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Twentynine Palms Residents are not Douche Bags

By   /   November 18, 2012  /   23 Comments

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Residents and their TPFD are not “A Bag of Douche”

Updated Sunday, Nov. 18 @ 11:05 AM:

A majority on the City Council have cloaked their indifference regarding the safety of residents to the constructive reality that they treat residents like douche bags. 

Note also that the TPFD has been insulted and kick-around long enough by local elected officials and their City Boss.  The TPFD has 50 years of outstanding service to the community, but they too are treated like douche bags by the city council. 

Wouldn’t a reasonable prudent city council address the grave issues concerning a whooping fifty percent cut in public safety facing residents, their families, business owners, developers, builders and investors?

In grim defiance of urgent and compelling public safety issues in the public and private sectors, the leadership in this remote community is out-to-lunch; they have gone amok.

The city council and its City Boss, Richard Warne, are about to place a curse on Twentynine Palms and in doing so impeded the growth of the small town —  growth so desperately demanded by residents.

City Hall is remiss by not representing the city as a whole. While the TPFD is about to be dismantled, city hall continue to remain silence about this public embarrassment.

The TPFD is about to be deconstructed and County Fire in its stead sill soon take over fire and public safety. Hence, said services will severely be scaled-back due to a fiscal crises in the County (and thus a public crises in 29 Palms).

However, let it be known that a solution to the looming crises is to partnering with the San Bernardino Fire Department. In this way, the city has the ability and financial resources to keep TPFD fire fighters in place at its present level.

The City partners with the 29 Palms Chamber of Commerce (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars and a free remodled building) , it partners yearly with a local group called ChalkFest (a fundraiser), and it partners with other annual local groups of friends (assisting in fundraising).

Nonetheless, the City Council have failed in their fiduciary obligation to keep residents safe — and informed — on matters of public safety.

Yet, the majority of city councilmen are playing the dangerous game of “I see no evil, I speak of no evil and I say no evil” in terms of the well-being of resident .

Hence, City Hall has not spoken to this problem or even lifted a finger to fix it. City Hall continues to blame residents for the problem.  City Councilman contends that the people do not want adequate fire protection.  Are you shocked yet?!

Emergency response times will indeed take longer (if at all); flood control channel gates that cuts through downtown and the city limits at large may not get closed; resident’s flooding emergencies cannot be met; and that during seasonal emergencies, earthquakes and catastrophes the town will be largely be on their own.

Given the “uber” weather conditions — as former city councilman Steve Spear has alluded to —  anything is possible in the Morongo basin,  and in particular Twentynine Palms.

The Marine base (MCAGCC) — which borders the small and remote Hi-Desert town situated in the Southeast corner of San Bernardino County — will be on lock down in terms of national security; they have already informed the TPFD, the Marine base fire department will be not be there to assist the town with public safety or fire protection.

Twentynine Palms is heading 50 years “Back to the Future”– before there was a TPFD – whereas the town likely had better fire protection than it will in the second decade of the 21st Century new

The best hope for the private and business sectors is that after newly elected City Councilwoman, Core Heiser (a proponent of fire & safety issues) is sworn in, one of the city councilmen will be open to partnering with County Fire.

Footnote: Why is the 29 Palms Chamber of Commerce not speaking up for their membership?

Opinion / Commentary

 Other Related Links: 

Twentynine Palms Fire Department running out of money!

Part II: 29 City Council’s alternate universe on public safety

What is the Fate of the 29 Palms Fire Department?

The “Deuce Nine” Fire Department


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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Here is a great story to comment on….. yea douche bag.

    • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

      Steve do you know what percentage of property taxes is allocated for fire protection in the unincorporated areas?

      Margo do you know what percentage of property taxes that is transferred to Yucca is for fire protection?

      Chancey how was the fire department funded before 97 and the special tax?

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

        Mark I have no idea how much of the ad velorem tax is applied to fire services in the unincorporated areas of the county.

