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If Public Safety is not addressed, Harris, Mintz, Cole will unwittingly bring disincorporation and bankrupty

Twentynine Palms – I would venture to say that currently all five of the council are registered Republicans. If that is not the case then I would hope that I get corrected. Be that as it may a majority are Republicans and what have we seen them do? They have pandered to the few that are considered the elite with Project Phoenix and have ignored the infrastructure of the city which serves the people.

They have ignored public safety by not addressing the very real problem of a Fire Department that will go insolvent in two years. They somehow tell the people it is not a council problem, knowing all the time, that the dissolution of the Fire Department shall cause the city to contract out fire protection to the county.

That contract will exceed the current parcel assessment fee dollars and within years the city will go bankrupt. Why? Because county fire costs twice, get it right, twice as much as our own homegrown fire department. But this council will not do a darn thing for the good of the majority of the people. Instead they do nothing. Which brings me back to your point.

The choices are clear. No incumbents and no former incumbents.

That means no HARRIS, no MINTZ, and no COLE. NO! NO! NO!

That leaves three new faces. LUNN, EASTER, and WRIGHT.

Some phone calls have come in about what I have said in regards to our local city council elections. Evidently there are individuals out there that are part of Park and Recreation and or associated or related to the Park and Recreation employees who are spreading the following about any challengers to the incumbents or the retread incumbent those being HARRIS, MINTZ and COLE.

If a candidate is for saving our Fire Department then that candidate is for “draining the General Fund”. It is exactly the opposite. If you are against saving our fire department you are then a General Fund drainer.

Why? As I have said many time before and said it in the above post. County fire cost twice as much as our own fire department.

I did not make that up Chief Hartwig even said so during his presentation without saying so. All one has to do is look at the numbers.

Again it is HARRIS, MINTZ and COLE that will put this city into bankruptcy because they have not offered a solution to the fiscal issues of our fire department other than giving up and paying twice as much for a service that as a city we must have or face DISINCORPORATION.

I just hope that LUNN, EASTER, and WRIGHT have their campaign “A” games in place and have the courage to face these peddlers of disinformation.

-  End  

Story posted by Branson Hunter



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Steve Spear

About 

Former 29 Palms City Council member from 2002 through 2010. Graduate of Villanova University with a BA majoring in criminal justice. Served in the United States Marine Corps from 1977 through 1990 attaining the rank of Major in the Marine Corps Reserves.

44 Responses to If Public Safety is not addressed, Harris, Mintz, Cole will unwittingly bring disincorporation and bankrupty

  1. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Good analysis Steve. And good foreshadowing of the economic surge of problems ahead if the city stays the course without addressing public safety issues.

    Thanks for separating reality from the misinformation being thrown around by in my opinion a few untrustworthy city troublemakers who have a horse in the race.

    The budget, reserves, city funds, the earmarking of funds for pet projects and outside sources of funding have manifestly and catastrophically been ravaged and devastated by Jim Harris, Dan Mintz and John Cole when he was seated at the dais four years ago. Now he wants back in?

    You all remember JOhn CoLe… He is directly responsible for the city’s $30 million debt,the over $1,000,000 for attorney fees that accomplished absolutely nothing,and an unspeakable fortune paid consultants and administrative cost surroundings a corrupted Phoenix project. It was one big ball of legal corruption, greed and pure stupidity that put the city in this financial pickle.

    The city has five council disappointments who are loyal to themselves and whom rely on team-building and camaraderie to brush-aside and mask the money trail of extravagant and excessive spending.

    This council is about as transparent as the old IRON CURTAIN.

    HARRIS is addicted to power and self- aggrandizement. Without thinking, he darts off chasing windmills in the wrong direction. MINTZ is a sly fox who has shown he’s not very bright but loves the excitement of pulling boners and getting away with it. MINTZ is a wheeler & dealer who best operates away from the public eye. He is not above lying to place himself in a better light.

    Five council disappointments are all loyal to one another and whom rely on team-building camaraderie outside the laws of California and the courts to make Patrick Munoz and Rutan & Tucker very rich.
    Scores of millions down the drain and lost forever.

    Why would anyone want another four years of flawless misfortune. COLE, HARRIS, MINTZ have negatively affecting the city for the next 30 years.

  2. Larry Briggs

    Larry Briggs

    September 2, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Steve, your plan for the fire department means gutting Park and Rec.

