The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

November 28, 2009
Poetry in response to 'Don't be a Blofeld with a leaf blower'
As a noted in a notebook today, my Nov. 12 column on leaf blowing has stirred up a pile of response.

One reader, Rich Borgquist, captured this sequence of photos while a neighbor was leaf blowing near the corner of 21st and F.

Another reader, Kathy Les, sent me this poem she had written about leaf blowers.


The gardener tugs at the motor's throat,

the machine growls like a wild animal

as if enraged at trees.


The unnecessary noise of a machine

Doing what a human's arms might otherwise do.


The way the man does so without concern

For his health or mine,

The way he mindlessly blows on and on,

Even though the wind always

Returns the righteous chaos of the earth

And scatters the leaves in beautiful indignation.


Kathy Les

October 19, 2009

November 24, 2009
Governor's office, adept at puns, still has some 'splainin' to do
Who ever knew that the Schwarzenegger administration retained an office that spends its days writing witty puns? (And how did that office survive the last round of budget cuts?)

In a letter today, the director of the Governor's Recovery Task Force, Cynthia Bryant, takes issue with a recent editorial we ran on state attempts to secure federal stimulus dollars for rail projects. The editorial criticized the governor for seeking federal monies only for the high-speed bullet train in the latest round of funding, which excluded safety improvements sought by commuter rail operators in Southern California.

The first lines of Bryant's response:

The Bee's editorial on funding for rail projects left the station with no conductor. The Bee simply ignored the fact that the state applied for more than a $1 billion in stimulus funds for commuter rail projects earlier this year...

and then later

I implore The Bee to get a ticket and get on board because Californians are anxious to get to work on a visionary project for the 21st century.

Great punditry, but unfortunately, the letter sidesteps one of the main points of the editorial. Up until the state's filed its application, Caltrans officials had been working with commuter rail operators to put together a "unified proposal" that would include safety improvements not funded by earlier rounds of funding. At the last minute, the governor decided only to seek funding for high-speed rail.

In other words, the governor pulled the rug out from under Southern California transit officials, who will be sure not to trust the governor's office again, any time soon.

Interestingly, when I contacted the governor's offices for comment while researching our editorial, I got a return call from a public relations firm that is on contract with the California High Speed Rail Authority.

That says much about who has the governor's ear on this issue.

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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