Bureaucrat Beat: Rubber Chicken, Private Jets, and Cluster Boxes

Here’s the ultimate of life imitating comedy. Seems that the Barber Foods Company of Portland, Maine, has recalled more than 41,000 pounds of frozen, stuffed chicken after rubber was found inside some of the meat. The old rubber chicken joke fell flat for those who actually ate Schwan’s Stuffed Chicken Kiev, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Here’s hoping they served no rubber chicken at that Austin, Texas conference a week ago. Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio headed to that Stewards of the Range gathering. Carunchio said he was invited to speak on Inyo County’s effort to coordinate with federal and state land use agencies. The CAO said Inyo’s “fledgling efforts are on the right path and similar to others.”

This conference involved what’s called “co-ordination strategy” between local and federal governments with the emphasis on local control of land. Carunchio said he was excited about local governments involved with coordination for a number of years. He says they become a “broad-based force to be dealt with.” Okay, we’re down with a force to be dealt with. Inyo County, said Carunchio, includes very divergent points of view. If we find common ground, it would be powerful. Truly. We’re also down with that.

We also truly hope that the auto industries solve their problems. Lots of jobs and car dealerships are at stake. That’s why many found it totally objectionable that the CEO’s of the big three car companies flew from Michigan to Washington, D.C. this week in their separate and very expensive private jets. When asked by a Senator if any one of them would be willing to sell his jet to hel the company, not one raised a hand.

Filthy rich guys need to get it. A fleet of private jets do not constitute a necessity.

Times are tough for many Americans, so no wonder the residents of Crowley winced when the postal service came in to yank out the long-time postal collection box at the Crowley store and to rearrange boxes in new “cluster boxes” of 16 or so places to deliver.

We heard from residents who longed for common sense activity – like why not leave the collection box where it was? And, how about home delivery for everyone instead of “cluster boxes”? One woman said, “We’re ready to launch a petition.”

We called Mammoth Postmaster Gary Fultz, who oversees Crowley. He has quite a story to tell, which he punctuated with the statement that “50% of the people in Crowley love me and 50% want me crucified.”

Okay. Here’s the story. Postmaster Fultz said he took the initiative on a lingering issue – to assign street addresses to the folks in Crowley for good 911 response, for better postal delivery, contacts by utilites, etc. This new organization then introduced the cluster boxes. Postmaster Fultz said the first phase of his project is to “get everybody out of the Crowley store, where there have been 130 boxes outside. They are accessed with keys.” Fultz said that as the community grew, the problems with mail delivery did too. Seems Mono County also supports this project for street addresses.

“Change is very difficult,” philosophizes Fultz. “I’ve been treading on thin ice. Now there’s a whirlwind.” Fultz is working hard with the county to match names with real street addresses. There are not enough cluster boxes to serve all the people yet.

Fultz noted that every cluster box unit (there are 22 of them) does have a slot for mail collection. As for the Crowley Store collection box, he said that the regulations dictate that a collection box must have 50 pieces of mail daily to justify its existence. He said nationwide, the postal service has yanked many collection boxes. He admitted there should have been more notification to the people.

We vowed to help Postmaster Fultz keep people informed as this internal turmoil tries to sort itself out. It looks like Postmaster Fultz’s sincere effort to organize the community has run into human desire for life to have some things that don’t change.

While people struggle to pay bills, handle health care, buy gasoline – anxiety rises. It would just be nice not to worry about how the mail will arrive.

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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