Council members talk police cuts, taxes and public opinion

They’re either strongly for the Mammoth Police or against them and not much in between. That’s what members of the Mammoth Town Council say they now hear from members of the public responding to the proposal to cut 7 police officers. Officials also say that they are not violating the Police MOU by proposing to make those cuts.

Mayor Matthew Lehman made it clear that the Council has a process and proposals – no decisions yet. As for proposed cuts to police, Lehman said the Council “may modify the proposal or change it.” He pointed to a letter from Mammoth Police Lieutenant John Mair. Lehman said the Lieutenant talked about the need for time, as much as six months, to put in place a reserve and volunteer type program.

The Mayor said that a public survey will go out this week to learn more about what the community wants. He said he respects the Police Chief and Lieutenant’s opinions but must balance their views with the situation of not enough money.

Mayor Lehman did confirm that tax measures are on the table. He said, “We have cut things to the bone and reduced the service level. The community needs to ask what’s important. This has been building for some time.” Lehman said he also has concerns about the IT Department of the Town and the need to keep up with technology in government operations. He said, “We want to be efficient and have to watch what we spend on employees. We have to bring the Town back to its base and then re-build it.”

Lehman said he is willing, personally, to use money from some of the current tax measures for other purposes. The Mayor said, “We need to consider revenue. That will be discussed.” He said that includes potential, new tax measures.

Mayor Pro-Tem Rick Wood said if the public wants to invade tax measure funds to keep the police, the Town Council will consider it. He said, “This is an important message the Town Council must hear.” Wood said input he has heard from the public is strongly for police cuts or strongly against. “This frames the debate,” he said. Wood also said the public needs to decide if they want a traditional police department as it is now or an innovative one. Wood said at the next Town Council meeting he will ask the public questions about cuts, revenue and taxes.

Councilman Michael Raimondo said he’s hearing mixed messages from the Mammoth public on police cuts. He said, “Some people say we need all the public safety we can get. Others say we can do with less.” Raimondo said, “We can’t have both services and no new source of revenue.” He said he would support a new tax measure of some kind.

Meanwhile, others point to the Police-Town Memorandum of Understanding in which police agreed to take 23% in cuts in June. That MOU says the Town will keep a police staff of 17 officers unless police agree otherwise, unless the Town goes to Bankruptcy or unless finances of the Town change. In any case, meet and confer is required. Some say the Town has already violated that MOU by not backing up a staff of 17 and stating cuts would take place January 1st.

Councilman Rick Wood said, “We’ve been very careful to state that the police cuts are a proposal for consideration. We have not made a decision. It’s out there for public debate.” Wood said it’s “undetermined” whether the Town can make staff reductions before July 1, 2013.

Mayor Lehman said, “We’re not in violation of the MOU. We may wait until July to make cuts anyway.” Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez also said the police cuts are “a proposed plan now. A lot of things could happen by December 5.” She said the issue of financial emergency is part of the picture. Martinez said when the Town and police signed the MOU, the Town planned to give MLLA $500,000. Now, it is $2 million.

Some police say town officials promised them in June there would be no more cuts and gained concessions based on that promise. They see another broken contract. Martinez said of the potential conflict, “I hope we can resolve this together without an adversarial situation.”


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32 Responses to Council members talk police cuts, taxes and public opinion

  1. Mary Metz October 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    As a part time Mammoth Lakes resident and a full time Orange County resident, I have been watching this play out for the last four years. This council constantly puts the blame upon others. At one time I heard them spout that MLLA was the villain. Then it was a bad small town attorney, named Peter Tracy, and then it was several previous city managers. Now you have two former council members who were part of the original decision to break a contract with Terry Ballas, that got the town into this mess and now they spin their web of deceit once again. Only this time they are attacking a small town police dept.

    Council Members Eastman and Wood were and are clearly the deceitful politicians in this case, both past, present and future.

    Mayor Lehman, don’t follow your so called experienced mentors Eastman and Wood. I see their support fleeting at best.

    It is obvious what is being done right now to the police department. Let’s put off the decision until June of 2013 because they neglected to read the bold print of the MOU. The police officers and the citizens of mammoth need to see through this dog and pony show and stand by for more political shannagans. They will gut the department in six months so they don’t get sued and lose once again.

    Isn’t it ironic that MLLA never wanted to cut public safety because it was deemed an essential service, but the town of Mammoth Lakes council members thought they could cut the already gutted police force?

    OBTW, I will support any law enforcement officer over a cheap lawyer and deceitful politician.

    • Development uber alles October 10, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      “Mayor Lehman, don’t follow your so called experienced mentors Eastman and Wood.”

      Unfortunately, Lehman is … guess what? … a developer with his eyes on the Bell-shaped parced (and probably others) and knows both Eastman and Wood have gone on record to develop that particular parcel and more and more development in this town until every possible square inch is developed (like the ridiculously over-crowded Down South). And since it is not illegal to profit from such decisions (whether done openly or secretly) everybody on the board can gain if they vote together on every single developmena project that comes their way. This is how many Californians have become super-rich – Real Estate. Corruption may be unstoppable.

