Town officials study MLLA offer and look at internal loan

mltc2-1-12Town of Mammoth officials so far have little comment on the settlement offer from Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition.  They plan to talk about it in a closed session during a special meeting Thursday.  One Town Councilman did say Mammoth and MLLA have differences of opinion over what the Town of Mammoth needs to survive. Also on Thursday, separate from the MLLA issue, the Council will look at borrowing $4.7 million from the Town’s vehicle replacement fund.

It was late last Friday when Jay Becker of MLLA emailed to our newsroom a letter written for the Town of Mammoth.  The letter criticized Mammoth for how negotiations have unfolded over payment of the $42 million lawsuit judgment and then made the Town an offer.  The deal asks the Town to pay $2 million now and $2.8 million each year for 30 years.

Asked to comment on this turn of events, Mayor Jo Bacon said, “We are doing  a bunch of research on it right now and will discuss it on Thursday.”  The Mayor said that attorneys prefer that the Council not say anything yet.

Councilman Rick Wood did not want to comment on the details of the offer, but he did have some comments about MLLA.  Wood, also an attorney, said it’s important for him to be patient with the process.  He did say that MLLA’s letter revealed “posturing” by the company.

He said the two sides may have different views on what the Town can afford to pay.  Wood also said that MLLA and the Town differ on what might be called discretionary spending.  Wood said, “Just because money is not restricted doesn’t mean the expenditures made are not essential to this Town’s survival.  We’ll be dealing with this.”

Wood also said that it is in the “best interest of the community” that the Town has honored the confidentiality agreement between MLLA and Mammoth over negotiation details “even though they sent our letter to the media,” said Wood.

Mammoth Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht offered no comment on the MLLA offer, but he did say that there would be an added item on Thursday’s special meeting agenda.  Wilbrecht said it would include a resolution to take a loan from the Town vehicle replacement fund to pay for some current expenditures and to repay past Town loans from the Developer Impact Fee fund.

Wilbrecht said a staff report will be out soon on this.  He did say that the loan would be for $4.7 million of the vehicle replacement fund’s $10 million or so.  Still up in the air is the $2.2 million shortfall in next fiscal year’s budget.  Town officials have said they need concessions from employees to help balance the budget.

Thursday’s special meeting agenda says it all starts at 1pm with a closed session and at 2pm discussion of financial difficulties and availability of funds for critical payments related to the MLLA process.


33 Responses to Town officials study MLLA offer and look at internal loan

  1. Fed Up March 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    WOW , WOW , WOW and More WOW!
    The town is going to look into a loan against the Vehicle fund!!!!!!
    Wilbrecht said it would include a resolution to take a loan from the Town vehicle replacement fund to pay for some current expenditures and to repay past Town loans from the Developer Impact Fee fund.”

    I tell you the town just does not get it. No talk of placing money aside to pay the Judgment. Just more raiding of other funds. ]

    Keep it up. I hope the judge finds you all in contempt and throws the whole lot of you in slammer.

  2. longtimemllocal March 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Town officials have said they need concessions from employees to help balance the budget.

    It should read, Town officials have said they need to quit wasting money to help balance the budget.

  3. Observer March 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    An interesting time to be depleting TOML coffers to retire other debts. Is the TOML on a combined spending spree/run on the bank ahead of dealing with MLLA? If so, no wonder MLLA decided to move forward for a writ of mandate. Does MLLA have a ready response? Perhaps they would join this thread with a comment of their own…

  4. Jeff B. March 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    The town should move forward with bankruptcy. Let these leeches get in line behind legitimate creditors and essential services. And end the nonsense projects like the vanity gateway and other outsized small town ambitions.

    • Rob March 27, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      The leeches are your city council.

    • fed up March 27, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Jeff B
      There is no getting in line with a Capt 9 BK from my reading. There is no cram down as was pointed out, there is no forceful re-negotiations. The judge has very limited powers.There is no discharge of debt.The town must pay the debt. The only thing it appears to be is restructuring contracts, raiding pensions, reducing public services to only bare essentials. Further wiping out they way of life in Mammoth and making the public and potentially tourism pay for the gross incompetence and fraud of staff and council.

      Wake up people, Wake Up!

