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Exposé: A Better Understanding of Twentynine Palms

By   /   March 11, 2014  /   1 Comment

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Updated 3-11-14 @7:30 p.m. 

I thought I would try something different.  Such behavior broadened my understanding of Twentynine Palms. I walked the city and hung out on feet walking from store to store and place to place for  4 1/2 hours.


Yesterday, I left my wheels at home and rode the MBTA Lear special to 29 Palms to do some shopping. The Lear service picks-up seniors and disabled individual living in Desert Heights at their door and drives them to 29 Palms and back home. Cost is pre-scheduled trip $3.00 RT.

The MBTA Desert Heights run is twice a week (Mondays & Thursdays) . Pickup time, 7:00; return trip, 11:30. Drop off, anywhere in 29; pickup, anywhere in 29. That’s 4 ½ stay in 29. The MBTA dropped me off at the post office so I had a good amount of walking to do.

This allows for an opportunity to widen my understanding of not very complicated infrastructural requirements and beautification needs for visitors and residents.


Mesquite Ave. is an important throughway. Bicycles, wheelchairs, visitors and travelers use it frequently to go to the post office and back to downtown. The edges of the pavement are badly in need of resurfacing and repair.  Actually, even though blighted it’s an interesting avenue with previous historic relics in place and a small business area of a few remaining businesses.

Nice modest homes and rentals line this quaint throughway. Nonetheless, if you are Not traveling in a vehicle, good luck! One has to traverse to the center of the street to get around the pot holes and crumbling pavement. Bicyclers, walkers, strollers and wheelchair individuals  are especially put on notice to veer into traffic to avoid eating the dust.

Beautify and repair the damn street! It’s an embarrassment. What’s the “need”? A $20, 000 electronic sign for Theatre 29 or basic infrastructure?


March 26, 2013 was their grand opening.  It’s been open a year. Yesterday was my first visit. Four people were in the store. One patron pulled me to the side and began expressing her dissatisfaction about how Dollar General’s prices have/are increasing. There were some good prices and some things obviously overpriced. It would help residents if Dollar General along SR 62 has sidewalks to accommodate walkers, strollers, wheelchair individuals and bicyclers.


The city is actually separated by Donnell Hill. If you are not in a vehicle, how do you get from the East End to West End, and from the West to East? You literally risk your life, that’s how.

My understanding is that outside funding sources are in place for improvements to SR 62 to the West of Donnell Hill, and the same funding for sidewalks from Stater Bros. eastward over Donnell Hill to connect with downtown sidewalks. That is available on the city’s video sight.

A sidewalk would, actually, connect the two parts of town.  Even though Council member Harris has confused a dog park as a “need”, to his credit he clearly had demonstrated he understands the exigent “need” for sidewalks connecting both ends of the city.

Harris spoke passionately during a council meeting for SIDEWALK construction beginning before construction work along SR 62 (on Stater Bros. side of town). However, unfortunately, not one of the other council members backed him up. They were in their own world, far removed from residents of the city, real needs or public safety.

Be clear walking from the Arco station westward over Donnell Hill to Staters Bros. is a hazardous activity. There is no shoulder on SR 62. Yes there is a primitive off-road trail 15-20 feet to the north side of SR 62 going over Donnell Hill, but it is very soft and difficult to walk in. Not suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles or people that use two legs and feet.


The GREAT sidewalk beautification efforts a number of years age have become dingy, stained and tacky looking. All it takes is a little steam cleaning and it becomes alive again. That is a quasi-need. Let’s clean it up.


Spending has outpaced revenues! 

On February 25, 2014, Twentynine Palms Financial Director, Ron Peck, informed the council: “A projected $92,000 budget shortfall is expected.” He added, “In my 20 years, I don’t remember a negative fund balance”.  Not only shall the city be” in the hole”, but, Peck explained, the usual $1,000,000 left over in surplus funds is no longer in place.

Meantime, this afternoon the city council converged at Theatre 29 on Sullivan Road to cut the ribbon for a new electronic display sign build and paid for by taxpayers for Theatre 29 with no terms or conditions for repayment. The city will pay for half and the theater group is supposed to be on the hook for the other half. <wink, wink>. Theatare 29 folks actually got the city into a $31 million, $30 million debt, spanning three generations — with nothing to show for it.

The city funds this sign under the PRETEXT the city can use the sign too.  Theatre 29 has had enough feeding at the public trought. Who pitched this expenditure to Staff? The most successful self-serving lobbyist the history of the Morongo Basin, Gary Daigneault?

That’s old news. What is current news is that the city council has three seats open this year.

Twentynine Palms 2014 Elections for City Council

Simply put, any incumbent is an anathema for the city,  taxpayers and public safety. We need council members who do not pander to their local elite friends, and who will pay attention to city debt, as well as cease spending more than the city has coming in. The documented reality: Not one incumbent is suitable or qualified  using this criteria.

We really need just one good leader on the 29 Palms city council. We don’t have that now. Preferably Someone with local government and leadership experience, someone who will treat taxpayer’s money as their own money, someone who is smartly committed to ethics, someone whom truly loves the community, someone well-educated, someone capable of representing every resident and business in the city without bias — and someone who is not easily controlled, manipulated or hoodwinked by local cronies, staff, self-serving legal counsel and self-serving outside influences.

One non-incumbent candidate can change things around in Twentynine Palms. IS THERE ANY RESIDENT THERE WITH THESE QUALIFICATIONS willing to run for city council?


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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 Comment

  1. Addendum to Exposé Story: Street signs.

    Street signs are missing on some streets that intersect with SR 62 on the West Side of 29. That is basic infrastructure. However, this seated council will never have those missing signs put up.

    Street signs relate to commerce and public safety. They are residential requirements and basic needs. Yet, the council is preoccupied with such things like grand openings for electronic signs put up primarily for Theatre 29 with taxpayers’ money with no payback schedule.

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