Today, in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom we have sad news and a few laughs. So sad that Inyo Supervisors must take their own constituents to court to try to prove their wish for open government is illegal. Hey, maybe there are legal issues, but the heart of the matter is the problem. Inyo citizens feel shut out of their own government. In fact, they have for some time.
We in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom feel that a good statesman could resolve this issue without court fights and bad feelings. One or more of the members of the Board of Supervisors should call some of the proponents of the ballot measure that would force public projects into open discussion and a public vote. First, both sides must remove their ego armor and leave it at the door. Then, like neighbors who really care about each other, the people involved could talk it out – in public. We bet that if they lay aside the “us against them” attitude, good government would surface – one that does think first of the citizens and their needs and fears, one that will, hand in hand, find the best way for us to live together. We hope that Supervisor Chair Susan Cash and any other board member will extend that invitation and find a productive way, outside the courtroom, to govern ourselves.
On to a much uglier arena – Congress. Mega-billionaire Warren Buffett has laid out the problem. He wrote an article in The New York Times entitled, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” Coming from one of the super wealthy, this has meaning. Buffett writes, “Our leaders have asked for ‘shared sacrifice.’ But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.”
Buffett went further: “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.” He goes on to describe unconscionable tax loop holes for the billionaires, and he demystifies the fable that lower tax rates create more jobs. Not so, says Buffett. He adds that the super rich pay far lower taxes now than they did 20 years ago and lower payroll taxes, too. The man with the money says Congress should raise taxes on those who make more than $1 million a year, including dividends and capital gains. For those who make $10 million or more, Buffett suggests an additional increase in tax rates. His last line says, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” That’s what a rich man without greed sounds like. Listen up, Congress.
And, under the Surely You’re Joking category, we had to chuckle when we read the Department of Water and Power’s excuse for no more clean up on 3 square miles of polluting dust on the Owens Dry Lake. They pointed to “other sources of dust”. What other sources? Do they think house cleaning in Lone Pine kicks up enough dust to violate federal standards? Maybe it’s cigarette smoke from outside the Double L and Jake’s. Geeeesh, DWP. You need better fairy tales than these.
The poor utility just can’t seem to get on the side of the Angels. Even when they’re trying to do the right thing, bad Karma catches up. A recent story in the Los Angeles Times by Louis Sahagun found this: “Federal authorities are investigating the deaths of at least six golden eagles at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Pine Tree Wind Project in the Tehachapi Mountains, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Seems wind farms have gotten away with bird slaughter by their whirling turbine blades for years. But when DWP did away with Golden Eagles, those were birds too far.
How about Tules too far. The poor Lower Owens River could offer a great boat ride for many miles except for the choking cat tails. Sahagun wrote a story on that one too. He pointed to the disappointment of what LA’s Mayor once called a major milestone in river restoration. Los Angeles – the City of Soundbites and short-lived triumphs.
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.