Just in time for sweeps, noted Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla made a grand gesture - thumbing his nose at county officials, actually - by offering his fallow land in Natomas to the homeless.
Now, Padilla has never met a camera he didn't like, and the local TV media lapped it up. Fox40 and News10 ran straightforward stories, basically taking Padilla's offer at face value, but quoting County Supe Roger Dickinson as saying Padilla is violating a zoning ordinance.
However, channels 3 and 13 didn't give the gadfly bounty hunter a free pass.
At 6:30 Wednesday night, KCRA's Lois Hart and Dave Walker grilled Padilla in a live interview. It was great TV, classic no-nonsense Dave & Lois reporting and, frankly, about time somebody called Padilla on his grandstanding.
Here's an excerpt of Lois bringing the hammer down on Leonard (and check out the YouTube clip above):
Hart to Padilla: "You're not suggesting that we should leave those people living in squalor in that neighborhood?"
Padilla: "Well, one person's squalor is another person's home."
Hart: "Oh, it's all garbage and feces. It's terrible."
Padilla: "You can go into houses sometimes where people in upper middle class America have been doing drugs and all that. And I can show you feces and terrible bedrooms...."
Later, Walker and Padilla had a testy exchange:
Walker: Some are saying, Leonard, that you just want to keep your name out politically here."
Padilla: "Then don't put me on the air, Dave."
Then, at 10 p.m., Channel 13 deserves kudos for its scoop on Padilla's legal problems on that very 60 acres of land. Reporter Mike Dello Stritto obtained court documents showing that the government is foreclosing on Padilla's property because he owes the IRS more than $2 million.
Dello Stritto (right) had his own testy exchange with Padilla, confronting him with the documents, dated June 1, that states Padilla had 30 days to give up the property. When Dello Stritto told Padilla he no longer owned the land, the bounty hunter shot back: "I own the property. They've just got a lien on it."
Dello Stritto: "So you're really just making a statement (with the offer to house the homeless)?"
Padilla: "Kicking a-- is what it's called."
All told, Sacramento's four local TV news directors should send Padilla a nice flower arrangement as thanks for giving them some juicy material during sweeps month.