Councilman Lehman explains involvement with Wood Site

Lehman says he will not vote or benefit from Town's potential purchase of Wood Site.

Lehman says he will not vote or benefit from Town’s potential purchase of Wood Site.

Mammoth Town Councilman Michael Raimondo wants to see the Town buy Sam’s Wood Site to make sure it remains an events venue for years to come. The Council talked about a possible purchase in a closed session on property negotiations Wednesday night. That session prompted questions from the public on a for sale sign with Matthew Lehman’s name on it at the Wood Site.

Lehman confirmed that he does have and has had for several years a For Sale sign on the Wood Site. Lehman said that in addition to being an appraiser he is also a real estate broker. He said, “Although I work heavily in residential real estate, my primary area of expertise has been commercial real estate for some time.”

Councilman Lehman explained that he will not benefit on any sale of the Wood Site by his seat on the Town Council. He said, “To be clear, I’ve not and won’t act in the capacity of a Town Council person with regard to the Wood Site. When the idea of discussing the Wood Site came up in open session a few weeks ago,” said Lehman, “I made sure to have immediate discussions with the Town Attorney on how to best approach the situation.”

Lehman explained further. He said, “I will not be discussing the Wood Site as an advocate for or against its purchase, nor will I be voting on anything related to this property should the need for a vote arise. I will be recusing myself from any meetings regarding the Wood Site. In the event the Town were to purchase the property, I would not be able to receive compensation,” he said.

Lehman called this “a unique situation, but not completely uncommon in a small town.”


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41 Responses to Councilman Lehman explains involvement with Wood Site

  1. Desert Tortoise September 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    At this point councilmember Lehman cannot even hand the sale to another real estate agent because it would look very much like the councilmember was giving the next agent a sure fire commission from the sale and thus smell of doing someone a favor. This could become radioactive in a hurry.. Recusing himself at this point is simply not enough. The purchase might have to be postponed until after the election, assuming he is not re-elected. If he is, the lawsuits should fly, though one has to question what is going through the voters minds if he were to be reelected under such circumstances.

    • Corruption unlimited September 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Oh, what a tangled web we weave …

      • UPTHECREEK September 20, 2013 at 9:19 am #

        If the town buys this property. They will be spending money they will NEVER have.


        TAX TAX TAX


    • johndoeml September 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Agree with Desert Tortoise.

      I’m willing to grant that Lehman’s intentions are good. If Lehman relinquished his “interest” in the sale prior to the start of negotiations (even informal discussions), then 1090 might not apply. However, the timing is crucial. Did Lehman relinquish the listing prior to discussions of a possible sale with anyone (including the next agent)? If so, then the rest of the council can negotiate. If no, then negotiations would probably have to wait. It’s a bummer, because the Wood Site could be a nice, permanent venue.

      • Benett Kessler September 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

        My understanding is Lehman does not have to give up the listing. He has agreed not to take part in discussions or votes on the Wood Site and will not
        take a commission if the Town buys it. End of story.
        Benett Kessler

        • Shine September 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

          Bankruptcy court may have to decide end of spending money TOML does not have story.

          Maybe you should interview some out of town attorneys before declaring end of conflict story.

          • Watching the Bureaucrats September 20, 2013 at 6:18 am #

            Thank you, Shine.

            Since when are we supposed to take an elected officials’ statement: Neither I nor any associates of mine are not getting one thin
            dime if the town purchases Sam’s Wood Site, as gospel, especially in these volatile economic times?

          • SkiJohn September 20, 2013 at 8:50 am #

            Shine, we’re not bankrupt. We filed but managed to settle before going down that route. And there is Measure U money they could use to purchase the land as opposed to coming out of our general fund.

          • Shine September 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

            TOML is deeply in debt. I prefer “enhance existing or current efforts.” part of U. Maintaining and operating what is already in place is more prudent if my household is in debt.

        • Desert Tortoise September 20, 2013 at 8:59 am #

          The wording of 1090 does not support that argument. None of Mr. Lehman’s fellow council members may legally discuss a sale of that property as long as it is Mr. Lehman’s listing. Mr. Lehman recusing himself is not sufficient.

          • Watching the Bureaucrats September 20, 2013 at 10:02 am #

            At this time, I think We the People are entitled to hear another lawyers point of view or argument regarding whether or not Lehman is involved in any conflict of interest case.

            We the People’s attorney vs the Town of Mammoth’s attorney would suffice.

          • Benett Kessler September 20, 2013 at 10:11 am #

            Who is your attorney?

      • Not the only site in town September 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

        There is another site that has already gotten much attention and already used for events, concerts, etc.

        It is on the campus of Cerro Coso Community College and successfully run by the Mammoth Lakes Foundation.

