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29 Palms Razzle Dazzle: An Act of Congress, the Tribe, and the BASE will pay for fire services

By   /   February 6, 2013  /   12 Comments

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Reliable sources disclosed this morning that the city of 29 Palms is being sued in Federal Court for $4,000,000. I will post a portion of the conformed law suit in CT,  and disclose the details and causes of actions  in a couple of days. Note Z107.7 was not interested in the story.


Twentynine Palms, CA – The TPWD special fire meeting on Monday, February 4 was nothing less that planing for THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY. That day is one day after June 30, 2013. Credit due, the water district is working very hard looking alternatives to keep Lear Station 422 open.

422 responds to fires within city limits and water ratepayers; it’s the backbone of the TPFD fleet that provides emergency services and fire protection to the city. That could all change because the city has fallen flat on its face on public safety and fire protection.

It’s pretty much a dysfunctional city council. Last night, that was about as clear as a crystallized quartz gem. The TPWD meeting was actually a peek into the dark heart and soul of the 29 Palms City Council. Although the Board of Directors are not talking about a city plan, they have met in private three times with Councilmen Dan Mintz and Joel Klink. What was discussed?

That is on a need to know basis, and the city feels the public doesn’t need to know. What is known is there will be no increase for water district workers because the city refuses to fund the fire department.

The city has literally planted transparency six-feet-deep. By design, the City Council continue to keep a very concerned and alarmed public ignorant concerning public safety and fire protection. They seem to like to keep the public dumb as as stumps.

Councilman Dan Mintz would not discuss (with me) the content of their private meetings . Nor have the other councilmen because of a non-disclosure verbal pledge to keep things quiet. Richard Warne and the city council likes it this way.

The city council places more importance supporting each other than they do the public. Their actions are the proof in the pudding.

During the water board meeting, Councilman Harris offered the public an opportunity to view Tribal documents in his possession where the TRIBE is planning on putting some money aside for fire services. Be sure, this is the only damn thing the city council has done in the last year to inform the public about the future of the TPFD — offering the public to views a public records in Harris’s chain of control.


Thanks Harris, you are so generous but really offer no info to the people you represent what the city plan is. What about your campaign pledge, “I will represent all the people”. The time is past due. Why is the city council too cowardly to just say no, and hiding behind the TPWD?

Just say it… the city will not help fund the fire department. Conversely, the city is willingly to do the impossible… attempt to transfer/convey that obligation to the Marine Base, the Tribe (29 Palms Band of Mission Indians) and Congress. Good luck on that people at city hall and councilmen.

That’s their plan.

Though the city council will meets to discuss fire next Tuesday, the Agenda is not up on their homepage because of a planned failure of transparency, while all Arts Council meeting and Agendas are posted.

[Off Topic note: After Cactus Thorns article last week, the city finally took-down its misinformation that John Cole is Mayor.

I believe at the February 12 city meeting, the city will reveal how the BASE will provide the second fire truck in 29 for structural fires; they will tout the TRIBE will set Casino money aside for fire, and bullshit how an Act of Congress will take federal lands out of service and transfer it to the public for possible sale and thus added tax revenue.


Board of Director Philip Cisneros (Ret. Colonel) wasn’t exactly sold that an Act of Congress will save us. He pointed out how difficult this would be. He’s been there and done that, said he.

Board of Director Chancy Chambers wasn’t exactly jumping for joy either. He discussed [assuming argumento that an Act of Congress were possible] the transfer of federal lands wouldn’t accomplished much because checkerboard parcels in question to the Southeast of 29 are small parcels and the tax revenue would not amount to a hill of beans.

Amid all the pomp, an Act of Congress is not going to help fund the fire department by any meaningful result. It’s pie in the sky and the city knows it. These small parcels really have no propensity to bring in the big dollars that are needed to fund two stations.


While there is a deepening malaise at city hall, city officials flaunt their charm to everyone  clueless that will listen.

The city council I believe will sell the public next Tuesday that they can simply dump their responsibility off on Base Fire to respond to all structural fires in the city. City Hall, Richard Warne and the City Council would have a better chance of selling CRACK to the public at the Four Corners.  Very reliable sources reveal that Warne was asked to discontinue dragging Base Fire into the city’s problems. Warne has stubbornly refused, saying Base Fire  is a tangible asset.

Extremely reliable sources both on and off the Marine Base have reported that the Base is becoming edgy and pissed-off with the city for continuing to refer to the Base as providing public and fire safety to they city.

FACT: The Base does respond to city structural fires with one engine and firefighters, but that could change at any given moment. As the Base grows and the city has increasing firefighting needs, the Marine Corp  (MCAGCC) order could discontinue their MOU good will it any anytime.

