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What is going on in 29?

By   /   February 12, 2014  /   6 Comments

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At last night’s council meeting a discussion was held in order to decide if the purchase of the land owned by the Huell Howser trust was a good idea for the city in order to build a park that also had a “dog park” component attached.

The council decided that it was not a good idea.

My question now is who is being factually accurate when it comes to staff reports to our council?

Let me explain.

In last night’s staff report Randy Councell said: “In February, staff was contacted by Keller Williams Real Estate out of La Quinta regarding the City’s possible interest in the purchase of the 70.82 acres owned by the late Huell Howser.”

One would think that in the last 10 days this real estate company cold called Randy Councell to see if the city was interested in buying this property for a park.


Lets take a look at the staff report of December 10, 2013 in regards to building a “dog park”.

“New Properties 7. Huell Howser’s”

Then the staff recommendation – “If staff was to recommend a site, this would be it.”

And who wrote this staff report? “FROM: Community Services Director and Animal Control Supervisor”. That would be Randy Councell as lead and Rick Boyd brought in as a secondary due to the dog park component.

So back in December Randy Councell was giving the Huell Houser property the clear go ahead. Did he somehow divine that it was for sale? Did the real estate office maybe contact him in November and not in February as he now claims? Or maybe he was in the hunt for this property well before it is listed as a possibility in his staff reports.

What is the import of questions and concerns such as this. The import is that our council is getting bad staff reports that are not accurate nor factual.

Some may say no foul. Well, I keep looking at those Project Phoenix Bonds that our council was convinced into selling through the very same process as this park business and we have nothing but 31 million dollars in debt to show for it.

We almost lost $200,000.00 last night had not a few citizens divulged that private email of Randy Councell to a select few citizens which was nothing more than an attempt by Councell to influence the council to see things his way. He failed. Thank the stars.

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About the author

Steve Spear

Former 29 Palms City Council member from 2002 through 2010. Graduate of Villanova University with a BA majoring in criminal justice. Served in the United States Marine Corps from 1977 through 1990 attaining the rank of Major in the Marine Corps Reserves.


  1. Okay, where is the city manager as all of this is taking place?

    Is he not responsible for staff? Is he not responsible for staff reports? Is he not responsible for accurately to the city council? If he doesn’t know or understand how things work in this city from within the shadows, then is he doing his job? Is he working for staff or for the council?

    This only adds to what is no longer a perception. That staff continues to use “disinformation” to confuse, cover up and put themselves in a good light.

    Corruption is not limited to criminal activity. Disinformation is corruption. It was corruption when the city council published three conflicting press releases in connection with two illegal closed meetings wherein compensation was discussed about an outgoing city manager and an incoming city manager.

    What has changed?

    Steve, assuming the council would have voted for the park, where would that money have came from. Is staff still pushing to loot City Reserves for a city dog park. Staff reports were purposely ambiguous in the latest staff reports where the money would come from, whereas in the past they recommended it come from Reserve Funds.

  2. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

    Hi Branson,

    I think the council has already designated $400,000.00 for a dog park. I would have to research where that money is coming from but it can only be from one of three places.

    The Reserves or the General Fund or the Capital Projects Fund.
    All surpluses used to go into the Reserve but now the waters are muddied by this third fund the Capital Projects Fund.

    I believe the city came in at about $900,000.00 in the black for fiscal year 2012 – 2013. So instead of placing that $900,000.00 in the Reserves they took part of it, $400,000.00, and placed into the Capital Projects Fund.

    Bottom line is that those monies are not grants or Measure “I” funds they are all General Fund/Reserve Fund monies. So I guess one could say that it is coming from the Reserve Fund because they did not put that money into the Reserve Fund.

    Clear as mud right?

  3. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

    More information is coming to light in regards to who knew what and when in regards to the Huell Howser property.

    Turns out, if the sources, and I emphasize, more than one source, are correct, the city was in the hunt for this property starting in February 2013!

    That is right a year ago and less then a month after Huell Howser had passed away.

    Why did city staff not report this fact in the staff report of February 11, 2014 or in the 10 December, 2013 staff report?

    How are these very questionable staff reports and selective emails seeking pressure to be put on the council happening?

    I see no illegal activity at all but I do see a city staff that needs some education in proper staff work. Of how staff work is done and how it is not done.

    Trust me staff work like this in the Marine Corps would get you into some serious hot water.

    • The city and staff have not honored Mr. Howser wishes to avoid political controversies at City Hall. What the heck were they thinking? What council member had knowledge of this and when?

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

        Hi Ben,

        The more I think about this it looks like a Former city manager Richard Warne concoction.

        With that said there would be no councilmembers per se that knew about this since he very secretive even with the council.

  4. This property purchase was placed on the Closed Session on the same agenda. When Community Services Director Randy Councell stated “we came up with a price of $354,000 for the property,” Councilman Mintz quickly pointed out price and terms would be discussed in Closed Session.

    1. Who decided to place this property in Closed Session when it was originally listed as a “Potential Action” item?

    2. After Councell brought this item to the Mayor and City manager “two weeks ago,” who authorized him to run this by the engineering department?

    3. Who was involved in the negotiations with the Howser Estate regarding any use of his name connected to the park with the sister only approving the name of “California Gold Park?”

    4. After Councilmen Corbin and Klink spoke out against the purchase of the park, why did Councilman Harris remain silent?

    5. After hearing the negative positions of Corbin and Klink…why did Mintz STILL call for a motion?

    6. After the item died for lack of a Motion and a Second, why did Mintz ask Harris if he had any comment?

    As the old saying goes…”There’s something rotten in Denmark.”

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