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No Magic Tricks for Twentynine Palms

By   /   February 14, 2014  /   2 Comments

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There are some magic tricks that just won’t work. Magic will not fix problems long ignored by the the city council. The council’s lack of oversight on run-away spending is not to be remedied by magic.  “Pour over” funds diverted from City Reserves to special accounts, are loopholes that needs to be closed.

It’ll take more than magic to close the loophole whereby the city converts  county taxes intended for public necessities, for pet projects  and projects having no priority.

It’s been one big magic show in 29 Palms since the mythical bird Phoenix left its cockamamie mess on the door steps to city hall. 

Is it ethical or unconscionable that the city council divert money from City Reserves that now flow directly into accounts (“discretionary funds” or “Capital Project Fund”) easily accessed by council member for pet projects?

The pitiful squandering of taxpayers funds really hasn’t helped the community as a whole.

Is it proper for a city manager and his subordinate to use public funds to solicit help from elites in the community on an issue not yet before the council and without any approval by the city council, or is without any oversight opportunities by the public or taxpayers? Exactly who is ruining the city, elected council members or staff?

Is it a breach of the public trust for city council to indulge in a spending spree unsurpassed in the history of the city, rather than being watchdogs for the public? 

Council members have been villainous foxes in the hen house. They have not always had the best interest of the taxpayer in mind.

When an outside bond attorney (who happens to be legal council for the city) amasses a million dollars in legal fees with absolutely nothing to show for it but for more debt in consulting, administrative and attorney fees something is wrong with the leadership in Twentynine Palms.

When the same attorney is also  given a unanimous good performance evaluation — after the attorney omitted to twice inform council they were engaging in Brown Act violations during two closed meetings,  and after sticking the  city with a bond debt  he generously profited — something is clearly wrong.

There is the perception of impropriety. The  city council that has developed bad habits during the last few years: That they all stick together on some issues facing the community; that they remain mum on certain issues of importance to the community; that they have squandered untold amounts money; that they have amassed and spent a bounty of taxpayer’s resources unprecedented in city politics; and while spending “high on the hog,” the council is short on leadership.

There is also the reality that the council doesn’t care one iota about public safety in terms of an adequate fire department, and the reality that the city council “pours over” the 22 % it gets from county taxes for  public necessities into accounts easily accessible by the council for pet projects.

It was becoming transparent, “You vote for my project and I’ll support yours.”

Given the behind-the-scenes activity (wheeling and dealing) at city hall, The public needs assurances that polling or serial discussions hasn’t taken place in one form or another with staff or council, or both.

While the council pretends there is no crises in public safety or it pretends the fire department may not face bankruptcy, they also pretend the city does not have a protracted 30 years bond debt in the amount of $31 M.

The council is obsessed with throwing massive amounts of money from slush-funds on pet projects. Projects as a whole that do little to benefiting the entire community. There is more to leadership than spending money.

It is unfortunate the city and staff have not honored Mr. Howser wishes to avoid political controversies at City Hall. No magic can unring that bell.

Editorial and Opinion by Branson Hunter

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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. michaelv michaelv says:

    While I have been away from the Thorn for several months it appears that nothing really changes. Like the soap operas of day gone past, where you could stop watching for a few months, turn it back on, and pick up right where you left off. The City of 29 continues its show with its blind mice council following the dastardly staff, spending the citizens tax dollars on ferivolous projects that do nothing for the good of the community.
    Instead of tackling issues like the underfunded fire department, the mice attempt to purchase a piece of property just because the Inn crowd thinks it would be a good idea. If I was a Howser, I wouldn’t want my family name associated with anything the city was going to do.
    That being said, TV had one life to live, and as the world turns. Twentynine Palms has ” as the sand blows”

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