Register to vote!
Tuesday, June 8, is a very important day. It represents a day where you can have your say and exercise your voice. It’s Election Day!
Have you registered to vote? In Mono County you can pick up a voter registration form at any Post Office, at the Mono County Office (above Giovanni’s) or visit www.monocounty.ca.gov and click on “Residents,” then “Voter Services.”
The last day to register to vote is Monday, May 24, and you can request a vote by mail ballot up until Tuesday, June 1.
For additional information, contact the Mono County Clerk at 760.932.5537. In Inyo County, you can pick up registration forms at any Post Office, the D.M.V., or call the Inyo County Clerk and request a vote by mail ballot at 760.878.0224.
You can vote if you’re at least 18 years old, and I strongly encourage the younger generation to get involved, as YOU will be our next Town leaders. I urge you to ask questions of our Town Council candidates, particularly what their vision is of Mammoth Lakes, and how they plan to get us there.
We as the stakeholders of our Town (property owners, business owners, employees, etc …) have a right to exercise our opinion of who we believe will be the best leader, has our best interests in mind and is willing to fight for them.
Tony is grrrrreat!
Before I fade into obscurity, I would like to pass along some info that not many business owners or others know. When I was Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce President and even during my 12 years on the Chamber Board, any time that a business owner came to me with a question or a problem they were having with the Town or state government, I would immediately go to Tony Barrett for guidance or assistance in helping the business with their problems. He was able to assist me in EVERY one of my requests and also help the business in need of assistance. He was always there for me AND our local community!
We need him in Mammoth! He understands what you have all been going through during this recession and will continue to help you for many years to come!
Vicki L. Russell
Wood stands alone
I read with interest Angela Olson’s piece last week in which she analyzed the dynamics of the upcoming Mammoth Town Council election. She suggested that there exists a “Stapp-Clark-Wood” trinity which is opposed to reasonable development.
That is unfortunate, as it is incorrect. I do not consider myself to be part of a “trinity” or “triad,” or for that matter part of an activist group. My record over a 16-year period shows the following: that I am an independent decision-maker; that I consistently guided the Council to consensus and firm decisions on a variety of timely issues during five terms as Mayor; that I take thoughtful, principled stands on important matters consistent with what I believe to be the values of the community; and that I have been supportive of reasonable and appropriately-placed development projects.
A review of recent history shows that I was there for and had something to do with the construction of our existing Town-wide trail system, Shady Rest Park, and skate park; for the expansion of the Whitmore fields; and for the renovation of Old Mammoth Road and establishment of a transit system. I negotiated the purchase of the Bell Parcel on behalf of the Town. I was a political representative during the Intrawest development agreement negotiations. I was there at the genesis of air service. I was one of two Councilmembers who formed Mammoth Lakes Housing. I was the architect of the successful Village commercial tenants negotiation in 2009. All of these are positive, forward-looking accomplishments of government and policy-makers.
It is important to acknowledge the past, but also to look to the future. I think that most of the community has moved beyond the simple “growth versus no-growth” debate. Support for “growth” and “development” should not equate to blindly accepting any and all project proposals.
My “opposition” to Old Mammoth Place was not anti-growth. Instead, it reflected genuine criticism of a failed public process which, notwithstanding an outstanding job by the Planning Commission, took 60 meetings and more than 3 years to complete.
I accomplished my objective in the appeal, which was to require this Town Council to “own” the decision to approve the project, thereby establishing its legacy.
To Ms. Olson and all others who are engaged and involved: thanks for promoting a public discussion of what is important in this election. In the end, the community demands balance on its Town Council and leadership from everyone who seeks to serve.
To most Mammoth voters, I believe the Town’s Budget is the single most important issue before us. The budget represents the financial foundation for what will be the Town’s work plan for the coming year. Without going into mind-boggling detail, let’s look first at the Town’s Reserve Accounts, and then at our Operational Budget.
Our many Reserve Accounts consist of things like our Reserve for Economic Uncertainty (REU), Self Insurance Fund, Vehicle & Equipment Replacement, Employee Leave Reserve, Capital & DIF Reserves, and about 20 more, smaller reserve accounts. It is also important to keep in mind that a considerable amount of the money kept in the Town’s Reserve Accounts is, by definition, committed to future construction of Capital Projects. During just the past three years, the Town has spent around $7 million from our Reserve Accounts to continue with construction of some $44 million in several large and small Capital Projects such as the Lake Mary Bike Trail ($14 million), the Airport Runway ($10 million) and Airport Terminal building ($2 million), the purchase and remodeling of our Transit facility ($4.5 million), and others. So, the $7 million in Capital Reserve accounts was leveraged to construct $44 million in mostly grant funded, beneficial community projects.
