Letter to the editor: Town defines “crazy”


Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez

Honorable Mayor Wood and Town Council:

In recent weeks you’ve had several discussions in closed session evaluating Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez, all while she’s been away on a family vacation and could not respond to your discussion. And now I understand you plan for a final closed session discussion/vote this Friday in another closed meeting during which you will likely dismiss her. Furthermore, word has it you also plan to replace her with a local businessman and personal friend to several of you, who arguably lacks qualifications or the appropriate experience for a job this critical. Could this really be true?

I am writing to you, as are other Town residents, to express considerable alarm and extreme disappointment if this is, in fact, your plan. I truly pray it isn’t, but if so, and in danger of appearing disrespectful, seriously, what are you thinking?! Or worse yet, secretly conspiring to do? All in closed sessions lacking transparency, ethical employment practices, or public understanding? As with my recent experience concerning other secretive Town plans, I’m wondering who you may really be working for, or in the interest of… ?

While possibly not directly related, it appears your current evaluations of Ms. Marysheva-Martinez’s job performance began following another recent closed session decision surrounding the Town’s hushed plan to purchase (with public funds) the Mammoth Firewood lot for Waste Connections Inc. to site/build a regional waste materials reclamation/processing facility (a.k.a. “materials recovery facility” or MRF) in the Industrial Park directly adjacent to recreational facilities and nearby homes. Disturbingly, this secreted plan has been driven by several council members and staff without public process or even basic public awareness. And while the closed session discussion to purchase the property resulted in “no action taken,” likely following a 2-2 vote with Mayor Wood abstaining, I expect this plan to be revisited soon, driven by continuing pressure from Waste Connections. And I think it’s possible you’re planning for a revived discussion and another secret vote once the Manager is dismissed, or maybe you’re even planning to hold this on a date when an opposing council member can’t participate… this wouldn’t surprise me given what I’ve already witnessed.

From my personal experience participating in Town meetings and directly communicating with the Town Manager regarding her predecessor’s plan with Waste Connections (as you’re aware, I’m a long-standing member of Mono County’s Solid Waste Task Force), I found Ms. Marysheva-Martinez to be very professional, extremely intelligent, driven, highly qualified, capable, and committed to ensuring an open public process for ongoing MRF planning. Above all, however, I found Ms. Marysheva-Martinez completely dedicated to straightening out the mess that is Mammoth’s government. Understanding this, I also know why some town staff, council and other influential locals who are/were part of that mess have continually persecuted her.

Since I moved back full time to Mammoth in late 1999, the Town has employed at least five town managers, with several spectacular, memorable failures, all hired by Town Council. How much has this revolving door truly cost the Town socially and financially through ineffective, distracted and questionable management (i.e., the airport decision), not to mention expensive severance packages?  Town Council must step aside and stop its habit of micro-managing, and instead allow the qualified person you hired to do the job an opportunity to really do it. Ms. Marysheva-Martinez was recruited when the Town desperately needed someone with proven experience and ability to guide us through impending bankruptcy. She did that and now we’re on the other side facing years of paying off a huge debt she had no part in incurring, while some of you did.  I also understand she likely upset a few of you by committing to a transparent, public process in future MRF planning.

In light of today’s historic date, I, too, ‘have a dream’ that our embryonic little town might actually evolve into something we’re all proud of. It has incredible potential, the reason many continue to live here and remain actively involved. Maybe it would be best if we stopped replacing town managers and instead replaced historic town council. The definition of “crazy” is understood as repeating the same thing and expecting different results. As it is, the Town appears as a poster child for this definition.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

With sincere concern for our town’s future,

Lisa Isaacs

Resident, Town of Mammoth Lakes

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42 Responses to Letter to the editor: Town defines “crazy”

  1. Mammothgal August 30, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    One thing in your letter to the editor really struck a nerve with me, the proposed recycle center. Look into facts in regards to the “Housing/Recreational” area. The Industrial/Commercial center was planned and built before Trails and parks built there. The Industrial Center has a dump/coffee roasting/laundry cleaning/welding/auto repair shops/Town yard to name a few and across the street is the water/sewage treatment plant. Where would you suggest the proposed recycle area go? Out of town? In the Ghetto, now known as Historic District? I get NIMBY but that area WAS designated for THAT purpose.

