Letters to the Editor, April 20-26

Factual information on the selection of 'Proof'

   Let me state something back to you written by Lesley-Ann Hoxie on April 9, Mammoth Times:

Sierra Classic Theatre (SCT) has chosen to produce Auburn’s play, giving “classic” a savvier connotation, while simultaneously proving that community theatre doesn’t need to choose cheap material despite limited availability of talent.  Personally, I’d rather sit through a performance rich with emotion and leaves me thinking about the implications of the story, than one with lackluster writing and stock characters performed with enormous talent.  

Please let me provide some factual information on the selection of Proof: When we selected Proof as a winter program we did not entertain any competitive notion that we would set out to “prove” any other productions thus far in Mammoth were produced of either cheap material, or that the writing of any other plays shown in Mammoth were lackluster and preformed by stocked characters with enormous talent. To infer that was an objective met is in grave error.

Proof was a risky selection from the get go. Recognizing the economic times have hit hard in Mammoth it was prudent and considerate to pay attention to a specific mood or genre of a play and its impact on an audience. Even SCT was cautious about having a drama as apposed to a comedy. I know, I was there.  Upon careful consideration and many discussions, we decided to take a risk on Proof.

As one who has acted and has played a role in productions in Mammoth I take offense to Ms. Hoxie’s characterization of past plays and performers in Mammoth. Particularly when some of these so-called stock characters as she refers to them, had a significant hand in recommending the cast for Proof. I do not know Ms. Hoxie and wondering how she elevated her opinions to such greatness that she can now produce controversial slams on actors and productions in Mammoth she knows nothing about.

I for one would like to know how Ms. Hoxie elevated herself to the point of not only critiquing a show but critiquing shows and actors she has never seen? Am I one of those actors she is taking a shot of? is it Chuck? Is it Jarret or Juliana? Who is it?

I for one would like to know specifically which show she might characterize as lack luster or cheap? I would love to know what show material she would consider cheap? Is Neil Simon lack luster? Is Shakespeare lack luster, or is Fiddler on the Roof cheap material? How about Diary of Anne Frank, surely that little girl had a lack luster diary, or perhaps Christmas Carol, was that lackluster or just stocked with characters with enormous talent? 


Which ones did you find particularly painful?

In the future Ms. Hoxie, focus your limited ability to critique plays on the characteristics of the play and save your political commentary for your family and friends. I am sure they will find you captivating. Not me.

Maureen (Mo) McClain

Mammoth Lakes


Happy 70th anniversary GDB!



I am raising a guide dog puppy in training and am proud to be part of such a wonderful organization, “Guide Dogs for the Blind.”

GDB has changed the lives of many people. My puppy’s name is Jaymin and she is a 9-month-old beautiful Yellow Lab. GDB has done a great job on its breeding of these dogs. Jaymin is a very sweet, loving, and confident puppy. I can’t tell you how many times Jaymin and I have been stopped on our daily walks by someone who’s loved one has a service Guide Dog. They are so excited to see Jaymin (the first thing they see is her green training vest) and tell me how these wonderful dogs have changed their loved one’s life. I enjoy hearing each and every story. 

It is so inspiring to me how much GDB has changed the course of so many lives. 

GDB was absolutely right when it claims, “It takes a community to raise a Guide Dog.” I have many businesses to thank in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop for letting Jaymin and I into their stores, restaurants, hotels, motels, police department, fire department, sheriff’s department, grocery stores, ect.  I am very touched by how every one in both towns is a part of helping Jaymin be all she can be. 

April 25 is International Guide Dog Day and GDB’s 70th anniversary. Be sure to thank GDB for how it has changed the lives of over 13,000 blind and the visually impaired people since 1942.

Leigh Gaasch

Mammoth Lakes

Skip Harvey is correct

I agree with Mr. Harvey’s statement, “The people of this town have a right to know what’s going on.” The California Open Meeting Law [Brown Act] allows a closed session for “pending litigation” or “significant exposure to litigation.” There is no pending litigation with the Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition [MLLA] and I see no evidence that MLLA is seeking to file another lawsuit. MLLA won, the town appealed, the town lost the appeal, and the litigation is over. There are only two pending matters. Will the town go “hat in hand” to MLLA and offer entitlements sufficient to satisfy MLLA or will the town file bankruptcy. Neither of these issues satisfy the California Open Meeting Law for a closed session.

