Bureaucrat Beat: Fingers Point, Blather Blabs and a Letter

One gets the feeling that in Mammoth Lakes they’re turning on one another. Right after the Hot Creek lawsuit guilty verdict and the $30 million damages award against Mammoth, officials said it was the Judge’s fault. Now, the Mayor and another councilman say it’s the Airport Manager’s fault. Hey, we’re starting to think maybe it’s the Bureaucrat Beat staff at fault!

Manager Bill Manning had testified that he believed he shared a critical letter from the FAA with Terry Ballas of Hot Creek and then-Town Manager Tracy Fuller. Ballas testified that Manning did not share the document which laid out FAA concerns about the Hot Creek development. Mayor Skip Harvey and Councilman Kirk Stapp decided Manning is the bad guy. “What happened at the Airport,” said the Mayor, “should never happen again.” That’s for sure.

Eleven years after the fact, the finger-pointing seems, well, pointless. What one wonders is why didn’t the Town have a lawyer who was personally in touch with the FAA over a development at the airport, over which, duhhhhh, the FAA has control.

Meanwhile, in Inyo County, some moms told us they were fed up with the wait in the hallway at the Bishop courtroom where their kids had to appear for failure to wear helmets at the skatepark. Couldn’t they just fine the kids? The moms wanted to know. I guess they could, but maybe the police and court want the kids to get the message – gotta obey the law boys and girls.

In Sacramento, the Republicans had a big announcement yesterday. They have “unveiled” reforms to help with the budget crisis. Whoopeedoo! They say their measures would “combat government waste, fraud and abuse, create more local control for schools and stretch dollars from the voter-approved infrastructure bonds for housing, road and school construction projects.” Excuse us while we remain skeptical. One question – why haven’t you fought “government waste, fraud and abuse” all along?!?!

And, back at home, a letter from Jerry Gabriel, retired Caltrans Traffic Engineer. Jerry writes about the former banner strung across Main St. in Bishop that served to announce upcoming events. The banner fell and that was the end of that. Jerry believes there’s a good reason. He writes:


I thought you might like the other side of the banner cable story. Loose cables hanging into the highway are a serious hazard. In Big Pine, a few yeas ago, one of those cables wrapped around the axle of a vehicle and caused it to go out of control. You might ask Jim Cameron, CHP officer, (now retired) how it felt when the end of a flying cable near the Bishop City Park hit him in the lip. Cheers to Caltrans if they deny all requests to degrade our highways with unsafe encroachments.

Jerry Gabriel
Traffic Engineer

Okay, Jerry. Point definitely made.

Under the “Say what?” section of Bureaucrat Beat, our Tom Woods offered this view of what the audience called “total confounding nonsense” at this week’s Mammoth Town Council meeting. Tom writes:

While it appeared that the council was discussing a matter of substance, that could not be confirmed. Developer Chuck Lande is trying to get started on the last phase of the SnowCreek subdivision. He said that if the town would let him, he’d get started on construction this summer. John Walter with the Advocates for Mammoth said that the SnowCreek VIII land is the last piece of acreage in town and “we have to do it right.”

That was the last understandable portion of the discussion for the next 45 minutes or so.

Planning to hire some sort of consultant to work on the project design the council descended into a discussion of “procedure” and “framework” of 2B- 3C along with other letter and number combinations.

Epic levels of boredom and disinterest soon fell on the audience that had come to the meeting for other topics. This reporter started doodling in his notebook only to look over at the lady sitting next to me and see that her doodles had resulted in a pretty nice looking cartoon mouse.

45 minutes into the “discussions,” Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory attempted to put a stop to the nonsense, standing at the podium to give the council a lecture on leadership. Without overtly telling the council to get to the point, Gregory said that true leaders take complex ideas and make them simple enough for people to grasp. He added that there is no public process until the topic is simple enough for people to understand.

John Wentworth with Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public access, an astute fellow who is a very active participant in Town politics called the discussion “a little chaotic.” Wentworth told the council the MLTPA would like to advise the council but “we don’t know what’s going on.”

Shameful elitism, some say. We say it’s another one of those listening in on a private conversation that makes no sense. Other public bodies in both our towns and counties have fallen guilty to this thoughtless habit, as if the public were a mere inconvenience not worth consideration.

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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