Thoughts on Bourne
We just returned from the memorial service, or as some prefer to call it a “celebration of life,” for Andrew Bourne. If one did not know the backstory here, when all was said and done one might have thought he was Mother Theresa with sixpack abs. I saw more photos of Andrew Bourne with his shirt off than I ever care to see again. That being said, it was otherwise a flawless evening. The medical community pulled together and made a presentation to this burg that brought us all together for the benefit of Andrew’s memory and the future of his widow and children. The evening, taken in its entirety, will be a fabulous takeaway for the boys and how they remember their father.
We were reminded by more than one speaker that none of us can know the full measure of the pain of another and that none of us can ever know when our own personal storm will overtake us as Andrew’s did him. I am left with a mystery, a conundrum, an empty hole of information about what happened.
If he did nothing other than flirt with an underage girl and have that misunderstood by the law and the media and had a chance to set it right, then why did he kill himself? Of course it was larger than that. There was his community and his family. His rising star falling to Earth. A cinder. I think he could not face that.
There is so much more to this story than we will know for a long time. This is the stuff of great literature, of stages and soapboxes.
More thoughts today…
We heard last night that Andrew Bourne was not perfect (duh); that he was human (duh). What I took away with me was that he was neither. He was SuperHuman. After all, besides being a great surgeon, a good son, brother, uncle; he was a best friend, a stellar father and husband. Add to that the work he did on the school board, that he was chief of staff at Mammoth Hospital, was always debating and competing and racing and climbing and skiing.
On Mondays he studied Buddism, on Tuesdays he practiced Spanish; on Wednesday I can’t remember and on Thursdays it was French and on Fridays he was working toward his blue belt in Jiu Jitsu and cage fighting. I am not making this up. I don’t know where he would have found time to commit the alleged crimes for which he was arrested and charged. There would have had to be two Andrew Bournes to do all of this and that is why this is so fascinating.
None of us can sync the Andrew Bourne we learned about at the service with the Andrew Bourne who might have solicited sex from a minor female. 1,000 emails? When did he sleep? Even if there were only half that number. What is true here is that we all have windows through which the world can peer and sometimes lurk in an effort to learn who we are. Many of us pull the shades down on those windows but sometimes the shades are unexpectedly opened and the light focuses on things that were never supposed to be seen.
Andrew Bourne was a champion in everything he did. Sometime over the last two years he stumbled and possibly fell. Andrew Bourne does not stumble and the Andrew Bourne we heard about last night could not live with the man who stumbled. He couldn’t be that man to his children, his wife and family and his friends and community. That is why we are talking about this and wondering and speculating. That is all he left us.
Dear Mr. Sage,
In response to last week’s letter from Don Sage: Responsibility for the death of Dr. Bourne lies squarely at the feet of Dr. Bourne, who took a professional oath to “first, do no harm.”
He has indeed done a lot of harm, and to blame his suicide on a law meant to protect children from online predators is sadly misplaced. I am sad for your loss, but I for one am thankful for laws that protect my children when others would see them harmed.
Rusty defends decision
Mammoth Mountain’s decision to host a memorial for Dr. Andrew C. Bourne at Canyon Lodge last Saturday elicited a mixed reaction. Below is one negative comment (name withheld because the comment was sent directly to MMSA) followed by the response it drew from MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory.
To whom it may concern:
I was shocked and appalled to hear that Mammoth Mountain will be donating Canyon Lodge, food and service to the memorial of Andrew Bourne. I know, I know – we’ve all been hearing it – Bourne was known, respected and liked in this community. Yes, his death was a tragedy. I do feel for the family that he left behind. But for a large entity – the entity – of Mammoth Lakes to give public and large monetary support to an individual who was about to be put on trial for grievous and horrendous acts shows incredible insincerity and disrespect to the victim and her family. A victim. There is a victim of sex crimes! Of that, there is absolutely no doubt. How, in any way, does Mammoth Mountain feel it is appropriate to act anything other than impartial?! Why, pray tell, does it even feel the need to be part of this situation at all?! In addition, where is this money coming from? If I bought a ski pass this season, am I in some way contributing to this service? Mammoth Mountain is making a serious, serious error here. This is no light matter and I find it incredibly upsetting. This move will alienate current and potential patrons of Mammoth Mountain and the town of Mammoth Lakes. More importantly, Mammoth Mountain is sending a clear message to the victim – and perhaps any victim of a sex crime – of which I as a Mammoth Lakes resident am ashamed of. I am ashamed to be associated with this entity. I do not support this decision and when the opportunities arise, I choose to boycott Mammoth Mountain.
