Thinking out loud
Just thinking out loud in light of many governmental atrocities committed by both appointed and elected officials. I’m wondering if anyone in a position of power (town attorney, District Attorney, State General Attorney, City Manager of Bell, Calif. Robert Rizzo) is an example to be followed? The Town has been obligated to pay some $30 million in damages plus fees and interest due to some illegal?/unethical activities of our elected officials, designates and employees.
My question is, has anyone looked into bringing criminal charges against any of the individuals involved? I’m not sure, but I don’t think that working for the government at any level or in any capacity gives you the authority to knowingly break the law? And if someone — or many someones — broke the law shouldn’t they be pursued legally? Especially if they profited by those actions. Thinking also if there were a conviction that any realized profits associated with airport development ( property appreciation) should be returned to the Town to help pay the damages.
Also thinking, I have never witnessed a lawsuit between two contentious parties where damages were awarded and the parties have continued to do business. I think it’s time for a buyout (or voiding of the contract) of Hot Creek Aviation. Thank you for showing us how to run an airport, but I’m sure we can (as a town) take over the running of that enterprise and with the proceeds we can make timely payments back to our creditor.
As far as running that portion and the Town’s portion of the airport, it might be time for a Penn State approach … clean house, make a fresh start. There are many capable people that have airport experience, and we can probably save some money there, too.
*Note: For Town officials take on this topic, see page 6 for Kirkner’s update on the settlement.
U need culture!
The fine citizens of the Mammoth Lakes area deserve a quality of life that includes the nurturing and expressive aspects of the arts. The arts humanize community and give inspiration and opportunities to connect us as people. The arts also hold great financial and economic benefit for any town, as a magnet for tourism and industry for our citizens and visitors. Cultural tourists stay longer, spend more money and shop more than tourists in general. In the most progressive of mountain towns across the U.S. millions of dollars are being invested in initiatives, in particular to arts- or culture-led schemes, designed to improve the image and quality of life in the most forward-thinking areas of our utopic rural life. Art and cultural initiatives make a huge difference to economic and social sustainability.
Our proud mountain town is earning a reputation in the arts and culture ie., music festivals, bookings of popular talent, professional quality theatrical productions, dance recitals, arts & crafts festivals, and even a film festival all of which bolsters the viability of the town by attracting visitors and tourists from around the world. Visual artists and art gallery owners have found it possible in recent years to make a living in places that had never been widely known for supporting the arts, so have performing artists, art center administrators, musicians, writers and theatre directors found small towns and cities to be welcoming, if not always lucrative, places to pursue their career goals.
Ski towns, all too aware that man cannot live by snow and sports alone, boasting beautiful performing arts centers where visitors are treated to the highest level of performing arts include Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen and Park City. Internationally known musicians and philharmonic orchestras perform at music festivals year-round at those mountain communities most of which are smaller in population than Mammoth Lakes. These areas also do not have the luxury of the entertainment gurus of the Los Angeles area in close proximity.
It’s understandable that large-scale arts infrastructure developments grab extraordinary amounts of media and taxpayer attention. After all, what town wouldn’t be proud to showcase its regional cultural gems, not to mention touring ensembles and international artists and performers, in a spanking new facility dedicated to visual or performing arts? In addition to more obvious entertainment attractions, cultural attractions in mountain communities could be made more visible in tourism marketing materials and media coverage and add to the trend towards rural-living revival.
The strongest cultural expression in America today has been in arts and sport. It is a powerful trend. These lifestyle trends relating to values of experience, well-being and entitlement in the community and shared experiences have the potential to increase tourism over the next several years for those community leaders paying attention to the far more important things other than the usual tired attempts to turn a buck on the latest real estate parcels. First things first in the order of their importance.
It behooves the city administration to create a supportive atmosphere for the arts. There is also Measure U that might be utilized as a starting point.
One can envision the building of a 15,000-20,000 square-foot structure with a 250-seat theater and small orchestra pit. A separate multipurpose “black box” space that would seat smaller groups and would be community oriented could be included. An art gallery would fill the lobby. It would be one of the largest and best-outfitted mountain-based arts centers in the region, a meeting place and a precious and welcome asset to the community.
MLTPA gets some hard Knox
In their peculiar reply last week to my letter to the editor from Jan. 7, Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Community Engagement Director [Kim Stravers] declared my comments were factually inaccurate. I and others would disagree.
MLTPA is in fact a well compensated, taxpayer-funded consultant to
the Town that advocates for trails and public access, fosters stewardship, and convenes and facilitates community participation. To date, Measure R and the General Fund have bestowed $1.1 million upon MLTPA for primarily administrative services and organizational support. How else they fund their organizational existence is a question a fair number of folks are interested in knowing.
MLTPA pointed out that the Town of Mammoth Lakes submitted the Fall 2011 Measure R application requesting $300,000/year for the next five years ($1.5 million), not MLTPA. No argument there. However, MLTPA did write the 352 page application, providing a detailed list of deliverables, most of which involve organizational support. In fact, the Town staff thanked MLTPA for preparing the application at a recent Recreation Commission meeting.
In all four prior application cycles for Measure R (spring and fall of 2009 & 2010) MLTPA submitted applications in their own name, and received substantial funding. Page 6 of the Fall 2011 Measure R application states “The Town anticipates accomplishing the project’s scope either fully or partially through amendments to existing contractual services agreements” with MLTPA. To imply that this application was written with no expectation of benefiting from any awarded amount is dubious, to say the least.
MLTPA also stated in their published response, “If awarded, Measure R funds will be used to construct recommended projects from the Town’s recently adopted Trail System Master Plan.” That depends, I suppose, on your definition of construction. Interestingly, the line items for any actual construction expenses (page 78 of the 352 page PDF file) were specifically identified as not part of the $300,000 annual commitment.
Several of us attended a recent Recreation Commission meeting to ask for clarification. The chairperson and one fellow commissioner consider planning, programming, information/website development, and maintenance expenses to be indistinguishable from construction costs. The two other commissioners present expressed the importance of dedicating some significant portion of any awarded amount to actual construction. What is requested to be funded from the $300,000 in the submitted fall 2011 R application? Try planning, design, stewardship, governance, interagency coordination, fundraising, maintenance, marketing & promotion, etc., plus 10% contingency and 10% administration: total of $293,900.
In anticipation of another reply from MLTPA, it is important to note that the Measure R application as originally submitted encountered such resistance from a number of concerned locals that changes to the process became clearly necessary. Several Recreation commissioners understand our point and support our concern about the lack of tangible results to date.
Without this pressure, the application would have likely breezed to a large award, encumbering Measure R funds for years to come, with no assurance that tangible products (trails, park space, event venues, etc.) would result. It will be interesting to learn how the two absent Recreation commissioners feel regarding this $1.5 million “Town” Measure R application following the recent Recreation Commission meeting on Jan. 19.
Sandy Hogan indicated in her last Letter to the Editor that she senses a positive change in attitude regarding the relationship between MLTPA, Measure R and the Town. I share her optimism, providing the public receives accurate and complete information about MLTPA’s contractual services and how Measure R awards and spending decisions have been made.