California’s Joint Powers Insurance Authority paid for a consultant to visit Mammoth this Monday and Tuesday to talk to Town Councilmembers and Staff about “team-building and group dynamics within the context of strategic agency planning.”
I know. It sounds awful.
But it wasn’t!
It was raw and revelatory and uncomfortable.
The catered “therapy” sessions were held at a Village at Mammoth conference room.
Page (whose own coverage appears on page six) attended the Monday session. Facilitator Scott Grossberg (who is neither a doctor nor plays one on tv, though he is a professional magician – seriously) laid the groundwork for Tuesday’s session, where each Councilmember delineated his/her top three priorities.
Housing, surprisingly, was listed as the top priority of just one Councilmember. Whose name I won’t reveal until the continuation on page two so as to build suspense.
It was, however, listed as a top three priority of each Councilmember.
But let’s back up, because the best parts of the day’s discussion were in Grossberg’s attempts to draw Councilmembers out (the purpose being so staff could fully understand what certain Councilmembers want, versus trying to guess at their intentions).
Council, for the most part, tried to duck getting cornered or pigeonholed, lest they take actual, concrete, public positions.
Except for Mayor Bill Sauser.
He’s an unapologetic micromanager, for one, and when asked how Council and Staff might better communicate with and meet the expectations of the general public, Sauser growled that sometimes, you’ve just gotta tell ‘em what they’re getting.
His top priority: Getting the Multi-Use Facility [MUF] built specifically, and finishing already contemplated and planned projects generally.
His second and third priorities were 2.) Status quo with marketing funding. Don’t contemplate anything which might jeopardize revenue. And 3.) Housing on the ground quickly, suggesting the Town buy short-term rental units and turn them into workforce housing.
Grossberg used the phrase “stay the course” to sum up Bill.
Lynda Salcido’s top priority was preservation and improvement of existing physical assets. Second priority: Have people living in the first phase of The Parcel development within two years. Third priority: MUF by 2021.
John Wentworth’s top priority was classic Wentworth. His first priority is to have a workshop with fellow Councilmembers to talk about what the first priority should be. As Grossberg observed, if Wentworth found a genie’s lamp, his first wish would be for more wishes.
Wentworth’s first real wishes were for 1.) To invest in, develop and improve three existing points of recreational access, specifically the Horseshoe Lake trailhead, the new Sherwins trailhead and the Lake George trailhead. 2.) Expanded workforce housing by June, 2020, and to have a developer for The Parcel under contract by February, 2020.
Kirk Stapp’s first priority was a tax measure. If there’s one thing about Kirk, he loves a tax measure. He wishes to impose a lift tax on the ski area. His second priority is to fund development of The Parcel with his first priority. His third priority is to maintain/upgrade existing levels of service within the town, specifically mentioning a need to invest in new trolleys.
Cleland Hoff said her top priority is developing workforce housing in any and all forms, though The Parcel trumps other options. Her second priority is the solid waste program, given the imminent closure of Benton Crossing landfill. Her third priority is 24/7 police coverage.
One of the curveballs of the exercise was that each Councilmember had to name a few things they’d be willing to give up in order to get the things they wanted.
But quite honestly, Councilmembers were in no mood to swing at curveballs. Hell, they can’t hit them anyway.
So I’ll only list those “sacrifices” suggested by two or more Councilmembers.
Hoff and Wentworth said they were willing to pass on the MAC (the proposed new arts and cultural facility). Salcido is also probably in this camp, as she said she is willing to give up “other new shiny things” to focus on housing and the MUF.
Salcido, Wentworth and Stapp are willing to spend less on marketing, shift ing those dollars elsewhere to achieve their aims.
Sauser joked that he’s willing to give up consultants, but that just seems farfetched. This town loves consultants.
Chosen highlights of the day:
1. Police Chief Al Davis scolding Mayor Bill Sauser for his micromanagement. “When you’re Mayor, you have to recognize your position and know that people are uncomfortable calling you out.”
2. Town Clerk Jamie Gray, as Grossberg was drilling down for more detail on a Cleland Hoff priority and asking staff members if they were clear on it, blurting out, “This one we actually know what she means.”
Grossberg to Hoff as she talked about the plight of the labor force and the shortage of workforce housing: “Are you leading from sympathy, or power?”
Grossberg comparing Sauser to Wentworth: “Bill needs a story [or narrative] to go with a decision. John needs data.”