Bureaucrat Beat: Regrets, WikiLeaks, and Old Croc

Love may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but apologies definitely required in politics. These days regrets seem to abound right after some politico talks and left his brain in outer space somewhere. They’re all sorry – from the Whitehouse to the Capitol to Bell City Hall in California.

First, the USDA Chief fired Shirley Sherrod. A blogger and then FOX News reported that she refused to help white property owners save their homes. The news reports were inaccurate and incomplete. The USDA’s rush to judgment left the head of Agriculture with humiliation. Even the President apologized to the African-American woman. Wow. Was it full moon madness or what?

Then reports said that a Colorado senate hopeful, Republican Ken Buck said sharp things about “Tea Party” members. He wished they would shut the heck up about Obama’s birth certificate, already. Then he apologized. Maybe he shouldn’t have.

Then, there’s the Bell, CA, mayor who was making about $100,000 a year, along with all of the City Council members. That’s not the worst. The city manager made nearly $800,000 per year, the police chief, $457,000. The assistant city manager, more than $376,000. Can you say, looting the coffers?

Good grief doesn’t begin to describe what these people did. Bizarrely enough, no one seemed to know they had done it. Their city manager made more than twice as much as President Obama. Now, they’re mostly all on their knees whimpering mea culpas. Seems they pulled this off when council members sat on various boards and collected yearly salaries of about $18,000 for each commission. Eegad. Finally, their mayor apologized. Likely a jail cell will suffice instead of “I’m sorry I was bad.”

How about Wikileaks? This week, news erupted that a little known website had managed to get its cyber paws on thousands of military documents that rushed into public view on the internet. Major news agencies began to furiously read and quote. The Afghanistan War has now been called into serious question, as a result. Here’s what the LA Times said about WikiLeaks: “Operating from undisclosed locations around the world and using sophisticated Internet technology, WikiLeaks has managed to largely skirt legal challenges and technical intervention. Its sources are mysterious. It appears to operate with few professional staff, supported mainly through donations of time and money from leftist activists and others from Iceland to China.” Wow. Go, WikiLeaks!!!

Lots of website comments this week on DWP. Some continue to point to all of the vacant acres that make the Eastern Sierra a rural paradise and credit DWP. We continue to say that’s not the point. In a society, all parties need to live up to their word. DWP has not. When you make a deal, make good on it.

On that note, we had to dive into our archives and pull out a political cartoon designed by our departed editor, John Heston. In 1977, 33 years ago, Heston created the cartoon character, “Old Croc”, a symbol for DWP. A singing and dancing crocodile that crooned about DWP land sales maybe in the fall. Croc said, “Bow and scrape, be nice to us and we might sell them all. If by chance the moon turns blue, or the council’s kind of wary, we’ll do a song and dance for you, again in February.” Didn’t DWP just this week talk about a fall auction? Come on, Old Croc!!!

Now, this is no croc. LA Times columnist David Lazarus writes in the Business section, and he points to all of the food tossed into dumpsters from public events and restaurants that could feed the hungry, a growing group in California. Lazarus writes that “more than 14 million Americans were out of work as of last month.” That’s why the hungry have multiplied. Lazarus says that officials and businesses are still “dithering over how to get unwanted food to shelters, food pantries and other resources for the down and out.” Good point. He calls for statewide plans for restaurants and others to post available food for non-profits to come and get. He also points to a federal law, the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which shields individuals and organizations from civil and criminal liability when food is donated to a non-profit group.

Something for our local eateries and public agencies to consider as the jobless try to feed themselves and their families. Without too much trouble, we may be able to share.

And, 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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