    • Steve Spear

      Steve Spear

      September 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      I don’t recall using the term “gutting” any department of the city.

      Here are some facts. We can always have our own opinions but none of us are entitled to our own facts.

      22% of the property tax in Yucca Valley never reaches the Town’s General Fund because it is collected by the County to pay for County Fire. The Town then operates on 78% of the collected property taxes.

      100% of the property tax in 29 Palms goes into the General Fund and zero dollars are expended on fire protection.

      Fire protection in 29 Palms is paid through a form of double taxation where residents of 29 Palms are assessed a “parcel assessments” that funds part of the 29 Palms fire department the remaining funds are collected through parcel assessments in Desert Heights. The citizens of Yucca Valley do not pay this second tax or parcel assessment.

      Should we apply Yucca values of a 22% property tax reduction to the city of 29 Palms our city would receive $1,098,240.00 less than it now collects.

      Can we come up with a means to approach that number of $1,098,240.00 through budgetary reductions in all budgetary line items?

      We can come close because all we really need to do is offset the shortfall of fire department operating expense in excess of the currently collected parcel assessment fee total.

      Will that cause some reduction in overall services? Not necessarily if we look at nice to have expenditures as opposed to must have expenditures.

      Again, we need a council that will tackle this issue.

      County Fire will cost the city. Simply look at the Law Enforcement percentage of the income pie and draw an inference should we rely on County Fire. Is there a reason to expect that county fire will be satisfied with the total collected now from the parcel assessments. No there is not and Chief Hartwig said so. Should the city go with county fire and not offset the cost of that service as compared to collected parcel assessment fee then county fire will reduce services. It really is that simple.

      Does anyone think that Law Enforcement would accept less than their cost to provide a service? Surely not.

      Not an easy problem to wrestle with unless the current option of doing nothing is the accepted course of action. Then it is real simple, out of sight, out of mind.

      A day of reckoning is coming.

      I for one do not think the people of 29 Palms and Desert Heights will vote to increase their parcel assessment fee. Not in November or even in June of 2015. People have had it with paying taxes and then more taxes.

      At some point the fire department will go insolvent and the city will be forced at that point to do something because it can not be a city by California Law without two mandatory services. Those being law enforcement and fire protection.

      Why not plan for that eventuality now while we have a little bit of time to trim the budget and perhaps keep a fire department that is 50% less expensive than county fire?

      Always good talking with you Larry.

      • Larry Briggs

        Larry Briggs

        September 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm

        Steve, Under your plan at some point in time the city will spend it’s rainy day funds. Why not fund the TPFD shortfall in the retirement fund and hand it over to the county? LAFCO agreed with that in the past.

  3. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Larry, that comment was disingenuous and mean-spirited. It’s one of those “When did you stop beating your wife? questions.

    Have you any constructive criticism for the two incumbents performance these past four years?

    • Larry Briggs

      Larry Briggs

      September 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Ben, You, who foul mouth 3 of the candidates, calling me “mean spirited” is typical of your warped mentality.

      • Branson Hunter

        Branson Hunter

        September 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm

        Sorry Larry,

        Cheap shot Larry. I invite you to apologize. Steve made some excellent points and some new and challenging issues have been brought to light, thanks to Steve — someone who does not fear expressing his views about the city. You on the other hand personally attack him absent any issues other than a personal attack.

        As always, your critic of Twentynine Palms council of people that have done unimaginably fiscal harm to the city and taxpayers.

        • Larry Briggs

          Larry Briggs

          September 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm

          As Dan put it: “Wait for it.” You who used foul language to describe Cora Heiser when she had the temerity to not follow the CT script should be the one to apologize.apologize

          • Branson Hunter

            Branson Hunter

            September 3, 2014 at 7:07 am

            Larry, you are becoming a cranky old chap. Cora Heiser has only to follow the script she sold to the public. The public bought an empty box of “The “breakfast of champions”.

            Cora realizes she gamed the public by wrapping herself in a package the was clearly inconstant with her stated goals and platform.

            With a changed dynamics on the council, I have hope Cora may rehabilitate herself and become the elected official she sold herself to be — a leader with forward thinking ideals who is above “going-along, to get-along.

