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Momentum

September 25, 2013

Momentum is not something for which anyone can plan. It’s either there, or running backward.

Right now, Mammoth has lost its “Big Mo,” and is settling into an uncomfortable ennui.

We hope it doesn’t last long, but the signs are not good.

This was supposed to be the summer that was going to build on last year’s “Best Summer Ever,” but it did not happen quite the way anyone could have predicted.

The Aspen Fire in early August put Mammoth and other Eastside towns into a kind of nuclear winter, and if that didn’t do the trick, the Rim Fire in Yosemite closed the Tioga Road in the park for the last really good weeks of summer.

We ourselves did just fine during the Rim Fire, but with social media on the go-go-go, and with many Central Valley and Bay Area people unaware of Sonora Pass and Monitor Pass, both of which remained open, we were toast.

North County was hit much worse by the Rim Fire than Mammoth. Skies there were smoky for weeks, matching what Mammoth went through during the dark, gray days of the Aspen Fire.

None of this was our fault, but it sure made for a slowdown of the momentum machine.

In town, where we do have control, we started out well but finished very badly, showing just how amateurish we can be if we set our minds to it.

It began with the implementation of the Tourism Business Improvement District proposal—a self-imposed business fee designed to free Mammoth Lakes Tourism from the shackles of a shrinking town general fund.

We continue to support the TBID strongly, but were disheartened by the misunderstandings and missed communications between the TBID proponents—there were many—and the many opponents.

The wishy-washy Town Council, too, ended up split on the issue, to no one’s surprise, voting 3-to-2 in support, with compelling arguments against it left in the trash bin.

The back-to-back resignations of building inspector Johnny Goetz, an ardent and enthusiastic supporter of All Things Mammoth, and ace Public Works Director Ray Jarvis also slowed the Mo.

Jarvis was more forthcoming about why he left Mammoth for South Lake Tahoe than Goetz, who left for a similar position in Truckee.

An imaginative leader whose innovations ranged from fixing the ages-old ice problems on the Voodoo Chute (heat it!) to propping up a road system that is falling further and further behind in maintenance work, Jarvis finally had enough when he also was put in charge of airport runway maintenance as well.

It was too much, he said.

Finally, there was the bunglefest in the way in which Town Council behaved in the weeks before the resignation of Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.

The closed sessions by the council and the non-discussion about the reason for her resignation still rankles many in town, including us.

If there was a problem, what was it, exactly? Crouching behind the law that states any personnel decisions must be made in closed session, neither her detractors on the Town Council nor her supporters felt they had a chance to explain themselves.

Marysheva-Martinez herself put the capper on any such discussion, resigning rather than waiting for what would have been a raucous, if not cancerous, process.

In the wake of that, plus the increasing volume on issues such as solid waste issues and land purchases at the Industrial Park, we have been led to a dark spot, indeed.

We’d look for the Town Council to lead us out of this, but that feels like whistling past the graveyard right now.

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