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,
Resident, Town of Mammoth Lakes