Dave McCoy turned 98 on Saturday, so I went down to Bishop to wish him a happy birthday last week.
Still as sharp as ever.
Seeing as I’m getting less sharp with age, all this means is that the intellectual gap between us is widening.
He and his archivist/assistant Brandon Russell are nearing the end of an eight-month project which involves cataloguing 65,000 photographs taken at Mammoth Mountain between the 1950s and 1990s. These are among the some 200,000 photos Dave has in his vaults.
Per usual, I prodded Dave for opinions on various topics. For the most part, Dave kept the opinions to himself. He did say in regard to the recent passage of Mammoth’s TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District), “Why the heck are they throwing it [a significant portion of anticipated TBID revenue] into the airport?”
As I scribbled the comment onto a notepad, he looked at me and said, “Am I being interviewed?”
Me: Well, that depends on what you say.
Dave suggested that money spent on improving the actual guest experience would be a better investment, and that word-of-mouth about that improved guest experience would generate the desired increase in visitation.
For the uninitiated, Mammoth businesses recently voted to impose an additional “tax” upon themselves, 1% for lodging, 1.5% for restaurants and retail and 2% for lift tickets.
The $4.7 million annual revenue expected to be generated by the TBID will support enhanced marketing efforts and commercial airline subsidies.
I wonder what Dave thinks about Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s decision this week to alter its facial hair policy.
According to MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory, MMSA has changed its longstanding policy prohibiting facial hair – for both men and women.
Sheet: Was this policy change initiated to lure back former MMSA employee (and former Sheet writer) Colin Wolf?
Gregory (dismissively): He shaves with a tweezer, that guy.
Gregory said that based upon sentiment inside the company, facial hair policy is a bigger issue to company personnel than how the ski area is financed.
But back to the TBID. It is structured in such a way that if a business can prove that more than 50% of its revenue is local, it can gain an exemption and pay a flat rate.
Problem is, establishing that proof is proving harder than many local businesses were led to believe during the process which led to the TBID’s passage.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi had maintained that it would be simple as pie for local business owners to contact their credit card providers, who would readily provide computer printouts which would show all the statistics by zip code of purchases made.
Mammoth Pet Shop Owner Mike Munson told The Sheet this week that when he contacted his merchant services company, Mercury Pay, out of Durango, Colo., he was told that it could not furbish the type of sales data Urdi had said could be made available.
When Munson called American Express directly to ask for the same data, he received the same response.
Other business owners have reported the same experience.
As Urdi said via telephone interview Wednesday, in order to gain an exemption, a business must provide some tangible proof that the majority of its sales are local.
For example, the Do-It Center furnished data collected from local contractors who have house accounts.
The combined revenue collected from these house accounts represents more than half the Do-It Center’s total revenue.
But Urdi said he would not accept anecdotal evidence, particularly anecdotal evidence from businesses that do much, if not all, of their business in cash.
He also said he would need at least a year’s worth of data from any business.
So, if the businesses want to opt out, they’re probably stuck paying the TBID for at least a year, and they’re also stuck with the onerous task of creating a paper trail.
“If I can’t get something together, I’ll have to track every sale for the next year,” said Munson. In the meantime, he said, he’s calculated that his portion of the TBID will cost him the equivalent of one part-time, $9/hour employee working 20 hours a week.
Sheet: So you’ll have to cut back on staff hours?
Sheet: Who’ll have to make up those hours?
Munson looked at me with a mixture of pity (for my slowness) and irritation (at his looming reality). He pointed at his chest.
Ironically, he says, he’s been told he can add 1.5% to his sales receipt on the sales tax line item, but the TBID is not officially a “tax.”
“I see people in here with bar code scanners [on their cellphones],” he said. On the rertail side, he added, it’s naive to think that Mammoth doesn’t need to be price-sensitive.
Finally, he said, if our tax dollars (via Measures R and U) are going to subsidize events like the Mammoth Bluegrass Festival, for example, then anyone paying into the TBID should be getting discount passes to such events. Give us something, he seemed to be saying, anything in return.
On the potential TBID appeal front, Derek Johnson of Crystal Crag Lodge could only say that the deadline to file a formal protest has been mutually extended.
According to a story in this week’s issue of the Economist, a Facebook study just published by the Public Library of Science finds that frequent Facebook use makes a person depressed.
The study was conducted by Ethan Kross of the Univ. of Michigan and Phillippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium.
Researchers found that the more a volunteer used Facebook, the worse he reported feeling and the lower his/her life satisfaction. Gender had no influence on the study’s findings. Neither did size of social network.
“The more volunteers socialized in the real world, the more positive they reported feeling the next time they filled in a questionnaire,” reported the magazine.
Previous study conducted by researchers at Humboldt University and Darmstadt Technical University, both located in Gerrmany, found that the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook: envy.
National Park visitation:
According to the NPS, share of summer visitors aged 61-plus increased from 10 to 17% from 1996 to 2008.
Similarly, those aged 15 and under declined from 26 to 22%.
NPS cites competition from other forms of entertainment as reason for decline.
Also cite lack of cultural connection of increasing share of population to places like Independence Hall and Gettysburg.