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Y.V.: Spinning a Tangled Web

By   /   December 11, 2010  /   25 Comments

…a Mulholland-like tangled web of powerful relationships involving select land developers and construction companies, Realtors and bankers, the water district and the council with a plotline – with some slight changes – right out of the movie “Chinatown” involving the big money of massive water and sewer projects.

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Two members of the Yucca Valley Town Council have shown their true colors in how they want to play political games – using deception in order to advance political and personal agendas.

Last year we published a letter to the editor discussing how Frank Luckino (then mayor and now Yucca Valley town council member) was hired by the Hi-Desert Water District as Chief Financial Officer. The letter addressed Luckino’s rich executive pay (over $120,000 annually) and the conflict of serving two masters – the water district and the town council.

Although legal, because Luckino is employed by and not elected to serve the water district, the letter writer was simply expressing a public discussion of which another letter was already published in a different Yucca Valley newspaper (no relation to our publications.)

We received only one complaint from this matter. Isaac Hagerman (recently elected to the Yucca Valley Town Council) chose not to write his opposition in the “normal” sense…  in a letter to the editor. That is not his style. Neither did he telephone our office to voice his criticism. Instead, Hagerman contacted our advertisers telling them to stop advertising in our newspaper.

When Hagerman began his cowardly quest our publisher telephoned Hagerman inquiring why the attack against free speech. Hagerman said his intentions were to ruin our business.

This year Hagerman won election to the town council with a twisted last-minute smear against incumbent Lauri Herbel published in that Yucca Valley newspaper. Misleading and inaccurate, the timing was calculated for publication only a few days before the election, leaving Herbel no chance to respond. Such gutless political ploys are successful techniques in elections guaranteeing the accuser an upper-hand against an opponent who becomes an easy-victim immobilized by the sucker punch.

The latest round of public slight of hand deception is another attack against the truth by Hagerman’s pal Frank Luckino. Serving as a kind-of mastermind for high desert politics, as if controlling the town council and the water district is not enough, Luckino also is running a mortgage business.

Apparently Luckino runs a Mulhuland-like tangled web of powerful relationships involving select land developers and construction companies, realtors and bankers, the water district and the council with a plotline – with some slight changes – right out of the movie “Chinatown” involving the big money of massive water and sewer projects.

In the latest brouhaha of self-pitying manufactured spin Luckino complained to the Yucca Valley’s Hi-Desert Star newspaper (no relation to our publications) that his wife, Shannon, was unfairly “attacked” with that newspaper publishing Frank’s own written words concerning his wife… “She is not a politician; she is a mother, wife, caretaker, volunteer, and friend.”

Well-said and generous, but also misleading as Shannon is no simple housewife.

Readers of that publication venomously complained, writing in that Frank was intentionally misleading the public by conveniently leaving out the fact his wife worked as Hagerman’s campaign manager in that recent town council election and she runs – and has family – in the real estate business.  Oh what a tangled web they weave.

We find it repugnant that Mortgage Broker, CFO, Councilmember Luckino calls factual statements “poison pen attacks” and cries foul every time his authority is questioned or one of his secrets is revealed.

We believe the namesake of the Lincoln Club in Yucca Valley, an organization of which Luckino was a founding member, would be embarrassed by these attacks against our constitution freedoms and the unfair, intolerant and unChristian ethics employed by Luckino’s pal, Hagerman. We have to remember that simply using the name “Lincoln” does not insure good American ethics.

And what is that tangled web all about? Only a $250 million dollar sewer system concerning who gets the construction contracts, who benefits first and foremost and – the multi-million dollar question that Luckino and Hagerman are concocting answer for – just who is going to pay for it.

So, when you get right down to the scamming scheming nitty-gritty, it’s less about ethics and it’s all about money. They may use smoke and mirrors to divert the public’s attention but that doesn’t mean we have to like it or pretend it’s not happening.

