My dad was always fond of Kipling’s poem “If” and had several favorite stanzas. There was the opening couplet:
If you can keep your head when all about you/
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
There’s some of that happening right now – a fair amount of hysteria. A dwindling bank account is no friend of reason.
I was listening to CSU-Bakersfield’s small business development center’s weekly webinar this week and had a chuckle at this one.
Director Kelly Bearden conducted an insta-poll among the fifty or so virtual attendees regarding the PPP (Payment Protection Plan) where he asked folks what their greatest concern was regarding the program. 44% responded, I would say most rationally, by saying they were simply worried about not getting anything at all.
But almost a third, 32%, said they were most concerned about not knowing what the debt forgiveness would be.
Personally, I am rooting for having the luxury of worrying about debt forgiveness.
As Bearden said in his presentation, he compared the PPP to a radio station giveaway. You call up and hope like hell you’re the 7th caller. Bearden literally said., “It’s a crapshoot as to which banks are getting in.”
In terms of the blame part, it’s never fun to face the prospect of cuts, down-sizing, altered fiscal reality.
As Mammoth Unified School Superintendent Jennifer Wildman said Thursday, “I’m not the most popular person around right now.”
Wildman and the MUSD Board have had to trim $750,000 from the budget this spring to shore up a deficit. This led to early retirement offers which were taken up by highly regarded, veteran district teachers, including Tom Linnastruth (MMS), Heidi Leary (MES) and Cheryl Hart (MHS), as well as High School Counselor Cherly Petersen, longtime Food Services Dircetor Trish Qualls and Custodian Bill Gomez.
As a result, average class sizes at MHS are expected to increase from 17 in 2019-2020 to 22 in 2020-2021.
“I knew coming in [Wildman took the job last year] that we had a big deficit to deal with. Payroll costs are up $3.7 million over the past decade. Things just cost more – while revenues have remained steady,” said Wildman.
The tough part for a school administrator is in balancing cuts so that staff doesn’t feel like it bears the brunt – tough in a business where staff costs literally comprise more than 80% of the budget.
As one teacher lamented this week, “They’ve literally gutted us.”
Meanwhile, the high school will be welcoming a relatively large class of 9th graders this fall – more than 100 students.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/
And treat those two impostors just the same
My dad was great about this one, because the first fifteen years of my career featured multiple disasters and scant few triumphs.
One thing that I don’t believe Mammoth met with very well over the past few years was Triumph. We were all a bit too self-congratulatory and a little too certain that we had unlocked the magical marketing formula to infinite future wealth.
So no one had the guts to take money off the table. Because no one wanted to touch the magic formula. Don’t mess with success was the mantra. Best part about that mantra – not messing with something means not having to expend any mental energy on it. Not having to ask difficult questions.
So an eleven-year bull market ended, and all Mammoth has to show for it is a police station, a few sidewalks and some neat new road signage.
And Elizabeth’s fabulous welcome signs.
You’d think $50 million-plus in marketing spend would yield more.
That said, the current disaster is also an impostor. And hopefully when the pandemic runs its course, we will remember, and not become too enamored of false Gods.
You can’t find the sweet spot if you never look for it.
Let’s toss the peer resort interview that came in late and wouldn’t fit in the cover story here. From Hite:
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LTVA) has repurposed itself as the idea of marketing gradually changes every day.
According to Carol Chaplin, the President and CEO of LTVA, the organization laid off five employees at its two visitor centers. It then cut most of its programs, stopped advertising, and severed every contract it could. Then the organization came to a halt; LTVA temporarily furloughed every employee.
After nearly three weeks of being furloughed, Chaplin and her staff went back to work, telling people to stay away from South Lake Tahoe. “It was counterintuitive for a destination marketing organization to say please don’t come here,” said Chaplin.
“We started to think about the future and what opening would look like. How we can work with the community to promote safe travel when the bans are lifted,” Chaplin told The Sheet. “We saved about $500,000 in the last three months. But most of our expenditures such as media or contracted work are paid up front so we didn’t have an opportunity to save much more.”
LTVA serves a border town between California and Nevada so it receives funding from both states. Its annual budget is around $6 million, and reserves totaled around $500,000 heading into this pandemic.
Chaplin mentioned LTVA has pivoted towards a ‘destination management’
mindset rather than a destination marketing approach. Working with the
community and potential visitors to protect the Lake Tahoe area.
On what she learned, Chaplin told The Sheet, “I wouldn’t have done much differently. I guess we could have taken it more seriously at the beginning. We didn’t understand the impact of the infection.”
If you can fill the unforgiving minute/
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run
My dad would often tell the story of how homeless men would come to the door of the family’s Wisconsin farmhouse during the Depression, asking for a meal, and how his mother would always find something for them to do, at least a few hours work, before setting an extra place for dinner.
There is hardly a better common denominator than work, regardless of its nature, and a dinner table, where the worries of the day, the month, the year are hopefully set aside for a few moments.
So while we’re all floating in stasis , this suggestion from Andrew Ulich of Mammoth.
“I don’t pretend to know how many able-bodied citizens are hanging around town staring at the walls, but I read about the food bank and I wonder if maybe every food hand out shouldn’t come with a large trash bag and a suggestion that people might like to walk around town and pick up trash.
For that matter the town might like to organize a volunteer cleanup day or 2 or 10. The town can pick a street or sections of town and ask people to volunteer to walk around 10 feet apart and pick up stuff … Offer up some free refreshments at the end of the stretch.”
From Matthew Lehman’s latest market report:
• Average # of Home sales for April over the past 10 years is 7.8 vs. 4 sales in April 2020, -45% year over year
• Average # of Condo sales for April over the past 10 years is 27 vs. 9 in April 2020, -67% year over year
• We may not see a real impact of pricing (if any) for a couple of months, but current prices appear to be holding better than expected
As of Thursday eve, Mono County reports 26 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and one death. Inyo: 19 confirmed, one death