MLLA accuses Mammoth of “bad faith”


(Update with Town comments, Tuesday, 3pm)

Jay Becker of Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition emailed a letter to local media that accused the Town of Mammoth Lakes of bad faith conduct in the ongoing negotiations over Mammoth’s $42 million court judgment debt.  One Town Council member called the MLLA letter untrue, self-serving and posturing.

Becker emailed a January 27th letter from an MLLA attorney, Eric Winston, to a Town of Mammoth lawyer, David Kupetz.  The letter says that the Town has declined to respond to the December 14 offer from MLLA to resolve the debt.

The letter claims MLLA offered a discounted payment and ways to carry it out.  The letter also says it is “shocking” that the Town chose to cease settlement efforts.  Councilman Rick Wood called the MLLA email a posturing letter.  “We have remained ready, able and willing to continue negotiations,” said Wood.  To MLLA’s claim that Mammoth has ceased settlement efforts and has acted in bad faith, Wood said, “That’s not true.  We continue in good faith to resolve the issue as we have in the last 9 months.”

Wood said it was ill-advised that MLLA made their letter public.  He pointed to a confidentiality agreement. The MLLA letter to media did black out several portions.  Wood said the Town Council will consider the MLLA letter and “other developments of which you are not aware,” he said. The Council did plan to meet again in closed session Wednesday morning.

MLLA’s letter also said that they would not consider any further extensions of the standstill agreement which kept MLLA from collecting money from Mammoth and kept Mammoth from filing bankruptcy.  So, now the pressure is on.

Mayor Jo Bacon declined to comment because issues remain in closed session. Councilman Skip Harvey said he remains optimistic for a resolution.  “I hope neither party will become antagonistic,” said Harvey.


(Original story posted Tuesday at 11 am.)

Jay Becker of Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition has revealed to local media that the Town of Mammoth Lakes has declined to respond to MLLA’s December offer to resolve the more than $42 million court judgment and costs. An MLLA lawyer said the Town’s conduct “smacks of bad faith.” Town officials have not yet responded.

Becker emailed a letter to Sierra Wave from one of MLLA’s lawyers, Eric Winston, that had been sent to a Town of Mammoth Lakes lawyer, David Kupetz, January 27th.  The letter says that the Town has declined to respond to the December 14, 2011, offer from Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition to resolve the amount owed in the court judgment against Mammoth.

The letter says MLLA’s “prior proposals provided for a substantial discount on the amount the Town owes, outlined concrete steps for the Town to take advantage of that substantial discount, and requested that the Town take the matter seriously by moving on a timely basis.”

The letter says it is “shocking” that the Town chose to cease settlement efforts.  The MLLA lawyer also takes the Town to task for reporting to the local news and to MLLA that they intended to act in good faith and to respond with a counter proposal.

MLLA’s lawyer wrote that it was MLLA that reached out to initiate resolution discussions and willingly entered into a standstill agreement which allowed the Town to suspend any payment of the big debt.  Attorney Winston wrote that “MLLA has extended that standstill seven times.  MLLA representatives made several trips to the Town in order to work with the Town’s staff in order to identify the Town’s core needs and better grasp the Town’s financials, all with a goal towards a consensual resolution.”

Winston accuses the Town of failure to follow through on representations.  His letter says of the Town, “Its conduct smacks of bad faith.  Please be advised that MLLA will not be agreeing to any further extensions of the standstill agreement….”  That agreement expired February 1, 2012.

We have placed calls to Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht, Financial Consultant Marianna Marysheva-Martinez and to Councilman Rick Wood.  Sierra Wave did speak to Mayor Jo Bacon who said she could not comment because it’s a closed session item.  She did say, “There are actions going on.”  When asked to respond to MLLA’s claim that Mammoth has ceased negotiations, Bacon said, “That’s their version of it.”  She said the Council would meet again in closed session Wednesday morning.

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17 Responses to MLLA accuses Mammoth of “bad faith”

  1. Delta February 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Unfortunately this latest bad faith fiasco just shows how clueless and irresponsible these people really are. I guess the Town “negotiators” including 3M and Rick Wood with his promise never to let this happen to us again were just posturing for the media and the people of Mammoth who pay their fees. By the way, does anybody know if Mr. Wood received additional cash from the Town for his “negotiating” services?

  2. Delta February 8, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I just don’t think MLLA is playing hardball, John. They had a standstill agreement with the Council and the Town, right?

