Bureaucrat Beat: Scrooge Service? Clandestine Gravy, and X-ray Vision


Has the ghost of Christmas Past made it to the Forest Service?

Bureaucracy gone Scrooge? That’s what some say about the Forest Service dinging the Mammoth Fire Fighters Association for a fee to put on the annual Firemen’s Picnic and Canoe Races fundraiser.

This past week-end marked the 40th event which raises money for scholarships and aid to families who are victims of fire. Some of the attendees of the event were offended to hear that for the first time ever the Forest Service insisted on charging the fire fighters 3% of gross raised by the event which takes place on forest land.

Division Chief Thom Heller said that the Forest Service manual requires permit fees of those organizations who help people outside their own group. “It doesn’t allow individuals to benefit.” Good Grief!

Citizens who heard about this were disturbed. They pointed out that businesses donate prizes and firefighters donate time and concern for others. This fee, negotiated down from 5% to 3%, was demanded of firefighters for the first time in 40 years. Bureaucracy gone awry? We’re waiting to hear from Mammoth Ranger Jon Regelbrugge.

When last we blabbed about current events, you may recall the Washington Post story about the hundreds of thousands of top-secret agents, individuals or companies at work, with no accountability, on who knows what at taxpayers’ expense – a kind of knee jerk nightmare to 9-1-1. Well, we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom have decided we will put in for one of those contracts and jump on the clandestine gravy train. Surely they would see we have investigative skills, know how to keep our mouths shut over secret sources and are patriotic. Surely, we would be shoe-ins. Oh, wait a minute. We’re news reporters, so we’re likely on the big, ugly black list of Homeland Security, which seems to disdain the First Amendment.

That’s right. It’s only people who feel no obligation to the American public who will take government money and sign up for secret work alleged to make us more secure. Hey, yeah, what if those 900,000 people and 3200 companies on the government payroll for top secret work on who knows what and who knows where, what if they all said, “If you don’t disclose the cost of our work and justify the effectiveness of it, we quit!” Yeah, right.

To those in Mammoth Lakes who have tipped us off that Mammoth Town Manager Rob Clark may have applied for the City Administrator job in Bishop, high sources indicate that’s not true. Rob Clark also says it’s not true. Said Clark, “I’m not an applicant.” He’s received numerous calls asking him about it. How secure is Clark in his job in the face of sharp political criticism? He called it a “very difficult time, particularly with the budget. I think the Council has an open mind,” said Clark. He feels they support him, generally.

For those inquiring minds who want to know lots of stuff, get this – scientists say they have come up with a tool similar to Superman’s x-ray vision. Yep. No cape or fancy outfit required, however. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists combined lasers, plasma and terahertz waves that they say can see through objects over a mile away. They can look for bombs in packages and, they allege, see terrorists before they do damage. Not sure about that one, but, hey, if the x-ray vision will do the trick, how about we fire those 900,000 top-secret agents fiddling with paperwork!!!

The new Mammoth councilmen say they will bring on change. They did call for a $1.2 million cut from the new fiscal year budget. That’ll change some things. Then, at their last meeting, council members dithered over $30,000 out of road rehab money for the Volcom Brothers Skatepark. Seems Jane Baer had surgery and could not make a presentation to the Measure R recreation fund committee.

Rick Wood pointed out that granting the money would mean circumventing processes with no ability to compare the pavers and benches at the skatepark to other projects in search of money. Matthew Lehman voiced similar concerns. John Eastman pointed to everything Jane has done to create the park and raise money. They all finally supported it. Tough decisions clearly lie ahead.

Here’s an easy one. If you get a letter from a company you never heard of and a check for four or five thousand dollars and a request to moneygram three thousand dollars to them to pay taxes on your big, fat lottery winnings of $250,000, don’t do it. It’s a scam that will likely cost you $3,000. Local people have received these letters and checks from Universal Trust and Finance Inc. There are scam reports about these people all over the internet. Scammers abound!

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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