The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

August 22, 2012
On tap for Thursday: rail yard, Todd Akin, food trucks and more

On on The Bee's opinion pages Thursday, we will turn our editorial attention to the Sacramento rail yards and how to revive the Old Depot.

We also plan to weigh in on Rep. Todd Akin and the broader issue of the GOP's collective view of women.

On the op-ed page, Associate Editor Pia Lopez and contributor Ben Boychuk go head-to-head over the regulation of food truck.

William J. Vizzard, a Sacramento State professor emeritus, explains that the problem graduating students in four years is complicated, and that the California State University System is failing to confront the issue.

Also, syndicated columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes about the presidential campaign and the need for true debate.

August 22, 2012
The ballot argument that Mayor Johnson wanted to submit


Mayor Kevin Johnson wanted to submit an argument against the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would raise Sacramento's sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent. But he missed the deadline for submitting it in time to be included with sample ballots.

Click here to read it.


August 21, 2012
Coming Wednesday: Perez, city taxes, state taxes and plumbing

Coming on Wednesday in The Bee's editorial page, we urge that Speaker John A. Perez study the Moody's report that is sending chills through budget offices of cities across California.

Associate Editor Foon Rhee offers a editorial notebook deconstructing how Sacramento officials got off on the wrong foot as they tries to convince voters to approve a sales tax hike.

On the op-ed page, Bee columnist Dan Morain takes a swing at Proposition 30, Jerry Brown's tax initiative. There's plenty of ammunition, if the opposition can get the money to campaign against it.

Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker looks at why Republicans seem so obsessed with women's plumbing, and David Brooks writes about passion in the presidential campaign. There is some.

August 20, 2012
Tuesday's editorial pages: Medicare, crime, Paul Ryan, pot

Coming on Tuesday, our editorial writers dissect the presidential campaign trail charges and counter-charges on Medicare. It's getting thick and it's not even Labor Day.

We offer our analysis of Loucreta Drive, one of the most crime ridden streets in Sacramento County. Residents there have voted down becoming part of the city of Sacramento, at quite a price.

On the op-ed page, Bruce Maiman takes on one of his favorite topics: hypocrisy. This time, he aims his pen at Paul Ryan and the other members of Congress, including some of our local reps, who couldn't help themselves and took whatever stimulus money they could get.

Paul Krugman returns with some choice words about Ryan. People who care about the marijuana debate will want to check out the piece by Andres Oppenheimer.

August 17, 2012
Bad Democrats, Abe, tomatoes and more coming this weekend

In the midst of the Civil War, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln created a true legacy, the law that created land grant colleges. On tomorrow's editorial page, we pay tribute to Morrill Land-Grant College Act, 150 years after its passage.

Speaker John A. Pérez defends his effort to overhaul California environmental law on the op-ed page.

Coming in California Forum on Sunday, Bee Columnist Dan Morain and photographer Randy Pench visit to a tomato cannery in Woodland, where they get an earful about California's new cap and trade program.

San Francisco writer Susan Sward spins a fascinating piece about Lafayette Park in San Francisco. Check out the vista the next time you visit the city.

On the Sunday editorial page, we have some choice words for the Democratic politicians who control this state, and say more about the ridiculous and costly proposal by Pérez to expand death benefits for families of cops and firefighters.

Finally, Editorial Page editor Stuart Leavenworth, our resident foodie, writes about his adventures foraging on wild plants with author and foraging-gourmet Hank Shaw. It's a tasty read.

August 16, 2012
Paul Ryan, tacos, tobacco taxes coming in Friday opinion pages

On tomorrow's editorial page, we will confront the California Legislature for its failure to raise taxes on the tobacco industry, and name the names of some legislators who take tobacco industry campaign donations.

Associate Editor Ginger Rutland joined 1,000 other people at Garcia Bend Park in Sacramento's Pocket neighborhood for the SactoMoFo Food Festival, and tells the delights of have a beer-battered fish taco.

Food trucks ought not be a crime, she concludes.

On the op-ed page, Peter Schrag, our good friend and former editorial page editor, takes a hard look at Proposition 31, which purports to be a budget reform package.

Charles Gossett and Lori Varlotta of Sacramento State take issue with a Bee editorial taking Sac State to task for not graduating students within four years.

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer predicts a big future for Paul Ryan.

August 15, 2012
Thursday's opinionators write on taxes, CEQA, colleges, AB 32

On the editorial page on Thursday, The Bee will dissect Speaker John A. Perez's latest attempt to build a legislative record, this time by taxing on out-of-state corporations to fund "middle class scholarships" and linking it to an overhaul of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Additionally, we will opine on the troubled state of some community colleges, as described in front page story by The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall on Wednesday.

On the op-ed page, we will run opposing views of AB 32, the landmark 2006 legislation to reduce greenhouse gases.

Kenneth P. Green of the American Enterprise Institute takes a dim view of AB 32, while W. Bowman Cutter of Pomona College and Matthew E. Kahn of UCLA argue the law is driving innovation.

New York Times syndicated columnist Maureen Down will write what she thinks of Paul Ryan. It's not pretty.

August 14, 2012
In tomorrow's Bee, we tour Sac's new rail platform and more

On tomorrow's editorial page, Associate Editor Ginger Rutland will tell us about her forced march at the Sacramento Valley Station's new rail platform, with her husband, Don Fields. It was hot, and not at all convenient.

