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Many questions, not many answers for town and MLLA

February 24, 2012

Like just about everybody else in town, we have a few questions regarding the dispute between Mammoth and the Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition settlement.

First of all, is there really going to be mediation? 
 
Really?
 
Technically, settlement discussions over the $42 million judgment against the town are ongoing, according to town financial advisor Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.
 
But in a nasty exchange of emails dating back to December, it is clear that MLLA want its money right now—all of it.
 
We can’t do that. We don’t have that kind of dough.
 
There is a remote possibility that the Town could borrow against incoming Measure R and Measure U monies, but what lender is going to touch Mammoth right now?
 
There is a possibility that the town could be forced to issue a town-wide assessment on public and, alarmingly, on private properties—everything from a cracker box one-bedroom condo to bigger stuff, like hotels. 
 
There is a possibility that we simply default on our bonds, knowing full well that issuing new bonds is risky business. Who would take a chance on Mammoth right now?
 
The issuer of a municipal bond receives a cash payment at the time of issuance in exchange for a promise to repay the investors who provide the cash payment to the bondholder over time. Repayment periods can be as short as a few months (although this is rare) to 20, 30, or 40 years—or even longer.
 
We can’t see a whole lot more than these measures, but the money wonks certainly do. Let them work their magic.
 
As of now, we are on the brink of mediation, but we’re pessimistic. MLLS is holding the hammer. In this case, a sledgehammer. 
 
A single mediator is chosen. His or her “decision” is not really a decision at all. It is non-binding in all senses. Under California law, Mammoth gets to put up five nominations. MLLA gets four.
 
Councilman Rick Wood, an attorney who has been a mediator in many family-related disputes, insists that Mammoth is going to put the best mediators in the county in front of MLLA’s nominations.
 
MLLA will do the same.
 
Where it ends, nobody knows. We certainly don’t.
 
But we know for sure is that is ugly business, and time is running out quickly.
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