        I do know that 29 Palms pays nothing of its ad velorem tax to fire services unlike Yucca and most if not all of the cities in the State.

        Jim Thompsom gave a presentation on this very matter at a council meeting. I will see if I can talk to him today and then get back to you with what he knows.

        • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

          Thanks Steve
          So does that mean if we not only fired the city manager but fire the city itself the fire department would receive tax from the county?

          That would be one way to stop the squandering of tax funds by the city.

          • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

            Apples and oranges Mark. No city then County takes over fire services and we would more than likely end up at less just as Chief Hartwig said.

            I am looking for way to save our level of fire service which is two stations and six fire fighters. Not the proposed one station and three fire fighters.

            • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

              Hmmm Morongo, Joshua Tree seem to have adequate service, good luck getting to the bottom of this mess. I would think fire protection would have a state mandated level of funding, you know a certain percentage of property tax for fire. Almost seems like there may be some positioning by county fire to maximize their funding from the good people of 29. Hope the citizens of 29 get a fare cost for the service they receive, equitable to that of the surrounding areas.

            • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

              I’m not sure how county fire is maximizing their funding when the only funding they would get is from a special tax with no adjuster.Seems like taking over 29′s service area is actually somewhat of a burden. As our service level diminishes, other communities will have to subsidize us through higher levels of mutual aid. Is that fair? I see no conspiracy here. However, I would be very concerned if I was one of our neighboring communities.

              Also, Morongo Valley is not operated by County Fire.

            • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

              Mark I have your numbers and I will post the PDF files when I get home tonight.

              In the interim here you go – Yucca Valley pays 21.78 percent of their General Tax levy for fire protection. 29 Palms pays nothing.

  2. @ Steve Spear & Larry:

    Steve Spear wrote: “My goodness Larry you amaze me with your defense of the indefensible. The city BLEW it and it was WARNE that blew it with a council following closely behind for BLOWING it!”

    Steve, in any event Warne was blown frequently over there at city hall.

    Thanks Larry. This is the second time you wrote I have no ideas regarding the TPFD. Below you will find all the stories I authored. All of which written this year. Btw have a warm and thoughtful Thanksgiving. Are you serving ham or Turkey to your anointed guests: Danny Mintz, John Cole, The Honorable Councilman Joel Klink and Jay Corbin?

    Larry, here are the stories I’ve authored (are you sticking to your twice-written jargon?):

    Twentynine Palms Fire Department running out of money!

    Part II: 29 City Council’s alternate universe on public safety

    What is the Fate of the 29 Palms Fire Department?

    The “Deuce Nine” Fire Department

    Councilmen’s inaction places a curse on Twentynine Palms

    Part I: Twentynine Palms City Council’s Alternate Universe on Public Safety

    City Council hopefuls should think carefully their answers Wednesday night on partnering with County Fire

    A case made for the 29 Palms Fire Department

    Twentynine Palms Fire Department running out of money!

  3. Here is but one example how Jay CORBIN and his co-conspirators on the city council are absolutely in denial over the city’s incompetence to workout and provide public and fire safety for the public and business sectors:

    During Tuesday’s council meeting CORBIN blasted the Fire Chief and pointed the finger at him as though the Chief alone is responsible for the city’s gross negligence and dearth and dangerous incompetence.

    Corbin “cross-examined” the Chief concerning his 20 years in the department. And then he, CORBIN, stabbed the Chief in the and twisted the knife over the ladder truck that was required to be purchased.

    [Note that the city foolishly lack the foresight to understand the city didn't have the capability to reach the 3rd floor of a useless and largely vacant major Wall Street hotel plucked down next to Hwy. 62.]

    CORBIN, posturing like an attorney, had the balls to demand of the CHIEF why “the ladder truck purchase was a priority”? Does CORBIN know how to say DUH!?

