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On the Other Hand….Meetings behind Closed Doors, Again?

By   /   January 21, 2013  /   19 Comments

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Yucca Valley, Ca.,- The Yucca Valley Town Council will present a Resolution on Tuesday, January 22, 2013,  to codify and spell out their policy on invocations at their meetings, agenda item #13. The meeting starts at 6pm and is held at the Community Center.

Without any public hearing or discussion, this Resolution appears on the Agenda without any discussion of the elected Town Council members on this subject.  Are we to assume this has been discussed with the Town Council and Staff behind closed doors?  As is Nuaimi’s “Serial Meeting” style, the public is once again being denied the opportunity to hear from our elected Council Members about their concerns on this matter.  This lack of transparency is troubling especially since three of the four Councilmen worship at the same church as do several Staff members. Nuaimi’s Management Style- link.

This complex and lengthy Resolution,placed on the agenda without a public hearing or any public input, was written by the Town Attorney citing several court cases. The Resolution is not marked “Draft” therefore is it is a done deal as written?  Who authorized this expenditure and what are the total Staff and Attorney costs?

The Resolution “Congregations List” spells out Yucca Valley Religious leaders and creates a loophole on item 3 (c) to include “Chaplains” who serve the Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department or any nearby military facilities.  This special paragraph will allow volunteer “Ride-a-Longs” who are not ordained or do not preach to give the invocation.

Where is the diversity to allow a buddhist monk to chant or allow other religions as: Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism,Paganism, Jainism, Zoroastrian? Having studied Comparative Religions at Cal State Long Beach, I assure you there are several other recognized religions.

Beginning on Stamp page 116, (computer page 128 0f 139 pages), the Staff reports indicates this  item was requested by council to be placed on the agenda.  Councilman Dawn Rowe cited the recent controversy surrounding a motivational speaker at a high school. The Staff report reports recent correspondence to the Town on invocations, which was not provided in the full packet agenda. Agenda link.

The Hi-Desert Star article November 1, 2012, “School calls Religious Comment Inappropriate,” reports, “An assembly last Wednesday by a motivational speaker at Yucca Valley High School has generated discussions about free speech and religion at public schools.

The controversy is over Bob Holmes, a traveling “one man volleyball team” with messages for high school students about suicide, bullying, drug abuse and other subjects.

 A comment school officials have determined was inappropriate for the public school venue came at the end of the assembly when Holmes told the audience he owes all of his skills to his lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

The high school posted a comment about the assembly on their website:

“During the assembly, there was a personal comment expressed by Mr. Holmes regarding his religious beliefs. The personal comment was inappropriate for the nature of the assembly, and his statement is not endorsed by Yucca Valley High School, its administration, or the Morongo Unified School District.”  Hi-Desert Star  Story link

The Yucca Valley Town Council minutes for 2012 show the following men gave the invocation before the meetings:

03-06-2012 – Pastor Jerel Hagerman, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

03-20-2012 – Mike Yost, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

04-03-2012- Mike Yost, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

04-17-2012- Chaplain Mike Kelliher, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

05-01-2012- Chaplain Mike Kelliher, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

05-15-2012 -Pastor Chris Wagner, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

06-05-2012 -Chaplain Mike Kelliher, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

06-26-2012- Pastor Chris Wagner, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

07-24-2012 -Pastor Chris Wagner, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

08-07-2012 -Chaplain Mike Kelliher, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

08-21-2012- Pastor Tom Aversa, Valley Community Chapel

09-18-2012  -Pastor Bob Wagner, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

10-02-2012 -Pastor Jerel Hagerman, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

10-3–2012 -Pastor Chris Begnaud, Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel

(No prayers are offered up at Parks & Rec meetings,Planning Commission meetings or Joint Council/Planning Commission meetings)

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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


  1. This is exactly why the town desperately needs diversity on the town council. It’s very obvious that one controversial church — Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel — presides over and delivers the invocation to their members on the town council.

    This town council is dirty. They defy democracy. They are a disgrace to the community and to this country.

    • Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

      Ben, you,and your hate group, are the disgrace of this community. Has it ever crossed your mind that the pastors from Joshua springs just might be more active in this community? I have no doubt that any pastor from any church would be welcomed to give the invocation for the meetings. Your constant criticizing of the leaders of this community, that you do not live in,is typical of the extreme left in this country. Hate whomever you disagree with politically

      • Hi Planning Commissioner Timmy. Lets be candid.. The Town Council is of that church, for that church and by that church, rather than for the people, by the people and for the people.

        It is really unforgivable that nearly all of the invocations are from your Church. The town is under siege. This is why diversity is necessary to mend the fences with diversity. Btw smarty pants, in America there are no jurisdictional lines on the First Amendment.

        Have a great week.

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

        Hi Tim,

        Lets put it this way, when 93 percent of the invocations at a Town Council meeting are presented by just one church, there is a problem.

        I personally do not care how active these “pastors” are involved in their community. They have no right to claim 93 percent of the tone that is set before a meeting of a public entity.

        Your town is demonstrating exactly what I tried to stop in 29 Palms – a preference for a particular religious belief.

        I agree with Dan Stork and many others that our public chambers are no place for your religious beliefs or mine.

        How about we get some Muslims to set the tone for your Town meeting?

        You and all of the city staff as well as the council should think twice if not thrice before you embark on this meaningless resolution.

        • Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

          Steve,I know that each organized religious organization listed in the phone book, was given a invitation to give an invocation this last year, I think it would be prudent for you or someone else that thinks otherwise to contact the hi desert ministerial association. Maybe they can tell you why others have chosen not to do it. Jumping on Ben and Margo’s band wagon is not your style. You may or may not know that I do not belong to Joshua springs or any other religious organization. I don’t have any dog in this fight, I just know how absolutely ridiculous this accusation really is.

          • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

            Point well taken Tim. But the city staff should know better than to have 93% of the invocations given buy one church when that same church holds 80% of the elected council seats.

            It all adds up to nothing but perceptions and perceptions are reality and I can tell you that I am not the only individual in the Basin that thinks they see more than a coincidence between that church and the government of Yucca Valley.

            I have no dog in the hunt either Tim when it comes to Yucca Valley. The Town seems to be doing well spending itself into budget shortfalls and making deals that are just well – perhaps a little too Christian for us average guys.

            BTW – it does not matter if you belong to that church or not. The question is how has the involvement of those “pastors” of that church helped your town out?

            Good Luck – Tim.

            • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

              If I may add a little more content for you Tim.

              My wife went to Yucca today and stopped by the thrift store which is next to Big 5 and is run by “The Church” in question.

              She told me she was there around 1:30 or so and that the workers there were saying “This is the worst day in the history of America with Obama being sworn in as President”.

              I guess they too can have their opinions but he is the President, he did win, and my wife and I, just do not need to hear how bad things are going to be be because he was elected president when we come to spend money in a store.

              We won’t be spending any more money at that “Thrift” store because it appears that those that work there are not there for a Christian statement of charity but rather they support a political view of life that negates the sole purpose of their existence as a non-profit.

              Very poor showing on the part of “The Church”. Or do I over state their willingness to disrespect the President of the United States?

            • Tim Humphreville Tim Humphreville says:

              Steve, I would point out that Christians have a pretty conservative point of view. They look at his stance on gay marriage, abortion,schools that teach only evolution,to name just a few, as not the conservative values that they believe in. But I would like to point out that they, as you said run that store for charity. sense you brought up the muslims for instance,what are they doing here in this community for charity? also, are you willing to stop shopping there to do your part to help, because of a political stance? I don’t think you should be surprised to find that opinion in that store.

            • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

              Tim, my wife and will never shop there again.

              Again – good luck with your Town. Intolerance is just as applicable to the other view point also.

          • I have checked with people of the cloth, and they (and their religious organizations) have not been invited to deliver an invocation. This reflects on mentality of your church as much as it does on the town council.