    • Southern Cal attitude August 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      Don’t ya just love it when certain types refer to a particular area as “The Ghetto?”

      Where ya from, Mammothgal – Rodeo Drive?

  2. Sean August 29, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Maybe she was cleaning house and now faces a mutiny. The few people I know who actually worked closely with her said her efforts had the effect of getting rid of dead wood and creating a better city government. A more smart and efficient city government.

    On the flip side if the town government effectively starts to shut down because of her changes then that isn’t effective leadership either. A mutiny in other words.

    Her job is not an easy one and I hope she cuts her vacation short and comes back to fight. Smells Underhanded to axe someone while they are on vacation.

    • Can't do anything about Union dead wood August 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      So why doesn’t both Leddy and MMM start cleaning house by getting rid of the dead wood that exists within The Union?

      • Cowardly Supes and Councilmen August 30, 2013 at 6:04 am #

        The Union has not even been approached to get rid of “dead wood” in both the town or county as other areas in California have.
        Both the town and the county are frightened to death of the big, bad union. So it’s the non-union chumps that will ultimately pay the price in lower wages, etc.

    • Turtleneck August 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      I don’t think most people would consider Johnny, Ray and most (though not all) of the others who left “dead wood.” In fact (as evidenced by the amount of dead wood still in place) it’s the talented employees, who have better prospects, who will leave. Not that departures don’t create an opportunity for a “smarter” government. But filling a key job with someone so profoundly unqualified as Mr. Cage won’t make for a smarter government any time soon.

    • It's about Morale, stupid August 31, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      “Her job is not an easy one…” says Sean.

      With all due respect, how difficult can it be to talk down to everyone, delegate whatever you want to everyone, and if you are arrogant and abusive enough about it, your caustic style will eventually end in getting people fired or they decide they’ve had enough and quit.

      I can hear the town council now …
      “So what? There are tons of people who would gladly take the vacant job and do it for peanuts.”

    • The interview process August 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      “So, what can you do for us?”

      Town Manager Applicant:
      “I can save you a lot of money.”

      “And how do you propose pulling that off?”

      Town Manager Applicant:
      “Easy. Fire all the mediocre non-union employees, and put relentless pressure on the rest until all the weaker links or the stupid ones quit.”

      “And how much will that save us?”

      Town Manager Applicant:
      (using a PowerPoint presentation) “Oh, tons and tons. Your constituents will be quite pleased with you for this and vote for you every time.”

      “And how much do you charge for this service?”

      Town Manager Applicant:
      “Fire the current Town Manager, replace him with me and (ahem) pay me a quarter of a million a year – take it or leave it.”

  3. JR August 29, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    You have got to be kidding, Right!?!? Lets see, theTown Council made some very poor decisions that led to a $42,000,000 lost lawsuit. Hired Marianna for the extremely challanging and unpopular task, as an Assistant Town Manager to clean up the financials, she did, check. Then after running off the Town Manager, hired her to get the Town back on tract and solvent during some of the most turbulent time in history, she did, check. Now here is your reward, the Town Council is going to fire her because she wants to take a measured approach towards a money loosing operation ( PS Town, your BROKE! ) and do due diligence before jumping into another financial distasteful….. By the way Town, MRF’s LOOSE MONEY!!!! Money you don’t have!

    Now here is a thought, be patient and professional, there is no rush to jump into another distaster…. ! Wait a year or two, finish healing from your last poor decision…. Let her do the job she has proven she can do, before she becomes the next Ex-Town Manager.

    Marianna can walk away from this proud and with her head held high, she is doing her job! Are you?

    • Hatchet men August 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      Today’s “top-dog administrators” are nothing more than hatchet men.
      They are hired to fire people. Period. And if they have no intention of living here, so much the better. That way they don’t have to run into those poor souls who got the axe at Von’s or the post office.

    • It's all about morale August 30, 2013 at 6:17 am #

      JR –
      You have no idea how bad the morale has become in the town and the county (except for the union people who aren’t sweating one bit). Both Leddy and MMM aren’t exactly the best replacements for long-term administrators such as Dave Wilbrecht, whom everybody respected and was known as an excellent “people-person.”
      It’s to my understanding both Leddy and MMM aren’t even interested in meeting with and getting know the people they delegate responsibilities to day-in and day-out. Haven’t we all had bosses like that? They both have interests outside our area. One has a husband who lives in another county, the other has a family living in another county. How can you possibly do a good and fair job when this is the situation?

