Town Council makes no change

mltc8_6_13After meeting for more than two hours in closed session on Friday, the Mammoth Town Council came out with nothing to report. Their agenda said that they would consider the discipline/dismisal/or release of a public employee and consider appointment of a Town Manager. They apparently did neither.

The off-the-record reports from reliable sources said the Council intended to release Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez from her job and replace her with local businessman Tom Cage. Cage was reportedly present in the hallway as the Council met on Friday.

So, after three closed session discussions about Town Manager Martinez, apparently nothing has changed even though the closed session items appeared that there would be a dismissal and a hiring. Further off the record reports indicated that some members of Council were concerned about Martinez’s management style and that exit interviews of Ray Jarvis and Johnny Goetz were critical. Other employees have described her style as harsh and condescending.

When asked about the Friday closed session, Mayor Rick Wood said only that there was “nothing to report out!”  And, when we emailed Manager Marysheva-Martinez for her comment, she said, “I prefer not to comment at this time.”


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31 Responses to Town Council makes no change

  1. Dingo August 31, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    A lot of talk and a lot of drama and for what?

    • Consider the source August 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      So the constituents will discontinue holding their elected officials’ feet to the fire.
      The poor dears.
      Leave’ em alone already!

  2. sean September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Shocking – Disgruntled, dismissed or driven out employees talking badly about the person shaking the place up. Who would have thunk it. What did you think she (MMM) was going to do? Just allow the status quo to continue unchecked and unchallenged?

    Replacing MMM is one thing (unknown if that is the right thing) but then bringing in someone with no municipal level executive experience? WTF is that ?

    If MMM does leave (or is fired) I expect the town council to replace her with someone with experience at managing a municipal government of a similar size to Mammoth. Someone with a proven track record of solid leadership, a history of good decision making, and someone who has dealt with a challenging budget situation. Wasn’t MMM hired because she had experience in these areas?

    It is not an uncommon thing for a new manager to come into a situation, kick some ass, and for a bunch of old employees who were very “comfortable” in their positions to leave when forced to adapt to the new style (or work demands) of the new Chief. Thats the way things work. And on their exit interviews who do you think they lay the blame on? Of course MMM.

    To me thing little episode smells of weak leadership emanating from the Town Council. It sounds like MMM is shaking things up and the old vanguard are trying to fight back and get her fired. And not all the Town Council have her back. What is the plan? To change Town Manager every year or so ?

    SO what does this town want? To run the way things have in the past or to move to a more professionally run and efficient city government where the tax payer gets what they are paying for?

    • Make him an offer he can't refuse September 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Bring back Dave Wilbrecht!

      • upthecreek September 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

        Bring back Maringela

    • Desert Tortoise September 3, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      By law personnel matters cannot be discussed in public. To do so serves only to invite a well deserved lawsuit. Read the Brown Act.

    • Hatchet Man defined September 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      In business, a hatchet man is defined as the person whose job it is to fire or lay off employees in a company. It is usually a human resources employee, doing the dirty work for the owner or president of the company. They break the news to you, get the appropriate papers signed, make sure you clean out your workspace (not taking off with any company property), and see you off the premises.

      While a company hatchet man may have some input as whether or not you get the sack, they do not make the final decision. They are acting on the boss’ behalf, and such responsibilities are covered by their salary. Therefore they are like a workplace hit man, getting paid to finish people off for the higher ups.

  3. Desert Tortoise September 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    I sincerely doubt this is the end of the matter. Because both legal and personnel issues are handled confidentially (well, one hopes they are) we do not know exactly where the matter stands, but were I a betting man I would bet there will be more on this in the very near future.

  4. sean X2 September 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    bennett, that is not me in the picture next to my post????????

    • Benett Kessler September 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      I have trashed it. Don’t use other peoples’ titles, commenters.
      Benett Kessler

  5. SJack September 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm #


    Transparency increases the public’s knowledge of councils activities and leads to informed, engaged citizenry that holds its officials accountable.

    Greater transparency results in more effective investigative journalism, which holds leaders to a higher standard.

