Newbry goes back to school …
I have a bone to pick with Jack Lunch. He was unable to read my mind to ascertain what I actually meant, as opposed to the syllables rolling off my loose tongue. I seem to have said, “The teachers do not want to work that hard.” This was not about them not working hard (they do work hard). It was in regard to Rich Boccia, who often worked 16 hours a day and on weekends, who put in countless hours for organizations and activities throughout the community (he was a hero in my book).
However, it seems Rich unconsciously expected others to perform with the same workaholic attitude. I was trying to point out it was difficult for teachers and staff to live up to such work expectations. Our teachers are great teachers — they work hard, and they care deeply. Not that I believe in teaching or funding based on arbitrary test scores, but over the last five years testing scores have continued to rise. MUSD is in the top 10% of the state.
I’m proud of our schools, teachers, board and administrators. They are amazing! A few of my own biased replies regarding some recent comments:
Boccia style: While in the line at Vons a teacher mentioned to me, “The last five years have been rough because someone was always in the classroom, checking things, suggesting changes, always pushing. Before that, we came to school and just taught classes; no one bothered us.”
MUSD Board: Sadly, there are legal times when a Board cannot discuss issues. There are times when a Board may simply decide not to discuss issues as well (this should never happen). We have a good Board. I respect them all and I’m sure whatever their decision, they felt it best for the district.
Boccia’s “wrongdoing”: For all practical purposes and intent, perception is reality. Because only rumors are flying (perception: he’s labeled guilty of all of them). Guilty or not, if only it could be known so future school districts are informed. It’s unfair to all to do otherwise (notwithstanding legality). The point here is don’t assume hearsay is honest or correct.
Budget: The district is broke. Over the last three or four years, many positions have been eliminated, including teacher aides our kids so desperately need. Even with the $1,000,000 already cut, we’re $600,000 in the red this year and a million next year. Something’s got to give; the only option left is to cut more positions. As with the counselor position, it will be controversial.
Parcel tax: Good is not good enough. If we want to attract families to invest and live here, the only way that will happen is to have schools that are exceptional. Only then will families move here to telecommute while family members work in shops and support businesses in slow times. Only then will we build a community instead of just a resort.
Support and promote a funding source (i.e., greater parcel tax) to achieve this dream. This can only happen if this movement comes from the community, not the school board. Nothing in all of Mammoth comes close to the importance, and benefit, of funding our schools to be great schools.
Mammoth Mountain/Rusty Gregory: I am so grateful for all they’ve done and continue to do for our schools. I am so glad Rusty is the man in charge up there, so glad he is part of our community. Few people know how much he’s done for our schools.
Tenure: Is mitigation for not paying teachers what they deserve. Tenure is not a good thing, and I’d love to see the current structure go away and be more performance-based. However, this is a national issue, not a Mammoth issue. We have great teachers and most of them deserve it. We must keep and attract great teachers.
American education: Our country may not have the best scores in math and science on planet Earth, but when you look at our efforts to educate all in regard to social and racial diversity, participating in society, caring, art, music and especially equality for all, America’s public education is by far the best and most amazing. After all, what good are science and math without the other educational attributes of social grace, compassion and understanding?
A Dream: I worked on a plan to put video cameras in classrooms so students (and parents) could re-watch the entire class to review the lessons. I know this gives some teachers heartburn, and there are issues, however I think this could revolutionize education and teaching in America, and we can do this. If anyone wants a draft report on this concept, email me at email@example.com.
I hope this helps explain my rather unintended stupid comment regarding our great and hardworking teachers. Support your school and teachers!
Steward or exploiter?
Will June Mountain really open next winter? To understand the mess we are in today, it’s helpful to consider June Mountain’s past. In 2006, Dave McCoy sold MMSA to a Starwood partnership for $365,000,000. Unfortunately, Starwood acquired MMSA with debt, no equity. Their plan: maximize return to their partners by flipping the resort.
Sadly, not long after this deal was made, our economy crumbled under the weight of the Great Recession. Result: Starwood’s loosing gamble sent shock waves through our community. In order to service the immense obligation, MMSA/Starwood must allocate all of its free cash to debt service. It’s the same free cash, that in years past, was used to make improvements on June Mountain and promote sustainable forestry practices, ie, be a good steward of our Forest.
After years of no investment into an alleged $14,000,000 asset, the leveraged buyout model led to the closure of June Mountain.
Hamstrung by restructuring
MMSA/Starwood recently paid some $6,000,000 in fees and expenses to “restructure” their debt. This brought the debt restructuring fee total to approximately $10,000,000. It’s a shame that this $10 million goes to law firms and investment bankers back east, while our Forests are poorly stewarded and critical capital improvements are systematically ignored. June Mountain, for example, has had the same face chairlift since 1958. That $10 million could have gone a long way improving the safety and quality of experience at June Mountain.
Editor’s note: June Mountain did not open until 1961. While there have been minor changes and upgrades, Morton is essentially correct in that the face chairlift has not substantially changed.