Speaking of transportation, as pump prices top $4 again, we will opine about the Obama Administration's new fuel standards for automakers.

On the op-ed page, Bee columnist Dan Morain will break down Speaker John A. Pérez's latest play, one that links a tax cut to an overhaul of environmental law. It's another lesson in how the Capitol works.

Elsewhere on the op-ed page, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker writes about Helen Gurley Brown and what she promoted: money, career and sex.

Radio reporter and author Nancy Mullane calls for more transparency in California prisons. It wouldn't be difficult.

August 13, 2012
Tuesday's editorial page is not one to be missed

On Tuesday's editorial page, The Bee intends to opine about Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan. Bottom line: We take issue with the conventional wisdom.

We wonder what in the world was going through Senate leaders' minds with the whole select committee scam. Did they think The Bee's Jim Sanders wouldn't catch on?

On the op-ed page, syndicated columnist Michael Gerson writes about the Ryan pick, while our own regular columnist Bruce Maiman offers his view of politicians under the Golden Dome, including Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown and Doug LaMalfa, and the reporters who write about them.

As always, Bruce is understated. Not.

Erin Brockovich, (she has a striking resemblance to Julia Roberts), offers up a preview of what could become a major story. We'll leave it at that.

August 10, 2012
Weekend plans: Bad water, Dave Barry, Chevron, Jerry Brown

On Saturday, The Bee's editorial page will critique the Legislature's questionable decision to pull the plug on a hearing delving into three tax-related initiatives on the November ballot.

We also will take a look at the fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, and raise questions about the company's desire to expand the plant.

Columnist Margaret A. Bengs will offer her insights into Proposition 32, the initiative on the November ballot that would restrict campaign donations by organized labor.

Sacramento Councilman Robert King Fong, and Sacramento Metro Chamber president Roger Niello will provide their response to why State Fair attendance fell short of predictions.

Coming on Sunday in California Forum, Bee columnist Dan Morain journeys to Easton, a hamlet near Fresno with green lawns, suspect water and too few champions.

Humorist Dave Barry has been delivering some typically whacky dispatches from the Olympics. We will offer a roundup.

The editorial board responds to the claim by Gov. Jerry Brown that The Bee engaged in "malpractice" with its investigation into Caltrans. We weren't amused.

August 9, 2012
The Bee's Friday editorials: Olympics, mental health care audit

On Friday's editorial page, The Bee will take a look at Title IX and its implications for the success of U.S. women athletes in this year's Olympics.

We also will opine about a request by Republican Assemblymen Dan Logue and Brian Nestande for an audit of California's $1 billion a year tax on wealthy Californians to fund mental health care.

On the op-ed page, we will be running a provocative piece about how to fund public schools. It's co-authored by Supterintendent Jonathan Raymond of the Sacramento City Unified School District, and Ted Lempert, president of Children Now.

San Mateo attorney Mallika Kaur, a Sikh, has written about her religion, Sikh contributions to the United States and patriotism in the wake of the mass shooting in a place of worship in Wisconsin.

August 8, 2012
Here's a peek at The Bee's editorials and op-eds for Thursday

On The Bee's editorial page Thursday, we will take a critical look at the California State University's inability to get students through to graduation in four years.

We also will be opining about the city's handling of parking citations, and use of technology, or lack thereof. We were surprised at the number of unpaid citations.

In the Head to Head feature, Ben Boychuck and Pia Lopez duel over the open carry legislation. The inimitable syndicated columnist George Will ventured outside the Beltway to assess California's high speed rail. Guess what he thinks.

August 1, 2012
Sacramento council poised to hike fines for false alarms
It's probably logical, even justifiable for the city of Sacramento to charge higher fees for false alarms.

But there's still the nagging sense that this is more nickel-and-diming of residents.

The City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on higher fines for false fire alarms. If it goes along, homes and businesses would continue to get a free pass on the first two false alarms within a year. 

But fines would kick in with the third: $120 for residences and double that for commercial buildings. For a fourth false call, the fines would rise to $150 and $300; and for a fifth, $180 and $360. An administrative penalty would be tacked on for subsequent false alarms.

UPDATE: Dennis Rogers, senior vice president for public policy and economic development at the Sacramento Metro Chamber, tells me that the item may be pulled from tonight's agenda so that the Chamber can work with the city on the issue.   

UPDATE #2: Council action on the issue was postponed until Aug. 21. City Manager John Shirey says he pulled the item because there may be some incorrect information in the staff report.

The Fire Department says it wastes a lot of its staff time and resources on false calls, with the most common cause being inadequate maintenance of automatic alarm systems. False alarms account for about 15 percent of all emergency calls, about 8,700 incidents a year. A standard response to a downtown commercial building requires units from three or four stations; hundreds of times a year, those units are then unavailable for real emergencies, the department says. It also says that similar programs are in effect in many other California cities, including Roseville and West Sacramento.

Last month, council members unanimously approved similar fines for false burglar alarms.

Now, there are no fines for the first three bogus calls, and the penalty for next five is $50 each.

Starting Oct. 1, the fines will start with the second false burglar alarm, costing $60. The third will cost $80. Second false panic or robbery alarms will cost $120 and the third $220.

Also, after three false calls at the same address, police will not respond until the alarm has been verified as real.

The Police Department says that it has averaged 26,000 false alarms a year for the last three years, 97 percent of all alarms calls. That hurts the ability to respond to legitimate emergencies, especially when budget cuts have reduced the ranks, the department says.


About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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