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Yucca Valley Town Attorney Lona Laymon-Missing In Action. Why?

By   /   May 10, 2011  /   15 Comments

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Yucca Valley, Ca.- The Yucca Valley Town Council met this evening trying to tread carefully through new territory to determine the final candidates for consideration for the appointment to fill the 3 1/2 year term left by Chad Mayes resignation. 

Absent from this important and historical event, setting precedence, was our town attorney, Lona N. Laymon from Aleshire & Wynder, LLP.  A reliable source stated, “Staff was trying to save money on the attorney costs and besides she (Ms. Laymon) lives in Riverside.”  And I say, “So what!?” I think the town council made a big mistake by not having legal advice along these proceedings to avoid any potential violations that could nullify this appointment if there is a challenge.  Why was this a Staff decision?

Where is our town attorney?

During this meeting, it was pointed by Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, there were only two options available to the Council given the time constraints, according to previous legal advice given by our town attorney. 

As I see it, the Yucca Valley Town Council should have received their legal advice the moment Council member Mayes resigned to have any and all options available to them.  Special meetings could have been called to discuss the matter in an open meeting or study session.  It appears “Staff” dragged their feet to place the Council up against the wall tying their hands with limited options, in my opinion. 

Council member Dawn Rowe asked for clarification on the costs for a mail in ballot and Nuaimi stated the price tag for a mail in ballot would have been $25,000 however that date had passed for that option. The other option would have cost $50,000 for a vote of the citizens and the elected Council member would be seated at a later date.  Mayor Pro tem, Frank Luckino, expressed his concerns of an appointment of such a long term of over 3 1/2 years.  Council man Isaac Hagerman spoke down to Luckino saying, “We already discussed this two meetings ago!”

Nuaimi stated he needed a super majority vote (four votes) for the Senior Housing project and his 1% tax proposal which are issues coming before the Council.  Mayor George Huntington stated earlier that Mayor Pro-tem Frank Luckino is waiting for the District Attorney’s ruling regarding his conflict of interest due to his position as Chief Financial Officer for the Hi-Desert Water District and is unable to vote on the tax issue. Sounds to me like Nuaimi has his three vote tallied up in his hip pocket and now he needs a “ditto vote” for his super majority.

Excuse me?  Could this be considered a violation of the Brown Act to to make these statements publicly before any deliberations of the entire town council prior to receiving the agenda item for a vote?

Where is our town attorney?

It appears that Nuaimi is giving legal advice and has his own agenda as the  driving force to rush this process to  have someone seated ASAP.  What about the right of the people to vote for their elected representatives? I guess this does not fit in Nuaimi’s time-table and it gives the appearance that the “means justifies the end.”

Where is our town attorney?

The final round of applicants will be interviewed tomorrow and I can assure you that those seeking to be appointed will be certain to voice their support ( “yes” vote ) for the Senior Housing and the Town’s tax initiative.  That message came through loud and clear at this meeting.

Where is our town attorney?

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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

15 Comments

  1. Mark Nuaimi Mark Nuaimi says:

    Margo,

    Please indicate the time from tonight’s meeting when “Nuaimi stated he needed a super majority vote (four votes) for the Senior Housing project and his 1% tax proposal which are issues coming before the Council.” I NEVER made any such statement because it’s simply not true — the senior housing project DOES NOT need a super majority.

    You then go on to say “As I see it, the Yucca Valley Town Council should have received their legal advice the moment Council member Mayes resigned to have any and all options available to them.”

    You must not have heard Mayor Huntington indicate that council ALL RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM THE TOWN ATTORNEY HIGHLIGHTING THEIR OPTIONS. This was sent within days of the vacancy. He offered that information when one of the speakers asked where all the 38 questions came from at the April 25th Special Meeting.

    You then state “Special meetings could have been called to discuss the matter in an open meeting or study session. It appears “Staff” dragged their feet to place the Council up against the wall tying their hands with limited options, in my opinion.”

    Perhaps you were unaware that council members were out of town / out of the country during spring break and the earliest we could get a quorum was April 25th — the day one council member arrived back in Town. A Special Council meeting was held that night! All options were presented with adequate time to call a special election (for mail in ballot).

    Next you make the accusation (hope I’m not getting too defensive now) “It appears that Nuaimi is giving legal advice and has his own agenda as the driving force to rush this process to have someone seated ASAP. What about the right of the people to vote for their elected representatives? I guess this does not fit in Nuaimi’s time-table and it gives the appearance that the “means justifies the end.”

    Here’s the staff report from April 25th with all the citations on options — pulled from the legal advice council had already received.

    http://www.yucca-valley.org/pdf/mam/Town_Council/Agendas/2011/2011_04_25_towncouncil_agenda.pdf

    So Margo, what’s your agenda with all this misinformation and outright fabrications? If this were a legitimate news entity, you’d be fired and a retraction would be immediately issued. I won’t hold my breath for either to occur.

