Twentynine Palms, Ca.,- During this quiet time waiting for the Department of Finance to render their decision on the litigation over the bonding of RDA, Redevelopment Agency, the rats have been jumping ship to a higher ground beginning with Frank Spivak, owner of RSG who dissolved his company and obtained employment at the City Manager of La Quinta. Then you have City Manager, Richard Warne, bailing out but grabbing his gold ring at a great cost to the citizens of Twentynine Palms and last, but not least, there is Matt McCleary the Canary, who gave notice to the council when the heat started turning up regarding the RDA litigation.>AG Answer to Munoz
A recent opinion by the Attorney General painted City Attorney Patrick Munoz with several ethics violations citing the Doctrine of Unclean Hands, among others, on the bonding of RDA funds and outrage of charging this small rural community over $1million dollars for his services. Ratt McCleary, as some have called him, is an alleged unindicted co-conspirator in this whole scheme, but was somehow hired by the City of Twentynine Palms as their Director of Development.
Three attorneys, not connected with this case, have reviewed the lawsuit documents and reached the conclusion the AG summary is prepared for criminal prosecution. Two out of three felt that McCleary will be facing charges and turn State’s Witness against Munoz, singing like a Canary! The third attorney, familiar with RSG, felt the AG would surprise Frank Spivak and yank him into the picture as another witness in order to box in Munoz.
In the pending litigation, it appears the Attorney General has set out to make Attorney Patrick Munoz their poster boy for messing with the Department of Finance. If you examine the dates closely, you will note Munoz was served on Christmas Eve to be certain to get his attention. It worked! >LINK
The AG challenged the testimony submitted by Ratt McCleary on various grounds with Munoz firing back on behalf of McCleary.>munozresponse
The Twentynine Palms City Council listened to the contract proposed by Manager Joe Guzzetta to hire McCleary on an “as needed” basis at $120 per hour, plus expenses, for Community Development Director responsibilities for 3 months estimated at $35,000 and as a consultant to the RDA Successor Agency for the next 12 months for $50,000 payable out of RDA funds.
I spoke during public comments on this agenda item as an interested party with “legal standing” based on the RDA tax increment portion designated to the Copper Mountain College and Hi-Desert Hospital. I objected to the payments to McCleary by the Successor Agency for his future court appearance especially in light of the pending litigation.
I then focused on the last page of the proposed McCleary fee schedule which states the following:
Additional Expenses-in addition to professional services (labor fees)
Out of pocket expenditures, such as travel related (including overnight) expenses, professional printing, and delivery charges for messenger and overnight packages will be charged at cost.
Charges for Court/Deposition/Expert Witness-Related Appearances
Court related (non-preparation) activities, such as court appearances, depositions, mediation, arbitration, dispute resolution and other expert witness activities will be charged at a court rate of 1.5 times scheduled rates with a 4-hour minimum.
I asked the council why McCleary would receive $180 an hour ($120 x 1.5) to testify in court, minimum 4 hours, and add expenses on top of that for approximately $1,000 per day? When the council asked Guzzetta the same question, he panicked and said he could remove that part. After calming down, he said he would find out the reasoning behind the 1.5 increase and bring back the agreement in the city’s approved contract format. The council voted to approve the terms of the contract minus the 1.5 hourly increase for court appearances and clarified this portion would NOT come out of General Funds.
When McCleary is subpoenaed to appear in Sacramento Superior Court to give testimony against Attorney Patrick Munoz, or testimony regarding actions while employed with RSG, he can travel by air, rent a car, dine and sleep in hotels at the expense of the citizens, thanks to the loosely worded, open-end, twelve month contract afforded to him by the 29 City Council.