    In other words, the City Council is in denial and attempting to put this safety crises on the fire department, when, after all, this city council sat on their rather large and collective fat asses all year and did nothing but stall and pretend there was not a problem.

    How it is this blatantly ignorant city council came to blame every one but them.

    They are so busy eating Warne’s warm crap they are bloated with bullshit and about to explode.

    As this CT Story indicates, the people, their Fire Chief and the TPFD are treated like Douche Bags — when it’s a common fact the City Council and its phony-baloney City Boss are Douche Bags in ever sense of the word.

    Outstanding reporting on the CC meeting by Rebecca Unger in the Desert Trail. For more on the story:

  4. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    Branson, you said “The Marine base (MCAGCC) — which borders the small and remote Hi-Desert town situated in the Southeast corner of San Bernardino County — will be on lock down in terms of national security; they have already informed the TPFD, the Marine base fire department will be not be there to assist the town with public safety or fire protection.”

    I suggest you verify this information with the Base Public Affairs office before putting it in a story. I do not believe it to be factual.

    So I can clearly understand the issue, you want the City Council to fund Fire protection for those within the City limits and the County to cover the unicorporated areas?

    If the City Council were to fund the FD for the coverage of the current Fire District, then the way I see it, then it would be prudent of the City to Annex all unincorporated areas of the Fire District currently serviced by the Water District for the tax dollars to help fund the FD.

    How would annexation set with those in the unicorporated areas? I suspect not very well, as the current Development Code and ordinances would then apply.

    The real question here is, can County Fire provide adequate coverage for the current Fire District?

    The County Chief said they can. Why doubt the professional from the County?

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Steve “W”,

      What I am concerned about is the county “professional” did not say they would provide “adequate” coverage. He said the county will provide what the parcel tax allows and that is a 50% reduction in fire service level. 29 will go from a two station fire department to a one Station fire department.

      The other point is that there is another “professional” named the 29 Palms Fire Chief who says that a 50% reduction of fire service is a public safety issue.

      So if we having battling professionals I then resort to an evaluation of public safety.

      I do not think anyone in 29 Palms would accept of 50% reduction in police considering we only have two patrol cars in the city on a 24-7 basis.

      I think the people just are not aware of the grave impact to their safety that is looming on the horizon.

      • Govt Ethics Govt Ethics says:

        Steve W,

        You and some others argue against the city putting money toward fire protection to keep both 29 palms stations staffed using the argument that the City would be subsidizing Desert Heights. Here’s some food for thought:

        Town of Yucca Valley taxable assessed value(TAV): $1,115,050,349
        TAV x 1% General Tax Levy generates $11,150,503.49
        $11,150,503.49 x 21.78% going to County Fire = $2,428,579.66

        Bet that some of that $2.4 mil generated within the Town of Yucca Valley is going to subsidize County Fire staffing at the Yucca Mesa and Joshua Tree stations. Otherwise, that is one very expensive single station that is protecting the Town of Yucca Valley. Reality is that Yucca Mesa and Joshua Tree are constantly responding into the Town of Yucca Valley. That’s the trade off… town tax dollars assist in staffing nearby stations and the town, where most of the emergencies occur, receives an improved level of service.

        Why shouldn’t the City of 29 Palms strive to do the same and do what’s right for the citizens?

    • Chancey Chambers Chancey Chambers says:

      Steve W,

      Here are some facts for you.

      1)The vast majority of emergency calls come from within city limits. In fact, the unincorporated area has actually subsidized the City. Perhaps 29 Palms should give some of its property taxes the unincorporated area to compensate. I would imagine that would not go over so well…

      2)The county cannot sustain fire services under the current funding mechanism because the tax is fixed price per unit. It does not adjust like the general tax. The county chief said that this is a unique situation. Furthermore, the chief admits that cuts or additional funding will be required to sustain the model in the future. Therefore, it is not a sustainable option in its current form.

