Bureaucrat Beat: Veil of Secrecy, Permit Peeves and Flag Will Fly

For those who have wondered, we in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom spend our days in support of the First Amendment and right to free speech. We do not, however, favor the release of military documents that may lead to killing. So far, the WikiLeaks releases, according to officials, have not resulted in the death of our soldiers and aren’t expected to. Some sources say Afghan informants may be in jeopardy.

The issue that does rise to the top in all of this – the fact that a website like WikiLeaks exists and receives continued support. While some military matters may require secrecy, most government documents and issues do not. In fact, they require full disclosure.

In recent years, the cloak of secrecy hangs more darkly over government matters with a brutal erosion of accountability. A report from the Congressional Committee on Government Reform in 2004 concluded that the Bush Administration “systematically sought to limit disclosure of government records while expanding its authority to operate in secret.” President Obama has continued with this pattern. We in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom find this kind of covert governance disturbing. What are they hiding?

WikiLeaks likely would not exist if our government operated more openly. The 2004 report on secrecy said, “The Bush Administration’s actions represent an unparalleled assault on the principle of open and accountable government.” Last month, the Washington Post revealed that some 900,000 people had become classified top-secret employees with 3,000 top secret contractors. There is no information about what these people do, if their work benefits the public and how much it costs. If we all trusted the federal government, this might be okay. If you trust the government, raise your hand. What, no hands???

Closer to home, some Mammoth residents have grave fears about what town officials may do to re-organize government in secret. As one person said of the Town Council, “They want blood.” Stay tuned, the full truth will come out, likely soon. At least three councilmen have said they will deliver change.

There are those who wish the Forest Service would change the way it does wood cutting permits. Seems that the other day a family decided to go for a permit to stock up on wood for the winter. The Forest Service issued the permit to the wife who had time to get it, but then she couldn’t go on the wood-hunting trip. To do the right thing, the wife let the Forest Service know she would not accompany her husband. The bureaucrats said, oh, no, he can’t use your permit. What??? So, the husband had to go in and pay for another permit. Okay, we know the USFS wants to put the kibosh on people who would try to profit from wood on the forest, but can’t we still use common sense?!!

We’ve heard some carping about something else – the second-quarter profit reports of big oil. Need we say more? Okay, we will. Most of them doubled or tripled profits from a year ago. Hey, we’re all for making money, but come on. The oil guys make those humungous profits from our pockets. Exxon – $7.56 billion – nearly double last year and Chevron, $5.4 billion – triple from last year.

american_flagThen, we had a question from a listener who wanted to know why no American flag was flying at the Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine. We talked to Visitor Center Director Casey Wiley. She told us that the relatively new center had run out of money for the flag pole, landscaping and more, but, good news, they now have a small grant to install the flag pole, which will happen soon, along with landscaping and a native plant garden dedicated to Martha Miklaucic. Funds will pay for a plaque for Martha and for Steve Addington, former BLM director to whom the building is dedicated. Stimulus money will finish up the parking lot. So, thanks to the gentleman who asked.

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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