"A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money."
~ Senator Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., Senate Minority Leader.
My wife and I were on our way to Austin recently to attend a party celebrating Country Line Magazine’s fifteenth anniversary. TJ Greaney, who owns and operates Country Line, has been a good friend for most of that time, and he runs my columns in the magazine, so we figured it would be nice to go to the party. Plus I had it on good authority there would be free food.
On the way down we were listening to FOX News radio. You know, the one the liberal media says is all lies, because FOX disagrees with the liberal media. But we’re not going to get into that. Suffice it to say my wife and I listen to FOX News.
Anyway, a story came up about the fact that the people in charge of San Francisco do nothing but smoke crack and watch Spongebob Squarepants all day. Actually, that’s not what FOX said, but that’s the impression I got, because of what FOX did say. And if the people in charge of San Francisco aren’t smoking crack, they should definitely claim they are, because no one would do what they did unless they were either higher than a Neiman-Marcus mink coat or else dumber than someone who would buy a mink coat at Neiman-Marcus.
The story was about a bush. Not that that’s anything strange, according to Californian standards. It would not surprise me to learn that the people who live in the Granola State worship bushes, or even marry them. But even by Californian standards this was a special bush, or at least they thought it was.
This bush was right smack dab in the right-of-way of a new highway being built out there, and goodness knows they need highways in San Francisco. Not that there wasn’t already a highway where this one is going, but the highway that’s there is being ‘re-envisioned’ as another highway. Really.
Now, if this highway were in a state populated by humans, it would probably not have to be re-envisioned. It could probably just be rebuilt, which would probably be a lot cheaper than re-envisioning. I don’t know. All I know is that re-envisioning this highway is costing a bundle. It obviously involves having banquets, delivering speeches, breaking ground (and probably wind), and putting everything on a website.
I say that because I got the re-envisioning quote from the website. The highway has heretofore been called Doyle Drive, but it’s being rebuilt and renamed the Presidio Parkway. And San Francisco, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million south of solvent, is spending over $1 billion re-envisioning this highway.
And then, in the process of scouting the right-of-way for this re-envisionment, some knothead stumbled over this bush. Not just any bush, but a Franciscan Manzanita bush, which was thought to have become extinct sixty years ago. How said knothead knew that’s what it was, I have no idea, but the guy must be loads of laughs at parties, if he can identify shrubbery that checked out over half a century ago.
If this knothead had any common sense, he would have squirted some Roundup on the bush when he found it, and saved the city of San Francisco a pile of dough. Instead, he reported it and, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article, ‘the discovery of the 8" tall, 20’ wide bush was greeted with cries of joy by nature enthusiasts.’ In other words, the tree huggers wet their polyester pants.
So the kitty escaped the burlap, and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority had to save the bush, despite the fact that they were already spending over a billion simoleans to re-envision this highway.
Of course, the logical thing to do would be to collect the seeds from the bush, run a D-8 over it, and call it good. But then, we’re not talking about logical people here. They decided to transplant the bush to the nearby Presidio, which belonged to the DOD until 1989, and was taken over by the National Park Service in 1994. So now it’s a federal bush, I guess.
But instead of chopping the bush into sections and throwing it in the back of Bob’s Ford F150, the knotheads had to transport the entire bush intact, which required a special 20 foot wide trailer, or something. The price tag, just for moving the bush, came to $175,000. And to top it off, they won’t tell anyone where they put it. It’s supposedly hidden in a gulch, covered with a canopy, somewhere. And they did it at night, to try to keep the serious knotheads from stalking it for cuttings.
So now, I suppose, when the city fathers of San Francisco are asked why the town is broke, they can honestly say, "It’s bush’s fault."
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would have moved the Franciscan Manzanita for $20 and a re-envisioned surfboard. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org