I was back in New Hampshire last week visiting family. Of course, was sick for half the vacation. I’m assuming there’s someone else to blame for that. Trump would know.
We flew United – at least on the way there. It’s as if United knows exactly where to place the seats so when you wedge your knees in there, that’s it. You’re captive for the rest of the flight.
The poor gal in front of me. She kept trying to crank her seat back. She couldn’t figure out what was in the way. There was only one way she was going to be successful – if the seat broke, or if my knee broke.
At one point, she turned and glared at me. I think she did. My eyes were closed. If they were open, I would have laughed. Not in a mean way. Just at the absurdity of it all. For her sake, I wish she’d booked the window seat. My four-foot daughter’s knees wouldn’t have been an issue.
Jean Harris filed his complaint against the Town of Mammoth Lakes, et. al. on August 5. In the June 29 issue (pages 10 & 26), The Sheet printed the three-page letter which Harris sent to Mammoth’s Town Council in May threatening litigation.
The 57-page complaint filed by the retired City Attorney, who formerly served the cities of Poway and Rancho Mirage, elaborates upon that initial letter. Among his assertions: Mammoth’s TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) was established to “reduce the MMSA balance sheet expenses and, in turn, increase the net income of the resort.”
He calls the TBID an “in lieu tax” formed to “cause taxpayers to pay for corporate expenses.”
And cites the California Constitution, Article 16, Sect. 6 which states that such an arrangement amounts to a gift of public funds.
The date set the first hearing is February 13, 2020, but Harris doubts he’ll have to wait that long for the next move: he assumes the Town will file a motion to dismiss.
The lawsuit is officially filed by an entity called the Main Street Taxpayer Association. According to Harris, officers of this newly formed association have paid enough in TBID and TOT (room tax) to give the entity standing.
He says he’s also received two calls since the filing from small business owners who wish to support his cause.
When I expressed surprise that the filing had been made so quickly following Council’s rejection of Harris’s claim, Harris said, “It all fell into place. Our 501c3 status was accepted within three weeks.”
He’s still debating as to whether he wishes to try the case and/or whether he’d like to enlist a firm to help him.
He does say his complaint is a threat to the very concept of TBID itself, in Mammoth and throughout the state, and believes the conflicts-of-interest inherent at the Mammoth TBID’s formation should render all subsequent actions void.
Bishop’s Public Works Director Dave Grah announced his retirement on Wednesday. He said his retirement is coming a bit sooner than planned, as “The city is making changes I don’t fit into.”
He’s looking at September 6 as his final work day. His official retirement date, after he burns through various leave days, won’t occur until November.
What changes he doesn’t fit into would be a matter of conjecture at this point. Bishop Councilmember Karen Schwartz had this to say:
“Our constituents want to push rezoning. They want a more vibrant downtown … I meet 20-to-30 year olds all the time. They’re fired up to be a part of the community. And they want a vibrant downtown. They want bike paths.”
In essence, they want action and the City has some Prop. 68 (Parks, Environment and Water bond passed by California voters last year) money at its disposal to get some things done. She said Council directed City Manager David Kelly to embark upon a reorganization based upon those goals.
“Council is in David’s corner,” she added.
In his department report at Monday’s Council meeting, Kelly announced pending additions in planning staff and community services.
Being on vacation, I had time to read “Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats who Rule the World” by Oliver Bullough, a book which had the effect of making me question why I worry so much about ground-level democracy when the real games are being played in a whole other stratosphere.
Bullough’s thesis: “Money flows across frontiers, but laws do not. The rich live globally; the rest of us have borders.”
And then he goes into all the ways the rich steal money, shelter money, and most important, cleanse money. And how they pick and choose the places and the passports which provide the best deals.
As he writes, “Here is the problem; someone has assets, and she wants to enjoy those assets, but she is embarrassed about how she obtained them. Perhaps they have been stolen, or they might be untaxed; it doesn’t matter. In either case, if the owner were to publicly enjoy the use of them, it might prove embarrassing, and she doesn’t want that. And here is the opportunity: if you can find a way to de-embarrass the assets, so she can enjoy them freely, she’ll pay you. This is Moneyland’s core industry, providing the middle stage in the pathway steal-hide-spend.”
But the following passage is the one that sank me. He wrote it about a crooked doctor who ran a Cancer Institute in the Ukraine, skimming money from the drug companies while parents pay bribes to get treatment for their children. And while you can pass it off as third world corruption, you do begin to wonder where the 1st world ends and the 3rd world begins.
“When corruption is widespread, it becomes impossible to know whom to believe, since the money infects every aspect of state and society. Every newspaper article can be criticized as paid for, every politician can be calledc corruopt, every court decision can be called into question. Charities are set up by oligarchs to lobby for their interests, and those then provoke doubts about every other non-governmental organization. If even doctors are on the take, can you trust their diagnoses? … It is impossible to build a thriving economy, or a healthy democracy, without a society whose members fundamentally trust each other. If you take that away, you are left with something far darker and more mercenary.”
Speaking of uplift, this is one more observation I had on the flight home about our insta-selfie world.
I was thinking about that line in Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
And I realized that what most people really, really want is that lead role in a cage, and that the numbers are skewing pretty seriously in that direction.
*Maybe the war’s already lost and no one bothered to announce it.
Doom and gloom aside (and I did date a girl once who called me Doomy Gloomy. That was in my blue period. Like Picasso, minus the genius), we’ve gotta come together on this housing issue. See you in Suite Z this week.