Bureaucrat Beat: Go, Chick! Robber Barons, and Generous Spirit

These are the words that strike terror in the hearts of any Los Angeles Bureaucrat: “Under fire from City Controller Laura Chick.” That woman is fearless, and we took a vote in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom. It was unanimous – the Chick “Chick” is our hero!

Chick wins our allegiance because she never met political correctness. She just calls ’em like she sees ’em. Her fiery righteousness lately singed Raman Raj, Chief Operating Officer of DWP. Seems the deal to lure him back to the Department included a pension boost. Raj decided to cash in on the $152,000 deal. Chick refused to write the check and called for public discussion on the proposal.

DWP General Manager David Nahai said he would drop that part of Raj’s deal since there are questions about its “appropriateness.” Nahai is quoted in the LA Times as saying that “We wish to be sensitive to these concerns and responsive to them and have therefore decided to withdraw this request for retirement benefits altogether.” Thumbs up for Nahai. Past regimes would’ve thumbed noses and insisted. Laura Chick said she was pleased by Mr. Nahai’s move.

So, accountability seems to have made its way into DWP.

Not so in the oil business, but we took a vote on that one and decided that to beat up Big Oil over record profits has become somewhat of a clich. Too bad. They need more fisticuffs and fewer dollars. Exxon Mobil’s second quarter profits hit $11.68 billion, setting another record. The rest of them raked in billions in profit, too.

As one of our website commenters said, hey, it’s capitalism and a free market. Big Oil has a right to make money. Oh, yea, they do, but they don’t have a right to steal money. All the families and individuals could just send money directly to Exxon, Chevron, etc. Our dollar bills make up their record profits.

Another of our listeners said it looks like the return of the robber barons. That’s a sharply negative term that refers to anyone who illegally or unethically extorts money and goods from those who can’t afford it but need the goods.

We all need gasoline, right? We can live without fur coats and Jaguars, but we need gas. We need someone to set a moral example, as they say, in high places.

Musician Sheryl Crow wrote a song about it. It’s called Gasoline Will be Free. She compares gasoline to the Boston Tea Party – you know, taxation without representation. Hey, corporate types, you can have a really, really good life with millions instead of billions!!?!

A few folks got a good laugh over gasoline this week. Seems someone, somehow made a mistake on the gas pumps at a Bishop station. All of the prices on regular unleaded said $3.31 a gallon instead of $4 and change. The eye witness saw the pump and saw an RV owner giggling with every click of the pump as he filled up at a dollar a gallon less. As one might have guessed, it didn’t last long.

Another one of our listeners said he got a notice in his Edison electric bill that the company will go to the PUC for another rate increase. They get us comin’ and goin’, don’t they? This local man suggested the Inyo Supervisors should get off their duffs and go to the PUC to oppose one more cost on their constituents.

Here’s another money question we hear from lots of people. Why do our elected officials have to hire consultants with great frequency? Can’t they figure anything out themselves? Look. If you have to have a consultant, why not explain how it will eventually save money for your people. If you can’t say that, maybe you don’t hire them. Sometimes consultants just come up with their own game plans that feather the next of their friends, not your constituents.

Hats off to Caltrans for the incredible feats they have performed at the flood/mudslide scene north of Independence. They helped victims and they actually coaxed a wild creek back into its path. Now, that’s service. Next week, they’ll replace the damaged drainage system in the area. There will be traffic delays, but by gosh, they’ll get it done. The State came up with almost $1 million for the project. Good bureaucracy!

We’ve often said that the antidote to ugly bureaucracy is art and beauty. Beautiful, generous acts qualify, too. The Moms’ Club, whose sons and daughters serve in the military, told us about a young woman, Julie Baker, who lives in Bishop and works at Starbucks. She wanted to see if she could get coffee donated for the troops. She started to work on it and after about 6 weeks, Julie handed the Moms 60 pounds of Starbucks whole bean coffee. The Moms want to send the coffee in the Christmas packing. Now, they need freezer space to store the beans in the meantime. Got the cold space? Email Marilyn Nicholson at mari.lyn@vereizon.net.

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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