Public responds with collective yawn. No bears even show.
The Mammoth Town Council’s bear subcommittee met for the first time in public Wednesday morning. And as much as the committee strived for a kumbaya moment, local State Fish and Game Representative Bruce Kinney apparently doesn’t know the words.
In no uncertain terms, Kinney said he is strongly against creating any sort of special rules which would grant authority to Town Wildlife Contractor Steve Searles to discharge a firearm within Town limits.
Searles believes he needs authorization in this area in order to effectively do his job.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Randy Schienle again reiterated that according to both state and federal law, discharging a firearm within town limits is restricted to sworn peace officers, and Searles does not have that level of training.
In his amended version of the Town’s Human-Bear Management Plan, Town Manager Rob Clark suggested that perhaps Searles could get by with a Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP) certification as required of United States Forest Service (USFS) personnel, Clark acknowledged that the USFS and the California Dept. of Fish and Game might object to this proposal.
They did. Well, Kinney did. The Forest Service was a no-show.
KInney weighed in after a prolonged back-and-forth between Sugimura and Harvey, with Harvey asking (begging) the agency people for a little love and understanding while Sugimura believed it was something the Town should be addressing with higher-ups in faraway places.
Harvey countered that the only way to effect change at the top is if we’ve got the grassroots support of local personnel on the ground.
Kinney said that although the bear subcommittee may be new, history and data collection are not and don’t bother asking DFG or USFS for exceptions to any codes/rules. “We’ve explained why this [empowering Searles] does not work for us [liability issues].”
Assistant to the Town Manager Michael Grossblatt said that on the code enforcement front, the Town took/received 400 trash complaints and ultimately issued 50 citations this year.
Grossblatt added that staff would bring forward an agenda bill in 2010 which contemplates the elimination of curbside trash pickup in the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
Grossblatt said the majority of people responded to complaints by making the necessary adjustments to clean up trash but that there are some citizens “who honestly hate the Town government and do not wish to cooperate.”
The consensus of the committee is that the recession and an unwillingness to pay for extra trash pickups led to increased illegal dumping this year.
The Town’s franchise agreement with Mammoth Disposal just happens to be up for renewal at the next Council meeting Wednesday. Committee member Dan Dawson believes the renewal provides an opportunity for the Town to push for increased service. Searles believes a firm deadline should be established whereby all dumpsters in town would be made bear-proof.
Grossblatt defended Mammoth Disposal as a good partner.
O’Connor made a plaintive request that the Town reestablish a working relatinship with Bear-With-Us.
Harvey said the Town would rely on Searles, who has the “pulse of the community,” to give the committee guidance as to how to best proceed in the area of public outreach.