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Yucca Valley Town Council Snuffs Out Voters

By   /   April 26, 2011  /   21 Comments

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Like a large political bulldozer, the earth was scraped and 2,175 voices were snuffed out. This is not Democracy my friends, this is Yucca Valley.”

2,175 Voter’s Voices Snuffed Out.

Yucca Valley, Ca.- The Yucca Valley Town Council met this evening in a Special Meeting to determine the course of action to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of Chad Mayes.  Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, presented their “limited options” as there were no ordinances in place to address this situation.  He said,” The seat must be filled or an election called within sixty days of the date of the resignation,”  time was of the essence. The costs were explained if placed on a November ballot, or a mail in ballot.  Mayor Huntington confirmed all four Council Members were not in favor of that option. Choosing to appoint a member to the seat, they were informed it is required by law, to be filled on or before June 4th.

The public was invited to speak to the issue during public comments to address the Council which option they prefer. All speakers spoke in favor of appointing the next runner-up, Lori Herbel, mentioning her past Council experience, the 2,175 votes she received, offering diversity to the Council, and consideration of the voters.  Their comments fell on closed minds.

In my opinion, it was pretty much a done deal. The Council was required to go through the formal process to give the appearance they were making their decision this evening. The only one thing for sure that was not agreed upon prior to this meeting was the list of 38 questions that “Staff,” (read Nuaimi) suggested as part of the interview process of candidates for appointment.

Nuaimi wanted to know which questions should be on the application for appointment to the Town Council. It appeared that Mayor Huntington and HDWD CFO/Mayor Pro Tem Frank Luckino were the only ones voting as the two newbies waved their hands around in frustration as if they were reading the questions for the first time. Just about. Recently returning from vacations, I was informed Council members Isaac Hagerman and Dawn Rowe picked up their agenda packets at the last moment. Mayor Huntington said the 38 questions were only made available last Friday by “Staff.”

One by one, each question was read by Nuaimi looking for “Four Thumbs Up” to keep or “Thumbs Down” to ditch the questions without any opportunity to discuss the question or change the wording.  It was obvious to me that Nuaimi compiled most of the questions to include opinions regarding the 1% sales tax proposal and the low-income Senior Housing on Dumosa, among others.  My count was 19 accepted but the official count was reduced to ten questions. Nuaimi assured me he had full view at all time of all the thumbs for the count. I observed Hagerman and Rowe not voting on some of the questions, which was also observed by two other members in the audience.

Prior to this exercise, Luckino suggested that “Staff” work on the questions or at least appoint a committee of two members to go through the questions. To her credit, Council Member Rowe insisted going over the questions in the open forum. Luckino was under the impression the selection process would be held in closed session but Nuaimi informed the Council, the law stipulates it is held in an open meeting to discuss the applicants.

The application and questions will be made available online this Wednesday and the closing date will be May 6th, which barely allows ten days for anyone to apply. Another indication to me they may have someone lined up to appoint to this position.  Depending on the number of applications received, the Council will meet in Special Sessions, open to the public, with the final applicant appointed at their May 17th regular meeting. This hasty time-table will insure their choice will be seated on or before June 4th.

As I see it, this is the “Perfect Storm for a Nuaimi Tsunami.” This Yucca Valley Town Manager will have “his Town Council” hand-picked consisting of three new council members lacking any experience, and Mayor Pro Tem/HDWD CFO Luckino always having to recuse himself due to his conflict of interest on sewer matters.

This is the same Yucca Valley Town Council that dismantled the Citizen Commissions, 2+2 Committees, voted out the Mayor rotation that was established by the founders of the Town against the pleas of Marge Crouter of the first Town Council, politicizing the appointments of the Planning Commissioners and Parks & Recreation Commissioners.  This Town Council did not distribute the Community Development Block Grants to our local charities, instead, placing these monies into the General Fund for an extra code enforcement officer, all of this under the guidance of the new Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi.

I feel sorry for the poor chap appointed by this Yucca Valley Town Council to come on board under these conditions having never receiving one vote from the public. There will always be a cloud over his name  and controversy attached to his appointment because he will be forever beholden to the Town Council that appointed him expecting to keep in lock step. Where is the government for the people, by the people? Where is the diversity?

Like a large political bulldozer, the earth was scraped and 2,175 voices were snuffed out. This is not Democracy my friends, this is Yucca Valley.

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell


  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    While I love you like I love my most comfortable old shoes Margo, I disagree with you and agree with Mike Hawkins on the Herbel thing. She defended her seat and lost. It was her seat to loose. She lost her seat. She was not a runner up in the sense of Jeff Defour or the others.