    More accountability ensures integrity in the political process, improving lives.

    • Desert Tortoise September 3, 2013 at 7:13 am #

      Read the Brown Act and other state laws. Personnel actions are not discussed in open session. To do so is a violation of the employees privacy and would quickly, and rightfully, draw a lawsuit. Likewise legal actions and discussions with lawyers are not held in open session. All of this is spelled out in clear language in the Brown Act.

    • Councilmen who are lawyers September 3, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      One of those councilmen (who’s been around ever since the airport ***t hit the fan, is a lawyer and can hide behind any law he likes and use the lingo to dazzle and confuse.
      Kinda like MMM uses numbers.
      How convenient, you say?

      • Benett Kessler September 3, 2013 at 9:46 am #

        Be specific. How is he hiding?
        Benett Kessler

        • The Powers that be September 3, 2013 at 11:51 am #

          In democratic theory, popular control of government depends on elections, but we could not possibly elect the 4.7 million federal civilian and military employees (or even the few thousand top men and women). However, the fact that voters do not elect civil servants does not mean that bureaucracies cannot respond to and represent the public’s interests. Much depends on whether bureaucracies are effectively controlled by the policymakers that citizens do elect-the president and Congress.

          Some methods of exercising control over bureaucracies include:

          •Appointing the right people to head the agency.
          •Issuing executive orders.
          •Tinkering with an agency’s budget.
          •Reorganizing an agency.

          There are several measures that can be taken to oversee the bureaucracy:
          •Influencing the appointment of agency heads.
          •Tinkering with an agency’s budget.
          •Holding hearings.
          •Rewriting the legislation or making it more detailed.

          Sadly today, it gets down to “Get the power – use the power.”
          And sometimes the power-brokers don’t even have to run for office.

        • the nature of the legal beast September 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

          Any attorney knows the legal-talk far better than the average citizen.
          Sometimes it’s what that attorney does not say that can be cleverly divisive and/or hidden.
          The deck is always stacked in favor of the legal-eagles.

  6. It's Not That Difficult September 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    It’s not that difficult to handle this correctly. The Council has treated MMM poorly by holding closed sessions to discuss her termination while she was on vacation. If they have a problem with her performance, they should tell her to her face what they expect of her. If she fails to perform as required, then tell her she’s no longer needed. Keep her around while she coordinates the search for a new Town Manager. Make that process open and transparent and hire the most qualified person. Don’t conduct a silent recruitment behind the scenes and select someone who doesn’t have the qualifications.

    Being a Town Manager requires a specialized skill and level of experience. I agree with others that Tom Cage is a good person, a good businessman, and a valuable member of the community. But that doesn’t make him a good person to be the Town’s Manager. As the owner of three businesses in town, how often will he have a conflict of interest in matters the Council is dealing with? Probably a lot. How is he, who as an influential business owner who currently has the ability to advise and counsel the Council on what’s best for the business community, going to be able to reverse roles and be subordinate to the Council? That would be difficult for anyone. What will happen when the Council takes an action that is counter to the best interest of his businesses?

    I assume the Council likes Mr. Cage because he’s a successful businessman and they want to run the Town more like a business than government. Well guess what, the Town of Mammoth Lakes is a municipal corporation, not a private business. You want the Town run like a business? Look around at all the businesses that have failed. How many businesses that were here 5 years ago are no longer here? Businesses operate to make a profit for the owners/share holders. Government provides services, not products to be sold.

    MMM has done the Council’s dirty work. If they feel they no longer need her, they should still treat her fairly and hire a replacement in a legitimate, open manner. Not with secrecy. Conduct a legitimate search for a qualified and experienced manager. Maybe Mr. Cage wlil be most qualified. If so, hire him. He will begin his government career where the public at least knows he participated in a legitimate selection process.

  7. Marv Liddel September 3, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    As a second home owner in ML, I have watched with complete and utter dismay at the lack of professionalism on the Town Council. Just when you think that they could not make a worse decision, they prove me wrong. Please someone step up and recall these incompetant idiots who are self serving. Does anyone doubt that the recall would not be successful?

