Bureaucrat Beat: St. Patrick’s Day Firing, Census Stories, Wag the Dog

St. Patrick’s Day this week brought back memories to the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom. It was that day in 1977 when John Heston and I were fired from our first radio news job. We produced a daily newscast on radio station KINC in Lone Pine. It was very popular. The news ripped into DWP for the first time in Owens Valley history.


Trouble is, the DWP officials at the time just could not take it. They wrote a letter to the station owners to say that if they did not fire me and Heston, LA would cancel their radio tower lease. The station owner admitted this. Wow. So, Heston typed up the truth about why we went off the air and pinned up the fliers in public places. A reporter for Los Angeles Magazine saw it and ran a story. We appeared at the Los Angeles Press Club for TV and radio reporters and told how LA tried to silence the media. The rest is history.

We determined right then and there on that St. Patrick’s Day that we would not let anyone bully us out of reporting the best truth we could find. That was 33 years ago.

Fast forward to today. Inyo judges decided to move a $30 million court building from southern Inyo to Bishop. The South County struggles against a death spiral, land-locked by DWP ownership. Inyo Supervisors have so far not addressed the extreme state of blight for people south of Bishop.


One more thing. One of our own said he thought it was RIDICULOUS for the State to spend $30 million on a building when California is way broke!! Point well made.


How about the Census? News out there ranges from Census scammers to legit need for information. Rebecca Garrett emailed us about counting the people in Mono County and Mammoth. She hopes locals will fill out Census forms and return them or respond to Census takers who knock on their doors. Garrett and others point to the fact that federal funds go to counties based on Census figures. Okay. Good point. The other point – locals are needed as Census workers.


Recruitment goes on until March 27th. Call 866-861-2010. For Mono County, testing takes place at the Mammoth Library. For Inyo, call the same 866 number and you can apply and test Thursday March 25 at 10am and 1pm at Statham Hall in Lone Pine and in Bishop, Monday March 22 at 2pm at Alta One and Monday, March 29 at 1pm at Alta One.


Now, on the kooky side of the Census. We know, people feel somewhat like the Census invades their territory. Questions they don’t want to answer for strangers, etc. On top of that the Better Business Bureau advises people to be cooperative but cautious. Con artists are possible. The ones who want to steal your identity. The BBB says ask for any Census worker’s ID and badge. Only give out address and population information, not your Social Security number, credit cards or banking information. You don’t have to give them any financial information at all.


Lots of talk about Mammoth Town government at the tete-a-tete at John Vereuck’s home this week. Councilman John Eastman told a memorable story that suggests the Town staff may have more power than they should. Eastman said that on the bear issue the staff had made up its collective mind that the Town would not hire Steve Searles. Eastman said it took him a year and a half to turn things around to public demand. Some call it the tail wagging the dog.


Meanwhile, in closed session Wednesday night, the evaluation of Mammoth’s Town Manager. He’s taking lots of heat these days. Rob Clark has tried to dish it back with letters to the editor. Council candidates have parried Clark’s thrust. Stay tuned.


Hey, remember the movie, “Wag the Dog”? Dustin Hoffman. Robert DeNiro. They concocted a fake war to distract from the political sex scandal of their candidate. Nothing that creative going on here.


Steven Spielberg always churns out creativity. His latest plan? What Hollywood calls a “hot script” called “Jackie.” Yes, it’s about the former First Lady. The script deals with the days right after the 1963 assassination of President Kenney from Jackie’s point of view. Speilberg will produce the film. Stay tuned.


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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