    Allowing her another tenure on the Council is not democracy it would be simply going against what the majority of the voters in the last election voted for. They voted to kick her to the curb… lets not breath life back in to that political career.

    • Mike Hawkins Mike says:


      It was expected that her entourage would go to Town Hall to support their ousted Councilwoman but that little show was certainly not a representation of the will of the people of Yucca Valley. Such a claim is as disingenuous as the semantics being used to say she was the next runner-up, by virtue of the vote, ignoring that rather she was the incumbent whom the voters were happy to kick to the curb.

      Councilwoman Herbel was VOTED OUT! GET IT?

      Yucca Valley is tired of the obstructionist behavior and misplaced representation. The voters disagree with Herbel’s politics and our newly elected Council is obliged to consider that little fact! The voters here expect this Council to represent the voters in THIS TOWN! How many of those fans of Herbel’s actually live here in Yucca?

  2. Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

    Thank you Margo for attending the meeting and quickly putting the story up in Cactus Thorns. An outstanding effort on your part for the Morongo Basin. The story was put up 00:17 AM this morning. Who else is putting out an effort like this for Yucca Valley?

    Once again, Cactus Thorns service to the community is evidenced because the town was first informed of the news right here.

    It makes sense that the next runner up (Lori Herbel) from the 2011 election is the most democratic way in which to fill the vacancy, as opposed to a bias political appointment.

    The next candidate for council I believe (behind Ms. Herbel) was Jeffrey Dufour. Will they appoint Mr. Dufour if he applies?

    The popular belief is that Political appointments absent meaningful input from the voters are always the LAST option. However it seems to be the only option for this council. There may be no diversity on the council.

    Unlike Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms accepted the voters second in line choice of vote getter by appointing Jim Harris when a member of the council resigned (as we know, after Jim was seated by appointment, he was elected by popular choice at the next election and subsequently became Mayor of 29). Democracy in action in 29 Palms!

  3. Mike Hawkins Mike says:

    She was not a “runner up”. She was an incumbent who was voted out, big difference! She is no longer a Council Person because the Yucca Valley voters no longer wanted her to be one!

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      Mike, you’ve made your point very eloquently in a previous comment. We disagree. Herbel was not voted out. Her four-year term came to an end. Classic doublespeak to say “She was an incumbent who was voted out” since she was next in line by popular vote behind Isaac Hagerman (who as we know did a twelfth-hour hit piece just before the election in the local paper that was replete with misleading, half truths and false propaganda).

      That is the way we do things in 29 Palms is the democratic way as opposed to a purely political appointment to public office.

      • Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

        So she ran as an incumbent, lost, and you see it as she was not voted out.
        Thanks for proving my point about you!
        There is no arguing with that kind of pretzel logic!

      • Mike Hawkins Mike says:

        (“who as we know did a twelfth-hour hit piece just before the election in the local paper that was replete with misleading, half truths and false propaganda).”

        Oh, bull shit!

        Link to said ad http://www.vote29.com/newmyblog/archives/12996

    • ———–INTERMISSION——-

      Mike-Thank you for your consistency and being true. You have consistantly spoken out against Lori Herbel on this Blog and similar comments on the Hi-Desert Star. I like that quality in you and we have no beef.My concern was for the process. Hopefully, we can root for someone with experience to be appointed to the Town Council. Bob Leone’s name came up and there is Susan Earnhart as well. I think Sarann Graham would be a great asset to the Council. What do you think? Pass the popcorn please.

      Branson, what would this Blog be without you? The countless hours of research that you do behind the scenes is really appreciated by me. You should write a book about your life!
      Gads! Harvesting lettuce in the fields to pay for your law school education. More Ginger-ale?

      Papa-You are the task master of this blog keeping the comments on point and pretty darn funny too! I appreciate your explanations of the “Rules of Engagement.” Would you care for a splash of champagne to freshen your Ginger-ale?

      Cora-You are the most intense investigative reporter and I admire you crunching all that RDA data. It was like the Cactus Thorn Terrier scooting down that fox hole never losing sight of your prey, I mean goal.You really pack a punch with your stories…and I love your sense of humor. You find the greatest artwork!
      I think DanO has the candy, want some?

      Kactus Kooler- Cool, calm and collective night owl. Enjoying the peace of the evening to write what is on your mind! You are not afraid to speak your mind. LOL! Very tough on the outside to protect your very tender heart. Health issues really drag us down and you always keep your chin up. I admire that. Looks like the fizz is flat of the Ginger-ale. Care for a brewsky?

      H2-I know your handle has something to do with a rocket fuel formula and I like the intrique. Your comments are few and far between with very few words, but to the point, in my opinion. You are a contibution to this Blog potluck.I think Fay made some cookies for us. Here’s a couple…still warm from the oven.

