YUCCA VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL DOES IT AGAIN.
“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.