  4. Adam Lunn

    September 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Steve,
    I wish this post was false, but even I have heard from very credible sources that this was happening. Not only is it happening, but City Employees are the ones spreading these untruths. What is even more interesting is it was word for word what you posted which means there must be multiple people spreading the same rhetoric.
    The reality is my goal is to not allow the Fire Department to wither away until there is nothing left. I also do not think that the City is in a position to completely take over the Fire Department. I do not understand why it is so hard for these two entities to just work together.
    When I was on the Citizens Advisory Committee we came up with many ideas, but we seemed to also come up against the same brick wall, the Water District cannot impose any other taxes other than the one they have in place. One member of the committee brought up numerous different methods that were all great ideas, but nothing could be done without the co-operation of the City.
    My goal, if elected is to build that bridge of co-operation between the two entities to secure the safety of all the residents in this community. At this point in time, coming together and both sides working together to save this LOCALLY CONTROLLED Fire Department will do more than continuing to squabble over who is responsible. Perhaps this new direction the City needs to go in, is a direction of taking the best interests of the citizens to heart and not passing the buck to the County at every chance.
    If JPAs work for MBTA why not TPFD?

    • Larry Briggs

      Larry Briggs

      September 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Split responsibility for something this important is not a good solution. If the bus is late you can wait. If the fire engine is late…….Let the County take it over like they have police protection.

      • Steve Spear

        Steve Spear

        September 2, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        Larry,

        The county fire department is not free. The cost will escalate every year. It will be a contract that the city must engage in or face disincorporation.

        We as a city just can’t say we don’t want anything to do with fire protection so here you go county take what we have left and give us fire protection. It does not work that way. Not at all.

        As for unfunded retirement liabilities although that is a factor should the city want to take over the fire department it is not on the table. Plus that was a red herring offered by WARNE to scare people.

        What WARNE did not say is that the city’s unfunded retirement liability far exceeds that of the fire department. Should we roll up the city and turn it over to the county because the city has the same issue?

        As for a JPA. That was one of the favored solutions years ago when the fire department joint task force was established and the expert report issued.

        As for a bus being late or a fire engine being late is not a function of a JPA. That is a function of operations which would fall under the fire chief as it is now.

        The MBTA board of directors bears no culpability for late buses nor does the water board currently bear culpability for late fire engines, if there is such a thing, as does our council not bear culpability for erroneous pay checks to city staff.

        Lets not cloud the issue with hyperbole.

        Thanks Adam Lunn for the confirmation of what was reported to me. And thank you for having the knowledge of how a JPA can work for the city. I imagine that is because you read the report that I refer to.

        • Larry Briggs

          Larry Briggs

          September 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm

          I don’t agree with you. As an alternative how about contracting fire protection out to free enterprise company as was discussed on CT some time ago? No CALPERS, just a straight contract for services provided. Many cities/counties do this.

          • Steve Spear

            Steve Spear

            September 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

            Larry can you name one city or town in California that has “free enterprise” provided fire services?

            I am sure you will find many that have “contractual” provided fire services.

            However both are not the same thing by different names. They are not, shall we say, be “a rose is a rose by any other name”.

            They are very different.

            • Larry Briggs

              Larry Briggs

              September 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

              I’ll have to check on this.

        • Larry Briggs

          Larry Briggs

          September 3, 2014 at 10:46 am

          The Fiscal year 2014 budget for Law Enforcement Services was projected to be $3,233,500.00 or 41% of the budget. Community Services was projected to be $1,570,650.00 or 14% of the budget. Can you tell us how much Fire Protection would cost the city if the city took over the entire operation of the Fire Department for fiscal year 2016?

          • Steve Spear

            Steve Spear

            September 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm

            I am working on that and I should have some numbers for the readers soon.

            Again, we are not talking about a city take over of the fire department. That was discussed as an option years ago and it is not a viable option due to where the Lear Station is located as well as a portion of the current fire department budget is funded by Desert Heights citizens who will never, ever, want to part of the city through annexation.

            I thought you would have read the report that was published by the joint task force years ago.

            Maybe you can ask the city for a copy and read it. It is very enlightening. If they do not have it ask Candidate Lunn for a copy he has it and has read it as part of the citizens committee that he was just chair of for the water district.

            That is why there are people out here that think fleshing out the JPA model is a better option than county fire and or doing nothing.

            • Larry Briggs

              Larry Briggs

              September 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

              Years ago means that things have changed and the solutions need to be new. A JPA is an administrative nightmare. Let the county have it so they can allocate resources. The county let the city incorporate without having a fire department and the state has known about this for over 25 years. For either to object now sounds typically bureaucratic. The financial payment procedures can be worked out in the transfer. The watch word is KISS.

