Bureaucrat Beat: Caltrans vs. Businesses, Military Intelligence, Rainy Day What?!

Businesses in Independence have the figures to prove it. They’ve lost at least 75% of their business since Caltrans’ contractor turned the town into what looks like a combat zone (not conducive to tourists stopping to buy gas and food). We found out that in other situations Caltrans has paid businesses for lost revenue. Some stores in Independence have laid off workers and will try desperately to stay afloat while motorists zig zag through orange cones, deep trenches and no street lights. If you have no empathy for the struggling people, how do you like the fact that $16 million of your tax money, plus millions in interest to Granite construction for footing the cost, will pay for sidewalks to no place in particular?

One more thing. One of the business owners pointed to the painful irony that while the state goes broke and cuts benefits to the aged, disabled and blind, they’re spending money on sidewalks and, in some cases, road projects that don’t seem entirely necessary. Hello!!! California has no money. Why are we playing business as usual at Caltrans?!?!?

To the few who have insisted that torture is a swell thing for America to do, check out the internet sites that quote highly placed military, CIA and FBI officials. Retired FBI agent Dan Coleman said, “It’s human nature. People don’t cooperate with you unless they have some reason to. Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. Besides, you lose your soul.”

Assistant Secretary of the Defense for the Reagan Administration and former Naval Intelligence officer Lawrence Korb said, “The highest levels of the U.S. military, the Defense Department and the White House must be held accountable for putting our troops at greater risk and diminishing America’s moral authority across the globe.” If we torture prisoners, expect our soldiers to endure the same.

Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center said, “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”

Plus, the U.S. Army Field Manual states, “The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor condoned by the US Government. Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”

Just for the record.

As we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom munch on Wheat Thins and sip coffee, we flipped through the pages of the LA Times. Glad there are still pages to flip through, number one. And, secondly, a kind of hopeful sub-headline caught our attention. “More Californians are missing their mortgage payments but fewer are losing their homes.” Seems that some have purposely missed payments to force banks to refinance their loans at better terms.

All of you out there who think state government could cut a whole lot of money out of the budget and not degrade our services, raise your hand high!!!! Every hand in the newsroom shot up just then. We want someone, the Governor if necessary, to sit down and go through the whole awful budget line by line and cut what looks silly. We don’t want people to lose their jobs, but that might have to happen if our money has been misspent.

Enough fooling around, already. We just opened our official ballots for the May 19th special election. The state muckety mucks want us to vote on six measures. We do not feel warm and fuzzy about this. Take 1A. It’s the Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund. Oh, gee, that sounds swell. Money for a rainy day. We would call what has happened at the state level as an ugly mess, not a rainy day. Anyway, the legislators want to squirrel away money for budget deficits. They want $16 billion more from us to do it. From 2010 to 2013. The bone they throw in for us says, “Over time, increased amounts of money in state rainy day reserve and potentially less ups an downs in state spending.”

We promise to look further into 1A, B, C, D, E and F. Stay tuned.

Quick note on state cuts of SSI benefits. For those concerned, the cuts do not impact regular Social Security benefits. Cuts will take place on Supplemental Security Income for those who qualify for SSI requirements – generally, the aged, disabled and blind.

Jennifer Duncan of the Inyo-Mono Senior Legal program said the cuts do not impact regular Social Security benefits for persons who receive retirement, disability of dependent’s benefits, based on the earnings of the worker or worker’s relative.

It’s hard to keep up with life these days.

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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