Rusty Gregory’s response:
I completely concur with the view you express in your email on sex crimes and the horrible impact it has on victims, their families and the communities they are part of. I also agree with your strident admonition that Mammoth Mountain remain impartial in this matter. When I first read your email I felt the sting of your criticism. I had the predictable reaction and wanted to respond immediately to defend the company and my decision. I set your email aside and took some time to try to understand your perspective. I can see now how you came to the conclusion that Mammoth and I are taking sides in this tragic situation. I think, however, we are doing exactly what you have so strongly suggested. We are acting impartially.
We are a very small town and Mammoth Mountain has the only facilities large enough to comfortably accommodate more rhan 100 people. I have been running the company since 1996. Since then and for as long as I can remember before, Mammoth Mountain has made its facilities available free of charge to large segments of our community who need to come together to celebrate or mourn. We often provide food free of charge, particularly for memorials. It is the thoughtful thing to do and allowing food from outside sources not in our control, like potluck for instance, creates a host of liability and other business problems for us. The actual cost of providing food for a typical memorial service is very small, considerably less than the expense to provide dinner free of charge to our employees whose hours have been cut due to the recent drought. We are doing this 2 to 4 nights each week these days so I am very familiar with the exact cost.
Mammoth Mountain is doing what it always tries to do – to help our community. I am trying to do what I always try to do – to be thoughtful about the decisions I make and to be transparent and publicly accountable for the results.
For me, to deny the use of our facilities for the Bourne family and their friends would be to act with the partiality and bias you accuse us of. I would have sit in judgment like you apparently have. You have looked at Andy Bourne and the undisputed fact that he was charged with and about to go to trial for sex crimes and have passed judgment. In your judgment you have concluded that there is a victim, not an alleged victim. You have looked at my decision and action to provide use of our facilities upon the request of friends of the Bourne family and judged that Mammoth Mountain is worthy of shame and boycott. I wish I could see this all this as clearly as you.
But I cannot see anything clearly through the tears that stream down my face every time I think of this tragedy. I have concluded that I just don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know how to talk to my wife and children about it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know of any reason to deny the request of the friends of the Bourne family to use our facilities to mourn Andy’s death.
I knew Andy Bourne and I know his family. I know the alleged victim’s family. My heart breaks for each of them. My heart aches deeply for our community as each of us struggles, as you and I are, to deal with this in her or his own way.
I appreciate the time you took to express your feelings to me. With time and reflection I hope you and I and everyone else can find a place for the pain and emotions we all feel. I respect your decision to boycott Mammoth Mountain because you disagree with my decision in this matter. If you purchased a season pass please feel stop by my office on the 4th floor of the Main Lodge and I will give you a full refund.
Let’s rethink sex
After reading about the incident involving Andy Bourne I would like to offer my thoughts. I think it is time for our society to re-think all of our Puritan attitudes and laws regarding sex. Thinking about the whole incident I realize that the young woman was not hurt. She knew what she wanted but her parents didn’t want her to have it.
Girls reach their sexual-ness in the extreme when they are 13 or 14. Nature must have had something in mind to make females sexually mature so much earlier than males so that they are attracted to older males. We have tried for so long to defeat nature in our society and it is not working. We have tried to impose sexual abstinence on all young people and I wonder what would be so wrong to instead allow sex to blossom in our young people. To realize honestly that an urge so strong cannot and should not be suppressed. I would far rather have kids having sex than doing drugs and getting violent and killing and maiming each other and I bet if there were more sex there would be less destruction and anger and need for drugs. More sex, maybe less rape, maybe happier, content people.
I remember when a young lady at our local high school got pregnant with her history teacher. Her grandmother’s response was that she would much rather her granddaughter have sex with a teacher than a no good kid. Sounds sensible to me though my first response was horror but on thinking of it and knowing that the girl really craved sex, I wonder if we shouldn’t all re-think all of it.
In many other cultures the older men teach the younger women about sex and pleasure. We try so hard to suppress all natural feelings and urges and consider pleasure a crime. How stupid our upstanding society is sometimes. We need to re-think. Naked bodies on TV are outlawed but creepy, violent, bloody, sadistic scenes are just fine. Is that kind of programing really better for our kids?
