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August 7, 2013

The Report On The Investigation Into Rick Daniels' Letter Of Complaint

Here is a copy of the 98-page report on the investigation into the complaints made by City Manager Daniels [fixed link]. A note about pagination. During scanning some of the pages got flipped and are now out of order in the resulting PDF. Sometimes you've got to skip ahead a page and then come back a page to follow the flow. The page numbers are there, but partly obscured by the heavy "Media" watermark on every page.

The city retained attorney Nikki Hall with the firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai on November 6, 2012, to investigate the complaints. [Comments in square brackets are those of Ron's Log.] I don't intend to include every detail of the investigator's report here. Some parts are so heavily redacted I really can't say anything about them.

(I summarized the City Manger's letter of complaint here.)

The investigator said that Mr. Daniels did not directly answer her questions about how his allegations related to his complaint of a hostile work environment. Mr. Daniels' overall assertion is Councilors Betts and Sanchez were looking for an excuse to fire him "for cause." The investigator said the investigation was hindered by credibility issues of Daniels, Betts, Sanchez and some of the witnesses. She found Councilor Sanchez to be "very evasive." Mr. Betts was also evasive "though less so than Sanchez."

The investigator concluded that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Daniels had been subject to a hostile work environment, but said the evidence clearly demonstrates an "extremely dysfunctional working relationship" between Daniels and Betts and Sanchez.

The following were determined to be outside the scope of this investigation:

  • Investigations into allegations of impropriety against Karl Baker and Peter Chryss.
  • Allegations raised by Jason Simpson in his complaint about Mr. Betts.
  • A complaint made in 2009 by "former [name redacted]."
  • Reasons for [name redacted] termination in 2010 [Laura Green?].
  • An unsigned expense report from Mr. Betts in September 2012.
  • The reasons [name redacted] left the city.
  • The filibustering.

The investigator interviewed Mr. Daniels, all five City Council members and nine other people. During interviews Councilors Sanchez and Betts were represented by Attorney Dana Reed.

[In the investigator's report sometimes whole paragraphs are redacted, but the footnotes which bear clues about the subject of the redacted paragraphs are often left visible.]

City Manager's Evaluation

In the 2012 performance evaluation of the City Manager, Mr. Betts provided comments on "performance areas he would identify as most critical for improvement." The footnotes indicate the subjects included the Flamingo Hotel, unfinished work at Eagle Point, the former Jewish Temple, and the Wellness and World Music Festival.

The City Council uses this scale when evaluating different aspects of the City Manager's performance:
5 - Excellent
4 - Above average
3 - Average
2 - Below average
1 - Poor
0 - No observation

Mayor Parks said she thought Mr. Betts gave Mr. Daniels zero in all categories. [She probably means "one" in all categories.]

All five city council members complete an evaluation form and submit it in a sealed envelope to the City Clerk. Mayor Parks and Councilor Pye then compile and summarize the evaluations. Councilors Betts and Sanchez got their envelopes switched; that is, Mr. Betts submitted his form in Mr. Sanchez's envelope, and vice versa. Ms. Pye concluded that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez collaborated on their evaluations. Mr. Betts denied any collaboration. He said he didn't know where to submit the evaluation form "so he slid it under Mayor Parks' office door" [!] and maybe she switched his and Sanchez's forms.

Mr. Sanchez said he could not recall how he rated Mr. Daniels in the evaluation. He denied collaborating with Mr. Betts on the evaluation and said he submitted his form in the correct envelope to the City Clerk.

Mayor Parks and Councilors Pye and Matas objected to Mr. Sanchez participating in the February 2012 evaluation since he had been sworn into the City Council in January 2012.

The investigator "questions the reasonableness" of Mr. Sanchez's participation, Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez collaborating, and the inclusion of performance deficiencies that occured several years prior to this evaluation; but there are no policy or contract provisions to prohibit any of these.

Disclosures Of Confidential Information

Mr. Daniels alleged that Dean Gray, who managed the last two political campaigns for Mr. Betts, had engaged in slander and libel in personally attack Mr. Daniels. This is substantiated by Jackie Devereaux who said that she spent several weeks removing Gray's articles from the website of the Desert Valley Star after she became editor because the articles were "distasteful, reckless, unbalanced and violating basic journalism standards." Also, she says they were malicious, false, blatantly untrue, and mean-spirited political smears intended to cause Daniels personal harm and public embarrassment. Ms. Devereaux also told Mr. Daniels that Mr. Betts had written "many of the articles" that appear under Dean Gray's byline. She said that some of the stories came directly to her from Mr. Betts. Sometimes Mr. Gray would add information to the articles before publication. "It was common knowledge at the paper that Gray received his tips from Betts." "Gray did not come up with these articles on his own because he did not have the skills to do so."

Dean Gray was ultimately fired from the paper by the owner, Eddie Verdugo, after Ms. Devereaux complained to him that she could not work with Mr. Gray "because of his continued trash journalism." Ms. Devereaux said she was not happy with her involvement and considers it a low point in her journalistic career, but that she is glad that this is coming to light now.

