Here’s a provocative puzzlement. Between wind and fire, which causes disaster? This is no trick question, and for the sensible it would seem obvious that both can lead to disaster, as they did in the Southern California fires in October. FEMA, of FEMA trailer fame in New Orleans, in its two-dimensional wisdom, says disaster assistance goes to fire victims but not wind. What’s the deal now? Do the bureaucrats see fire as a more “legitimate” disaster than wind? It was clearly the Santa Anas that fanned the flames and knocked over buildings.
The Office of Emergency Service Director Henry Renteria appealed FEMA’s decision and took the turn-down with “deep disappointment.” He pointed out that homes and businesses that suffered only wind damage are ineligible for federal disaster assistance. Renteria had tried to get wind damage included in President Bush’s October Declaration of Disaster.
The Bureaucrat Beat newsroom staff mulled it over and concluded that FEMA doesn’t much like helping American citizens. It costs a lot of taxpayer dollars.
Here’s a happy story. Pat and Carl Boyer of Lone Pine looked at new rules that require passports and decided they had better get theirs. They braced for bureaucratic standing in line, waiting, standing line some more, horrible forms to fill out, but, instead, it was all good!
Pat said they went to the Bishop Post Office and were “treated with respect, courtesy and even a lot of humor! We’ll get our passports in plenty of time,” she writes, “and just want them to know how much we appreciate their courtesies. Thanks to all at Bishop Post Office.” Bureaucracies have happy endings.
Here’s another possible conclusion with a smile. We told you about the plan to give utilities in California the go ahead to remotely control citizens’ thermostats when power supplies are maxing out? Lots of angry accusations of Big Brother flew back to State Legislators who might consider supporting this home invasion. But the other day at a Mono Supervisors’ meeting, Edison Manager Debbie Hess talked about what’s called Smart connect system – new meters that communicate with appliances.
Supervisor Byng Hunt wanted to know whether control of appliances would be taken away from consumers. Hess said that the idea to let government or utilities control air conditioners has gone away. She said the Smart connect Meter allows the customer to choose how they want to cut back, not Edison. She said that there are “demand response” programs that can turn off air conditioners during peak hours to avoid rolling blackouts, but they are voluntary and offer subscribers a credit on their power bills.
That’s somewhat comforting. Let’s hope the politicians don’t get an itch to give utilities the control buttons. Things get so wacky in government, one never knows. Take Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, Clyburn pushed a $3 million earmark for the First Tee golf program. He couldn’t get it approved the first time around, so he sneaked it into the 2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. The purpose of this golf program is “to impact the lives of young people by providing learning faclities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.” Aw, come on! We can’t pay for wind damage in California, and health care generally, but golf, yes!?!
The First Tee golf funds were not competitively awarded. The program has received $7.5 million in earmark funds since 2003, including $1 million from the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Education and its Character Education Program. Okay, so Congressman Clyburn loves golf. He even boasts a statue of himself outside the City of Columbia Golf Center, but golfing at taxpayers’ expense? We don’t think that’s proper.
What’s next? Tiddle-winks for hand-eye co-ordination?
Meanwhile, back home, the California Teachers’ Association says Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed a $4.8 billion cut from education funds. Lots of hair-tearing and teeth-gnashing ahead.
And, in Mammoth Lakes, when does a new tax require a 2/3rds vote and when a simple majority? Mammoth officials have called tax measures general, but on the side made political promises to do specific things with the money. Is this legal? some Council members wanted to know. Town Attorney Peter Tracey said that a political commitment for new taxes is “arguably a slippery slope.” He said there are no legal precedents to guide the Town, but the Town legal counsel did say “the more specific you get, the more dangerous.”