In total, the amount of money in these various “Reserve Accounts” in 2005 was $13,703,000, and today that total is nearly the same at $13,438,788. Largely because of local development, and the resulting “economic golden years,” the amount of money in these reserve accounts ballooned to $20,321,857 and $19,915,131 during 2006 and 2007, respectively. It was that incremental $7 million gained in our Capital Reserve accounts that was spent on the $44 million dollars of Capital Projects.
The current $13 plus million in our 20 various Reserve Accounts, compares to an overall operational budget of $16.3 million, and represents a much higher level of set-aside funding for Reserve Accounts than most other cities. Additionally, the 25% funding of the Town’s REU, is also very high when compared to other cities. Mono County by comparison has a “reserve” of 11% of its budget, drew down around $1 million this past year, and expects to continue drawing down reserves for the next two years. The bottom line is that even though the Town’s overall reserve account funding is not at the peak levels of 2006 and 2007, it is still at an exceptionally high level, and represents one aspect of financial health.
Now let’s look at the Town’s Operational budget.
One year ago the adopted Council budget produced a revenue surplus of $91,000, which was transferred 100% into the REU. This year, the Council further lowered revenue projections, and estimated revenues for the year at 92% of the prior year. And the final adopted budget was $16.3 million. Our 2009-2010 budget will also result in yet another revenue surplus, possibly as much as $800,000. This extra $800,000 should also be put into the REU to help bring the REU back up to the historical 25% level.
I support a continuation for 2010-2011 of the $16.3 million dollar operating budget we had in 2009-2010, down from the peak budget of $17.8 million in 2007-2008. I also support a continuation of the two furlough days per month for Town employees. Any revenue surplus should continue to go into the REU until it is again funded at the 25% level. I also support funding our new DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) at 100% of Measure A dollars. I also support making necessary staffing cuts, so that there will be sufficient funding for our newly reorganized Parks and Recreation Department, and including the re-instatement of the three winter-time, public works, snow removal operator positions.
Who can make vision a reality?
The June 8 election for three Town Council seats is more critical to our community’s future than any I’ve seen in my 20-plus years in Mammoth. Absentee ballots have arrived in the mail. Before marking their ballots, I fervently hope voters will reflect most carefully on where Mammoth has been and where it needs to go to be a thriving resort community.
In 2007 we reached consensus on the General Plan Update’s vision for our future. Leadership, experience and collaboration on Council are what’s needed to achieve that vision. We have the plan. Which three of the eight candidates can make our plan a reality? Which three can work effectively with each other and with the rest of Council to make tough decisions, yet never lose sight of the vision?
Hey, you, get off of my lawn
Just a note to express my displeasure when a candidate for Supervisor assumes he can place a sign on someone’s property without asking. It tells me this person is not going to listen to the constituents of his district (#4).
Tim Fesko has our phone number and should have asked if we were supporting him and if we were, could he place a sign on our property.
We live on Conway Summit and there are two signs on the property that already reflect who we support.
Warner not much for Tenneyvision
Recently in the other newspaper, Elizabeth Tenney described an economic grand vision for Mammoth Lakes: “The eight candidates should know. Ask them what they would do to stimulate our local economy, raise occupancy rates, welcome well planned development, encourage jobs and make it easier to run a successful business in our town.”
In other words, we need more condos which will bring more visitors to feed our local businesses so we can collect more Transient Occupancy Tax and more sales tax and this economic juggernaut will be powered by cheap immigrant labor from all over the world and everybody will be rich and happy. Sounds great, except it ain’t working.
Our occupancy rate peaked in 2004 at 39.6%. In 2009 it was 30.3%. Our revenue from sales tax peaked in 2005-2006 fiscal year at $2,499825.93. In 2009 it was $1,596,896.48.
From 2000 to 2009, the population of California increased nearly 10%. There are more people in California coming here less, perhaps because they don’t like what Mammoth Lakes has become.
All the development in the last 10 years — The Village, 8050, the W, Snowcreek, Tallus, Starwood, the airport, the ice rink, the ski back trail and all the smaller stack and pack high density condos – all that development done primarily to enrich the developers and willfully accommodated by our community leaders – has not made everybody rich and happy.
At the same time, the quality of life for the average person living in/visiting Mammoth has diminished.
And even in the face of declining revenues, there are those who repeat the grand vision like a mantra.
The developers themselves of course because they get rich building condos. They don’t believe it but they really want us to believe it so they can build more condos.
