The poll was taken by Adam Probolsky of Costa Mesa, who at the tender age of 28 already has 10 years of political barnacles on his hull, six of them in polling.

Probolsky leaped to the defense of palookas--Websterized as clumsy or oafish fellows--and said he released his poll of 825 Californians at a Sacramento dinner with Republican legislators and lobbyists to get some publicity. Guess what? It worked.

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Simon Says: Not Much (About His Taxes)

Post offices around California sought to sweeten the bitter pill of April 15 with free doughnuts, shoulder rubs and, in Santa Monica, a little uncritical affection with dogs from L.A.’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals--like Chocolate the lab, delivering chocolate kisses to Sally Nandau.

The day didn’t go down so well for Republican gubernatorial guy Bill Simon, who spent tax week on the defensive about what taxes he paid and why he wasn’t sharing his income tax statements, as other pols--notably his opponent, Gray Davis--often do. His campaign tried to settle the matter with a statement that last year, multimillionaire Simon paid taxes that “totaled in the millions of dollars.” Not including the stamp to mail it, of course.

State’s Horn of Plenty Gets Help From Chile

The California Cornucopia couldn’t pour out enough of the green goods on time.

So at last week’s Host Breakfast, an annual gala courtesy of the California Chamber of Commerce, the centerpiece, as usual, was a large clay pot filled with produce at each table.

At each place was a sack so people could take home fruit-of-the-earth bags of grapes and strawberries and the like.

But much of this year’s largess was from Chile, where it’s high harvest season.

The event used to be held in late summer, when just about everything in California was ripe, including Californians. But the chamber had a hard time luring people to Sacramento because of the wretched seasonal heat.

So they moved the wingding to spring, when the temperature stays reliably in two digits. Chamber executive Fred Main patriotically strove to explain away the imported fruit--it simply underscores how cosmopolitan California is.

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Congress Finds It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye ... and adios.

Ohio Democrat James A. Traficant, convicted of felony racketeering and political corruption just days ago, still won’t quit his congressional seat.

So Orange County Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez introduced a resolution last week calling for his expulsion. “I’m tired of hearing that the American public is losing faith in its elected officials,” Sanchez said in a statement.

The House’s Democratic leadership is with her all the way, calling on Mr. T. to resign--no dice. Sanchez’s resolution was automatically referred to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which will consider lodging disciplinary actions against Traficant.

Restaurant Advised to Order Up New Pictures

Downtown L.A.’s Palm restaurant invited the city’s high and mighty--from billionaire Eli Broad to Dodger-for-life Tommy Lasorda, attorney Johnnie Cochran to City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo--to sign their caricatures that hang on the walls of the power lunchroom.

But Doug Dowie, the top of the PR heap at the uber-agency Fleishman-Hillard, questions some of the choices. He wondered in a letter to the general manager why Hubert Humphrey, LBJ’s vice president, the man Richard Nixon beat to the White House 34 years ago, is on the wall.

As for the sketches of political civil servants Laura Chick, Dennis Zine and Steve Cooley (L.A.’s controller, a council member and the D.A., respectively), Dowie puzzled, “what do these people have in common except for the fact that they can’t afford your prices?”

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“Somebody,” Dowie suggested, “ought to get a real list of power brokers downtown--and get pictures up there quick before you guys go broke.”

For himself, Dowie confessed in a P.S., “I spend so much money at the [Pacific] Dining Car [a much older political gab-and-grub restaurant], they’re painting my picture on the side of the building.”

This Declaration Left Some Things Unsaid

Well yes, that’s what they said, but there was more to it than that.

A press release from Republican Assemblyman Dennis Hollingsworth about his bill to require high school competency tests in such vital American documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address quoted a California Federation of Teachers representative telling a hearing, “We don’t feel that it is essential for students to know these documents.”

The whole truth, objected Mike Weimer, the CFT’s legislative rep who was the testifier at the hearing, is that “those documents are already part of a state standard” on a mandatory test that California will be giving in a couple of years’ time, “so they’re already covered.” They are not part of the state high school exit exam, which is heavy on math and reading, not social studies.

Fourscore and seven test points ago....

Points Taken

* Electronic notice for the May 5 meeting of the Green Party of Orange County: “The agenda for this meeting is yet to be settled.”

* In Sacramento, where some lawmakers take no gifts from interest or lobby groups and a few accept anything defined as legal, last year’s gift totals added up to $211,041, and the oddest gift was probably Home Depot’s $700 worth of high-efficiency lightbulbs to San Diego Democrat Christine Kehoe, who gave them away to her constituents during the energy crisis.

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* The yummy acronym for the national group testifying before the Senate about bioterrorism issues: the National Assn. of County and City Health Officials--NACCHO.

* L.A. city Controller Laura Chick, who has been auditing the city’s prosperous Department of Water and Power for “frivolous” spending on parties and community events, was chastised in a letter to the editor as a “bureaucrat” waging an “intifada to bring the DWP down to her level.” The letter was distributed around town with a cover letter reading, “As a successful businessman, I couldn’t agree with [the letter writer] more,” and signed by Ken Lombard--a business associate of possible mayoral candidate Earvin “Magic” Johnson and a DWP commissioner.

* Upwardly mobile Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who has become the highest-ranking woman in Congress by winning the job of party whip, is the beneficiary of a May 11 fund-raiser in Los Angeles, an invitation to which says, “With our strong backing, Nancy can one day become Speaker of the House.”

* Coming to the Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, scheduled between a debate on the Middle East and a speech by Pat Buchanan: the library’s fourth annual wedding show.

You Can Quote Me

“It’s not about not wanting to debate. It’s about not wanting to talk about the record. He probably wouldn’t even debate Mickey Mouse.”

--Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon’s campaign chairman, John Herrington, at the starting gate in the quadrennial debate about debates, needling Gov. Gray Davis after that campaign supposedly agreed to just one debate. Count on more to come.

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Last-minute tax filer Sally Nandau enjoys some SPCA-provided stress relief April 15 in Santa Monica.

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Patt Morrison’s columns appear Monday and Wednesday. Her e-mail address is patt.morrison@ latimes.com. This week’s contributors include Michael Finnegan, Dan Morain and Jean O. Pasco.

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