Bureaucrat Beat: Old Guys, Stoutenberg Praised, Sacto Melodrama

When we’re out and about these days, hard not to run into an “Old Guys Rule” t-shirt – on a man, of course. Not among the apparel sophisticates, we in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom looked it up on the internet. Quite the big deal. A way, perhaps, for aging men to grab on to a sense of specialness, which, perhaps they have earned. The website says, “To celebrate your accomplishments, we offer up “Old Guys Rule” to be worn as a badge of honor for a life well spent, but not nearly over.” Okay. We might start up our own t-shirts – “Old News Reporters Rule”. A sort of consolation prize for wrinkles, flab and forgetfulness.

We wish some of the old guys in Congress would give up their t-shirts of rule. What’s with House Republican leader John Boehner? He throws a big meeting with business lobbyists, better known as the sharks who ate our Democracy, and then announces Congress should repeal finance regulations and plink down a moratorium on any more regulations. Could Boehner possibly reveal more about who yanks his chain? We want elected officials to kick lobbyists out of their lives. Maybe they will have to abolish campaign spending. That’s the way to return government to the people. Right now, it belongs to the corporations and interests who send their errand boys, better known as lobbyists, with pay-offs.

Okay. Enough of Old Guys. Let’s talk about a local public health worker who drew her 24-year career to a close last Friday. That’s Sue Stoutenberg. Some of you know her. From the description given upon request by Public Health Director Tamara Cohn, you can see we need more government workers like Sue. Cohn said this: “Sue is an example of the principle that it is not about simply fulfilling the job duties but about the quality and integrity of the person doing those jobs.” She said that Stoutenberg managed the public health clinic, oversaw operations, procedures, identified problems, found answers. She helped with the immunization program, HIV/AIDS programs and the sexual assault response team. In short, Sue Stoutenberg was a dedicated public servant who applied all her talents to serving others. We are pleased to report such a positive bureaucratic story.

When it comes to some state regulators, they could learn things from Stoutenberg. According to the LA Times, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes (who knew such an office existed?) issued a blistering report about the Public Utilities Commission and its failure to look out for consumers after the state’s phone market deregulated in 2006.

The Times reported that the PUC “largely turned its back on the telecom market after declaring four years ago that sweeping deregulation would usher in a new era of market competition and lower prices for consumers.” The report further states that consumer protections have eroded as the PUC has “dismantled its supervision of the state’s biggest phone carriers.” The PUC has accepted virtually all rate increases since 2006. Hey, we love freedom as much as the next newsroom, but clearly some businesses will gouge the people unless regulations ride herd on them. Hello, Congressman Boehner, are you listening?

Everyone now listens to Mel Gibson rant, rave and threaten his ex-girlfriend. Ouch! The Hollywood whisper campaign has declared Mel’s career DOA. His agent even dumped him. Maybe the Mel should team up with Jack Nicholson and go for Anger Management 2. Gibby wouldn’t even have to act! He was so adorable in the film “What Women Want.” Clearly, he was putting on an act in that one.

Has California’s State Controller John Chiang made a melodrama over the Governor’s orders to reduce the pay of 200,000 state workers? Chiang claims the state’s computer system can not handle the reduction of pay to $7.25 per hour. Curiously, the same computer has calculated dozens of raises for unionized employee3s and has slashed the pay of elected officials and their appointees. What’s up with this? Computer experts have been quoted as saying that Chiang can reduce the pay and could’ve done it by now even with the State’s old computers. Some now say that Chiang has just catered to employee unions. We don’t know for sure, but what we do know – all of those people in Sacramento have failed to come up with a balanced budget to serve the people of the state. Inexcusable. How about we just cut all of the Legislators’ pay until they do their job?

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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