Bureaucrat Beat: Missing Pony, Greedy Congress and Free Speech-Not

We’ve heard of lost pets, but a pony wandering in traffic in Norwalk? Strange, for sure. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Maybe the owner just couldn’t afford all those oats and hay anymore. We know Shetland ponies can be somewhat snippy, but according to news reports this one is “genial.” Workers are calling him “Big Dog”. He went off to the Animal Control Center. With finances still in the dumps, people have to make heartbreaking decisions sometimes.

The hearts (assuming they have them) of Congress nary a shudder made when they gave themselves raises and denied a cost of living increase for Social Security. A listener pointed to one more transgression. It’s called the 27th amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits Congress from raising its own pay within a session.

Selma Calnan wrote this: In the past 10 years I have written many times about the blatant disregard for the 27th amendment to the Constitution with no feedback from anyone – except a yawn. You may have better luck reminding people that the 27th amendment prohibits Congress from raising its own pay within the session. Greed is not new. The colonies ignored it when it was submitted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1787 and 20th century congressmen continue to trash it using a sneaky procedural trick known since ancient Greece. “Silence gives consent.” Thanks, Selma. Hey, major media, how about you throw off the silence and start screaming about this one. They can’t even wait to get more money while most of their constituents live with the knuckle biting reality of less.

From holes in our pockets to holes in some peoples’ heads. We did receive a website comment questioning the Board of Supervisors refusal to allow me to ask a question during a public meeting. The reader thought that sounded wrong. We do too. So, we called County Counsel Randy Keller. Do reporters have fewer rights of speech than other citizens? Keller said, “I haven’t really looked at it.”
This seems like a no-brainer.

Another thing about communication at public meetings, (and by the way the Brown Act requires allowing the public to speak and ask questions) is the practice of requiring the public to fill out cards and hand them in at the start of the meeting if they want to speak. This inhibits a free-flow of dialogue. What if a citizen attends a meeting, doesn’t think they will speak, doesn’t fill out a card but then hears something that prompts the need to speak? The card thing is just another impediment to good public communication. Citizens are such a bother, aren’t they?!?! (insert sarcasm here).

Finally. Los Angeles citizens saved 18.4% of their water over the summer as a result of new strict outdoor irrigation rules. Those who have wanted to save the environment in the Eastern Sierra begged them decades ago to conserve water. After all, LA is a semi-desert territory. Even LA’s Mayor admits that in a recent news report. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is quoted as saying, “Living in a desert-like environment with a limited water supply, it is imperative that we limit our water consumption and get smarter about our water use.” We couldn’t agree more. Keep those strict rules in place, please.

In Breckenridge, voters kicked out strict rules on marijuana possession. An initiative passed that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Citizens of the town are somewhat divided over this, but news reports said that other Colorado resort towns now have an eye on similar measures. The lead of a New York Times story on the Breckenridge vote says it all: “High-altitude partying is a deeply carved tradition in ski country, where alcohol in the open and illicit drugs in the shadows have been intertwined for years.” Now, it’s out of the shadows.

And, in the crisp light of morning, outside the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom, bells ring out the songs of the holiday season. Beautiful. Thanks to Lindsay McTevia, the Audio Wizard of Independence and the Owens Valley and his gift of the courthouse bells.

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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