Bureaucrat Beat: Peace Talks, FBI Phone Bills and Doolittle Undone

Will we put tourists at risk to get their money? Mammoth Town Councilman Kirk Stapp posed that question in one of the many letters that flew through the air and landed on media in the Eastern Sierra. Councilman Stapp said “safety is the foundation for any successful community and it’s good for business. Former Councilman Tony Barrett came to the defense of business owners and the need to take a slow approach on asking visitors to leave. Then he attacked Kirk Stapp as being in office too long. The bickering over dollars, politics, business solvency and public safety limped on through the days following the big January 4th storm. Then, finally, good news. Town officials and business owners sat down privately in the same room and – talked!

Hey, this is why people, above all other species, know how to talk – so they can make peace and get things done. Sometimes you wonder thought, don’t you? Humans have mastered the skill of yakety-yak in several different languages, yet we are the ones who start wars. Anyway, the Bureaucrat Beat news staff, people who do more than their share of blabbing, had earlier examined the Mammoth Lakes Whoop-dee-doo and figured folks could calmly talk their way out of a tiff.

Political wrangling might best be relegated to another time.

Some in Mammoth wondered why Ms. Leigh Gaasch gets to hold public meetings? Town Manager Rob Clark said if anyone is interested in holding public meetings, the Town will accommodate.

On to other smarmy comments. Here’s a story that seeks after our Bureaucrat Beat hearts (yes, we do have them!). This tale makes both the FBI and phone company look goofy. Yahoo! Seems that phone companies cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the Bureau’s repeated failures to pay phone bills on time. Seems the Justice Department conducted an audit that shows the FBI’s lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. The audit also said that poor supervision of the program allowed one agent to steal $25,000.

This reminds me of the poor supervision of former Sheriff Don Dorsey’s special fund out of which the courts determined he embezzled a quarter of a million. This, while the Board of Supervisors were not looking.

Back to the FBI. According to the Associated Press, “more than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time. At least once, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation – the highly secretive and sensitive cases that allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies – was halted due to untimely payment.”

This audit also said, “We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence.”

What’s up with this? Are they on coffee breaks? Coke breaks?

What’s up with the complex, hide in the closet, turn around twice and take your blindfold off and the other guy’s it method of selecting a marketing contractor in Inyo County?

Hey, we know Inyo needs marketing. We live on tourism and we need to do the work to get visitors here. Observers of this week’s Supervisors’ meeting had heads swimming and minds wondering…why?

Were they sensitive to a possible denial of the local Chamber of Commerce bid? Maybe. Instead of worrying what people think, can’t officials just do the straightforward, sensible thing?

Sensible and Congressman John Doolittle have become mutually exclusive. Doolittle used to represent Mono County. His district shifted east, and, according to the Justice Department his ethics may have shifted sharply too.

doolittle.jpg Doolittle remains under investigation in connection with corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Last April, Doolittle’s home was raided by the FBI and Doolittle’s wife’s financial records were subpoenaed.

Doolittle announced that he will retire from Congress next year. He is one of almost 20 House Republicans who will leave Congress over the next year. Allegations are pending that these people are connected to Abramoff.

Health clinics in mega retail stores? In Boston that’s what’s up. State government gave the okay for limited service medical clinics run by merchants in for-profit corporations. Boston’s Mayor feels this will jeopardize quality of care and hygiene. He said, “Allowing retailers to make money off of sick people is wrong.”

“MinuteClincis” will open at the end of the year in Boston. Watch for them in a major discount store near you. Anything but government supported health care for all.

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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