            • Steve Spear

              Steve Spear

              September 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

              Well…

              We see tings differently and that is understood.

              I can assure you that the State and the County did not “let” the city incorporate without a fire department.

              There was a fire department and at that time it was deemed sufficient for the city to incorporate even though the fire department was under auspices of the water district.

              As you say things change after 25 plus years but will not change is the law that this city must, shall, will be commanded to have a fire department.

              You opt to contract with the county at a rather hefty financial cost.

              I opt to contract with the existing fire department at a substantially less cost and to administer that contract through a JPA.

              Have you been to a MBTA board meeting? Do you know the mechanism of how the MBTA works? Do you realize that all three entities that are part of the MBTA board have a vested interest to make the MBTA work? Do you understand that the county, 29 Palms and Yucca Valley work in harmony to make MBTA one of the best transit JPA’s in the State?

              Why would one think a Fire Service JPA consisting of the water district, the city and the county would not work?

              Its been good talking with you.

              I will have the cost numbers tomorrow.

      • Dan OBrien

        Dan OBrien

        September 4, 2014 at 7:32 am

        Larry says, “Let the County take it over like they have police protection.”

        If the Sheriff gets 1/3 of the city’s income will by logic the county fire get another 1/3 of the city’s tax income?

        The problem with your logic is the water district has no obligation once the TPFD goes tits up, to contribute a red cent to fire protection.

        As it is now they plan to share expenses through a JPA. A win-win for the citizens both of the district as a whole and the city of 29.

        And by the way there are scores of JPAs in this county that are efficient and provided valuable services. In reality the city would in good common scene, have a Joint Powers agreement with the county for fire, if not they would be considered stupid. Why would a JPA with the county be good but one with the Water District be bad???

  5. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you Mr. Lunn for caring about your city. Thank you for running for council.

  6. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Larry, can we keep it simple. As Steve has pointed out many times, the city gets property taxes directed to it from county taxes; this money is for necessities, for public safety, to help fund fire services.

    It is a fact that the city council, including prior council member, John Cole, redirects this money to other non-priority special pet projects.

  7. Steve Spear

    Steve Spear

    September 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I already did some research on the “free enterprise” option as you refer to it.

    Here you go.

    “There are no communities in California with private fire protection
    service.” Which is quoted from:

    “Can You Save Money and
    Still Save Lives?
    The Debate Over
    Fire Department Privatization

    By Julia Lave Johnston”

    https://www.library.ca.gov/crb/01/11/01-011.pdf

    This is a quote from the following link and was current as of 2001. I found a whole bunch of “contractual” fire services but no “free enterprise” or better known as “private fire protection service”

  8. Steve Spear

    Steve Spear

    September 4, 2014 at 12:57 am

    It has been a long night but the numbers are here.

    One way to look at this is to evaluate what county fire charges a current city of equivalent population for contracted fire protection services.

    Adelanto has a population of 31,000 plus as of 2012. Current cost for county fire protection is 2.2 million for one station, one engine, and three firefighters.

    Current 29 Palms fire protection, which has a population of 30,000 plus as per the city website, with having one station, one engine, and three fire fighters at the Adobe Road station PLUS a brush patrol at the Lear station that consists of a small fire protection vehicle and I believe two fire fighters is 1.2 million. That 1.2 million is the current value of the parcel assessment fee which we pay in EXCESS of our property taxes.

    As can be seen county fire is TWICE as expensive as our own fire department plus our own fire department provides more service albeit only a brush patrol as compared to Adelanto.

    Another evaluation tool is to ask how much more money would be needed from the city of 29 Palms, that pays nothing for the current level of fire protection services, to assist our current fire department to man two stations with two engines and six firefighters on a 24/7 basis?

    For 2014 that number would have been $260 thousand dollars. So for a cost of $260,000 our city could have had two fire stations, two engines, and six fire fighters.

    Compare that to the Adelanto cost and it is not a far stretch to see that county fire would charge the city 4.2 million for that same level of service and our own department can do it for 1.46 million.

    So as I see it our city has determined that the spending of $260 thousand dollars for a second fire station is less important than lights for Knott’s Sky Park, statues of sheep and monument signs, a dog park of $400 thousand without consideration of future maintenance costs for that park, along with a host of other public art expenses, etc, etc. The list is long and not so impressive.