As the old adage goes, it takes money to make money. Unfortunately, for Starwood, they just take money and our community suffers as a result. What happened to bike trails on the mountain during the summer? What did the peer group tour learn from other successful small resorts? Is it the responsibility of the community or MMSA/Starwood to make June Mountain sustainable and profitable?
As a long time resident of Mono County, I feel that Starwood is exploiting both our Forest and dumping an unjust level of financial risk upon our fragile local economy.
It is up to us to come to grips with the issues and collectively make a stand for responsible corporate governance. Because if the current trend goes on unabated, June Lake will move further down the road to becoming another failed ski resort community.
CSA 1 community thank you …
The CSA 1 Board would like to acknowledge and thank the following volunteers in the community for their time helping to create and install the wooden sign at the Crowley Lake Community Center: Larry Walker @ WalkerOne Creative Workshop, Tom Platz @ Triad/Holmes Associates, Joe Adler @ Sierra Geotechnical Services, David Kuznitz @ DK Woodworks, John Ross @ Sierra Paint and Drywall, Brandon Harrington @ Harrington Decorative Finishes, Ron Landacker @ Mammoth Welding, Wes Davis @ Landcaster Construction, Kirk Lynch @ KL Construction, and Deb & Al Preschutti Construction.
The CSA 1 Board would also like to thank the following Mono County employees for their services as well: Steve Reeves for moving irrigation lines, Claude Fiddler and Steve Worabel for clean up. We wish to acknowledge and thank Nubia Dunn, Anabell Conejo, Jeff Boylan, and Steve Worabel the folks who work so hard to keep the Crowley Lake Community Center sparkling year round and do an amazing job spring cleaning.
This project was the vision of a board member Deb Preschutti, who worked with the above volunteers and Claude Fiddler from Public Works to make the project a reality. The CSA 1 Board members, John Connolly, Denise Perpall, Lynda Salcido and Kim McCarthy, are grateful to these amazing volunteers, who donated their services freely, and to the folks who work in our community.
CSA 1 President
The following letter was submitted to Town Council regarding the Airport Layout Plan update. Town Staff is scheduled to meet with the FAA in the Bay Area on April 11 to review the ALP.
Dear Mayor and Council:
Contrary to the rosy picture painted by Town staff in the 2012 Annual Planning Report, the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) update is in serious trouble. Town Council should promptly revisit this issue, and provide updated policy direction to staff before they make another resubmission to FAA.
Recent activity: After being pushed out the door by the Airport Commission, Planning Commission and Town Council (“without changes”) the ALP was submitted to FAA by Ray Jarvis in early January.
After review, the FAA’s San Francisco Airport District Office has determined that it is unacceptable for circulation to the multiple lines of business at FAA without numerous revisions, more documentation, and internal consistency. A comment letter from FAA SF-ADO was sent to Jarvis at the end of February, and released to the public last week.
FAA directive: FAA wants a commitment letter from an airline before the agency will consider the Town’s request for an airport upgrade to C-III. They also want numerous deficiencies related to airspace penetrations and separations standards drawn on the ALP sheets, B-III Runway Safety Areas shown, property parcels better identified––including parcels traded to the USFS when land was aggregated for the Development Agreement, and other corrections made, almost all of which will “raise red flags” if and when this ALP is resubmitted to FAA and circulated.
Central issue: There is a serious disconnect between the layout of the current and proposed airport and the size of the current and proposed aircraft. The Town, as airport sponsor, is proposing that FAA rubber stamp bringing ever larger aircraft into a small, constrained, out-of-spec airport.
With these latest comments from FAA, the Town is being challenged to produce a commitment letter from an airline saying it is prepared to fly the Town-proposed 737–700 or equivalent large commercial jetliner into Mammoth-Yosemite Airport. But, as FAA is certainly aware, no responsible airline will agree to fly 737-type aircraft into MMH until upgrades are made––upgrades the Town Council has directed staff not to propose, opting instead to float a dozen possible modifications to standards.
Impact on current scheduled air service: Both Alaska Air and United Airlines have indicated they may pull out of the airport if progress is not made on upgrading MMH to C-III.
Need for an approved ALP: Failure to propose an ALP acceptable to FAA jeopardizes both future FAA funding eligibility and continuance of existing air service by Alaska and United, and will almost certainly provoke intense review of FAA grant assurance compliance. Circulating an unacceptable (to FAA) ALP submission will also solidify FAA objections to the airport being our of spec, and will significantly set backthe ALP approval process. It would also be a waste of staff time and taxpayer money.
Town Council oversight: The Council should review the FAA comment letter and consider rethinking the future of the airport in light of those comments. The Town is now betting heavily on a losing hand, and staff is on the verge of doubling down after already seeing the FAA’s winning cards.
FAA holds the power and the purse–– including approval authority over any proposed new construction at the airport. It’s time for a new plan.