Bureaucrat Beat: Flu Revelations, Bad Form, and Words Unveiled

From Bridgeport to Olancha – we’re all falling like bowling pins at a tournament. The flu has already hit, as many of you out there know. We, newsroom curmudgeons, fell hard. All, except Bob Todd.

But, we’ve discovered a benefit derived from the flu. While recuperating from the short-lived bug, the single diversion was cable TV. One of the movie channels aired a film called Iraq for Sale: War Profiteers.

This film did not entertain. It enraged. Who knows, maybe the burst of adrenaline helped cure the infirmity. Anyway, the film revealed that a dozen or so contractors have made billions of dollars. Our dollars. My searing viral headache heightened into vise-gripped pain as the narrator told how Halliburton, with no competitive bid, sucked up contracts that pay jillions of dollars for doing soldiers’ laundry, charging the U.S. government $100 per load. One soldier said they didnt even get the clothes clean. They charge the government $45 for a six-pack of sodas. You get the drift.

KBR, a division of Halliburton, built a luxury hotel in Kuwait for its employees. They have catered meals, Lexus SUV’s to drive and accommodations that rival the Ritz, paid for by the U.S. government. While up in Iraq our soldiers live in moldy tents, no air conditioning, on cots!

And, get this. If one of KBR’s semi-trucks blows a tire or needs a filter, they burn the trucks because they don’t have spare parts, and then they charge the U.S. government for a new truck!

One American who drove trucks for KBR said what he saw was beyond profit and crashing sharply into greed!

Okay. One of the 7 deadly sins and counting. There are times when local politicians drive their constituents to one of the 7 deadly – anger.

That’s what we heard after the Inyo Supervisors’ meeting. Seems the Board members indulged in a bit of verbal brawl during the water rate discussion. Kathleen Newell of Lone Pine asked for order. Supervisor Chairman Jim Bilyeu said something to the effect that her request was denied and that the Board doesn’t follow Robert’s Rules of Order! Good Grief. The Board’s somewhat patronizing lack of good manners toward constituents (they didn’t seem to know the rules when Mike Prather offered an important topic) has caused a serious lack of respect and affection toward the Board members.

All we had to do was sit here in our unceremonious, windowless, dark cave of a newsroom and people paraded through the office and called on the phone to share tales of poor etiquette toward the public, employees and even fellow board members. Quit picking on Supervisorinyo_sups_3-27.jpg Cervantes already! That’s what we heard.

Those in officialdom and in the bureaucracy need to know that the people – you know, your bosses – do not appreciate a lack of sensitivity toward their position in the scheme of things.

Take the press release from Mammoth Community Relations Manager Stuart Brown. Now, we know Stuart meant no harm, but one of our staff members pointed out that it appeared Brown had actually given permission to people who live in the Canyon Blvd-Mammoth Slopes to use their homes during road work.

The release said, “A detour route will be posted for motorists, and residents living between Forest Trail and Mammoth Slopes Drive will be allowed access to their homes during the construction period.” It’s the residents will be allowed access to their homes that ruffled some.

Hey, it’s a small thing, but the release could have said, “The Town road work will not interfere with residents’ access to their homes during construction.”

Again. Not a big deal, but a reminder that it’s best to remember who is the boss and who is the servant, and use words accordingly.

With that, this is Benett Kessler, signing off for Bureaucrat Beat, awaiting your comments on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

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