In the Eastern Sierra, we may deal with more bureaucracy than most places. Bureaucracies – the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and City of Los Angeles – own our land. The privately held bastions number in the smallness of acres. So, the influence of these governments looms large in our lives. This on top of local government. Here in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom we have analyzed the situation and concluded that we do live with bureaucracy at every side, but what we don’t live with is crowding, paranoia and high crime rates. Perhaps this is a necessary trade-off. In which case, hey, you could even say bureaucracy is good. It doesn’t mean that we can’t poke fun and hold up for ridicule the dark side of bureaucracy. We can. That’s why the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom exists. As you can tell, we had engaged in a deeply existential debate.
Enough of that. Let’s get down to business. Bureaucratic business. Shuffling through the Bureaucrat Beat folder, we came across Inyo County’s Vision Statement for 2020. Let’s see now. It’s 2007. So, in 13 years, apparently, the bureaucrats intend to realize their 2020 vision. Presumably, when officials proclaimed this vision in 2001, they thought it would take 19 years to reach the ultimate. Listed in their priorities for actions as number one is “maintain Inyo County’s natural environment and rural quality of life.”
What have they done to realize this goal? By doing nothing, one could say the rural quality of life is cast in cement. Of course, that could amount to a major illusion or possibly a faux goal (fake goal, that is). The only way we might grow un-rural is if LADWP sells off its land and development takes root and grows out of sight. Probably unlikely, but what if they did? Has anyone examined this possibility?
The other part of that goal is to “maintain Inyo County’s natural environment.” Here, we hit a major snag. In lo these many years of yadayada about water and environment, Inyo County has never (we stress the depth of the concept of never) faced up to the lowered groundwater tables and the stark need to fill them back up. Officialdom seems to think it’s okay to talk and study forever and ever. As the Water Director said, he believes if the water just sits where it is, plantlife will remain static too.
But, as we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom batted about these ideas, we landed on a fundamental revelation. The people of Inyo County have failed to direct their leaders to take action. How many politicians will willingly dive into the shark-infested whirlpool of truly fighting for environmental health? Darn few without the threat of getting booted out of office. So, while we, as news reporters, aim our sights at the elected officials, we must also turn them outward toward the public section of the boardrooms – sections which more often than not stand empty of citizens. As Inyo Supervisor Susan Cash once said, why should we set water issues at a particular time on the agenda when the public doesn’t show up anyway? Point well made.
But, resolution of common problems requires effort on both the part of officialdom and the public. In Inyo there seems to be very little effort on either part when it comes to water issues. There are notable
exceptions of those citizens who do constantly study the real issues and urge officials to act.
Later, we will go into the other four priorities for action in Inyo’s 2020 Vision Statement. One at a time, as they say.
On to Mammoth Lakes. The thing of the day is growth and change and how to plan for it. Quite a different story from Inyo County. While the Mammoth grapevine conversations may drip with vitriol for one’s fellow community members and their ideas, at least it’s a condition of engagement by the public and officialdom. This week marks a list of public workshops on the new draft general plan update.
Mammoth Town government continues to do a good thing – to promote June Lake, a town suffering mightily from the early closure of its ski area this season. Mammoth officials note that June Lake has some terrific deals right now. Like 20% up to 50% off on all kinds of great stuff – cookware, sporting goods, jewelry, art and even lodging. More reasons to make June Lake your vacation destination, even if you live right here in the Eastern Sierra.
Soon we may be able to understand our lives better by re-creating them in a computer program that then moves forward in time to predict outcomes. Yep. That’s what an article in New Scientist magazine says. They’re mostly interested in modeling infectious diseases and how they spread in communities, but the programs could also deal with growth consequences, environmental consequences.
Sadly, some people believe computer modeling more than they believe logic, common sense and the ground right in front of them.
On to Very Pleasant People or VPPs. Today, we want to mention two of our fire chiefs. Bishop Chief Ray Seguine and Mammoth Chief Brent Harper. We find these two men great to deal with in relation to our news coverage. They seem to be knowledgeable, balanced men interested in public service and good human relations. Doesn’t get much better than that in BureaucratLand.
Cudos of good rapport also go to Hospital Board Chairmen Pete Watercott in Bishop and Don Sage in Mammoth lakes. One more note on that. As they look forward to appointment of a new hospital board member in Bishop, Watercott said he thinks that more than political experience, it is most important for the new member to believe in the mission of the hospital and be willing to take action to carry it out.