Newspaper Obit, Hey, Leaders! and Running of the Bears

How do you write an epitaph for a newspaper? It’s like a living person. You’ve spent early mornings with it. Thinking and talking and drinking coffee with it. Laughing and crinkling the pages, sometimes crying as you read a heart breaker.

The Los Angeles Times comes from what some call the Mother Country. Like it or not, the umbilical cord, otherwise known as the aqueduct, ties us together with a great deal of reluctance on both parts. They produce the newspaper that means something to us. Sometimes they even cover news about the Eastern Sierra. They sent a reporter to document the sale of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Louis Sahagun sat with the McCoys and Rusty Gregory through some of the most intimate times of the transaction.

Sahagun was also there as water flowed into the Lower Owens River and as Caltrans planned to kill 100 trees on 395. Plus, we find out about the world and about southern California, from which many of us made our exit to the mountains.

The corporation that owns the LA Times has declared bankruptcy. The future of the famous paper hangs in the balance. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom are sorry about that. Some fine newspapers have fallen to corporate greed and the mistaken moves of the wealthy to make more money than makes sense out of a newspaper.

From a crusty little bunch of news reporters in the dark shadows of the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom to the LA Times newsroom – we like what you do, and we’re with you in spirit.

Back home to what some call the downhill slide into the leadership void. We’re talking about Mammoth Lakes and the strange back and forth over bears. First, one of our listeners suggested we make some governmental distinctions of the critical kind.

We have bureaucrats, he said. We have politicians, and then we have leaders. I like where this is going. So, here we go. Our listeners have suggested that we don’t allow bureaucrats or politicians to run the town unless they are real leaders. Said one Mammoth local, “We elected people to lead us and make decisions.”

On the Steve Searles issue, it has been pointed out, so far no one can make a darned decision. Instead, they have arranged meetings, processes, talks and programs. Anything but a straight on decision. Over a year ago, it seemed to many that the whole thing could’ve been handled in half an hour by a real leader.bears-in-campgrounds.jpg

Besides the leadership void, perhaps up until now, Mammoth looks, well, silly to the rest of the Eastern Sierra. Bishop resident, Stan Smith, wrote a tongue in cheek account of how Mammoth could capitalize on its bears and cut out all the falderal. We’ll read part of Smith’s long letter.

He starts out by saying:

With all this growling in Mammoth Lakes over the “Don’t Feed Our Bears!” issue and “he said-she said” and Town Council members taking the Mammoth Lakes Police Department Officers’ Association to task for taking Steve Searles to task and then recanting and then discovering that the magical bloom of development in Mammoth Lakes has withered and faded such that the development fee pot of gold has emptied and the town coffers have dwindled to a minus $1 million, why not a positive approach to balancing the Town’s budget?

Why not let bears breed in Mammoth Lakes at will, in condos, in the streets, on the ski slopes, in the wooded countryside and maybe even the Town Council chambers, such that bears could roam and forage and be cute just about everywhere?

(Then Smith jumps to real silliness. He writes:)

That’s it! A Bear Rodeo! At Mammoth Lakes Bear Grounds. Ride-A -Bear for 8 seconds and get a free slope pass or gondola ride! Combine the Bear Rodeo with Bear Daze! The concept just reeks of profit and volunteerism and sales tax revenues. Clowns, cotton candy, gummy-bears, corn-bears instead of corn-dogs.

Come to think of it, forget Pamplona,Spain and their annual running of the bulls! Mammoth Lakes could go one or two better by the annual running of their bears, all over town, up and down slope, into and out of coffee shoppes and restaurants and boutiques and condos, whether the doors or windows or walls are open or not. Bears just don’t care! Bears will find a way.

Humane or inhumane hunters could line the streets and run with the bears. A special section of the Village could be roped off for nudists “baring all” and streakers could be charged a one-way permit fee and be forced to take a special city transit bus or trolley back to where they parked and stripped.

Again, forget not the film-makers and the town budget and various revenue sources which might spring forth. Ole! Oy vez mir! I can’t bear it anymore!

Maybe we’re just plain lucky to only have a mule problem in Bishop, hunh??

Stan Smith

Okay. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom have put our heads together and agree with Stan Smith. We can’t take ourselves too seriously. Only leaders, and we mean unvarnished, classy, stiff-spined leaders, can charge forth with resolve.

The rest of us need a good measure of humility and self-laughter. Hey, we’re all in this together, and we can’t all have our way. Why not bend to the leaders and let them show us the way? Hey, where are they?

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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