Mr. Betts denies writing any articles for Mr. Gray. Mr. Betts says Ms. Devereaux is "out there" and has screamed at him and sent him hostile text messages.

The investigator noted that Mr. Gray's website has no articles written by him that are critical of Mr. Betts. The investigator found that it is likely that Mr. Betts provided information to Mr. Gray. The investigator also found the article about the photo of Mr. Daniels hand on the back of Mayor Parks and an article the purported to explain the departure of Laura Green to be "beyond the pale." "It is one thing for a reporter to write articles critical of a City Manager, but quite another for a City councilmember to be writing or contributing to such articles." [This sounds like it was written by a Journalism Ethics instructor, not an attorney.]

After the City Council discussed in closed session the results of an internal investigation into Karl Baker and Pete Chryss, Desert Sun reporter Kate McGinty called Mr. Daniels and said she had been called by Mr. Betts who asked to be described as "an unnamed City Hall source" and went on to tell her what each person had said in closed session.

Ms. Devereaux said she is "positive" that Mr. Betts provided confidential information to Dean Gray. She said she would "swear on a stack of bibles and on my parents' grave." She said that Mr. gray listened to recordings, but would not tell her their origins.

Mayor Parks said that some of Mr. Gray's articles included verbatim information from closed sessions. She said Mr. Betts is the only councilmember who plays with his phone in closed sessions. She has observed Mr. Betts and Mr. Gray texting each other in open session.[I believe that technically should make the texts public record.]

Councilor Pye said she has heard closed session topics reported on the radio and she believed that Mr. Betts was the source of that disclosure. She confirms Mr. Daniels description of the incident where Mr. Betts confronted while apparently recording a closed session meeting on his phone.

Councilor Matas said that reporter McGinty had "hinted" that Mr. Betts was her source for closed session information, but she never confirmed or denied that. Ms. McGinty said that a councilmember calls her and "tells me whatever I ask." But it is noted that Ms. McGinty declined to participate in this investigation.

Mr. Matas said that some of Dean Gray's information about Mr. Daniels' rehab, Laura Green, and the Flamingo Hotel could only come from closed session meetings. Mr. Matas said he has seen Mr. Betts pressing buttons on his phone in closed session.

[At this point in the report I am astounded at the gross clumsiness of Mr. Betts and Mr. Gray in their inability to hide their illegal activity.]

Mr. Sanchez says he knows nothing about disclosures of information from closed sessions. [Thank you for being the citizens' watchdog, Mr. Sanchez.]

Mr. Betts denies it all. He did say that Russ Martin called him to say he "was aware of an issue with [Laura] Green." Mr. Martin informed Mr. Betts that he had an obligation to report the matter if a crime was committed.

Mr. Betts said he doesn't recall any closed session discussions about the purchase of the Temple. [This seems unlikely, since all real estate deals start in closed session and are given final approval in open session.] Mr. Betts said that Mayor Parks "habitually releases" closed session information to the media "perhaps absentmindedly." Mr. Betts said that Mr. Daniels disclosed closed session information during negotiations with the Police Officer's Association. He also said that he didn't know how to record on his phone at the time he was accused of doing that, but that he has seen others, including Mr. Daniels, record closed sessions.

The investigator found that Mr. Betts did disclose confidential information from closed sessions to Mr. Gray and Ms. McGinty.

Rental Housing, Business License

Mr. Betts has not registered his rental housing in accordance with the city's Safe Housing Program.

Mr. Daniels said he believes Mr. Betts is running a Chinese manufacturing business from his Desert Hot Springs home. He has heard Mr. Betts brag about the money he has made from this. Mr. Betts has never applied for a business license.

Mr. Betts said he matches buyers and shippers and gets a commission for that, but he is not a running a business from his home.

Mr. Matas said that Mr. Betts has told him his Chinese business is so successful it has allowed him to purchase additional homes in Desert Hot Springs.

Mr. Sanchez said he is unfamiliar with the city's Safe Housing ordinance, but is aware that Mr. Betts "used to" have some business in China.

Mr. Daniels sent an email to Police Chief Kate Singer about Mr. Betts's non-compliance with the Safe Housing Program. The Chief asked then-Sergeant Peary to look into it. The remainder of the paragraph is redacted. Also, the entire statement by Glen Tucker (who provides legal services for code enforcement) is redacted.

Mr. Betts said he never heard that he had to comply with the Safe Housing ordinance until the subject came up in this investigation.

He said he owns the equipment for a business in China, but the government owns the business itself. He said he does not run the business from his home, but that his daughter in China is more directly involved.

The investigator found that the Safe Housing ordinance may apply to Mr. Betts, but that no one from the city has confronted him about it directly. Whether the China business requires him to get a business license is beyond the scope of the investigation and ability of the investigator. City staff could not provide any evidence that they had sent him a half dozen business license applications.

As for the $20,000 in outstanding code enforcement fines, Mr. Betts said that the credit union provided evidence that the fines should not have been assessed. The matter was dismissed. The investigator found that the DA had already investigated this matter and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support Mr. Daniels' allegation that Mr. Betts tried to improperly evade the fines.

