Solutions to recreational activities are the best policy. Folks come to Mammoth for the year-round outdoor experiences we offer. We must not only improve upon what we already have, but implement new concepts in recreation.
Our town is surrounded by the Inyo National Forest. These public lands are where we and our visitors play. In our governmental restructuring, we must have a lead department person in recreation and approve a workload for that person to give them the time to plan and support a strong vision to continue what we have and implement what we need for recreational activities. Mammoth Lakes Tourism must work hand in hand with our recreation department lead to promote tourism as well. Promoting tourism brings people here and keeps them coming back.
We must start with what we have now—the potential for an incredible regional trail system, a proposal for the new track—and keep moving to our “fields of dreams.” There are many recreational and cultural events that would come to town if we had the fields and venues available for them to use. We could bring dog shows, flower shows, equestrian events, lacrosse, soccer tournaments and other sports activities that would fill lodging beds and have visitors shopping in our retail stores and eating in our restaurants, increasing room nights and providing more T.O.T and sales tax to the town.
The Hart-Howerton Main Street plan recommended recreational fields at the entrance to town. We need to capitalize on that brilliant idea. I recommend that the Town work cooperatively with Mono County to do land trades with the Forest Service that would enable us to acquire land at the entrance to Mammoth to build recreational fields.
When I served on the Tourism Commission in the late 90’s we recognized that Mammoth is a “Recreational Resort.” We need to go back and embrace that philosophy and work with the various agencies in the Eastern Sierra to implement new programs and search out funding that would not only benefit the Town of Mammoth Lakes but also the Eastern Sierra Corridor for recreational purposes. We are a prime location to implement “Eco-Tourism” recreation. If elected, I will recommend and advocate the following:
· Ensure there is town representation working cooperatively with the Inyo National Forest and other nonprofits.
· The DMO should target market to recreational groups.
· Implement our Parks Plan.
· Create a “Dog-Park” venue in town.
· Create a voluntary Mammoth Lakes Visitor’s Card. This card would entitle folks who purchase it to reduced rates for activities, including but not limited to the ice rink, sports equipment rentals, restaurant and retail; business specials and more. We could price the card at $1.00. Imagine the revenues if only one half of our annual visitors purchase a card. The revenues could amount to approximately 3 million dollars annually to go back into Mammoth Lakes Tourism, trails and other specific items we identify.
· Realize a $200,000 savings annually for the Town, which could be used for event planning and marketing by negotiating an agreement with James Demetriades, owner of the property where Old Mammoth Place will be developed, to move the Town ice rink to that property for the 2010-11 winter season and beyond as well as building a roof-type cover on it. I would also recommend in those negotiations that Town programming be a part of the function of the re-located ice rink.
Target the increased T.O.T and sales tax revenues generated from bringing more visitations to town in order to continue implementation of NEW recreational venues and activities for our future.
Folks, recreational facilities and the activities that go with it are priorities for our continued financial and community sustainability. Join me in promoting recreational facilities and activities as we navigate the next 4 years. On June 8, I respectfully ask for your vote for the Mammoth Lakes Town Council, so we can work together to make a difference.
Long on wind, short on fact
Angela Olson recently wrote a letter to the editor long on wind and short on fact. Apparently, she likes people to be neatly labeled and put into conveniently pre-defined boxes. Some of our current candidates for Town Council are, according to Ms. Olson, “development-phobic.”
There are many reasons why this is factually untrue as a quick glance at past voting records would clearly indicate.
But most important, I am told Ms. Olson’s loyalties lie with one of the largest and most ambitious development projects yet to come to the planning department’s in-box, a fact she neglects to mention. It is the overly tall, overly dense, amenity-weak Mammoth Crossings project slated to be built in the near future on three corners of the Minaret/Main Street intersection.
It is interesting that the three candidates she chooses to support are most likely to be favorable to such a project.
She berates the desire of some to maintain the qualities of this town that bring so many here in the first place; a quiet, small-town atmosphere and beautiful views. These are qualities written into the Town’s General Plan that was created through many years of intense participation by most of the citizens of Mammoth Lakes. I would venture to guess that Ms. Olson was not around for those discussions.
I do agree with Ms. Olson on one thing; the upcoming election is very important to the future of Mammoth Lakes and deserves our full attention. Be sure you really know about the candidate(s) for whom you are casting your vote(s)
R U with Wentworth?
