Will the State of California government go to President Obama for a bail-out? We in the state_capitol_1-12-09.jpgBureaucrat Beat newsroom have begun to think so. Headlines in the LA Times “State could run out of cash by July”. The Governor and the chief budget analyst say that if the five propositions on the May 19th ballot fail, the State will come up short by $23 billion. Polls say that all propositions now stand to fail except Measure 1F which would bar pay hikes for lawmakers in deficit years. There’s a message here. The people want to stop paying and paying and paying. We want to see a detailed plan to cut expenses. We know it’s tough, but please do it.

The tactics to pass the propositions feels like blackmail. Like release of 38,000 state prison inmates and closure of prisons that would send inmates to county jails. Then come threats that the state will raid local budgets and close firehouses. Here’s a line from the LA Times story that screams truth. “The unpopularity of the ballot measures appears to reflect intense voter distrust of Sacramento.”

On to the arts, the antidote to idiotic bureaucracy. On the Los Angeles theater scene, the way back machine takes us to new versions of Mary Poppins and Dirty Dancing. The book scene produced what is described as an intimate portrait of Pete Seeger. “The Protest Singer” honors the 90 year old American icon for his single mindedness and his ability to live the life of an artist with a message. Author Alec Wilkinson, say the critics, “outlines Seeger’s life in sparse prose.” Seeger stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee, was blacklisted, censored on CBS and just hung in there with his belief in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Bureaucrat Beat newsroom sees Seeger as a hero.

We see the new Hobbit Motel in New Zealand as a way to relate more closely to the Lord of the Rings. Possible newsroom vacation for the Tolkien freaks among us.

Closer to home, some in Mammoth Lakes gave out with a big “Harumph!” with news that the Town of Mammoth hired salesmen in Arizona to sell local ads on the Visitors Bureau website. Business owners said they thought the rates were too high, and wondered why town government wants to compete against local media who sell advertising. Good question.

One of our own, Bill LeFever found a classic case of upside down bureaucracy. Seems a Caltrans rest stop on Highway 40 posted a sign that says, “Warning. Non-potable water only. Do not drink.” Thing is – it was posted right over two functioning drinking fountains. Say, what!?! So many questions spring to mind we can barely think. Like, why is the sign there? Why would the State allow non-potable water in a drinking fountain? Why would they let the drinking fountains continue to work? Good grief.

Tired of all the nonsense? Let’s talk about chocolate. We love to check in with the Hershey’s company to find out what they’re up to. It’s usually a sweet and sometimes strange diversion. This time, the Hershey’s people point to hard times and Americans’ likelihood to stay home on what they call a Staycation.

They suggest we all pretend to go on a backpacking trip but instead just go into our own backyards. Okay. Then, they suggest we take pictures of each other for a scrapbook. Then comes the Hershey’s part. Make S’mores – you know, the chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow thing. This does require a campfire since S’mores need to melt. So, watch the kids and the campfire.

Do you ever watch the bus loads of marines who drive through the Eastern Sierra. They stop for lunch on their way. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom really appreciate the Marine base at Pickel Meadows above Bridgeport. Nice to know the Marines train there. In fact, Marine Colonel Norman Cooling planned to appear before the Mono Supervisors this morning. He has an update. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what they’re up to.

At the Inyo Supervisors meeting today, more on travel and expense reimbursement policies. All we can say about that – we hope those in power will make the policy fair, across the board.

And, finally, today, Inyo County CAO Kevin Carunchio confirmed that long-time County Counsel Paul Bruce will retire towards the end of the summer. The Supervisors planned to talk in a closed session today about the appointment of the next county counsel. A confidential memo had gone out to county workers about Mr. Bruce’s decision to wrap up his job.

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.