            Due diligence is necessary to serve the entire community. That has not been done. Your church and the lopsided town council are running democracy into the ground.

      • Timmy, you agree don’t you that diversity opens up the invocation to the entire community. The town council represents all the people in the community, not just one church in the same neighborhood where the town council attend. Religion is brought into local government town council meetings, and when the town council is of one voice, one neighborhood, one church — abuses are glaringly apparent. It excludes people of other religions and other churches — thus an abuse of power.

        It’s easy to do the right thing. DIVERSITY is desperately needed to mend fences and heal the town so it can make the tough decisions ahead.

        When you all live in the same neighbor hood and attend the same church and belong to the same organizations, it is not a government for all the people.
        History has a long trail of this results in revolutions.

        You agree, right?

  2. @Timmy, Most of YOUR comments are filled with hate. I suggest you seek professional counseling to work out your anger. Had the order of your delivery been different, it MAY have improved your outlook on life. Since you cannot return to the womb, please know that many adult children, even twins and triplets, have great success to lead productive and peaceful lives after discussing and working out these issues with a qualified professional.

    1. Can you contribute anything to the subject matter of this story?

    2. As you are the Planning Commissioner appointment of Yucca Valley Councilman Robert Lombardo, were these talking points given to you?

    3. Why are there NO invocations at the Planning Commissioner meetings OR when there is a joint meeting with the Town Council?

    Just trying to help you focus on the subject matter…..Bless you.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Margo,

      Let us be a little realistic here. I know Tim and he does not need any “talking points” from Lombardo nor would he take any if offered.

      A planning commissioner is not accountable in any manner to the councilmember that may have got them to the position.

      As for no invocations being done at Planning Commission meetings and they are being done at Town Council meetings – a good question and a fair point to make.

      Why is that? Does the Lord only guide the council and the commission is left to their own devices?

      • Hi Steve Spear,
        I agree with your observations of my comment regarding the “talking points” part in my reply to Tim. I know that Tim does not worship at that church and Bob Lombardo does. Both have a personal interest in the Joshua Springs Christian School.

        Ex-Councilman Isaac Hagerman wanted to “appoint his own Staff” when he was elected and pushed for each Council member to appoint his or her own Planning Commissioner. The Town Manager arranged for this to happen and now our Planning Commissioners are political appointments. Each Commissioner is indeed a reflection of their Council Member and that is where I am coming from. In the case of Tim Humphreville, he was not appointed by Bob Lombardo nor was he on his “short list.” The Town Manager leaned on Lombardo to keep him on…..so who’s appointment is he, really?

        I personally know and served on the Planning Commission with Mayor Pro-tem Bob Lombardo and he is the impeccable gentleman who is courteous and was raised with manners. He would not call anyone names or call them liars if he did not agree with the person. He is an intelligent man and really listens to understand any opposing thought with respect.

        Tim Humphreville’s actions and attacks are a bad reflection on Mayor Pro-tem Bob Lombardo and often fail to meet his Ethics Pledge as a Town Planning Commissioner.

        The Parks and Rec Commissioners are also personal appointments that serve at the pleasure of his or her Town Council member too.

        Our Commissioners are no longer serving our community as public servants but are now political appointments. Consequently we now have a large number of Council members and Commissioners that attend the same church too.

        A stat for you: Considering the entire population of Yucca Valley, only 41.1% claim they are religious or affiliated. Of that percentage, 24% are Catholic.

        • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

          Thanks Margo for that information. We also in 29 used to have the planning commissioners appointed by the councilmember but we changed that process for some of the reasons that you point out.

          I was using the 29 model in my comments as I was unaware that Yucca still uses the appointment model.

          Good luck!

  3. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    There was no innvocation at the 29 Palms Planning Commission during the meetings I attended.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      I think that is Margo’s question. Why have invocations only at Council Meetings and not at other Town or City meetings?

      I had the same question in 29 too Steve.

  4. Steve Whitten Steve Whitten says:

    My 2 cents: Invocations should be prior to all City/Town meetings.

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