Conflicts Of Interest, Palm Drive

Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Betts's involvement in the Streets Committee plans for the beautification of Palm Drive is a conflict of interest because of his business on Palm Drive.

After the new facades were completed on downtown RDA properties Mr. Daniels received a marketing flyer from the real estate broker. He forwarded that to the City Council for informational purposes. Mr. Betts contacted Mr. Daniels saying that the marketing of it was all wrong. The next day the broker contact Mr. Daniels to complain that Mr. Betts had contacted him directly to offer direction on how to market the properties. Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Betts has a conflict of interest in this case because his business is located directly across the street from the RDA properties. Also, it's Mr. Daniels' job to administer policy, not the job of City Council members.

Mr. Daniels also cited the incident involving Michael Bracken [whose name is redacted in one sentence, but not the next] showing a property near Mr. Betts's salon to a restaurateur. This came up earlier in Jason Simpson's complaint. Mr. Betts contradicted information provided by Mr. Bracken. Mr. Betts stated that the city could provide money for the project and implied that he was directing the potential deal. Mr. Bracken reported this to Mr. Daniels. The restaurateur walked.

Mr. Daniels cites three instances in which he informed Mr. Betts that due to the location of his salon he could not be involved in matters relating to the improvement of Palm Drive downtown.

Mayor Parks said she is aware of the conflicts and that Mr. Daniels had raised these concerns with Mr. Betts. She said that the City Council (without Betts) decided to that rather than reminding Mr. Betts every time, they would simply proceed and take the issue to the FPCC if necessary. Councilors Pye and Matas recall the issue of conflicts of interest being raised with Mr. Betts. Mr. Sanchez knows nothing.

Mr. Betts said that Mr. Daniels showed up at a meeting of the Streets Committee and injected the subject of Palm Drive near Mr. Betts's business, even though that was not on the agenda. He said this was done so that Mr. Daniels could have "another issue to complain about."

Mr. Betts acknowledges that he made suggestions to the broker for the marketing flyer for downtown RDA businesses. He does not recall talking to Mr. Daniels about it.

Mr. Betts acknowledges stopping to talk to the restaurateur who was talking with Mr. Bracken.

The investigator said it is not within the scope of this investigation to make a finding on conflicts of interest. But the investigator finds Mr. Betts's report that the Streets Committee was not formed to address issues related to Palm Drive near his business to be credible.

Conflicts Of Interest, Rancho Del Oro

Mr. Betts owns property in Rancho Del Oro. Mr. Daniels said he organized and assisted opposition to including Rancho Del Oro in the redevelopment area. Mayor Parks said that friends in the Rancho Del Oro neighborhood told her that Mr. Betts went door to door to discuss the disadvantages of a being in the redevelopment area. Councilor Pye said she believed Mr. Betts had some public meetings with residents of Rancho Del Oro on the subject, but doesn't know if he owned property in the neighborhood then. Mr. Matas believes that Mr. Betts "led the charge" against the redevelopment area and that he owned property there.

Mr. Sanchez knows nothing.

Mr. Betts said the opposition was organized by others in Rancho Del Oro and he knew nothing of it until he saw their presentation. At the time he owned property in the part of Rancho Del Oro that was NOT to be included in the redevelopment area.

The investigator said this issue was previously investigated by the District Attorney, so a finding on this issue would be outside the scope of this investigation. The majority of the City Council had to recuse themselves from this matter, anyway. There is no evidence that Mr. Daniels ever warned Mr. Betts about a potential conflict of interest on this subject.

Harassment During Personal Time

Mr. Daniels says that more than once a week Mr. Betts calls or makes requests during weekends or personal time. When Mr. Daniels took a day off to attend Chief Williams' swearing in ceremony in Petaluma, Mr. Betts asked him to provide information as to who attended and who paid for it. Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Betts said he should be available 24/7 to answer City Council questions.

Mayor Parks said she is aware that Mr. Betts sends off-hour emails to Mr. Daniels and believes he does it to agitate Mr. Daniels, saying that most of the requests are "nonsense." Ms. Pye said she is aware of the requests even though Mr. Daniels has asked Mr. Betts to stop. She said some of Mr. Betts's requests are "not precise." Mr. Matas confirmed that Mr. Betts sends Mr. Daniels late night emails. He said Ms. Pye instructed Mr. Daniels not to respond during off hours. Mr. Sanchez said he does not expect Mr. Daniels to respond immediately to off-hour requests, and he doesn't think Mr. Betts does either.

Mr. Betts said this isue arose two years ago when Mr. Daniels complained about receiving a weekend email from Mr. Betts. Mr. Daniels considered it harassment. Mr. Betts spoke to then-City Attorney Duran about it who advised Mr. Daniels to drop it. After that Mr. Betts began to include this disclaimer in all of his emails:

If you are a city employee and receive this message during non-working hours, there is no expectation that you will read or reply to this email during non-working hours. I am more than happy to wait for regular city business hours ro receive a reply.

The investigator said that the off-hour emails do not constitute harassment. In one email exchange in January 2012 Mr. Daniels responded to an email from Mr. Betts saying he would do his best to answer questions from the City Council "day or night."