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About the author

Dean M Gray

Writer, Artist & Publisher. Dean started in the newspaper business at the age of nine earning 90 cents a week walking 3 miles delivering a newspaper door to door. 500 miles later he graduated to a bicycle route. Delivering news evolved into reporting news when he started publishing his first independent newspapers in high school. He served as editor for college newspaper has been published in newspapers and magazines. Dean has been writing his way out of a paper bag and traveling uphill ever since. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. His publication is Desert Vortex News - http://www.desertvortex.com


  1. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:


  2. Hi Larry, I was there and will post my story this evening.

    Today’s Hi-Desert Star story by my friend, Rebecca Unger, was very thorough and she presented a wonderful overview on a very complex matter.

    I will try to post Paul Cook’s comments on YouTube as he was very passionate about the State mandating something without funding for the project.Cook stated this mandate will turn Yucca Valley into a ghost town.

    VERY IMPORTANT: December 15th at 6 PM @ YV Town Hall, the HDWD will roll out sewer costs/assessment numbers that will NOT include the charges to fill the septic tanks and connect the laterals to the sewer line. Those charges will be the responsibility of each homeowner/property owner.

    See you on the 15th Larry!

  3. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:


    There is a very good report of the meeting in the Desert Star online version of the paper.

    By that article the State is not fooling around with Yucca and there are going to be very serious events soon to transpire.

    29 better watch what it is going to do in regards to development and the soon to be new General Plan. We are on the cusp of either a disaster or our salvation.

    I hope the new Council is up to the job.

    Take care Larry – see you Tuesday night.


  4. Hi Steve, Jose Angel from the Regional Water Control Board stated that 29 Palms is also polluting their groundwater and they will be mandated to put in sewers. Jay Corbin was in attendance at the meeting sitting in the audience with YV Deputy Town Manager,Shane Stueckle.

    Say Jay, can you add to the statement by Jose Angel regarding 29 Palms? Thanks!

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Margo,

      Thanks for the heads up that the State and Jose Angel have us in 29 in their sights too.

      The last time we met with them at a dual meeting of the 29 Water District and 29 Council we could not get an answeer out of them about our water quality and what they intended to do about it over the next 10 years or so.

      It appears that they now have some ideas of their own that 29 needs to recognize and understand or we in 29 just might be the next Yucca trying to figure out how to do what the State wants but worse than that – how to pay for it.

  5. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:


  6. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

    Hi Larry,

    Yes – it does not look good for 29 Palms unless something is done to either curb growth or get the bonds, taxes, and grants up and running within this year.

    A tremendous challenge no matter which way the Council decides to go.

  7. Cora Heiser Cora Heiser says:

    Steve Spear,
    Steve Whitten had to practically hog tie Jay Corbin to get him to discuss the issue of a water treatment plant. At the very last meeting, Jay at least put on the “appearance” of considering the fact that something may need to be done. That was as far as he was willing to go. You say curb growth or get the bonds…29 does curb growth. I think that should be the new logo for 29. Gee I think we just saved a lot of money, I give consultation for free! lol. Seriously, couldn’t the millions of dollars that are in reserve be used toward the waste water treatment plant?

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Cora,

      Well – lets see. At this point there are no constraints on growth at all. I know that it is thought that there are – but there are none at all.

      I forget the projected cost of a sewer system but I think it was in the 60 million plus range for what development we have right now in the city.

      So I guess the 9.8 million could be set aside to do something but that reserve falls very short of the mark.

      The last word we had from the State was that we were okay with the nitrite levels – if that has changed and the State is thinking of coming after 29 as their next victim – then we either curb growth now or start getting those bonds, taxes and grants ready.

      Trust me Cora. The city has tried to solve this problem going as far as trying to go into a joint venture with the Base but the Base does not want to play and the State will not make them do a darn thing on their installation – they already have a system.

      The 803 housing area will soon become our problem not theirs when a private company – Lincoln Housing – purchases the property and the Marine Corps washes its hand of any responsibility at all for land or buildings that are not inside the fenced perimeter of the Base.

      I know none of that sounds pretty but that is what the Council will need to deal with and deal with it pretty soon.