  2. @Mark, Thank you for your comments. I was very surprised to hear the “super majority” vote required for the Senior Housing this evening too. This was the first time I heard that being mentioned. I suppose it was lumped together with the tax initiative, which requires a super majority, in the opening statement by Mayor George Huntington.

    Later in the evening, you reconfirmed these two important issues coming before the Council, and I INCORRECTLY assumed you were in agreement with his opening statement because you did not offer any clarification. On the Senior Housing issue, I apologize for that assumption on my part.

    Giving that to you, this makes this “rush to appoint” even more disturbing to me because now there is only one single reason instead of two, which I understood from Mayor Huntington’s opening statement.

    So let’s see…. the Senior Housing could have moved forward WITHOUT requiring a super majority and an election could have been held to fill the vacant seat thereby addressing the tax initiative, at a later date. However, as you stated above, the members were away on vacation and could not attend an emergency meeting. What about a tele conference? I have seen that used for emergencies.

    Thank goodness we have a DVD of this session for complete accuracy which is always handy to have for review.

    Mark, it is the perception that is weighted most in public opinion. That is what I offer to my readers.

    My agenda? I will always have the welfare of the Town of Yucca Valley as my priority and offer my observations of any “unusual moves” that may bring harm to the citizens. You really are brilliant, I will give that to you too.

    It reminds me of the brilliant surgeon that exclaimed, “The operation was a success but the patient died!”

    I will close with this, “Mark,First Do No Harm.”

  3. Time For Action says:

    Nuaimi stated he needed a super majority vote (four votes) for the Senior Housing project and his 1% tax proposal which are issues coming before the Council.

    How arrogant ! Now the new Town Manager is part of the CULT. He is trying to ram through an agenda with a super majority. No discussion,no openess, no one to get in the way. In other words, he wants a rubber stamp council with no road blocks.

    How ironic, as the only dissenting vote may be Frank Luckino, who has voted no on many past issues, and was proven to be right on those !

    • Mark Nuaimi Mark Nuaimi says:

      Time For Action — please read my response to this erroneous report. I never made any such statement regarding super majority voting requirements. Margo retracted that with …

      “Later in the evening, you reconfirmed these two important issues coming before the Council, and I INCORRECTLY assumed you were in agreement with his opening statement because you did not offer any clarification. On the Senior Housing issue, I apologize for that assumption on my part.”

      • Mike Hawkins Mike says:

        Oh dear, more of those pesky little details…

        I believe the good Mayor indicated that the question of any possible conflicts of interest between Luckino’s day job and his legal obligation as related to his Council service is being addressed by the ATTORNEY GENERAL. Not the District Attorney.

        “…it is the perception that is weighted most in public opinion. That is what I offer to my readers.”

        It sure is and you sure do Madam! And inaccurate reporting will result in an inaccurate “perception” wouldn’t you agree?

        “Excuse me? Could this be considered a violation of the Brown Act to make these statements publicly before any deliberations of the entire town council prior to receiving the agenda item for a vote?”

        What statements? Haven’t a clue what you’re talking about so I’ll just guess… uh… uh… no. Was I right? But really Margo, you attended the recent Brown Act study session didn’t you? So is your question meant to be rhetorical and you think that it IS a violation, or do you really not know and you’re asking if anyone else does? Or just may its innuendo intended to help you weight the public perception you have concerned yourself about. That would be my “perception”… am I right again?

        “Thank goodness we have a DVD of this session for complete accuracy which is always handy to have for review.”

        Thank goodness indeed!

        Margo, “First Do No Harm.”

  4. @ Hi Mike, Attorney General will determine if Luckino has 1090 violation(s) and when determined, will be followed up by the District Attorney. First to AG and then to DA is the proper procedure.You are correct.

    The Hi-Desert Water District approved to send a letter to The California Attorney General’s Office for a legal analysis regarding CFO Frank Luckino “potential” conflict of interest Dated May 5, 2011.
    These costs of several thousands of dollars have been racked up with THREE Law firms;1. Attorney Naomi Silvergleid,2. Doug Haubert with Aleshire & Wynder and 3. John Brown with Best,Best & Krieger in 2009 around the time when Luckino was hired asking for several opinions regarding his conflict of interest and “competing loyalties” as I recall. I have not read them in awhile.

    I have seen the January 2011billing and big bucks are being spent with BBK working on several drafts for this additional request for review pertaining to the wastewater/sewer project presenting another conflict of interest for Luckino.

    The (potential)1090 violations pertain to the funds passing from the Town to the HDWD and the Memorandum of Agreement between the two agencies.

