(UPDATED with entire body of post 3/2/2014) Yucca Valley, Ca.,- If this post wasn’t so pathetic about wasting tax dollars…it would be funny. The “Recall Duo” of Yucca Valley, Councilmen George Huntington and Robert Lombardo, somehow ended up on the ad hoc committee to update the Rules & Procedures of the Council manual of Procedural Guidelines. This two person ad hoc committee met behind closed doors with Staff and the Town Attorney to fine tune or clarify procedures bringing them forth to the whole body for discussion. The “Duo” did a fine job to clarify the Mayoral rotation but when it came to their proposal on selecting Parks or Planning Commissions, they were both off base…..wasting Staff time and lawyer fees.
Please refer to this agenda link and read the Staff report on item #15 for the background. For some unknown reason, the Town Clerk read the Staff report into the record instead of Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle. There were no power point slides or hand-outs presented other than what was printed in the agenda. The ad hoc members were asked to contribute additional information after Public Comment which was poorly executed. This request by Stueckle caught Huntington off guard when asked to explain the thought process of the committee and then he mumbled a few words…”we’ll come up with some qualifications…” The proposed changes and amendments to the manual were not red lined or highlighted. Agenda>LINK
In my three minutes of Public Comment on this matter, without the benefit of the ad hoc “verbal report,” I chose to fill in the blanks about what was NOT presented in the Staff report…in my own special way:
“Changing the rules! Changing the rules! It’s time to abide by your own changed rules and NOW you want to change them?”
The proposed changes from the ad hoc committee was to have another ad hoc committee interview the potential commission candidates after they met certain qualifications, and then the ad hoc committee would bring forth one nominee. The terms would be changed from four years to three years with the goal of each commissioner becoming seated and not connected to any particular elected council member.
Why change it now?
Several reasons…when the “Recall Duo” were targeted, their obnoxious planning commissioners would have also been given the boot had the Recall been successful to be placed on the ballot. (Drozd>LINK, Humphreville>LINK.) Councilman Dawn Rowe will not seek re-election which means her appointed commissioners will hit the door too. Appointed Councilman Merl Abel’s commissioners will meet the same fate . The embarrassment to the community, Planning Commissioner Chair Tim Humphreville is going to run for a seat on the council and hopefully he will resign first.>LINK. I think this proposed plan was to try to keep the current Planning Commissioners in place since they are needed to rubber stamp the projects coming before them in the future.
When Lori Herbel was elected to the council, she asked to be allowed to nominate her own commissioners who were like-minded. There was a huge uproar by the men seated on the council when they told her she had to wait until that Planning Commissioner’s term of four years had run out. The same men on that council also tried to change the rules to block Herbel from the usual and past method of rotating into the position of Mayor pro tem. The four councilmen were Chad Mayes, Bill Neeb, Frank Luckino and George Huntington. After public outcry, they relented to allow her to rotate into Mayor pro tem and she would have to win her re-election to become Mayor.
The election resulted in Isaac Hagerman replacing Lori Herbel. YV Planning Commissioner Dawn Rowe was elected along with councilman Chad Mayes re-elected to the dais. George Huntington and Frank Luckino were seated in the previous election.
Considered the worse councilman to have ever been elected, Isaac Hagerman, declared he wanted to “pick his own staff.” He knew about the four year term that Herbel had to abide by, but he wanted that changed. The unpopular politician/ex-Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, set out to change the rules and dismantle the community of Yucca Valley. In a twist of fate, Herbel was in support of Hagerman’s request becoming policy after her own experience of having to wait to select her own commissioners. Story>LINK..
I reminded the council that Chad Mayes had the first opportunity to select his own Planning Commissioner when George Huntington was elected to the dais. Mayes had always kept Huntington by choice that he inherited when elected to the council. Mayes stated he had narrowed his appointee down to one person, that is, until he interviewed Dawn Rowe who knocked his socks off. Holding up the agenda I remarked, “Under this plan…Chad’s decision would have been left up to the ad hoc committee? Exactly what are the qualifications?”
And then I asked, “What qualifications are required? Yes, Rowe is highly educated and a Soccer Mom. Would she have met the criteria of two members of the ad hoc committee?”
When Robert Lombardo was appointed to the Town Council, he was joyous of the chance to pick his own Planning Commissioner. At the time, “Luckino’s Leftovers” Tim Humphreville was NOT on his short list even though he inherited that commissioner. Town Manager Nuaimi leaned on Lombardo, apparently removing his spine, to retain Humphreville denying Lombardo’s legal rights. An elected or appointed councilman have the exact same rights once seated on the dais. The courts have ruled there is no differentiation between being elected or appointed.
I continued, ” When Councilman Bob Leone was elected, “ holding up the agenda, “under this proposed plan Jennifer Collins would still remain imbedded as Parks Commissioner?” ( All the council agreed to remove Collins from Parks & Recreation)
I did not have enough time to go into the disrespectful way the other four council members treated Leone’s nominee for Planning Commissioner by not even giving him the courtesy of a second to discuss the applicant’s high qualifications. During that fiasco, Huntington mumbled something about not living in Yucca Valley long enough, however, Leone’s applicant had resided longer than Rowe’s appointee. The destructive Town Manager Nuaimi coached the Sky Harbor Four to block Leone’s appointees which provided an additional reason, not placed on the initiative, to launch the Recall against Huntington and Lombardo.>LINK
Councilman Bob Leone spoke of these actions by the four council members during the discussion segment on this proposal. He acknowledged his dislike for the ex-Town Manager and vice versa. Leone felt the blocking of his candidates was an action against him personally for not supporting Measure U and was not a reflection on his nominees.
I’m glad he presented an overview on their actions. It was disrespectful on their part and the four kept their heads down without comment or offering up an apology.
Councilmen Rowe and Abel came out against the proposed changes before Leone spoke. Both presented valid arguments against an ad hoc committee vetting the nominees and felt the choice of Planning Commissioner was one of the most important decisions that reflect back directly to the council member. Rowe felt the majority vote of only 3 would not allow for diversity in the appointment process under the proposed changes. After hearing their argument, Huntington backed off and waffled with Leone making the fourth member against the proposal. That did not stop Mayor Robert Lombardo from giving his argument to accept the changes even knowing there were four against the idea. He remain argumentative trying to support his ad hoc proposal.
The town attorney was somewhat frustrated the council had gutted the proposed changes as she confirmed the final outcome of the discussion. Commission appointees will be by the individual council member seated on the dais with the terms of service to run four years concurrently while the member is seated on the dais.
In other words, the seated council member will nominate his or her appointee which has to be approved by a simple majority vote of the council. When that council member is removed from the dais, so shall their appointments unless the new member chooses to retain that commissioner.
Why is this post so long you ask? It is to document the history of that meeting and previous meetings. By attending every meeting for the past six years, I am able to give an overview with my rich history of knowledge and insight to share with the citizens. Otherwise, what will be reported on the local news? And now you know…the rest of the story.
Margo Sturges Author Archives>LINK
(UPDATE: For some reason the lower half of this post was not published. Probably due to the length of the story. Not wanting to separate this into Part 1/Part 2, I have included the entire post in this update.-Margo)
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