      • Cora Heiser Cora Heiser says:

        You would know better than me what the city has tried to do to solve this problem. I do agree with you that the Council will need to deal with this problem. I think once the most prudent thing to do is decided upon, the residents of 29 will be willing to invest in something that does move the city forward and opens up opportunities for economic growth. We may bicker and poke each other, but I believe that most, especially the young to middle-aged group would like to see 29 work together to accomplish clean water for our city and promote economic growth to provide a place to shop for many daily needs.

        • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

          Hi Cora,

          I agree with you 100 percent.

          The problem will be agreeing on that prudent course of action in a timely manner and then gathering the funding to implement it. No small task.

  8. Mark Clemons says:

    There are many economical alternatives to a costly central waste treatment facility. The rush to spend tax dollars on a treatment plant appears to have no other reason than sticking fingers in the flow of funds. I foresee a costly dinosaur that future generations are going to have to not only pay for but dispose of. It makes no since with today’s technology for a costly networks of piping, and a monstrosity, odorrific antiquated sewer plant. I know there is a lot of slush for the slop trough, but we must stop the insanity. Let’s not let the council be led or bought by a bunch of tax parasites. On site units are the way to go. They can be phased in as older standard units need replacing at a cost of a hookup (typical $15,000) to a central plant. No need to tear up the streets for piping or the need for consultants, developers or overpriced specialized contractors.

  9. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

    Hi Mark,

    Perhaps Yucca would like to hear from you to help them get the State off their back. Package plants have so far not stopped the State from forcing cities and towns to build sewer systems.

    The Package Plants can, to a limit, take care of new growth – the elephent in the room is the nitrates from the already existing septic tanks – and that is the problem that costs way too much money.

    But I like your thoughts – it will save me a whole bunch of money when the State comes and forces us to ante up our “fair” share.

  10. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:


    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Larry,

      I do not know where the Water District stands on all of this. I do know that the Council needs to foster an even closer relationship with the water District than we have now.

      Not that that relationship is bad – it is not – but we must get better at keeping the Water District totally informed and in the loop in regards to the new General Plan and any and all development that comes our way.

  11. Mark Clemons says:

    The sewer industry lobbyist bought Cook and most of the rest of the crooks in Sacramento. Yucca could use the court system. Believe it or not it sometimes works to restore sanity. I am not subservient to the state, as F Lee Bailey once said “maximize due process we are a nation with checks and balances”.
    I have an interest in the Old Copper kettle now known as the Wine and Roses, I see it as my responsibility to install an onsite unit when the current system fails. I hope most have learned to do the right thing and clean up after themselves. It is just wrong to bond Yuccas woes on the back of future generations, if we polluted, we can pay for the clean up. Our generation has done enough financial and leadership damage set our country back at lest a decade more like two decades.

  12. Hi Mark, if you have an interest in Wine and Roses, you should plan to attend Hi-Desert Water District meeting on December 15th, 6pm, at the Yucca Valley Community Center.

    CFO Frank Luckino/YV Mayor pro-tem said he would have an “early Christmas Present” for the owners of the parcels that will be assessed to pay for the sewer system.

    Luckino said the assessment charges were not too bad. Of course as HDWD CFO, he is receiving $120,000 salary plus benefits.Some Seniors are only receiving $750 per month, it’s all relative.

    Please note:Wine and Roses may be in Phase One assessment but not the airport.

    CFO Luckino stated he felt the YV Airport should be exempt from being assessed because they have no running water or water meter.(How will they put out fires?)

    Luckino said he has 5 pages of APN #’s that the assessment consultants gave him to look into “special situations” like the YV airport mentioned earlier.

    Questions:Since Luckino is wearing two hats as CFO and elected official,YV Mayor Pro-Tem, how can he make these decisions on “special situation” parcels?

    Have any of the owners of these parcels donated to his election campaign in the past?
    Where are these properties located? Which nursing homes are on that list?

