Bureaucrat Beat: Tyranny of Propositions, Pathetic Refund and Leaders Wanted

Did you know that other states do not rule by propositions and initiatives? California pretty much leads the pack on governance by the populus. If you get enough signatures, yep, your wish goes on the ballot. But, is this a good thing?

We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom like to bring this up at election time. Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek Magazine editor wrote a book called The Future of Freedom – we wondered about that ourselves. He writes that while referendums and initiatives can not be blamed for all of California’s problems, “much of the state’s mess is a result of its extreme form of open, non-hierarchial, non-party based, initiative-friendly democracy.

“California,” he says, “has produced a political system that is as close to anarchy as any civilized society has seen.” Wow. What an indictment! But Zakaria goes on to prove his point with all the initiatives that have bound legislators hands when it comes to money management. He says 85% of the state’s funds are out of the hands of legislators. So, when we vote today, we’re going to vote resounding No’s on all of the propositions.

After all, we elect senators and assemblymen to do our bidding, so let’s allow them to do it, already! They’re already in a major pickle with a $14 billion deficit for next fiscal year.

One initiative we might support – a complete overhaul of campaign financing. A website that looks into campaign contributions listed Governor Schwarzenegger’s top 10 contributors – real estate developers, auto dealers, attorneys, securities, investors, physicians, security brokers, wine and spirits manufacturing and last, be certainly far from least – insurance campanies.schwarzenegger.jpg

We,the people, left in the dust.

Locally, weak leadership has left Inyo citizens in the dust, literally, when it comes to managing the City of Los Angeles. Settlement of the groundwater pumping suit left us with a poorly written Water Agreement. Inyo should’ve demanded free water for its citizens and land for a modest economy.

Mammoth Lakes should’ve exacted more from Intrawest so that today we would not have to scrap the bottom of the barrel for something basic like parking for all of the new development.

Alas, the past is the past.

A spit in the eye goes to the federal government for the pathetic “economic stimulus rebates.” A few sheckles back to people who now struggle to make ends meet. We hear that people on Social Security don’t even get those tax refunds. Where are the big thinkers when you need some big thoughts!?!

On a positive note – here’s a blurb from two listeners. A new Navy ship partially made from scrap metal from the World Trade Center buildings. The USS New York was recently christened as a way to remember September 11th. Ironically, the first USS New York was christened September 11, 1911, exactly 90 years to the day before the WTC was attacked. Irony and honor combined. Thanks for that.

Maybe we need to bring other things home. Our big companies spend lots of money on foreign soil and we let foreign companies buy up what we have created here. Perhaps this is part of the problem with our sagging economy. We just don’t produce enough here at home.

Here’s a destructive piece of work exposed. Listeners passed on a computer virus that can eat up your hard disk. It’s labeled “You’ve received a post car from a family member.” Sounds innocent, but don’t open it! Thanks for that, too.

On to our highways. Some have questioned the recent spate of highway closures during bad weather. Is it really necessary? Or, have our authorities taken to premature restrictions?

We talked to law enforcement and to Caltrans. They firmly replied that our weather this winter is over the top. Old timers say they’ve never seen anything like the high winds and snow which have whipped together to create life-threatening situations.

We will add some advice from law enforcement – in a dangerous weather event, stay in your cars! They will find you. Plus, honor highway closures. They exist for your safety.

Finally, the death of a long-time public servant last week brought to mind what we really need – officials with courage, moral authority and compassion. Judge Don Chapman embodied those fine qualities. We said he was rare, and in fact he was. But, isn’t it too bad that these necessary attributes find themselves in the rare category.

Judge Chapman would have appreciated more of what he was, although he never would have held himself up as the example. One more fine quality from the Judge – humility about his own strengths. Something to think about as members of the public now consider running for office in June.

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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