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Town Councilmember Skip Harvey may be running out of time but heâs not running out of punches.
At Tuesdayâs special Town Council meeting that dealt entirely with the townâs fiscal crisis, the outgoing, two-term councilman went off.
âWhat a mess! What a total mess!â he said to people who squeezed into a crowded Suite Z. He then issued a public apology for the actions of the current Town Council as well as for Town Councils past.
âIâm sorry. I am truly sorry for what is going on here,â Harvey said.
Moreover, Harvey pointed the Finger of Blame for the townâs $42 million MLLA judgment directly at airport management. Without naming airport manager Bill Manning by name, it didnât take a tea-leaf reader to know what he was saying.
Finally, Harvey proposed a new, entertainment/admission tax to help make up for the $2.8 million 2012-13 fiscal year budget shortfall and for the MLLA judgment.
âMyself, I think I owe everybody in this town an apology for not having had this thingâthe lawsuitâwrapped up and finished before I leave office. Itâs not something I hoped would happen; it doesnât appear that itâs going to. Itâs not good, and I apologize to you.
âI wish I could have done more to finish this thing off. I really do.
âThe restructuring that weâre doing tonight is to deal with the financial realities of the times of whatâs going on in our country and in our state. But I think what is on peoplesâ mind is the lawsuit. Whatâs going to happen?â
But before looking forward, Harvey advised the town to look back.
âThe people of this town want accountability for what has happened, why it happened, and they want to make sure we have taken steps to make sure that it doesnât happen againâthat we donât have a repeat of what already has gone on,â he said.
âYou know, youâve got to ask yourself, who was down at the airport when all this development agreement started? They were supposed to making the best decisions for our town, looking after the townâs best interest, making sure that any information that we got, got to the right people, so that the right decisions would be made.
âIt was about making sure that if they saw a letter that could be a deal-killer, it didnât get buried, that it got to the right people, to the Town Council, got to the town manager, got to the people who have to know about this.
âWho was down there at that time doing it? Who made sure that we got the facts? It was missed somewhere along the line. That does not seem to be acceptable in my book.
âI donât think we bought the airport with a plan of âHey, letâs try to get air service in 12 years.â I think we wanted it a lot sooner than that, but the airport has been mired in bad decisions, bad choices, lawsuitsâbe it our fault or environmentalâand weâve lost them all. I donât think weâve won a single lawsuit down there.
âWho is there? Who is watching after our best interests down at the airport? I donât know about the rest of the community, but I for one am tired of watching our most important asset, the airport, being managed in a mediocre form.
âIâm tired, and it needs to change, and thatâs what this is all aboutâitâs about changing what started all this to begin with. We can plan for the future, but if we donât change what caused this to get into this position, then weâre going to be right back in it again.
âIf you want an example, this lawsuit hadnât even cooled off from the Supreme Court of California before the airport was trying to hire an unqualified person for a position because they had the future of being related to an important person.
âThat could have been another lawsuit,â Harvey said. âLuckily, Marianna (Marysheva-Martinez) stepped in while she was the interim Town Manger and made a do-over. But to me, that says just âI-can-do-what-I-want, you-canât-touch-meâ arrogance.
âItâs got to change, folks. Weâve got to make these changes.â
Finally, Harvey addressed the possibility of a new tax.
âI donât want to see this town go backward,â he said. âWeâre getting things moving, but I donât think we can get out of this without the help of the people. I think itâs going to take some kind of tax on the peopleâan entertainment/admissions taxâsomething that will bring the people, that would bring Mammoth Mountain in on it, to help us get out of this.
âThereâs only so much money. We need to generate some revenue. We can continue to cut, but we need to generate some revenue to help get us out of the mess that weâre in.â
When Harvey finished, he earned applause from about a third of the citizenryâthe only applause anyone received in the entire evening.