Whether the Town funds a fireworks display or not at Crowley Lake in 2014, it appears we’ll be treated to plenty of fireworks this coming year in Suite Z.
George Shirk’s interview of incoming Mayor Rick Wood in this week’s Fifty Center definitely lit a fuse for outgoing Mayor Matthew Lehman. And may have created further division in an already tenuous Council dynamic.
As Lehman told The Sheet Thursday, “I’d heard about it, for ten years, the arrogance [of Wood], the headline-chasing, the self-aggrandizement.” The article, said Lehman, was akin to an “ugly gopher popping its head out of the ground.”
The article appears to have Wood belittling his fellow Councilmembers and questioning their “skill sets” and ability to think abstractly.
As Lehman deadpanned, “I hope we [the rest of Council] can keep up with him [Wood].”
Councilmember Raimondo added, “My skill set does not support encumbering the Town with $50 million liabilities.”
“It’s just a weird way to begin a Mayoral term,” continued Lehman, “driving a wedge between yourself and fellow Councilmembers.”
Lehman was unhappy with Wood’s assertion that he and Councilmember Raimondo “don’t like housing,” particularly because both voted for an agenda item having to do with workforce housing as recently as this Wednesday, at the last Council meeting.
Lehman is also very suspicious of Wood’s talk about reorganization and re-prioritization – dedicating more money to public safety and public works and so forth.
“There’s only one place that money can come from – Measure A – and I am not in favor of raiding Measure A [funds] if the TBID [Tourism Business Improvement District] passes.”
Councilmember Raimondo agreed.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s John Urdi pointed out at Council on Wednesday that pacing is great for the summer tourist season. “Let’s keep the foot on the accelerator,” said Lehman. “Give it [an increased emphasis and expenditure on marketing] some time.”
If Wood is indeed looking for fresh ideas and fresh thinking, Lehman had two immediate suggestions:
1.) Setting Council term limits of three terms/12 years.
2.) Limiting healthcare benefits to Councilmembers only and not extended family.
Smith speaks on his departure for Vail
Jim Smith becomes the third senior vice-president in a matter of weeks to leave Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
Smith, the Senior Vice-President of Real Estate, will leave to become Vice-President of Strategic Development at Vail Resorts. His job will entail evaluation of other resorts for possible acquisition.
His exit follows on the heels of those of Bob Peckenpaugh and Howard Pickett.
Bike Park Manager, Mark Hendrickson, also recently left MMSA for Vail.
“Jim’s leaving because it’s too frustrating to be here,” said MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory. “The difference is that they’re [Vail] building.”
Sheet: Will one of your tasks involve acquiring Mammoth?
Smith: I have no idea … It never came up.
Sheet: As an outsider now, looking at Mammoth, what would be the pros and cons to an investor?
Smith (laughing): I’m not biting on that … It’s a great mountain, a great community. These fundamentals have not changed. It’ll be a great spot.
Smith said that while he and his wife love Mammoth, the Vail job provides a great opportunity to advance his career.
Smith holds a Masters in Real Estate Finance from the University of Southern California. He then taught as an adjunct professor at USC at the School of Policy, Planning and Development from 2001-2006.
According to the bio posted on the MLTPA (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access) website, previously, Jim was vice-president of Katell Properties, a leading commercial-development firm based in Los Angeles. Prior to Katell, he was an associate at AEW Capital Management in Boston.
MLTPA (Smith served on the Board of Directors) was among many volunteer posts Smith held during his stint in Mammoth. He and wife Elaine were also instrumental in getting the Mammoth Track at Whitmore built.