    Additionally, Luckino has been seen participating in closed sessions with the Town and the closed sessions of the HDWD on on the purchase of the Golf Course. I do not think anyone will commit perjury to say he was not present at these meetings.

    These funds are tax payers monies and ratepayers monies being spent. I don’t know, maybe you can sponsor his huge lawyer fees?

    Last time a citizen checked, Luckino was making over $100,000 plus health insurance, pension and other perks.

    Not bad for someone with no water or utility experience. Luckino was hired over experienced qualified applicants with water background and proceeded to fire anyone on HDWD staff with experience.

    Oh yeah! The GM only has a degree in accounting according to his candidate web page when he ran for office. You and I (Rate payers) are paying Ed Muzik $187,000 plus car allowance, health insurance and other perks. He was previously the CFO for the HDWD before being hired as the General Manager.

    I am not going to jump up and down to say, “Bravo to these two for being paid so handsomely!” They ditched the flat discount of $6.50 for the low income seniors and continue to give reduced water rates( was -40% and now -30%) to the highest water users.

    Look for more water rate increases on your bill (and mine) to pay the salaries.

    Did you read the post on the $2 million dollars of neglected water tanks? The GM dropped the ball….ooops!

    As to the Brown Act, Government Code and California Code….I know what I am seeing as violations but I am not able to cite the code numbers and it does appear as innuendo, my fault. Jim Harvey and Bill Horne have been my mentors regarding the Brown Act. I have attended five full day extensive courses on the Brown Act and have received opinions from both Attny Doug Haubert and Town Manager Andy Takata when I was a Planning Commissioner.

    Now DanO and Publisher Dean Gray are my mentors regarding the Public Information requests and filing with proper agencies.

    I would be happy to sit down with you to go over any agendas or DVD’s on anything that interests you.

    I have read every agenda for the last four years issued by the Town of Yucca Valley, Parks and Rec, Planning Commission and Hi-Desert Water District. I have attended planning sessions by the Town, Town Council meetings, Hi-Desert Water meetings, RDA meetings, Joint Powers Animal Shelter meetings to include presentations by the architects. I recently attended the Development Review Committee meeting regarding the three story Senior Housing project to voice my conercerns there is no ladder fire truck stationed in Yucca Valley.

    How many meetings have you attended? Several I am sure.

    Recently we both attended the intensive CORVA training course to respond to the DEIS of the Marine Base expansion. I was pretty tired sitting in one chair from 10am to 4pm. I really learned a lot at that session.

    You can take your cracks at me if that makes you feel good because it will not bother me. I know more about the innerds of this town by being involved. My work with senior citizens with Reach Out, hospice volunteer and my contribution to the community through service groups keeps me connected to the regular folk in this town that are really struggling. My compassion and dedication to these citizens without a voice keeps me going.

    I can tell you are intelligent by the articles you post and the questions you asked at the training course. If you like to take jabs at me, then all I can say is, “Take your best shot!”

    We are both too set in our ways to change and I accept that fact.

    I accept you as you are. Life is too short.

    Thank you very much for caring and your comments are appreciated to keep me on point.

    Sincerely,

    Margo

    Ps.I will have to work on those government codes to cite as reference for you in the future.

  5. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    If you are so well connected in the community, why can’t you win an election?

    • Margo Sturges 3,028 votes 21.72% (13,944 total votes)

      Isaac Hagerman 2,455 votes 18.37% (13,361 total votes)

      Here are the stats and the percentages. Read ‘em and weep.

    • Mike Hawkins Mike says:

      Connected?

      Isaachagerman,you have the right to remain silent…

  6. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    One more thing Margo. It is sad to see you always taking pot shots at people for the only reason that they are employed and contributing to society.

    • Branson Hunter says:

      What distinguishes Margo from Isaas Haggerman is that while Haggerman is intellectually vacuous (as evidenced by the fact he has never made any sort of relevant comment on any issue), Margo writes on a wide-range of Yucca Valley issues and she reports on issues she researches or meetings she attends.

      Haggerman has yet to discuss any issue, and he has even failed to tackle issues reported by Margo. I call that vacuous.

  7. Richard Myers Richard says:

    I do not think they are just pot shots and why should anyone really not be skeptical of elected public officials ? With what it costs to win even a small local election few if any are not tainted with special interests or self serving anymore.
    I see few if any that are really doing public service for the good of the community; it always seems that there are other motives. No one has to look to hard to see that in Yucca Valley politics, I’m glad someone has the time and concern to keep them from running amok with out public scrutiny.
    just my 2 cents………………..

  8. isaachagerman Isaachagerman says:

    You lost. Do you get that?

  9. Margo Sturges 3,028 votes
    Isaac Hagerman 2,455 votes

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