LOSERS AND SUCKERS
I think the above phrase represents the most difficuilt aspect for me regarding the current zeitgeist.
Because there is no doubt in my mind that that’s the language President Trump used to describe fallen U.S. soldiers buried in foreign cemeteries thousands of miles from home.
Now, it’s my guess that Trump – he’s careless with his language. He probably doesn’t quite feel that way. He was probably just tired that day and didn’t feel like making a ceremonial visit to a historical battleground. More than likely, he just wanted to stay home between appearances and watch the Price is Right (Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are too tiring).
But he said it. A professional reporter verified the story. Even Fox News corroborated the story.
And yet, when I engaged in casual conversation with a good friend of mine this week, he kind of shrugged and said something to the effect of, “Well, maybe he said it. And maybe he didn’t.”
And that encapsulates the impact Mr. Trump has had on my profession.
On the one hand, my friend is absolutely correct. None of us were there. We don’t really know. Those inclined to like Mr. Trump believe his denials. Those inclined to dislike Mr. Trump believe he is a complete narcissist and doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. Of course he said it.
The same way he belittled heroic POW John McCain by saying he liked soldiers who didn’t get captured.
I’ve never understood this absolute allegiance to and identification with figureheads. How people choose sides and get so wrapped up in their rooting interest that they can’t take a wider, more dispassionate view.
A lot of folks press me to defend Trump’s challenger for the White House, Joe Biden, a man who’s been in public life for fifty years, and a man, admittedly, who is past his prime.
Frankly, I find it refreshing that Mr. Biden is flawed, and is willing to own his flaws and mistakes. I find it refreshing that he’s not terribly exciting. I find it refreshing that he can take an attack from an opponent (Kamala Harris) during a primary campaign, and then turn around and make her his vice-president. If that had happened to Vladimir Putin, he would’ve poisoned her. Good men (and women) can tolerate looking not so good.
Mr. Trump can tolerate only flattery.
From a recent profile in the New Yorker: “I’m embarrassed to say, I thought you could defeat hate. You can’t. It only hides. It crawls under the rocks, and, when given oxygen by any person in authority, it comes roaring back out. And what I realized is, the words of a President, even a lousy President, matter. They can take you to war, they can bring peace, they can make the market rise, they can make it fall. But they can also give hate oxygen.” -Joe Biden
In regard to the great deleveraging at the Mammoth Lakes Foundation …
At a certain point, you wonder why an organization even exists.
As long as Dave McCoy was around, he was the Foundation’s champion. Its reason for being. And I always thought of Dave as our local St. Jude, not necessarily our patron saint of lost causes so much as our patron saint of the underdog.
Dave loved vets. If he hadn’t suffered a horrendous skiing injury which disqualified him from service, he would’ve been a vet. When Kathy Copeland came to the Foundation hat in hand looking for help with the Wounded Warrior Center project, he advised those in his circle to “see what could be done.”
Now there’s a difference of opinion as to what promise, if any, he ever made to Kathy Copeland.
According to Evan Russell, Dave never made any specific promise. He merely said, “See if you can find a way to help her.”
Copeland has a different recollection. She said that she and her late husband Jack went down to visit Dave at one point at his home in Bishop. She admits she was being greedy. The Foundation had already broached the idea of donating two acres for the project. She was looking for money.
And she says Dave (sharp as a tack even into his second century) eyed her and said, “I already gave you the two acres.”
Kathy said it made her sheepish. “I laughed and said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re right.’”
Let me pause here just to say that I believe in the intentions of every party to this mess. Good people wanted good things to happen.
But let’s cut to the chase. Without Dave, and without a strong McCoy family presence in Mammoth, the Foundation is adrift. As Board Chairperson Luan Mendel said this week, “Dave stopped writing checks years ago, and there’s no financial support per se [from the larger family].”
As to what financial support for the Foundation might lie in Dave’s estate, Mendel said, “I have no idea.”
Dave was a philanthropist. His family? Not so much. And without that backstop, that push from the McCoy family, the Foundation has little chance of success.
The Sheet sent the following email to David Barrett, a grandson of Dave’s who sits on the MLF board, this week.
“I’m reaching out primarily because I’m trying to figure out what’s next for the Foundation, or even if there is a next.
As you’re next generation/a member of the McCoy family, I thought you might have the best insight.
What’s the vision?
How is that vision achieved?
What sort of financial backing is the McCoy family committed to make?
If the NWWC is off the table, what would be the plan for that land?
The rock and a hard place I see for the Foundation right now is that soliciting donations would be a hard sell.
Just even maintaining the building and a skeletal staff probably costs $150,000/year baseline.
And the Foundation is giving out maybe $25,000/year in scholarships – at least in hard money. There’s other stuff obviously that the Foundation contributes in terms of housing.
But you’ve lost the infrastructure in terms of staff to put on events. I get it. You don’t know when Covid will allow you to do events.
But if I’m a prospective donor and I do the math above and realize that only ~15 cents out of every dollar is really trickling towards the intended target (students), that’s a tough sell.
… I’ve never heard of an organization cutting itself to prosperity. The Foundation has cut its arts program (Shira Dubrovner) and now its ties to the Wounded Warriors (Kathy Copeland).
If you’d asked me at the start of 2020 who are the five most dynamic people in Mammoth Lakes, Dubrovner and Copeland would have been on that list.