        I would love to hear how the Sam’s Wood Site was presented to the Town Council and the only viable site in town.

  2. Eastern Sierra Local September 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Seems the best thing to do is sell it to a developer and let more poorly constructed and over-priced condos and tourist traps be built there. Doesn’t Mammoth need the money to bail themselves out of a $40 million lawsuit?

    • Info.. September 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      The wood site is currently owned by a private party. The discussions are about the town possibly buying it, not selling it.

    • bobby joe September 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      I thought is was over $50 million lawsuit…where they able to pay off $10 million??? If so, how? The town hasn’t seen any decent snow in years and the tourists from Southern California seem pretty fed up with Mammoth Lakes.

      • Benett Kessler September 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

        The judgment was $30 million and shot up to $42 million with interest over the years. They negotiated a pay-off of $30 million at $2.5 million per year, roughly.

        • Bemused September 20, 2013 at 8:40 am #

          The total payout is $52mil inclusive of interest actually. $2mil was down-paid, with 20 subsequent annual payments at $2.5mil per year.

          And don’t forget the additional $4.5mil paid to the BK attorneys for 5 months of work “faking” a bankruptcy.

          Impossible to imagine a worse-handled scenario, from start to finish. To call it utter incompetence, would be giving too much credit…

  3. Conflict of Interest defined September 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    From the State of California Conflict of Interest Manual (page 13)

    2.Interests in real propertyAn official has an “interest in real property” when the official, or his or her spouse ordependent children have a direct or indirect equity, option, or leasehold interest of $2,000 ormore in a parcel of property (e.g., ownership, mortgages, deeds of trusts, options to buy, or jointtenancies) located in, or within two miles of, the geographical jurisdiction of the official’sagency (e.g., within two miles of city boundaries for city officials). (§§ 82033 & 82035.) The$2,000 threshold applies to the value of the official’s interest, based upon the fair market value ofthe property itself. There are special provisions for the disclosure of, or disqualification inconnection with, leasehold interests. (See § 82033; Regulation, §§ 18233, 18707.9, subd. (b) &18729;In re Overstreet (1981) 6 FPPC Ops. 12.)

    • Basic Conflict of Interest September 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      B. The Basic Prohibition Under the Act, public officials are disqualified from participating in government decisions in which they have a financial interest. The Act does not prevent officials from owning or acquiring financial interests that conflict with their official duties, nor does the mere possession of such interests require officials to resign from office. The Act’s disqualification requirement hinges on the effect a decision will have on a public official’s financial interests. When a decision has the requisite effect, the official is disqualified from making, participating in making, or using his or her official position to influence the making of that decision at any stage of the decision-making process. By establishing a broad, objective disqualification standard, the Act attempts to cove rboth actual and apparent conflict-of-interest situations between a public official’s private interests and his or her public duties. It is not necessary to show actual bias on the part of the official and it is not even necessary to show that an official’s assets or the amount of his or her income will be affected by a decision in order to trigger disqualification. Other more attenuate deffects may also bring about an official’s disqualification.

    • Darryl Iction September 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      Definition of Sleazeballs; “Sorry, I am too broke to pay you, but since you are such a good employee we will let you set up a tent for your family at Wood Site as long as you don’t steal from the trash to feed yourself.”

  4. Ken Warner September 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I wonder if the town could exercise eminent domain on that site? It’s clearly in the best interest of the town to continue to use it as it has been used.

    • MK September 19, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

      Eminent domain is not free. The town would still have to pay fair market value for the property. Better to make a deal for the property then to take the property from a unwilling party.

      The greater concerns to some here in town would be . If the property was turned into a Event venue what would be done with the Density units that the property is currently zone for?

    • Shine September 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Expropriation under eminent domain requires just compensation and is unneeded if seller is willing.
      “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Amendment V, US Constitution

      Even as much as this right of the people’s government is abused, I still don’t think providing a place to listen to music and drink beer a few times a year will prove to be a compelling public need for TOML.

      PS. Why the hell is anyone worried if this is a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t TOML residents be more worried why Council is buying property at all when they have no money for basic services!? Repeat after me, NO PURCHASE, NO CONFLICT!

  5. bobby joe September 19, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Sell the property to the Hilton sisters and let them build a 5 story city block sized hotel on the site. It would fit right in =)

  6. SierraFan September 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    For Pete’s sake folks, we should be thrilled that an investor hasn’t seen the value in this great parcel and built a house on it just so we all could say what should’ve been every time we drive by it during our many events. If there’s anything that’s been proven these past few months is that Lehman and Raimondo are the most above the fray as anyone in council. These guys will always have my vote as long as they continue their current ways.

    • Pedro September 20, 2013 at 8:51 am #

      You got the listing! Congratulations!