      It makes me want to vomit!

  5. Trouble March 27, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    This is sort of like studying for a urine test.

  6. Dave Jones March 27, 2012 at 11:59 am #




    • Bill March 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Dave Jones = MLLA troll… With what money? The town is BROKE!

      There is no way ToML can afford 40 MILLION+ w/o seriously affecting services to locals and visitors. The mistakes of a few will be paid over breaking the backs of people completely innocent of all this.

      The 30 million judgement is so far out of the realm of what is realistic and fair, and again, MLLA purchased this lawsuit. They have not been wronged in any way… make them wait or try to bleed the turnip for their damn $$. The laws that allowed this to happen are completely screwed up and the greed that drove this mess is absolutely disgusting.

      • Frustrated March 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

        Most would agree that everything you say is true; unfortunately the reality is the Town will owe the money whether it can afford it or not; regardless of whether bankruptcy is filed or not filed. The focus and productive use of our emotional energy should be focused on the plan to “dig ourselves out of this hole”. I find it interesting that Mr. Wood maintains his desire to not comment on the situation, but then can’t help himself by throwing out several non-sensical comments for public consumption. It seems that all he has done is stoke the fires so to speak with his “lawyerspeak” and put the Town in a worse position. I may not know all the details, but it is apparent the Town has little, if any leverage, notwithstanding Mr. Wood’s pontifications. Unless the details of the settlement discussions are made public (i.e. what was MLLA’s original settlement offer), such pontifications are unproductive. We can get out of this mess by making the tough choices for reduced community services – but is our Council willing to engage the public? We currently have a “10” snow removal effort on a scale of 1-10 but do we really need a fully staffed road department of full time employees? Perhaps we reduce the size of Public Works by 1/2 and hire part-timers to supplement snow removal when needed. Do we need a fully staffed planning department with highly paid managers right now when services could be possibly outsourced (to the County or privately) as needed (read the article in the Mammoth Times about the lack of issues for the Planning Commission). I’m not saying these are the best choices, but they must be looked at and considered if we want to take our situation seriously. This analysis should be done across every remaining Town service. That is why in my opinion if we declare bankruptcy, an administrator should be making the decisions rather that Mr. Wood. Unfortunately we continue to have massive “egos” on our Council that cannot seem to face reality. It is these egos that have driven almost every decision the past years that have gotten our community in this position. What is truly sad is we will be continue to be stuck with this reality for another two years. Mr. Raimando – I hope you are listening.

      • Dave Jone March 30, 2012 at 11:29 am #

        Such a simpleton….

        Just because I side with MLLA does not imply that I am affiliated with them.

        I am Not.

        I just happen to have the same opinion as our legal system….


        Get it???

        The Time to Argue the Merits of the Case has Long Past.


        Yea, I get it you don’t like it….SORRY.






        • Rob March 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

          I also agree with Dave Jones.

          They argued the merits in court, TOML lost.

          Time to pay up!

    • Reality Bites March 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      This guy is an MLLA TROLL! Don’t fall for it. He thinks he won the Lotto by buying a lawsuit from a loser developer. He could care less about screwing Mammoth and it’s citizens.

  7. MJA March 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Dear Benett,

    Who is MLLA?
    Do they have names and faces?
    It would be good to see who is taking a big piece of the town.


    • Benett Kessler March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Check out this link – and google Raleigh Enterprises and other companies listed on that chart for starters. MLLA appears to be one in a network of companies involved in real estate, airports, hollywood studios and more. Benett

      • Kat March 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

        If you check out the link suggested by Bennett, it shows the different entities of Raleigh Enterprises (MLLA).

        One is named: Mammoth Opportunity Fund – 1, LLC

        No doubt what their driving force is, is there? ($$$)

  8. observer March 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Alright, good sleuthing Benett, and now check out the newly posted agenda for the TOML Council meeting at 2 pm on Thursday: MMM proposes that they pull out $4.7M from the vehicle replacement fund (already known) for–get this–PREpaying millions of dollars to the Town’s new legal firms and financial consulting firms.
    It is in fact a proposed “run on the bank” as I suggested the other day,with the bank being raided being the Town’s own funds, to be transferred to the General Fund momentarily and then on to bank accounts of their lawyers (in Houston, Texas) and financial wizards (don’t know where they are). None of the money is earmarked for paying down the debt to MLLA. It’s looking like the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, where almost no one survives.*
    (*:This being the 21st century, the legal and financial firms playing the pawns are left standing.)

