We find it odd that people have bothered to defend Sarah Palin’s U.S. map that sports gun cross hairs over congressional districts. But, hey, okay. It was her bad luck and timing that linked her political theater to the horror in Tucson, Arizona. Congresswoman Giffords had earlier pointed to Palin’s cross hairs and suggested that might be a bit much and that we should focus on real problems and how to work together.

Now, the Congresswoman lies in a hospital bed with a bullet wound. Draw your own conclusions. We will only repeat that the time has come, as the shootings make one feel, to put aside our political hate and superiority and look at each other as neighbors with common problems and common needs. Our hope for the new year is that we can look hard for the things that bring us together instead of the things that set us apart.

On that note, a Mammoth resident complained to us that he has had it with the Town leaders, particularly the Town Council.mltc12-15-10 You know, what with the court judgment, possible bankruptcy, other legal losses, firings, etc. So, we asked the man what it is about the officials that bothers him. Not all of them made the decisions that led to the mess. He said he does not like the “secrecy, all the closed doors” and the “cozy” relationships among officials and the well-off.

Interesting week in Sacramento where Governor Jerry Brown shook off his old Governor Moon Beam image. Even conservative Republicans have begun to say, “You, go, Jerry!” when it comes to his budget cuts and, maybe more importantly, his order to cut state-paid cell phones in half. Brown turned in his own state-issued phone this week. He then turned his serious gaze on state-issued vehicles. We all know the bureaucracy spends too much money, and it looks like Governor Brown may very well stop the extravagance.

It came to light this week that Inyo County government pays for 155 cell phones for employees. Why? Only those with emergency needs should have one. Most of us pay for our own cell phones. Mono County provides a stipend for cell phone use. How about county-paid for cars? The public that the bureaucracy is supposed to serve pays for far more of its own needs. Time for an end to all this? Most think so.

Of course, we will have to see what Governor Brown’s move to shift responsibility back to counties and cities cost. Most find this move to make sense, too. We just can’t get over the fact that 25 years or so ago Inyo County government had a budget of some $15 million. Now, it’s $80 million. This, with no population growth.

One of our listeners forwarded us information that the DMV has new and much higher traffic fines on the books. This could happen to you – $436 for failure to stop at a red signal; $214 for unsafe speed, 1 to 15 miles over the limit; $328 for unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit; $214 for failure to stop at a stop sign; $616 for passing a school bus with flashing red signals. Okay. We get the picture. The State needs cash.

So do individuals. According to the Associated Press, the number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously thought. The AP says 1 in 6 Americans, many of them 65 and older, struggle in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs. This, according to preliminary census information released last week.

The report says that across all demographic groups, Americans 65 and older sustained the largest increases in poverty. More reasons to leave the silly rhetoric behind and extend a hand to a neighbor.

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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