Hogan spells it out for Town Council

Sandy Hogan said the public process is missing.

Sandy Hogan said the public process is missing.

Since the demise of Mammoth’s former town manager and numerous closed sessions on property negotiations that were never discussed publicly, Mammoth Lakes’ citizens have continued to grumble about what they call a lack of transparency in their local government. Long time resident, Sandy Hogan, stood up during public comment at Wednesday night’s Council meeting and articulated for the Council why they have critics.

She said many have heard complaints from the public about the lack of transparency and excessive numbers of closed sessions. She said, “The public feels left out of the decision making process.” Angry phone calls, letters to the editor and emails would agree.

Hogan picked an example of one issue that she said should be much more public before addressing it in closed sessions – the potential purchase by the Town of Sam’s Wood Site for events. Hogan said up front that she supports that idea, but she said there has been no formal public discussion other than random individual comments. Hogan said, “My support and Councilman Michael Raimondo’s does not constitute a public process that should lead to a Council decision that would then start purchase negotiations.”

In fact, the Council has included such negotiations, pre-public discussion, in more than one closed session. Hogan brought up the obvious – that the Council plans to use revenue from Measures R and U since these are virtually the only monies the Town has. Said Hogan, “The appearance is that the Town Council is ignoring the processes in place.”

Hogan suggested that the Council wait for a final events site feasibility study that is in the works, agendize the issue, engage the Measures R and  U committees, and then deliberate and take public comment. Then, she said, comes the time to negotiate a purchase. Hogan called the Wood Site idea a “long-term investment of limited tax dollars” that needs public discussion.

She told the Council that “A full and open process is often messy and long, but we’ve been missing this. That’s why the Town Council is getting criticism. By jumping to closed session discussions, the Council skipped many important steps,” she said.

Councilman John Eastman tried to rationalize that the Council never intended to make a decision in closed session. Hogan did not let him off the hook. She said the purchase of the Wood Site was on a closed session agenda before the idea ever went public.

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41 Responses to Hogan spells it out for Town Council

  1. John Startz October 5, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    Hogan spells out what now? Here is a better idea for all that have way to much negative to say against councilman Raimondo’s idea to purchase it now to keep it preserved as OPEN space. Mr Lehman sell it to a developer instead and build the 190 plus units ALREADY APPROVED on the site and take your well deserved commission, that will really get the small group scrambling!

    Enough with the back and forth nonsense by the small group of people that are trying to control the council and push the town 20 years backwards, make the tough decisions, move the town forward council.

    • Benett Kessler October 5, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      In fact, Sandy Hogan laid out the public process that is legally required. The Council has no legal standing to make a decision in closed session to buy property.
      This is not “back and forth nonsense”, it is the government that does give the people a chance to participate.
      Benett Kessler

      • Shine October 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Open meetings and/or town vote will determine how small groups are are.

    • ???? October 5, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      You are really ignorant.
      This is called the public process. The town is not allowed to take matters into closed session that require public input first. That is the law. There was absolutely no excuse or reason for the town to have the wood site on closed session without first placing it on the agenda for public comment. Everyone knows the property in question was up for sale. The price was listed on the MLS . There was no urgency on the matter. Furthermore the TC has tainted as others have said by already doing what they did. Lehman is not allowed to represent the property that the town wants to buy. This can be a felony according to a partner at our town attorney offices.

      Thank you BK for your clarification.

      • John Startz October 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

        Far from ignorant thank you, why is the thought of the initial “concept” causing fuss, council has not said boo about any negotiations. Eastman made that very clear at the last meeting, there is no “negotiations” happening and that in deed it would become a full public process. In my opinion Sandy and her small group has gotten ahead of there self, that is my point and that’s all. BTW, the MammothTimes were wrong again blowing this up as if a “secret” deal was commenced.