  9. MJA March 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Wood said Jay Becker and Terry Ballas of MLLA traveled to Mammoth Lakes a couple of weeks ago and spent several days here to go over financial information. “They appreciate the transparency and helpfulness,” said Wood. “It’s been a burden on staff, along with all the work on the budget.” Wood said as of ten days or two weeks ago, relations were “cordial.” 6/23/2011 Sierra Wave

    Jay Becker and Terry Ballas are MLLA.
    Do you have any pictures of these guys Benett?
    I think it is important for the people of Mammoth to see who they are.
    And doesn’t Terry Ballas still work for the town or the airport?
    And also I think it would be just to use their names in any future stories,
    They seem to be hiding behind the corporate skirts.
    Thanks again for the great job you do reporting the news!


  10. Liberty Bell March 28, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    It is sad that Mammoth citizens will ultimately pay for this MMLA lawsuit. This entire situation goes to show you that the goal of government is to get bigger– and when government grows free markets get interfered with, businesses gets taxed more and citizens ultimately lose more freedom. The TOML (govt and bureaucracy) grew so big and so invasive that it tried to muscle around business(interfere with free market capitalism) in an effort to sustain itself. Now citizens must pay with their freedom (tax dollars) for the mistake of mammoth lakes officials. I hope the TOML officials and big government advocates have learned their lesson: Liberty and capitalism prevail when the role of government is limited to provide only the basic and necessary services for society.

    • Benett Kessler March 28, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      And, you have stated the debate for our times – what are necessary services for society? Take health care. Nearly all other developed countries in the world have accepted and believe in the moral imperative that all citizens deserve and need to be taken care of in matters of health. Without health, the populus falters and fails. The U.S. spends more money on health care than any other country yet fewer of its people can rely on help. We need to drop the knee jerk “I don’t want to pay for the other guy” mentality and give this some deep, personal thought. As I have said before, there are cases of good, hard working people right here in our two counties who have been afraid to go to the hospital with an ailment because they don’t have health insurance. More than one of them died as a result. Instead of endless debates on why universal care won’t work, why not find a way. We are a highly intelligent, very wealthy nation. Benett Kessler

      • Tourbillon March 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

        Most of those other developed countries to which you refer are going broke. Governments who have baked their own fiscal demise into the cake will not be able to take care of anything for the populace in the end, whether it’s health care, defense, roads, or schools. The knee-jerk “government must redistribute society’s money for society’s good” mentality as the go-to solution is largely responsible. Government can do limited things well. When it tries to expand its scope into every aspect of life, it not only can’t do everything well, it loses its ability to do much of anything right.

        • Benett Kessler March 28, 2012 at 11:18 am #

          Peoples’ greed have largely created the problems in Greece, Ireland, Italy, etc., etc. That’s not a statement about universal health care. What government can do is examine society and see what is working and what is not and then regulate those parts that benefit a few and not the many. The financial markets need regulation to prevent economic collapse. The health insurance, health equipment industry need regulation because they have driven up the costs of health care and made it unavailable to many. Our own government needs regulation. Our elected officials are now merely agents of wealthy corporations who pay them to do their bidding. A lot of that would stop, as Fareed Zakaria pointed out on his Sunday program, if we re-wrote the tax code and got rid of all the exemptions our legislators have given to the very rich for the campaign funds received. Benett Kessler

    • Rob March 28, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Anyone that lives within TOML might want to consider selling and moving.

