Courthouse Tensions

Mono County Assessor James Lovett appeared before the the Mono Board of Supervisors November 20th to provide a monthly stats report. Following a summer of contentious Board scrutiny, in September Chairman Hap Hazard asked Lovett to appear once a month to provide information related to his department.

Lovett missed his October appearance because of an Assessors conference he had been summoned to attend, and this was his first appearance before the board in 2 months. Lovett reported that he had received the documentation from Mammoth Mountain Ski Area that will allow the re-assessment of the property to go forward. The estimated time for completion is 3-4 weeks.

Although this is good news for the County, Supervisor Tom Farnetti chastised Lovett for the amount of time it has taken to obtain the documents, suggesting the past six months of delays could have been resolved with a phone call. Farnetti explained that Lovetts inaccessibility has been an ongoing problem.

Supervisor Vicki Bauer asked Lovett about his recent work schedule. In past meetings, it has been established that Lovett spends less than 15 hours a week in the office, which the Supervisors say does not justify the $130,000 annual cost to the County for Lovett’s salary and benefits. Lovett did not answer her question directly, saying instead that he had not come prepared to answer questions about [his] work schedule.

Lovett changed the subject by reporting that in recently released figures, Mono County had come in third in the state for percentage increases in the assessment roll. He credited his department for the achievement, to which Chairman Hazard responded bluntly, Isn’t that your job?

Hazard then asked Lovett about the Assessors Conference in Santa Barbara last month. Lovett reported that he hadn’t attended the conference at all. I became ill, he said, and reminded the Supervisors that he had been stripped of his auto allowance.

In September, Lovett had plainly told the Supervisors he could not attend the October Board meeting because he had been summoned to the Conference. The Supervisors, cognizant of their decision to withdraw his auto allowance based on Lovett’s refusal to submit to random blood alcohol tests, had offered to provide him with a driver to the conference, an offer Lovett emphatically rejected.

June Lake resident Dorothy Burdette has been organizing a recall effort against Assessor Lovett, and was present at Tuesdays meeting. She has over 700 signatures out of the necessary 1630, and has been collecting them at the Mammoth Lakes Post Office and Vons. Other citizens have also worked to collect signatures.

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