        • Benett Kessler October 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

          Dear Startz,

          In fact, the Council did say “boo” about Sam’s Wood Site when they placed it on more than one closed session agenda. This, at the least, gives the appearance that they are already negotiating to buy the property. That’s what the agenda item said – property negotiations. Ms. Hogan did not accuse the Council of wrongdoing. She merely pointed out in a civil manner that they had not followed the required public process which was leading to public criticism. You and other citizens can express your views if and when there is a public agenda item on the subject.

          Benett Kessler

        • But when we get behind closed doors ... October 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

          With a due respect, John Startz –
          of course “council has not said boo about any negotiations” – that’s what secret meetings are for. These 5 Bozos that claim to represent us, are in it for their own gain (as most if not all public officials are).
          And to make matters worse, some media people refuse to even entertain the term corruption in matter such as this.
          So whatever goes on behind closed doors might quite turn out to be something like: “Guess what constituents? We five people have decided for you that the town has just purchased the property from one of our councilman’s clients.”
          That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

          • Benett Kessler October 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

            Dear person of many names,

            I don’t know of any local media unwilling to entertain corruption. My own rejection of some of your comments is because they are so repetitive and accusatory without evidence.
            Benett Kessler

          • Rule of 7s October 7, 2013 at 6:29 am #

            Unfortunately, it has proven that public awareness does not occur until contrary subject matter is presented to them 7 times.

          • Halt the Corruption! October 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

            It is the intent of the law (Brown Act) that elected official’s actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

    • Desert Tortoise October 5, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Mr. Startz, you need to spend some time getting familiar with the Brown Act. Your “analysis” is completely wrong.

      • Political Watchdog October 7, 2013 at 8:22 am #

        Thanks Desert Tortoise for bringing attention to something that should be brought to our attention again and again if need be.

        The Ralph M. Brown Act, was an act of the California State Legislature, authored by Assemblymember Ralph M. Brown and passed in 1953, that guaranteed the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

        The Brown Act, originally a 686 word statute that has grown substantially over the years, was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings held by local elected officials. City councils, county boards, and other local government bodies were avoiding public scrutiny by holding secret “workshops” and “study sessions.” The Brown Act solely applies to California city and county government agencies, boards, and councils. The comparable Bagley-Keene Act mandates open meetings for State government agencies.

        In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

        A law to prohibit secret meetings of official bodies, save under the most exceptional circumstances, should not be necessary. Public officers above all other persons should be imbued with the truth that their business is the public’s business and they should be the last to tolerate any attempt to keep the people from being fully informed as to what is going on in official agencies. Unfortunately, however, that is not always the case. Instances are many in which officials have contrived, deliberately and shamefully, to operate in a vacuum of secrecy

        This is the law, and when long-time councilmen (one who is an attorney) insist on ignoring this law – there must be a reason for them to ignore this law.

        And there usually is some capital gain in there somewhere.

    • Shine October 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      J.S., I’d say those 190 units aren’t worth much right now, and may never be worth much if TOML doesn’t pay off some debt. If Lehman could sell wood site, he would have. If he does sell it to private party, good sign for all of us. If he doesn’t sell it or develop it, it remains open space that we can use. Or maybe you and others can buy it and maintain it for TOML use.

  2. Apathetic morons? October 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Ken, you whined for weeks and many posts when someone wrote you disgusted them – and you turned that around cried that someone said “I was disgusting.” Now, you call most of the residents of Mammoth Lakes “apathetic morons”? Yeah, you disgust me, too.

  3. Ken Warner October 4, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    When the Hot Creek judgement against Mammoth Lakes first came down and town bankruptcy was being discussed. I suggested that the town was so f***d up that it should just disincorporate and revert to Mono County.

    Do you believe me now?

    When Prop. R and Measure U were being discussed, I told people not to give millions of dollars in taxes to the town and then trust the City Council to spend it wisely.

    Do you believe me now?

    I still stand by the idea that the Town of Mammoth Lakes should disincorporate and revert to Mono County and I still stand by a repeal of Prop R and Measure U. Neither of which will happen because the town is full of apathetic morons that make up the constituency.