      Ken@WonderValley-I always enjoy reading your posts.They are very interesting and informative.Here, have some more popcorn.

      Desertrider-You are the real deal, the constant Mark to which we can set our navigational course on this journey with your steady hand at the helm. A busy family man, Husband and Father,and yet you take time to share your thoughts on this Blog. Please let me buy some hot dogs for you and the family this year at Grubstakes if Mustard’s Last Stand travels west.

      Stanley, I have just racked up one year contributing to Cactus Thorns and look forward to your comments. Did you draw your cute little avatar of the person sitting at the computer? I missed meeting you at the recent events.

      Dean Gray-Thank you for showing me the ropes about the newspaper business. It is so amazing when you edit my stories and move my paragraphs around for clarity! It is second nature to you because you have “INK” in your veins!
      Would you care for some chocolate or popcorn?

      Larry Briggs-I bet you have a couple of stories in your WordPad Docs waiting for the right time to post. Your comments are appreciated and I am glad to see you loosening up lately with your humor. You are pretty consistant with the RDA banner you wave. I like that you are steadfast in your beliefs and convictions. Care for some popcorn too?

      Mark Clemons-You have so much history running in your 29P veins and I hope you are preserving this history for future generations.I think we should all join up at the Drive-In to watch a movie together. Do you have outdoor seating like the old days? I think it would be really difficult for all of us to agree on one movie to watch!
      I appreciate your business comments contribution to Cactus Thorns and your “Tell it like it is-shoot from the hip” attitude. We could order in some pizza if you are tired of popcorn.

      Bucky-I like your name and it reminds me of an adventurous young boy with red straw hair, freckles and a sling shot hanging from his faded jeans. “What Me Worry?” Welcome aboard and I am still learning from Papa. Thank goodness he doesn’t mind sharing his 14 years of knowledge regarding the Do’s and Don’ts of Blogging. BTW,I am pretty sure I am currently violating one of those rules with this lengthy comment, or is this called a thread? There are two cookies left, would you care foir them or do you want to wait for the pizza?

      Richard Myers-Thank you for sharing your joy of antique motorcycles and the wonderful photos. You must be out and about riding your bike because I have not heard from you for some time. Here is a glass of ginger-ale for you!

      GovernmentCodeSearch-I have not seen your posts for quite awhile and I believe I misspelled your handle. Sorry. You have been very focused in your stand against the marijuana issues and have informed the readers of the current pending legislation.You have devoted so much of your time, strength and energy in following your heart. I pray all is well with you and you are spending more time with your family. I was touched by your comments about celebrating Veteran’s Day and inviting a military family and suggesting sharing a Thanksgiving meal with them. Ginger-ale?

      Vickie Waite-You are a great sport to send in the press releases for the City of Twentynine Palms. Your text always remain undisturbed….but I have to tell you, the artwork that is added to your post is hilarious. Remember the “Guy In The Box?” or the “Pole Dancer?” Care for a Bud Lite?

      Gerrard Scott-Oh Gerrard, Gerrard, Where Art Thou? I will save some popcorn for you!

      Human Test-We all had fun when you were part of the posting process. I would scroll down in advance to see if it was an easy one that was waiting for me. If you did not pass it, you lost all your text, remember?

      To everyone else that I may have forgotten, please forgive me. I am writing this missive on my teeny-tiny BlackBerry phone, still on it’s last leg, with a fussy tracking ball preventing me from any vertical movement to scroll up to review this.

      Dan O’Brien-Last but not least, there is the DanO. He’s been Blogging since the 80′s and he still puts up with all of us while keeping his promise to himself about not jumping into the fray.I did not know that anyone could type so fast with such accuracy! Daniel O’Brien is witty, perceptive, understanding and has a brilliant mind capable of doing several things at once.

      While we are talking on the phone, he is reading someone’s post, watching TV,typing a story, laughing out loud, speaking with Fay and telling her about our conversation, checking out why the dogs are barking, and when I switch the subject matter of the conversation, he is right there with me, very focused and engaged.

      Complete honesty should be written on his business cards. His word and handshake are worth more than any 35 page legal contract.

      His devoted wife, Fay, is his number one fan and I admire their family values. These two O’Briens should write a book about their lives. There may be several editions, and DanO types so fast he can knock them out quickly.

      I feel like I have known DanO for a very long time. Must be that Irish blood that reminds me of my husband who is Irish too. It also has to do with their age and being raised up in the old school with values and morals. The Lord kept an eye on both of them to bring them here today. Best friends in the clutch and you certainly do not want to be their bad side.

