Town Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles picking up his brand new Ford F250 truck at Mammoth Mountain on Thursday. (Photo: Lunch)
Or, why the Town Wildlife Specialist will be driving around in a new MMSA truck
We couldn’t market ourselves out of a paper bag.
Which is why Mammoth Lakes should be thrilled that its new Destination Marketing Organization, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, has finally hired its first director (see story, “Mammoth welcomes new faces.”
The other observation, of course, is how the hell does Steve Searles always seem to find himself at the center of the maelstrom?
The whole saga I’m about to relate to you began to unfold about three weeks ago when Searles asked the Town of Mammoth Lakes for use of a municipal vehicle.
In filming the next installment of his television show “The Bear Whisperer” for Animal Planet, Searles felt it would reflect better upon the Town if he were driving a nicer rig than the beat up pickup he normally drives.
He also knew that the vehicle used by former Animal Control Officer Ray Nadwocki had been sitting in the Town lot, unused, for about two years.
So he approached the Town’s Risk Manager, Michael Grossblatt, about use of the truck.
Absolutely not, was the reply. The Town’s insurance policy won’t cover you.
So Searles went elsewhere for help. Re/Max’s Paul Oster, an astute businessman, was quick to offer a fairly new truck in exchange for placement of a small Re/Max decal on the vehicle. In other words, Oster innately understood the marketing opportunity.
So did Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory and Marketing Director Howard Pickett. They upped the ante by simply offering to purchase Searles a brand new Ford F250 truck for use on the show in exchange for a company logo placed on the back window of the vehicle.
Wouldn’t you know, the Town then hastily determined that it, in fact, could insure Searles to drive a Town vehicle and drew up an agenda bill for Council consideration on Wednesday.
And yet, never even got to deliver a staff report on the matter.
As soon as the agenda item was introduced, Searles marched up to the podium and began telling his story.
After he was finished, Bill Sauser stood up and said, “It’s embarrassing we couldn’t get him a Town vehicle and now we’ll have a private company logo on the vehicle he’s driving instead … the Town’s gotta stop stepping on its own … feet,” said Sauser diplomatically.
Councilman John Eastman said he never asked for the item to be agendized, and it didn’t appear likely that any other Council member did either. Searles said, “The first time I heard of this agenda bill was this morning … and I wasn’t invited to the meeting.”
Note to staff: It’s always difficult to save face when you’re sprinting at full speed through a rocky field littered with cow patties.
What Council did decide to do was to spend $3,600 to outfit the rig provided by MMSA with the hope that maybe, just maybe, the Town might be allowed to put a logo on the truck as well.
In other Council news …
The Measure R process keeps drawing negative reviews.
On Wednesday, it was Jane Baer speaking her piece.
Baer was a little miffed that her Measure R request to spruce up Trails End Park was denied by the Tourism and Recreation Commission, despite the fact that she had matching funds in place.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the lack of support,” she said, “and I think the process was extremely unfair.”
In particular, she noted that she had followed the rules and delivered a 10-minute oral presentation and kept most of the details of her proposal confined to the paperwork, while other applicants, notably the High Sierra Striders and Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access (MLTPA) gave presentations lasting an hour or more.
“Presenters who stuck to the time limit were seemingly discredited because their presentations weren’t as lengthy or exhaustive,” she said.
She also accused John Wentworth of a conflict of interest, pointing out that he created the Measure R “Tool” and that his pet organization gets the lion’s share of the proceeds.
Tourism and Recreation Commissioner Tony Colasardo refuted the notion that there was some sort of conspiracy against Ms. Baer or her application. As there is no Trails End Park master plan, the Commission decided that it should hold off on funding “until we had something more comprehensive.”
Baer doesn’t wish to hold off because a pro skate event is scheduled to be held in the park in late August.
Council upheld the Commission’s Measure R funding decisions, even though Sauser admitted the Commission hadn’t developed a formal “point system” for evaluation as directed.
Hilariously, Sauser said each commissioner came up with their own point system, which would imply that there is no point system nor does he care. He said this with a straight face and with no hint of irony.
Baer’s second issue was a familiar one; continued use of bikes in the skatepark. She told an anecdotal story of a visiting family from Seattle that made a complaint about a bike incident.
She urged Council to adopt a no-bike ordinance so the MLPD would have greater enforcement capability.
“Town Mgr. said he was blown away by interest in open MLPD Chief position filled by Watson.”
“Blown away? As if no one wants to make more than 100K and live in the best place on Earth.”
Brad Koehn moment of the week: Council asked Staff to come up with a budget alternative which would fully fund the Town’s REU (Reserve for Economic Uncertainty).
Come up with half the money by drawing down other reserve accounts. Seriously.
In regard to the Citizen Budget Committee agenda item, Council sent it back to Staff for review. John Vereuck just shook his head. “They’re gonna come back with an agenda item … and they’re gonna f%$# it up,” he said.