      • JR August 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm #


        I do know how bad it was, has been, and what the potential is. Wilbrecht was great, no question. What happened to him? Hint.. The Council fired him! By all appearances, the Town is starting to turn around, but wait! Lets cause disruption again, by who? The Council, seeing a trend here?

        I won’t deny that there may be perfectly qualified locals to fill these positions, but why would they? With the here today- gone tomorrow policy by the Council.

        I fail to see what the issue is with hiring out of the area people, there is no way I would cause that kind of disruption in moving to my family until I was positive that it was going to work out, that’s only prudent..

        How did the Mono CAO get in this? Other than trying to do the job his Board has directed him to do, has he caused harm?

        • Wait and see August 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

          Like MMM,
          Get the two-year contract, pad the resume’ and it’s “I’m outta here!”
          Mark my words.

          • I will wait August 31, 2013 at 11:20 am #

            You do understand that people have to come from somewhere, right? Even your example of Dave Wilbrecht – Dave wasn’t born and raised here, he moved here and became part of the community. But you don’t seem to want to welcome anyone here. I’ve looked at the resume you’ve posted for the CAO – what’s your complaint with it? It shows a good solid background. MMM’s resume shows that the move to Mammoth TM was probably a step down for her salary-wise and maybe lateral position-wise when you compare the job scopes. We’re lucky to have both of them.

            And maybe you haven’t been paying attention to the “union thugs” in Mammoth that have repeatedly given and given and given in order to help the Town Council fix *their* screw up in the lawsuit. More work, less pay. No…you haven’t. You are clearly a non-represented Mono County employee who (maybe) lives in Mammoth and has a problem with the new CAO for some reason, but you are passive aggressive and would rather complain here anonymously rather than talk directly to the “new guy” and try and work together for a better outcome for the county residents. Or maybe you’re an unsuccessful candidate for one or both of the jobs and no matter WHO is chosen, you’re going to gripe.

        • Human Nature August 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

          When you have no intention of living in the area you are supposed to be “managing” you develop a “I don’t really give a rat’s a**” attitude.

  4. Mark August 29, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Looks like some stuff is about to hit the fan.

    Living outside of TOML it’s fun to see what these morons will think of next

    The people get the government they deserve

  5. Desert Tortoise August 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Considering the constant drumbeat of dissatisfaction with MMM, the pointed derogatory references to her outsider status coming as she does from south of the San Gabriel Mountains and the series of high level resignations among city employees attributed to her claimed abrasive management style, I am surprised the population isn’t cheering her possible departure. I think some who comment here are only happy when they are mad at something.

  6. Wake UP! August 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    I had heard from a friend a week or so ago that the Job for an assistant Town Manager was posted on one of those private city government Job cites. This was unconfirmed. If true then I think there is some funny biz goings on here again.

    • Desert Tortoise August 29, 2013 at 5:09 am #

      Rather than resort from “I heard from a friend a week or so ago”, find out for yourself and be able to criticize knowledgeably. Jobs in the public sector have to be posted for the public to read. If the job is promotional from within an organization, that must be plainly stated on the job announcement. All public sector job announcements are serialized, meaning each announcement will have a number associated with it. If there is a job being offered, by law it has to be published. A look at the agency website will nearly always list such jobs. If an agency offers a job to someone without first publishing a job announcement, that is a pretty serious violation of the law and you won’t find too many agencies that do this, if any.

  7. H August 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Lisa, the only thing I disagree with your letter was the utilization of the word “honorable” before Rick Wood’s name and the Town Clowncil – but I understand that you have to be politically correct. The public should know that the stooge this Council is planning to appoint as Town Manager is probably the most “undeserving” person I can think of to sit in this position. He is the only person whose “ego and “god complex” exceeds that of Mr. Rick Wood and Mr. John Eastman. What a sham that is going on this with group of egomaniacs. This Town deserves so much better. The other shame is that they are forcing MMM out before she can clean up and excise the remaining long time cancer in the Finance Department – thanks Mr. Eastman once again. Lisa, while I disagree with you politics but you have my vote if you decide to run for Town Council for your honesty.