As a community, it feels like we are, figuratively speaking, eating our young. Eating our passion, our promise, our seed corn, our future.
The McCoy progeny – they’re gone. They’ve taken their riches elsewhere. The Foundation is nothing but a Zombie corporation at this point.
Rusty Gregory – gone. Taken his riches elsewhere.
6-7 years of recent economic surplus? We’ve sent that to Sacramento ad agencies and P.R. hacks and marketing consultants and the rest.
When I spoke to Kathy Copeland this week, I told her she’d be better off taking her project down the hill to the community of Bishop. Because there’s still a community of Bishop.
I don’t know what Mammoth is right now. That would be a fair assignment to the current crop of Mammoth Council candidates. Please explain what Mammoth is to me. I haven’t a clue.
A letter for this week …
Shut it down
Yesterday was a break in the smoke so my wife and I decided to get outside. We figured why not pick up trash and we decided on the Scenic Loop area, specifically the area where many people camp. We picked up a fair amount of trash but no big deal. What was a big deal was the incredible number of illegal campfires. There were over a dozen just in one area. This is just right next to our town. As it is just outside the town limits, I can see why our police have no jurisdiction. But somebody must have. There weren’t even any signs to warn people that campfires are illegal even though this is obviously a highly used camp area. This struck both my wife and I as rather scary given the high fire danger.
I love camping and I appreciate those that love camping out in the forest. But how do we prevent a catastrophe from illegal fires?
I’ve been looking through the archives of late. Amazingly, I actually backed up a lot of stuff that I thought I had lost in the Round Fire. I found the following editorial interesting because it stands in such stark contrast to the monopoly culture we have in town now in regard to services.
From Sept. 4, 2010:
There’s a new Ally Bank ad on television which shows a man in a suit operating an ice cream stand.
A little red-haired kid sitting nearby asks the man, “Can I have some ice cream, please?”
“No, it’s just for new people,” says the suit.
Another kid comes bounding into the picture and the suit immediately gives him a chocolate ice cream cone.
“Yeah, but I’m new, too,” says the red-haired boy who didn’t get any.
“He’s new … er,” replies the suit.
Locally, there are a lot of propane customers who’ve been feeling like the little redhead kid, lately.
A reader sent me the following email this week:
“I am currently a Turner Propane customer and pay $3.29 per gallon at this moment, versus the midwinter price of $4.05 per gallon I paid last winter. Of course, if you have the means, you can pre-buy 1,000 gallons right now for $3.10/gallon cash or check or $3.15 with a credit card.
I decided to call Amerigas to see what they would offer a potential customer and found out that their startup plan would be to waive the tank fee of $75 per year for the first year. In addition, the first 100 gallons are free, the next month is priced at $1.99/gallon and the next year at $2.99/gallon. As an established customer of Amerigas, you would pay your $75 tank fee and could do a pre-buy of any amount at $2.99, but I’m not yet sure of the regular price.
This then prompted me to have my neighbor call Turner as a potential new customer to see what their offer would be and they said they would waive the $78 tank fee for the first year and charge $2.79 a gallon per year.”
*As a point of reference, I live in Swall Meadows and am an Eastern Sierra Propane customer. My current price is $2.69/gallon. The winter pre-buy price is $2.99/gallon.
Withholding my reader’s name, I then approached both Turner Propane and Amerigas looking for comment. This is what I got.
Turner Propane District Manager Jim Miller emphasized his company’s commitment to safety and service.
One of those services, for example, is digging out snow-covered tanks. Though this is technically the customer’s responsibility (for those who have their own individual tanks), Turner has never charged to do it. AmeriGas charges $15.
Miller also noted that Turner has spent $600,000 over the past few years automating its meters so customers will be billed based upon real reads as opposed to estimates.
Turner’s service, which Miller said includes more personnel on the ground in Mammoth, faster response times and thorough safety checks, is reflected in its prices, which he acknowledged as being slightly higher than AmeriGas.
AmeriGas’s local Sales and Service Manager Jeff Pahlow said AmeriGas requires no pre-buy minimum (Turner requires a 1,000 gallon minimum).
His regular customers are currently paying $2.90/gallon right now.
The deal for new customers outlined in the letter quoted above is still valid.
Pahlow acknowledged that the new customer incentives tend to create a game of “musical tanks.”
Sheet: Say someone left to get Turner’s new customer deal this year. Would you give them the new customer deal if they decided to return to AmeriGas next year?
Pahlow: Yes, provided their account was in good standing when they left.
“It’s a game [slashing prices to battle for the new customer] that gets ridiculous,” said Miller. “You don’t want a new customer bouncing back and forth every year,” he added. It creates a lot of busywork.
Both Pahlow and Miller say it’s worth a customer’s time to consult with his/her existing provider first before making a switch. “If we find our pricing’s out of line, we’ll match [what’s out there],” said Pahlow.
Switching providers may also subject one to “restock” fees. What this essentially means is that your existing company may charge you to pump the gas out of the tank you are removing.
As to the car accidents. A 62-year old Bishop man driving a 2003 Subaru perished in a one-vehicle accident on September 6. Drifted off the road driving south on Sherwin Grade. A second fatal occurred in Death Valley on SR-190 two miles east of SR-136. 22-year old male from Bakersfield also allowed his vehicle to drift off the road. His passenger, 31-year old Micheal Black of Bakersfield, survived. Be vigilant out there. Easy to space out these days with all the crap going on in the world …