LUNCH GETS ZELLOUS
As Sheet readers know, I mostly don’t weigh in on national politics, but I thought this excerpt from a profile on real estate mogul Sam Zell pretty clearly lays out why immigration is to be embraced, not feared.
“We know what happens to an anti-immigration society. Japan is being emptied out. If you don’t propagate, and don’t immigrate, you shrink. The enormous growth of this country was built on immigration and the mental set of an immigrant. My parents each had six siblings. They pleaded with their siblings to leave Poland (before World War II). They turned them down.
“Immigrants are the ultimate consumers of what we’ve historically sold: freedom. Maybe 75% would use their freedom to watch TV. But the rest would start a business and work 20 hours a day instead of 10. Our immigration policy needs to encourage people like this who are contributors. We need to encourage the students who come to our universities to stay here.”
-Sam Zell, June 2017
in Barron’s Magazine
Onto local politics. The gaming of agenda bills has to stop.
I’m referring to Mammoth Town Council agenda bills.
And I’m a little puzzled as to why Mammoth’s Town Council tolerates the way information is presented by staff.
The latest offense: The update regarding the Town of Mammoth Lakes Civic Center.
The report basically says the town has two options. 1. Sign a new lease at its existing offices in the decrepit Minaret Mall. Or, 2. Build a new office building which would be located right next to the County’s proposed new office building.
And maybe these are the two most viable alternatives. It’s possible. But this is what really gets me. When you read the agenda bill it just feels like staff is leading Council around by the nose.
One of the points presented for a new building is investment already made, namely in the purchase of the McFlex property, and in a neighborhood sidewalks project, which benefits more than just this Civic Center.
So there’s a big number thrown in the report – $2.5 million – which staff claims has already been invested towards a new office building. This is just disingenuous.
Zero has been invested in a new office building. Unless you want to count Grady Dutton and Dan Holler’s time bullshitting about it over lunch at Roberto’s an investment.
Ironically, money invested in the current ice rink – real money in real infrastructure – has never been included in any responsible discussion of the pros/cons of moving the ice rink to Mammoth Creek Park.
The Town has spent approximately $2 million on the current rink site. Primarily in development fee forgiveness to Mammoth Resorts (in exchange for grading work performed) and for concrete.
Further, the Town has been derelict in maintenance of the concrete slab upon which the rink sits. Convenient, right? If I don’t service the car I have, then I’m justified in buying a new one.
Seems to me staff just cherrypicks the information it wants Council to hear. And if I’m a Councilmember, I’m irate.
This brings me to the Mammoth Unified School District discussion scheduled for Thursday evening.
Council, in the wake of receiving bids double that of the original estimates for the MUF, asked staff to go back to the drawing board and see if another lease agreement and rink plan could be hammered out with the School District.
Town Manager Dan Holler’s letter to the District was half-hearted. It’s evident he doesn’t support such an option.
Nevertheless, MUSD Superintendent Lois Klein said Thursday that she anticipates at least a two-year extension will be signed.
Mono County School Superintendent Stacey Adler has previously talked about a child care facility at the site, but has since told The Sheet the Office of Education will seek a different location – so she’s out.
But Mono County Behavioral Health appears interested in leasing the parcel itself.
Behavioral Health has floated the idea of a 55-year lease from Mammoth Unified. Its intention: to construct approx. 35 units of low income and supportive housing at the site. 55 years is the necessary time frame for receiving government subsidies and tax credits.
Upon completion of the lease agreement, the District would own the housing.
Mono County would be working with a company called Integrity Housing to help develop the housing.
At the school board meeting, representatives from the town confused the school board by supporting Mono County’s lease request over their own.
Mammoth Councilmember Lynda Salcido took to the podium at Thursday’s meeting and encouraged the school board to consider the Behavioral Health lease offer.
“I am speaking as a community member,” Salcido said. “The opportunity for permanent housing is of the utmost importance … Consider seriously the benefits to the community of doing something like this.”
Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission Chair Betsy Truax expressed her commission’s reticence at the Town’s leasing the site
“We at the recreation commission are reluctant to invest in a property that the town does not own, and we believe that there is significant investment needed at the school site,” Truax said.
“We support putting the facility at Mammoth Creek Park.”
School Board member Shana Stapp replied, “I’m confused, Town Council came to us asking for a lease and now its members are coming and saying, ‘no.’”