Not to start your almost new year off with a fit of anger, but we just want to note that Congress is in session something like capitol-u.s137 days per year. The Senate, 158. That’s not to say they actually work all of those days. Poor babies. All that vacation time to collect campaign funds from mega corporations and special interests.

Why does America boast one of the worst cell phone systems on the planet? We invented the telephone and did have the best communication system in the world at one point. One of our website commenters said of phone companies and utilities that they have created “an internal culture of excuses and passing the buck.” Very astute observation.

We do want to note that the guys in the field here in the Eastern Sierra worked 200% over the holidays to try to deal with all the bad phone lines, power issues and alarm problems. They gave it their all and assured people they would come back if things went wrong again. Thanks, guys.

scroogeWe in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom watched one of the film versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. We experienced one epiphany. In the part of the film in which men representing charities approach Scrooge to donate to the poor, he says something to the effect of “Are there no work houses? Are there no prisons?” The message – hell, no, he won’t help the poor. They can make it on their own in dire places. This scene made it clear that Scrooge is the poster boy for bad Republicans. Yeah. Don’t help anyone! Let them suffer with no health insurance, no food, no jobs, no home. If they can’t make it on their own, tough luck!

Answer to bad Republicans? Visitations by ghosts of past, present and future. We’re working on that. Bad Democrats need visitations, too. Instead of health care for all, several of them took donations from health insurance companies and voted their way. Sleazy and selfish parading as virtuous and right.

Is it right that legislators should stick earmark expenditures on bills anonymously. We think not. They need to at least have the courage to stand up for their overspending. The group, Citizens Against Government Waste, checked on earmarks during 2010. They found 81 anonymous earmarks worth $6.5 billion. That means whoever sponsored the earmarks was too cowardly to place their names on them. They also broke the House and Senate rules. Clearly no one makes these guys obey the rules.

The fiscal year 2011 Defense budget, according to Citizens Against Waste, includes a $450 million anonymous earmark for the Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine. Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposes this engine as unnecessary and a waste of money. Inyo County’s Congressman Buck McKeon who will lead the House Armed Services Committee next year signed a measure to get this engine funded.

Stay tuned for more scrutiny of how they spend our money.

Why does the Town of Mammoth continue to lose legal fights? Although the whole story has not yet come out about the terminated Mammoth Policeman, Eric Hugelman, it is clear the Town lost part of that appeal. Lots of speculation right now, and it’s unclear how much information the Town can legally release. May the new year be less rocky for the Town.

With a new county supervisor in Inyo, former Bishop City Administrator Rick Pucci, may the new year find a breath of fresh air and the courage to spend energy on the real issues instead of the mindless, bureaucratic ones that may never impact our lives.

Back in Mammoth Lakes, may the citizens who have contacted us about concerns of openness and accountability on the Mammoth Hospital Board achieve their goals. We will stay on top of election dates for the various boards coming up in the new year and in 2012.

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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