Refusal To Meet With The City Manager

Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Betts has refused to meet with him and this impairs Mr. Daniels' ability to achieve the goals of the City Council [I would think he would count his blessings]. Mayor Parks says Mr. Betts goes to the City Attorney, which costs the city money, to get information that he could get from the City Manager at no additional cost. This is because Mr. Betts and Mr. Daniels "do not talk the same language," Mr. Betts has told Mayor Parks. Ms Pye confirmed that Mr. Betts does not meet with Mr. Daniels and said he told her that he does not trust Mr. Daniels and that he "has favorites on the council." Mr. Matas said that Mr. Betts and Mr. Daniels used to meet, but do so no longer. Mr. Sanchez acknowledged that he knows Mr. Betts and Mr. Daniels do not meet, but he doesn't know why.

Mr. Betts said he thinks it is dangerous to meet with the City Manager because of Mr. Daniels' history of complaining.

The investigator said that Mr. Betts's refusal to meet with Mr. Daniels is "somewhat understandable, but may constitute a technical violation of a clause in the City Manager's contract in which the City Council commits to meeting with him outside of City Council meetings.

The Outburst On September 26, 2012

I can't find anything on Mr. Daniels' complaint about this, but maybe Mr. Betts brought it up.

(My report on the subject City Council study session is here.)

I'm going to go into more detail about this here, because EVERYone seems to recall it only partly or erroneously.

Here's the 12½ minute relevant part of that study session. This subject was continued from a study session two weeks earlier where some people had already commented, but the meeting had to be cut short due to another scheduled meeting (Planning Commission, probably). You'll hear Scott Matas ask very reasonably if the Mayor will allow people to comment again who had already commented. A rigidly strict interpretation of the rules would NOT allow them to comment again. The Mayor says everyone who did not get to comment will comment and anyone who already commented can comment again if they have something new to add, but she asked people not to repeat their previous comments. She also said it would be self-policing. "You know who you are," is what she said. Who could complain? Well, Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez could. They misinterpreted what the Mayor said and delivered contradictory instructions to the members of the public. The worst, in my opinion (which is getting less humble every day), was that while Mr. Betts paid lip service to letting the public comment, the one thing that stood in their way was his usual running off at the mouth. He has never spoken a 5-word sentence when a thousand-word paragraph could be delivered. The Mayor wrapped up her instructions (basically, all may comment - she wasn't even going to insist on speaker cards) at the 2:35 point in this recording. Mr. Daniels' demand to "Stop it!" comes at about 9:35. So what we've got in between there is 7 minutes of posturing by city council members who say they are eager to hear the public's opinion, while not allowing a single member of the public to comment. And, frankly, I was delighted to hear Mr. Daniels vent his opinion, even though I knew it was way, WAY out of order. It was what I wanted to say, along with several others in the room, I'm sure, but I do not have balls nearly as big as those of Mr. Daniels. Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Betts, I believe, have no idea of the ridicule and embarrassment they bring to our city through their childish behavior, but Mr. Daniels suddenly introduced a laser beam of reality into the meeting - although, like I said, it was way out of order. Maybe some of the blame for that should rest with us meek citizens who have gotten used to sitting quietly through these council diatribes when a rotten tomato should be tosed - or at least a good raspberry given. "You get what you tolerate" - or whatever Commander Peary says.

Mr. Daniels recalls that he told Mr. Betts to stop it, but it was Mr. Sanchez he interrupted. He believes the lecture from Mr. Betts should have been delivered in a closed session, since it amounted to a performance evaluation.

Mayor Parks does not recall the subject of the discussion, but thinks that Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Matas were disagreeing. Actually, it was Mr. Sanchez disagreeing with Mayor Parks. She thinks Mr. Daniels stood up, but he did not. I was seated right behind Mr. Daniels and he is not a man who lightly leaps to his feet without some warning. Ms. Pye thought the outburst was inappropriate, but understood where it was coming from. Mr. Matas does not recall the specific subject, but remembers that Mr. Sanchez was badgering the Mayor. Mr. Sanchez [whose memory suddenly works!] recalls correctly that it occurred during a disagreement between himself and Mayor Parks on the subject of who would be allowed to comment on the soccer park issue. He said Mr. Daniels screamed at the top of his lungs. [I am sure that Mr. Daniels could scream much, much louder if he really went to the top of his lungs.] Mr. Betts recalls that the subject was the soccer fields and that Mr. Sanchez and Mayor Parks were in a heated discussion. "Parks did not want to allow public speakers to address the Council a second time." {Wrong-o.] Mr. Betts discussed it the next day on the Dave Wilson Show (radio).

The investigator listened to the recording of the meeting, but only reports the dialogue from the point of Mr. Daniels' interruption. She found that there is nothing that would prevent Mr. Betts from publicly discussing anything said by the City Manager during an open City Council meeting.

