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R.E. Graswich: Fire Department captain steamed over delay in appeal of his firing

Smoke and mirrors: Disgraced Sacramento Fire Department Capt. Steve Conti wants his day in court. Getting that day is no easy matter. Conti was canned during the Fire Department's scandal for drinking on duty and giving joy rides to women. He claims colleagues did worse but got off much easier - such as time off. Steve was supposed to testify this week before a civil service administrative law judge. But lawyers for Sacramento city attorney Sam Jackson won a delay, arguing that a key witness is on vacation in Europe. "It's ridiculous," said Etan Rosen, a lawyer representing Conti. "Because it's the city, and they are big, they think they can do whatever they want to the little guy. Steve deserves punishment, certainly. Take away his bars. Give him some time off. But firing him isn't fair." The city agreed to delay the hearing until Aug. 17. "We don't have the luxury of commenting in public the way Mr. Conti's lawyer does," said Lawrence Duran of the City Attorney's Office. "I have no comment." Rosen says the hearing will shock taxpayers, with fire officials testifying about "a long-standing culture" of misbehavior and boozing at firehouses. ...

Generosity counts: Sacramento cops quickly raised more than $4,000 for the family of Michael Ramirez, the 13-year old Elk Grove boy killed May 31 in a hit-and-run accident. Sacramento Police Officer Jason March is facing a felony hit-and-run allegation over the accident, which occurred when he was off duty. March likely will be charged with drunken driving as well, prosecutors say. Police union President Dave Topaz organized the Ramirez fund and set up donation points at the city's North and South police stations and at headquarters on Freeport Boulevard. "The money started coming in immediately and is still coming in," police union Vice President Brent Meyer said. "We all feel horrible about this." Members of the public also made donations, the union said. ...

Curtain up: Buck Busfield and crew at the B Street theater pulled off a miracle the other night - they made song-and-dance stars of real estate giant Mike Lyon, his sister Laura Lyon and Laura's ex-husband, Jim Diepenbrock, none of whom is known for theatrical brilliance. "It was hilarious," said Sheri Zipperian. "They were good sports about getting up on stage, which isn't easy when there are 150 people there." The fundraiser was such a hit the B Streeters plan a second night of revelry, probably for late fall. One notable audience member - Kings basketball chief Geoff Petrie - hit the exit door before he could be dragged on stage. "Geoff knew we were going to bring him up, so he left at intermission," Sheri said. Smart guy. ...

Making book: A classic Folsom Boulevard roadhouse - it was Bojangles during the 1980s - is reopening this week as the Library. The joint will cater to neighboring Sacramento State students, with a twist. The books have been painted on the walls by Roseville artist Robert Lindsey. "It's unique; that's for sure," said owner David Olson. Art lovers are welcome. Book lovers, too. ...

Stolen moments: Arden Fair mall security chief Steve Reed prides himself on knowing every scam in the retail world. So Steve was a little embarrassed to learn his personal credit card number had been stolen. "I'm usually very careful, so I don't know how they got it," Steve said. The crook ordered video game players and satellite TV service. "They were thoughtful enough to have the stuff sent to their own address," said Steve, who would love to deliver the goodies personally.

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