    • Desert Tortoise October 4, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      It is not so easy to disincorporate an incorporated city. Those who seek to do so really ought to spend some time in the California Government Code. First off, to disincorporate you need to hold a referendum and the citizens of the city have to vote in favor of disincorporating. Number two, disincorporation has to pass muster with the Local Agency Formation Committee, not an easy thing to do, and disincorporation has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Finally, by law, the county is prohibited from paying any debts incurred by the disincorporated city. A tax district must be formed that is composed of the area of the disincorporated city and the residents of this tax district, who are the residents of the disincorporated city, are required to pay taxes designed to pay off any debts their former city incurred. It is very strictly prohibited for a city to disincorporate and pass it’s bills on to the county as a whole.

      I cannot believe anyone who takes the time to read the appropriate sections of the California Government Code will continue to say positive things about the notion of disincorporating an existing city. Doing so solves nothing.

      • Ken Warner October 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

        So we should get started and instead of paying into U, R, A, T and TBID, that money could go to the debts. We could sell the airport and put that money toward the debt. Maybe we could sell the Gateway Monument too.

        Plus we at least wouldn’t do anymore dumb stuff through the city council. Cheaper in the long run.

        The referendum sounds like a good idea in itself.

      • Where are our leaders? October 5, 2013 at 5:48 am #

        Mammoth Lakes needs leaders.
        Not people interested in how they can personally profit from the latest real estate deal.

        • Shine October 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

          The leaders are the ones supported to run and voted for.

        • skiJohn October 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

          Where are our Leaders, my response to you is this: Start paying our leaders a decent salary so they don’t have to work outside of council, or don’t elect council members who have been an appraiser/broker/realtor for the past 20 years. The man needs to make a living. I think this entire debate on here is ridiculous, and I’m going to be cracking up once a developer breaks ground to build a hotel there. And guess what? An offer is coming in any day now to build a hotel there. Yeah Lehman. I hope it happens to shut everyone up AND he can legally collect a commission. If the town beats this developer to the punch, then I hope he QUITS to collect his well-deserved commission.

          • A question of priorties October 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

            What’s best for the town 1st.
            Personal profit last.

            Cerro College has the room, parking and the mountain views the Sierra is famous for. Higher education v personal profiteering.

    • Mono County divested the airport October 4, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Not a bad idea.
      Mono County, though not rolling in the big dough, has a balanced budget and was smart enough to get out from under the airport fiasco.
      Meanwhile, Park City is booming.
      I wonder why this is?

      • Mammoth ain't Park City October 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

        Mammoth lifty: “Mammoth ain’t Big Bear.”
        Me; “Mammoth ain’t Squaw(t).”

      • Mono doing something right October 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

        Mono County is developing a reputation for doing things right. It’s to my understanding the county works as a team with no BS political shenanigans overriding common sense.

        • A model for other counties October 6, 2013 at 5:25 am #

          Mono County is a huge one with different wants and needs and (sometimes unfortunately) different political persuasions. Mono residents in the north have a different take on those Mono residents in the south. Though a few miscreants occasionally believe the entire county should adapt their political point of view ie., shutting down the government, firing good people, etc., things appear to be working well. Their balanced budget is to be admired by the entire state and something to be proud of.
          The Town of Mammoth should take a lesson from how Mono County is run.

          • Ken Warner October 6, 2013 at 9:01 am #

            The sad thing is that before Mammoth Lakes was incorporated in 1984, things were nice here. No tracts of empty condos and mcmansions. Sherwin Meadow was pristine. Life was simple and good and you felt free. It was like the town was here for you not the other way around like it is now.

            But trying to go back to that would be very difficult as some have pointed out. Probably impossible. But maybe we could do things that take us part way there. Less taxes on the local population. Less wasted money on airport and other things that don’t work. More emphasis on making life better for the people who live here instead of using them to make money for the big corporations that own MMSA.

            The town of Mammoth Lakes can be better. But it takes people like Sandy to get up and make our leaders be more responsive.