A small segment of the real estate sales and services community followed the developers here hoping to make a quick buck selling those condos. I don’t think they believe it either but also don’t really care much one way or the other just so long as they can sell more condos.
Out of date and out of touch politicians (and their proxies) still think empty promises about riches for all will get them elected (or reelected).They might believe it or they might not. Doesn’t matter so long as they get elected.
Then we have the small business owners who really need to believe something will keep them from going down in flames. But they can’t seem to see past their cash registers and understand that development like we’ve had will bring new businesses that they will have to compete with. So development like we’ve had actually makes their business environment tougher not easier.
And when empty promises don’t make everybody rich and happy, then it’s the towns fault and the town is expected to “Do Something Quick! Approve More Condos!”
The grand vision for Mammoth was probably a valid strategy for economic development 20 or 30 years ago. It’s a different world now. There are different opportunities for Mammoth Lakes now. There are booming industries now that didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago that would fit nicely into our community and diversify our economic base. Industries that would dovetail with our existing recreation industry and businesses without decimating it with even more of the same kinds of businesses trying to serve fewer and fewer people.
Unless our community leaders take the blinders off and look for new and different ways of growing our economic base, we are just going to get more of the same. Each new wave of developers is going to tell us the same lies and make the same empty promises and our community leaders will do everything they can to accommodate them and in the end the beauty and charm that once described Mammoth Lakes will be just a memory.
MAPOA offers its electoral GPS
There have been many development projects that have come before Mammoth town governance since the formation of the Mammoth Alliance of Property Owner Associations (MAPOA) in February of 2009. This letter is to heighten awareness to how town governance has responded to public comments for multiple development projects that have been reviewed since then.
With the upcoming Town Council election on June 8, there is an opportunity for the public to take an active role. Even though some of your readers are second homeowners who cannot vote in the election, they are still business owners, as most rent their units and get first-hand feedback from visitors regarding what they value about Mammoth. Also, everyone has friends and associates who are full-time Mammoth residents, so there is an opportunity to make the public opinions not only heard, but also change the composition of the Town Council.
With the economy still struggling, people may be tempted to sit on the sidelines since actual development is likely years away. That may be true, but significant activity is currently in the planning (and zoning) stage.
There are several issues that are important for Mammoth during this election; MAPOA is focusing on the issue of large-scale new developments that are under consideration since MAPOA formed and how Town Council candidates have reacted to specific developments during this time period. Voters need to decide for themselves how important the development issue is and act accordingly.
Only one of the incumbents is running for Town Council, John Eastman. Based on our assessment of Mr. Eastman’s performance pertaining to new developments, we strongly OPPOSE his reelection. Several times at meetings we attended, we heard members of the public say “John Eastman never met a development he did not like.” We clearly saw him act consistent with this statement at every meeting.
We have observed Sharon Clark (currently a member of the Planning Commission) during multiple Planning Commission meetings and several discussions. She has also taken time to speak out as a “Mammoth resident” at Town Council meetings to express her views (which are similar to our views and often in conflict with both the Planning Commission and Town Council) about both Mammoth Crossing and Old Mammoth Place. We strongly feel that she supports reasonable developments consistent with the General Plan and opposes “high rise buildings.” Her views are consistent with Mammoth’s “Village in the trees” vision and hence we support her campaign for town council. As a former county supervisor (not in Mammoth), she is exceptionally qualified, not tied to the current Mammoth way of doing business, and can be an agent for change.
Tony Barrett is currently a member of the Planning Commission. Tony supported (Sharon Clark dissented) zoning changes for Mammoth Crossing that allowed building heights of 90 feet and double density. Largely a result of the crane/balloon demonstration of height performed by the developer, height was subsequently reduced by 20 feet by the Town Council. Tony also embraced the flawed, incomplete CBIZ policy, and to allow “extra” height up to 64.5 feet for Old Mammoth Place.
Of the other 5 candidates for town council, we have not seen them “in action” since the formation of MAPOA and hence do not have actual demonstrated performance to judge them, thus leaving it up to each individual to decide whom to support based on their campaign rhetoric, newspaper articles, etc. It should be pointed out, however, that Rick Wood and Kirk Stapp have been members of town governance in the past so town residents have had an opportunity to judge their performance directly. Although there are three candidates you can vote for, you do not have to vote for all three, especially if you are not sure where each candidate stands.
In summary, all Mammoth residents and business owners need to be heard. Regardless of whether you agree with MAPOA, we implore you to take action. As already mentioned, you all have friends and associates who are full time Mammoth residents, so you have an opportunity to make your views heard and affect the upcoming election.
