Bureaucrat Beat: Rod Serling, cocktails in Mammoth and Bishop, Dave Brubeck and really??

“From city halls to county courthouses, from the State house to the White House – bureaucrats control our lives.  Public servants who often try to become our masters.  People whose salaries we pay, but what goods and services do we get?  On Sierra Wave’s Bureaucrat Beat, we’ll report what they’re up to.”  That’s the Bureaucrat Beat declaration of dissatisfaction, but as you may know, Bureaucrat Beat talks about so much more.

Has Rod Serling secretly turned the Eastern Sierra into the new Twilight Zone?

“Our heads are swimming in 15 years of lawsuit details, political maneuvers, very little public talk and now our way of life faces jeopardy.”  That’s what Mammoth people tell us.  It’s a scenario of years of decisions, failed resolution, four Town Councils, who knows how many town managers, secret emails, legal advice that failed and endless closed sessions over the huge lawsuit debt. The public glares through a veil.  People can’t point to one villain and make those longed for accusations.  It’s unclear exactly who the bad guy is.

With these frustrations simmering, now the people have to decide if they want their police department cut in half, if they want to lose Whitmore park and pool or if they want to spend tax measure money originally intended for tourism and housing.  Not happy choices but real ones.  No wonder some of those in the back of the room at the Town Council meeting were secretly sipping cocktails.

We in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom think about cocktails when it comes to Inyo-LADWP meetings.   We have covered DWP issues for more than 35 years here in the Eastern
Sierra.  So, when agendas for meetings between the forever adversaries come out, we feel as if we have entered a recurring nightmare.  The same issues, unresolved, are there!!!  We know the outcomes will verge on crimes against nature.  Frequently, we simply can not bear to attend those sessions.   Rod Serling might be there.

Here’s an episode from the Twilight Zone.  According to LA Times columnist David Lazarus, the mega health insurance moguls at Anthem Blue Cross are sending coupons to their customers for ice cream, processed sandwich meat, mayonnaise and canned vegetables.  Say What!! Anthem alleges it cares about your health and wants you to eat healthy.  This sounds like another one of those recurring nightmares.

Here’s a dream that we highly recommend.  The Mono Inn, just north of Lee Vining.  It is so wonderful that we have to do a restaurant review.  For those who have never had the pleasure, check out the truly lovely dining room downstairs.  Big, clear windows reveal an incredible view of Mono Lake from any table. The atmosphere is heavenly.  So is the food.  Marvelous wine list to boot, and one of the owners, Jim O’Meally will play the piano if you like.  He performed a great rendition of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” while we enjoyed flourless chocolate and espresso cake with a glass of old vine Zinfandel.  Not to be missed.  They are open until December 1.  Cudos to O’Meally and his partner in the restaurant, Mario Aguilar.

They are open every night.  Sunset is perfect.  Make a reservation if you want a table right next to the windows.  Outside tables are divine, too. (www.monoinn.com).

How about the way we all  use words?  No, not the way politicians use them to slip and slide around, hoping they get your vote.  We’re talking about common expressions that seem to catch on.  The one we hear most know is “Really?” with a certain twist of sarcasm along with the question.  This usually precedes some other question or another.  Like “Really?  You’re going to vote for the guy who clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart?”

“Really” now takes the place of past quips like “Gee Whizz!” “Neat!”  “Cool!”  “Awesome!”  “Dude!”  We are a funny lot, we English speaking dudes.

One more episode of Rod Serling’s imagination, or so it seems.  Actually, it’s a real-life Ikea catalog distributed in Saudi Arabia in which all images of women have been photo-shopped out!  In news reports, Ikea appears horrified and blames the Saudi franchisee outside the usual Ikea group.  The elimination of women in their catalog, Ikea says, “does not align with the Ikea Group values.”

At the risk of issuance of a fatwa against the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom, we will say, why won’t the Saudis enter the 21st Century?  We know, it’s cultural and religious and tribal and an integral part of their way of life, but when the male side of a society is either so afraid of the female side or of opening up to reasonable human rights, trouble lies ahead.  The balance of male and female influences lead to a better society in terms of exchange of ideas, business methods and potential human growth.

Maintaining an underclass cuts out at least half of that society’s valuable resources.  Okay, the Saudis have done this for years.  How about a change?  News reports say they’re about to develop whole business districts for women only.  Geeesh.  I guess that’s better than no work at all.  And, how about you let them drive?  And how about Ikea yanking the womanless catalog? According to the UK news source, The Guardian, a poll of working women in Saudia Arabia found 65% “wanted to achieve greater financial independence through their careers.”

Back in the U.S. the Los Angeles Times reported that a federal audit released this week identified $762,000 in “questionable expenses at two Veterans Affairs conferences in Florida last year, including a taxpayer-funded $50,000 parody video featuring a General George S. Patton look-alike.”   Has Rod Serling secretly taken over the U.S.?  This sounds like the General Services Administration all over again.

The article says the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general found that employees had accepted “improper gifts, including massages, limo rides, meals and tickets to the Rockettes.”   More than $6 million was spent on conferences.  At last, Congress has approved the Government Spending Accountability Act to set spending limits and reporting requirements for government conferences.

Will Governor Jerry Brown’s support to change the Department of Fish and Game into the State Department of Fish and Wildlife change anything?  The legislation says the mission of the State government is to be stewards of wildlife and habitat.  According to the Press Enterprise online, Effective January 1, DFG employees must “consider all the plants and animals that are that part of the ecosystem as they manage California’s wildlife and wildlands.”  So, does this mean more humane treatment of bears in the Eastern Sierra?  In SoCal, it seems all the high profile media coverage of bears cause DFG to re-locate and play nice.

Science will enter decision-making.  Hunters and anglers will apparently take a back seat.  Protection of native plants, animals and their habitats go to the front of the line.  Some see all of this as no conflict and that hunters and anglers are also environmentalists who care about the land and its critters.  Some also say this new approach will cause a decline in non-native trout hatchery fish plants.  A few facts would sure be nice.

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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