Yucca Valley, Ca.,- (Opinion)-Three years ago, a cancer came to Yucca Valley bringing arrogance, financial devastation, immorality and divisiveness to the community while gutting quality of life programs. A small desert rural community of 20,700 population with an average income of $35,000 was about to be ripped apart, laid off and ravaged from their quiet and peaceful existence by Mark Nuaimi’s ineptitude. How Did We get Here in 3 Years?
Never planning to move to Yucca Valley, Nuaimi remained dedicated to his investments of his home town of Fontana remaining an outsider and disconnected to the citizens paying his high salary. Facing a $400,000 budget deficit, this Carpet Bagger did not flinch when he wielded the axe to slash employees in March of 2013.
Three years ago, this charismatic politician with a troubled past experience of wrecking the Colton’s economy while serving a 3.75 year stint as Assistant Manager, was hired as the Town Manager for Yucca Valley. No one bothered to Google his name because he was highly recommended by then Assemblyman Paul Cook, now Congressman, who lives in this tiny community. Yucca Valley Mayor, Chad Mayes, was intent on hiring this candidate and his signature appears on the original lucrative contract for this inexperienced town manager. Shortly thereafter, Mayes was conveniently hired, without any managerial experience, by recently elected Supervisor Janice Rutherford to be her Chief of Staff. Mayes resigned from the Yucca Valley Town Council leaving over 3 1/2 years of his term which was an opportunity created to appoint a naive Council member, Merl Abel. Rutherford was a council member from Fontana serving alongside with the Mayor of Fontana, Mark Nuaimi, and teamed up on her run for Supervisor.
Embraced by an unsophisticated and naive town council, Nuaimi went about smoozing the “stakeholders” of the community scouting the weak links and winning over the print media. Admitting he attended council meetings before being hired, he had plans to create the town in his own image tossing out any previous visions set forth by previous council members. Stating this town will never be any Temecula Old Town, Nuaimi kicked the Old Town Specific Plan to the curb with his own visions spelled out in the General Plan update. Nuaimi dumped a three story Senior housing fiasco situated on the main highway which morphed into an overpriced pre-fab big box elevation resembling a prison facility consisting of 74 one-bedroom units of 700 square feet each. A no-bid contract was awarded to C.O.R.E. which was denied funding by the Department of Finance.
The last bowel movement Nuaimi left on the town before he was given the boot, is still seen today along the main corridor at the height of the tourist season and holiday retail sales. He awarded two non competitive Caltrans median projects in the Old Town area depriving 50 merchants of future access by customers or delivery trucks and viewed as the final financial death blow to their economic recovery from the Great Recession. Final Nail in the Coffin
Having a track record of deficit spending while Mayor, Nuaimi left an $8.2 million dollar budget deficit shortfall in Fontana when he resigned as a condition of his employment with Yucca Valley. Nuaimi acknowledged the “carry-over of deficit spending” which he spelled out in his last State of the City address as Mayor of Fontana. Nuaimi blamed continued drops in revenue and remained optimistic the tide would turn in a short year when the economy would turn around. It never happened. Nuaimi continued deficit spending in Yucca Valley with freshman council (Rowe, Abel, Lombardo & Huntington) sitting on their thumbs. A naive Mayor/Field Rep of Assemblyman Paul Cook, Dawn Rowe, allowed the most spending under her watch on the dais. Rowe’s Legacy of Debt
Nuaimi also left financial devastation in Colton which took 2.5 years to uncover all the messes and turn things around. Colton’s reserves were spent down to $55,276 before new management came in after Nuaimi bailed out by laying himself off with a plush package referred as his “Golden Parachute.”
Nuaimi brought this cancer of upheaval to Colton and Yucca Valley using a similar pattern by dividing the community against each other and making all the decisions. His rule was my way or the highway. His need to create havoc and control all construction awards bordered close to violating the law but never crossing that line.
Operating well within the margin of the gray area, sensing he was untouchable by the DA or FBI, there was no doubt many of Nuaimi’s actions were legal but immoral. The Yucca Valley Town Council, Mayor Abel, Rowe, Huntington and Lombardo, turned a deaf ear to examine his willful misconduct and demands for Nuaimi’s dismissal with cause.
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Part II- Yucca Valley’s Year of Turmoil…
Margo Sturges Author>LINK
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