In June 2008, 72% of Mammoth Lakes voters made a decision to significantly improve the quality of outdoor recreation in our community. Measure R, a one-half percent increase in the our sales tax dedicated solely to local trails, parks, and recreation, was passed. Measure R is collected, processed, allocated, and tracked separately from the Town’s General Fund and can be accessed only to support projects consistent with Measure R’s ordinance. By law, Measure R will never be commingled with General Fund monies, providing Mammoth Lakes with a dedicated and reliable source of funding for trails, parks and recreation projects, even in difficult and challenging economic times like those we are living through today.
Measure R money is available via a grant-application process to any party in Mammoth Lakes that wishes to plan, implement, program or maintain recreation facilities and programs managed by the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Partners and local organizations have successfully leveraged and matched Measure R funds with their own grant opportunities and fund-raising efforts and this money has been reinvested right back into our community. Some highlights from the project list that Measure R funds have already made possible (please track me down if you’d like to discuss the complete list in further detail):
Leveraging $80,000 in Measure R funds to access $500,000 in federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding for the design, fabrication, and installation of signage for the Mammoth Lakes Trail System (Town of Mammoth Lakes) …
Grinding and filling of cracks in the Community Center tennis courts (Mammoth Lakes Tennis Club) …
Furthering the completion of architectural design plans for the Whitmore Track Project (High Sierra Striders) …
Completion of the winter 2010 Nordic grooming project (Mammoth Nordic) …
Leveraging of Mono County matching funds to acquire and install a pool lift for disabled users at the Whitmore Pool facility (Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra) … and
Management of an ongoing contract with the Town for services that include GIS data management (used to support the trail system signage and wayfinding bid packet described above) and facilitation of collaborative efforts (including the Sherwins Working Group, Mammoth Trails, and the SHARP Trails Technical Committee) (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation)
Measure R partnered projects are already being recognized outside of our region. The Far West Ski Association has awarded the Sherwins Working Group and their SHARP effort their Jordan-Reilly Award, which recognizes a “one or two year activity and achievement in the Associations’ Public Affairs programs…”
By passing Measure R, Mammoth Lakes voters demonstrated confidence in their fellow community members to responsibly and proactively improve the number-one driver of our tourism-based economy: recreation. Measure R has proven to be a well-managed, transparently awarded funding source that continues to leverage even more monies through partner agreements, donations and fund raising, and other grants, which in turn will enable the completion of the kinds of forward-thinking projects Mammoth Lakes needs to stay ahead of the competition and to offer its residents and guests unique and inspiring recreation experiences here in the Eastern Sierra.
As we approach another election day this coming June 8, and the chance to engage with opportunities like Measure U, take a moment to reflect back on the wise choice you made in 2008 — pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and let’s keep our eyes open for new opportunities, both those close at hand and those yet to come.
A.O.C shows no love for locals
Last Friday, certain invited guests in Mammoth Lakes celebrated the groundbreaking ceremonies for Mono County’s new courthouse. I was not extended an invitation to the same. Even if I had been invited, however, I would have found it difficult to attend, knowing that our local contractors were not benefiting from this $20 million project, and that many of them have been on an unpaid, year-long “vacation” without the ability to collect unemployment benefits.
So, just like our local contractors, I wasn’t invited to the party, and I’m having difficulty celebrating.
Cost of doing business too high
Wonder why contractors can’t get jobs in Mammoth? We decided to put a bathroom in some spare space next to a guest room. The plumber said the water district would make us replace our 3/4 inch meter with a one inch at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000. This is puzzling as there would be no increase in water consumption – same number of guests, same bathroom use. We called the water district. They said that we must change the meter. The district would charge $12,000 for this not including the excavation to get to the meter. It also does not include tearing up the street and changing out the lateral connecting the water main to the meter if the lateral is undersized for a one inch meter. So the plumber’s estimate was right.
We canceled. No jobs for the general contractor, plumber, carpenter, electrician, tile installer and cabinet maker. No local purchase of hardware, tiles and fixtures. No sales tax revenue. No additional property tax. No permit revenue for the town and district. The Town doesn’t care. Oh well!
$$ for marketing? No-brainer!
