Bureaucrat Beat: Canada’s Compassion, Roads Gone Wild, and Bumperstickers

Nearly 46 million people have no health insurance in America. That means they don’t get needed medical care. That’s bad. Let’s face it. So, what to do? The alleged leaders in D.C. just can’t seem to help us out on this. What about nationalized health care? For that we slip into a slice of Canada.

Matthew Mohr, a fourth year medical student, who spent some time in Bishop working at the Rural Health Clinic and Toiyabe Health Clinic, offered an educational view of Canada’s health care when he spoke to a group of local doctors. Bottom line – the Canadian people all receive health care. The wait times for surgery irritate the populus, but in survey after survey they say they would rather deal with the delays in service than go to a private insurance system which would deprive fellow Canadians of health care.

Could Americans feel this way about one another? Hey, maybe we already do! We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom want to see a survey. A nation of sick people helps no one.

Serious study of even common subjects can turn on lights. Take an article in Wired magazine. It’s called “Roads Gone Wild” with evidence that flies in the face of the concrete sterility of Caltrans traffic theories. Seems some thoughtful Dutch traffic engineers gave it a whirl to remove signs and signals, install art, keep lanes narrow and, voila! Safety on roadways.

They found they could eliminate curbs and instead color or texturize sidewalks for definition. Much more effective. These experiments proved that somewhat ambiguous entrances into towns cause motorists to slow down. So, leave the trees up. Forget signs and curbs and watch the drivers put on the brakes to figure it all out. Experiments in Denmark and the UK call it “psychological traffic calming” and find that serious and fatal accidents stopped happening. Come on, Caltrans, relax and live a little!! The City of Bishop could use some of this, too.

Just can’t resist one more comment from Stan Smith of Bishop. He claims he saw a bumper sticker on an Audi from Mammoth Lakes that said, “What Happens in Mammoth Stays in Mammoth” – a take-off on the Las Vegas slogan. Smith poses a new bumper sticker for Bishop – “What Happens in Bishop All the Neighbors Know!” We’re still looking for someone to pick on Bishop the way Smith hit Mammoth with zingers.

In Mammoth, Jack Winkler wrote to Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory to suggest that the Mountain put 20,000 more MVP ski pass, Monday-Friday only, on sale at 2/3 the price. He says this would make the Ski Area $6,000,000 and encourage locals to ski weekdays. Winkler, a familiar local government critic, suggests that if you like the weekday MVP pass idea that you call Rusty’s office and let him know.

Ironically, we have heard more from Mammoth people about the hatchet job on 100 Bishop trees. One listener said this:

“Large, leafy shade trees provide welcome respite from high-desert environs on scorching-hot summer days. They beautify neighborhoods and towns. They are living, thriving entities in stark contrast to inanimate buildings, vehicles, glass asphalt and concrete. They represent decades of growth. They show resilience to extreme weather and harsh climate. They reduce carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They rise tall and stately, gracing their surroundings.” We couldn’t agree more.

Other listeners wanted to know if Caltrans somehow had a hand in the sidewalk scheme. One man wanted to know if Bishop Public Works Director Dave Grah, formerly with Caltrans, insisted on sidewalks? Grah did say they are an important part of city planning. Maybe we should check with the Holland traffic engineers for another view.

In the Employees Who Pay Attention Department, we’re happy to report that Joey West of Hot Creek Aviation at Mammoth Airport was on the job and his timing couldn’t have been better when he looked over at a departing business jet and saw a wheel chalk stuck on top of one of the wheels. Not good. As Joey said, a lot could’ve gone wrong for that jet. He was fueling another jet, looked up, saw the problem and tried to flag the pilot. It took a major effort to get his attention, and that’s what West did. His attentiveness saved the $40 million jet. Wow. Nice to know Mammoth Airport people are on the ball.

Finally, a message for Bruce Kinney of the Department of Fish and Game. We have to broadcast our message since he hung up on me when I called to find out about the upcoming trout season. He said curtly that he had no time for me and that the next thing I would hear would be dial tone. Click.

We can only assume that Bruce still has a bee in his bonnet over the Arthur the Bear issue of several years ago. DFG wanted to shoot Arthur while many others in the community wanted to save the big critter. Major town rallies followed. Arthur triggered a cultural change on how we treat animals. Things got nasty as Fish and Game set their bureaucratic jaws and insisted on the demise of Arthur. Steve Searles fought for the animal’s life. Arthur lives in a fenced facility today. Bruce, if that’s still the problem, we feel no malice. We all did our jobs the way we thought we should, and it’s over. Shouldn’t we move on to provide information for the public? We hope so.

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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