    Will the cost of $260 thousand remain constant? No of course not it is dependent upon the cost of operations, gas, electricity, food, etc.

    Readers I have tried to provide you with up to date factual information as opposed to generalities and talking points that were established by former city manager WARNE and hammered home by HARRIS, COLE, and MINTZ. Who it appears have Larry BRIGGS also in the same corner.

    Larry is free to believe what he may and there is no issue with him having those beliefs.

    What is not acceptable is to have two incumbents and one retread incumbent buy into the WARNE morass of disinformation and to then profess to believe it to be true when in fact they know better. Should they not know better and actually believe that county fire is a better deal then let them come out and prove it to be so by offering facts as I have done instead of the old talking points.

    We need leaders in the council at this time. People that can see into the future and can analyze how county fire once it gets its foot in the door increases the costs over what they said was needed at the inception of the deal.

    Those qualities have already been displayed as lacking in MINTZ, HARRIS, and COLE. They had their chance two years ago and sided with WARNE and not public safety.

    Thanks for the time you have taken to follow this matter. The read hit rate is very high.

    • Larry Briggs

      Larry Briggs

      September 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Chief Thompson has said the fire department will go bankrupt in 2016 or whenever the current parcel tax expires. The water district can’t put money into the fire department. That leaves the city responsible for putting in the shortfall. Where in the city budget will you recommend cuts be made to make up the shortfall in future years?

      • Steve Spear

        Steve Spear

        September 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        There are plenty of places. First matter of business is repeal the Capital Funds formula that was devised.

        Every year that I was on the council, and prior, and after we had anywhere from $500,000.00 to almost 1 million left over in the General Fund come June 30 the end of each fiscal year.

        Instead of putting that money in the reserves or “rainy day” fund as you describe it the council devised a formula to spend it on things and stuff because somebody on the council believed that too much reserves are a bad thing.

        I will be interested to hear what is left over come this June.

        Also, when I was on the council I went through the budget line item by line item and tried to have many expenses chopped all to no avail.

        The money is there Larry. Now could it require some cutbacks in “nice to have” items as opposed to “must have items” could be we just do not know because the council has done nothing to study the issue nor prepare for the issue. Nothing.

        However I will wait and see if the next council has the insight to see where we are headed.

        • Larry Briggs

          Larry Briggs

          September 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

          I believe the cap on “rainy day”/reserve funds is now $10M. Excess goes to other projects. It sounds like the other 4 council persons on the council with you didn’t agree with your proposed cuts.

          • Steve Spear

            Steve Spear

            September 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm

            I wonder if the council come June might want to take any excess of $10M and provide those funds to support the fire department.

            Or maybe they should start saving those dollars to pay for county fire.

            Tough decisions.

            • Larry Briggs

              Larry Briggs

              September 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

              I agree they should consider these. When the going gets tough the tough get going. Also, why would the water district want to be part of a JPA when they have no money to contribute to the operation?

            • Steve Spear

              Steve Spear

              September 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

              Larry the Water District has 1.2 Million to bring to the JPA. You are kidding right?

              The question is how much does the city have?

            • Larry Briggs

              Larry Briggs

              September 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

              Steve, If that 1.2 million is the perpetual water availability assessment why couldn’t that be made a pass thru to the county to support the transfer of the fire department.

  9. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

    The entire community of Twentynine Palms needs to appreciate Steve Spear. I urge you to read a short paragraph by Steve that in a nut shell provides the right direction out of this public safety quagmire.

    Steve in his comment immediately above has dispensed more important information in terms of a solutions and directions than have Staff, a city council, or Larry B.

    Here is that paragraph:

    So as I see it our city has determined that the spending of $260 thousand dollars for a second fire station is less important than lights for Knott’s Sky Park, statues of sheep and monument signs, a dog park of $400 thousand without consideration of future maintenance costs for that park, along with a host of other public art expenses, etc, etc. The list is long and not so impressive. — Steve Spear
    -END-

    HARRIS AND MINTZ have no clue of what to do. They only exacerbate the problem and proffer nada. — bh

  10. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Freaking sidewalks in the downtown area is overdue and neglected. If HARRIS and NINTZ get knocked out of the race, maybe a new council would take the lead from Yucca Valley and work on sidewalks. I remember very cleary when Cactus Thorns was challenging Mark Nuaimi why no sidewalks projects in Yucca. Nuaimi’s response was they just can’t do it because of Caltralns problems and redtape.

