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Bishop to L.A.: A mayoral meeting of the minds

August 2, 2013

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Doane Liu insisted on giving Bishop Mayor Laura Smith an enthusiastic tour of the “grand and ornate” L.A. council chambers on her July 17 visit, she said. Liu had befriended Smith’s service dog, Nova, and insisted it be in the photo, as well. Photo by Greg Smith

Bishop Mayor Laura Smith showered the Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles with several well-received, meaningful gifts during her recent goodwill visit that she says yielded promised talks about local land releases.
At the June 28 City and County Liaison Committee meeting, city council members hit upon the idea of a mayor-to-mayor visit “to introduce ourselves to the new mayor of Los Angeles, (Eric Garcetti), congratulate him on his election and possibly breach the topic of (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) land releases in our area,” Smith said.
Although Garcetti was not available on July 17, the day of Smith’s previously-planned L.A. visit on city business, he had Deputy Mayor Doane Liu call Smith personally to confirm a visit with her in Garcetti’s stead. Online research in preparation for the meeting, led to Smith’s discovery that “one of Liu’s primary responsibilities included DWP,” she said.
Smith said Liu greeted her, husband Greg Smith, and their service dog, Nova upon their arrival and escorted them to his office where they were joined by Guy Lipa, of the L.A. mayor’s office, who “has much direct responsibility with DWP. Our two hosts were sincerely grateful for our visit” and Liu and Lipa fondly reminisced about their visits to Bishop and Mammoth. “The entire staff could not have been more hospitable.”
When Liu later asked, “‘What is it that the City of Los Angeles can do for the City of Bishop,’” Smith jumped at the opportunity to discuss the city’s “hope to see DWP release land in and around Bishop at fair and reasonable prices,” a topic that had also been on the City and County Liaison Committee meeting agenda in June.
In a later interview, Smith explained that affordable DWP land releases would be an important benefit to “Bishop in establishing new businesses, to increase city revenue, so we can keep step with increasing (operational) expenses. Land has to be available to offer new long-term leases or sales of properties to these businesses at current, more affordable rates.”
Much discussion of the topic ensued during Smith’s visit, she said. Lipa also talked about “an up and coming DWP solar system project in our area, saying that more information would be forthcoming.”
Smith brought several gifts along; some were informative – Chamber of Commerce visitor information – and some were tasty treats – Schat’s Bakery chili cheese bread and Meadow Farms Smokehouse jerky.
Smith’s other gifts packed powerful symbolism. She told Liu that the City of Bishop-logo water bottle she gave him was filled with local water that “didn’t have to travel down the aqueduct.” The gift Liu most appreciated, said Smith, was a large, framed Michael Cooke photograph of “the snow-capped Eastern Sierra mountains with their reflection shimmering in the water of a canal in the foreground.” Smith inscribed its frame with “a note to always remember where our water comes from and be thankful for it.” On the spot, Liu chose a spot on his office wall on which to mount the gift.
Liu and Lipa expressed sincere gratitude for the visit and gifts, Smith said. After fulfilling their request for local DWP contact information, Smith left with their promise of further meetings and discussions between the David and Goliath municipalities.
“What was exciting for me is to be the ambassador for the people of Bishop and the good the visit can do for everyone, Smikth said. “We’ve been talking too long, it’s time for some action.”

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