California's Davis Gets Word: No Poetry in Power Problem

By Sammon, Bill | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 16, 2001 | Go to article overview

California's Davis Gets Word: No Poetry in Power Problem


Sammon, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


California Gov. Gray Davis, already under fire for spending tax dollars to hire Al Gore's ex-political operatives, is now taking heat for spending public dollars on poetry readings for state workers grappling with the energy crisis.

California Republicans are criticizing Mr. Davis, a Democrat, for allowing the questionable expenditures to go forward. Secretary of State Bill Jones is demanding an investigation of the governor's hiring of ex-Gore operatives Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte has penned a poem to Mr. Davis about the state spending $15,000 on poetry readings for workers in various state agencies, including the Energy Commission and the Department of Water Resources. The six-stanza poem begins:

"Inspire us, O Governor, to understand - nay, to accept,

A government expenditure that our Caucuses find inept.

The Resources Agency spending $15K on a series of verse,

How do you rationalize it? It seems perverse."

Mary Nichols, who was appointed by Mr. Davis to run the California Resources Agency, defended the taxpayer-funded poetry readings as an opportunity "to get in touch with the more poetic side of my work."

"Excuse me?" responded state Sen. Ray Haynes, Republican whip, in a news release. "Why don't you use the local bookstore and your own money to get in touch with your poetic side, just like the rest of us?

"On our time and our tax money, why don't you solve the energy crisis, or build a power plant or two, or issue an environmental impact report or two so someone else can build a power plant?" he added.

Mr. Haynes sent Miss Nichols a letter demanding a full accounting of the expenditures. She replied by inviting him to the next poetry reading, "since you have displayed an interest in this series."

"I trust you share the goal of helping our citizens, both young and old, appreciate the landscape and the natural resources that grace our state," Miss Nichols told the Republican whip in a letter. …

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