    YV Planning Commissioner Tim Humphreville said he feels the airport should be assessed to pay for the sewer too.(Bob Dunn will be happy to hear this)

    When the Town grows out, perhaps the YV airport will have to move away from the heavy populated town and that will be prime real estate off hwy 247.

    In the meantime, this property is being warehoused as an airport and may not have to kick into the costs of the sewer.

    Did’nt LAFCO come down on the YV airport recently? Anyone
    care to write an article on the history of this airport?

    Who owns the YV Airport?

  13. Mark Clemons says:

    Margo the airport could be a horror novel
    Yucca airport is owned by Yucca Valley Airport Inc. (I own a few shares) A private for profit Ca. corporation. The secretary is Tim Humphreville, pres. Bob Armstrong, Bob Dunn has his hands in or should I say often performs as secretary treasure. Their books are a joke, I will tell you it is the ultimate Yucca old boys club hiding behind the corporate Vail. The mentioned gentlemen had a voice in the hiring of the airport manager who is currently jailed for embezzling the state grant of 1.2 million unrecovered bucks, he was their boy, I often wonder where is the money? In the past there have been sales of assets, but it does not show up on the books, actuly they say they lost the books when I inquired.
    Yucca Valley Airport Inc. leases the airport to the county thru the Yucca Valley Airport district. Their slush funds have come in the form of tie down fees, sales of assets, FAA and state grants (your tax dollars).
    Yucca Valley Airport is an excellent example of how the hard working taxpayer has been burden with the cost of the well offs toys, how many aircraft how many tax dollars have flowed to the airport that is in all reality a shoddy private for Profit Corporation.

  14. Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

    Mark you need to check your facts, I do not own any property,or sit on the board of the airport. You listen to some of the people on this website who just throw stones but have no facts. If i were you i would not belive a word you hear from them.

  15. Mark Clemons says:

    My apologies I must have you confused with someone else. Tell me did you used to be secretary?, and when is the annual stock holders meeting, or did they forget to have one once again? who is secretary now?, when did the position change?, or do you own stock still? I would not blame you for distancing yourself.

  16. Mark Clemons says:

    tim the last name through me, sorry thought you were tom, is he your brother

  17. Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

    Mark what my family may or may not own, or what holdings they have is none of your or any one else’s business, and I assure you I will not answer any questions about any of them. This appointment to the planning commission that I took is a volunteer job that I took to give back to my community. The sad part of it is this crap that comes with it. Many people on this web site will do any thing to stop growth in this community which equals the ability of this community to prosper [i.e. the throwing stones]

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:


      I have been careful not to enter into to this argument as I have a far more open mind on what is good politics and what is not than most of the commentators here on this thread. I got to jump in when obvious inaccuracies have been made. I contacted Mark C. and worked thru the name mistake he made. That being your brother, father and you having similar names that can be confusing when bantered around in a forum like this. We got that straightened away I believe.

      I have no beef with you guys, so don’t attempt to fit me into some box that you have for many of the others here that don’t agree with you.

      But let me take exception with something you have said here. Now you made a statement that said, “Mark what my family may or may not own, or what holdings they have is none of your or any one else’s business, and I assure you I will not answer any questions about any of them.”

      I beg to differ. If you are going to serve as a public servant you have a fiduciary and ethical legal mandate under California Law to be aware of conflicts of interest and situations that can appear to be ethical violations that include NEPOTISM.

      I’d like to refresh your memory on the training you should have received on ethics and conflicts of interest.