The Base has their own priorities. The fact remains the Base will face the same seasonal weather emergency as the city, pending 8.1 earthquakes (like the one yesterday in the Solomon Islands), flooding conditions, catastrophic acts of nature or terrorist acts impacting on the Base would be subject to national security measures and lock-down,  or just  taking care of their own fire fighting calls.

The city is pleasuring itself it they think the can get away with transferring this responsibility to the Marine Corps. The MOU (Memo of Understanding) is basically misunderstood by the city and they are misusing the good will the Marines have provided in  responding to structural fires.

FACT: Base Fire is not a reliable source protocol. An errant city manager feels otherwise, and in intentionally creating bad protocol relations with the Base. There is NO mutual aid as an accountable asset.


The city is anxious to squeeze the Tribe for as much money as it can when the city pays nothing. Lets call a spade a spade: The city council and city hall are hypocrites. As Harris said during the water board meeting, the Tribe is talking about putting some money aside to help the city provide fire services.

I predict next Tuesday the city will unveil and sell their Razzle Dazzle how everyone else will fund fire services but them. If we are lucky another infamous Power Point presentation will be rolled out by the City Manager.

As one can readily ascertain, there are many holes in a plan that omits the city form helping fund the TPFD and a second engine while passing the ball to others not connected with the city or the TPWD.

Fire Chief Thompson discussed Monday how his department will be absolutely stretched to the limit 24/7, fifty-two weeks a year. He said they are quite willing to do this since there will be no money for Fire Duty Officers. The Chief will be the duty officer on call 24/7 fifty-two weeks a year.

Said the Chief, “this will save $15 to $30 thousand a year”. The man will always be on duty as fire duty officer. A fire duty officer is required by California law. The city is willing to let this unconscionable development further stress out fire personnel and officers.

Chief Thompson and the manager (presumable the water district manager) will meet with Tribe Fire Fire Council to explore the future. Water Board President, Kerron “Sam” Moore, Jr., said, “I’ve talked with tribes [before] about fire, so cross your fingers.


The future of safety of residents, their families, homes, businesses and churches are in the clutches of cross-fingers. This is not science fiction, it’s the reality at City Council.

To hell with the people, let them eat cake.

FACT: While the City of 29 has $40 million is liquid assets (stocks, bonds, property & overall assets, including $13 million in cash reserves as disclosed in 2011-2012 29 Palms “CAFR” documents — (more on this soon)) —  it wants to divert its responsibility to the USMC , the Tribe and cross their fingers for an Act of Congress.


FACT: Of the $39,976,099 amount to be exact, $9,620,967 (unrestricted net assets) may be used to meet the City’s ongoing obligations to citizens!  Page 3 of the independent auditor’s report of  Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott, LLP. 

Money is not a problem… What is the problem with the city’s refusing to help fund the fire department.

I guess politician Jim Harris thinks the TRIBE’s casino money is going will put to rest  this controversy. During the water board fire meeting , Harris touted the money this will bring in but he hasn’t a clue about amounts.  Right Jim… Tha’ts the only damn thing the city council has done during this entire year regarding public and fire safety commitments– an offer to share a this document that says the TRIBE may sometime in in the future put away some money.


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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. RescueGuy RescueGuy says:

    BFD Benny. Let it play out and tuck your shirt back in… They are doing everything they can for a broken dust bowl city that in the end is probably not worth the resources to protect it. 29 is the BASE, everything else is just waiting to decay or burn down. All the heroics in the world can’t save a city that does not want to grow outside of massage parlors, tattoo joints and rolling hot dog carts.

    • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

      I think I know you, and knowing you that is some funny dung lol

    • Terry Elam Terry Elam says:

      The truth hurts. There is very little commercial real estate worth saving at the end of the road. With a small sparse population, there is little attraction for business. the customers come from the base. Most of them buy on base or down below. Accept it.
      Most of those who live in 29, want to live in 29 for a vast number of other reasons. It’s a nice place providing open desert and a small town attitude. Life is a trade off. Where we live is a trade off. Add business with all it’s amenities, including a fire department, and you get crowds. Those of you who enjoy your town for what it is will once again be pushed out. Careful what you wish for.
      Part of that trade off is your fire department.

      • Huh??

        “Add business with all it’s amenities, including a fire department, and you get crowds. Those of you who enjoy your town for what it is will once again be pushed out. Careful what you wish for. Part of that trade off is your fire department.” — Terry Elam

  2. Carey Alderson Carey Alderson says:

    Interesting write-up.

