Bureaucrat Beat: 760 Stays, Oil Drama, and the Jazzman’s Letter

First, thanks to those of you who said you liked being fooled by the April Fool’s Day edition of Bureaucrat Beat. Yes, there were those who believed in the strange, finned creature in the Lower Owens River and the re-hiring of Steve Searles in Mammoth Lakes. We were just kidding! Mind-bending fun.

Bend your mind around this. Seems the Public Utilities Commission wanted to change our 760 area code for some complex reasons. Local officials went to work to protect our 760. For businesses and government, major new printing required when area codes change. Plus, general bureaucratic inconveniences. We hear Inyo Supervisor Jim Bilyeu was instrumental in protection of 760. It’s the little things that keep us sane.

So do the big things. It really is not a trite platitude to stand up for good education, even though state government has decided to rip it down with huge budget cuts. After all, it’s the kids’ education that teaches them to think, or not. Much better to have a thinking citizenry.

We hear teachers with more years on the job may end up teaching classes they’re not interested in, while newer teachers get the boot due to budget shortfalls.

So, when you hear the next story, remember to think of the children. Seems about three dozen members of Congress plan to introduce a resolution in support of parental rights in education, including the rights to home school. A California District Court of Appeals decision prompted the resolution. That decision found parents without teaching credentials who home school their children are violating California law.

Okay. We know parents need rights when it comes to their children, but if they don’t know bupkiss, should their kids’ education rest on ignorance? I guess it depends on whose rights come first. Congressmen say the court decision against home-schooling flies in the face of a movement to get parents more involved in their children’s education. Hey, involvement doesn’t necessarily mean take-over.

The District Court, barraged with criticism, has agreed to rehear the case. All right, already! Maybe some parents make good teachers. Some also make good examples who show kids how to watch good television, read good books and have positive human relations. On the other hand, some parents do neither.

A local Masonic Lodge in Independence sent out material that quotes George Washington, who said, “The best means of forming a manly, virtuous and happy people will be found in the right education of every youth – without this foundation every other means, in my opinion, must fail.”

A recent New York Times opinion piece is educational. Columnist Paul Krugman writes about the difference between real action and merely the appearance of action. He writes, “To hide their lack of any actual ideas about what to do, managers (read, politicians) sometimes make a big show of rearranging the boxes and lines that say who reports to whom.”

Krugman says this is the scheme at work behind the Bush administration’s new proposal for financial reform. “It’s all about creating the appearance of responding to the current financial crisis, without actually doing anything substantive.”

Krugman goes on to write that big financial institutions need to be regulated like regular banks to make our economy more stable. The Administration won’t do that, but will “rearrange organizational charts” instead.

Talk about empty gestures. What about the Congressional hearings that are dragging big oil executives through televised criticism. We had to learn from the Jon Stewart show that Congress has conducted public grilling of oil execs twice before. The result? Higher oil prices. So, Congress, knock it off, unless you really plan to do something to hold down fuel prices. There is a bill pending that would suspend Big Oil’s tax breaks – all $2 billion of them. That’s a start. What’s holding up the vote?

Finally, a letter from Jazzman, John Wedberg:

Sierra Wave Jazz Show host John Wedberg wishes to report a pleasant surprise he experienced at the Bishop Post Office. Clerk David R. Rassmussen (they call him “Razz”) suggested that I send an envelope to Seattle, which needed to arrive as soon as possible, via Priority Mail. Razz said it would get there the next day. But it wasn’t cheap: Sixteen bucks!

So Wedberg forked over the cash money on a Wednesday. After repeated calls from the recipient asking where it was (the envelope contained the insurance premium for the Sierra Mountaineering International liability insurance), it finally arrived the following Tuesday! The special Post Office envelope was beat up, but the contents arrived intact.

Now for the pleasant surprise: Razz checked with his superiors, who authorized a complete refund of the postage! For such a huge bureaucracy to admit a mistake and recompense the customer (in cash, by the way) was indeed a pleasant surprise. Incidentally, the refund transaction took a total of about three minutes to complete.

Thanks, John.

Looking forward to more good news later, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

Comments are closed.