For this final week of the campaign, we’ve been more judicious in our letter selection, trying to eliminate any ‘gotcha’ scenarios where candidates might be criticized without the opportunity to respond. Letter writers were informed that their letters would be forwarded to candidates whom they were critical of, and that those candidates would have the opportunity to reply if they so chose. We’ve also selected letters from people we haven’t had heard from, as opposed to those we’ve heard from on several occasions.
McCoy Wants U
Throughout my life I have been one of the luckiest people in the world. I have a great family, I am healthy and I get to live, work and play in the Eastern Sierra. What more can you ask for at 94 years young?
I have had the opportunity to build a ski resort and help Mammoth become a town and community. Occasionally an opportunity comes along that allows the people of the community to make their town a better place to live.
That is why I’m so strongly supporting Measure U, which will be presented to the community on the upcoming June ballot. Measure U shifts existing tax dollars, which were funding the now completed Shady Rest and Mammoth Creek Parks, and makes that funding available for better mobility, enhanced recreation and local arts & culture, all projects the community embraced in the general plan update. Measure U funds will not be placed in the Town’s general fund and by law must be dedicated to those voter-approved purposes only. Measure U is not a new tax.
Our Town has been prudent in many ways because our public demands more control over how monies are used and how to protect the services most important to the people who live here.
Measure U will create a reliable source of funding for future projects without raising taxes and without relying upon more real estate development. It means important services here in Mammoth won’t be dependent on outside economic forces.
Because the people who live here are truly engaged in the culture and success of Mammoth Lakes, we can make decisions that sustain the heart of our community while enhancing the way we live our lives. Please join me in support of Mammoth’s Measure U.
I was struck by how explicitly candidate Tony Barrett’s letter to the editor last week illustrated the biggest problem in our local political scene: the utter cluelessness on the part of most of the Town Council candidates regarding the nature of this town and why people come here. To listen to most of them, you’d think that if we just subsidized more empty condos, everything would be great. Do any of them even ski? Climb? Mountain bike? Most of these folks would be laughed out of any self-respecting ski town.
At least Tony has recognized that he needs to pay lip service to something other than condo development, and I certainly agree with his suggestion that we need to focus on creating more recreational opportunities for more recreational opportunities for guests.
His suggestions, unfortunately, are laughably out of touch with the actual identity of this place, Southern California’s mountain recreation portal. Tony’s ideas for filling lodging beds? Dog shows, flower shows, equestrian events, lacrosse, soccer tournaments. Flower shows.
People come here for the mountains, and to do things that they can’t do in the city: skiing, backcountry skiing, climbing, bouldering, mountain biking, backpacking, snowboarding in the best park in the country. They already have dog shows, flower shows, equestrian events, lacrosse (!), and soccer tournaments where they live, all of which are going to be of a far higher caliber than what would happen here.
For the cost of one ball field (usable about 1/3 of the year), we could build a world-class climbing gym — something that is appropriate to our local culture, something that would serve locals and tourists year-round with fun, safe recreation. I suggest naming it for the late John Bachar, a local who for decades was the best rock climber in the world. John was a friend of mine; he didn’t choose to live here for dog shows. We have a skatepark (thanks to the hard work of local citizens and the support of companies such as Volcom), why don’t we have a town terrain park in the winter? Why do we have the worst local mountain biking of any ski town in America? Why did more than 600 citizens need to petition our Town Council to undo their craven choice to give up access for Sherwins skiers on Ranch Road?
For the last year, I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours to the Sherwins Working Group, where local citizens, Forest Service employees and Town Staff members such as Steve Speidel have been doing the hard work to actually get trails built, to improve access and amenities here in town. I’ve been at every damn meeting, and I haven’t seen Tony, or any of the other candidates stop in to observe or contribute. Not one.
If we’re going to spend our money to help the poor developers, contractors, and real estate agents, perhaps we should subsidize classes for them at Cerro Coso, so they can learn some useful skills, and thus get jobs like the rest of us. Otherwise, I would greatly prefer that our “leaders” get a clue and focus on improving the experiences that guests and locals actually want–mountain adventure that they can’t have at home.
In the meantime, if Mr. Barrett wants a flower show, I highly recommend McGee Canyon in about two weeks.
I enjoyed your recent article about the retirement of Judge Ed Forstenzer and his central role in bringing funds to Mammoth to build the new courthouse that is now under construction. As a newspaper that is known for drawing attention to local public processes that lack transparency I was surprised that the deal making and planning for the courthouse did not get more coverage.
I understand that Judge Forstenzer was under pressure to secure a site so that funding from the Administrative Office of the Courts would follow, but the initial plans to locate a courthouse with a holding cell next to college dorms and across the street from our elementary school represented shockingly poor regard for broader community interests and planning. It was Larry Johnston, working with Taylor Anderson, who led the effort to oppose a courthouse being built across the street from an elementary school.
