Bureaucrat Beat: ghosts of the past, cranky words, and DWP eats cake

“From city halls to county courthouses, from the State house to the White House – bureaucrats control our lives.  Public servants who often try to become our masters.  People whose salaries we pay, but what goods and services do we get?  On Sierra Wave’s Bureaucrat Beat, we’ll report what they’re up to.”  That’s the Bureaucrat Beat declaration of dissatisfaction, but as you may know, Bureaucrat Beat talks about so much more.

Judge Harry Roberts

Judge Harry Roberts

Somehow, as times passes, some things make you laugh more.  Maybe it’s perspective or maybe the need to smile grows with age.  Remember Mono County Judge Harry Roberts?  If you ever sat in his courtroom, you would never forget.  Or, for me, meeting him in his chambers where the walls were covered in what looked like red velvet.  I’m not kidding.  To say Roberts was a character only offers a superficial adjective.  If he liked a lawyer, that attorney survived his court.  If not, look out.  Long-dead attorney Charles Karpinski once stood up in the audience of Roberts’ courtroom and held up a sign for only the audience to see.  It said something like – Judge Roberts is crazy.  Karpo was probably not Roberts’ favorite.

As time passes, things do change, although for DWP Aqueduct Manager James Yannotta, nothing in the Owens Valley has changed in 100 years!?  That’s what he told our reporter, Rob Gill.  We talked to Yannotta. Check the website for a future story.  His exact quote about the Valley:  “Essentially it looks the same as it did 100 years ago.”  In 1913, according to eye witness accounts and photos, the Valley was a lush agricultural area with green fields, produce, orchards abounding and thousands of trees. Streams flowed into irrigation ditches and the groundwater was high.  Check it out – those scenes are gone.

Moving right along –  Mono Health Promotion Division Manager Nancy Mahannah includes a great quote on her emails.  Herophilus, greek physician and founder of the Medical School of Alexandria, said, “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”  Let’s go tell this to those who stubbornly refuse to support universal health care for Americans.

On a lighter note, lately website comments and other writings have taught the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom new words.  We love that.  Like whinge, which means an act of complaining. Handy word for us. Then there is fervid – intensely enthusiastic or passionate to an excessive degree.  Applause to that.  And, then we have wroth, which simply means angry.  Lots of this bloody hell sort of talk.

And, at the risk of some of our esteemed readers labeling us as far too liberal (Go ahead.  We don’t care.), we will point to LA Times’ columnist Michael Hiltzik, who often writes about real things.  Recently he pointed out that by failure to act, Congress allowed food stamp households to lose 5% of their benefits that had been raised by stimulus money.  No big deal, you say?  For a family of four it will mean the loss of as many as 20 meals per month.  Many of these people are working families who do not make enough to cover everything, not, as some say, lazy people sitting around collecting government benefits. News reports say children often go to bed hungry.

Then, Hiltzik points to further intent to cut food stamps by both parties.  Republicans want a slash of $4 billion a year.  Democrats, $4 million.  A 15% reduction in food stamps, he says, will hit 47 million Americans.  We wonder how many of the fat cats in Washington, D.C. go to bed hungry.  Of course, that’s a rhetorical question.  They have gobs of money, food, great health insurance and corporate bribes.

Back to the water wars.  If you want a very fair and factual account of DWP’s taking of Eastern Sierra water, do read Bill Kahrl’s “Water and Power” and check out W.A. Chalfant’s “Story of Inyo.”  He was the editor of the Inyo Register way back before and during the aqueduct.  Speaking of Kahrl, he wrote an op-ed piece for the LA Times Sunday in honor of newspaper’s coverage of the 100th anniversary of the aqueduct.  Bill called the newsroom the other day to check the facts about the demise of our radio show in Lone Pine in 1977.  The station owner called me and John Heston to say they had to fire us because DWP said they would cancel the KNYO tower lease otherwise.  We got fired, but continue to tell our water stories.  Kahrl told our story in his piece.  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-kahrl-los-angeles-aqueduct-water-policy-20131103,0,3208636.story#axzz2jh7RS8lC

cakeAnd, let them eat cake.  We won’t be.  November 5th marks the actual 100 years of the aqueduct.  LA  will re-enact the arrival of our water.  It’s not a play-acting kind of thing for those in the Eastern Sierra.  It’s more like the anniversary of a death.  We have gone on in our beautiful valleys here, but with sadness about what was and attitudes that still are.  The reenactment, apparently with actors playing Mulholland, Eaton and Chandler, will be accompanied by a live simulcast on monitors at DWP headquarters along with cake and souvenirs.  The Centennial Celebration is funded through a grant from the Metabolic Studio.

We do love the Eastern Sierra and its wide-open spaces, and we understand LA needs water.  We just wish DWP would tell the truth, give us some respect, and give up the colonial power thing.  We have needs – a little land and water.  They should give it to us.  If DWP did come around, we could all look at them and say, “friend” and really mean it.

Finally, remember Harry Hamlin, the good-looking actor who played Perseus in “Clash of the Titans” and graced the productions of LA Law and Mad Men?  Seems he hikes the Sierra every year and loves it.  No Krakens in the mountains!!

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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North County Tea Partier
North County Tea Partier
7 years ago

And speaking of Bureaucrats –

There is an extremely aggressive and persistently annoying Mono County elected official who insists he has the power to give a thumbs-down to virtually every department head, openly insulting them all, and promoting a Tea Party agenda (that appears to be in vogue in the northernmost part of the county) insisting everybody is making too much money (probably not doing very well in his own personal business) and is doing all he can to change that situation.
Fortunately, the other 4 elected officials have finally publicly declared their support for the At-Will group that has been doing a great job in keeping Mono County in the black and our services clipping right along unabated. Many corporations can learn something from the hard-working and talented people who happen to be employed by the county.

7 years ago

Off topic but if you have links that might be of interest to international tourists heading down hwy 395 from Tahoe or up to Mammoth-June Mtn, feel free to shoot them across to my email address. (Mammoth is looking after about 60 of us and our search engine onthesnow.co.uk could almost guarantee front page googles for places on the way to Mammoth and June Mtn and Tahoe).


Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
7 years ago

Anytime I get to read some of BK’s thoughts for us all, it’s hard not to be thankful for the opportunity to celebrate this forum,this community of folks ,of people that dwell, especially today in our wind swept leaves of fall, almost gone in the Eastern Sierra. It has been a busy afternoon,this last chance to submit comments for the Proposed Manzanar Rewards Solar Ranch. Mr. Yannota might be somewhat correct about the somewhat open spaces of the Valley being kinda like 1913 but the sprectre of how unregulated square miles of Industrial solar development could impact the next 100 years . How about a Destination 2100 Owens Valley Forum. Anyone in the DWP want to take that on?
As for the Solar Raunch (Ranch) now that the comment period has ended, What’s next? Is there any respect in the future for the memory of our interned citizens, the historic viewshed of Manzanar . Respect for the sons and daughters who like so many others contributed to the freedom ,the healing, the evolution of our freedoms beyond WWII, respect for nature ,the landforms, the landscape of alluvial fans, the viewsheds of the scenic highway ,the respect of the wonder of creation still evident from Highway 395, the respect of all of our local history, both recently written and for ages passed from generation to generation verbally and a respect for the truth of a process defined as rules, ordinances and laws., CEQA ,General Plans, LGIP’s . Time to make a stand for truth and the Valley which is respect for the past and hope for the next 100 years.