Bureaucrat Beat: Tooth-Fairy Budgets, Laws of Nature and Letters

How does this make you feel? The California State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer, was quoted in a Los Angeles times story on the state budget as saying, “The real problem is tooth-fairy budgeting.”

Lockyer should know. He sees the whole state government money-spending chaos. The story talks about all of the poor, hamstrung legislators and Governor who must manage government money according to voter mandates through initiatives and propositions. Okay. It is tough, but as Lockyer said, “the constraints limit our flexibility, but they do not cause overspending.” Yeah. So, when we hear the politicos in Sacramento cry the blues about “no easy solutions” to what may add up to a $10 billion deficit this year, remember, they could stop the overspending.

They could also stop the incompetency. Take this one, small item from the 2007 California Piglet Book. The State Controller’s Office says that inmates get $400,000 in state and federal benefit payments to which they are not entitled. Total overpayments could add up to millions of dollars.

Sounds like we could just support the State Treasurer’s cry against “tooth-fairy budgeting.” Plain and simple truth.

Here’s a plain truth. Bureaucratic rules are not laws of nature, not religious commandments. In any given community, the bureaucracy may have certain, special knowledge that will help people live better – knowledge of building roads and highways and posting speed limits, but the truth of a community is a combination of things – intellectual studies and results but also human opinions, habits and beliefs. Communication and mutual respect can open the door to harmonious living.

Bureaucrat Beat has received a flurry of letters over Caltrans’ removal of crosswalks on Main crosswalksjpeg.jpgSt. in Bishop. Caltrans’ engineers have studies to prove crosswalks are not the safest way. People have their human experiences that say the crosswalks are needed. Bureaucrats make a mistake when they elevate their statistics to unbreakable laws. These studies were intended to function as tools toward wisdom, but they don’t take the place of human experience. Here are two more letters on the crosswalk issue. One disagrees with criticism of the bureaucratic position. The other letter shows how a bureaucracy can provide a true service:

It does appear Mr. Monroe mostly had a public relations problem. And I agree that the public should have been informed in advance of the change. Gaging Mr. Gabriel’s response, it doesn’t appear to me the decision to remove a crosswalk was made to deny citizens their personal liberty of choice. All Mr. Gabriel said is statistics show it is safer to use a crosswalk with signals or stop signs. I didn’t like the flippant belittling comments that disregarded a public trust, 30 years experience, and specialized education. I feel that kind of attitude is common and it bothers me. Mr. Monroe should be careful to accuse Mr.Gabriel of ‘regurgitating statistics’. Otherwise that opens up Mr. Monroe to be accused of regurgitating ignorance. Engineers and scientists are figurative canaries in a coal mine. They are more sensitive to our environment than we are. So, if they sing, it’s in our interest to listen.

Jason Morales

and, this from Russ Monroe:

A comment posted on the KSRW web site pointed out that there was some limited attempt by Cal Trans to inform the public of it’s plans. Rather than harping on past failures, let’s talk about getting it done right! Currently one of our largest and most cumbersome federal bureaucracies is setting a shining example for other agencies with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Committee. A group from BLM has been working all year with the community of Lone Pine to deal with a myriad of complex issues regarding the public and private uses of that unique resource. This has involved many hours of commitment on the part of a group of public servants who could have much more easily sat in there cubicles and generated tons of paper to dictate rules and regulations to us all, but instead Jim Jennings, Diane Pietrasanta, Scott Justham, Richard Williams, and others have been getting together with Lone Pine locals to actually talk it through. As a result, Lone Pine has turned out in significant numbers to express their opinions, listen to the governments needs and voluntarily participate in clean up, construction and planning. Resulting from these efforts are; new accurate maps of proper recreational uses of roads, cooperation with publishers on new books about the area and kinder gentler ways of enforcement to keep a pristine resource protected and available to future generations. A REAL cooperative partnership is now underway and ongoing, dealing with problems that affect the local community and visitors
from all over the world.

Strong kudos to this group.. proving that government can be by the people, for the people. Perhaps Cal Trans could talk BLM into giving a training course in how to do it Right!

Russ Monroe
Lone Pine

Much to think about in our community of minds where no one is king and everyone is a neighbor.

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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