    • Someone August 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      What exactly is the cancer in the Finance Department? The employees do the job set before them per State and Federal guidelines… What’s your beef?

      • Jack M August 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

        The cancer is employing people who don’t even have a high school education, making six figures a year who don’t even know how to create an Excel spreadsheet and spend half their day outside smoking. THAT is the cancer which I find appalling. MMM is spot on to clean house!

        • Mtn Man August 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

          Don’t forget there are 2 employees that meet your description. The public would be in an uproar if they knew the percentage of tax payers money that goes to support smoking habits of these town employees. Whatever happened to two 15 minutes a break a day? Guess that doesn’t apply to smokers.

    • Agreed August 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      That finance person has been whispering in Eastman’s ear about MMM. What he may not realize is that the same person trash-talks him and the rest of the Council all over town. Lather, rinse, repeat with Cage…or whoever is foolish enough to step in. Eastman is the leak of the closed session discussions directly through her – and I hope MMM sues.

      • Mtn Man August 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

        Spot on Agreed!! Shouldn’t there be some type of action taken against the Town Council member(s) that leak closed session information?

        • Cyndi Myrold August 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

          For the public, John Eastman is my neighbor. We do talk, but he has never shared any information with me about closed sessions. As for my work ethics, my record working for the Town for over 14 years speaks for itself. We as a Town have gone from 120 full time employees down to 56 fulltime employees. The workload for the remaining staff has not changed. I will speak for the entire staff of the Finance Department…they are all awesome! I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. Finance is not always popular, but we do our jobs as required.

          The Town has lost every Director, and the remaining middle managers have done their best to step up to the plate to keep the Town functioning.

          All departments within the Town are stretched and need resources, it would be nice if this community could come together and recognize the dedication the remaining employees have put forth to serving our community. If you want more, step up and speak to your Council to express your opinions about the budget and how we spend our general fund dollars.

          These are very hard times and we have limited resources. We need to pull together, not tear each other apart!

  8. Nature of the Beast August 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Lisa must not have been around when MMM was quoted as saying,
    “Mammoth Lakes needs more car washes and auto dealerships … stuff like that.”
    And this is the same person who gets paid a small fortune, unbelievable perks and doesn’t live here full time.
    Accept it folks. Just like the Mono County CAO, this person is simply padding her resume and just passing through. It’s the nature of the beast.
    And when this sort of BS happens, innocent staff people lose their jobs or get their salaries reduced in the process.

    • Bemused August 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      N.O.B. Just nailed it…

  9. Sad State of Affairs August 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Well written, Lisa. A few points for the Town Council to consider (although I agree completely with the “deaf ears” statement above!)

    * You have proven yourself unworthy of trust. If, as MMM said in an earlier report, you led her to believe that the closed sessions were about extending her contract and they were actually about terminating her, you are cowards and liars. Who in their right mind would continue to, or come to, work for the Town if this is the way you treat your leaders? Have you noticed…you’re running out of them.

    * If you’re looking for perfection, how about looking in the mirror first and figuring out your own imperfections? Conflicts of interest, shifting priorities, and need I mention losing lawsuits? Work on your own imperfections before you fire another Manager because she’s “only” 90% or 95% or whatever you’ve rated her. That should keep you busy for a century or two. Is MMM perfect? No, she’s not. But she’s the best thing that has knocked on your door (or will ever again) in a long time.

    * If it’s true you are considering Tom Cage to replace her, I can only echo Lisa’s bewilderment. While I’m sure he’s a fine businessman, he has Zero Zip Nada experience in local government. Someone with 30 years experience in City Management will still have a learning curve stepping into a different agency – and whomever replaces MMM if you terminate her will already be handicapped with no department heads to help. Whoops, I guess you still have the Parks and Rec guy until you outsource that! And, it will be a more than full time job to do – is Mr. Cage going to walk away from his businesses – at least from the conflicts of interest? – to lead a very broken organization?