  11. Liberty Bell March 28, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I respectfully disagree. We are not a wealthy nation–and, in my view, healthcare is not a right. First, if you believe that the ultimate measure of wealth is debt, than you are must not realize that our grandchildren’s grandchildren are on the hook for fifteen trillion dollars and counting. Your claim that we are a wealthy nation pays no attention to the amount and rate of borrowed money that it is taking to keep this sinking ship afloat. Just the income tax revenue alone government collects via the unconstitutional income tax system is not enough to cover the interest on this debt. Secondly, I feel no obligation to pay for those that choose to eat chicken skins and GMO-processed foods while they sit on their couch watching American Idol every day. We currently have medical/and medicare program to help those in need that require “the basics.” Expanding this program to include everyone makes absolutely no sense to me when there aren’t any incentives to make people live healthier lives. If people choose to live unhealthy becoming so obese to the point where their own knees cannot sustain themselves. Then I believe that Charles Darwin was on to something when he stated so eloquently that nature should be allowed to play its course of “natural selection.” This means that dumb people should be allowed to “weed” themselves out of the gene pool by eating hot pockets and corn dogs everyday if they choose to do so. Getting back to the main topic of this article, I’d also like to mention that Mammoth Lakes officials decided to give up the town’s sovereignty and decision-making power once they accepted federal FAA grants to expand and build the airport. There is no such thing as free federal money. Accepting federal FFA grant money always has strings attached. In this case MLLA development required new FAA input on top of already existing TOML bureaucracy on the matter. That GOVERNMENT interference and it’s decision to bring about airport expansions as a public works project is to blame. Now the town(it’s citizens) is/are stuck in the same predicament as the entire country. That is, perpetual debt, increased taxes, or BK is the only way to pay for a 40+ million-dollar lawsuit and an expanded airport that we can’t afford. So, are highly intelligent? I don’t think so. Are we wealthy? I doubt it. The town of Mammoth Lakes will never be the same. When are we gonna learn that a constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility is what our founders gave us?

    • Benett Kessler March 28, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      Dear Liberty, You have missed my point. There is plenty of money to do what we feel are the priorities of our nation. But we do have to set priorities. Do we want to spend $2 billion a week on the war in Afghanistan? The wars are what created the debt our country now bears. We have to ask ourselves as a people what we want our country to be and what we will pay for. Your self-righteous comments about people who don’t follow the diet you feel to be absolute reveals you have not come to the conclusion that as a developed nation we want to take care of our peoples’ health. We are all in this together, so why not work toward positive goals instead of depriving who we feel are the ignorant. Develop health care that includes required disease prevention. It’s something to consider. I’m not insisting this is the right way, but thought, not hate, is currently required if we wish to advance as the great country I believe we were always intended to be. Our founders gave us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How we choose to do that is up to us. Several of the founders, in fact, warned about the greed that could cause problems in the free market. Time to take the high road of ethics and accept that we are all a part of the nation and the needs of all must be addressed. Benett Kessler

      • NewEra March 28, 2012 at 11:50 am #

        Very well said Benett.
        If we get it, why cant the one’s on capitol hill get it?
        Are they that blinded by potential dollars?
        I guess we can expect that when they write their own rules due to non Regulation!

    • Ken Warner March 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      “We are not a wealthy nation–and, in my view, healthcare is not a right.”

      The United States has the highest GDP of ANY nation. We ARE a wealthy nation.

      Heath care is not a right?

      “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

      You know where that comes from don’t you? So we await with breathless anticipation your twisted rebuttal proving that health care does not lead to “the enjoyment of life and liberty….etc.”

  12. Dennis Kostecki March 28, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    The modern American Conservative Movement bears no semblance whatsoever to our father’s and grandfather’s brand of conservative thought. Today’s movement is dictated by ilk like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter. All whom have found a splendid vehicle to demonize and degrade all who oppose them and are all rich beyond their wildest dreams. You can spot the advocates by their vehement foam-at-the-mouth style of communication. The methods they use to whip the masses into a mindless frenzy include demonization including self-aggrandized “patriotism” and non-stop attacks against “liberals” (aka Democrats). Again, and again, and … A brilliant example of how today’s “conservatives” work their magic, is from the classic Monty Python’s “Burn the Witch!” sketch.


  13. Ken Warner March 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I’ve been trying to not comment on anything because of the poisonous diatribes so frequent here but Liberty Bell’s nonsense is just too provocative to ignore. So here are some easily available statistics that show there is no correlation between national debt and an effective, nationalized health care system.

