Bureaucrat Beat: Come on, CNN! Space Invaders, Cross About Crosswalks

A quick visit in the way-back machine to a couple of weeks ago when CNN made merciless fun mules.jpgof Bishop and a funding earmark for $50,000 as seed money for a mule museum. They knocked our Congressman Buck McKeon for "making a Jackass out of taxpayers." Okay. We concede that congressional earmarks have cost many millions, and some – like the Alaskan bridge to nowhere – look like nonsense.

But, what CNN failed to say on the Bishop case – the Eastern Sierra is owned – virtually from stem to stern – by the federal government in the form of the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The rest is owned by LADWP. So, we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom say that the feds owe us big time. How do they expect us to make a living when they own it all? These big agencies have left us with nothing but tourism. Then CNN makes it a point to humiliate Bishop for a measly $50,000 which will hardly make a dent in the real price tag for a mule museum, designed to attract a few more tourist dollars to our stagnant economy.

Please, CNN, get all the facts when you're tempted to use the Jackass clichs. There are real people out here with needs.

And, in a region which boasts the bumper stickers, "We're rednecks. We'll keep our guns", bureaucratic intrusions do not rest well. Many in the Eastern Sierra tell us that they resent bureaucrats who blithely walk onto their property for whatever purpose – usually to enforce some regulation. It's called the territorial imperative. How about some old fashioned manners. Find the homeowner and get his or her permission to invade the space, when possible.

Other invasive or seemingly over-restrictive rules have the same effect. We've heard from more than a few on the regulation that says you can't mail 13 ounce packages or bigger with just stamps on them. You have to walk them inside the post office where they can see you're not a terrorist. Oh, really?

Free speech is a wonderful thing. It keeps us honest and, above all, thinking about things. After all, no society can rely on the thinking of a few people. We need everybody's thoughts. Unless they're just vulgarities, which shows no imagination.

Yahoo got a good scolding recently, and Google, too for helping fascist governments imprison people for merely speaking out against government policies. The mega search engine firms agreed to reveal the names of those emailing controversial statements. This is not good. In fact, this is very bad. Cowardly, in fact.

Recently, a demonstration took place in Washington, D.C. against the imprisonment of Kareem Amer, a student. Authorities in Egypt have held him in prison for expressing opinions about religious and political issues. This young man's plight has galvanized demonstrations all over the world.

And, back home in the Eastern Sierra – consternation over disappearing acts on Main St. in Bishop. Yes, Caltrans declined to paint back some of the crosswalks, and yes, they did talk to Bishop City officials about it. They reluctantly conceded, but citizens tell us they don't like the loss of what, to them, feels like some safety zone in the combat-like crossing of Highway 395.

Caltrans officials have offered studies which show crosswalks do not make things safer for pedestrians, but as one local bureaucrat said, admirably, we might add, "The question becomes – are crosswalks what the public wants." Yes! studies be damned. Studies are not the law of the land. The public will needs to weigh in on these topics.

Stan Smith of Bishop offered this letter:


Has anybody else noticed crosswalks on Hwy 395 have been removed since the recent resurfacing project downtown? I know Councilmember Susan Cullen has because she and I talked about it, specifically the one removed between WaMu and Looney Bean. That is particularly dangerous for school kids because they have been told and taught by their parents to cross there at the crosswalk, on their way to and from school.

Now the crosswalk is gone, but the kids are still crossing there, perhaps with false confidence that motorists will see them and stop. Recently while having coffee at Looney Bean on different morning occasions, I've seen near-misses involving school-age kids where that crosswalk used to be. You also see parents accompanying their kids, crossing where other crosswalks used to be.

There is another on South Main near Perry Motors, and there is another on North Main near Kentucky Fried Chicken and the neighboring motels, near the old Kmart. Pedestrians got used to crossing Hwy 395 at these safe points and now Caltrans has removed them. I would hate to think economics of white or yellow paint or the 395 traffic corridor flow rate would over-ride public safety or that some contractor not reading resurfacing and repainting specifications correctly would cause injury on our downtown city or county streets. Did Caltrans really eliminate these crossings without public information/ warning in advance?

Could we get the crosswalks back, even if the magical Caltrans incident or traffic volume warrants or crosswalk-intersection-traffic speed-spacing guidelines aren't met?

Thank you for your help on this.

Stan Smith

Thank you, Mr. Smith. The Bureaucrat Beat staff will add that crosswalks help motorists slow down in case someone might be crossing One more piece of evidence that the world is not really as regimented in obscure intellectual ways as the bureaucracy would like. Real people with real needs, in their own views, not in those of bureaucratic studies, want life to be a certain way. It is up to the bureaucracy to accommodate those desires as much as possible. We're all in this together, and as we say at the beginning "public servants, who often try to become our masters…"

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your views on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

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