The Sheet sent reporter Addie Gottwald to Sacramento on Thursday to attend the Town’s first bankruptcy hearing. The following is her report:
The first court hearing for the Town of Mammoth bankruptcy petition, held on Thursday in Sacramento, was one big scheduling fight. The Town repeatedly stressed the importance of an expedited hearing.
Zach Clement, the lead lawyer for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, stated that the town “desperately needs to get [the court hearings] over with before [the next ski season].”
However, Eric Winston, the MLLA (Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition) attorney, is scheduled to leave for a two-week family vacation until July 30 and the Town acted as if they did not wish to interfere with his plans.
Judge Thomas Holman is scheduled to be out of the country the first couple weeks of September, but stated, “I understand that there are time pressures in this case.”
Winston’s response after hearing the bankruptcy announcement was to ask to get MLLA and the Town representatives in a room together to talk and have a “last chance to see if there is a way to resolve this.” The Town had denied that offer, but the court has ordered Oregon Judge Elizabeth Perris to mediate between MLLA and the town (she is also in charge or mediating Stockton’s bankruptcy hearing).
“All we’re asking for is a fair amount of time,” Winston said. He wanted the eligibility hearing to be held in October. Judge Holman responded “more time for proper presentation, I get it.”
Clement wanted the confirmation of bankruptcy to be over with before November or December, the beginning of ski season.
The Town wants to have Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht and Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva Martinez as witnesses at the eligibility hearing, assuming that MLLA objects to the eligibility.
Judge Holman said he was “not willing to compromise due-process” just to get the case done on the Town’s time favored time schedule. He felt that he could not take the Town’s desire for confirmation by December and work backwards from that to make scheduled hearings, and did not want the first hearing to be an evidentiary hearing.
Order and amended notice due Monday, July 16
Start publication (announce to public and bond issues) by Friday, July 20
Objection filing deadline (for MLLA) Aug. 24
“My answer to you [MLLA] is ‘get going,’” said Judge Holman “no point in delaying this … not in anyone’s interest to keep a city in a chapter 9 case … don’t want my absence to delay this 3 weeks” (going to be out of the country) –
A status conference was first scheduled for Aug. 31, but Winston opposed it because his son on a varsity football team that is playing in Dublin, Ireland that day. He suggested Aug. 29 (he joked that the Town owed him one for moving the date up even a couple more days).
So the status conference was set for Aug. 29 in Sacramento with Judge Holman at 1:30 p.m.
The mediation date with Judge Elizabeth Perris is still being scheduled.