Arch McCulloch, MAPOA Pres.
Andy Ott, MAPOA Sec.
More than a purveyor of sweets
Friends and I mailed to every registered voter in Mammoth a brochure telling you who I am and why I’m running for Mammoth Lakes Town Council. Here is a summary of who I am: I was in the first class, 2008, of the Community Emergency Response Team and am currently Board Secretary; I work at Cast Off every Thursday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; I was a founding member of MLTPA; I work in our hospital emergency room when needed; I participate in the Friends of the Library book sale; I worked first at “The Holler” with Dinah Craig and the Jazz Jubilee but our site is now at Whiskey Creek. I also taught school after earning my Master’s Degree in Connecticut; I was a county budget officer and owner-operator of a small business in Indiana and am currently a Mammoth Lakes Planning Commissioner.
There is misconception about how I view growth. This was my question at the Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum: “Do you oppose growth?” My answer: “Absolutely not.” As a Planning Commissioner, I voted for Snowcreek VIII, lest you think I oppose development. I do not. Quality growth is a fulfillment of our General Plan vision. Careful, long term, sound planning with concern for our economic, social and environmental well-being will bring the sustainable growth we all want. Together we’ll make Mammoth all we can be.
Well-connected? To what?
In a recent interview with the Mammoth Times, Eastern Sierra Unified School District Superintendent Don Clark stated:
“I know there is tremendous amount of distrust, mostly due to the ESA (Eastern Sierra Academy) issue. There is a small group of very vocal and well-connected people manipulating the media and public. Then you see that we do have support, such as the 70 people that signed the petition in favor of what we are trying to do. They aren’t connected and they feel they are not being heard.”
My son is a freshman at the ESA, and yes, I have been vocal and that is my right. But “well-connected?” What is it exactly that I am connected to, Superintendent Clark? Am I passionately connected to supporting the teachers, schools and kids of this district? Yes. I have also been well connected to my computer writing emails to fellow parents and concerned citizens, and letters to the editors of local newspapers. In addition, I have been well connected to my car, driving 45 minutes each way on multiple occasions after a full day’s work in order to attend as many of the ESUSD meetings as possible, to listen and to be heard. Or, perhaps you are saying I am “well-connected” to some “small group” of outspoken citizens, like a conspiracy? I moved here a year ago and had met only a couple of parents prior to this bitter process. As a result of it, however, I have met many wonderful, hardworking, concerned residents and parents, who have been trying their best to prevent this “train wreck” that you could not. I resent the implications of the term “well-connected” to describe our joint efforts.
“Manipulating the media and public,” you say? Well, that doesn’t give the media or public much credit, does it? I have noted that the media have been present at most of the school board meetings, and have seen for themselves firsthand what has transpired, and what folks have had to say. I would say the same goes for the nebulous “public” we have apparently manipulated.
As far as gathering signatures, my observation is that the citizens of some of the communities of this district spent hours and hours working on ideas that might have meant a reduction in the number of teachers terminated throughout the district; ideas that gained “no traction” with the district staff. Perhaps it would have been more worth their while, and in the end more effective, to have spent that time gathering signatures in support of keeping teachers employed and schools open.
Please don’t attempt to devalue the opinions of others, including that of my own, by assigning ill-defined and bogus powers to those who disagree with you. I would also add that just because there are fewer people who feel comfortable standing up in front of crowds to speak, and expressing their opinions via newspapers, don’t kid yourself in thinking that there is necessarily a minority of people who opposed your solution to the budget crisis.
I would like to address the people of Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding areas of Mono and Inyo Counties regarding the issue of medical marijuana.
I understand there are skeptics out there who are not in favor of what Dr. Harris and I do. They seem to think that “cards are being handed out too easily.”
Therefore, I would like to educate the public on exactly what happens here at 420 Medicard of Mammoth Lakes and how we help our patients.
Simply put, we provide medical consultations for patients looking to obtain a doctor’s reccomendation for the use of medical marijuana. We do not “give out cards.” Dr. Harris is a California licensed Physician and has been practicing as an M.D. for over fifteen years; he and I both take our roles as medical professionals very seriously.
Regarding the practice of telemedicine that many are wary and judgmental of, it (telemedicine) is serving its purpose here in the Eastern Sierra in exactly the role it was designed for: to reach patients in rural areas and deliver healthcare that is or was not being delivered.
Every patient that consults with Dr. Harris and receives a recommendation for medical marijuana is absolutely 100% legitimate and in compliance with state laws that govern our practice.
We value the views and opinions of the public and welcome any inquiry regarding our business, values, and goals.
Director, 420 Medicard