Bureaucrat Beat: 13th Fears, On Hold, Bear Rehab

We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom love superstitions – They give rise to strange twists of the psyche and irrational fears that somehow seem real. So, on this Friday the 13th, we launch our rant with scarey stuff.

For those into the history of terror, how about this? Friday the 13th as ancient Norse mythology. Seems Friday was named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility who got the boot when Christianity took charge. Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil – a gathering of thirteen – and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. Gives a whole new meaning to T.G.I.Friday!!

Here’s another horrific factoid. An estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of Friday the 13th. We think the number will grow as people find themselves more terrified of daily living – you know, banks in turmoil, lost jobs, argumentative politicians.

Somehow we are all glad that Flight 1549 did not go down in the Hudson River on Friday the 13th. It could’ve been so much worse! A former Eastern Sierra resident and photographer at the Inyo Register, Josh Crabtree, now flies the skies as a Jet Blue pilot. He visited the mountains here recently and said that U.S. pilots go through rigorous training so they know how to react in extreme circumstances – like a large flock of birds that fly into your engines. That’s a pat on the back for bureaucracy that required the instruction.

You probably guessed what we’re about to say next. Yes, a number of people choose not to fly on Friday the 13th. Those same people probably sit at home with the blinds drawn. We prefer to just sit in our dark newsroom with the curtains closed and phones on answer machine. We’ll just ride out the 13th.

We wish the government would ride on out of private contractors who fail to provide good service to the public. Some politicians look at government as a way to give cash to their pals – buddies who may own companies. Will they do a good job? Hard to say. In the case of the contractor that operates 1-800-Medicare, the consumer helpline, the average wait time for callers was 5 to 8.5 minutes. Not good! The company supposedly hired more people and now the wait time is a reported 1 minute to 5 minutes, so they say.

When Inyo County Supervisors voted in a hiring freeze and cutbacks in travel, at least one Bureaucrat Beat listener called to complain about Health and Human Services Director Jean Dickenson’s trip to Sacramento. County Administrator Kevin Carunchio said department heads have to use their own discretion to calculate important travel. He did say that Dickenson’s department includes more than 40 budgets and relies heavily on state money. So, a trip to Sacramento to keep an eye on these critical funds makes sense.

Does it make sense that the Department of Fish and Game would capture, rehab and release a bear cub in Siskiyou County but never do such a thing here in our bear country?

A press release from DFG says that a black bear nicknamed Lil’ Smokey by his rescuer was returned to the wild by DFG at a remote site in western Siskiyou County.

DFG Staff Environmental Scientist Doug Updike is quoted as saying, “Rehabilitating and releasing orphaned bear cubs is a rewarding part of our bear management program. This is a second chance at survival for a cub that would certainly have died.”

Hey, Town of Mammoth officials, here’s an idea for your bear management program. Why can’t DFG send our injured and orphaned bears to Rancho Cordova where Lil’ Smokey went?

DFG explains that they do have a process of evaluating a bear cub for rehabilitation. Lil’ Smokey was seriously burned in the Moon Fire in Trinity and Shasta Counties. Experts figured that the cub could be rehabbed and released, and so he was.

We like that idea and hope the Town of Mammoth will talk to DFG about this possibility.

Bottom line – we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom prefer life over death. Whether it’s the life of 100 trees or an injured bear cub. Bureaucracies sometimes seem like Death Ray agencies that exhibit the bloodless concern of robots. Maybe if bureaucrats listened to the public more, they would find that life, beauty and even superstition have an important place in the hearts and minds of the people they are supposed to serve.

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.


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