The following (after the line below) is my ode to April Fool’s Day.
In actual news, Geisel attended a special Town Council meeting on Thursday to protest the Town’s continued series of closed session meetings, arguing that the airport litigation is over so you can’t hold closed session meetings under the pretext that litigation is ongoing.
Council, however, is apparently considering a possible appeal of Judge Randall’s Writ of Mandate.
Later, during a special open session Thursday afternoon, Mammoth lawmakers unanimously approved an internal loan to the General Fund of $4.4 million from the Town’s Vehicle Replacement Fund. According to the agenda bill, the Town needs the loan to prefund $2,235,000 in airport litigation-related legal fees, $687,500 in financial consultant fees, $45,000 for a mediation process involving the Town’s creditors including MLLA, and $1.4 million to cover negative balances in the DIF fund, which has been depleted of late due to slow or no construction of late.
The Town would pay back the $4.4 million over 11 years at around $400,000 per year. Pause for laughter. Yeah, like that’ll happen.
In a last-ditch effort to resolve the airport litigation, the Town of Mammoth Lakes proposed a unique “tiebreaker” to MLLA (Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition) behind closed doors on Tuesday afternoon – a winner-take-all game of Monopoly pitting Town Financial Consultant Marianna Marysheva-Martinez (aka Triple M) against MLLA Principal Jay Becker.
If Triple M won, the Town would pay a $10 million settlement, payable in $1 million annual installments over the next decade.
If Becker won, the Town would pay the now nearly $43 million judgment in full, according to terms outlined by MLLA in a March 23 letter.
The game was played, fittingly enough, inside the Mammoth/Yosemite Airport Terminal beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening. Mammoth Lakes Town Council, various attorneys and MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory were among those present.
The Sheet learned of the event two hours beforehand and managed to place a hidden camera in the baggage claim area.
The table was set up in the middle of the terminal.
Each player was permitted to accept counsel from three select advisors. Marysheva-Martinez chose Rick Wood, Elizabeth Tenney and John Vereuck. Becker chose to have no advisors.
When the game commenced, the Town immediately embarked on a torrid spending spree, a time-honored Town strategy since Mammoth Lakes was incorporated more than 25 years ago.
Wood openly expressed hope that the Town would buy Tallus, which he apparently had confused with Marvin Gardens.
Tenney, meanwhile, urged the Town to spend whatever it took to buy the “Gateway” property of Mediterranean Avenue, particularly because she is a fan of the property’s deep purple hue.
Vereuck responded by saying, “Why would you want to buy that property? It’s got the worst rental/purchase price ratio on the board. Besides, hasn’t real life taught us anything? Affordable housing is a loss leader!”
Vereuck was quickly overruled by his fellow advisors, as Tenney promised Wood her next community project would be to rename the airport Mammoth/Yosemite/Wood Airport. Marysheva-Martinez welcomed the internal debate because she was getting paid by the hour (overtime, to boot!).
The game proceeded slowly (see Triple M payment terms above) until Marysheva-Martinez made a bold move to trade for Baltic Avenue.
Wood heartily agreed. “This will allow us to build hotels (on Mediterranean and Baltic). Maybe we can get a flag brand like a Marriott and really jack the rates!”
Game referee, the Retired Judge Ed Forstenzer, cautioned Wood that the game rules and hotel rates could not be altered.
“Even if we build a pocket park?” asked Tenney.
“Yes,” replied the Judge.
“Alright then. But Monopoly rules don’t mention anything about DIF (Development Impact Fees) when it comes to construction,” countered Wood.
“That’s true,” said the puzzled Judge.
With a look of smug satisfaction, Wood laced up his running shoes, stepped outside, and took a brief victory jog around the adjacent Sprung Structure.
Vereuck wondered aloud in Wood’s absence if Triple M had paid too high a price, as the Town had traded Pennsylvania Railroad and the Electric Company for Baltic.
“Besides, Mediterranean and Baltic just make me think of … Greece,” he said.
From the audience, Mayor Bacon piped up, “Deena and Meb both won medals at the Athens Olympics. Greece is a good luck charm for Mammoth!”
Becker reassured the Town team that it had made an excellent deal. “Who in California gives a damn about infrastructure? Transportation, electricity … it all pales in comparison to a pair of shiny new hotels.”
Becker failed to note, however, that the acquisition of Pennsylvania Railroad gave him possession of all four railroads, thus doubling the rent on each of his rail properties.
Triple M soon mortgaged several properties in order to raise cash to build her Gateway hotels. She also tried to make a side deal to sell a “Get Out of Jail Free” card but was disappointed when told by the Judge that the card could only be sold to a fellow player for game property.
Meanwhile, Becker hoarded cash and eventually landed a monopoly with the St. James, Tennessee and New York properties.
Wood argued that Becker’s monopoly was a “Brown Act” violation but Forstenzer ruled that the properties actually have a mustard yellow color.
“As if Rick knows a damn thing about the Brown Act,” joked Skip Harvey in the audience.
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” Wood shot back in reply, referring to Harvey’s decision not to seek reelection.
“Of course, quitters stop at $30 million,” said Gregory to no one in particular.
Within another twenty minutes or so, Becker’s advantage had played out and Marysheva-Martinez was in trouble. She was broke (but only in the game. In real life, she’ll forever be a wealthy taxeater) and sitting on St. Charles Place. A roll of 5, 7 or 8 would land her on Becker’s monopoly and end the game.
She rolled 9. Free Parking. And when it became her turn to roll again, she refused.
“If the parking is free, I choose to remain parked. There is nothing in the rules which requires that I have to move my car. Do you see a parking meter? I don’t see a parking meter. Do you see a sign? I don’t see a sign.”
“The game is a draw!” crowed Wood.
“You see?” said Becker to his attorneys. “Nothing’s changed. They can’t play fair and they can’t accept defeat. Why did I even agree to play this game?”