Interference With Annual Goal Setting Session

Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Betts refused to cooperate with a Goal Settings facilitator and tried to sabotage the sessions. This was the goal setting session in early 2012. Mr. Daniels suggested getting an organizational psychologist to speak to the "group" (City Council plus City Manager). Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Pye agreed, so an RFP was issued. Mr. Betts thought it was a wate of money. Mr. Sanchez forgot that he had endorsed the idea earlier and opposed it. Mayor Parks recalled the city paid a mediator $2,500 to speak to each member of the council prior to the goal setting session. She does not recall if Mr. Betts met with the mediator. The facilitator, ultimately, was not hired. Ms. Pye recalls working with Mr. Sanchez to write the RFP for a facilitator. Later Mr. Sanchez opposed the idea. Eventually Ms. Pye agreed with Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Betts because she saw no point in paying someone if the support for the idea was not unanimous. Mr. Matas recalls that Mr. Betts refused to meet with a facilitator. Mr. Sanchez said he never had any idea to hire a facilitator, that it was all Mr. Daniels' idea. Mr. Sanchez thought it was wrong to spend taxpayer money on such a thing [because it is so much more pleasant to spend taxpayer money on marathon City Council meetings where the city's progress slows to a muddy crawl].

Mr. Betts agrees that he refused to meet with the facilitator. He thought that would be a waste of money.

The City Council minutes show that the idea of hiring the facilitator in 2012 was voted down by the council 5-0

The investigator said the facts do not show that Mr. Betts sabotaged the goal setting session. He did participate in discussions with the council about their goals. The investigator did find that there is a significant amount of interpersonal conflict between council members [Sherlock!] and that the council may very well benefit from a facilitator.

"Gotcha" Questions

Mr. Daniels says that Mr. Betts creates new significant information requests for the City Manager during council meetings. The policies and procedures of the City Council require members to contact the City Manager in advance with questions. As an example, Mr. Betts without forewarning suggested freezing the salaries of employees who were not at the top step of their salary range. Mayor Parks agrees with Mr. Daniels and adds that Mr. Betts asks questions that he already knows the answer to. [Other City Council members do this too, but they do it in a way so that you know they are simply trying to enlighten the public or to allow a city staffer to get some hard earned limelight for a good job done, but Mr. Betts never seems to have learned how to communicate his intent in asking these questions with known answers.]

Ms. Pye asked Mr. Betts why he doesn't submit his questions in advance. He told her that he doesn't believe Mr. Daniels will answer his questions in advance. She recalls the specific example and said that Mr. Daniels would have been able to present a spreadsheet if he had gotten the question in advance.

Mr. Matas agrees that some of the questions are "gotcha." He recalls a question about the purchase price of computers.

Mr. Sanchez said that rather than "gotcha" questions, Mr. Betts "piggybacks" questions. [There is no further explanation of what a "piggyback" question is.] Mr. Sanchez said "he does not believe Betts does anything deliberately to embarrass Daniels."
Brooklyn bridge - for sale!
[May I sell you another bridge, Mr. Sanchez?]

Mr. Betts denies any "gotcha" questions. He acknowledges there is a debate over whether councilmembers should submit questions in advance. He said he did not know of any questions that Mr. Daniels could not answer [yet, it has become more common lately for Mr. Daniels to answer that he is unprepared to answer a question because it was not given to him in advance and he will provide the answer later.]

Mr. Betts also told the investigator the he didn't submit proposals to Mr. Daniels in advance because he didn't know when he was permitted to contact him.

The investigator found that Mr. Betts has a pattern of asking questions at meetings rather than asking in advance. This could be a violation of Council Meeting Guidelines and Procedures. But the specific example doesn't fit the pattern because the subject of staff salaries was on the agenda. The investigator found that the issue of when Mr. Daniels is willing to accept messages from Mr. Betts needs to be resolved before this issue can be resolved.

Disrespect

Mr. Daniels says Mr. Betts has shown "outrageous behavior during closed session discussions shouting crude and extremely rude comments at his fellow Council members." Mr. Daniels specifically recalled a closed session in August or September 2012 during which Mr. Betts stood up to address Mayor Parks saying "You're just a drunk old lady. You get sauced up and you get on the phone and you spread rumors about everybody." Mr. Matas tried to intervene, but Mr. Betts continued, saying "Well, besides that Scott, you're just dumb. You don't know shit. You're too dumb to sit in that chair." Mr. Daniels described the incident as "disturbing." [Disturbing!? I accuse the City Manager of felonious understatement.]

Mayor Parks confirmed that Mr. Betts called her a "drunk" in closed session. She also confirms the essence of his remarks to Mr. Matas. The Mayor, however, said this was an isolated incident, and that Mr. Betts did not usually attack her verbally. But he and Mr. Sanchez did frequently verbally attack Mr. Matas when Mr. Matas would try to intervene on the Mayor's behalf on issues of decorum.

Ms. Pye said that Mr. Betts disrespects the Mayor in both open and closed session. Ms. Pye said that even though she has reiterated the need to respect each other, that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez continue to disrespect Mayor Parks. Ms. Pye specifically confirmed Mr. Daniels' allegation that Mr. Betts said Mayor Parks is "Just a drunk old lady" in closed session. Mr. Betts said that some of the people the Mayor considers her friends call him after she calls them. Ms. Pye also confirmed Mr. Betts's remarks to Mr. Matas and said she thought they were going to come to blows. Ms. Pye said this sort of language does not occur regularly, but the "attitude" does.

