So Mammoth has once again made national news … this time for a shark movie. Not a loan shark movie, or a real estate shark movie, or even a ski area chief executive shark movie, but for a shark movie, with … sharks … who live in the snow.
The movie, filmed at Mammoth, is called Avalanche Sharks. It’s basically Jaws on a ski hill. And the premise is so ludicrous and the shark animation so awful that it’s gained national attention.
The movie trailer was released on Oct. 9 and then picked up and shown on both the Chelsea Handler show (Oct. 10) and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Oct. 11).
Several locals were cast in the production as extras or even with small roles, and some familiar faces appeared in the trailer, including Jonathan Widen, Mike Dostrow and Jim Ouimet.
As Cleland Hoff of Film Mammoth said, “I read the script and there was no way I was not gonna work on that film. It was so far out there. I loved working on it. Totally campy. Almost like another Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.”
Hoff said the L.A. folks just loved Jim Ouimet, who apparently plays a crusty, old dog musher much like … Jim Ouimet.
Shot in June of this year, local extras included the above folks plus Amy Ninh (who has a credited role), Jason Lee Hardin, Kim Angeles, Emily Fuller, Rich Leonin, Courtney Flanagan, Barbara Richter, Brett Reed, Jim Marcotte and many others.
Hoff couldn’t reveal which Mammoth people get eaten.
Dostrow, who was cast as the Mayor of the fictional town overrun by snow sharks, said that because he had some lines, it bumped his pay from $100 to $250. “I play the mayor who says don’t close the mountain … just like the guy in Jaws who said don’t close the beach.”
TBID kinks still being worked out
With the first TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) payments due from various businesses by Oct. 20, the reality of the TBID is hitting home, and for those business owners who don’t like it, the heartburn just gets worse.
To review, the TBID establishes a 2% lift ticket tax, a 1.5% tax on restaurants and retail and a 1% tax on lodging.
The money raised will go towards marketing and commercial airline subsidies.
Depending on business type and volume, there are certain exemptions. For example, a business that does more than 50% of its business locally is eligible to pay a flat $500 annual fee.
But there is some controversy over what constitutes local business.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s John Urdi says a second homeowner does not count as a local, because Mammoth is not their primary residence.
But Oaktree Furniture owner Bob Hutchison disagrees with Urdi’s definition and has hired local attorney Timothy Sanford to appeal his inclusion in the TBID.
On a larger, philosophical level, Hutchison is not so much against the TBID as for a wider inclusion. Essentially, he feels that if you’re going to have a tax, everyone should pay it. He also feels the TBID places him at a competitive disadvantage with Fendon’s Furniture, which isn’t subject to the TBID on the sales and deliveries it makes in Mammoth.
Other business owners like Spike Todd at Mammoth Liquor and Lyn Dunlap at Tailwaggers feel like their businesses should be exempt because their sales are primarily local. However, because they don’t currently have the data to support their assertions, they’ll have to pay into the TBID for at least year one while they collect information.
The compromise reached in regard to data collection is that business should track all sales in the months of October, January, May and August (the two slowest and two biggest months). And then see what the numbers show. Urdi says he will accept data collected on the honor system.
If you walk into Mammoth Liquor, Spike Todd has pages and pages of data collected since Oct. 1. Thus far, he’s showing 66% local revenue. Lyn Dunlap pegs her local business thus far at 80 to 85%.
Dunlap said that what she finds particularly irritating is that if the numbers prove her point, she’ll still never be able to recoup the TBID tax she’ll have to pay in year one.
Further, she thinks the whole concept is merely serving as an excuse for locals to help shore up Town finances decimated by the airport litigation judgment.
“They’re making locals pay for their [Council] mistakes and they think they’ve pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. They haven’t.”
Spike Todd had a beef with the composition of the Appeals Board, which he said consisted of John Urdi and John Morris for his hearing.
*The appeals board actually consists of Morris, Brent Truax and Michael Raimondo. Urdi can sit in on appeals but he is not officially on the appeals board.
So, weirdly, Morris took an emergency phone call during Todd’s hearing and had to leave and the other two board members apparently never showed, so … Todd ended his hearing talking to Urdi, and was never informed Urdi wasn’t a board member.
Todd suggested the appeals board should have more balance, and thought that folks should be included who don’t have a vested interest in the outcome, such as Police Chief Dan Watson.
Dunlap’s appeal hearing had a full complement of the board, but she said, “They were condescending, patronizing … and they had their minds made up before I walked in the door.”
Todd simply said, “It’s a joke. It’s a pig circus. It’s not even close to being fair.” He thought a fair compromise would be to pay the 1.5% tax only during months where his business skews higher than 50% tourist, but Urdi believes this would turn into a logistical nightmare – trying to track all businesses on a monthly basis.
In response to various criticisms, Urdi told The Sheet Thursday, “I can’t wave a magic wand for some and make demands of others. People may not like the process, but [I believe] it’s fair and equitable.”
Urdi also said that the actual numbers may surprise some business owners, because even though a higher percentage of their customers may be local, a higher percentage of their revenue may come from visitors. It’s his guess that the average visitor spends more money per transaction.
Urdi expects a total of about 50 appeals. Thus far, he’s fielded about 25. He did reveal that three national food chains have made claims they are locally-based and plan to appeal.
Local update on state of Obamacare
Eric Olson of Farmers Insurance gave The Sheet a brief update this week on what’s happening with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
His chief message: Be patient. There’s still a whole lot to work out.
Olson said that Covered California web servers (www.coverdca.com) are so oversubscribed that you can log in about 30% of the time and you’re lucky if you can switch pages.
Pricing? Preliminarily, Olson believes his personal rates will go up 20-25%.
The “Golden Nugget” according to Olson is subsidy. If you make 138% or less of the federal poverty limit (~14K/year), you’ll be on Medicaid.
If you make less than 400% of the federal poverty limit, you’re eligible for subsidy. Talk to a certified agent to learn more. Olson said he and his daughter Alicia are certified agents.
If you have less than 50 employees, you will not be penalized for not offering health insurance.