Bureaucrat Beat: Credit Card Calamities, Chinese Debt and 3 Letters

We’ve just completed our bi-weekly review of national news. Yikes! Of course, it depends on the source. The pundits speak of Liberal and Conservative news reports. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom search for facts amid opinions. Then, we draw our own conclusions.

Fact: Americans hold almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. Ouch! Credit Cards know they’ve gotcha, and they do dastardly things – like jack up interest rates for no apparent reason, except that they can. Kind of like the Big Oil companies and gas prices. One story we gasped at – a man charged a $12,000 home repair bill on a card with an introductory interest rate of 4.25%. He made steady, on-time payments and the rate is now nearly 25%. The man actually paid more than $15,000 since the year 2000, but the credit card company only gave him credit for $800. Good Grief! Sounds like felony grand theft.

Of course, corporations and banks look at the way the Administration in Washington behaves and apparently think – so who cares if crazy debt practices drown America!! The Bush Administration has borrowed a reported $1 Trillion and growing from China to finance our own debt. Double Good Grief! This stirs an uneasy Peking Duck feeling. China – the guys who pollute the world environment, abuse those who exercise free speech, supply arms to the hideous killers in Darfur. Do we want to be beholden to this country? We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom think not.

A New York Times/ CBS news poll shows that 81% of those who responded believe America is seriously off track. This poll covered Republicans, Democrats, men and women, citizens of rural areas and cities. They’ve had it with the economy. The war comes in next for concerns. When people have to worry if they can afford gas to drive to work, afford pharmaceuticals, medical care and food, not to mention college for the kids!!?! Who are those people in Washington thinking about?

Michael Chertoff, the bureaucrat who heads Homeland Security,is not thinking. He wants to suspend the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws to finish 700 plus miles of the wall between us and Mexico. Hey, we believe in a fix for the immigration problem, but a wall that only covers part of the border? And, now, they’re breaking laws to do it! What if all of us behaved the way the government does. Obey laws until you don’t feel like it. End of national news rant.

And, now for letters.

Lee Gaasch of Mammoth Lakes, public participation zealot:

Who do I call?

I am writing today to try and make things easier for those of you who wish to get involved and make a difference in our beautiful town. I have been hearing from people that when a public meeting, workshop or event comes up, they never hear about it. I must admit, a year and a half ago I was saying the same thing! My attitude changed dramatically when someone sat me down and said in a parental manner, “We are not your babysitter, it’s your job to read the paper and listen to the radio to find out what’s happening around town.” At the time, I didn’t take this as an insult, but rather, accepted it as a learning experience. I have never repeated this sentence again…

It’s up to each of us to take responsibility of how we want to get involved, and to not take the easy way out and blame someone else. Everything we need to know is out there!

To start with, Community Relations Manager Stuart Brown compiles and electronically distributes Stu’s News (Town news, events, and happenings) every Friday. To get on the email list, simply subscribe online at www.visitmammoth.com/stusnews or call Stu at (760) 934-2712 ext. 1210. The Town also prints and distributes 1,000 copies of Town News the first Friday of every month. This two-sided piece can be found in many locations throughout town including online at www.visitmammoth.com/townnews. The Town also posts regular Town Council, Commission, workshops, cafes and meetings on it’s website: www.ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us or you can use a new page created at www.visitmammoth.com/meeting. Finally, the Town posts upcoming meetings/events every week in either The Sheet or The Mammoth Times in a section called “Town Bulletin.”

For Town planning information, you can either come to the front desk located upstairs in the Minaret Village Mall – above Giovannis’, or contact Karen Ridley at (760) 934-8989 ext. 275. If you want to talk to someone about Town Council minutes and agenda’s, ask to speak with Town Clerk, Anita Hatter. Anita can be contacted at (760) 934-8989 ext. 227. You can also read about what’s happening throughout Town and what meetings are scheduled in both The Mammoth Times, The Sheet and Sierra Reader located all over town. On the airwaves, Sierra Wave – 92.5 and KMMT – 106.5 have comprehensive national and local news, including the community calendar at the top of every hour. KIBS – 100.7 reports on the meetings during news casts the day of the meetings. If this isn’t enough, visit the Town offices and catch up on all the news on the bulletin board.

As you can see, if you wish to get involved, there are many avenues for you to take. As they say, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” It’s up to YOU!

Leigh Gaasch
Mammoth Lakes

In the arena of gripes about Mammoth Hospital and hiring of a new CEO comes a ray of hope and light. A comment emailed to our website:

I have worked with Gary Boyd and you are very lucky to get someone so talented, personable and genuinely cares about the quality of patient care in his community. While you may question his position as a VP of Clinical Operations, you have to remember he is in a facility of over 320 beds. I’m not sure how large your hospital is but he was able to manage a very profitable organization. When a hospital doe well financially, jobs are secure, managers are not worried about strict budget cuts and that makes morale very high.  I left John Muir to live in the country. Under Mr. Boyd’s leadership, it was one of the best jobs I ever had. While I don’t know Mr. Matthews, I suspect that your board looked at Mr. Boyd’s experience in a very large medical center and determined his qualifications more that exceeded that of a CEO in a smaller hospital. So titles do not always represent expertise. Your hospital will be a great success under his leadership.

Margaret Murphy, Director of Cancer Services, Paradise, CA.

And, finally, a letter from Daniel Pritchett with a plea for open government:

I salute the Inyo County Board of Supervisors (BOS). Its strategy for violating the intent, while paying lip service to the letter, of the Brown Act is a tribute to the BOS’s creativity and communication skills. I refer to the BOS’s recent decision to move the Inyo County Water Department (ICWD) from Bishop to Independence. In commemoration of “Sunshine Week” (www.sunshineweek.org) I offer the following analysis.

Last fall, we learned the BOS was considering moving ICWD to Independence. ICWD staff members – all of whom live around Bishop – were alarmed at the major cut in pay and quality of life such a move would effectively cause. They were then told in late November the move to Independence wasn’t going to happen. Then on February 9, 2008, the Inyo Register reported that the BOS had already decided to move ICWD to Independence.

When did the BOS make this decision? What data did it consider in its deliberations? Which Supervisors voted for the move? When ICWD staff asked similar questions, they were told, in effect, “You don’t need to know.”

Thanks to radio KSRW, county counsel Paul Bruce has given clues to what must have transpired. In cases such as this, state law requires Inyo to engage in a consultation with the employees union (a “meet and confer” process) before acting and the Brown Act allows the discussions of labor consultations to be held in closed session. The BOS must have taken advantage of a closed session – justified by discussion of the “meet and confer” process – to go ahead and make its final decision on the merits of the move to Independence, thereby concealing its deliberations from public scrutiny.

Under the Brown Act, actions taken in closed session must be documented in minutes and reported publicly. So why are there no minutes of the closed session where the BOS made its final decision on the merits of the move? Because the BOS must have made its decision without taking an action.

How could the BOS have made a decision without taking an action i.e. voting? Good question. You’ll have to ask your Supervisor. Of course he/she doesn’t have to tell, because the non-vote occurred in closed session which makes it confidential. If you think this is a good way to run county government, be sure to vote for incumbents in the upcoming BOS election in June!

Daniel Pritchett

Bishop, CA

Let the sun shine in! Otherwise, there’s all that dark. 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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