Time for reality check?
Conditions change. Sometimes initial enthusiasm is crushed by realities, as we’ve seen in the past few years. In 2008, our Town was just beginning to feel the beginnings of the Great Recession, but our big dreams still lived, as we are optimists by nature, and we continued our pursuit of a “silver bullet” to draw more visitors and T.O.T (room tax) to our town.
The current “silver bullet” is a vision of trails articulated by MLTPA’s (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access) CEO John Wentworth.
At a recent meeting attended by me and another member of the public, two members of the Recreation Commission, two from MLTPA’s Board, and three Town staff, our differing philosophies of how taxpayer money (Measure R and General Fund) should be spent was one topic. As a former Forest Service District Ranger/Assistant Forest Supervisor, I learned to be frugal and spend as few public funds as necessary to get a project planned and implemented. John and a MLTPA Board member stated that their vision was the “gold standard”, and that meant spending money to reach that standard.
I would probably agree with that philosophy if MLTPA were spending its own money, or money from its fundraising and membership, but I find it very hard to concur when the money that we’re talking about is taxpayer money intended for recreation, parks and trails. Measure R is for “Town-managed programs and facilities”, yet most of our municipal recreation facilities and programs are suffering while over $1.2 million has been allocated to MLTPA since 2009 for trails. Other successful non-profits in the Eastern Sierra operate with fewer staff and lower overhead costs, have membership drives and fund-raisers, and do not rely on taxpayer funds to support the organization, as does MLTPA.
I share MLTPA’s desire to see new trails constructed and our trail system upgraded and maintained. I congratulate MLTPA for pushing to get the TSMP (Trails System Master Plan) approved, including incorporating the SHARP (Sherwin Area Recreation Plan) trail elements. However, their list of 21 “projects” has a lot of bells and whistles that do not look like priorities to me. I urge the Town, working with MLTPA, to renegotiate the Master Agreement so that we taxpayers do not pay for endless meetings, expensive quarterly reports, and vague “projects.” If MLTPA feels that its meetings are essential, then perhaps its staff time should be funded from something other than Measure R or the General Fund. Or, as one member of the public suggested at the last Recreation Commission meeting, perhaps MLTPA might consider donating time for meetings, as do members of the Recreation Commission.
Our Town Council is in a tough position, faced with the realities of the Great Recession coupled with the MLLA (airport litigation) settlement, and they are doing their best to rethink priorities. Councilmembers and the public realize that we are not in a “Cadillac era,” and therefore I ask the MLTPA Board to consider how to make their current budget stretch without asking for more funds, so that we can turn our attention to our badly-needed existing and future recreation facilities and programs. We have a small but excellent recreation department doing its utmost to serve our community, guests and part-time residents, and I feel that it’s time to focus on something more than just a “Cadillac vision” of trails.
Note: The Measure R application period ends on Nov. 28. See the Town website for applications and information.
Curb the police state
Lori and George Vest lived and worked in Mammoth Lakes from 1990-1999. They both worked in the Mammoth Schools; Lori in special education and George was the band director at MMS and MHS.
While they now live and work in Kobe, Japan, Mammoth Lakes is their U.S. address of record and they still find time every summer to return to visit old friends and the Eastern Sierra.
Their son Daniel has been active in the OWS (Occupy Wall Street) movement and ended up on the cover of the New York Times Nov. 18 edition.
This letter (attached) is a mother’s plea to all law enforcement officials (i.e. UC Davis) to stop treating the USA like a police state.
The following letter was sent to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Kelly.
I made my first trip to New York City last summer and spent a small fortune (not for you, Mr. Bloomberg, but on our school teachers’ salaries) enjoying city life. We paid our share of sales tax, city fees, tourist fees, etc. Little did I realize that this would help fund the NYPD to beat my son over the head with a metal club, as he was peacefully trying to follow his convictions
My son is a self-employed farmer, a small business owner, an educator in sustainable farming, and a young man who has helped build houses for Habit for Humanity in three different countries.
As a first grade teacher, I spend lots of time discussing that it is not okay to hurt others, no matter how mad you are. Lately we have all seen pictures of dictators abusing the people of their countries and we are appalled. President Obama said on Jan. 28, 2011, “The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.” However, the same brutality is being shown to peaceful U.S. citizens. It is time we get appalled and stop it, whether we agree with the OWS protests or not. Each demonstrator is someone’s son, daughter, parent, etc.