Bureaucrat Beat: Basic Bribery, Bored University President and Bishop’s Lake

Are they so bought off that they don’t even know it anymore? A local constituent in the Eastern Sierra received and read buck_mckeonCongressman Buck McKeon’s mailing on health care reform. The local man challenged the Congressman’s criticism of a health reform plan when he said it “leaves key medical decisions to government bureaucrats.” The man pointed out that right now key medical decisions are made by health insurance companies who are focused on their profits, not our needs.

Good point. The local constituent also shared with us part of an interview of a former health insurance public relations man and whistle blower, Wendell Potter, by Bill Moyer. Potter revealed that health insurance lobbyists actually threaten legislators to go along with their views or suffer the consequences – no more campaign funds, contributions to competitors, etc. Had this happened to Congressman McKeon? Was he pressured by lobbyists to oppose health care reform? The local man wrote and asked him. McKeon’s response was a form letter that ignored the man’s questions. That kind of says it all.

One of our website readers complained that our criticism of government earmarks and pork barrel spending was unwarranted – that cities do need millions for things like studies of manure odor. Hey, maybe so, but let the cities and states pay for it. We will continue to point to earmarks since our legislators vowed they would stop it. Earmark spending tends to circumvent open processes – kind of slipping money to places without official debate. They all do it, so no one really wants to stop.

sen_thad_cochranTake Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Chochran’s recent addition to a defense spending bill. He added $10.8 million in military grants earmarked for the University of Southern Mississippi’s polymer research. Professors and staff members there had written checks for $10,000 to the Senator’s re-election campaign. Not a bad return on their money. Just one little Washington, D.C. bribery story.

Here’s a guy who makes big bucks and doesn’t even appreciate it. One of our listener’s shared an interview from The New York Times Magazine. A reporter questioned Mark Yudoff, President of the University of California. He couldn’t have been less supportive of education. Yudoff seemed totally bored with his job as head of our universities. He wants to jack up tuition and thinks education is not really a priority. When asked how he got into education, Yudoff said, “I don’t know. It’s all an accident. I thought I’d go work for amark_yudoff law firm.” Nice. Mr. Enthusiasm For Sure.

The interview further revealed that the bored official makes $540,000 a year plus a $10,000 per month housing allowance. He also made it clear he can’t bother to lift a finger to do any fund raising for our universities. He manages a tad bit of sarcasm when asked “What do you think of the idea that no administrator at a state university needs to earn more than the president of the united States – $400,000 per year?” His answer was “Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House.” Mr. Smarmy Arrogance. Swell example for students.

Maybe Mr. Yudoff will benefit from current research. Scientists and psychologists have begun to explore the capacity for empathy and compassion. They found that meditation helps. Acts of generosity and kindness tend to spread and multiply which seems to validate the billboard campaign – “Commit random acts of kindness.”

Stan Smith of Bishop wishes Caltrans would kindly explain the new triangles which have suddenly appeared near crosswalks in some of our towns. What do they mean? Smith said, “As you drive toward a crosswalk, the triangles point at you.” But they don’t always appear at every crosswalk. A little communication, if you please?

Bishop City Councilman Bruce Dishion wants to communicate to Inyo Supervisors and DWP that Bishop cares about Klondike Lake. Dishion suggested to fellow council members that perhaps Bishop should weigh in on Klondike. He pointed to the great recreation value of the lake. Dishion said the City of Bishop has been silent so far and maybe they should ask DWP and Inyo to keep Klondike open. “It’s Bishop’s lake,” said Dishion.

A postal note to end on. One of our listeners showed us the sad string of events when he tried to mail something to Willows, CA. The name and address appeared on the envelope but it all came back to him “Return to sender. Not deliverable as addressed.” Seems he did leave off a unit number, but big deal. Willow is a small town. One more way to wonder why some bureaucrats can’t do what they know is right there before them.

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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