Standing up to the Administrative Office of the Courts and your local county judge is no small task, but Mr. Johnston’s dedication to good long-range community planning and hard work succeeded. The current location at the corner of Main Street and Sierra Park Drive on a proposed municipal campus is a vastly better location, but without his efforts the courthouse would have been between our college and elementary school.
I strongly support Larry Johnston for County Supervisor for his actions on this issue and others. He has consistently demonstrated long-range community vision and always does his homework. He has shown that he willing to do what is takes to preserve the broader community interest and not take the easier path of allowing a powerful special interest to prevail. This is what we need in local government.
A loss for words? Maybe not …
In all the election cycles I have seen in Mono County, I don’t think I have ever seen one with so many letters to the editor from candidates and citizens. I have been amazed. I never thought I would have written a letter to the editor during this election cycle, what with the plethora of letters, but here I am, finding myself needing to respond to a letter written by Superior Court Judicial candidate Mark Magit.
For the record, I am a supporter of Randy Gephart. I have known and worked with Mark for many years, and did have an amicable conversation with Mark as to why I was supporting Randy. I do have the utmost respect for Mark. This is not about my choice for Superior Court judge.
The reason for my letter is to respond to Mark’s letter from the May 22, 2010, issue of The Sheet where he said, “My answer does not mention, defend or question anything about a specific case.” I find it a bit disingenuous to say his answer wasn’t based on a specific case, especially in light of a recent article regarding the sentencing of a sex offender and a passionate response from a citizen regarding that case and its outcome. I have followed that case in the paper, as I am sure Mark has, too.
Another problem I had with Mark’s letter is point number three. He states, “Yet I would never … go 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 DA’s office is the public’s attorney and it has an ethical obligation to inform the public about case outcomes that have an impact on our community. The public would never know about cases that impact the community and their outcomes if it weren’t for the media reporting on them. I appreciate the media going to the DA’s office and inquiring about a case that might impact us, getting all sides to the story and then reporting that story. If the DA’s office has an opinion regarding the outcome, it has an obligation to verbalize that opinion to the public it is representing, especially when asked by the media.
The fact that Mark would never “second guess the judge” was astounding to me. I have worked with many judges and many attorneys and I have second-guessed them plenty. I would hope that should Mark win the election that he expects to get second-guessed, especially by me. It just goes with the territory. I would hope that a judge would be open minded enough to take that criticism and decide whether it was justified or not when rendering a future decision in a like case. He is welcome to defend his decision as he sees fit. Hopefully, after a healthy debate regarding the difference of opinions, we can, as Mark says, “move on to the next case.” I hope no one feels an elected official isn’t above scrutiny, from the public or the public’s attorney.
Magit’s response: “For some reason, Claire, one of the inner circle who had decided Randy Gephart should be the next judge even before the public knew that Judge Forstenzer had decided to retire, seems to have missed the very point of the letter she criticizes. Maybe she did not read the whole letter.
The point of my letter was that my response at the candidates night had been about judicial independence and the courage a judge needs on occasion to be willing to make unpopular decisions (for example, Brown v. Board of Education, ending school segregation).
The broad question that prompted that response asked how each candidate would balance the will of the people with the law and judicial discretion. None of the candidates answered that question by discussing a specific case. Thus, far from being disingenuous, I stand by my statement that my response did not mention, support or question a particular case. None of the responses did. As The Sheet acknowledged in its editorial comment (which Claire apparently neglected to read), my point was about defending a judge’s right to make a decision, not the decision itself. The real question for voters to ask is whether or not each candidate has made the case that he or she will be impartial and not beholden to any special interest group, including the District Attorney’s office.
Claire also misses the point when she misconstrues what I said as somehow implying that the decisions made by a judge, or any elected official, should not be the subject of public scrutiny. Of course they should. The media has an important job to do and should accurately and completely report all matters of public interest, including judicial matters. All interested persons have a First Amendment right to voice their opinion. Hopefully, the armchair quarterbacking will be done with knowledge of the law and a commonsense perspective of all of the facts. It’s a shame that the first time the DA’s office chose to publicly criticize a decision made by Judge Forstenzer in the press came on the eve of his retirement after more than 22 years of distinguished service as our judge. I am not aware of any ethical obligation an attorney has to complain to the press about a court decision following a full and fair hearing. It is also unfortunate that the media did not appear to get all sides of that story – – for example, it did not hear from the lawyer who opposed the DA’s office in that case and whose arguments obviously carried the day.
Every lawyer knows that reasonable minds can differ and that few judicial decisions are received with universal acclaim. It is the duty of the judge to make difficult decisions. It is also the responsibility of a judge, indeed for each of us, to continue to learn and grow.