We’ve reached that inflection point where it’s turned nasty. Where we’ve tapped out, but Mother Nature continues to tighten the chokehold and there is no referee.
There are a number of relatively mundane stories I’ve held for weeks because the current weather emergency makes them feel irrelevant. I have one waiting on shoplifting (It’s getting worse). Another one on a quixotic Caltrans project for Highway 395 in Bishop for that stretch from Barlow to See Vee (Imagine a 94’ wide wall of pavement so sidewalks and a bike lane and street parking can be added – along a major highway which already has four traffic lanes and a turn lane).
*94’, btw, is the length of a basketball court.
Feels unnecessary (A wish list, ADA compliant, feel good boondoggle) now that there are so many other roads and highways that will demand our attention after this winter is over. In addition to the scores of splintered homes that will need to be rebuilt and repaired.
But you know how this goes. Government has a hard time pivoting when it comes to separating the ‘wants’ bucket from the ‘needs’ bucket. A hard time readjusting the queue.
For example, consider the planned Reds Meadow Road project. This winter has proven that it is unrealistic to believe the Town of Mammoth Lakes is capable of maintaining that road after it is completed.
But can egos be set aside to unravel this fait d’accompli? Doubtful.
I have the luxury of shelving stories – while I surf online for information on snow weight calculators. And whitewater rafts. In preparation for when all the snow starts melting and heading for the exits.
*Meanwhile, I see them driving down the grade and dumping loads of snow at the highway exit at Rovana. Classic. Two hour roundtrips to dump a few loads of snow. It’s like trying to empty the ocean one tablespoon at a time. Who comes up with this shit?
Others don’t have the luxury to shelve. They’ve got to forge ahead – no matter the optics. Take Mammoth Lakes Tourism for example. I saw a small aside tucked into a Chamber of Commerce email this week which stated that Mammoth businesses need to get their TBID petitions in by March 28.
So I asked MLT Executive Director John Urdi what this means.
He said the petitions represent votes for the proposed ten-year TBID renewal, and he needs the petitions in by March 28 to get on the April 5 Town Council agenda. “We can’t bring it to the Town without 51%,” he said.
The Ski Area’s vote is worth 40%.
Seven other businesses in town have voting shares greater than 1%.
One’s vote is based upon the percentage of tax they pay.
Urdi said there is no intention to raise TBID rates during the next term.
As an aside, he said MLT did pull its marketing before the last storm – but will start back up soon to promote the endless spring skiing.
Flight service to Denver ends this weekend.
Advanced Air service is set to end April 17, though Urdi said he might contract with Advanced to provide some weekend service through the extended spring ski season. Urdi said the cost of Advanced service has increased 66% since last summer.
This would appear to exceed the rate of inflation.
Maybe instead of subsidizing flights we should make a brief pivot towards subsidizing snow removal. *See above as to why this will never happen.
I did follow up with NIH CEO “Chad” Chadwick to see if I had accurately reported on Northern Inyo Hospital’s $3.5 million loss incurred in the month of January.
Mr. Chadwick said the hospital’s losses ebb and flow, but in general, they are losses, and while NIH has financial reserves, “We can’t [continue to] draw them down at a ridiculously high rate.”
In regard to the non-renewal of Chief Anesthesiologist Kevin Efros’s contract, Chadwick said there are other clinicians who can provide these services at a lower cost. But these people are not physicians. So there’s the rub.
What The Sheet discovered, is who these other people are. They’re called Nurse Anesthetists. And NIH actively advertised for one a few weeks back. Before informing Dr. Efros of his non-renewal.
Perhaps this is what Dr. Arndal was referring to last week when she blasted the hospital administration and board for its lack of transparency.
The NIH Board is holding a special meeting on Friday, March 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Annex across from the JKBS to further discuss the matter. 5:30 on a Friday night! Perfect way to kick off a weekend.
Finally, this resonated.
There was a piece in the New Yorker this past week about a battle between two free weeklies in Greenwich Village.
The gist: One aging 95-year old publisher is being challenged by a group consisting of his former deputy and several former contributors.
The aging publisher, a man named George Capsis, is still sharp, but he’s slowing down and a younger woman (~65) has stepped in, first as his caretaker, and now as his Westview paper’s editor.
And there’s this passage which goes, “Perhaps why so many have schemed to take over a money-losing newspaper, and why so many followed its coverage, and later, its apparent theft … is because for Villagers, Westview provided a bit of friction in a neighborhood whose bustling tenements have been replaced by single-family mansions, and where life has become largely frictionless. One day, Capsis noted to me that the block has become eerily quiet. Some weekends, it seems that all the residents have left town for their vacation homes. The Westview saga, at least, gave its participants something to talk about. The squabbles, rumors and side-taking enacted something like a community.”
We certainly have friction now – friction borne of snowfall and snow walls and darkness and visitors and we’re all just a little beaten down.
And unlike Mono City, Mammoth isn’t as cozy as it used to be. There’s still community here, but it’s getting siphoned off retirement by retirement, death by death, defection by defection.
45-year resident Steve Searles spoke at Town Council on Wednesday about the winter weather emergency, which Mayor Wentworth referred to as a slow-moving natural disaster.
Searles has seen floods and fires and locusts. “This is different,” he said. “We’re in a fight.”
He referred to other local campaigns like “Boston Strong” and encouraged the Town to put out words of encouragement and timelines of when roads and areas will be clear of snow.
He was critical of Town leadership (or lack thereof) and at one point gestured to the room and said, “There used to be a lot of lay people here at these meetings … now on a good day there’s maybe three.”
“We’re not just hurting,” he said, “we’re completely beat down… This is such a desperate situation like I’ve never seen. Fire, Covid – dwarfed.”