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Dear Department of Finance…Is This Legal?

By   /   February 23, 2014  /   2 Comments

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contract_negotiation_photoTwentynine Palms, Ca.,- At the recent meeting of the Twentynine Palms City Council, also meeting as the Successor Agency as declared in their agenda packet, four members (minus excused Cora Heiser) discussed and approved language for a contract to hire Matt McCleary as their interim Development Director on an hourly basis AND to serve as adviser to the Successor Agency with the winding down of the RDA, Redevelopment Agency.

After reviewing the documents provided by the Attorney General disputing the testimony provided by McCleary, it appears he would have a conflict of competing interests as spelled out in the terms of the proposed agreement. Attorney Doc>AG Answer to Munoz

A review of the proposed language pays McCleary handsomely (1.5 times $120 hourly fee, minimum of four hours) for any court appearances, testimony or depositions in addition to any and all personal costs of hotel rooms, airlines and meals, etc. These court provisions in the contract do not spell out any guidelines to whose interest McCleary would be testifying about, whether it is his time working for RSG Consulting, or as Community Development Director for Twentynine Palms or his participation in collusion with Town Attorney Patrick Munoz to fast track Project Phoenix. It is an open end contract that does not spell out where the funds will come from nor does it set any maximum time of McCleary’s days of depositions or testimony, especially when the Attorney General’s office pursues Patrick Munoz under the Doctrine of Unclean Hands.

It is my opinion these should be two separate contracts: one for the city position and a second one for the position of Adviser to the SA, which would have to be approved by the Over Sight Committee.  Here is an over view of his proposed contraact> Canary McCleary Contrack Stinks!


Respectfully submitted,

Margo Sturges

Morongo Basin Citizens for Responsible Government

Regarding tax increment for CMC College/Hi-Desert Hospital


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 – See more at: http://www.vote29.com/newmyblog/archives/59112#sthash.03eic3Ba.dpuf

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell


  1. Being an advisory to the SA means that McCleary is likely going to resume giving legal advise to the counsel. He will be watched closely.

    McCleary’s contract is similar in nature to Munoz’s contract. Munoz helped negotiate the contract for his church brother, McCleary. What next, McCleary gets a scaled down golden parachute.

    Margo is correct in her analysis: just who is McCleary going to protect, to testify on who’s behalf, RGS, Munoz himself or the city? This guy along with Munoz have conflicts of interest coming out of their Kazoo.

    And the council just fails to care

  2. The prevailing message from the Council that evening was McCleary’s court appearance re-reimbursement(s) were not going to come out of the General Fund, for which, Manager Joe Guzzetta acknowledged. Meeting as both bodies, City Council and Successor Agency, blurs the lines especially when discussing the terms of the contract which was presented by McCleary, rather, his firm in a proposal spelling out duties and rates.

    In the event, McCleary receives immunity from the AG for his testimony against Munoz, the proposed contract will place the City of Twentynine Palms on the hook for ALL of his appearances, depositions and trips to Sacramento…due to this open-end contract. A four hour minimum at 1.5 times the rate of $120.00 is pretty hefty…no maximum hours plugged in either.

    The consulting firm isn’t concerned whether they are paid out of General Funds or Successor Agency funds, it is an enforceable contract for McCleary’s services due and payable from the City of Twentynine Palms, again, due to the vague and open-end terms of the proposed language.

    After Munoz grabs most of the Admin fees for the SA, there is nothing left for McCleary. The General Fund is completely exposed for honoring the McCleary contract unless the Council tightens up the language and separates the two.

    Good deal for McCleary, especially with Council paying for his expenses, which they did not have to pay previously.

    Just for the record, Yucca Valley conducts separate meetings with separate agendas, so there is no blurring of the issues.

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