    • Ken Warner September 3, 2013 at 8:30 am #

      Marv: Some people over the years have observed the same and commented like you. But most of the people just don’t seem to care or are in a business that benefits from their incompetence.

      Recall seems like the obvious course for some. But few really care or it would have been done when the airport lawsuit first became public knowledge. If the people didn’t recall then, why would they now?

    • Stepping up to the plate September 3, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Marv –
      This is a very small town.
      Everyone kowtows to Rusty Gregory.
      Like Mr. Potter in “It’s a wonderful life”, Gregory always gets exactly what he personally wants. Ie. insiders will tell you he was 100% instrumental in getting the last Town Manager fired. The man has unbelievable power in this community.
      Would YOU like to be the person to initiate that recall?

  8. Kathy Cage September 3, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Since my husband has been getting so publicly abused by people don’t even know the first thing about him, I think it’s time I speak up and add some information to the un-informed.

    Tom is the ultimate public servant. He has served without pay on more local boards and commissions than anyone I can think of. He is one of THE most well known local public figures. He has and always will be interested in what’s best for the most people and he loves Mammoth. He’s been here 30+ years through highs and lows and is a self-made success. He would do most anything to make sure this stays a great place. Even if it comes as a detriment to his own personal interests. He knows the Town is hurting right now and it is hard for him to just sit back and watch the pain go on and do nothing.

    While so many of his detractors throw up their hands in disgust with the Town Council and town government, at least the Town Council and people like my husband haven’t given up on Mammoth and are trying their best to find solutions to problems. If one of you brilliant statesmen (critics) wants to step up and thinks they can do better…DO IT! Run for the next Town Council seat.

    Of the two recently published letters to the editor by well known local people criticizing my husband as a lousy possibility to be Town Manager…neither one could get elected to the Town Council if their lives depended on it. That means that neither individual hold views that are widely accepted by the electorate. I wonder if they are even registered to vote? So many people who complain aren’t. Typical. Neither critic knows a thing about his qualifications either. They’ve never seen a resume of his accomplishments. He is a pretty humble guy, so he doesn’t walk around tooting his own horn.

    His public testimony on many varying subjects over the years has demonstrated that he is NOT self interested in public policies that only benefit himself. MANY times he has supported directions in local policies that actually hurt his own financial interests because they were the right thing for the whole community. He is highly intelligent, very skilled in the financial arena and has a PROVEN public record of being interested in the best for the most. While managing the town staff might seem daunting to some, he has successfully managed many more people than the size of the current Town staff in his many varied business operations.

    As one of the MCWD Board’s appointed negotiators in the LADWP’s recent lawsuit, he played a critical role in the negotiated settlement the MCWD just made with LADWP. I personally heard him many times on the phone negotiating with Ron Nichols, the head of LADWP working on possible terms of resolution to their lawsuit. Tom Cage is really gifted in that area. Unlike the Town, the MCWD successfully resolved their dispute out of court, thanks to the efforts of people like my husband. The Town could sure use someone with his skills at diplomacy and negotiation.

    IF the Town Council had any interest at all in him, I think they would be geniuses. Since incorporation, we’ve mostly hired “professional” town managers to run the town. As Dr. Phil says…How’s that been working for us? For my money, the handful of times we’ve used local people to fill top positions have pretty successful: i.e. Gary Meyers (Mammoth Hospital) and Glenn Thompson (ToML & Mono County)

    Tom Cage is a real person who lives locally, has a kid in school here and runs businesses that have employees who rely on the success of those business for their livelihoods. Before you start to tear someone up publicly over local gossip, take the time to get informed.

    Kathy Cage

    • The real powers that be September 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      I’m with you, Mrs. Cage, in that Mr. Cage knows the people and has a vested interest in the Town Of Mammoth Lakes. But how would he do if he found himself butting heads with Gregory?
      The last guy that did that, found himself moving to the state of Washington.

