Bureaucrat Beat: Too Many Rules! High 5 to P.O. and Hats Off to Police and Fire


The staff of the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom must seem like a bunch of mouth gods, but we really do listen a lot of the time. What we hear from more and more of you – there are too many rules!

They’re slowly closing in on us, people say. From the Post Office to the phone company to retail stores, credit card companies, not to mention government agencies. Slowly and almost imperceptibly they have crept toward profit and control and away from public service. Oh, they always have excuses, but no good reasons for this shift.

In the new year, we will keep all of our ears open for this trend and name names. We will, as they say, take no prisoners.

On the other hand, big pats on the back go to those stalwart souls who, in spite of the closing net of repression, insist that they will serve the people. On that note, we have one more remarkable piece of postal service to report.

The Mammoth Lakes Foundation, thoughtfully, tried to mail to me a copy of the commemorative book of Dave McCoy’s 90th birthday party. The address, however, was lacking. It said To: Benett Kessler, P.O. Box 275, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. The post office box is really in Independence. Candidate for returned, lost, shunned upon mail, you say?

Nope. Some kind soul wrote in hand writing, “Please deliver to KSRW at the ‘Y’ in Bishop. There are other writings on the package, including the wish, “Happy New Year.”

And, yep. The package made it to KSRW. A big thank you to whoever used common sense and caring. It’s a great commemorate book, by the way, which we will always treasure.

Here’s a story that goes beyond rules.

You may have heard that the federal Housing and Urban Development agency determined that they would demolish 4500 public housing apartments in New Orleans because they didn’t have enough money to make necessary repairs. Residents pointed out that the money used to tear down the buildings could be used to fix them up. Residents went to court and got a an emergency court order to stop the demolition. This gave the New Orleans City Council a say in the matter.

But what council members said was, tear it down! Residents reportedly received threatening phone calls that warned if they opposed the demolitions, they would lose all housing assistance. Two positive plans by residents were ignored.

At the city council meeting, officials put up locked, metal gates in front of the New Orleans City Hall. Very upset residents who made it inside were manhandled by police. One man was tasered. Outside, police pepper sprayed residents fighting to get into the public meeting.

What a testimony to the wretched failure of the federal government to take care of its own people, many of whom are still homeless after the Katrina disaster. This tragic drama epitomizes the new rules. You can watch the whole horrible scene on YouTube. Type in New Orleans City Council and watch the video of the non-public meeting.

Speaking of rules, the Los Angeles times published a long, long list of new laws for 2008. There is, of course, the no smoking in cars with kids. Hey, okay, as long as they don’t extend that law to the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom.

More new rules concerned with cancer threats. In 2008 kids can no longer go to tanning salons without parental consent. Wow.

Now here’s a law that makes you say, did we really need to make this a law? A new rules allows early release of medically incapacitated inmates like those in a coma or vegetative state or require a ventilator. Why can’t prison wardens just make these decisions?

Another new rule requires government boards to make agenda materials available, at a specific location, to the public at the same time they make it available to the elected officials. This rule starts July 1st.

A long list of affairs get under the skin of the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom staff, but it won’t be electronic implants. A new rule absolutely forbids employers from requiring workers to have identification tags implanted under their skin that can be read by electronic monitors. Is it just us or does all of this feel like the Twilight Zone?

Finally, a new law allows celebrities to retain the right to control use of their names, voices and images as dictated in their wills. We have our lawyers at work on that one even as we speak. Recordings will be archived for Bureaucrat Beat’s hereafter.

Finally, an eternal thank you to the law enforcement, fire departments, Caltrans, CHP and many others who come to our aid when killer storms whip the mountains.

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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