Mammoth Taxi’s Scottie Marzonie has had enough.
Two years ago, he asked various Town officials to look into enforcement of Town codes regulating taxi cabs.
Meetings with the Town Manager, Police Chief and Finance Director yielded “no feedback and no resolution,” he said.
So this week, Marzonie launched another campaign, this one public, before the Town’s Mobility Commission as well as Town Council.
Marzonie alleges that his competition, Mammoth Cab, operated by Ruben Sandoval, is using drivers who not only do not have Town permits to operate a cab, but also have not applied for Town business licenses.
He also said Sandoval’s vehicles do not have required state inspection stickers and may not carry proper insurance
Local attorney Jim Reed, who represents Marzonie, wrote in 2007 that allowing Mammoth Cab to operate in such a manner “not only gives Mammoth Cab an unfair competitive advantage, but is a clear danger to the public.”
Among several points he made in this letter, Reed wrote, “Mammoth Cab has apparently shown the Town that it has insurance as a shuttle service. However, in order to operate as a shuttle service, it must have a PUC permit. It does not. Unless the Town’s records indicate otherwise, it is my client’s belief that Mammoth Cab is not insured as a taxi service. This means, of course, that a person injured in an accident involving Mammoth Cab when it is functionally operating as a taxi may not have adequate recourse. The carrier which issued the shuttle insurance policy will likely deny coverage.”
Marzonie says Town code should be amended to require driver permits and safety inspections be updated annually. He also believes there should be proper verification of the insurance a taxi company holds.
The Sheet called Mr. Sandoval Thursday but was unable to reach him for comment. The issue is slated to be addressed by Council at its April 1 meeting.
Out of money, but in fashion
It’s rare when Council discusses its register of demands (the most recent list of Town expenditures), but Councilman Skip Harvey highlighted one dubious purchase on Wednesday, asking about $1,500 the Community Development Department spent with Creative Image Embroidery to acquire “uniforms.”
According to Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw, the 15 or so Columbia jackets purchased for members of the Community Development and Public Works departments are meant to be worn by staff while “in the field” on job sites. It’s a basic coat identifying them as Town employees.
Town Manager Rob Clark said the coats were budgeted for prior to the downturn, which makes no sense if they were in the 2008-2009, and certainly makes no sense for a department which has operated at a $3.6 million dollar deficit over the past three years.
Harvey wryly suggested later during the budget discussion that name tags might’ve been more cost-efficient.
At the very least, we think community development should’ve limited the purchase to four or five jackets which the entire department could share.
Taxeaters for taxeaters
Was it just me, or did anyone else find Fire Chief Brent Harper’s public comment in support of the police department just a little inappropriate?
Harper said the MLPD is the best department he’s worked with during his 35-year career and urged Council not to “skimp” on public safety.
That’s all well and good, but as The Sheet reported last May, as a percentage, the Mammoth police budget is double that of any other resort police department we surveyed, and given the current budget shortfall, that percentage has risen, now topping 30%. Meanwhile, the Town is less busy (visitation is down significantly). Of the departments the Town will have to look at when it considers cuts, the MLPD by the very nature of its size will be the first department looked at and should be the first department looked at. To cast Council as skimping on public safety if it considers cuts within the police department ignores the larger picture. Which is why Fire Chiefs, no matter how good they are (and Harper is very good) should keep their two cents in their own piggy banks.
Sherwin Meadows parking situation solved … temporarily
When the Forest Service made it illegal to take dogs off-leash at Shady Rest, dog owners shifted to Sherwin Meadows, until police, responding to a complaints from the lessee at Sherwin Meadows Ranch, started issuing parking citations. Responding to public outcry, MLPD Chief Randy Schienle and Public Works Director Ray Jarvis have come up with a temporary solution which will take care of the rest of this ski season.
First, the road has been plowed far beyond the Ranch entrance so that there’s enough parking beyond the entrance to ensure Ranch access. Second, parking will be limited to one side of the roadway (the west side).
Thanks to all for their kind words regarding Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. My favorite comment came from one woman who told me that Jarrett Smith is Mammoth’s Meryl Streep. You can see Jarrett in the very next Mammoth Lakes Arts Center production of “Sylvia” which opens April 9.
A last reminder to participate in the community benefits/incentive zoning workshop which will take place in the Minaret Mall lobby today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On the one side, if you hate the Clearwater project and had your petition rejected, here’s your chance to vent. On the other side, if we didn’t have room to fit in your Skip Harvey is wrong letter, ditto.
By the way, given all the copy that Skip has generated for The Sheet the past two weeks, we will be holding office hours at Base Camp over the weekend. Stop by for a bowl of chili.