Mr. Matas confirmed that Mr. Betts has no respect for the Mayor and tries to talk over her. He recalls three or four times in the past year when Mr. Betts has worked himself up to "ranting," but not to the point of calling names. He recalled that he was called stupid, but doesn't recall the "shit" remark.

Mr. Sanchez recalls the reference to Mayor Parks as a "drunk old lady." He does not recall the remarks addressed to Mr. Matas.

Mr. Betts recalls it all a bit differently. He says he has endured all kinds of "potshots and digs." He said he did respond once that he had heard a rumor from some of her friends that the Mayor sits at home on Saturdays drinking with friends [Oh, my god! Where is Carrie Nation when you need her!] As to his remarks address to Mr. Matas, Mr. Betts said "he would never use an expletive." He believes he said Mr. Matas was not smart enough to interpret a lot of the issues. Mr. Betts had the impression that Mr. Matas is not bright and that he "basically has an eighth grade education." He said his response to Mr. Matas was calm.

The investigator finds the reports from the other four councilmembers and the City Manager about Mr. Betts's behavior to be credible. This is a violation of the Council's Meeting Guidelines. But it was an isolated incident so it didn't create a hostile work environment.

Elizabeth Versace

Ms. Versace's name has been redacted from the text of this part of the report, but left visible in the title of the section. [How much do they pay the legal staffers who do the redacting? I recall similar oversights in the report from the investigation into Don Gomsi at the Vector Control District.]

It was the ultimate day of AQMD hearings on Sentinel mitigation funds, October 16, 2012. Ms. Versace is a contractor with the city whose job it is to get grants. She had prepared a statement for Mayor Parks to read at the AQMD hearing. Prior to the meeting Mr. Betts demanded to see the statement. Ms. Versace refused to show it to him. He then made her feel intimidated and bullied. This adversely affected the delivery of her own remarks. Ms. Versace has requested to have no further dealings with Mr. Betts. She said that Mr. Betts apologized to her.

Mayor Parks confirms Ms. Versace's description of the incident. Mr. Betts got loud while speaking to Ms. Versace and she began to visibly shake. Mayor Parks does not recall the apology.

Mr. Betts said the conversation was between himself and Mayor Parks and that Ms. Versace injected herself into it. He does not recall asking to see the remarks. He said he didn't apologize and that city consultants should not interfere in conversations between elected officials.

The investigator found that the incident happened, but as an isolated incident it did not create a hostile work environment.

Racial Comment

This is the claim that Mr. Betts expressed dislike for the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition because they just rent to Mexicans. [And thanks to sloppy redaction we know he made this statement in the presence of Rudy Acosta and Rick Daniels.] Mr. Betts said that affordable housing projects are for "brown people."

Mr. Acosta said that Mr. Daniels asked Mr. Betts "Is that what you really want to say?" Mr. Betts confirmed that it was. Mr. Acosta said the incident is the only time Mr. Betts "stepped on his tongue."

Mr. Betts denies this. He said they needed to make sure that all races were "equally represented" in the application process. [Does he mean that literally? For every Hispanic-American we also need one white American, one African-American, one Asian-American, one Pacific Islander, one Native American, and on and on?] he denies he would ever use the word "Mexicans." [What does he call the citizens of Mexico? "Our southern brothers?"] He used the word "Hispanic" or "Latino." He said the CVHC website does not depict any African-Americans or Asians. [He just didn't look hard enough.]

The investigator found it likely that Mr. Betts made the comment about CVHC renting only to "Mexicans" but this single episode did not rise to the level of a violation of the city's harassment policy.

Using Rick Daniels' Image In Betts's Campaign Literature

In 2009 Mr. Daniels met Mr. Betts at Mission Springs Park. Dean Gray was there to take photos. Mr. Gray asked to take a photo of the two together for his personal use. Mr. Daniels agreed so long as the photo was not used for political purposes. The photograph later appeared in Betts's campaign literature.

Mr. Betts claims he removed the photo from his campaign literature after Mr. Daniels objected. [This is not true. I was, for some reason, on a later mailing schedule, so I got that flyer well after Mr. Daniels' objection and the same photo was still on it.] Mr. Betts said Mr. Baker used Mr. Daniels' image in his campaign literature and Mr. Daniels did not complain.

The investigator found it unlikely that this one incident led to any adverse employment action directed at the City Manager.

Mr. Sanchez's Intent To Fire The City Manager

Mr. Daniels said this action is a breach of his contract. He believes it is retaliation for refusing to let Sanchez use city equipment for a parade in Coachella, his initial refusal to make a personal donation to the Coachella parade, his refusal to help Mr. Sanchez get a job with the Desert Healthcare District, and his refusal to help Mr. Sanchez get a job with the Boys & Girls Club.

Jackie Devereaux said she had a two-hour meeting with Mr. Sanchez in which he expressed his displeasure with Mr. Daniels. Mr. Sanchez said he felt he wasn't getting all the credit he was due for the Boys & Girls Club. Ms. Devereaux said it sounded like sour grapes for his being fired from the board of the Boys & Girls Club. She believes Mr. Sanchez blames Mr. Daniels for his firing. Later Ms. Devereaux spoke with several people who did not confirm Mr. Sanchez's view.