  4. Agreed October 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    “Open process” must mean something else to the council. The new “interim” manager that was hand selected in secret has already made it known in the media that he is interested in being the “permanent” manager that he is supposed to be tasked with recruiting. So either the council lied to the public about this being interim and there being a future “public process”, or the new manager has a hell of a leg up in the future, unspecified “public” process. Another dog and pony show!

    • wow October 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      Eastman just does not get it. He is back talking everyone. It’s his way or the highway.

      The public process is not where you go off in closed session to purchase a property that is already for sale and make a decision then maybe you have it agenda to make it look like you cared about public input.

      Get it right or leave. We don’t want your influence.

      • A very possible scenario October 4, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        A more than possible scenario:

        Hey there new town manager! – Have we got a deal for you!
        One of our fellow councilmen is a REALTOR and guess what? One of his clients has some sweet and very prime property they’d like to sell to the town. Since the town views us as representing them, all we have to do is easily use our powers to push the deal through … (what’s that you say?… Oh, we don’t have to discuss the airport thing right now, that’s ancient history) and if you play your cards right, you TOO can get a piece of the action.
        Such a deal, eh? We can ALL strike it rich!
        And besides the townsfolks here in Mammoth are so damn dumb, they don’t know (or don’t really care) that they can contact the Fair Political Practices Commission to file a formal complaint.
        Isn’t life grand?

        • Shine October 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

          Old new manager or new new manager?

  5. Bert4 October 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Way to go, Sandy! The purchase of the property is definitely a long-term investment by the Town that should be fully and openly vetted prior to any decisions. This town has very limited financial resources, and whether or not such a purchase is in the best interests of the Town will be hotly contested. There are many residents who feel that Measure R and U funds can and should be spent elsewhere.

  6. Stop the corruption! October 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    And one of the realtor/town councilmen’s clients wants to sell Sam’s Wood Site and that councilman will not receive any commission for the sale for the property to the town. Cross his heart and hope to die.


    • SkiJohn October 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      He should receive commission. He can’t live off $300 a month as a council member!!!! I hope he quits in order to receive it.

      • What ethics? What Conflict of Interest? October 4, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        No offense SkiJohn, but I think you might not be a very good candidate to serve on any town’s ethics commission.
        According to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, this attempt to capitalize on the sale of property in question is not only unethical, but clearly falls into the category of CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
        But the people in this town don’t seem to give a rat’s ass when a town official pulls crap like this off.

        • Benett Kessler October 4, 2013 at 11:11 am #

          This issue is not ripe for a declaration of corruption. Let it unfold.
          Benett Kessler

          • Part of the problem October 4, 2013 at 11:38 am #

            You are (sadly) correct Benett. Though I am concerned with elected officials using their position to gain from the situation, I have yet to meet anybody who will take it so far as to file a former complaint with Fair Political Practices Commission who recently informed me after explaining the situation (that an elected official is trying to persuade his constituents to buy his clients property) the commission informed me that this is indeed a potential problem that would require a formal investigation. But its a small community and not many want to put their John Hancock on the formal complaint.
            So, I guess I am also part of the problem I complain about.
            But for those who may want to pursue this:

          • Investigative Journalism October 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

            It (possible conflict of interest has got to be investigated.
            What are YOU finding, Benett?

          • Benett Kessler October 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

            I have found no conflict of interest so far.
            Benett Kessler

        • SkiJohn October 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

          Not attempting to run for anything in this town. I’m just pointing out a guy who’s been a licensed broker for many, many years now facing not getting paid because he made the grave mistake of running for TC. Lets talk about how Wood and Eastman have benefited from being on TC. Now that’s the real sham here…

          • Shine October 5, 2013 at 11:58 am #

            SJ, no mistake in running for TC. May have made mistakes since then.His actions from this point forward will be telling.

      • Pedro October 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

        Did he apply at the mountain? Word on the street is they can always use another council member.


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