      • Reality Check September 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

        How about everyone take a step back and give Tom Cage a chance? If after a year it does not work out, then throw stones. At least give him a chance to be successful or fail.

    • MK September 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Cathy ,
      Obviously you targeted some of your comments directly at me. I am sorry you feel that way. Many prominent people in town have commended me on my thoughts. I said what I said because there was going to be a closed door meeting. We as the town constituents did not know who was behind this, what was going down , we new nothing. I knew I needed to be pro-active not reactive. I did not want another 150k payoff. This had to stop. I knew I needed to provide my opinions as to the rumor of Hiring Tom.

      I need to remind you that I have no personal problems issues Tom. I just felt I do not want him as our town Manager unless he can remove himself from the operations of his business and stop the shenanigans. Town manager is a full time job and then some. Town manager requires the knowledge of Government rules.

      I know Tom has served on boards , So do I, 3 in fact!. So what. This town continues to make mistakes that cost us plenty.

      We need someone that knows the rules of government and who does not rely on an OPINION of the towns Lawyer ( As you say DR. PHIL says How’s that workin for ya!”
      These town Lawyers only give opinions. They will never take responsibility for their opinions. These opinions always cost the town. 40 million here 200k there, Stopped redevelopment there…………..

      We need a watchdog in management that knows how to get things done and stay out of trouble. I am sorry if that in my opinion is not your husband.

      I think I could support Tom as a council member but he did not run. He could run the future though.

      And by the way I have no intentions running for office, I would not do so if my life depended on it. I would have a very rough time participating in the shenanigans that will continue and then not be able to speak publicly about them. So until the confidentiality rules are lifted, you won’t see me running for office.

      • Bemused September 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm #


        Even if we take all you say at full face-value, the place for Tom to apply said talent and passion would be on the Town Council. His long-term close relationships with local “players” & politicians, and his status as a significant local “stakeholder,” should automatically preclude him from serving as Town Manager. Not to mention his apparent lack of formal town management experience.

        No matter what may lie in his heart…on PAPER, he’s a walking conflict of interest.

        • Ken Warner September 4, 2013 at 7:46 am #

          I agree. I think Tom has integrity and knows this town well enough to make sensible decisions as a member ot the Town Council. But as the town manager, he would be shackled by the T.C.’s poor decisions.

          I think Tom’s good sense and the poor decisions coming out of the T.C. would eventually lead to another T.C./Manager conflict.

    • SIerraFan September 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      Mrs. Cage,

      I’m sure your Tom is a wonderful husband, father, businessman, etc. but the bigger issue here is how the Council handled the knife in MMM’s back! She’s done more good for this place than anyone in recent history, she doesn’t bend to local pressure and now has been shafted while away on vacation! Now the town council is trying to hire a local businessman and friend of the Council. WHAT??? Really???? You or anyone here can’t blame us folks for feeling this way when it seems that the people running this town look like they’re running a “Me first town”. Disgusting!!!!!! turn of events!!!!!

    • Desert Tortoise September 4, 2013 at 7:13 am #

      Without, at a very minimum, a degree in public administration, your husband is utterly unqualified to be a City Manager. Period. I am a business owner and sit on a city council committee in my community. I am also a degreed economist. Nothing you do in either activity nor my degrees qualifies me or anyone else to be a City Manager. I have first hand experience and know this. Unless you know the details of public finance, which is very very different from business accounting, and unless you know the myriad laws that must be adhered to, trying to make a business owner into a City Manager is simply asking for a cascading series of mistakes that the public will pay for.

  9. Well... September 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    If you run businesses in town, you have no business running the town.

  10. Kathy Cage September 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Martin…of course you’d never run for office.

    Your comments bring this favorite quote of mine to mind:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

    Theodore Roosevelt (American 26th US President (1901-09), 1858-1919

    Kathy Cage

  11. MK September 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Lots of thumbs down Cathy ,
    I’m not sure many agree with your point of view.

    By the way what is the deal about the 200 plus Thousand delinquent county tax of one of your hubbies businesses.

    If that is truly his, I don’t know that shows good business.


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