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Part II: Gary Daigneault: “Why are people so suspicious in the Morongo Basin?”

By   /   March 25, 2014  /   4 Comments

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Part I is Linked here. Look for two more articles in this series under a new title to be published by one of Cactus Thorns’ editors.

 ∞ Kicking the Hornet Nest ∞

On March 24, 2014, Public person Gary Daigneault, owner of Joshua Tree radio station Z107.7, discussed his involvement concerning a $3,000.00 loan the city council gave him for Theatre 29. During this broadcast Daigneault was slyly hesitant, evasive and failed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the loan in which the city provided Theatre 29 without a written contract.

All  told, he misled the public. Daigneault’s emails to Yucca Valley resident Robert Nelson (Part I) disingenuously alleges a Cactus Thorns story gives the impression that Daigneault was somehow being evasive and not telling the truth concerning an $18,000 grant. In doing so, he open the door to public scrutiny and taxpayers concerns — and to allegations of misuse of public funds. Daigneault also opened the door with his insidious “on air” question: “Why are people so suspicious in the Morongo Basin?” After all the political hullabaloo in Yucca Valley and 29 Palms, does anyone believe Daigneault was asking a sincere question?

Daigneault “Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”: Compelling evidence in the next two stories will show Daigneault was wheeling & dealing away from public scrutiny regarding the $18,000 public grant and that he misused public funds.  In my opinion, such documentation will show points to fraud, misuse of public funds and corruption (See infra for details).

Here is Daigneault’s last email:

—–Original Message—– From: Gary Daigneault <z1077fm@gmail.com> To: robertdeannelson <robertdeannelson@aol.com> Sent: Wed, Mar 19, 2014 10:24 am Subject: Truth This e-mail correspondence between myself and you was a true and accurate answer to your question. Your post to Cactus Thorns gives the impression that I was somehow being evasive and not telling the truth. what about this correspondence does not answer the questions you raised? Cactus Thorns has always had the information, they choose not to acknowledge it in order to further their agenda.

‭Nelson’s queries to Daigneault are re-published for convenience below wherein he asks Daigneault for the complete back story on the $18,000 grant funds that were wrongfully or illegally diverted to Project Phoenix and the proposed playhouse (see below). Here is Daigneault’s re-published email response to Nelson:

Gary Daigneault: “Robert,‭ ‬Good questions,‭ ‬I will answer as best I can.‭ ‬The new building was proposed by the Board of Directors of Theatre‭ ‬29.‭ ‬The existing facility was never meant to be a theater and has been outgrown.‭ ‬The proposal was brought to County Supervisor Mitzelfelt who authorized am ‭ ‬$18,000.00‭ ‬grant for design and conceptual work on the project.‭ ‬$14,000.00‭ ‬went to the architectural firm,‭ ‬selected ater‭ (‬sic‭) ‬an RFP was sent to‭ ‬20‭ ‬theater architects troughout‭ (‬sic‭) ‬California.‭ ‬$4,000.00‭ ‬is allocated for fund-raising materials (‬brochures,‭ ‬displays etc.‭)‬.‭ ‬City Planning Consultant Frank Spevacek and City Manager Michael Tree suggested the downtown location as a way to revitalize the area.‭ ‬Mr.‭ ‬Tree atually‭ (‬sic‭) ‬came to a Theatre‭ ‬29‭ ‬Board meeting to pitch it.

Tell the rest of the story Mr. Daigneault. Back then, not a single member of the board would agree to talk with council member Steve Spear to discuss what Mike Tree discussed about building a city playhouse for Theatre 29 (Part I, Sketch one). Daigneault maintained “The existing facility was never meant to be a theater and has been outgrown.” As known, the‭ ‬$31‭ ‬million bond debt built ”diddly squat” just because Daigneault didn’t like John Calvert Memorial Theater. The city was kind enough to provide Theatre 29 for $1 a year. Is this not classic opportunistic and ungracious behavior? Is it not contempt for taxpayers?

Tell the rest of the story Mr. Daigneault. To wit, the story how you diverted an $18,000.00 public grant for a purpose it was not intended. The $18,000.00 g‬rant was not designated for a Project Phoenix Theatre Design. In two remaining articles to be published, Cactus Thorns will provide documents the $18,000‭ ‬grant awarded to Theatre‭ ‬29‭ ‬spelled out the use is for “play production.” According to Mitzelfelt’s spokesperson and documentation, there  was no mention of allocating funds for an architect design for a new city theater. Compelling documentation will establish Supervisor Mitzelfelt’s office provided the grant for “productions of playhouse activities,” not for a Project Phoenix playhouse design.

