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R.E. Graswich: Trial in firehouse harassment suit looms as settlement talks fizzle

Court order: The old culture wars at the Sacramento Fire Department will be on trial next week at Sacramento Superior Court, when Carol Irving brings her lawsuit alleging she was harassed while working at Station 6 in Oak Park. "We are ready to go," said Wendy York, Irving's lawyer. "The City Council has not stepped up to take responsibility for what happened, so we are moving forward in court." The Irving saga dates back about four years, when the fire engineer found an obscenity written on her ax handle. She took a leave of absence, and returned to find in her locker a photo of a doll with duct tape across its mouth and a gun pointed at its head. The incidents were the first of multiple embarrassments for the department. At least 28 firefighters were disciplined for various incidents, including drinking on duty and giving joy rides to women. "They will try and introduce a lot of juicy gossip, but it will be irrelevant," said new Sacramento City Attorney Eileen Teichert. "The plaintiff and her attorney think they have hit the lottery, but they haven't. The case is about the action the city took in response to the Irving incident. We believe the city took appropriate action." Settlement negotiations between York and the city broke off last week. The Irving team seeks several million dollars. ...

Shell game: Media accounts of a visit by Kings newcomer Ron Artest to Morton's steakhouse downtown told only part of the tale. Artest wolfed down shrimp Alexander, jumbo lump crab meat cocktail, Caesar salad, baked potato and a whopping 3 1/2-pound shelled lobster, said Morton's spokeswoman Emily Wilson. But the real question is whether he washed it down with beer. "Actually, he drank hot tea," Emily said. "We thought that was kind of boring." ...

Wine and dine: The grand Make-A-Wish Foundation fund-raiser last weekend at the Convention Center was a big hit - and no guests were taken into custody. "We didn't have to capture a soul," laughed Steve Reed, who brought seven Arden Fair mall security guards to help cover the event. All donated their time. At last year's gala, cops chased a guy who tried to steal a $300 wine bottle. ...

Low flying: In preparation for the Navy Blue Angels' March 18-19 appearance at Mather Field, we suggested the Blue Angels lacked the guts to fly over Sacramento while the community was the home of two Air Force bases. This little joke brought rebukes from dozens who recalled being awestruck by the Blues during the late 1980s at Mather. "I am an old Navy guy and certainly know the difference between the Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds," said Denton Anderson. "I was in the front area with my two children when the Blue Angels performed at Mather." Said Sherri Asbury, "I remember watching them practice, flying over my house." Noted Roger Spencer, "The pilots were happy to sign programs and talk to kids or anyone else." In fact, the Blues performed at Mather in June 1987. The Bee estimated the crowd at 140,000, give or take 10,000. Would like to say 137,000 believed they were seeing the Thunderbirds, but won't. ...

Last call: Sacramento police made a tragic discovery, a senseless end, the other morning on American River Drive. The report by Sgt. Elmo Banning gives details. "Victim came to attend a birthday party. Several friends consumed alcohol for the majority of the day, went to a bar and continued to drink late into the evening. Everyone passed out/blacked out. It is suspected the victim died of alcohol poisoning." The victim's name had a sad resonance. He was Dean Martin, age 22.

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