Bureaucrat Beat: Weird Opinions, Slush Funds and Aspen Bears

A recent “60 Minutes”-Vanity Fair poll uncovered some fascinating peculiarities about Americans. 37% found politicians who take bribes as the greatest sin, compared to only 2% who found extramarital affairs as the major no-no. Why, then, does the citizenry let the pols in D.C. and Sacramento get away with the worst sin of all? Hey, maybe it’s because we can’t do a darn thing about it.capitol-u.s

The institution that best symbolizes America? No, it’s not churches, public schools, the media or Congress. Nearly half of those polled chose Wal-Mart as the best American symbol.

One of our website commenters took issue with our suggestion that congressmen and senators could use campaign funds personally when they leave office. We’re still researching that, but what we did find was something called Leadership Political Action Committees or PACs. Looks like these are major slush funds created by lobbyists’ contributions. The politicos are supposed to use it for fellow politicians campaigns. They do, to some extent, but mostly spend it on their own good times.

According to the Washington Post, more than half of the millions of dollars are spent on recreation and personal fun. According to the Post, in the past three election cycles, lobbyists and special interests poured $355 million into these funds, making them the second largest source of political money for sitting members of Congress. Legally, lawmakers can spend the money on pretty much whatever they want, as long as it’s not on their own campaigns.

disney_worldThese slush funds have paid for trips to Disney World, Churchill Downs, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. They’ve paid for parties, funerals, portraits, Las Vegas casino trips and other costly vacations that add up to hundreds of thousands per person. Wonder if they vote for the lobbyists’ clients? That’s a major duhhhhhh!!!

The other disgusting part, and yes it gets more distasteful the further you look, is that legislators use the PAC money to influence being chosen for committee head positions, etc. What a dirty business.

On a more clean slate, seems Bishop high and elementary school districts are poised to unify. A County Unification Committee will vote on this proposal October 21st. The two school boards support unification, so have 26 out of 29 high school teachers and the two unions. Inyo County Superintendent Terry McAteer supports unity and said a public hearing will open up to citizen sentiment October 12th at 7pm, Bishop High School Auditorium. McAteer says unification will save money. That’s good.

To the many people who have posted comments on our website about the bear killing at Lake Mary in Mammoth, thanks for your views. The management of wild animals still commands considerable public attention in Mammoth. We hope that the Department of Fish and Game and Forest Service take note of that and learn to act accordingly.

What the bureaucracy seems to do worst – listen and change. After all, they’re still bureaucrats with regulations. We are still people with a democracy in which our views do count.

Back to website comments. We would appreciate use of real names on comments. Many of you already do that, thanks. If you have a view, back it up with your name.

By the way, news reports out of Aspen, Colorado, reveal they have far worse bear problems than we do. That city has no bear-aspenbear aversion program, only lids for trash cans and guns. According to news reports, in August Aspen police responded to 275 bear calls. Last August there were 18. Wow. It’s definitely the year of the Bear. Steve Searles says this year has topped records in Mammoth.

Other Aspen factoids – 3 residents were injured by bears. Wildlife officials killed 11 bears and relocated 22. Officials in Aspen feel the only answer is clean up human garbage to discourage bears. Aspen’s wild animals sound more problematic than Mammoth’s. Twice, bears that broke into houses attacked humans. That city’s officials will think about stiffer fines for improper storage of trash or feeding bears.

San Francisco put its name on the city’s own universal health care effort that enrolls more than 46,000 people. Recent independent studies, according to the LA Times, give the plan high marks. Oh, gee. I guess it can be done. Why don’t the health insurance industry bought-off senators listen up. We’re frankly sick of both Democrats and Republicans and how they cater to their lobbyists and not us. Just remember, government isn’t what you may think. Our elected representatives, or most of them, work for the lobbyists and their beneficiaries not for us. We can’t afford to pay them to do what we need.

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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