Christmas Lists, Robin Hood, and Foul Conflicts

Okay. We’re into December now and lurching toward the holidays. This year our Christmas budget looks a bit like the Lake Mary Road bridge did a few weeks back – flat and crumbled.

Hey! We get it. This is a great chance to celebrate the real Christmas. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom have decided to save up our pennies between now and Christmas so we can give donations to the Salvation Army, IMACA or a local church with the promise that they will feed people.

Forget the high flying glitzy gifts and make sure no one in the Eastern Sierra goes hungry.

All the Fat Cats on Wall Street should try this. Of course, they have their multi-million dollar lifestyles to support. You know – private jets, exclusive resorts, stealing from taxpayers. Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?

Some of us in the newsroom grew up with the hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor. No, we never called Robin Hood a socialist.

We wish the Inyo Supervisors would adapt a bit of the Robin Hood spirit. When ranchers recently complained about the amount of water used to keep down the toxic Owens Dry Lake dust, we wish the Supervisors would’ve said, “Hey, it’s up to DWP what they use to meet their legal requirements. It’s also up to the Supervisors to uphold the Water Agreement which says DWP has to maintain irrigation and vegetation conditions on ranch lands like they were in the 1981-82 runoff year.

Instead, Supervisor Linda Arcularius, who also sits on the Air Pollution Control Board, said that there is a higher responsibility than keeping the dust down and that’s protecting water. Say, what?!? Well, then, why doesn’t the Board pull out the Water Agreement and protect the ranchers’ water?!?

We hope the holidays provide the inspiration to Town of Mammoth officials to calm the waters of unbalanced power plays. As the bears get ready to sleep, humans can take a cue from nature – calm the fires of hate and look for ways to serve. They can, but will they?

Ever wonder why they call Friday after Thanksgiving Black Friday? Seems somewhat ominous. Internet sources say the term refers to the day when merchants start to make money and are “in the black.” Others say it refers to the gnarly traffic of that big shopping day. This year’s Black Friday looked positively cheery with an uptick in sales.

Hey. Here’s another thing. In addition to feeding the hungry this year, why not shop locally? That feeds our neighbors, too. Nothing gnarly about that!

Back to black. Citigroup, the recipient of at promised $300 billion in tax dollars, so far, showed its gratitude by continuing with the purchase of the New York Mets stadium, to the tune of $400 million. Now, it’s called Citigroup Stadium. As one of our listeners pointed out, it should be called Taxpayers’ Stadium.

As we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom peruse the news headlines, our disappointment in officialdom turns cynical. Take this one – “Lawmakers’ outside jobs raise questions”.

The Los Angeles Times reports about California Assemblyman Mike Eng whose law firm represents the LA Unified School District. Eng voted for bills that gave the school district $267 million. Meanwhile, his law firm received more than $300,000 from the school district. Ouch! We cry foul! Why doesn’t everyone else? Bob Stern, president of the Center for Government Studies in LA is quoted as saying that having legislators voting on bills that affect their sources of income “raises questions of conflict of interest.” Ha!! It more than raises questions. It is a conflict of interest. Why not say so, and stop it?

The article lists 30 California Senators and Assemblyman who hold full-time outside jobs or run businesses. One of them is Inyo’s Assemblyman Bill Maze. The Times says he owns a farming business and property inspection company. The article does not accuse him of bad votes but does quote him as saying that a legislator needs something to return to after he term limits out of office. Okay, fine. So, when votes come up that put him in conflict, that legislator should remove himself from the vote. End of story.

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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