    • Watching the Bureaucrats September 20, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      14 thumbs down!
      If this indicates a barometer of sorts on this subject, I say to continue to intensively investigate as to whether or not any harm has been done (or is about to be done) in the form of conflict of interest.

      This forum may be the only way to generate or investigate information and points of view regarding todays slimy bureaucratic shenanigans.

    • Shine September 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      If the parcel has been listed for several years, and Lehman is a competent broker, odds are that it is not currently of value equal to asking price. A large amount of true value is linked to financial health of TOML. The fact that TOML is considering spending money to acquire more obligations just lowered the value of every property in town. At least in Detroit I know there are no street lights, police or fire protection, education etc. and can account for that and bargain accordingly. Being unsure of what direction TOML is heading or what burden may fall on me, I have to hedge my bet and lowball my offers as a buyer.

  7. andy September 20, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Why does everthing got to be a secret with the town conucil, apparently they feel that they are superior and wiser than the citizens of Mammoth, or they are hiding something.

    • Dingo September 20, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      Andy, that’s their transparency.

      • Watching the Bureaucrats September 20, 2013 at 10:53 am #

        What We the People don’t know – won’t hurt us, is what this game is about.

        Bennett asks “Who is your attorney?” (on this matter).

        Unfortunately, the Town is banking (as it always does) on the continued apathy of its constituents and as per usual, the powers that be get away with virtually anything they want to get away with. Usually the only thing that usually happens is the people elect somebody else. But can you imagine what damage can be done in the meantime?

        This type of corruption is happening all over America today and not many people really give a good rats’ ___.

      • Watching the Bureaucrats September 20, 2013 at 11:32 am #

        Apologies in advance, as this info. may be a bit off subject, but it may be of interest to discover what is happening in your local government.

        Google the website below and what do you find?

        I find it highly interesting that the vast majority of municipal jobs available on this site are CAOs and other administrators.

        It is to my understanding that the average CAO lasts on an average of just 2 years. TWO YEARS!

        Why do you suppose this is?

        And what real investment do these CAOs possibly have knowing that after 2 years they will be moving on?

  8. Dingo September 20, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    After reading this I was reminded of a scene in the “Movie Young Guns II” where the charactor “Tom O’Folliard” (played by Balthazar Getty) asks ‘William H. Bonney’ (played by Emilio Esteves) “What’s scum?” William H. Bonney responds by saying “Well Tom, that’s bad types. Politicians, bankers, cattle-kings… Scum…”
    I know that’s a bit harsh but that’s what I thought of.
    I know when I’m being BS’d and I’m getting sick of it, from a our local town government all the way up to the federal level. It seems so many with money and/or power (even just a little) seem to think everyone else is a bunch of idiots. How do they look themselves in the mirror, I wonder.

    • Samuel A Bishop September 20, 2013 at 11:14 am #

      Good movie, but not so much fun in the reality of life in Mammoth Lakes

  9. LawyerUp September 20, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    andy, possible transactions have to be secret because they’re discussing what the real estate might be worth to the town. If they did it in public, the seller would attend the public meeting and gain an unfair advantage in negotiations. So once they decide the worth in closed session, they can negotiate fairly with the seller. It goes something like this, all hypothetical…

    It would be worth 5 to the town. The seller’s asking price is 7. If the town makes an initial offer of 5, they have no room to negotiate, so obviously they’d start with a lower offer, like 4.

    Here’s the new, corrupt twist: What’s the point of any of that if the seller’s agent (Honorable Councilmember Lehman in this case) TELLS THE SELLER WHAT JUST HAPPENED IN THE CLOSED SESSION?

  10. LawyerUp September 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Now let’s write a little more abstractly. None of this happened in this town. It’s a fictional story of some other town that really really wanted a piece of property, but tainted their ability to ever bid on it because they let a “spy” into the closed session.

    Good thing that never happened. Because if it did, the town attorney would be sued for malpractice. The spy would recuse himself from any votes or input to the discussions, but there would be no way of knowing what he TOLD THE SELLER about what the other four in the closed session said or agreed on, THAT HE HEARD. And get this, the spy would be sued by the seller for bungling the whole deal.

  11. SkiJohn September 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    If I were Lehman, I’d just quit. He’s out in June anyway and it’s a thankless job. Sell Woodsite to whoever he pleases, get the commission and go back to making money for himself instead of donating countless hours when the Wood, Eastman and Bacon show call the shots.

    • Shine September 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      I’d quit AND give up the listing.

      • skiJohn September 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

        Shine, why? He’s had it for a long time and spent a lot of money marketing it.

  12. Shine September 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Professional reputation. Can’t represent the seller efficiently if town still interested, and in small town can’t escape insinuation of conflict even if there is none. And the seller is still let down. Hard situation. Maybe he knows how to handle it better than us.


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