    Liberty Bell’s implied argument is that a nationalized health care system will bankrupt the U.S. Well it turns out that of 33 developed nations, the U.S. is the only country that doesn’t have a nationalize health care system and yet we have the highest sovereign debt of any country. How can a nationalized health care system be responsible for our national debt when we have no nationalized health care system?

    Conversely,take Japan for example: Japan’s national debt is 1/4th of our national debt; has a single payer national health care system, the effectiveness of which is the highest of all countries.

    Let’s talk about China — very low national debt/GDP ratio and a health care system that is now undergoing reform because they realize keeping the population healthy is in the best interests of that country.

    Perhaps a national health care system would provide the incentive and guidance needed to get all those supposed couch potatoes. It turns out that the top ten healthiest countries (a list that does not include the U.S.) all have national health care systems.

    Right wing rants are mostly rubbish and Liberty Bell’s rants are a good example of that.

  14. Liberty Bell March 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Dear Bennett, Thank you for the compliments. The right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” directly relates to a person’s choice in how they decide to live out this clause. That is, one person may choose to be responsible in their “pursuit of life or happiness” while another my choose not to. This means that a person’s health depends on how they freely exercise their right to “…life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Thusly, a person’s health is the consequence of a person’s RIGHT to choose. No one in this country is denied this RIGHT to chose how healthy or unhealthy they decide to live their own lives. This is why I do not believe that having good health is a right, nor a public obligation as in “universal healthcare- paid for by taxpayers like you” Instead I am one of those free thinkers that believe empowering people to exercise their own fee will at their own discretion while taking responsibility for the consequences. THAT IS THE SOLUTION. Advancing society in my world means empowering people to take care of themselves rather than empowering the government. Your comment “We are all in this together” sounds a lot like collectivism or a spin-off of groupthink mentality. How about taking some ownership for yourselves and quit relying on growing government as the solution to society’s problems? People must learn to take full responsibility for the consequences of their health and lifestyle choices. Plain and simple.

    • Benett Kessler March 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Liberty, I’m with you on people accepting responsibility for their own lives. However, not all illness comes from conscious choice. Sometimes people who try to live in a responsible and healthy way get dreadfully sick. Hopefully, they can afford the care. Sometimes they can not. I personally would rather spend $2 billion per week taking care of people who really need help rather than remaining “at war” in Afghanistan. I would question achieving life, liberty and happiness by making sure other people suffer.

      I would also suggest that you not try to label me or my thoughts as “collectivism” or “groupthink”. I have no idea what those things mean. You may accuse me of accepting the golden rule as a way of life. Benett Kessler

    • Ken Warner March 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Liberty Bell is willing to use all the conveniences provided to him/her everyday by hundreds of millions of people working all over the globe — and then thinks that he/she is somehow not “…in this together.”

      We’ve been over this a thousand times — you use the roads, the water, the Police and Fire departments, the electricity you use to spout your nonsense, you buy food without concern that it will make you sick or worse, your medicine is safe because people work hard to make it safe for you, you watch TV and the internet on government regulated airways and cable ways without interference from other channels, when you travel you know that it safe because it’s regulated, when you go to a hospital you know you aren’t going to be worked on by quacks — every single second of every day of your life you are dependent on the work of others.

      And then you pronounce arrogantly that you are responsible only for yourself and decry the society which you are totally dependent on.

      My challenge to you — live completely independent of our society — live “off the grid” Dig your own well, grow your own food, raise your own stock to ride while you hunt your dinner and gather the roots and nuts you feed on. Then come back and tell us how living together in a society that cooperates for the greater good is so counter to “free thinking”.

  15. Dennis Kostecki March 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    There are more millionaires in the U.S. today than the entire population of New York City.
    Yet 1 in 5 children in America today are considered living in poverty.
    Those who live a life of compassion and are looking out for their fellow man (i.e., promoting adequate Healthcare for those 1 in 5 destitute children) are labeled “socialists,” ” bleeding-heart liberals,” and/or just plain “bad Americans.”

    Understanding the impossibility of those 1 in 5 children to gain adequate healthcare in an attempt to “take care of themselves” (as one “I’m-a-better-American-than-you” poster puts it) is patently absurd.

    Count me in as one of those “Bad Americans.”

    Bless the beasts and the children.
    For in this world they have no voice. They have no choice.


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