Mammoth Pain, Bishop Void and Greek Retribution

The news about Mammoth Mountain’s cutbacks and lay-offs was really a story about all of us. As Rusty Gregory said candidly, “The recession is severe and deepening.” He regretfully listed the cuts the Mountain made this week, with cuts in Gregory’s own pay and other senior managers, along with 101 lay-offs. Rusty pointed to the Wall St. Journal and the lists of employee cuts and many companies. “These are very difficult times,” he said. Best to spend them in the Eastern Sierra, said Rusty. We agree. In our small towns, we can help each other.

Finally, Bishop City officials have begun to talk about governmental remedies to empty buildings in town. Some cities, like Palm Springs, for instance, have strict rules about vacant buildings. Owners have to pay a fee after 90 days of emptiness.

This may seem a bit too harsh for Bishop. As City Administrator Rick Pucci said, “Our interest is vitality in the city.” Pucci noted that right now 20 vacant buildings sit on Main St. and Line St. Cottonwood Plaza is one of them.cottonwood_closed.jpg

As Chamber of Commerce Director Tawni Thomson noted, we need people to spend more money in town. Yes! That means a bigger market. That means growth. Come on, people, get up the nerve to write down your plan for modest growth and start the talks with LADWP. Knock off the fear factor and get to it!

One more note. Officials tell us that Vons pays $27,000 per month to rent the old Kmart building just to keep out competitors. Wow.

From hometown vacancies to bankrupt standards in Sacramento. Seems the Senate and Assembly passed new income, car, gas and sales taxes without the legally required two-thirds vote. They reason a crisis exists, so they can break the law, apparently.

Members of the Senate and Assembly, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other groups have filed suit against the State to stop the rampant rise of taxes.

In a new radio ad, the Howard Jarvis group says, “Despite all you’ve heard recently about state government running out of money, California taxpayers will pay far more in taxes than citizens in any other state – and yet politicians are still not serious about reducing government spending.”

How about they get serious?!? The trouble here – these legislators do not have to go through the real pain the rest of us do.

Stan Smith is back with his snow pie rant. Stan thinks Mammoth and June Mountains need to provide mandatory and free car washes for all vehicles that leave town The “icy snowpies,” says Smith, “end up on Bishop streets, intersections and commercial venues, not to mention the “brick-hard-frozen snowpies” that can hit vehicles. Stan admits we welcome the revenue from visitors but prefer to eliminate their ‘antics while scattering snowpies and dumping ice clumps while semi-blinded with snow or ice or road rage.”

Fair enough, but possibly, just possibly this is the price we pay for tourism. Hey, here’s good news on the tourist scene. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom saw that the President’s new stimulus package would include a half million new jobs in tourism. We’ll take ’em!

Particularly in the face of news headlines like this one: “State’s Home Losses in ’08: 236,000.” 236,000 families out of a home in California.

Sad sight outside the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom South – Granite Construction crews with chain saws against 100 year old trees that have shaded the tiny town of Independence for decades with grace and loveliness. Anyway you cut it, Caltrans Director Tom Hallenbeck’s stiff-necked insistence to cut down 100 trees here makes no sense in terms of nature, beauty, tax dollars and common sense. Take down trees for sidewalks out to the desert? Millions of dollars for that? Most of us in Independence will never understand Hallenbeck’s refusal to compromise or think twice about sidewalks to nowhere.

We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom are not the only ones who honor trees. We point to Greek Mythology, just for the fun of it, and Hamadryads – the Greek mythological beings that live in trees. Hamadryads are born bonded to a specific tree. If their tree died, the hamadryad associated with it died too. According to one source, for that reason the gods punish any mortal who harms trees. It pays to study the classics.

Here’s an issue that some say is harmful. The question – should Coso Geothermal Plant pump groundwater in far Southern Inyo to use in its operations? The Inyo Water Commission said, no. This, in spite of the fact that Coso officials delivered a stack of letters from Sacramento politicians, including the Governor, urging the commissioners to support green power. It didn’t work.

On the same subject, Mike Prather of Lone Pine sent a letter:

Dear editor,


The recent vote by the Inyo County Water Commission to disapprove the Coso geothermal pumping project in Rose Valley demonstrates that the Water Commission is unwilling to lower Inyo County’s standards of water resource protection even in the face of serious revenue decline in the Inyo County budget. It is reasonable for citizens of Inyo to expect from our leaders the same level of protection of water for Little Lake Ranch as we expect when dealing with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The Little Lake Ranch is the largest privately owned wetland in Inyo County and must not be given less protection than any other. I sincerely hope that the Inyo County Planning Commission honors the research, discussion and recommendation of the Water Commission and sends a clear message to the Inyo Board of Supervisors that all water resources and wetlands in Inyo County are important to citizens and that citizens expect the same standards of protection be given to each.

Thank you from supporters of wetlands and wildlife,

Michael Prather
Lone Pine

And, finally, from Mammoth Lakes to Bishop, listeners and website readers enthusiastically agreed with our assessment of engineers as bureaucrats – rigid, thoughtless, arrogant and seriously lacking in the ability to relate to the rest of humanity. We must add, as we did earlier, that exceptions to the rule always exist. We’re searching.

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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