      3)As far as the base potentially being on lockdown, Branson is referring to a base emergency service representative who addressed 29 CERT at one of our monthly meetings. I can assure you that it was said and I have confirmation from 29 Fire staff that it is accurate.

      I suggest you rethink your talking points.

  5. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    Hey Steve S,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Law Enforcement and Fire/Medical coverage are two spearate issues even though they fall under the Public Safety Umbrella.

    Poopooing County fire is premature in my opinion.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, it is my understanding that TPFD has 6 fulltime positions. The County will pick up 3 of the existing FTE’s and because of Union issue will fill the other 3 FTE positions with County personnel, keeping the same amount of FTE’s and may keep the Lear Station open. One of those positions will be a Paramedic vice EMT. I would consider this an upgrade to services.

    I do not see how the CC can fund Fire/Medical outside the City Limits without annexing the unincorporated areas and that any attempt to do so would be a tremendous and costly public fight. The CC priority and responsibility is within the City Limits.

    This statement from Branson that the Base won’t assist with Mutual Aid is just ludicrous.

    I know if I were fighting for my job or the jobs of persons in my charge, it is possible that I might just paint the bleakest picture possible to the decision makers in order to justify the continuance of our existence.

    Seems to me a couple of years ago when the CC asked the TPFD what their #1 priority was. It was a Ladder Truck which the CC responded to.

    Hindsight tells us the #1 priority should of been their existence. By not taking action until now all parties concerned have been painted into a corner. Now the decision makers have to make the best of the situation.

    In regards to the quality of County Fire Department Services based on my observation of County Fire in Yucca Valley. Outstanding. Station 41 on 62 is rolling out constantly for YV proper. Station 42 up on the Mesa on Aberdeen helps with JT and everything north from the Mesa to Lucerne.

    BLUF: County Fire is capable and a feasible option and I believe when said and done, it will be a seamless transition.

    Suggest giving County Fire a chance. As you know, we can always adjust fire when not on target.

    • Steve W — the base has stated that the community should NOT expect any help from them in the (inevitable)event of disasters (massive flooding, earthquakes and the likes). I was present at a meeting when a high-ranking base spokesperson made this very clear.

      Do you still believe it is ludicrous?

      I think you are being very disingenuous by casting doubt of the credibility of TPFD. If you have any information to support your allegations, you need to bring them to the surface. Otherwise, do not
      float negative rumors.

      You, as is City Hall and one planning commissioner, are blaming the TPFD for the looming crises in public safety facing the public and private sectors. That is really, really ludicrous.

      The city created the need for a latter truck, not the TPFD, yet you blame them.

      Postscript: Can you cease the attempt to suggest others are casting doubt on County Fire. That is ludicrous too.

      I’b beginning to think you ought to rethink a possible run for city councilman in Yucca Valley.

      A good Thanksgiving to you and your family.

      • Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

        I care deeply about the Morongo Basin. I’ve raised my children in 29 Palms and now my Grand Children are now being raised in the communtiy.

        I wasn’t attemping to spread rumors about TPFD. I was calling it the way I see it, which I believe is my right under the Constitution of the United States just as it is yours.

        I have reconsidered running for YVTC, it’s not going to happen. Dan was right and I thank him for asking if I “Was I a glutton for punishment”. I am not. I haven’t lived in YV long enough to understand the issues. What I stated about YV & County Fire are my observations & understanding.

        Since resigning from the TPPC, I have found more gratification in serving God within capacities in our church.

        Matthew 6:19-21 states:

        “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

        I’m finding so much gratification that I’m dropping off this grid. Don’t really need the turmoil or heartache in my life.

        Love you guys like brothers & sisters.

        Merry Christ-mas!!




        • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

          Steve we may have not always agreed, maybe even got a little snarky with each other but I always admired your dedication to the community.

          The current conversation you are the only one that understands the positioning going on by all involved to maximize their self-centered position. A sad thing is there is very little reasoning going on, just more of the sky is falling.

