By Jack Lunch
Rest assured, Mammoth. The rest of the country is just as dysfunctional as we are.
I flew back east last week to spend time with family in New Hampshire. As I was driving from the airport, I tuned in a local talk radio show. The topic: unemployment insurance.
There’s a new state law in New Hampshire which redefines “gross misconduct,” which, according to the Concord Monitor, is “a standard used to deny a fired employee unemployment benefits.”
The new law defines gross misconduct in the realm of stealing to thefts of $500 or more.
Meaning an employee can steal up to $500 from an employer, and if the employer catches him/her in the act and lets that person go, that person can still collect unemployment benefits.
State Senate candidate Andy Sanborn of Henniker was quoted in the Monitor as saying, “Governor Lynch says stealing is okay, just don’t take a lot, but if you do steal and get caught, don’t worry, the state will take care of you.”
Onto dubious efforts at belt-tightening and “efficiency.”
Friend, subscriber and occasional Sheet contributor Bruce Sacerdote teaches in the Economics Department at Dartmouth College. About a month ago, without forewarning, he and his colleagues arrived at work to discover that all their trashcans had been confiscated and replaced with cans the size of 44 oz. 7-11 Big Gulp cups.
An internal memo was then circulated which informed faculty members that in the interest of reducing waste, their trashcans had been downsized and from that point forward, they would have to empty their new Big Gulp cans in the dumpster located outside the building.
An excellent use of well-paid faculty time, n’est-ce pas?
A week into the experiment, the janitorial staff became so annoyed at the overflowing Big Gulps that they began surreptiously emptying the department’s trash at night.
By a week later, virtually all of the Big Gulps had been transformed into travel mugs and a junior faculty member was sent out to procure new trashcans.
So instead of reducing trash, the new policy actually ended up creating the need for 10 new trashcans. Nice. I expect they’ll be asking for an alumni donation any day now.
Then there was my firsthand look at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center. The 37,500 square foot facility opened last year in Hartford, Vt. It houses a 10-lane, 25 meter x 25 yard competition pool, a separate warm-water instructional pool, a splash park with water features and waterslide, state-of-the art fitness center and group fitness studio with a Kinesis Wall.
Executive Director Tim Rollings told me that the facility had recently hosted the Vermont state swim championships, featuring approximately 700 competitors.
Rollings then told me about the dedicated group of civic activists who tirelessly worked for years to make the Aquatic Center a reality.
“How’d you fund it?” I asked.
That’s when I learned about the $20 million anonymous donation.
So it’s nice to plan and have big dreams, but it’s even nicer when $20 million just drops out of the sky. And no, I didn’t ask any follow-up questions about what percentage of the project was paid for by development impact fees.
Mammoth has long been accused of being a resort in search of an identity. This lack of an identity, critics say, has made us look outward – that we wish to model ourselves after some other resort versus creating our own vision.
Well, those concerns can now be laid to rest, thanks to the organizers/promoters of Mammoth’s best new big-time “event,” Mammoth Rocks.
Mammoth Rocks, which takes place in the Village next weekend, was headlined by the Neil Diamond cover band “Super Diamond” last year. This year, they’ve expanded the lineup to include eight cover bands of rock icons such as the Rolling Stones and U2.
So the reason this event fits Mammoth so well is because WE ARE the derivative resort, featuring the very best in derivative entertainment, and perhaps by celebrating our derivativeness, we become anti-derivative. We are the unabashed celebrators of cheese. The Sears and Roebuck of cheese, if you will. Dave McCoy (and a happy 95th to Mr. McCoy this week) always talks about having fun. And cheesy tribute bands are fun. Give us your huddled masses and we’ll sell them t-shirts and beer and a stroll around the food court and maybe even hand them a cheap, tawdry and free tabloid newspaper that they can also use as a parasol.
I like it. Don’t give me the “1” hotel. Give me the “6” – Motel 6. Don’t give me the Ritz-Carlton. I only want a Ritz if it’s got cheese on it. And forget some knockoff of Vail’s Main Street plan. I want Bob Segers’s Main Street. Which means, I suppose, that I’ll have to lobby Mammoth Rocks to hire the Sam Morrison band (a Segers tribute band) for next year.
Mammoth does rock. Have a great time next weekend. Just keep your daughters a safe distance from the Wayward Sons.
One brief additional note. Say goodbye to Mike McKenna next Thursday evening at the Clocktower Cellar beginning at 6 p.m.
And from Geisel’s desk …
She’s baaaack …
Tuesday’s Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting saw one of those little consent agenda items garner anything but consent.
Supervisor Hap Hazard pulled an item entitled “Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Application.” Hazard told his fellow Board members that the way he reads the language, the grant would essentially mean that the $300,000 Mono County would get from the $66 million, three-cycle grant would amount to Mono’s de facto support of AB 32, aka the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has been decried as California’s version of a “cap and trade” energy bill.
“The language makes it pretty clear that we’d be going down that road and endorsing this [AB 32] thing,” he stated.
The grant also contains the phrase “promoting equity,” but isn’t specific as to how “equity” is defined or what it applies to. Community Development Director Scott Burns, who co-authored the staff’s item (along with department analyst Wendy Sugimura), defended the application. “What we’re faced with is the greenhouse gas issue; either way we’re going to have to deal with it,” Burns said. He went on to suggest that the “sustainable communities” part of the grant is consistent with Mono County’s General Plan. “If we update the General Plan, and don’t buy into any of this, we’ll have to conduct an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to justify taking that position. We can use it to update the General Plan, which we have to do anyway. In the past we’ve always applied for grants to help pay for General Plan updates.”
True. This grant, however, smacks of a sort of political extortion. Red flag: the Sustainable Communities grant requires no matching funds, which can work for and against the applicant. Cashing the check means instant money, but can also mean a binding agreement with the state, leaving the County vulnerable to whatever mandates are handed down.
“You take their money and it’s very attractive, but when the state starts implementing things, they come back and tell you that you’re on the hook,” Hazard pointed out to the Board.
Board Chair Byng Hunt appeared to agree. “On a practical level alone, submitting bills for reimbursement, given the state’s economic situation, seems problematic,” he observed.
Another bone of contention is another avalanche of meetings that will result from the grant, which agitated Hazard even further. The grant will, if finalized, fund “public outreach and participation” and “workshops and meetings with RPACs, the Planning Commission and Local Transportation Commission.”
Great, just what county residents need … $300,000 for more meetings. This, however, makes sense, since all that extra process is manna to co-author Sugimura. Sheet readers will remember her as Mayor Velveeta from her time on Mammoth’s Town Council. Henceforth, perhaps we should redub her “Leia, the Princess of Process.”
Supervisor Tom Farnetti suggested deferring the matter for review by County Counsel Marshall Rudolph, which was fine with Hazard, who added that the item really needed “some discussion or debate on the policy issue rather than a simple consent approval.” The questions, he said, needed answers not just a rubber stamp. Supervisor Vikki Bauer asked that Staff look into whether the grant comes with “strings attached.”
Chair Hunt rolled the item over to be taken up again sometime during the budget discussion meetings, which are set for this coming Monday through Wednesday in Bridgeport. The deadline for filing for the grant is the end of August. A ballot measure, Prop 23, which will let the electorate decide whether to suspend or repeal AB 32, is set for a vote in the upcoming November 2 General Election.