By Deb Pierrel
A Letter to the Editor:
A Bigger Issue – A response to the Alaskan Airlines announcement that they are pulling out of our town and the past “Not biting” editorial by Mathew Lehman published February, 2018; re-circulated this week.
Dear Editor and Fellow Community Members:
Alaska Airlines has announced it “will be exiting six underperforming routes, two of which result in the complete exit of the Mammoth market”.
While they state there is also a possible secondary, aircraft issue, it is clear that the reason was the underperforming market. No matter the issue, if we were a viable market with growing enplanements, financial strength, consistent planned commitment to service and good vendor relationships, the flights and Alaskan Air routes would have remained, somehow.
This is sad news for many reasons; not the least of which is our community travel needs.
It goes both ways.
I present that we have a bigger issue at hand: It is our acceptance of an institutional infrastructure whose time has passed and a continuum of ‘same old’ systems.
We have a leadership style which results in the allowance of staff and/or private entities to sway our governmental decisions by having more say and clout than their deserved seat at the table.
To Matthew’s question: “where is the new long-term visitor”? I say nonexistent. The town has made continued blunders of repeatedly wasting money on re-creating solutions without looking back.
We seek out the new guy for restated answers and pay consultants for ‘the golden egg’ time after time instead of vesting in our vision and a solid plan.
We have a history of erratic decision making, taking snippets of symptoms, thus creating misguided resolves, rather than investing the time and energy to define the goals in alignment with our mission as a bigger picture and then following that path consistently, even in the face of adversity, knowing the right outcome would prevail.
Examples of this are abundant, so let me just ramble a few off that I can recollect:
- Anyone remember the long ago argument for the Airport to be in Bishop? Or how about the push for 747’s landing in Mammoth? Both speak to our changing mindset and money spent to ‘prove’ it.
- To Matthew’s valid point on our failed marketing of air service: Initially, we paid to market 2 NorCal Airline destinations: SFO and SJC. Instead of investing in multi- media campaigns within the markets for the time needed to penetrate them and create awareness and loyalty (2-5 years), we pulled out in less than 1 year citing “SJC was unsuccessful”. A clear example of not investing in our success. Cutting this promotion too soon just wasted the money spent. How many flight destinations have we changed in how many years?
- What about our budget process? We allowed consultants to seek best practices and transform our process entirely with proven results, yet we have fallen back to our old, uninspired habits.
- How about an Ice Rink, Mammoth? I was 20+/- years ago we were deciding if and where it should go. “Not in Mammoth Creek Park” was a headline I recall… Then there was the new v. used argument; we chose used. Then to fix it or not… Why is it not getting used? Because it needs a roof! Let’s throw money at that guess. And how about moving it again? And now… lets create a huge multimillion dollar facility, blame the executive director for not raising enough funds, be told by staff it would only take $9M to build and we would have multiple bids, realizing it was 2 bids at $25M – oops… and no, John Wentworth – it was not due to the Trump Steel decision.
- Where was the strength in our leadership when they let a local, private company (MMSA) muscle undue influence over town staff, resulting in poor decisions … and to what end? Answer: A lawsuit followed by an appeal for something we did wrong in the first place costing us $50M+/- in debt including legal fees. I say this is a result of the staff knowing who is controlling the strings and not being secure in our town leadership’s decisions and integrity.
- Oh wait – did we spend $3M slated for parking somewhere.