          Lived in Yucca from 74 to 90 went through the incorporation of the city, those that pushed for the city failed two or three times be for they were able to hoodwink its passage. Like in 29 those that backed cityhood are the ones who are now sucking the tax tit. You as a council member would be new blood and a needed asset to the town, hope you have a change of heart.

          I solute you sir, enjoy your faith and family, believe it or not I will miss your post.

        • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

          Steve W. Please don’t drop off this grid. There should not be turmoil or heartache in commenting on the conditions in the local condtions. Consider it fun. Consider it a means of countering some of the nonsense that is posted here. You are going to get familiar with the problems of YV. Dollar wise they are greater than 29′s. The waste water treament system will happen, either by the citizens or imposed by the state. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

        • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:


          You know when presented 11 years ago with the choice of accepting tyranny or standing up and being counted, I dug in and fought the powers of the status quo. I hope I will be remembered as one who could be counted on to give a good account of himself. I’ve won some and lost quite a few too. I have felt the sting of defeat and the fleeting joy of those small victories that come every so often.

          While over the years I have given ground I have never given up. I believe that this Republic is God inspired and God given. I believe that we must fight everyday to keep it strong and relevent in our lives. I believe at even the local level, our Republic is worth fighting for.

          Like Larry said, “There should not be turmoil or heartache in commenting on the conditions in the local condtions. Consider it fun. Consider it a means of countering some of the nonsense that is posted here.”

          I am not going to beg you to stay active in politics, I am not your consciense. The Lord directed you to serve your community through political activism, if it is His will you will be directed to continue his works. I believe the answer you look for is in your heart, not in the counsel of man.

  6. Steve_In_29 Steve_In_29 says:

    Couple of points from the previous iteration of this thread:

    1: I was NOT threatened with removal by the Sheriff for “not knowing what part of the meeting it was” or “going past some arbitrary 3 min limit”. The threat was made after my single comment from the floor in response to a statement made by Cole. At that point Cole could have taken the high road by ignoring it and simply moved on but since he obviously didn’t like being chastised during our previous exchange, he went into “respect my authority” mode (said in my best Eric Cartman voice) and attempted to some how put me in my place.

    Council members NEED to remember that they are NOT our Royal family. They are ELECTED representatives THAT WORK FOR THE CITIZENS OF THIS CITY without any kind of dictatorial powers. As such they are VERY ACCOUNTABLE to us and WILL hear things they won’t like about their performance. If they choose to attempt to talk down to/question/correct us instead of simply thanking a citizen for their input, then they should be ready to accept that they have just started a conversation and we WILL respond and possibly hurt their feelings badly.

    I did give the Sheriff a chuckle at the end of the night when I apologized “for not giving him an excuse to ball me up tonight”.

    2: The Water District is in fact a business in that they are a for-profit-organization. Other wise they wouldn’t be CHARGING CUSTOMERS for the water. Now if they were actually part of this City’s Public Works Dept (fully funded by tax dollars) it would be another matter. Since they aren’t, they have no moral or legal mandate to provide fire protection of any sort to an incorporated City and no matter how they handled the Fire Dept previously it is ultimately the City’s responsibility to provide adequate fire protection.

    29 had a sweetheart deal going for the last 25yrs as far as fire protection goes, in which they (aside from a few items over the years) basically paid NOTHING for it. You can delegate authority but NEVER responsibility. Now that said responsibility has come home to roost the Council is attempting to once again get a free ride, this time from County Fire.

  7. Steve_In_29 Steve_In_29 says:

    As far as County Fire goes, people need to stop going on what-they-want-to-hear and are-hoping-the-results-will-be.

    If you watch the meeting you will see that County Fire CLEARLY stated they are working with the same budget the WD had. There is NO OTHER funding source at this time.