Mr. Harvey made another statement causing me great concern. “The lawsuit is going to affect everybody—every single person in town...” The community needs to know what this statement means. In closed session, is the council considering ways to victimize the community by assessing citizens to pay the judgment? 

This year, I finally got around to reading the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in MLLA v Town of Mammoth Lakes. I do not recall, in all of my years as a practicing city attorney, reading about or hearing about a city conducting itself in such an abusive, incompetent and dishonest manner as that noted by the Ninth Circuit when describing the conduct of this Town. 

“What kind of Town are we?” Read the case report and then ask yourself that question.

To start to understand the importance of Mr. Harvey’s concern, one needs to understand that the Development Agreement gave MLLA certain development rights the Town could not take away. A development agreement is a contract adopted “by ordinance.” As such, it is the “law of the land” just as any other law adopted by the Town. However, this “law” is more powerful than others approved by the council because the Town cannot change this ordinance. 

The Development Agreement reviewed by the Ninth Circuit, was adopted by ordinance of the Town in 1997. 

It required Mammoth Lakes to approve a development plan around the Town’s airport for a hotel/condo project. To obtain this entitlement, the Developer was required to improve the airport for the Town. By 2000, the Developer put in place over $15 million in airport improvements and otherwise fully performed its obligations under the Development Agreement. When the hotel/condo project was submitted for approval, Town staff recommended denial. Thereafter, the untold story begins. The big question, “Why did the Town renege on the Development Agreement?”

The Ninth Circuit described the Town’s default of the Development Agreement in detail beyond the scope of this letter. After the Developer’s $15 million investment in the airport, the forbidden conduct of Town officials between 2000 and 2004 included: a) the Town’s Community Development Director memorandum to the Developer stating that a hotel/condo project at the airport was no longer appropriate for the “Town’s economic climate;” b) then a conspiracy between Town staff and the FAA was revealed—one to create bogus objections by the FAA to the hotel/condo project as a favor to the Town—which the Ninth Circuit found failed to relieve the Town of its obligation to approve the hotel/condo project; c) the Court looked at a memo from the town manager Clark, to the Developer stating “that the town council shared the sentiment that expanded air service was a higher priority than the hotel/condominium project;” d) a memo between the deputy town manager Long and FAA officials stating that the hotel/condo project was now “inconsistent with the Town’s goals” [WHY?], “that the project might never be built” and asked the FAA to help the Town “get rid of Hot Creek” (the hotel/condo project) [WHY?]; e) the day after Long’s conspiracy with the FAA, he drafted a memo to the Developer stating that until the Developer could resolve the FAA problems “we will be unable to move forward with your project”; f) Clark then followed with another memo to the Developer stating that the Developer “need(s) to resolve the FAA compliance issues” before the project could go forward—that the council agrees [WHY?]; g) staff notes in “a meeting of town officials” stating “Hammer Hot Creek...” This dishonest conduct, examined by the Ninth Circuit, goes on and on well beyond the scope of this letter. Never revealed is the answer to “WHY?”

I was surprised that the verdict was only $30 million. Having read the Ninth Circuit opinion, I am concerned about the motivation that was driving town staff and the Council. Clearly, there is no reason to trust this Town and what it is doing behind closed doors to satisfy the judgment. The real story is what motivated the Mammoth Lakes staff and Council to have so blatantly violated their lawful obligations under the Development Agreement? There are too many questions that must be brought to light in an open meeting. 

Certainly, in one way, Mr. Harvey is correct. The judgment will affect everyone in Mammoth Lakes; who will want to do business with a dishonest Town? If the dishonest conduct discussed by the Ninth Circuit was not bad enough, the property owners of Mammoth Lakes do not want to be the victims of a debt obligation created as a result of this dishonest conduct. 

So, what questions are being asked in closed session? Why can’t they be discussed in open session? 

The Town still owns the land around the airport. It has great value for future development. Give it to the Plaintiff. Make a deal that makes the Plaintiff happy. It’s time to stop trying to play the “hard ball” game. If there is nothing the Town has that will make the Developer happy then file bankruptcy. What ever the Council decides as the proper path, let not one thought be to try to push the judgment onto the shoulders of the residents of Mammoth Lakes. 

Jean Harris

Resident voter