      I was touched to read the words that I was loved like a favorite old pair of comfortable shoes. To us “women folk,” that is a real compliment.

      As I understand this phrase: a comfortable pair of shoes become your favorite because they are comfortable and do not pinch anymore, they become old because you do not want to toss them out…then the shoes become worn due to the daily use.They are with you every day and every place, removed only at bedtime and greet you in the morning with comfort to start a new day.

      This is my definition of true friendship or a trusting marriage.

      I don’t know if DanO is still sitting up there in the cheap seats, as he calls it,with his popcorn and Ginger-ale, was it Vernons? I am thankful to DanO for taking the time to show me the ropes of Cactus Thorns. Would you like another hot dog?

      I have made mistakes using WordPress software and DanO is right there to help me out. He prefers that everyone figures it out on their own.

      So why have I taken this time to write these thoughts right now? It has been a great week for me and I am filled with Joy in these trying times.

      Everywhere I go, I am approached by readers of Cactus Thorns Blog thanking me for my stories and reporting in depth on the issues.

      I have just passed my one year anniversary on Cactus Thorns and it has been my honor to participate in excercising the freedom of speech.

      I am grateful to the loyal readers and to everyone that contribute to this Blog. If tomorrow never comes, I have at least expressed my thanks to all of you.

      I look forward to the next ten years!




      BTW,Would you like relish on that hot dog to go along with your popcorn?

      Yikes! My fingers are cramping up!

  4. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    Once again Margaret lies. I voted on every single question. Thank god for e-mail Margaret my packet gets sent to me days prior to the meeting. I am surprised to see your new found love for Lori, weren’t you asked to resign from the planning commission due to you tarnishing Lori’s reputation? Next article try and report on facts.

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      Hey Haggerman, are you an incompetent fool or what? You have failed on every occasion to post any information in here of substance that deals with local issues, or any issue. You are a scarlet letter disgrace as a public official because the only thunder you have is personal attacks repeatedly calling someone a “liar”.

      Perhaps you should attend to your family business — Braswell Assisted Living – and clean up its poor rating. FYI, one blogger in here forthwith pulled his mother out of one of those homes because she was neglected.

      Are you capable of helping the readership in here understand any of the issues facing the community from your point of view, or is that beyond your intellectual capability?

      • Mike Hawkins Mike says:

        “FYI, one blogger in here forthwith pulled his mother out of one of those homes because she was neglected.”

        Making public accusations you do not substantiate is cheap and cowardly.

        • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

          I have just substantiated it Mike — look for an email in your box from the blogger who fact pull did pull his mother out of the home because of gross negligence. It’s also a fact the facility had and continue to have low state ratings. Your tiny rant is a mere knee-jerking emotional response. I encourage you to post that email with permission from the sender.

          A Link for you in re Sky Harbor Care Center
          Another Link

          • Mike Hawkins Mike says:

            That ain’t the point Branson.
            The point is, that what you did “is not the Cowboy way”!

      • Walt Metcalf says:

        This is a complete injustice to Curly Howard. Hagerman should be so lucky.

  5. What a close resemblance to Isaac’s photo! (I thought it looked familiar to me.)

    Was his name Curly Joe? I remember he was bopped on his head quite a bit. Poor chap.

    I can’t wait until Isaac starts to address the issues. In the meantime, would you like butter on your popcorn Branson?

    • Branson Hunter Branson Hunter says:

      Margo, the stooges name is indeed Curly, Curly Howard. You get a free bag of popcorn AND ginger ale. On my popcorn, I cook it the old fashion way — canola oil in a deep soup pot, turn the burner on high, and don’t forget to constantly shake it when it begins to pop.

  6. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    I can’t wait for Margaret to actually come close in an election and start posting stories with some truth in it. If you want to see me deal with issues show up at a council meeting Ben.

  7. @Isaac the Troll, I am right-you are wrong, again. I just reviewed the DVD and I was correct with my observation.

    You did not vote on each question. Your right hand holding a pencil or pen, stabbing your forehead but not piercing the skin. Your left hand sitting on your left hip without any movement. Watch the DVD and weep!

    I stand on the accuracy of my observations CONFIRMED by the DVD!

    So there! End of story.

    Besides, what is the big deal? You voted on some of the questions…..

    Now,will you please stay focused on the issues facing our Town?

    Thank you.

  8. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    Nice post, I still don’t think they will vote for you in whatever seat you run for next. You can confirm with the town staff and other council members that I voted on every issue or not. Maybe your hat was obstructing your view. Like I have said in the past I deal with issues at the council meetings. If you want to know where I stand on issues just ask. Hope you had a good Easter as well.

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