    Of the three staffing options County Fire had the ONLY ONE that allowed them to stay in the black was to close Lear and staff Downtown with a single experienced employee and 2 Academy grads. You guys were in the military just like me, so you know you are full of it if you are trying to suggest that those new guys your unit got right out of MOS school were any where near as competent as the guys that had been doing the job for years. The situation is the same for the rotating boor of Academy grads we will be getting every three years.

    Watching the meeting you will note that NOT ONCE did County Fire state that this was “adequate protection”. They simply stated that “this was the best protection we could get for the money provided” and when pressed said “many cities in the County don’t have the protection they would like”.

    The Paramedic County mentioned is simply a product of County’s cross training requirements for firemen and NOT an additional person. So the fireman/paramedic would have the difficult decision of either helping his 2 team mates to safely fight the fire or leaving them vulnerable and aiding the injured. County also stated that paramedic employment was subject to the PURCHASE of additional equipment which WASN’T within the current available funding. Without said equipment the paramedic was limited to the current level of EMT service our firemen currently provide.

    Will MCAGCC respond to our town, yes they will, except of course in the case of an incident on the Base at the same time or a large disaster that strikes us both simultaneously or a serious terrorist threat that locks the Base down, etc, etc, etc. Mutual aid works ok right up until it DOESN’T and all those dollars that were supposedly saved WON’T bring back even a single person lost due to lack of resources.

    • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

      I hope the park owner who sent this to me aftweer in inquired don’t mind my passing it along.

      “ the original tax – I could find paperwork – the year and amount. It of course began much smaller, something like $17 or $19 a unit, and raises came along. In fact, originally it was set by the Board, after posting an agenda for public comment. I remember being angry when the district mailed notice of a proposed tax increase at the last legal moment, in 1989. We were something like 70% vacant land, with absentee owners; how could they respond in such a short window of time? As increases occurred and passed, I remember I used to send in our objection; the law allowed the Board to set such a fee provided less than 25% (of the assessed-valuation / total properties) objected – 25% would have required a ballot, I think, and if 50%+ = fee was killed. Never happened, of course. Law changed with time and evolved to today’s unit fee, which had to be voted in by ballot of the district. While I was active in district affairs, unit price for mobile homes in 29 Palms were raised from 1/4 unit per mobile SPACE, to 1/2 unit, to one whole unit, with a 10% vacancy factor allowed. Under the current unit fee, fortunately, the fee is per homes present – not vacant spaces. At least theoretically, there is someone present to collect the revenue from to pay the fee annually. But then the fee is so much higher, we pay thousands of dollars each year, per park, to protect property valued at a pittance, in the vast majority of spaces and mobiles here. Neither of us ever raised the issue that those “mobiles” present in this community/district’s parks – if viewed objectively and collectively – are far from equal in value to the “average” conventional home here. I was told privately that the reason one unit per mobile was fair was because, while no individual mobile on fire was likely to EVER be saved, departments prevent mobile home fires from leaping from home to home. We have a history of three home fires in our park in the past 50+ years. One kitchen grease fire, in an 8-month-old modern home, owners at home, with smoke alarm. One smoker in bed who actually threw water on mattress, went to other end of a single-wide 50′ old mobile, and woke to dash out the door when flames approached him later. One caused by high wind rubbing a gas flex line until it ruptured. All three fires completely destroyed the three homes, of course. I contended that no other homes were endangered by any of the three, including the high wind fire. I was told that my park is the exception, because it is, as parks go, spacious. I know a WILD FIRE swept a park north of LA, in a closed canyon, but then, wildfires sweep entire subdivisions of conventional homes. But, in my opinion, very very rarely, if EVER, have fires in parks involved a runaway HOUSE fire sweeping home to home. If that did occur, it would require conditions which by law are not allowed: faulty park wiring, refuse accumulation; failure to observe setbacks. The best of parks could experience a gas leak, but conflagration of multiple mobiles is NOT known to occur”.

      And if the TPWD is for profit, how and to who is those profits dispersed to?

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