Bureaucrat Beat on Bad News D.C., the KKK, and McPherson’s Letter

News reports lead one to believe that very little of any good unfolds daily in the nation’s
capitol. Headlines like “Ethics Reforms Delayed” confirm the worst. So
does the story about a Fish and Wildlife official who shared internal
agency documents with industry lobbyists. An inspector general’s report
on the woman reveals a pattern of engaging oil companies and others in
ways to deal with endangered species and other wildlife issues. One
wonders if they recommended oil spills for wildlife control.

Then there are all of those faxes we get in the Bureaucrat Beat
newsroom. An endless string of palaver on mostly things we don’t care
about. But, we were somewhat horrified to receive a fax from the Ku
Klux Klan?!! Are they kidding? Don’t they know that KKK is now a
cliche, a ghoulish specter de-sheeted in the movies as scared guys who
claim hate as their major virtue? They’re all over immigration now.

While the Klan seems to view immigration as a purely racial issue,
why don’t our fearless leaders see it as a people issue and, for
heaven’s sake, do something that will work for everybody? Erecting a
wall has been done before, not to successfully we might add. Remember
Berlin? China? The Alamo?

On a much lighter note, if you’re a people who need people person,
toast Barbara Streisand. It’s her 65th birthday today. Hang on a
minute. The phone is ringing.

That call was from a computer that said it had an important message for
the business owner. The Bureaucrat Beat staff pressed all six ears to
the phone. The voice said, “Did you know the government gave away $480
billion last year in free grant money?” While we are usually inclined
to curse heartily into the receiver when electronic messages like this
one ring us up, this time we listened, needing a bit more material for
Bureaucrat Beat. The voice said, yes, the government gives away
$500,000 for an apartment complex, $300,000 for small business
expansion, and did you know that Amazon.com and Ebay started with grant
money? No, we didn’t. Does that mean we, the taxpayers, own a share of
Ebay?

“To find out more about free money,” said the chummy male voice,
press #1 on your phone’s key pad.” That’s when we hung up. Who knows
what would happen if you press #1? More confirmation that we don’t
trust computers that talk to us on the phone.

On to real people.

Don McPherson of Mammoth Lakes sent a letter. You may recall that
Mr. McPherson had raised the issue of a serious lack of parking in the
Village area of Mammoth Lakes. That was before the last Council
election. McPherson brings us up to date:

Fourteen months ago the subject of a chronic lack of parking at North Village came
up in a BIG way. The quote from councilman John Eastman on the reasons for the lack
of parking there bears repeating. So, again I quote, “The North Village today
doesn’t have adequate parking. That is intentional. We didn’t want to make it too
convenient. We didn’t want a mass exodus to the Village (at the expense of existing
town merchants).” My ensuing letter to the town and my public comments at two town
council meetings labeled the council as being duplicitous and disingenuous with all
of us. There was not, and still has not been, one word of rebuttal from anyone on
that council or from the town staff. Not one word….and that was a town council
that rebutted each and every person that wrote or said anything that did not meet
with their way of thinking. That alone speaks volumes as it pertains to the facts
of the matter. What we did get was an apology from Councilman Eastman at a town
council meeting. His apology was eloquent and I for one believed and accepted it as
being sincere. But I and others wondered it it was an apology for misspeaking, or
for simply letting the cat out of the bag? I simply do not know. What I do know is
that Intrawest categorically out negotiated our town leaders on this matter…and
embarrassingly so. Anyone who does not believe that has, to say the least, been
misguided.

What ensued next was a response from the town staff and council that brought out all
of the dogs and ponies. Presentations were made, complete with artist’s renditions
of what the new parking structure would look like, how much it would cost to design
and build, and a wetted finger was raised in the wind as to who would pay for it.
Assessments were discussed for this merchant and for that landholder adjacent to the
site. Timeframes were discussed as to the completion of the structure. What
happened next was simply nothing. It went away! Elections for town council were
drawing near and that took precedence. Then the town plan reared its head and
that’s all we heard about for months and months and months, along with discussions
about the airport, ice rink, and trolley cars. Not one word about the parking
structure for the better part of eight months! An ice rink before parking at North
Village? Is that where our town council should be spending their time when this
issue still hangs over our heads? Even if the ice rink is fully funded, it pales in
importance to this issue..

We heard about MMSA kicking in a million dollars for x number of parking spaces in
the structure that still did not have any financing. Then, almost a year later, we
heard about MMSA kicking in 2 million dollars for the same spaces. That leaves
about 12 million to go does it not? Then we heard that Starwood, or was it
Northstar, or was it “Starbright, starlight, first star I see tonight,” joining
forces with the town to build the structure. Before that we had Intrawest and
others trying to join forces with the town to build said parking lot, and to no
avail.

This seems to be right out of Scheherazade and the 1001 Arabian Nights, where
Scheherazade tells a different story every night to the Arabian Prince so as to keep
her life. There is a simile and a metaphor in there somewhere as it pertains to our
town council, to be sure. About a month ago we heard from Asst. Town Manager, Karen
Johnston, as quoted in both of our local newspapers, saying that the first stage of
the parking structure would be completed early in December of this year!!! and that
stage two would follow as soon as possible. In the recent issue of “The Sheet” she
backs off a bit and states that it is still possible to have phase one built during
the winter of 07-08. My first thoughts on those statements were, and still are,
“‘who is kidding who?” Surely you don’t think that we are going to believe that,
even if you break ground tomorrow!! First you have to find someone that WANTS TO
BUILD THE STRUCTURE FOR A REASONABLE PRICE and it isn’t going to get any cheaper as
time marches on.

Today I spoke with Rusty Gregory. He told me that, while negotiations are far from
concluded with the town, MMSA will provide the lions share of financing for the
parking structure at North Village. The man wants to see it happen and he is just
the man to get it done. He suggested that the timeframes as discussed above might
be closer to being a possibility than I, for one, might think. Ok then. Might I
suggest at this juncture that the town consider giving the land at North Village,
land the town owns, to MMSA? Let them build it from start to finish and let them be
responsible for timeframes, schedules and the like. Most importantly, let them pay
for it. Who cares who owns it? Even at the risk of naivet on my part, I don’t.
The town clearly can’t afford it so let someone build it who can. I’ll just bet
that they (MMSA) would agree, and you, the town council, could reverse roles and de
facto become the anxious customer for a change. Think about it. I am sure that
there are ten reasons why the town of Mammoth Lakes would decline that idea, or
maybe already has for that matter. During my career at IBM, I had but two plaques
in my office. One said, ” Nothing will ever be accomplished if all possible
objections are considered” … Samuel Johnson, the great laureate of England. The
other one said, “Don’t confuse effort with results.”
As of this moment we have no results. I would suggest to the town council that they
start leading us in the right direction, even if that means following the lead of
MMSA, and then get out of their way! This appears to be the only sensible and
viable option we have. Make it happen.

This might seem strident to some of you but, alas, facts are facts. In fact this
letter will seem like an invitation to a church ice cream social when the Cadillac
Escalade, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover crowd gets wind that there is STILL no
parking structure at North Village, and that the parking lot at Minaret and Forest
Trail is going to go away in the not too distant future. Then we as a town will see
what strident really is, and with good reason. Those same people with $1500 to
spend daily somewhere in Mammoth, and with no place to park, will simply go
elsewhere in town. Even if we have a banner snow year next season, will that help
the Village? Well, as a euphemism, something like tumbleweeds and sand dunes comes
to mind. My goodness gracious, I certainly hope not. Many of those merchants are
good friends of mine.

Very respectfully,

Don McPherson
Mammoth Lakes

 

 
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