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HDWD Waterlogged Argument Is Pointless. John M. Freter of Sky Harbor has it wrong

By   /   March 28, 2014  /   4 Comments

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Yucca Valley – John M. Freter’s letter published in the biweekly Yucca Valley newspaper is an amusing breach of the Hi-Desert Star’s  Terms of Use (Conduct. Section 4. B) and hence a breach of journalism ethics.

Mr. Freter revisits an old issue of preferential treatment and reduced water rates for the Joshua Springs Calvary Church (JSCC ). The letter in the STAR by Sky Harbor resident, John M. Freter, was ”cherry picked.” The publisher worships at the JSCC and is a power player in Yucca Valley political scene. The publisher is a political animal who uses the paper for political purposes and slants stories favoring the elite’s agenda (JSCC public officials). Other than that, it’s a local papers with respected journalists and does an okay job on apolitical issues. Her papa is a well-known newspaper mogul owning newspapers throughout California and the U.S.  He big, but hardly compares to the likes of William Randolph Hearst, the most controversial and greatest newspaper baron in the history of the United States. 

The so-called Sky Harbor “bubble people” — who worship at the same mega-JSCC situated in Sky Harbor — are officials who have demonstrated they do things their way. The cronies have all but destroyed the once beautiful, quaint,  rural desert town with big box stores, fast food joints galore, mass-grading the desert lands, traffic gridlock, stoplights placed around on side streets. These people have all but destroying an area once loved by the world. My advice to visitors and travelers is to drive a few minutes eastward to Joshua Tree. Or take a breathtaking drive to the rural City of Twentynine Palms for lodging and fun. 

JSCC public officials are a continuing threats to the local democratic process.  Power corrupts and absolutely power corrupts absolutely. The JSCC is a beautiful church situated high up in Sky Harbor area next to JTNP. It is amazing facility. It’s compound is staggering. JSCC is an asset to the community; its members as a whole are decent, hardworking people. Too bad their JSCC public officials have dragged their members good will through the mud over the last few years. Many of these public officials that serve themselves would be well suited to work on an Ohio pig farms to get a feel what it’s like to be a wholesome human being and to reacquainted themselves with God’s creation and learn to respect nature and all of its people.

No other church within the jurisdiction (sphere of influence) of the HDWD receives reduced water rates. Those lower rates have been justified because, say they, JSCC is akin to “city parks, recreational facilities, or athletic fields” because JSCC is a high-use ratepayer.

JSCC public officials rescinded an essential program for low-income seniors and Americans with disabilities that provided them a lifeline. While other utilities like Verizon, Edison, etc. continue to have lifeline services — the HDWD was just downright ugly and mean-spirited when they discontinued the program. They poked low-income seniors in the eye.

The nastiest them all — former HDWD President Sheldon Hough — is swaggering conflict queen of Yucca Valley. And all but forgotten crony, former  HDWD financial director, JSCC member, former town council member, rotating mayor — Frankie Luckino — pushed this plan with all the fervent of an errant Spanish fighting bull.

They cutoff lifeline services (aka CIMIS accounts) and presented JSCC a reduced rate on their water use. A few of the JSCC power mongers worked extremely hard over the years to controlled and managed nearly every aspect of the local political machine.

Since the Hi-Desert Star open the door with Mr. Freter’s cherry picked Letter, the whole flap herein is that public officials on the HDWD refused to recuse themselves from a vote where they had an irrefutable conflict of interest. This went beyond the “perception of impropriety when public officials lower water rates for JSCC. Those public servants should have stated for the record that they had conflicts of interest and recused themselves from voting.  At issue: voting when they should have recused themselves, a breach of public’s trust, cronyism and conflicts of interest. THE VOTE IS THE ISSUE. Reduced water rates a sub-issue.

Jamie Anderson – Comment to Sky Harbor John M. Freter Letter

The former Yucca Valley public official expressed resentment about individuals who do not live in the town making comments about  water rates. Jamie, since when does the right to redress local government and the First Amendment end at the edge of towns? Anderson also alleges that a couple of bloggers get “great pleasure making things up”. Allied with Mr. Freter’s POV, while Freter make claims of slander (sic) but omits to identify what words are slanderous, Ms. Jamie omits to give any example of what bloggers allegedly “make up.”

Responding  To John M. Freter’s Letter

Mr. Freter should understand that a fair and representative form of government is non-existent in Yucca Valley?

Mr. Freter Letter was more drama and personal in nature. His criticisms lacked merit and his allegations are founded upon on erroneous information.

The innuendo that Branson Hunter being is anonymous isn’t supported by the facts.  I’ve publicly disclosed many times over whom I and where I live.  The use of an “Internet handle” is in accord with Internet protocol and within the ethical parameters.  It is also a non de plume and perfectly acceptable.

Freter speculates, “[He] is just pointing out intended slander (sic) by a person who, I am told, has journalistic pretensions.” I’ve also said many times I am not a journalist. And do not want to be one. Nor do I have pretensions along those lines. I blog a point of view. Mr. Freter is misinformed. The undersigned is an *advocate* who favors of a particular cause, issue or policy. That is what I blog. I try to minimize human suffering and maximize human freedoms. Seems many of the sorry ass petty politicians in the Basin are for themselves and  their tiny click of opportunists.

