Just finished reading Jonathan Lethem’s novel “Gun, With Occasional Music.” That’s what I get to do this time of year – it’s that brief interlude before ski season fully kicks in where I reintroduce myself to that most old-fashioned of hobbies – reading.
Lethem’s book is set in the future where everything is run by “The Office,” and the public is mesmerized and otherwise controlled by government-issued free drugs with names like Avoidol, Believol and Forgettol. The protagonist, a private detective named Metcalf, has developed his own special blend after years of experimentation. “My blend is skewed heavily towards Acceptol,” he says, “with just a touch of Regrettol to provide that bittersweet edge, and enough addictol to keep me craving it even in my darkest moments.”
Each member of society carries around an identification card which carries a certain amount of “karma” points. Once your karma hits zero, sayonara.
In his investigation of a murder case, Metcalf pisses off The Office, which reduces his karma to zero. He’s then hauled in and cryogenically frozen for six years as punishment. When he’s unfrozen and released, Metcalf learns that there are no such things as individual blends anymore. Just one standard issue.
“Time-release Forgettol, mostly. It’s all the rage. Snort it if you like – just make sure you write your name and address on a matchbook cover first. In big letters … I might as well clue you in, Metcalf. Don’t go around talking about the past. Memory is rude. That’s what this stuff is for, and everyone uses it. In Los Angeles, it’s illegal to know what you do for a living …”
And when Metcalf tries to reopen the now six-year old case, he finds that 1.) Witnesses no longer remember who he is, and 2.) If he asks them something or brings up a name, witnesses literally consult a memory device which tells them what they should remember.
Of course, my immediate reaction upon reading the book was trying to come up with a recipe for a “Mammoth Town Council” blend.
I guess it used to be almost straight Believol during the Intrawest days.
Now it’s mostly Forgettol with a healthy dose of Avoidol, a whole lot of addictol and absolutely no Regrettol.
Last Friday, the BID (Business Improvement District) met in the Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) conference room.
Push back from retailers Tom Cage (Kittredge Sports) and Tony Colasardo (Footloose Sports) led the committee to scale back the proposed retail fee to be imposed upon BID participants from 1.5 to 1%.
One of the arguments proffered by Cage as to why the rate should be lower was that retail is a different animal than lodging or food. Once a visitor arrives in Mammoth, lodging and food become necessities. The retail audience, however, is not as captive, and both Cage and Colasardo say today’s customer walks into retail establishments armed with smartphones to look at comparative online pricing. If the price isn’t competitive, they’ll wait ‘til they get home to buy. Even small adjustments to price can tip the balance.
And they don’t even operate in the Village, which already sports a 0.75% resort tax. An additional 1% “fee” for the BID would push the effective sales tax rate for shops like Tonik to 10% – highest in the state.
Which is why Tonik’s Kristi Rowley is among those who remain dubious of the BID. She says she might be able to support a half-point tax if there was a guarantee which stated the the Town and MMSA wouldn’t cut their respective marketing budgets by one dime.
In a larger sense, however, Rowley’s concern is that if we continue to impose taxes on the same people (visitors) we depend upon for survival, at some point, we risk alienating them.
Which is why Lunch believes that a parcel tax measure needs to be included as part of the revitalize-our-town-and-pay-off-the-litigation-mess equation.
As Rowley rightly said, “We’re all in this together,” so if we’re all in this together, why should the usual suspects continue to shoulder an outsized burden?
Homeowners like, say, Rick Wood and John Eastman should also contribute.
Politicians like, say, Rick Wood and John Eastman should also contribute versus sit on their hands, insist they don’t support new taxes (so if private business steps in and taxes itself to fill local government’s leadership void, Wood and Eastman can deny any responsibility) and watch other people clean up their messes.
$100 per parcel per year. Which would raise more than $1 million a year which I would dedicate to paying off the settlement. Yes, it would require a 2/3 vote for passage, but I think it’s doable. If Urdi and Gregory can pitch a BID based upon the idea that more marketing = more traffic = more sales = healthier town, a parcel tax should be able to sell on similar logic. Investment in town via a parcel tax should pay off in the form of higher property values.
We’ll call it Measure WE (short for Wood Eastman) as a reminder of what the tax is for and why we’re paying it.
Because while I am happy to use Metcalf’s blend (heavy on the Acceptol), I refuse the Forgettol. That’ll just mess you up.
And from Geisel’s desk …
Inyo-Mono IRWMP wins planning funding
Earlier this week, Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Program Director Mark Drew announced that the State of California’s Department of Water Resources posted its final award notification for Round 2 Planning Grant funding on Tuesday. “I am pleased to let you all know that we were awarded $480,000, the same amount that was based on preliminary recommendations,” Drew said via e-mail.
The funds, he added, will support continued programmatic activities, as well as a suite of projects to be completed by the Program Office. Additionally, grant funds will support a technical study on Oak Creek near Lone Pine, a restoration plan for the West Walker River and a storm water management plan for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. For more about the scope of work, visit http://inyo-monowater.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/R2PGWORKPLAN_FINALmaster_030712.pdf.
Moving forward, Drew said his office will begin contacting those directly involved with projects associated with the grant. During the IRWMP’s Jan. 23 meeting, a plan to implement the grant is expected to be roled out. It will likely take until the January meeting to execute the grant agreement. –Geisel
MMM salary correction
In our story last week about a new contract for Deputy Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez, we were given erroneous information with regards to her salary. According to Acting Finance Director Cyndi Myrold, MMM’s base salary is $208,000, and with PERS benefits her total compensation is $245,915.