A COCKTAIL TO AVOID
In no particular order …
I’ve been catching up with some reading this week. One headline from the Dec. 18 Wall Street Journal that caught my attention: “Pittsburgh Airport Ramps Up Side Gig as Land Developer.”
“Commercial real estate development has been one part of the airport’s plan to find new revenue after struggling for many years.” This after certain airlines abandoned Pittsburgh as a hub.
“Airports throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East often create mini-cities around their core facilities including office buildings, apartments, exhibition spaces and other businesses.”
Meanwhile, Mammoth will shift commercial air service to Bishop while continuing to pay off airport litigation (related to proposed development) until 2035.
If FAA regulations for commercial air service related to airport design (private development at Mammoth Airport was forbidden) were the reason Mammoth had to scuttle its development agreement with Terry Ballas, maybe it’s time to call Terry back – and make him prove he really would have made $30 million out there.
But seriously, what’s the plan out there now? Housing?
Speaking of which … from the October 23 issue of the Journal. Headline: “Facebook Tackles Lack of Housing.” Deck: “Tech giant earmarks $1 billion to address Silicon Valley’s shortage of homes.”
Facebook’s market capitalization is $622 billion.
Vail Resorts’ market capitalization is $10 billion.
Say Alterra is two-thirds the value of Vail (I’m just guessing. I have no idea) or 1/100th of Facebook.
A comparative earmark toward housing by Alterra would be $10 million. Maybe Mammoth Resorts would see $1.5 million of that (as a percentage of corporate business).
It would be a nice gesture, make up for the lost tax revenue on season passes, and keep Kirk Stapp quiet about a lift ticket tax for a good 12 months.
The most ominous headline, which appeared above the fold of the December 30 issue, read, “Homeowners Opt to Refinance at Higher Rates to Get Cash.”
“After about a decade of rising home prices, homeowners are flush with record amounts of home equity they can tap. But many people remain short on cash and are increasingly relying on debt to fund their lives.”
This sounds like a cocktail to avoid and reminiscent of 2008. Human nature being what it is, I imagine there will be a line out the door at that bar …
From page seven of this week’s Sheet … I need to see a copy of this contract the town has with JetSuiteX because it doesn’t make any sense to me that a flight subsidy doesn’t come with a provision that allows Mammoth Lakes Tourism some influence in the setting of prices.
Consider … using the numbers from the story, if I sell 30 seats at $300, I gross $9,000.
But if I fill just 10 seats at $850, that equates to $8,500 … and then I get paid another $1,800 by Mammoth Lakes Tourism as a subsidy for all the empty seats.
So while JetSuiteX maximizes profit and taxpayer subsidy, the town gets … fewer air passengers upon whose heads we calculate massive multiplier effects. “Air passengers spend on average X amount of dollars more per day than drive-to resort visitors.” That’s the standard justification we get from the consultants to launch air subsidy programs in the first place.
There’s got to be a way to negotiate some leverage into this agreement. Can someone have Tom Cage sit in the room during the next negotiation?
On a side note, I had to give Page a little grief for allowing Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi to get away with a little fuzzy math.
That, or Page’s liberal arts background has addled him.
The story says, “Orange County saw a 26% decrease in load factor, down to 44% from 70%.”
If your load factor goes from 70% to 44%, you’ve experienced a 37% decline in load factor.
The following comment came in regarding Page’s coverage of the snow removal issue at the Peterson Tract in June Lake:
“Here’s what’s missing from the conversation … The county can’t retain snowplow drivers because the county thinks they can get away with paying sub-standard wages … As a result these underpaid workers quit and go to work for the TOML or Caltrans where pay and equipment is better … The county can’t find anyone to fill their mechanic positions for the same reasons … and the county lost one of its two competent heavy equipment mechanics two years ago to LADWP … The county’s solution to retain employees was in giving the idiots in management big salary increases … I know some of these management people and the main reason they are working for Mono County is that they can’t find better jobs anywhere else … So when the county roads aren’t getting plowed the ones responsible are the management geniuses sitting in their heated offices. Happy New Year.
January is typically a time where I get to catch up on some reading, and Santa serendipitously brought me a copy of Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” on the eve of the Harvey Weinstein sex crimes trial.
The book chronicles Farrow’s efforts to gather and ultimately publish the Weinstein exposé in the New Yorker magazine, which he did in the fall of 2017.
And what we learn is that the New Yorker published the piece because NBC News passed on it.
And the reason NBC News passed on it is because Harvey Weinstein leaned on NBC executives to quash the story.
Further, we learn that key NBC executives who quashed the story had been involved in sexual harassment incidents of their own.
And that doesn’t even count Matt Lauer.
Farrow had been an employee at NBC. His pursuit of the story ultimately led to his dismissal.
But there wouldn’t have been justice without the women who came forward to tell their stories (and risk their careers).
And the pattern of Weinstein’s behavior was so … rote, so streamlined.
He would set up a meeting, and there’d be a “honeypot” there, another woman, perhaps a casting director, to make it all seem normal and comfortable.
And then he’d invent some excuse (usually, that he had to retrieve some source material, a book) to make a detour to a hotel room.
And then he would either assault his prey, or make a strong suggestion about assaulting his prey – each story was a little different – and some women escaped, and some did not.
And the ones who did not would blame themselves and/or be shamed into silence.
As actress Rosanna Arquette told Farrow while he was researching the story, “They’re gonna discredit every woman who comes forward. They’ll go after the girls. And suddenly the victims will be perpetrators.”
And all the while, Weinstein’s influence is so wide and his donations to politicians and causes so pervasive that those unfamiliar with his shadow life were shocked about the investigation.
When Farrow told Meryl Streep he was investigating Weinstein, Streep’s reported reaction was, “But he supports such good causes.”
I juxtapose this experience reading about the monstrous Harvey Weinstein with Peggy Noonan’s column in the Journal last week where she predicts the story of the 2020s will be, in essence, the backlash to #metoo.
“The past decade saw the rise of the woke progressives who dictate what words can be said and ideas held, thus poisoning and paralyzing American humor, drama, entertainment, culture and journalism. In the coming ten years someone will effectively stand up to them. They are the most hated people in America, and their entire program is accusation: you are racist, sexist, homophobioc, transphobic; you are a bigot, a villain, a white male, a patriarchal misogynist, your day is over. Bow to them, as most do, and they’ll accuse you even more of newly imagined sins. They claim to be vulnerable victims, and moral. Actually they’re not. They’re mean and seek to kill, and like all bullies are cowards.”
And I know that Noonan wouldn’t defend Harvey Weinstein, but … Weinstein got away with it for 20 years, and almost got away with it this time if the New Yorker hadn’t stepped in and taken on his attorneys.
And if he wasn’t sitting there in court this week using his walker (because all defendants are seemingly advised by their lawyers to appear helpless and sympathetic), and had gotten away with it (again), would he be held up by Noonan as merely a woebegone and generally harmless patriarchal misogynist?
It’s just so hard to paint this stuff black-and-white. You have to treat it case by case, and there’s so much noise … I mean, I find PC culture incredibly annoying, but there’s a reason why it exists.