No, this is not another editorial about Horizon Airlines.
Because air service is one of the few things in this town which is not stuck in a holding pattern. Flights actually take off and land.
As for everything else, well, we’ve been treated to a government on lockdown the past six months. Waiting for the decision on the airport lawsuit. Pants down, cheeks bare, wondering how hard we’re gonna get spanked.
Though this may suit Clouds McCloud, it’s no way to run a government.
*The appellate court, FYI, is re-hearing the case in Sacramento on Dec. 20. Apparently, a justice is retiring so the replacement wants to hear the arguments.
People ask me what’s going on. Maybe they’re just trying to make polite conversation. Maybe they really want to know. Nothing’s going on. We’re on auto-pilot. Staff is “too busy” to do anything. Ha! We’ve laid off public employees. Does anyone notice a loss in service? No. Might as well keep laying ‘em off until we notice.
George Bush the elder famously talked about how he had trouble with the “vision thing.” Reminds me of a conversation I had a few weeks back. Can’t remember with whom. We were talking about the general communal insecurity which spawns a general jealousy of one’s neighbor which prevents us from ever moving forward together.
So this person shared a little allegory which he/she said could be applied to the town. A man finds a bottle and rubs it and the genie appears and says to him, “I will grant you one wish of anything you desire, on the condition that anything you receive, your neighbor will get double.”
The man thinks about it for awhile, and promptly gouges out one of his own eyes.
*Wolf amendment to joke: The guy should chop off one testicle.
So who’s got the vision? Not Town Manager Rob Clark. Self-preservation is what he thinks about. Council? Okay, they laid a few people off and they reduced the size of the Recreation Commission. They wished Meb good luck in New York. And they adopted the RecStrats document, though no one outside of Jo Bacon or John Wentworth has bothered to read it.
We’re boring. We’re bored. I hear the sniping about MMSA’s Black Club. That we’re just catering to rich people. It doesn’t resonate with me. That’s a fact. Ski towns cater to rich people. The complaint that does resonate is the one about Black Club members getting to cut lift lines. The rationale being it’s one thing to cater to the rich. It’s quite another to bend over for them on a powder day. The lift line is seen as that last egalitarian bastion – that at least we’re all equal once we strap on our boards and get on the hill.
Note: I was thinking of starting my own Black Club. But then, I realized the Fifty had beaten me to it – at least when it comes to pricing.
Speaking of the Black Club (I’m like a moth to the flame on this one), I called MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory a few weeks ago and said, “People are saying that the Black Club is just the Diamond Partner program for profit. That you’re taking what was once money dedicated to charity and shoving it into your own pocket. Any comment?”
As one might expect, Gregory was not at a loss for words in his reply.
First of all, said Gregory, at the time of the sale to Starwood back in 2005, the Diamond Partner program was specifically talked about. Mammoth Lakes Foundation Exec. Director Evan Russell was notified that the program would eventually have to be disbanded because the Mountain did not want to compete product-for-product with its own program – to be developed “for our most engaged and highest-paying guests” (the Black Club, or some similar product, was obviously anticipated even then).
Second, the Foundation hasn’t done a very good job of selling the Diamond Partner program, which has been dying on the vine for a number of years. Just 16 Diamond Partner passes were sold last year, at the same price ($15,000) that they sold for in 1991. MMSA’s goal with the Black Club is to sell 300 memberships.
Why should MMSA give away ski and parking passes and then sit back and settle for the anemic performance of the Diamond Partner program when it can sell more memberships, raise more money, and therefore disperse a percentage of whatever it rakes in to whichever charity it chooses.
After all, a percentage of 300 is probably better than a percentage of 16 (assuredly, a large percentage of that 16 went to admin. anyway).
Third, Gregory says the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation’s mission is to raise $1 million/year and the scope of that mission will be broadened to include K-14 education.
“We’re committed to Rich Boccia, Mammoth Unified School District and the college to create a K through 14 [C.C.] program that attracts people to our community,” he said.
Got off on a tangent there. Stay focused, Lunch!
Does Jim Demetriades have the vision? People like that he’s building and refurbishing things, though the ice rink has been mostly panned. “I stopped playing with Legos when I was six years old,” said Thai’d Up’s Mike Coco, a frustrated hockey player who will remain a frustrated hockey player. It’s about the size of a kiddie pool you can pick up at Kmart.
Does MLTPA have the vision? I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about how MLTPA is all planning and no shovels. So I said as much to MLTPA’s John Wentworth.
Now Wentworth will be able to explain this all in much greater detail at the Trails System Open House on Monday, but in short, it’s a long slog getting agencies together, working through planning and environmental processes, and getting work on the ground completed. “Government works chaotically,” he said succinctly, but he does anticipate that six miles of trail on seven trail alignments will be constructed in the Sherwins next summer.
He also said that current solutions are being forged by direct engagement with public participation, not by some bureaucrat in a cubicle.
“I can deliver [via MLTPA] three times the people and the productivity than the public sector,” he added, expressing a lack of patience for the naysayers he lovingly referred to as the “grumpy old deadwood f***’s.”
You gotta love John Wentworth.
Five people have applied for appointment to the Southern Mono Hospital Board. An opening was created by the recent and sudden resignation of Donald Sage.
The five applicants are: former Board Member Lynda Salcido, John King, Richard Vroman, Michelle Mather and Kiara Raazi.
The appointment is expected to be made during open session on Thursday, Dec. 16, during the regular hospital board meeting. Open session generally begins at 9 a.m. in the hospital’s conference room.
And from Geisel’s desk …
School District employees may get “incentive”
It’s not a pay raise in the strict sense of the term, but Mammoth Unified School District (MUSD) certificated personnel may get a little bump in their salaries. During its Thursday night regular meeting the MUSD Board was expected to vote to approve a 3%, one-time, “off schedule incentive” for all district employees, except Superintendent Rich Boccia, as per the language of Agenda Bill BP4000.
Boccia, the bill’s author, said in the language that the incentive is designed to support “working conditions that will attract and retain [qualified and dedicated] staff members.” He later went on to write that there have been “no salary increases for three years.” While not necessarily the result of any collective bargaining, MUSD Business Manager Jim Maxey said the stipend was submitted to and approved by all three unions that have labor agreements with MUSD.
The Federal Jobs Fund will serve as the funding source for the pay raise, which will total $237,000. MUSD has received $195,000 from the FJF, and will pay the difference out of its General Fund.
And from Kirkner’s desk …
NASA’s media blitz
The excitement rallied by NASA during its press conference last week about a bacteria found in Mono Lake that could live on arsenic rather than phosphorous has been met with high scrutiny from the rest of the scientific community.
According to a report from the Tucson Citizen on Dec. 9, Harvard microbiologist Alex Bradley has claimed that “the NASA scientists unknowingly demonstrated the flaws in their own experiment. They immersed the DNA in water as they analyzed it, he points out. Arsenic compounds fall apart quickly in water, so if it really was in the microbe’s genes, it should have broken into fragments.” Apparently NASA scientists were feeding the bacteria salts which they freely admit were contaminated with a tiny amount of phosphate.
According to critics, the bacteria could have eked out a living on that scarce supply. The scientist in charge of the study, Felise Wolfe-Simon did state during the press conference that the microbes had some phosphorous left in them but that it was “not enough to support the growth that was observed.”
The problem that critics are having with NASA’s “discovery” is not that the report may be inaccurate, after all scientists put out reports all the time that other scientists then research further and poke holes in, but that NASA hyped its findings through an international media channels.