Yucca Valley, Ca.,- The recently fired unpopular politician/Town Manager Mark Nuaimi, passed through the ranks of the Town of Yucca Valley long term employees with the swiftness and deftness wielding a death scythe. After his uncontrolled spending spree of tax dollars trying to pass the failed Measure U, a 1% General Fund Tax for 30 years that could not legally be designated, it was time for Nuaimi to cut to the bone, that is, after he secured his own 3 year contract and bonus from the four gullible council members, Mayor Abel, Dawn Rowe including the “Recall Duo” of George Huntington/Robert Lombardo.
Without the knowledge or permission of the council, Nuaimi gave the axe to several employees two days before Easter Sunday. Nice guy, eh? Nuaimi leaned on the council members to allow a draw down on reserves of $300,000 to offer “early retirement incentives” to several employees who would qualify to leave the ranks on a good note. A few told me they had the choice of “retiring” with six months health benefits and salary or be fired with zip.
Did two long-time employees take the “early retirement” option under duress? Town Clerk Jamie Anderson, employee #1 hired at incorporation and Parks Director Jim Schooler are officially “retired.” On occasion, one will see additional checks payable to Anderson for some contract work for the Town.
In the case of Jim Schooler’s “early retirement,” it was not something he embraced and now complains his wife earns more money than he does which is a first. Schooler was dispensable because another town employee was being groomed for that position and he did not have any additional “job protection”of eliminating anyone capable of stepping in to hold the reins.
One long term employee who dug in his heels to avoid this “retirement incentive” was Deputy Town Manager, Shane Stueckle, age 63, is also know as Employee #2- the second hired after incorporation. He is also the Community Development Director holding the Rosetta Stone close to his vest to decipher Yucca Valley’s broken Development Code which was inherited from the San Bernardino County at incorporation. Stueckle is currently shepherding the Development Code update with the Planning Commissioners and acting Town Manager.
It was thought the young Planning Assistant, Robert Kirschman, was being groomed to step into the position until he was unceremoniously hacked from his employment by Nuaimi and escorted off the premises by the sheriff when he came to pick up his belongings. This young father of two small boys was fired without cause two days before Easter. All fired employees and “early retirees” were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the details of their loss of employment.
Stueckle remained Deputy Town Manager as several Town Managers passed through the revolving doors in Yucca Valley in the past. A very long time ago, I once asked him why he was never the Town Manager. He replied, “I don’t want to be Town Manager…they always get fired.” Quite the observation on his part.
Another long term employee of the Town of Yucca Valley is Finance Director, Curtis Yakimow. I was told, off the record, he was the top candidate when the interviewing process to replace Town Manager Andy Takata was being debated. At that time, the Council hired interim Town Manager John Tooker to hold the reins while searching for a manager.
Tooker was instrumental in the hiring of now fired Richard Warne as City Manager for Twentynine Palms which caused the $31 million dollar bond debacle named Project Phoenix, which as been denied by the Department of Finance and the case is currently before the courts for review while the city attorney has racked up over $1 million dollars in fees.
John Tooker also has the uncanny distinction of telling the council members Mark Nuaimi’s 3 inch file had nothing reflecting poorly on him during the vetting process to hire a manager. No one even bothered to Google Nuaimi’s name or speak to any citizens in Colton. Congressman Paul Cook’s name was “dropped” by Nuaimi, then Assemblyman Cook, to bump him to the top of the candidates. Nuaimi, who refused to move to Yucca Valley, continued to live in the City of Fontana and commuted. Having never secured a real stake in our community, except to “groom” a naive Chamber President making her his “mouthpiece” during the Measure U fiasco, he had no qualms to divide the town with his own style of divisive politics. Nuaimi used this same pattern, as Asst. Manager calling all the shots in the City of Colton, bringing them near bankruptcy and taking down their reserves to approximately $50,000.
Curtis Yakimow is currently assisting in the wind down of the past Redevelopment Agency. The documents sent to the Department of Finance by Yakimow are viewed by them as submitted “under penalty of perjury,”per my conversations with the DOF. There was a refusal to sign a document regarding the certification that no properties were transferred out of the RDA between certain dates. To get around that situation, Nuaimi hired an accounting firm to compile a document to state in their opinion, they believe no properties were transferred based on the information given to them.
Curtis Yakimow is honest as the day is long. He has always been courteous and forthright to answer questions before Nuaimi, the control freak, came along. I would trust my life to Mr. Yakimow.
I urge the Town Council to ask many citizens of their opinion or personal experience with these two candidates before you decide. This is one of the most important decisions you will be making to begin the healing of our community and move Yucca Valley forward.
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