    * You all might want to see if the Town that you garner full benefits from has an Employee Assistance Program you can take advantage of. You clearly need it, and the last few remaining employees definitely will if they have an inexperienced, inept leader starting from square one. Particularly since by your unprofessional conduct you are clearly fishing for the bottom of the barrel – someone desperate enough to want to work for liars who can’t keep the confidentiality of closed session nor afford simple basic professional and human respect to a proven leader.

  10. Keeping It Real August 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Why would Wood abstain?
    Just because he represents the Mr Cook who will benefit the most?
    Our mayor missed school the day they taught “CONFLICT OF INTEREST” and never looked back.
    Besides, Tom Cage has been telling everyone around town that he is already the new manager. “Done Deal”…
    Who are your kidding?
    More monkey business…
    This is not the kind of manager we want or need.
    Go through a normal process of application and selection.
    Take your time. No hurry exists.
    MMM did your dirty work. You can’t file BK if you have that much money and property. Otherwise it’s FRAUD.
    Respect the fact that She got your butts out of a huge jam.
    Do the right thing for a change.

  11. Steve August 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Time for the lets get rid of Eastman drive

  12. SierraFan August 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    This letter couldn’t have been written any better! We need the town counsel to be dismissed well before a new town manager is thought of. MMM has been awesome and deserves to continue making the tough decisions that are required in her position. Our Mayor needs to go…. NOW!!!!

  13. Rock Thrower August 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    That’s a lot of information about an employee evaluation discussed in closed session.

    The entire town council / county government process is corrupt and polluted by those who have or will profit in our very own Sodom and Gomorrah shtick !

    • Desert Tortoise August 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      Read the Brown Act. Personnel actions are discusses in closed sessions. To do otherwise is a violation of the employees right to privacy. Likewise pending legal action is discussed in closed session. That is the law in California. I am on a committee in my own city and have to understand and abide by the Brown Act.

      • Rock Thrower August 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

        Then what is it doing here in print Mr. Brown Act?

  14. skiJane August 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Bravo, Lisa, Bravo!! Thank you for taking the time to bring this to the public’s attention. It’s time to set a 2 term limit for these buffoons and hope more HONEST people run for town council in the future. From what I understand, the main reason why Marianna is disliked by the old men on council is because she’s a woman. They want to hire a man who’s part of the good ‘ol boys club. I can smell another lawsuit in our future, and frankly I wouldn’t blame her.

  15. Tourbillon August 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    We repeatedly have had the opportunity to “replace historic town council”. It’s called a democratic election and they happen with predictable frequency.

    We complain about our elected officials at the local level, state level, and national level, all part of American politics. But recycling the same feeble complaints is no substitute for understanding that the fault lies not on our political stars, but in ourselves. We’re not the victims, much as we’d like to think we are. We voters are the prime movers behind everything we complain about. And if you dispute that, then what you’re really saying is our democracy is broken, and there’s only one answer for that, which hasn’t been tried in America for over two centuries.

    • Bemused August 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      Our democracy is obviously broken. And yes, revolution IS what it will take to fix it…

      • Desert Tortoise August 29, 2013 at 7:29 am #

        I guess I want to examine that comment a bit. Why pick up a gun and engage in revolution when you can choose leaders without resort to violence at the ballot box? Do you perfer to put leaders in place at the point of a gun rather than through an expression of popular preference? Is your frustration rooted in a feeling that you are a political minority? Is the answer perhaps not resort to violence, but rather one of learning the facts behind the problems we face and becoming involved by attending city council meetings to speak out, by joining one or more city council committees (I am on one in my city) or by becoming involved in party politics?

        I have seen in my city public pressure influence a city council and change their habits. Pressure from an informed public is a mighty thing. Do not underestimate it. Representative government only works when the public is informed and involved. No rumors, not he said or a friend said, but the actual voter getting information first hand and then expressing a view that is informed by facts. Exert your energy by getting involved in the process rather than just destroying things.

    • Voter apathy August 30, 2013 at 6:30 am #

      Two of the councilmen, Bacon and Raimondo had nobody running against them.
      Voter apathy is at an all-time high.
      Hell, anybody can find themselves calling the shots for the rest of us.

  16. ferdinand lopez August 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    falling on deaf and realy dumb ears

  17. Platypus August 28, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Well said, Lisa!


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