Bureaucrat Beat: Kmart Experience, Phone Intruders and Delta Dawning

I don’t know what was scariest at Kmart – fake Christmas trees spinning about to the muzak tones of “Winter Wonderland”, the macabre vision of Gravekeeper Halloween costumes or the sudden announcement over the loudspeaker that we were listening to the “Kmart Radio Network”. Does the FCC know this? Do they really have licenses to operate? Or, like everything else at Kmart is this just another illusion like the presumption of “Kmart quality”?

Let’s face it – the Bureaucrat Beat staff should not venture into Kmart for errant outings. We just needed some plates for our snacks. The ones we wanted we, naturally, way up on a top shelf. Hello, Hello, Kmart clerks, help!!!

No response. As they say, you could’ve fire a cannon down the aisle without casualty.

Why not grab one of these chair and get it myself? Why not, indeed. Mission Accomplished. Kmart does, if nothing else, foster independent action – like when the clerk at the check-out had to run clear across the store to get a price.

Actually, maybe she was the only employee. She’s the only one we saw. Oh, wait a minute – here’s the reason in the New York times. Headline: Kmart Profits Rose by 14% in the 4th Quarter. The article says the discount retailer “cut costs – Oh, Yea! – and sold more Martha Stewart home fashions, Sesame Street children’s apparel and other higher-profit goods.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Halloween, (and could you please ring up your own purchases?) from Kmart.

The latest invasion of privacy – those infernal computers that dial your number. You answer. A recorded, way too enthusiastic voice comes on the line. “Have you been in business for a year? Listen up!” he says. That’s when you hang up. We may be just a bunch of curmudgeons, but, come on, no one likes an obnoxious, unknown voice on the phone. Someone told us a story about how to respond to real people who call and try to sell you something. You say, “I didn’t call you. Why are you on my telephone?” Of course, this dialogue leaves computer voices unimpressed.

Some are quite impressed with the King of Thinking Outside the Box. Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio. One of our website readers sent along a story that says Sheriff Joe took over the animal shelter. Put prisoners to work as the staff in charge of strays. The story says the prisoners got so into care and feeding of the strays, some of the animals were entered in dog shows. On the financial side of Sheriff Joe. The story says he cut the budget from $18 million to $3 million.

Prisoners in Arizona work on a county-owned farm, grow vegetables, hogs and Christmas trees. The controversial sheriff was last re-elected with 83% of the vote.

And, we cleared up a local concern. Mike Prather, who has invested a lot of energy and interest in the revival of water fowl at the Owens Lake, expressed concerns that an upcoming state grant of $600,000 to get rid of Salt Cedars for the Lower Owens River Project seemed to exclude the dry lake delta waterfowl area.

Prather noted that the state Wildlife Conservation Board had designated money for LADWP-owned lands in the project. The State Lands Commission owns land at the delta.

Seems the money goes to specific land owners. So, the delta is out of the $600 grand. Who knew?

Not Water Director Tom Brooks who responded right away when we called. He called us back and said that Mr. Prather was correct, and that he and others would go to work on a second grant for the delta. Watch Dogs really matter.

And, with that, I’m 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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