    That was all lies and disinformation. And it can be done in 29 with good council people. Time for the “A-Team” of new leadership. Time for the city to cease and desist giving preferential treatment to special friends, special organizations.

    Whatever it takes, one block on one side at a time.
    Arches over the city, goats, world class sculptures, iron 29 signs, roll-out mobile signs — what about the frigging infrastructure that this council is by design pretending is not a problem.

    Only an uninformed voter, or one the three or so organizations of inter-connected cronies that uses 29 as their sugar daddy, would ever want HARRIS OR Mintz back at the dais for another four years of plundering funds and pet projects coupled with absolutely NO leadership or new ideal.

  11. Branson Hunter

    Branson Hunter

    September 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    The absence of SIDEWALKS along 62 in the downtown areas is a SAFETY concern.

    Do you follow this thinking, Larry?

  12. Larry Briggs

    Larry Briggs

    September 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Ben, You obviously missed the presentation on the project to put sidewalks on Hwy 62 from Stater Brothers east to Triad Realtors. Think it was presented last year. Check the back issues of the Trail for good reporting on this topic.

    • Branson Hunter

      Branson Hunter

      September 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Larry, I am talking about the DOWNTOWN area along SR l62 — beginning from the East at Circle K running through town to Triad Realators.

      Nonetheless, Larry, I was at the council meeting back when as it was discussed. To Harris’ credit he wanted a priority on sidewalks from the downtrodden west of town leading into town. But Mintz and the rest of the bunch just sat there like stumps. That is a critical public safety issue. Harris recognized it; Mintz didn’t care. Neither did the other followers.

      It appears that goats, signs and all the other feel good vanity spending is already a done deal, but no sidewalks. The YV council got job done even after the presentation you are talking about.

      Change on the council is needed; leadership is needed; people that can focus and direct Staff as opposed to Staff directing five bozo’s. I mean that: we have five bozos on the council who have shown zero leadership.

      • Larry Briggs

        Larry Briggs

        September 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Ben, There is sidewalk from Circle K west to Triad on the south side of 62. There is sidewalk from the gas station east to Bailey’s automotive on the north side. The only need for sidewalk is from the east half of Bauley’s east past McGee’s and the motel to Cienega. You really need to know what you are saying.

        • Branson Hunter

          Branson Hunter

          September 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

          Larry, the city ought to care about the North side of the street too, don’t you think?

          A long established business location in that area needs sidewalks. And a large part of those block you describe are shamefully filthy and in need of a good steam cleaning.

          Next time I’m in town more pictures (found my camera) of the downtown neglected infrastructure will be taken.

          The council needs to be held responsible for “vanity spending on feel good stuff” having absolutely no-priority whatsoever. Rather, elected officials who don’t spend taxpayers’ money where it is most needed are not needed and should be replaced.

          Larry, your In comments to this thread have shown you don’t understand issues. Therefore, don’t toss stones.

          As I said sidewalks are needed, not feel good world-class sculptures.

          MINTZ and HARRIS are trying to whitewash their record. That has resulted in serious disinformation.

    • Dan OBrien

      Dan OBrien

      September 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Well that is a strawman. That project to build sidewalks on the west side of Donnell hill has been on the boards since the first council took office. Every time it gets on the top five list of things to do, the money is spent on another capital improvement of Monument Drive.

  13. Steve Spear

    Steve Spear

    September 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I do not intend to be anything but be honest here with you. Please do not take any offense.

    You as well as over 90 percent of the city do not understand how the fire department is funded and that any “water” monies are prohibited from being used to fund the fire department.

    Your reference to “water availability assessment” only demonstrates the complexity of the issue and the lack of knowledge that people, like you, who is well informed I may add, as with our council, simply do not know what they are talking about when it come to the 29 Palms fire department and its financial future and the very reasonable solutions to a problem that may well terminate the city of 29 Palms.

    The 1.2 million is the “parcel assessment fee”, commonly known as the “fire tax” and has nothing to do with water rates or availability fees or anything else to do with water.

    Once people understand what the funding source is for the fire department we can discuss options.

    I do not jest that this issue is a deal breaker for the existence of our city.

    I as well as you fully well know that the city budget has never allowed for a 1.2 or 2.4 million dollar contract with county fire to have a fire department which is mandatory in order to be a city.

    No fire department – no city. it is that simple.

    The present council has a special meeting with the water board to set agenda items for a future meeting.

