Council eyes Mayor Lehman’s San Diego trip


Taxpayers absorb $199 expense

After years of arguing over hundred of thousands of dollars—millions, even—the Mammoth Town Council this past week dealt with a much more manageable expense item of $199.

Tiny, that is, if it weren’t for a travel expense item from Mayor Matthew Lehman, who petitioned the town to pony up the money for his airfare to the San Diego Half Marathon on Sunday, March 10.

Lehman, in an agenda bill before the council, argued that since the San Diego Half Marathon is a “sister event” to the Mammoth Half Marathon on June 23, he would use his time there to “raise awareness” for the inaugural Mammoth event.

Lehman asked for a reimbursement at the council’s March 13 meeting but was asked to schedule it for an agenda item.

On Wednesday, March 20, Lehman prevailed when the council, minus absent council member Rick Wood, unanimously passed the expense item.

Lehman’s request came at a time when the town staff is in the process of developing a new travel policy, which the council put into place in January 2006.

It is a long document, with three main bullet points.

An expense may be claimed if there is “a substantial benefit to the Town of Mammoth Lakes,” and when it involves an opportunity “to discuss the community’s concerns with local, regional, state, and federal officials; participating in local regional, state, and national organizations whose activities affect the Town of Mammoth Lakes; attending educational seminars to improve skill and information levels; and, finally, promoting public service and morale by recognizing such service.”

In the San Diego case, Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi attended the half-marathon, as he does most athletic events that are related to tourism. In Urdi’s case, the money he spends is at his discretion, from the MLT budget.

In Lehman’s case, however, the money would be taken from the Town Council budget and thus required a vote.