    Concerning the Fire Department, I am not here to pick sides with you. I know where I stand on the Fire Department issues and that is my business.

    But, you keep pointing fingers at the City. Has it ever accrued to you that this might also be the Water Districts fault as well?

    Now you say that the City refuses to tell you the content of their private meetings with the Water District. Are you implying that the Water District is divulging information to you?

    Concerning the Tortoise Rock Casino. If memory serves me correctly I posted here on Cactus Thorns the publicly available information about what the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians and what the City, Water District, MUSD, and a few others were discussing in agreements several years ago. And I think I explained the “Fund” whereby local agencies can seek monies. So, I am asking you this. Given that there was a intense discussion concerning the 60,000 sqft Nuwu casino and the effects that it might have in Twentynine Palms, what has changed other than name and size?

    These are just a few items that I would like you thoughtfully consider and address.

  3. Yes, Carey, I have considered that and have spend much of my time attending meeting. My conclusion is that the water board and fire department have done an exemplary job serving the community on the lowest budget per capital of any other California City. Find one if you can.

    No, Carey, I’m not implying that at all. It was part of the meeting deal. The city had all the poker chips in those meetings.

    Tortoise Rock Casino and your question to me… as far as seeking outside funds as a local agency, seems to me the city ought be be on this. Less Power Points and at least some focus should be on your suggestion. What has the TPWD done to this end, don’t know.

    I plan on attending the Tortoise Rock Casino public meeting tomorrow from 10-12 Noon in Theatre 29 on Sullivan Rd. across from the old Bar Lumber building. Hope to see you there.

    Thanks for your important and intelligent input.

    • Carey Alderson Carey Alderson says:

      I have no doubt in my mind that the service provided by the men and women of the Fire Department is exemplary. That is not the question. My concern is by who provides the funding, the oversight, and the leadership.

      I have, let us say, worries that this is a case that there is misleading data being presented. There needs to be an audit of the budget with an analysis as to get to the truth behind all the numbers being thrown around.

      If I am not mistaken the Water District can also seek monies from the fund as it to is a local agency.

      And yes I intend to be at the meeting.

      • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

        I agree…. while we are auditing lets do a complete swing of all the local government agencies. City, Town, Water Districts, School Districts the works… Let’s audit the whole bunch. It would make great fodder for the blog.

      • Hi Carey,

        All I’ve been saying for a year is that the City has plenty of money, [$39,976,099 to be exact in liquid assets according to independent auditor’s report of Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott, LLP, as shown in the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Note the CAFR isn’t included in city budgets).

        All I’ve been saying is that the city council is remiss in its responsibility to protect the public and provide or help provide for the public safety and fire protection. The city collects county taxes and TDT (bed taxes) to provide for the general and specific welfare of its resident.

        All I’ve been saying is that the CC has been and continues to this day to hide-the-ball and obfuscate the issue.

        You again queried, “My concern is by who provides the funding, the oversight, and the leadership.” The obvious answer is the Fire Chief and the TPWD Board of Directors — but this is not the answer you are looking for.

        What answer are you looking for? What sort of *misleading data is being presented?*


    FACT: While the City of 29 has nearly $40 million is liquid assets (stocks, bonds, property, including $13 million in cash reserves as disclosed in 2011-2012 29 Palms “CAFR” documents (more on this later), it wants to divert its responsibility to the USMC, the Tribe and cross their fingers for an Act of Congress?

    FACT: Of the $39,976,099 amount to be exact, $9,620,967 (unrestricted net assets) may be used to meet the City’s ongoing obligations to citizens! Source. [Add to this the city's $13 million in reserves].

    Source: Page 3 of the independent auditor’s report of Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott, LLP.

    Money is not a problem… The city is loaded for a small city-village somewhere in the desert.

  5. LINDAG LINDAG says:

    In La Quinta, depending upon the day you ask and who you ask at City Hall, our reserves are somewhere between $90,000,000 as reported in The Desert Sun by our Mayor who was trying to get re-elected (and did)…then a few weeks later, our City Manager Frank (you know him as RSG) reported we had somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000,000 minus a $2,000,000 budget shortage to be covered this year; and then at a meeting I had with Frank at City Hall the figure was something like $45,000,000 ($90,000,000 – $45,000,000 clawback from RDA- give or take a few million) and then at a “Special Council” meeting held at the library a couple of weeks ago right after they fired 22% of our staff in a cost reduction effort, one was left with the impression that we are on the verge of a financial crisis…which we are sure was held as a prescursor to the call for the residents to support a “SPECIAL ASSESSMENT” in the very near future.


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