Dead Birds, DOJ (yawn), and State Bandits

Ran into classic
bureaucracy last Friday. A worker on my property found three dead birds
– a hawk, a quail and a crow. That seemed odd. So, I called the
Environmental Health Department where they told me to call the West
Nile Virus Hot Line. Local health departments have to take orders from
the State.

So, okay. I dialed 877-WNVBIRD. You guessed it. A voice menu system
starts talking. I never do get a live person. Just lots of choices and
finally a place to leave my name, phone number and dead bird

Local environmental health did call back but said they had to wait for
instructions from the Hot Line. Someone from the Hot Line did call the
Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom. I was on the other line to local
environmental health at the time. The man left the same toll free
number for me to call back. Why? I did call back. Went through the same
drill. Left the same information and asked someone to call me. They
didn't. It was Friday – time to erase work from the picture early on in
the day.

Hopefully, those dead birds did not have West Nile Virus or some other
disease. We buried them, as suggested by the disease guys. So, we ask
you – what's the point of this system? Since the State does not have
enough real people to handle the dead bird calls, how about they let
local people handle it? Pay them to do this, or just forget the whole
thing. That's better than pretending we are looking for virus-ridden

This is just one system failure. A local attorney told me the other day
that if you have to go to court in Kern County in Ridgecrest, the court
does not schedule your case for a time. You have to show up in the
morning and you may sit there all day, at the client's expense, until
the court deigns to call your case – maybe at quarter 'til five.

The Department of Justice has failed Inyo County. Sheriff's
investigators called in DOJ when the body of Shaleen Duckey was found
last August. DOJ still has not sent Inyo a final report on the cause of
death. Something's just not working right.

Speaking of not working right, one of our listeners shared some
information with us. Reader's Digest published a column that says our
tax dollars are going to rich guys like Ted Turner, Sam Donaldson and
David Rockefeller – in the form of farm subsidies. These big bucks
fellows own land in rural areas somewhere and they receive farm
subsidies. Money paid to keep these people from farming. This method is
supposed to control the agricultural market. According to the RD
column, the Washington Post has reported that since the year 2000 the
U.S. government has paid people around the country $1.3 billion a year
not to farm. Ted Turner, media mogul, received a reported $590,000 for
land he owns in four states. Most of the millions go to major
agribusiness corporations.

Surely, there is a better way.

Those who must deal with State government feel there should be a better
way. Last week we spoke with Inyo County Administrator Ron Juliff. When
asked about the most difficult part of dealing with State government,
Juliff said without hesitation the fact that the State mandates
counties to perform programs and then fails to pay them for it.

This week, we spoke with Mono County Administrator Dave Wilbrecht who
also named State mandated programs not supported with funding or enough
time to implement them. For instance, Wilbrecht said, the State issues
new requirements for Health and Human Services but not much time to
implement the requirements and no money to do it. Department managers
complain big time.

So, has anyone tried to do anything to clip this harmful state habit?
Wilbrecht said that statewide county organizations have tried. But,
basically, when the State has money problems, officials raid County
funds. More simply put – they are raiding your tax dollars.

We will be calling our State Legislators to ask them what they're doing to stop this bad habit.

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