Out of Office Email Reply Warns Public
Desert Hot Springs, CA – Most city managers try to keep a low profile. It’s a wise move to not steal the limelight from employers, the mayor and city council. Not so Rick Daniels.
The city manager personally took credit for a laundry list of recent improvements won by Desert Hot Springs in a vain announcement on his own personal website rickdanielsdeserthotsprings.com promoting himself. Normally the elected representatives of the people take credit for such improvements.
It was an unprecedented but not surprising attempt to rehabilitate the questionable reputation that Daniels is responsible for.
Daniels recently came under the microscope again in an article published November 30th on the online edition of The Desert Sun questioning a warning on his official city email. Daniels out-of-office-reply warned the public that his email was being watched and to instead telephone him on his personal telephone if communication were necessary.
Personal Phone Avoids Accountability
The city clerk Jerryl Sorieno stated previous in the week that Daniels does not use the city phone, so Daniels leaves no trail of phone records instead using his personal phone for city related calls and text messages.
The city has a sorry history of failure to comply with public document requests, a vault of secrets, weak public engagement and is lacking transparency.
Comments attached to the article in The Desert Sun became so heated that Daniels’ son Ben Daniels came to his father’s defense by attacking the person making the comments with juvenile name calling instead of debating the issues.
Another commentator supporting Daniels generous pay also lashed out at a commentator telling him to “get out of town” because she was happy with Daniels and did not want to know anything new after living in the city 27 years.
Rick Daniels himself commented on the article about his email warning by listing more of “his” accomplishments and complaining he was forced to issue the warning as a result of his city emails exposed to the public. A city employee identified as Judy Price, who enjoys a friendly social friendship with the city manager, commented that Daniels’ explanation was “eloquent” but failed to identify herself to the public as a city employee.
Daniels merry band of supporters – what appears to be a city employee and a family member – circled their wagons around the city manager firing off Facebook “likes” in a show of support for Daniels. Ben Daniels does not live in the city, he lives in Indio.
Daniels out of office reply warning “to not use emails” was no cryptic remark but calculated as a result of a public document request exposing“6,000 emails” according to Daniels.
“If you must send an email, please make sure that they are strictly related to business of the City and that there are no personal or political opinions, satire or commentary.” wrote Daniels in his out of office reply. From that it might be assumed that Daniels email contains personal or political opinions, satire, commentary or material potentially violating city email policies.
Comments on The Desert Sun article posted November 30th exposed Daniels website to the general public. Comments also rehashed Daniels taking $25,000 a month on his three-year almost one million dollar contract from the poor city. On the morning of December 1st Daniels website was taken down and replaced with a nondescript placeholder.
On Monday January 3 city manager emails for the month of October will be made available to this writer.
photos by Bruce Montgomery