    That is laughable on its face.

    Everyone who knows what is going on, which I can tell is a small amount of people, know what the issue is and what the city must provide an answer to and that is how much money does the city want to pay in order to continue to be a city.

    The more time the city wastes in admitting there is a serious cityhood issue looming unless we address this fire department issue the more likely forced disincorporation will happen.

    Larry, there is 1.2 million available to fund a 1.46 or 1.5 million fully operational fire department. That means the city need only provide $260,000 or $300,000.

    If anyone out there thinks that the 1.2 million “parcel assessment fee” can not be terminated and not collected once the 29 Palms Fire Department goes bankrupt is delusional.

    It can be rescinded and then the city of 29 Palms will be on the hook to fund a fire department from the only source they have which is the county.

    The projected cost for that 2 years ago was 1.2 million and after two years it is more likely to be 2.4 million as it is with Adelanto as I previously pointed out.

    Since our current budget does not allow for that kind of expense the city will be put into the position of not being able to meet state law requirements to be a city and disincorporation will follow.

    Our council and as well as you and others need to connect the dots and see where the current course of action is leading.

    BTW – I am still not wrong about the Bonds for Project Phoenix.

    A matter of an appeal by the State has now put another stop to the project. More money for Rutan and Tucker and meanwhile not a stone is turned.

  14. Larry Briggs

    Larry Briggs

    September 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Steve. The “parcel assessment fee” of 1.2 million continues on into the future. This means the city only has to put a couple hundred thousand in each year to fund a fully functional fire department. The city would be responsible for the unfunded retirement obligation of about 4 million but that would be like all the other state retirement systems. If we do it your way, I’m still not clear on what the Water District adds to the solution.

    • Steve Spear

      Steve Spear

      September 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks Larry,

      More clarification is needed I can see.

      The city DOES NOT become responsible for the unfunded retirement obligation should a JPA be formed. The city has its own huge unfunded retirement obligation to handle as to why you and city staff do not mention that fact is a mystery.

      You, as most, and not to fault, do not understand how a JPA is formed. Upon formation bylaws are established that clearly outline who is responsible for what.

      I firmly stand with you that the city can not and should not assume the unfunded retirement obligation of the current fire department.

      What has been the position of us that support our current fire department is local control and for the city to step up to the plate and pay its fair share of “OPERATIONAL” expenses.

      The city currently, as has been hammered home, pays nothing at all. The fire protection responsibility, which is a legal responsibility, of the city of 29 Palms is being paid for by its citizens and the citizens of the unincorporated area of Desert Heights through a second tax. That is simply not fair.

      How can a city, whose primary function is public safety, get a totally free ride when it comes to fire protection? How can that be Larry given that we now knowingly face a total financial meltdown of the fire department?

      That “Parcel assessment fee” does not continue into the future in perpetuity. It can be rescinded and rescinded rather easily.

  15. Larry Briggs

    Larry Briggs

    September 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Thanks again for the further clarification. I agree with you that this is a problem that is not understood by many people. Being a slow learner, I’m still not sure I understand all the ins and outs of the situation. Maybe you could outline in a separate post the finer details of how this would work operationally and also how much the city would be paying, how much the water district would be paying and how much Desert Heights would be paying.

    • Steve Spear

      Steve Spear

      September 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Larry,

      I appreciate your openness and honesty and that is all any of us can ask for when it comes to dealing with this very troublesome issue.

      With that being said there is little I can do to make a difference with our present council.

      To be blunt they do not like me and they have taken that dislike into their official powers and it has poisoned their ability to be objective and to see the facts.

      All I can hope to do is to inform the voters of what HARRIS, MINTZ, and past loser in an election COLE have done.

      But more importantly what they have not done because they, to be honest with you, lack the mental alacrity to think various options through to the eventual end be it good or bad.

      All of them are more concerned with their prestige than the actual good of the city and the majority of the people.

      It is up to HARRIS, MINTZ and COLE to come forward on this forum to speak as to how they will solve the issue.

      However you know as well as I do they will not.

      Why? Because this forum is different than all the others. Here you must have facts, not talking points, that are put forward in a newspaper and in a Candidates Forum that does not provide the people the time to ask probing and follow up questions.

      We are in trouble Larry. Unless the next council acts on the issue of fire protection I project city bankruptcy by 2016 or 2017 because this present council, HARRIS, MINTZ as well as COLE in 2012 failed to act.

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