In comments to Freter’s letter, David Peach writes, Sheldon “did not call for the vote on the matter and incorrectly claimed he had a consensus to impose only a 10% rate.” Machiavellian extraordinaire, Sheldon Hough, cut the legs out from under low-income seniors and nailed them to the JSCC cross. Those bastards left them for the Ravens and Turkey Buzzards to pick their carcass clean.   

Mr. Freter also wrote something about intentionally malicious subject matter but didn’t say what words he thought were malicious or or why to afford me the opportunity to react.  Mr. Freter Letter was nothing more than dramatizing his opinion. A cute dog and pony show. 

As Americans, we have a responsibility to be vigilant citizens, and that means holding government’s feet to the fire, it means using the First Amendment. “If you let government decide for itself, you’re going to get bad government. It is up to us to be vigilant. It is up to us to pay attention.”  — Jessie Ventura

Because elected and public officials are *public persons,* the following Links are important for Mr. Freter to read. It’s important for him to understand libel laws and statutes. Freter simply lack understanding of legal “malice” or its correct application. Malice is a unique legal term. Please understand it Mr. Freter and use it correctly.

Following are important resources and laws pertaining libel and slander and establishing a prima facie case for malice, i.e. reckless disregard for the truth. Those legal terms that have been hotly litigated for years.

Sources for  John M. Freter: Libel, Slander and Reckless Disregard for the truth (applied malice)

Google Slapp, antSLAPP and SlappBACK  laws and court decisions.  This very recent California Appellate Courts decision has made very clear how malice is applied in slander and libel situations. This case resoundingly reaffirm York Times vs. Sullivan . I challenge Mr. Freter to show “clear and convincing evidence” my words amounted to reckless disregard for the truth. Otherwise, shut up. Young v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 212 Cal. App. 4th 551 (2012); http://www.medialawmonitor.com/2013/01/a-court-appointed-conservator-is-a-public-official-and-must-prove-actual-malice/

A  “Public Official” and Must Prove Actual Malice: http://www.medialawmonitor.com/2013/01/a-court-appointed-conservator-is-a-public-official-and-must-prove-actual-malice/ 

Appeals court overturns defamation award against blogger: San Francisco: A panel of 9th Circuit judges rules that bloggers have the same 1st Amendment protections as traditional news media. The panel said its holding was the first of its kind within the 9th Circuit, though other circuit courts have held that individuals have the same free speech rights as the news media. The 9th Circuit said the jury should have been instructed to decide whether Cox had behaved negligently because her posts involved a matter of public concern but were not aimed at a public official. Under settled law, a public official who seeks compensation for defamation must prove that the defendant acted with “actual malice,” publishing a statement known to be false or with reckless disregard for the truth. The court said bankruptcy trustees are compensated from the assets of the Chapter 11 estate they administrator, not the government, and therefore are not public officials.

“The protections of the 1st Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities,”  Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote for a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-blogger-1st-amendment-20140117,0,5295817.story#axzz2qldR88CU

The Communications Decency Act and It’s Effect On Online Libel: http://www.reputationhawk.com/communicationsdecencyact.html

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Op-Ed opinions and commentary by Branson Hunter

Updated Friday, March 29, 2014 @ 8:48 p.m.


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  • Published: 4 months ago on March 28, 2014
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  • Last Modified: March 29, 2014 @ 2:30 am
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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. michaelv michaelv says:

    After reading this article I began to wonder if there isn’t something in the water that people drink in both 29 Palms and Yucca Valley. It seems to effect those elected into public office because for some unknown reason they all lose their common sense and turn against the very people who voted them in to the office they hold. Recent articles reveal that both cities officials burn through money like it grows on a Yucca up in the park. There is no regard for the citizen at all. While Yucca battles sewer installations and other out of control spending, there is 29 Palms who were/are still wanting to spend 31 million dollars for a new theatre while the present theatre shows a steady decline in attendence over the past several years.
    I don’t get it. When will those elected realize that the days of unlimited cash flow are declining rapidly. Now is the time to prepare for a different future, protect the citizens with a proper fire department, stop the cronyism , work for the good of all not just a select few. A final note, JSCC may want to remember the bible story of Jesus cleaning out the temple

  2. yucca13 says:

    Great job, Mr. Hunter. Clap, clap. Being a low income senior living in the Sky Harbor area for the last 42 years (before it became the home of the JSCCs and many “elite”,) I would like to thank you for stating the way many things concerning the area have evolved over the years and the people who influenced much of the change.
    We would be out of here in a heartbeat if we were able to move! The Yucca Valley area used to be a relaxing, serene place to live. The traffic backups on the highway drive me wild. I hate going into town because of it. What in the world is the matter with these people and all of the traffic lights? Did they intentionally want the traffic to be backed up most of the time? Why?

    • Thank you very, very much for the encouragement. May peace be with you always and your loved ones protected from harm.

      Thank you Yucca 13.

    • Claude Short Claude Short says:

      Good Job, Mr. hunter! And, Yucca13- yes! Our former town manager, Mark Nuami PLANNED the traffic delays. He called it “Traffic Calming” and meant it to slow the traffic so that drivers would take the time to look around for places to shop!

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