We tend to not dwell too much on national issues here at The Sheet, just because there are plenty of other news outlets dedicated to those topics, but on rare occasion, geez, the national conversation is just too loud to ignore.
And talk about must-see TV – the testimony before the Jan. 6 Committee on Tuesday of Cassidy Hutchinson, top aide to former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was just mesmerizing – especially the part when the Jan. 6 rioters are storming the Capitol and she walks into her boss’s office wondering what the hell he’s gonna do about it and he’s just … sitting on the couch scrolling through his phone with all the urgency of a 20-something debating whether or not he should swipe right.
Hutchinson was seemingly the only one in the West Wing who seemed to care about the potential demise of the Republic.
But no matter. You can’t sway a Trump supporter from their perch. No way. I could quote the mail I’ll receive from this column before it’s even written. It’ll still back the guy [Trump], no matter the evidence, and will defend him by saying, “Well, Clinton did x, or Biden did y, or Reagan did z, or Bush did q.” That’s what we do these days. Point everywhere else, and under no circumstances engage in any self-examination or contemplate a different point of view or changing one’s mind.
Like kids on a playground. That’s the intellectual level. “He pushed me first.”
I interviewed longtime Mammoth local Paul Rudder this week for a future profile (Rudder recently sold the Main Street Promenade as he scales back his business interests in Mammoth) and Rudder said his take is that Republicans like a strong man – that the world is a scary place and if you want to fight fire with fire, your thug needs to be as tough as their thug.
Wrongdoing, ranging from financial malfeasance to plotting insurrections, is not something to be embarrassed about. In fact, observes Rudder, it’s a badge of honor – proof of Trump’s strong man cred and authenticity.
While Rudder said Trump supporters might find any potential loss of democracy unfortunate, it’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make. For the greater good, they’ll tell you.
Rudder doesn’t doubt for a second that if Vice-President Pence had decided not to certify the electoral college vote, that the Supreme Court would’ve backed him up and Trump would still be President.
The insurrection, believes Rudder, was hatched as a tool of persuasion for Pence.
Onto the everyone’s doing it tax/fee hike movement. The latest entity in for the cash grab – the Village at Mammoth, which wishes to hike its “civic fee” from it’s current 0.75% rate to an even 1%.
Village business owners informed me that their landlord has the ability to hike the rate to as much as 2% if the landlord so chooses.
The civic fee is supposed to help fund marketing and events. Not that the Village has marketed anything within these pages in years. And not that they’ve hosted a helluva lot of events of late.
Maybe this weekend’s fireworks show cost more than Village Events Managwer Robert Richards anticipated. Or maybe they’re anticipating having to hire crowd control for Saturday’s chihuahua races.
Or maybe “Hemingway” Richards finds penning his weekly newsletters to be an onerous burden and has decided to hire that out to F. Scott Fitzstaffer.
In any event, this could push business transactions in the Village to be taxed as high as 11% (if Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s proposed TBID increase is also adopted).
The offensive part is that a tax pegged at a certain rate produces more revenue if there’s more business activity. Last year was a record year for many Village merchants, so fee revenue received was also record-breaking.
And yet, those in charge of rates never think that a small increase will change behavior.
And yet … in the course of our conversation Wednesday, Matthew Lehman noted that town occupancy rates for this weekend are in the 60s and that his own Airbnb business is off and that of his friends is also off.
“All you’re hearing about are tax increases right now,” said Lehman.
“We’ve priced them [visitors] out,” read a text I received from another business owner.
The Sheet spoke to Lehman of Matthew Lehman Real Estate earlier this week to get a snapshot of the current real estate numbers.
Lehman said median condo prices have pulled back about 7% over the past month. There are currently 65 condos on the market. When the year started, availabole inventory stood at three.
Sales volume is pacing behind last year.
The median price of single family homes, by contrast, crept higher over the past month. Available inventory stands at 27 homes. Sales volume oin this category is also running slightly behind last year.
One area of very good news on the commercial side: the grading work being done on the Limelight site next to the Westin along Canyon Blvd. has served as an ignition switch of sorts, piquing interest in the Mammoth Crossing corners (the three available corners at the intersection of Main and Minaret).
The next item from Crocetti seeks to clarify/dispel some local rumors.
MAWS (Mammoth All-Weather Shuttle), the Mammoth Lakes-based transportation company, is partnered with Alterra to do airport pickups, but that’s the closest affiliation they have. Alterra does not own MAWS. The company is owned by CO West, which also owns three Colorado-based transportation companies: Telluride Express, Alpine Express, and Go Alpine.
The CEO of CO West is Landon Ogilvie, who resides in Telluride. According to his LinkedIn Profile, Ogilvie is the Managing Partner and Owner of Ogilvie Family Properties, Ogilvie Family Companies, as well as the President of Telluride Express and Alpine Express, and Owner of CO West Transportation. Ogilvie Family Properties is said to have investments in business interests ranging from crude trading, to commercial real estate/warehouse management to light commercial development.
Lucas Ropke sold MAWS to CO West at the end of 2021 after owning the company for approximately a decade. Former owner Ropke still works for MAWS and now runs the Mammoth office and two other offices. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a full-time manager for the company.
The Sheet reached out to Ropke, who happened to be coming back from a trip to Portugal and was stuck in L.A. traffic. Because of that, he couldn’t speak for too long.
“CO West is basically a parent company that owns smaller companies, such as MAWS now” explained Ropke. “I am still involved in MAWS. I now help the Director of Transportation there.”
I read the following in a Wall Street Journal book review this week and it fascinated me.
It came from a review of Paul Oyer’s “An Economist Goes to the Game” by Henry D. Fetter.
Fetter writes that there were 320,000 black men born in the United States in 1988. In 2015, pro basketball player Kevin Durant made nearly 1% of the total income of that 320,000-person demographic. Overall, the 184 pro NBA/NFL players who are black and were born in 1988 earned between 6-7% of tbe total income of that demographic.
Finally, from a March 21 essay in The New Yorker titled The Parent Trap, addressing the concept of parent rights in education:
“But across the past century, behind parents’ rights, lies another unbroken strain: some Americans’ fierce resistance to the truth that, just as all human beings share common ancestors biologically, all Americans have common ancestors historically.
A few parents around the country may not like their children learning that they belong to a much bigger family – whether it’s a human family or an American family – but the idea of public education is dedicated to the cultivation of that bigger sense of covenant, tolerance and obligation.
In the end, no matter what advocates of parents’ rights say, and however much political power they might gain, public schools don’t have a choice; they’ve got to teach, as American history, the history not only of the enslaved Africans who arrived in Virginia in 1619 and the English families who sailed to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, but also that of the Algonquian peoples, who were already present in both places, alongside the ongoing stories of all other Indigenous peoples, and those who came afterward – the Dutch, German, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Cambodian, Guatemalan, Japanese, Sikh, Hmong, Tunisian, Afghani, everyone. That’s why parents don’t have a right to choose the version of American history they like best, a story of only their own family’s origins. Instead, the state has an obligation to welcome children into that entire history, their entire inheritance.
… Biology and history offer accounts of origins and change, and, when badly taught, they risk taking on the trappings of religion and violating the First Amendment.”