Bureaucrat Beat: Afflicted, Human Race and Shivers

We have noted from time to time the motto of our news service, given to us by long-time editor John Heston. We need to note it again today. It is “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Seems reasonable to us. So, we will once more poke a stick at Southern California Edison.

Rick McManis of Highlands Mobile Home Park emailed an Edison manager to complain about the long hours of dark and highlandsnightcold plus a hazardous spill associated with the electrical upgrade there. Mr. Whelchel, Edison Resource Planning and Performance Manager, emailed back to “address concerns”. He said he recognized the “inconvenience” long power outages cause, and he apologized if unforeseen circumstances were not communicated. Mr. Whelchel missed Mr. McManis’s point.

Edison completely factored out the human element. They decided that if they sent cards that announced the power outages, that was enough. Edison did not consider the scores of very elderly residents in Highlands. For the 99-year-old woman who fell in the dark and broke her shoulder, this went beyond “inconvenience.” There were many other such stories.

Why not have a community meeting before such projects. Determine impacts. Weigh and measure human suffering with the bottom line. Take longer to complete the work. Limit power outages to a few hours per day. Make sure those dependent on oxygen and breathing machines are covered.

In short, feel concern for your neighbors. Instead, Edison just wants a pat on the back for finally upgrading the electrical system that has failed regularly over the years. Hey, we all appreciate Edison doing its job, but no bureaucracy or utility can afford to forget the human element. We are all in this together. Don’t get too comfortable, Edison, or we will have to afflict you further.

Another bunch who need lots of affliction – Bell, CA officials. The latest on that comes from California Controller John Chiang who released results of an audit that found the City of Bell unlawfully spent at least $710,000 in state and federal funds on top of misspent City of Bell money.

bellarresteesController Chiang said that former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, the poster boy for bureaucratic corruption, made deals for services and equipment without going through competitive bids or city council approval. The audit says Rizzo paid some state and federal money to an engineering company owned by the city’s planning director. Nice. Check out the Bell officials now arrested in photo to the left.

Talk about money. Check out the November 8 issue of Newsweek which reveals the annual salaries of media personalities and former politicians. Rush Limbaugh tops the list with $58.7 million, followed by Glenn Beck at $33 million and Sean Hannity at $22 million. Bill O’Reilly takes home $20 million and Jon Stewart, $15 million. Sarah Palin, $14 million and Don Imus, $11 million. On down the list, find Newt Gingrich at $5.5 million. Most of our federal legislators are millionaires. Hey, we don’t begrudge anyone plenty of cash, but one wonders if some of them have lost touch with regular people, the mass of humanity, as it were.

These people do not experience fear of lack of health insurance, food, shelter, clothes. Some wealthy can maintain their link with humanity. Most never had that link in the first place.

Speaking of fear, why do Inyo officials shiver when the initials DWP come up? DWP has never been known to shoot anyone. Okay, they have cancelled leases and tried to get people fired, but gee, that’s it. Why do we have to keep giving up water, land and dignity? They don’t. Life is brief. There’s no time to waste on waffling.

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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