  3. Nancy Tucker Baker February 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    How ironic and depressing for us taxpayers that it takes such a drastic measure by MLLA for us to be informed of more details in this battle. The fact that the February 1 deadline was not acknowledged or responded to by the council certainly gives credibility to MLLA’s screaming “BAD FAITH”, doesn’t it?

  4. Delta February 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    If you read the Town’s press release and The Sheet, it sure looks like the Town blew a February 1st deadline to present a new offer to MLLA. Now Wood and his cohorts are playing the cover-up game, big time. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the Town Council’s closed-session meeting tomorrow.

    • johndoeml February 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Delta, do you really think the Council was unaware of the deadline? The deadline was more of an agreement to disagree than an agreement for a counter-offer. MLLA is playing hardball, shouldn’t the Council do the same?

  5. Nancy Tucker Baker February 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I really agree that it is time for the Town Council and Town staff to make these negotiations totally transparent. I know that is the current buzzword, but the residents of Mammoth Lakes deserve to know what has been offered as far as a compromise from MLLA. And we need to know what, exactly, the Town has countered with.
    Obviously, if the two parties are still millions from each other with no middle ground in sight, I feel the residents should have a say in any further negotiations. I sincerely hope we don’t have to resort to bankruptcy!

  6. johndoeml February 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Glad to see the Council has a spine (hopefully). All options are bad, but bankruptcy is likely to have the least bad result for the town staff and taxpayers.

    • Hanes February 7, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

      I would not call it having a “spine” but more along the lines of steering this Town into bankruptcy through the “sneaky manipulation” of the entire settlement process. Judging by the most recent post of MLLA’s February 2nd petition for full payment of the $42 million, it seems to have worked. What is shameful is the arrogance shown by the leader of this Town Council through the lack of public discussion hidden under the cloak of confidentiality agreements and closed session meetings.

  7. sierragrl February 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    I understand the rationale behind the courts decision, however, I’ve never seen a break down anywhere on how the $30 million in damages was calculated. Seems to me MLLA would likely have lost money on their development, had it been able to proceed. Somehow,they got awarded $30 mil for not expending any money or risk. Does anyone in the media have anything that explains the $30 mil?

    • Ken Warner February 8, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      You are right. And what you say has been said before. The Town just presented a lousy defense. Maybe they wanted to for purposes that we don’t know about.

      I think there’s a lot more to this than breach of contract. What else would explain the complete lack of sense in the way this was handled from the very beginning?

  8. Hanes February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Nothing more than gamesmenship from both sides. Up until now though, the only media snippets have been from the Town of Mammoth Lakes which tells me our Council wanted to “get ahead” of the media battle. Seems strange though when the Town is on the losing end of the lawsuit. Does anyone else find it interesting that our Council has not made public the settlement parameters from MLLA for the community to make up its own mind whether it was a fair offer? So much for public’s input on this financially crucial matter. Unfortunately, this Council continues to manipulate and engage in sneaky behavior in managing the political and financial affairs of this community. I don’t trust them handling this settlement negotation one bit and believe it has been Mr. Wood’s desire from day one to stall in order to administer the Town’s debt obligation through the bankruptcy courts. If this is the case, then come clean and explain to the community why bankruptcy is a better option (i.e to break the employee contracts and wipe out the benefit structures for the Town employees to save money, to save those services beyond police and snow removal that the community supposedly wants “say recreation”; or other motives that we are not aware of…. Council, this is not soley your perogative to make these decisions without public discourse. Put your ego’s aside and start engaging the communmity.

    • upthecreek February 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Are you asking for a Government that is ” For the people BY the People” ..?

      I think it is WAY too late for this.


  9. P&B February 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Evidently the judicial system determined that quite the opposite of the “Jake” post is the truth.

    With all of the clandestine negotiating from 3M, Wilbrecht, and the “closed session” Town politicians the above statement from MLLA is probably very accurate.

  10. upthecreek February 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I smell a Bankruptcy Coming down the mountain..


  11. Jake February 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    MLLA who cares and PS I hope you never seen one penny from your scam. You people really are the bottom of the barrel as human beings.

    • Rob February 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      . You’ll actually find TOML officials at the bottom of the barrel.

      I applaud the business savvy of MLLA.

      It’s time to pay your debt TOML

      • Reality Bites February 8, 2012 at 3:19 am #

        MLLA should be paying Mammoth for saving them money. If they would have built condos at the barren, wind swept airport, they would be bankrupt!


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