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When is an Award an Award?

By   /   June 30, 2012  /   12 Comments

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At last Tuesday’s city council meeting where the proposed  City budget was examined and rejected by the council there was a point during public comments where one citizen stood up to speak in support of Mr. Warne’s submission.

During her comments she read from an award that Mr. Warne had placed in the this year’s proposed budget. That award was from the Government Finance Officers Association for his budget of the previous year.

After her comments I raised my hand to gain the attention of John Cole but he apparently was not very happy with me and said “You have said enough tonight Sir!” Well, I spoke my piece anyway. I pointed out that Mike Tree our previous city manager had also obtained the same award for his budgets that were less then 100 pages.

The following day I was talking to my wife about this award business and she then decided to see exactly what it took to get one of these awards.

Well, if a city submits enough copies of their budget and some money guess what you can get? You can get an award for budget excellence. Now that same award can be provided for a 420 page coffee table book as the Desert Trail described it or you can get that award for a less than 100 pages of budget information.

Here is a portion of the application form:

“Please check the appropriate fee category and send the payment at the same time as your submission. (Remit all fees in U.S. dollars)

Total expenditures/expenses GFOA member* Nonmember
Under $10 million $185  $370 
$10-25 million $280  $560 …”

I just wonder how much Mr. Warne and Mr Tree paid for this award? I would imagine that our city is a member of this organization so we were able to obtain the discounted award price of $280.

I have been fortunate in my life to have been the subject of several awards. Be it from my days in high school, the Catholic Youth Organization, the Marine Corps, the Sheriff’s Department, as well as our own City and County there have been awards.

The common denominator of those awards during my life has been I did not have to pay money to get them.

This business of buying an award via an “application fee” somehow in my mind cheapens the award. Almost like those people that buy military medals and then seek special treatment because they are heroes. Oh wait, we have that “Stolen Valor Act” in California that makes that conduct illegal thanks to Paul Cook.

Maybe we should also have our own law that prevents a city manager from publishing an award that he bought for a prior years budget in order to somehow make us think that his current years proposed budget is another award winning piece of work.




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About the author

Steve Spear

Former 29 Palms City Council member from 2002 through 2010. Graduate of Villanova University with a BA majoring in criminal justice. Served in the United States Marine Corps from 1977 through 1990 attaining the rank of Major in the Marine Corps Reserves.


  1. Terry Elam Terry Elam says:

    That’s just too funny, except you’re probably right.
    Perhaps we should give them a ribbon for participation instead. They’re probably a few dollars cheaper.
    There are so many organizations that we think of as non profit, not only those that present awards, but every testing agency, every union, the scouts, ows, the tea party, youth soccer, our political parties…They’re all a business where someone somewhere is making money.
    You’re smart to have trusted what saw and not the hype that went along with it.
    Now if anybody wants a college diploma, I know where you can buy one.

    • Melanie Melanie says:

      I know a company that only charges $3.75 per dozen for participation ribbons. Sure could save some money!!!! They also have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place ribbons for the same price. Goodness, some people might be able to decorate an entire wall at those prices.

    • Speaking of awards, Gary Daigneault was honored this month, by “The Basin Wide Foundation” as the “Basin Wide Cultural Contributor,” for his vision and championing of community theater.” Getting that award is not just passed out to anybody. You got to do something noteworthy and gamesmanship-like. Try topping a thirty-one-million debt; over thirty years; impacting over three generations of property owners.

      • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

        Well when you put it that way Ben…. He deserves what he may someday get.

        • The Hi Desert Cultural Center is doing some really interesting in the community. Cultural Center president, Jarrod Radnich, deserve an award for his outstanding service to the community.

          The Desert Cultural Center’s college classes represent a significant step to build technically-skilled professionals in the field of multi-media arts. The DCC have partnering with Copper Mountain College to work with the students filming theatrical productions at the Center.

          Enrolled students will be able to take advantage of the Center’s state-of-the-art $30,000 hi-definition cinema projector, 28-foot wide screen, and 7.1 surround sound system to view and hear their work.

          This is grassroots theater and hi-tech training.

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

        Well he did not pay a processing or application fee for the award and he does provide a service to the community with Theater 29.

        So it was a good award. As for this budget award I will leave it in the category that Jim Thompson spoke about – something about a dairy farm and the smell…..

  2. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    It reminds me of Bronze Stars being awarded to Officers for stepping one foot in country. Or Purple Hearts for paper cuts.

    • Terry Elam Terry Elam says:

      My dad said they were handing out Purple Hearts like candy. He turned his down. It was only a few years ago he was finally convinced to write for it.
      With a little help from Mary Bono, he received it.
      Is there a place where such medals can be retired? I dread to think it could be passed down to some greedy relative and pawned off.

      • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

        My statement was an analogy. Though yours is a Interesting story and I feel for you, we need to keep this thread on point.

        • Terry Elam Terry Elam says:

          I was trying to stay on point. My intention being to ask how do we keep these awards away from those who would falsely claim them?
          My other intention was to express the opinion that an award is only something issued by an agency in order to make money. Think Al Gore and the Noble Peace Prize.
          This group not only includes awards and prizes, it also contains certifications, diplomas, and many other fancy credentials some may have. Mr. Spear was wise not to judge a book by it’s fancy cover. Unless you want to do some Google investigations, that’s the story. Now if you want one on the budget, that’s another story.

  3. Steve_In_29 Steve_In_29 says:

    I guess this is the type of award they give people who aren’t even good enough to get the “everybody who participated is a winner ribbon”.

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