Is this misuse of public funds? Misuse of public funds is fraud. Fraud is corruption.

Here is a smoking gun city video in which Daigneault pitched his scheme before the city council. The cronies on the city pretended they were hearing about this for the first time.  In this city video you shall see Councilman Jim Harris carrying on “ad nauseum” like a child glorifying Daigneault’s plans for the first theater (Part I, Sketch 1). Shortly thereafter Harris dumped his accolades and then unrelentingly supported the state-of-arts second ($13.9 million) Performing Arts theater/Civic Center Complex. Is this the sort of council member the public wants for another four years? The video shows Harris at his finest hour. Harris should audition for one of Gary’s theater productions.

At the outset “RSG proposes Project Phoenix to clean up the downtown area and start to build infrastructure of curb,‭ ‬gutters and sidewalks along with decorative walkways,‭ ‬behind the storefronts along SR‭ ‬62. The “Project never gets off the ground although basic concept was agreed upon,” Steve Spear has lamented.

But, then, things really got out of hand. Theater leaders and council cronies became very greedy. They wanted more without public transparency; i.e., city staff began meeting with theater people behind closed doors to discuss plans for the playhouse. Later, without public approval or public input, both planned the duplicate theater in the basement (directly in a FEMA floodplain) of the proposed civic center complex. Costs: $13.9 million.

Interestingly, Theatre 29 is a nonprofit public benefit corporation 501(c)3 with a tax exemption, yet they raised public funds for a design plan for a city owned building? Note that no evidence has been found from ‬Theatre‭ ‬29′‬s tax filings of the ‭”‬Architect Grant” money from the County. This will also be documented and discussed in a subsequent posting.

Is there any question why Morongo Basin residents are “so suspicious”?

The undersigned is calling Daigneault to admit or deny Mr. Nelson was not given the rest of the story.

A Danish Fairy Tale

Many years ago there lived an emperor who cared only about his clothes and about showing them off. One day he heard from swindlers that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position. The emperor’s trusted men were afraid to admit that they could not see the cloth and so they praised it. The emperor allowed himself to be dressed in the cloth for a procession through town. Of course many townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said, “But he has nothing on”! Many of the observers were willingly to share in a collective ignorance of an obvious fact, despite individually recognizing the absurdity.

Op-Ed and Commentary 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. Is this anyway to run a small city? Where is vision? Is there a war going on at city hall against a balanced budget, spending cuts or fiscal accountability? How does Council member Cora Heiser feel about the $3,000 upfront money to cover the theater’s cost of sign without even a simple promissory note?

    Unfortunately, Daigneault and some Board members has put Theatre 29 in a bad light. All the theater people work so hard to bring quality entertainment to the Basin, they really don’t deserve the discredit Daigneault has brought upon the organizaion.

    Theatre 29 is is a public held corporation under the control of the Department of Corporations, the AG and the Secretary of State and the public.

    Mr. Daigneault is out of control. Four councilmen are over their heads, knee deep in doo-doo and out of control. Is it going to take outside intervention to get the city back on track?

    Gary has done much for the community and continues for be a positive force for the betterment of the community. But honestly, however, the wheeling and dealing in dark rooms really should stop. So should any more money and freebies. Gary has received a disproportionate amount of public funds for his theater people. The theater’s preferential treatment has got to stop. It undermines the public’s truth and is unethical.

    Staggering harm has been cast upon the city with no relief relieve in sight with the present makeup on the CC.

  2. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    That’s “relief” in sight.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Sometimes Larry there are more facts than are apparent at first. That any of the past can be changed is not in doubt, it can not.

      But what can be done is to inform the public, that wishes to know, exactly how their tax dollars are directed by contract and how they are actually spent.

      Of how meetings are held in private that should be held in public. Of how city employees are part of a Board of Directors that they should never have been part of considering their position.

      Of how tax payer employees do things in private that they would never admit to in public.

      That is the stuff that I was against when I was on the council and I am still against.

      Bring forth ideas and arguments in public not in private and allow the system to work.

      It will be shown that Project Phoenix, as it currently exists in the courts of California, was never, ever, the original intent and there are a mere handful of individuals that changed its credible goal into a project for a special interest group.

      Interested now Larry?

  3. Thanks Larry. You’re sharp as a tack.

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