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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 1, 2010

October 1, 2010

Animal Control Officer would be beneficial

We were extremely disappointed to learn that we do not have an Animal Control Officer in Mammoth Lakes due to budget cuts. It was suggested that we call the Police Department if there is a problem as if this department does not have enough on their plates.

Dogs are without leashes and running free. Many of the owners allow their dogs to enter private property, do their business and continue on their way. We did not witness anyone cleaning up after their pets, and, I might add, that pet owners are quite bold when entering private property even though some property owners are visible. This problem is clearly out of control.

It would be beneficial to the Town of Mammoth Lakes if an Animal Control Officer were reinstated as it would more than pay his/her wages if the program was diligently pursued.

Jan Hoffman
Oxnard, Calif.

Superior traits

At the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce Candidate’s Forum last May, I witnessed an interesting exchange between Superior Court judge candidates Magit and Gephart. I was sitting in the front row as the candidates were seating themselves. The only person missing was Ms. Hankel. I watched, as Magit said he had better call her to find out where she was. Gephart responded by saying, “Don’t call her.” Magit said I am calling her, and it was a good thing he did. She thought the forum started at 6 p.m. instead of 5 p.m, and she rushed in a few minutes late.

I had witnessed an unguarded moment into Mark Magit’s personality. He could have done nothing, but he didn’t. He showed honesty, integrity, and compassion for a fellow candidate – traits I want in a superior court judge.

Gwen Plummer
Mammoth Lakes

Tourism a greater boom than mining

Thank you, County Supervisors Farnetti, Hazard and Hunt, for voting “no action” on HR 6129, the short-sighted and misleadingly named “Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010,” legislation requested by the mining company, Cougar Gold.

I’ve been watching with trepidation as gold prices go up, up and up knowing that the “have we got a deal for you” mining companies and their Wall Street hedge funds would soon be sniffing around in Mono County for what Royal Gold termed at Hot Creek over a decade ago, “our opportunity in the Eastern Sierra.”

To be profitable, the scale of modern gold mining operations is tremendous. Mining today requires mega-earth-moving equipment and hill-sized leach piles of ore to salvage enough gold to make the venture pencil. Huge open pits are scooped out and cyanide solution is sprayed 24/7 over the piles to leach the low-grade ore of its gold.

The easy gold is gone. The potential ore at Hot Creek assayed at 0.018 ounces per ton. The open pit Royal Gold would have had to dig to make their venture pay off would have been larger than the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Historically, mining has had a boom-and-bust impact on an economy, but contemporary mining operations scavenging through low-grade ore make for a bigger bust and much less of a boom for locals. Skilled workers are generally imported to operate the advanced equipment. For the brief time mining operations are active, there will be a bump in sales at the grocery store and fast food restaurants, but no significant increase in jobs that pay well for locals. When mining stops, the local community is left in the lurch.

Tourism is sustainable. Mining isn’t.

And tourism is what Mono County is all about. Even in these tough times, State Scenic Highway 395 is an irresistible conduit drawing drive-to vacationers to relax and enjoy themselves in the spectacularly beautiful Eastern Sierra. Festivals, fairs and barbecues – events that encourage visitors to extend their stays and return for more – increase every year.

We all know what we have here is priceless. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Every image of Royal Gold’s Hot Creek “opportunity” shown at the 1999 public hearing could have been a picture postcard. All of us, and particularly our elected representatives, must be wise stewards of what we and our visitors enjoy so much.

Elizabeth Tenney
Mammoth Lakes

Oktoberfest...when?

My husband and I are active members of a German social club whose objective is to preserve the ethnic heritage of the Germanic peoples. We invited a group of our club members to come up to Mammoth for the Oktoberfest taking place on Saturday, Sept. 25. Since we all have the authentic Lederhosen and dirndls I believed that this would add greatly to the German flavor of the festivities.

Can you imagine my shock, chagrin, embarrassment, anger and frustration upon finding out on Friday, Sept. 24 that there would be no Oktoberfest on that weekend but that the date had been changed to Oct. 1 and 2. I now have all these people arriving within hours and….no Oktoberfest!!!

Further adding to the dilemma was the fact that the week before I had noted a discrepancy in the dates and called 1-800-MAMMOTH to check which date was correct. I was assured that the Oktoberfest was on Sept. 25 and that she would notify whomever of the error. After reading in the Mammoth Times that the date was Oct. 1 and 2 I immediately called Mammoth Lakes Tourism and spoke to Ellen who was just as frustrated since they also did not know of the change except by reading it in the newspaper! What is going on here?? We are trying to call ourselves a “Destination Resort” and festivity dates can be changed on a “whim,” no one notified and any consequences ignored?? Obviously the Mountain, Visitors Bureau and Village are “not on the same page” here.

We have attended many Oktoberfests in Mammoth since becoming homeowners in the early ’70s and were so looking forward to sharing the fun and enjoyment with our group, however, I can assure you that …yes, we all had a nice weekend and enjoyed the beautiful Mammoth weather but I can also assure you that it will be a “cold day in the Netherworld” before some of these people will come to Mammoth again. There just simply are no words to adequately make up for the inconvenience and expense that we all were caused.

Ranelle Resch
Mammoth Lakes and Tujunga, Calif.

Courage

“Courage” was the word one of your correspondents used to describe the Town Council’s action to terminate three of the Town’s most experienced, knowledgeable employees. The only courage that was exhibited at that Council meeting was by two compassionate women, Anita Hatter and Leigh Gaasch who spoke against that precipitous action and especially the manner in which it was carried out. More courage? How about that shown by those employees who sat there while their positions and service were publicly degraded. And how about the fact that they then stood before a packed house and delivered staff reports for the benefit of the very people who had just axed them in order to make themselves look good?

How about the absence of courage? No courage was evident in the way the Council publicly and embarrassingly terminated these people. This was nothing more than a political hatchet job by Council people trying to look tough by responding to anti-government sentiment. Remember, the Town Council approved these position and salaries. It was the Council who recognized these employees’ expertise over the years and approved their promotions. Now they go out with the trash! There were dozens of other ways to save the money that may (or may not, depending on what the Council does next) have saved these actions. The fact is the budget was misrepresented. The budget is balanced, revenues were underestimated and there currently is a reserve fund. And.... did they not just expire furlough days for all staff members?

Two of the Council members who participated in this action are the very people who created these positions, the very people who created the budget crisis in the first place, the very people who, in fact, have created every problem we see with the Town today. Now they take the easy way out: Blame the employees and managers they hired to carry out their wrong-headed policies. Those two Council members should now take the road of the people they have axed and resign for the good of the community. Now THAT would take courage.

I know Brad Koehn, Karen Johnston and Mike Grossblatt and know they served loyally; their families contributed year after year to the community and they still do. The Council’s failure to truly recognize their service, its failure to take steps to avoid humiliating them (on local television no less) was crass, disrespectful and an insult. It belittled our community. Far from an act of courage, it was a showing of how classless people can be as they seek to appease a political constituency for their own benefit.

Sharon Carkeet
Crowley Lake

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