Richard Warne, the city manager for 29 Palms, was quoted in the local newspaper, The Desert Trail, as follows: “…ironically, the state’s financial officials gave the city $200,000 for litigation expenses relating to the dissolution of the redevelopment agency.”
Seems pretty innocent until you examine the words that are used and then do as I did seek out from our councilmembers what they were told in closed session.
The operative word in Warne’s statement is “dissolution”. He is correct that the State has provided $200,000.00 for litigation expenses. He is also correct in his quote to the paper that the $200,00.00 is for the “dissolution” of the former RDA and its various debts or contracts if any.
But what Warne and the city attorney told the council was that the State provided $200,000.00 for non-specific legal expenses and that is simply a plain misstatement of the truth as reflected in his clarification as reported by The Desert Trail.
Several councilmembers walked out of that closed session thinking that the State provided $200,000.00 to the city of 29 Palms in order to have the city sue the State. They thought, due to the spin of city staff, that the State welcomed a lawsuit and was willing to pay our city to file a lawsuit in order to finalize the answer that Project Phoenix was dead. They thought, due to staff, that the State was tired of telling the city of 29 Palms “no” and was more than willing to pay the city $200,000.00 to get an answer from a judge that the answer was “no”.
Of course contact with the State this week about this paying 29 Palms money to sue the State has resulted in rather boisterous laughter from State officials.
The State is very clear, money for legal expenses has been provided to 29 Palms for the “dissolution” of the former RDA and not for the continuation of a defunct project.
So how did five rather smart people get bamboozled and how did they buy into a ruse of rather apparent contradictions?
My estimation is that our local leaders have for some reason lost their ability to lead and direct. They have bought into the divisive strategy that Warne has brought with him from every city he has ever been a part of. Our council is now no longer a team that acts for the interests of the city. Instead they have become pawns of a city staff member that manipulates them for his own designs.
As it stands right now our local taxing entities that should have been the benefactor of the dissolution of the RDA, such entities as our schools, college, and hospital, will continue to receive less of the tax dollars that they should be getting because our council apparently can’t discern a ruse from a solid plan for economic growth.
Meanwhile $200,000.00 will go to Rutan and Tucker, the cities law firm, and $600,000.00 a year will be placed into an account for the next 30 years so as to pay back 31 million in bonds that to date have built or bought nothing.
One can only imagine what our schools, college, and hospital could have done with that money had our council been a bit more skeptical and inquisitive over the last 2 years but as it stands right now we are over the half a million mark in tax expenditures and nothing to show for it.