On Tuesday evening, the Lodging Association hosted a candidate’s forum where my favorite topic of discussion was introduced. The question was posed whether we support Measure A funds to be allocated for the newly organized DMO (Mammoth Lakes Tourism) and whether or not there should be some restrictions on how that money is spent.
Ballot Measure A was initially passed in 1986. Measure A is a “political commitment” which states that 100% of the Business License Fees along with roughly 19% of TOT will be used for MARKETING.
For years now I have attempted to receive a detailed accounting of how these monies are being spent and what the return on investment is. Unfortunately, I have never received a sufficient answer from either the Town’s Finance department or the Tourism and Recreation department. I have been a huge supporter of privatizing our tourism department for this very reason. As the Town is going through the exercise of pulling out funds from the budget in order to support Mammoth Lakes Tourism, it is apparent the political promise has not been upheld nor has there been any accountability.
The primary business of Mammoth Lakes is tourism, so it is a no-brainer. Of course all Measure A monies should go directly into this new organization without caveats or restrictions. Let the professionals do their jobs. Even with Measure A monies, Mammoth Lakes Tourism is still underfunded. However, I believe once the Town’s budget is reorganized there will be additional monies that can be allocated for this new organization. As a community we have to be diligent keeping the finances of our town a priority.
Dawn L. Vereuck
Judicial candidate gets the facts straight
All three judicial candidates have emphasized a commitment to getting the facts straight and the importance of an accurate record. Thanks to streaming video (www.ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us), this can be accomplished. The Sheet reported about a question asked and answered at last week’s candidates’ forum, and did not quite get it right. The question, prefaced by reference to a past case, starts at 1:34:30 on the video, and was as follows:
“On one hand, how do you balance when the judge exercises discretion, the will of the People with the letter of the law and with your own discretion?”
My answer (starting at 1:37:18) does not mention, defend or question anything about a specific case. Rather, the key points I made, with minor edits for readability, were:
1. No one should make a decision without knowing all of the facts. (“Without knowing all the facts and hearing all of the argument it would be impossible for anyone up here to say how they would rule on a particular matter…”)
2. How I would evaluate a criminal matter. (“[T]he four pillars of the system are punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, and restitution. [I] would look at all of these factors, consider the argument of the District Attorney…consider the facts, and argument made by the defense attorney; the probation department would do a thorough evaluation and apply the factors that are in the rules of court … you’d hear from the victim. You would take all of that into consideration when rendering the sentence.”)
3. The court needs to be independent and to act with integrity. (“It’s important that the judiciary be independent from the executive branch, and that includes the District Attorney’s office … I was a [deputy] district attorney for many years and I would argue the heck out of a case and I would sometimes be very disappointed when a judge gave a decision that I was not in favor of. I thought it was a miscarriage of justice and I believed in that with all of my heart. Yet I would never …g o to the press and I would never … second guess the judge because I have respect for the law and respect for the process and I would move on to the next case…[The] District Attorney has a job to do and they do it very well with passion and commitment. But the court has an important job to do.”)
4. The court is the final safeguard for an individual accused by the state and the subject of public condemnation. (“At each level of the criminal defense system there is a safeguard. [Law enforcement makes the] decision if someone should be arrested … the District Attorney is the next gatekeeper … the next gatekeeper is the judge. One [attribute] of judicial temperament is courage. And that means standing up to an ill-conceived will of the People who don’t have all of the facts.”) In those old Westerns, did you root for the mob carrying the rope or the judge standing tall on the courtroom steps defending an individual’s right to justice under the Constitution?
If you want a judge who will bend to the will of the District Attorney or wilt under public pressure, I am not your man.
I also think The Sheet missed the mark when giving points to Ms. Hankel for not having any public supporters. Think of these supporters as resources to help you make the important decision about who should be the next judge. I am not a person of high social visibility or connected to an influential social network, so talking to others may be a good way to learn more about my qualifications. Few of the people on my list are personal friends, and many have only met me recently during this campaign. I am honored and humbled that they have chosen to support me and lend me their good names.
Review the entire streaming video and see the facts for yourself. Talk to the supporters of the candidates and ask them why they support one candidate or another and what their relationship is with that candidate. Discuss, deliberate, and vote on June 8th.
Superior Court Judicial candidate
Lunch’s reply: Mr. Magit is correct in that he defended Judge Forstenzer’s right to make the decision, not the decision itself. I apologize for the poor clarity of my prose.