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Mammoth Council bashes Mono Supervisors; Eastman plays 'lobotomy' card

January 20, 2014

The Fourth of July fireworks began early for members of the Mammoth Lakes Town Council last week.

Council member John Eastman, speaking from the dais on Jan. 15, led a verbal assault on members of the Mono County Board of Supervisors, saying in order to be a supervisor from Mammoth Lakes, “a lobotomy is performed in Bridgeport and from then on, our supervisors have a difficulty in representing the community of Mammoth Lakes.”

Eastman, who has said he will not run again for Town Council when his season opens in the June 3 elections, then asked rhetorically, “Am I missing something?”

Mayor Rick Wood, who also has said he will not seek re-election in June, responded, “I couldn’t have said it any better.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon piled on.

“I have the same concern. I think that they’ve forgotten again that we’re also county residents.”

The council’s verbal fusillade on the board came in connection to the funding of the Fourth of July Fireworks show at Crowley Lake, which the council itself unanimously de-funded from its 2013-14 fiscal budget last year.

Since then, the Town Council, while expressing a wish for $5,000 from the county, actually never formally asked.

According to Mono County Administrative Officer Jim Leddy, the county government has had a process in place for years, whereby individuals or organizations can petition for county funds.

The town, however, eschewed the process, asking for the funds only last December in the form of a letter to the board signed by Wood on the council’s behalf.

When the item appeared on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda on Dec. 17, no one from the council, the town staff, or an ad hoc private fund-raising group showed up at the meeting, which was at the Sierra Center Mall.

The deadline for such a funding application passed by on Jan. 15, the very day that Eastman, Wood and Bacon chose to chide the supervisors.

In any event, it was too late by then anyway, according to Interim Town Manager Dan Holler.

“In discussions with the county,” he said at the Jan. 15 council meeting, “they were looking to trimming that (funding pool) back, and for us to come in and compete with the other county agencies, we probably would not have competed well in terms of priorities. And taking dollars away from other folks that are after the same dollars would have been a tough process for us to dive into.

“So we looked at other options in terms of getting the fireworks funded, looking at private-sector funding and potentially a very small amount of town funding.”

Nevertheless, Eastman and the council attacked the board anyway, just 20 minutes after Council Member Matthew Lehman, who championed a successful public fund drive to secure the Fireworks Show, delivered the news that the Fireworks Show for would be presented after all.

That did not seem to mollify Eastman, Wood or Bacon, who all jumped on the opportunity for some serious board bashing.

Taking time in the “Councilmember Reports” section of the meeting, it went like this:

EASTMAN

“Maybe I’m missing something, and that’s possible, but I can’t understand for the life of me why a function and event like the Fourth of July at Crowley Lake is looked at by our Board of Supervisors, particularly by our supervisors that represent the community of Mammoth Lakes.

“They were elected by the community of Mammoth Lakes to represent us in the community. Why they would not fall over themselves and support what I see in the scope of their budget, a menial distribution of $5,000, to support not a town function, but a county function that’s held in the community of Crowley Lake.

“If I was a voter in Mammoth Lakes, and for that matter, a voter in Crowley Lake or Tom’s Place, I would be upset with my supervisor for playing what I see as ‘the game,’ creating reasons not to fund $5,000 for the Crowley Lake Fourth of July event.

“I know they stated in their letter that they have staff time and stuff like that; everybody does. The Highway Patrol does, Mono County does, the Town of Mammoth Lakes does. A lot of agencies give staff time to that.

“But I think it’s a direct slap in the face to the citizens and visitors of Mammoth Lakes as well as the citizens of Crowley Lake. Am I missing something?”

WOOD

“I don’t think you’re missing anything at all.”

BACON:

“I have the same concern. I think that they’ve forgotten again that we’re also county residents.”

EASTMAN:

“There’s a saying that has been said for many years in Mammoth Lakes and that is that the community of Mammoth Lakes elects reps to the Board of Supervisors for Mono County to represent the citizens of Mammoth Lakes.
These supervisors get elected and they go to their first meeting in Bridgeport and a lobotomy is performed in Bridgeport and from then on, our supervisors have a difficulty in representing the community of Mammoth Lakes. Enough said."

WOOD:

“I couldn’t have said it any better.”

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