      § 18371. Local Agency Ethics Training.
      (a) Core Content Topics. The topics enumerated in subdivisions (a)(1) through (a)(4) of
      this regulation are considered to be the core content of the ethics law component of an ethics
      orientation course conducted by a local agency pursuant to Government Code section 53235. The
      course should include instruction on each of the following topics to the extent they are relevant
      to the official’s public duties:
      (1) Laws relating to personal financial gain by public servants, including, but not limited
      (A) Laws prohibiting bribery (Penal Code § 68).
      (B) Conflicts of Interest under the Political Reform Act (Gov. Code §§ 87100, 87103).
      (C) Contractual Conflicts of Interest (Gov. Code § 1090 et seq.).
      (D) Conflicts of Interest and Campaign Contributions (Gov. Code § 84308).
      (E) Conflicts of Interest When Leaving Office (Gov. Code §§ 87406.1, 87406.3, 87407).
      (2) Laws relating to claiming perquisites of office, including, but not limited to:
      (A) Limitations on the Receipt of Gifts (Gov. Code §§ 86203, 89503, 89506).
      (B) Honoraria Ban (Gov. Code § 89502).
      (C) Misuse of Public Funds (Pen. Code § 424; Gov. Code § 8314; Fair Political
      Practices Commission v. Suitt (1979) 90 Cal.App.3d 125; Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206).
      (D) Prohibitions against gifts of public funds (Cal. Const., art. XVI, § 6).
      (E) Mass mailing restrictions (Gov. Code § 89001).
      (F) Prohibitions against acceptance of free or discounted transportation by transportation companies (Cal. Const., art. XII, § 7).
      (3) Government transparency laws, including, but not limited to:
      (A) Economic interest disclosure under the Political Reform Act (Gov. Code §§ 87200 et
      (B) Brown Act (Gov. Code §§ 54950 et seq.).
      (C) Public Records Act (Gov. Code §§ 6250 et seq.).
      (4) Laws relating to fair processes, including, but not limited to:
      (A) Common law bias prohibitions.
      (B) Due process requirements.
      (C) Doctrine of Incompatible Offices.
      (D) Competitive bidding requirements for public contracts.
      (E) Disqualification from participating in decisions affecting family members (anti-
      nepotism laws).

      (b) Core Content Ethics Law Topics Under Political Reform Act. Of the core content
      topics set forth in subdivision (a) above, the topics enumerated below ((b)(1) through subdivision
      (b)(7)) are considered to be the core content of the “ethics laws” component that pertain to the
      Political Reform Act, and regarding which, the Commission will provide consultation. The
      course should include instruction on each of the following topics if relevant to the official’s
      public position:
      (1) Conflicts of Interest under the Political Reform Act (Gov. Code §§ 87100, 87103).
      (2) Conflicts of Interest and Campaign Contributions (Gov. Code § 84308).
      (3) Limitations on the Receipt of Gifts (Gov. Code §§ 86203, 89503, 89506).
      (4) Honoraria Ban (Gov. Code § 89502).
      (5) Conflicts of Interest When Leaving Office (Gov. Code §§ 87406.1, 87406.3, 87407).
      (6) Mass Mailing Restrictions (Gov. Code § 89001).
      (7) Economic Interest Disclosure Under the Political Reform Act (Gov. Code § 87200 et
      (c) A person conducting an ethics orientation course shall be considered to have
      consulted with the Commission pursuant to Government Code section 53235(c) if the person:
      (1) Has reviewed the materials specified by the Commission for core content topics
      covered by the Political Reform Act on the Commission’s website no more than 60 days in
      advance of the date the training is conducted or training program is developed, and every year thereafter.
      (2) Develops and presents a training that includes the core content topics covered by the Political Reform Act and sufficiently and accurately reflects the Commission’s statutes and regulations. The training may be in separate segments so long as all of the required training is completed by January 1, 2007, and every two years thereafter.
      (d) Nothing in this regulation shall limit the requirement of Government Code sections
      53234 et seq., and 53235.2 to include in the mandated ethics training any topics which are not within the Political Reform Act, such as “general ethics principles,” “local ethics policies,” or those ethics laws under the purview of the Office of the Attorney General.
      Note: Authority cited: Section 83112, Government Code. Reference: Sections 53234, 53235,
      53235.1 and 53235.2, Government Code

      I can assure you that you have a duty and responsibility to expose any potential violation of law including potential instances of NEPOTISM.

  18. Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

    Dan, I know and take very seriously my responsibility to not make any desion that could even be in doubt, and would absolutely recue my self from them. But I will not give these people info on my family so they can drag them through the mud just for entertainment.
    I thank you for your concern and respect your view.

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