Very sincerely saddened by the entire incident and some of the comments from the many self-righteous nature deniers. What a huge waste of a wonderful and community giving doctor.
La Madera, New Mexico
A happy rebuttal
The following letter from District 2 Supervisot Hap Hazard is in response to a letter published last week from Crowley Lake resident Elizabeth Boyd.
Dear Ms. Boyd:
Having been the County Supervisor representing the Crowley Lake area for the last seven plus years I take pride in my communications with the citizens I was elected to represent. However, I have in some way failed you as you are asking a very similar question to that of nearly two years ago during the last Supervisory election.
In the March 13, 2010, edition of The Sheet, you asked the question: “What is it with former county employees running for Supervisor?” even though I was not running for office in that election you chose to include me, by name, in your editorial (question) comment. I did not respond, as Larry Johnston and Renn Nolan were the candidates for Supervisor and I didn’t want to influence the voters with my comments.
However, this Feb. 4 you elected once again to ask the same types of questions in The Sheet’s letters section.
You stated; “District 2 Supervisor Hap Hazard, retired from the Mono County Sheriff’s Office with a generous pension of close to 90% of his salary plus health insurance for himself and his family, continues to collect a nice Supervisor’s salary with health benefits while accruing more retirement benefits for another “retirement”. While part of this statement is correct the implied accusation is grossly false. Please allow me to provide some additional information for the record.
“District 2 Supervisor Hap Hazard, retired from the Mono County Sheriff’s Office with a generous pension of close to 90% of his salary plus health insurance for himself and his family.” This part of your statement is correct.
(Hap) “Continues to collect a nice Supervisor’s salary with health benefits while accruing more retirement benefits for another “retirement.” This part of your statement is in error. California State Law and Mono County policy state that I can opt out of the PERS retirement system as an elected official. I did this very thing prior to being sworn in on January of 2005. I do not receive medical insurance from my role as a Supervisor and I am not gaining any credits towards another retirement. In fact, I have frequently stated that I am the discount Supervisor. The citizens of Mono County pay me just about half of what the Supervisor sitting in the chair next to me receives for salary & benefits. This is because I only receive a salary with no employee benefits in my role as a Supervisor.
You go on to ask some unknown person (I suspect you mean the voters or citizens) to ask me several other questions that are based on these incorrect assumptions.
”Ask Hap how he squares this practice with the responsibilities of a public official who must oversee budget cuts and contribute to the fiscal health of Mono County. Ask Hap how much taxpayers contribute to his retirement fund and how much they continue to contribute as he double dips. Ask Hap not what is legal but what is fair as we look down the muzzle of $700 billion in unfunded pension liabilities in the State of California.”
Elizabeth, you don’t have to ask others to ask these questions. You can ask me directly and I’ll answer them. Please call me or email me at 935.4999, 914.1403, or Hap04@msn.com. We can speak on the phone or meet at a location and time that works for both of us.
I would like to assure you that no Mono County employee is getting rich off of their retirement and I am not double dipping.
There are numerous media reports and high profile cases of officials abusing the retirement system. This is because they had direct control over their retirement plan. However, there are safe guards in place at PERS that prevent Mono County from wrong doing and therefore the employees have no control over their retirement pay or benefits, including me.
If your concern is that I am working after my primary career has ended then I would point out that Professional sports players (the non-stars) retire with a pension at a young age and go on to work in other fields. Likewise with the Military, where you could have a 20-year career, retire at 38 years of age, and work again. The same holds true with the auto industry, and many other fields.
The simple fact is that after 30 years of service to Mono County citizens working the streets. I didn’t want to wrestle young intoxicated persons and combative individuals at the age of 55 any longer. Many factors went into my decision to retire. I had worked my 30 year career, was still in good health, and felt I had more to give. I knew I didn’t want to expose myself any longer to the possibility of a physical injury so I retired. The streets, even here in Mono County, can be a violent place. In one incident I was shot at four times by a 12 gauge shotgun, I’ve had numerous knives pulled on me, and been involved in more fights than I can remember. I wanted to enjoy my retirement and at the same time continue to serve my communities. And while the position of Supervisor is a part-time job I work it as a full-time position. This is my commitment to the taxpayers.
I again invite you to contact me should you have any additional questions or comments I’ll be happy to speak with you.
District 2 Supervisor