Common name: Civic Activist

Scientific name: Populous hassleus

Illustration By Conrad Garcia

Identifying characteristics: A successful and tenacious species that has been able to occupy a wide array of Sacramento urban areas. Its aggressive nature tends to scare some members of the genus away and put others to sleep.

Habitat: Populous hassleus is found anywhere politicians, developers and government officials gather. Popular hunting grounds include city council meetings, planning commission meetings and other civic forums where decisions, large or small, are made. Whether it’s a housing tract or proposal to fluoridate municipal water supplies, look for a large hassleus population nearby. Hassleus tends to hunt in groups which when aroused will swoop en masse to menace slower-moving government officials.

Call: Hassleus is best known for its characteristic warning call—a flat, ear-splitting cry of “Sprawl! Sprawl!” or “Not in my neighborhood you don’t,” belted out in fusillades of two minutes or more. This usually causes great irritation in the targeted official or developer, but is rarely fatal.

Behavior: Hassleus travels encumbered by reams of cryptic-looking documents called EIRs. When cornered, the civic activist will toss the loose sheets of an EIR into the air and emit another of its characteristic calls: “Flawed! Flawed!” This behavior usually stuns and confuses the enemy long enough for a group of hassleus to organize a lawsuit. With the right numbers, hassleus can mount a lawsuit to bring down even the biggest and dumbest enemies.

Natural enemies: As noted above, mostly developers and bureaucrats. One rugged sub-species, elitis nimbys, thrives by stalking proposed affordable housing projects, halfway houses and grocery stores. On rare occasions, this species has been observed hunting and eating common poor people.

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