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Supes react to Mammoth Town Council slams, say they support fireworks

January 24, 2014

Mammoth still has time to tap Mono County for any shortfalls in funding the Fourth of July Fireworks show at Crowley Lake, the Board of Supervisors indicated this past week, in spite of a perception by Mammoth Town Council members that the supervisors somehow snubbed the event.

Supervisor Fred Stump, whose District 2 includes Crowley Lake, Tom's Place and Tri-Valley, said he was taken aback at the highly critical comments made by the Mammoth Town Council on Jan. 15.
"We have a choice how to respond in a positive way," Stump said.

"We're still working to work with them. I don't remember anybody saying 'No' to additional support, whether it's in-kind support, or whether it's through special-event grant funding."

Supervisor Larry Johnston, representing District 1, also said he was surprised by the Town Council's stance.
"It's significant that the county is really committed to over $9,000 in staff time for the fireworks, and this year we've also budgeted for special events.

"We want to continue to have positive interaction with the town and other agencies."

Johnston noted other areas in which the town and county governments cooperate, in such things as social and health services and, this past year, in information technology (IT)."

"These things are unspoken, really, but there are millions of dollars that go into these services," he said. "So again, let's move ahead with positive reaction on this, and continue the services we need."

The supervisors' comments were in connection with a Town Council verbal assault from the dais, led by Council Member John Eastman, and supported by Mayor Rick Wood and Council Member Jo Bacon.

Eastman, in addressing the fireworks, budget, said in order to be a supervisor from Mammoth Lakes, “a lobotomy is performed in Bridgeport and from then on, our supervisors have a difficulty in representing the community of Mammoth Lakes.”

Mayor Rick Wood responded, “I couldn’t have said it any better.”

Jo Bacon, the Mayor Pro Tem, piled on.

“I have the same concern. I think that they’ve forgotten again that we’re also county residents.”

The council’s verbal fusillade on the board came in connection to the funding of the Fourth of July Fireworks show at Crowley Lake, which the council itself unanimously de-funded from its 2013-14 fiscal budget last year.

Since then, the Town Council, while expressing a wish for $5,000 from the county, actually never formally asked for funds through the county's special event funding process.

Instead, the town sent a letter to the board signed by Wood on the council’s behalf.

When the item appeared on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda on Dec. 17, no one from the council, the town staff, or an ad hoc private fund-raising group showed up at the meeting, which was at the Sierra Center Mall.

The deadline for such a funding application passed by on Jan. 15, the very day that Eastman, Wood and Bacon chose to chide the supervisors, but Stump said the funding cycle wouldn’t close for good until February.

Eastman and the council attacked the board anyway, just 20 minutes after Council Member Matthew Lehman, who championed a successful public fund drive to secure the Fireworks Show, delivered the news that the Fireworks Show would definitely be presented after all.

That did not seem to mollify Eastman, Wood or Bacon, who all jumped on the opportunity for some serious board bashing.

“Maybe I’m missing something," Eastman said from the dais, "but I can’t understand for the life of me why a function and event like the Fourth of July at Crowley Lake is looked at by our Board of Supervisors [with disfavor], particularly by our supervisors that represent the community of Mammoth Lakes.

“If I was a voter in Mammoth Lakes, and for that matter, a voter in Crowley Lake or Tom’s Place, I would be upset with my supervisor for playing what I see as ‘the game,’ creating reasons not to fund $5,000 for the Crowley Lake Fourth of July event.

“I think it’s a direct slap in the face to the citizens and visitors of Mammoth Lakes as well as the citizens of Crowley Lake. Am I missing something?”

“I don’t think you’re missing anything at all,” Wood said.

“I have the same concern." Bacon said. "I think that they’ve forgotten again that we’re also county residents.”

Jim Leddy, the County Administrative Office, said he was still "in mid-flummox" over the council's behavior, but said he has committed to regular meetings with Mammoth Interim Town Manager Dan Holler in an effort to improve the lines of communications.

"We want it to be a positive conversation," he said.

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