Bureaucrat Beat: Bad Choices, Lake OV Gone, and Fraud Ignored

Talk about bad choices. News reports say that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now toys with the idea of giving voters a choice between borrowing against the state lottery and paying more sales tax to make up the $17.2 billion budget shortfall. Double ouch!!

Can you spell Deep Trouble? Can you also spell bad choices? The Gov always said he would never create new taxes. You really can’t believe these guys, can you? Reports also say that in addition to debt and taxes, the Gov will have to cut services to balance the budget. Some say that the Governor’s plan would restore billions to schools and abandon plans to close 48 state parks, plus forget the release of tens of thousands of prisoners early. His plan would reduce health services for the poor even further than initial plans. These are not happy choices.

Speaking of decisions, Inyo Judge candidate Mark Johnson keeps harping on how long Judge Brian Lamb takes to make decisions. Lamb recently said that the vast majority of his cases are decided on the day of the hearing, but, sometimes, he says, more time is necessary for a good decision. “If a case is complicated and important enough, I owe it to the parties to fully consider their arguments and issue a written decision.”

Graduation time. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom congratulate the hard working students, 31 of them, who graduated from our very own Cerro Coso Community College. Ceremonies unfolded at the Mammoth campus recently. We spend our days listening to lots of ignorant palaver. We herald all those who educate themselves.

On the national scene, some disturbing news about education. Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, told a Senate hearing that cutbacks in government research funds were resulting in “downsized labs, layoffs of post docs, slipping morale and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions.” She noted that China, India, Singapore have adopted a strong approach to science and research, leaving America in the dust.

Speaking of dust, here’s a one-liner from a listener. “You’ve heard of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woe-Be-Gone? Well, sadly, we in the Owens Valley are Lake O-V-Gone.” A sad remembrance of all the trees, plants and animals who have disappeared over time, with a great deal of our water.

Back to Main Street in Bishop where there are those who wonder about the community banner that used to announce events. The banner hung high over the street for all to see. It fell one day and fears of dangling cables dominated. However, Caltrans Deputy Director Craig Holste said that Caltrans is fine with banners as long as there is a process. “We’re willing to work with people. We need someone to be responsible for the support system for the banner.” Holste said the City of Bishop or County of Inyo need to engineer the structure, evaluate it for design and materials. The community’s waiting!

The country is waiting for someone in Washington to crack down hard on contractors in Iraq who have stolen items destined for our military – even up to and including bags of ice to keep the Marines’ food chilled and safe.

News reports say that KBR, which is a division of the famed Halliburton, employees people who have stolen refrigerators, artillery round detonators, rocket launchers, hundreds of rounds of ammo. In fact, reports say this kind of practice is widespread.

At a recent hearing before Congress, it was revealed that KBR employees regularly loot buildings in Iraq and sell the stolen goods on eBay – artwork, rugs, crystal, melted down gold to make cowboy boot spurs.

Remember Halliburton and two other corporations won a no-bid, 10-year contract worth up to $150 billion to provide services in Iraq. So, when will someone do something about all the fraud and abuse of our tax dollars?!?!

We’re waiting!

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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