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Fishbowl politics

August 31, 2012

We’d like to think we live in a fishbowl here—that everyone in California (and beyond) is paying attention to us.

They’re not.

We are a small town in one of the most remote, inaccessible areas this side of the Pakistan/Afghan border.

We all signed up for that, for a variety of reasons. But for those who may wish for thoughtful attention from Sacramento or L.A., not to mention Washington, D.C., it is best to get used to how small our fishbowl really is.

We know that from time to time, people walk by, and on rare occasions stop and take a peek at us, but we are the smallest of small fish, even in our own backyard.

Heck, it’s hard enough to get Bridgeport to pay attention to us. Witness the weird tussle over airline subsidies at the airport. Not once, that we know of, has anyone brought up the fact that the Reno/Tahoe airport pays airlines subsidies, as do LAX, Oakland, San Francisco and practically every other commercial airport that wants to draw tourist traffic. How myopic can we get, anyway?

This is all by way of saying that we are tiny fish living in a tiny little bowl, surrounded by desert and mountains. We’re on our own, and most of the time we like it like that.

Every now and then, though, things start to tilt dangerously toward pretension.

For example, we’ve heard a number of preposterous questions lately, such as, “What does Senator Feinstein think about the closing of June Mountain Ski Area?” Or, “Why is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power picking on us?” Or, “Was the California Appellate Panel and the California Supreme Court out of their minds in the MLLA case?”

You’d have thought the whole country was wringing its hands over us. It wasn’t, and never will.
We were reminded of this the other day, when we got a visit by Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. McKeon dropped by to answer queries raised by congressional opponent, Dr. Lee Rogers, as to whether a recent fundraiser at Mammoth Mountain was ethical.

The notion that a federal investigative agency would pay any attention to this matter any time soon borders on the miniscule. It is an election year, and people in high places are paying attention to, say, that small little thing we like to call the Presidential Race. Neither June Mountain, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, nor the town’s fiscal woes show up on their radar.

We also were reminded of this by the ongoing water rights issues initiated by the LADWP as to whether Mammoth Creek falls under the regulatory jurisdiction of the L.A. utility (the largest utility agency in the U.S.) or the Mammoth Community Water District.

Greg Norby, the director of the water district here, acknowledged just the other day that “we are a speck” on the LADWP radar. The so-called “Water Grab” actually has to do with sorting out who has the legal rights to say what about that water. It is not as clear an issue as the water district wants us to think. The case is in the hands of attorneys now, and the Mammoth Water District is burning though $400,000 (so far) in legal fees in an effort to nail it down. That’s a big deal for us, but it’s chump change in L.A.

Does anybody care outside of Mammoth? Are there people from Down South or on the coast (both North and South) who are losing any sleep over this?

Probably not.

We say it’s time for a reality check around here. We are a small, friendly town with magnificent resources in our mountains and streams. Many people have a warm spot in their hearts for Mammoth and everything it stands for—in both summer and winter.

Our lifestyle here is beyond words; it’s why we live here.

One of the prices we pay for this little slice of Heaven is to acknowledge that it will take an awful lot of jumping up and down, waving our arms, and shouting at the top of our lungs to be noticed by the state and national politicos.

Is everyone OK with that? We are.

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