    • Eastern Sierra local October 10, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      Amen Sister! All during all the years of rhetoric I’ve never once heard the Town Council say “It’s our fault” when they were the ones who made the mess to begin with.

      • When is somebody going to sue? October 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

        I think if there was only one admission of guilt, there could be an investigation, a trial, sworn witnesses, etc. to find out EXACTLY what has been going on behind those numerous closed meetings.
        Woods knows this since he is an attorney.

    • Really October 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

      Bulls eye!!!! I am with you all the way

  2. Mike J October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Wow…sounds like CYA on the part of council. The councils responses are a bit different from their initial “proposal”. Sounded like they already had their minds made up, now all of a sudden there is some back peddling going on and some political statements lingering. This “proposal” according to the town needed to be in place by December 5th, now they are saying they may wait until July to make any cuts anyway. Sounds like AGAIN they already have their minds set on coming back to the police and making cuts in July regardless of whatever plan is put into place well before that.

    Is it true that the MLPD is operating under an approved budget? Why does the council continue to go after the police department? Im guessing that come July the council won’t need to worry about laying off any officers, most of them will be smart enough to have gotten the hell out of dodge! The council would gave gotten what they wanted and us residents and visitors will be paying the price.

    Is it a fiscal emergency when you have money to pay your bills, even if you don’t want to us it?

    Thanks Council and town manager(s)! Guess we can just stay inside and lock up all our stuff when it snows!

  3. long time local October 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Wood also said the public needs to decide if they want a traditional police department as it is now or an innovative one.

    Polictical BS Mr. Wood. Everyone knows innovatation takes funding, not cuts.

    • Tim October 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      I’m trying to figure out what innovation a department this size in a town this size can really do. I’ve worked with law enforcement most of my career and know that the current size of the department limits much of what they do to the traditional patrol/calls for service role with just a little bit more to handle investigations and other basic specialty assignments. It isn’t as if MLPD has an air unit or something odd for a city their size that they can cut back and not have it impact core services.

      Maybe by “innovative” they mean not having enough cops to do the basics that a law enforcement agency should do in a city that can multiply in population during the winter.

    • Jesse Gorham October 10, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Well said! But I might add that if Mr. Wood knew anything about law enforcement concepts, he would know that Mammoth Lakes has had innovative policing for years. Traditional policing is nothing more that responding to calls for service, high visibility patrol and criminal investigations. MLPD has adhered to a Community Oriented Policing (COP) model; also known as Problem Oriented Policing (POP) at least since I arrived in 1997. The COP model incorporates the traditional police functions with outside the box approaches to correcting problems in the community. Those approaches can include public education, using outside resources like code enforcement, public works, the school board, etc.. to help create an environment that discourages criminal behavior or public safety hazards.

      If “innovative“, as Mr. Wood defines it, means that the police should go and the town could contract with, say, Karl Anderson Security to police this town? Then wow that really is outside the box…hey you might be on to something Mr. Wood.

      • Mammothite October 10, 2012 at 9:54 am #

        What Mr. Wood means by innovative is, his unrealistic belief that untrained citizen volunteers, who are working two jobs to make ends meet, will flock to the Police Department in droves to work for free in a profession thay know absolutely nothing about.

  4. long time local October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    If you are really interested in saving money and taking care of mammoth, how about just resigning instead of making the taxpayers recall you.

    • Jen October 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      Resign? $300 a month per councilman is REALLY going to make a difference. Excellent idea…

      • Mammothite October 10, 2012 at 9:42 am #

        Jen, it’s not about their $300.00 a month and health insurance, it’s about the damage that they are doing continuing to serve on town council. Example: Spending $5 million dollars to fight a claim that was originally $2 million, and now having to pay $40 million!

        • Really October 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

          YES you are right it should have been 2 mil not 5 mil and now 40 mil.

          But it is about the $300.00 that ends up being 18K a year for all members, not even to include the benefits. That in itself is huge and expensive. They need to pay there own, we do.

          I bet we wouldn’t have a Town Council if that was cut. Lets go after this cut all

      • Mark October 10, 2012 at 11:37 am #

        Your using the wrong math formula.

        It’s more like five divided by 40 million.

        A few resignations would start the recovery process.

  5. Mammothite October 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Oh, so now it was just a proposal. This is total BS and political CYA by the Gang of Five.

    These guys just got caught. Someone needs to ask these guys point blank, was it you plan to lay off seven police officers by December 31, 2012? One councilman, in a private conversation, has said that is exactly what they planned to do before they got caught.

    Now they want to lie and spin there way out of it. “They were for it, before they were against it”.

    Do Mammoth a big favor. Resign now so we don’t get sued again.

  6. upthecreek October 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    “Raimondo said, “We can’t have both services and no new source of revenue.” He said he would support a new tax measure of some kind”

    get readY mammoth
    here it comes


    • John Startz October 10, 2012 at 6:09 am #

      Remember who DID NOT vote for the settlement, Councilman Raimondo was the lonely NO out of 5. If you read his concerns in his letter in the paper, he basically said there was no money to pay for the settlement, looks so far that he is right on the money. As he states, we can not have our cake and eat it too, either we live with the cuts in services or pass a new tax to pay for the settlement, no other options as I see it either.

  7. More town council B.S. October 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    We’ve been funding public safety and running the town for years without the need for two town managers.

    The airport and tourism schemes promised a prosperous future for the town and it’s people. In reality it has done nothing but siphon revenues from the general fund that once were used for basic services.

    The business interest decided we should have an airport in order to attract the clientele they desire. This white elephant is the product of two councilmen still in positions of authority, they gambled and we lost big time on the airport development, bankruptcy and settlement processes. The incompetence is bleeding us dry folks, we’re being ripped off by this plutocracy form of government. To think that this charade is anything other than another self serving maneuver is ludicrous.

    The towns management settled with MLLA without a definitive plan of financing the debt. They are attempting to extort additional taxes to continue to fund this revenue waster with more tax dollars using the same empty promises of pie from the sky tourism.

    We now have the state, federal and town governments all crying poor house to the struggling taxpayers, threatening major cuts to the public services if we don’t vote to tax ourselves. Anyone notice none for the governing bodies are cutting their compensations? The town council and city management have not volunteered one penny of cuts toward the MLLA settlement they have committed too.

    They have no other plan, they want more tax revenue to pump towards the resort destination pipe dream$. Everything else has been lip service to suit there interest and keep the real tax eaters in the money.

    I say cut all tourism dollars, all airport subsidies, all town management salaries by 25 % and all forms of compensation for elected officials. Then we will consider the self serving proposals that staff pulled out of their bend the taxpayers over handbook.

    I urge the MLPOA to lawyer up and fight the ethically challenged too. They obviously misjudged the brains,cojones and integrity of the officers. They expect you to play along to get along in order to pass another tax measure. Your jobs, public safety and voter manipulation are the carrots in front of the tax mules!

  8. Jack October 10, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Fire Searles and use the $$ for the police department.

    • Bear Breath October 10, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      The cheesy 50K they pay Searles frees up the police department from running back and forth to bear calls, so they can do real police work. Now that is a good deal and something right that council has done.

      • Mark October 10, 2012 at 11:19 am #

        A little education would go a long way.

        Running back and forth to bear calls is REACTIVE.

        Educating the public on how to live with bears is PROACTIVE.

      • upthecreek October 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        “The cheesy 50K they pay Searles frees up the police department from running back and forth to bear calls”

        and all that with NO PENSIONs or Benefits

        Time to privatize the entire Police force .. Non Union

  9. tom October 10, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Not sure how.many that post are true locals, the visitor will bring in 99% of a new tax anyway, stop whining!

    • Mark October 10, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Tax the visitors: So the entire towns future rest in the hands of mother nature. No snow, no visitors, no future.

      Risky business!

      • Tax the visitors October 10, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        Mammoth has become a Middle-income ski town. Those that still have the dough are going to Deer Valley where snowboarding is prohibited and they hand you a Kleenex before you go up the hill.
        I think the middle-incomers will come here as they have been for years.
        Tax ’em.

      • 50 years of draught October 10, 2012 at 11:49 am #

        Bodie was once thriving and rich.
        Then the source of income dried up.
        What is truly risky, is the ski industry.
        I recall a Yosemite Park Ranger showing us a series of very thin rings that happened years ago from a fallen redwood tree.
        “You see that (pointing to the rings)?
        Those skinny rings represent 50 years of draught.”
        That’s 50 YEARS folks.
        The smart people are making plans for this. The others … well, good luck.

        Mamas – don’t let your babies grow up to be ski resort owners.

    • Mark October 10, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Judging by who the locals elect I have to question if they even read and keep up with current events.

  10. They don't go to meetings October 10, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    The saddest thing is that with all the commotion on blogs like this, you will still see closed-door meetings, and those in power running their meetings exactly the way they want to.
    “You have 3 minutes, Mr. Citizen. Make it snappy.”
    When are people going to storm the Bastille?
    I am prepared to put my signature on a recall form.
    Who is going to start the ball rolling?

    • upthecreek October 10, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      The poor sheeple Don’t Care.

      They are so busy working , paying their bills, splitting wood and clearing snow ..They don’t have time for anything else.

      This is what the Government wants.. Good Little Debt Slaves.. Just shut up and give us ” MO Money”..


    • Well alrighty then October 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      why don’t you get the ball rolling?


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