Mr. Matas said it was immediately clear that there was a conflict between Mr. Daniels and Mr. Sanchez.

Mr. Sanchez denies telling anyone he wanted Mr. Daniels fired. He specifically denies Ms. Devereaux's description of their meeting. He denies that he ever sought a position with the Desert Healthcare District or the Boys & Girls Club.

The investigator found that Mr. Sanchez did tell people that he wants Mr. Daniels to be fired, but since no adverse employment action has been taken, there is no breach of contract. The investigator cannot make a finding as to why Mr. Sanchez wants Mr. Daniels fired, but the evidence does indicate that Mr. Sanchez blames Mr. Daniels for being removed from the board of the Boys & Girls Club.

Sanchez's Interference With Staff In Connection With The Soccer Fields

Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Sanchez accused him of racism in the allocation of time and areas in the soccer fields. This was a remark by Mr. Sanchez overheard by Jeanine Plute [more sloppy redaction]. Mr. Sanchez came to City Hall with Mr. Marquez, a representative from the new junior level soccer league: "None of these people are like us. We will never get our way with these people." [So much of this subject is redacted, it's hard to follow who said what about who, but...] Several people [city staff?] complained about Mr. Sanchez's behavior. It does seem that Ms. Plute was accused of racism by Mr. Sanchez. Ms. Plute complained of a hostile work environment.

It seems [sloppy redaction again] that Mr. Sanchez was bringing his problems with the allocation of soccer fields to Mr. Magaña, even though it was outside his jurisdiction. Mr. Daniels had told Mr. Sanchez that the matter was to be handled with either Ms. Plute or Mr. Daniels.

Ms. Pye recalls Ms. Plute complaining about Mr. Sanchez lying about their discussion on soccer field use. Ms. Pye's opinion is that Mr. Sanchez's concerns are unjust. The City Council had thoroughly reviewed the issue, but Mr. Sanchez demeaned the staff.

Mr. Sanchez believed that Hal Goldenberg [can I get a job redacting?] was a good mediator on the subject.

The investigator said the evidence does not suppor the claim that Mr. Sanchez accused Mr. Daniels (or Ms. Plute) of racism. The investigator does find Mr. Sanchez's continued attempts to work with someone other than Ms. Plute [Mr. Magaña? Mr. Goldenberg?] violated the employment contract with Mr. Daniels.

Re-use Of The Wardman Park Building

Mr. Daniels said that Mr. Sanchez distributed a memo falsely accusing Mr. Daniels of committing the city to turning the Wardman Park building into a boxing club. Mr. Sanchez sent an email to the CCAC and several community organizations saying that Mr. Daniels had already promised the building would be converted to a boxing club. Apparently Mr. Daniels was one of the recipients because he did a "Reply All" saying that it is an open process, that there was no rush to judgement, and he had made no promises. Then Mr. Betts admonished Mr. Daniels saying it was bad form to copy other people on a communication that was between himself and a council member. "You need to correct yourself and show a little professionalism...You are acting like a child. Knock it off."

Mr. Betts told the investigator that he was not aware that Mr. Daniels had simply sent a copy to all the recipients of Mr. Sanchez's original email.

Mr. Sanchez provided the investigator the list of who he sent his original email to: Max Lieberman, Joe McKee, Mary Prado, Jerrol Pope, Tahlib McMicheaux, John Brown, Cathy Romero, Michael Burke, Bob Ornelas, Bruce Montgomery, Mike Bickford, Mike O'Keefe, Mary Stephens, and Carolina Vasquez. When asked if he thought Mr. Daniels had already made a decision on how to use the facility, Mr. Sanchez said that Supervisor Benoit had notified Mr. Matas that he supported turning it into a boxin facility and that he would contribute $10,000 towards that. [Which does not answer the question.]

The investigator found that it was inappropriate for Mr. Sanchez to send that email out to 14 people and to imply that Mr. Daniels had already made a commitment. But this does not constitute harassment or retaliation.

Interference With Police Department Personnel Matters

Mr. Daniels accused both Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez of interfering with police department personnel matters. [Whole paragraphs are redacted on this matter, but it seems everything involving Sergeant Perry is unredacted.] On June 25, 2012, Mr. Betts accused Sergeant Peary of telling "some real whoppers" to the POA and that Sgt. Peary owned Mr. Betts an apology.

In Spring 2011 Officer Paul Tapia [the redactor's marker sort of half missed the line] "committed an act which warranted discipline. This was appealed to Chief Williams [the redactors are wearing down!]. While that was being investigated, Officer Tapia became POA President. A week before the POA vote there was a mailer showing Officer Tapia with Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Betts with a caption about "supporting those who support the police." When the hearing was scheduled in February 2012, Mr. Sanchez "arranged for around 20 people to be bused in from a local drug rehabilitation facility to demonstrate in support of Officer Tapia." One protestor told Desert Sun reporter Kate McGinty that he lived at "Hope For Life" recovery center. He had been told to get up, get dressed and carry a protest sign. One police officer reported that he recognized one of the protestors as a felon on parole who he had arrested not long before. Mr. Daniels said he recognized the professionally made protest signs as coming from a company owned by someone [successful redaction!] who Mr. Daniels calls a "hotelier" and "Chief troll."

Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Betts wanted a closed session on Monday before the personnel hearing on Tuesday. They would have needed a third council member to agree with them to call that meeting. There was already a closed session scheduled for Tuesday at which a performance evaluation of Mr. Daniels was scheduled. Mr. Daniels believes this was an attempt to pressure him and interfere in the discipline hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Mr. Daniels notified Mr. Betts that [someone - Tapia? Peary?] was an employee and he should go through the City Manager's office on matters involving the direction of employees. Mr. Betts countered that it was a political issue not personnel issue.

Then there was the request to use the Senior Center for the police and fire department holiday toy drive. 600 children were expected, which is far too many for the Senior Center. Mr. Daniels said a more appropriate venue would have to be found. The story immediately found its way to the press, which Mr. Daniels blames on Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez.

Ken Peary had a statement that is massively redacted.

Mayor Parks confirmed the essential elements of the story of Mr. Sanchez bringing felons in to picket. She also confirmed the attempt to call a last minute close session by Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez. She also confirmed the toy drive story.

In Ms. Pye's statement Officer Tapia's name was never touched by the redactor's pen. Ms. Pye reminded Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Betts that the matter of Officer Tapia was a personnel matter and that the council could not intervene.

Mr. Matas believes that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez encouraged Officer Tapia in his disciplinary appeal. Mr. Matas said he knows that a pastor friend of Mr. Sanchez runs a rehab facility for parolees outside of DHS.

A big part of Mr. Sanchez's statement [possibly about Officer Tapia] is redacted.

Mr. Betts said he wanted a closed session to discuss the POA contract.He denies that he wanted a closed session to review the City Manager's performance. He said his email to Sgt. Peary about telling whoppers was a joke. He said his interaction with Officer Tapia was not a personnel matter because the POA is a political entity.

Mr. Betts said there was no reason not to use the Senior Center for the toy drive. He said 1,200 people showed up for the event at the Miracle Springs hotel, but there were never 1,200 people in the building at one time.

The investigator found that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez did attempt to interfere in a personnel matter. They did this by organizing the protest and by trying to call a closed session. Mr. Betts allegation that he wanted the closed session only to discuss POA contract negotiations is not believable because an agreement had already been reached with the POA. Also, Mr. Betts called for an impromptu job performance evaluation at the Tuesday closed session.

The interference in police personnel matters was a violation of contract and policy provisions.

An Attempt To Exclude City Manager Daniels From A Meeting With A Constituent

Much of this is redacted. It seems that a meeting had been set up with Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Daniels and a third party who is possibly connected with the Borrego Community Health Foundation. Mr. Sanchez said that because of the City Manager's complaint he would rather the City Attorney be present instead of Mr. Daniels. Mr. Sanchez told the investigator that he wanted to avoid being in any situation where Mr. Daniels could accuse him of anything.

The investigator said that it was not her job to determine if illegal retaliation had occurred, so she would make no finding. But an unwillingness by Mr. Sanchez to meet with Mr. Daniels could inhibit Mr. Daniels' ability to administer policies and that could lead to further claims of retaliation.

Another Staffer Expresses Concerns

The staffer's name is redacted from the title of this section, but is described as working directly outside of Mr. Daniels' office where she can overhear his phone conversations. That would be Kristie Ramos, I believe. Ms. Ramos never filed a written complaint, but had informed Mr. Daniels of her issues with Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez. She said they are demeaning and patronizing with city staff. She cited as an example an email to her in which Mr. Sanchez instructed her to have coffee ready for him at a meeting. She also cites an incident in which Mr. Betts threw a tantrum because he could not grasp the process of inputting a code in order to use the printer. Ms. Ramos believes that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez behave unprofessionally in the office and in public. They do not, however, act unprofessionally toward her when Mr. Daniels is present.

In the investigator's findings [where they neglected to redact Ms. Ramos' name at all] it says that there is insufficient evidence this behavior violates city policy.

Conclusion

"For the reasons explained above, the Investigator concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support Daniels' allegation that Councilors Betts and Sanchez have subjected him to a hostile work environment and/or retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity."

And I Say

But what I see here is that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez engage one-off offensive behavior. They do this one time, then the next time something else, and the next time yet something else. We've got a dozen instances of offensive behavior. If it was a dozen instances of the same behavior would the investigator have concluded differently? The fact that Mr. Betts and Mr. Sanchez can vary their routine allows the investigator to downgrade the significance of each event because it was not repeated. I wonder if this $77,000 investigation was performed by the lowest bidder.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | August 7, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Comments


Darrel how have the facts been manipulated? You are obviously having a difficult time responding intelligently to the facts that have been presented. Your idiotic comments really dont deserve a response but as most of us know Ron does a terrific job presenting an accurate, clear and comprehensive overview of what is going on in this city and he was named "citizen of the year" by the DHS chamber of commerce. What exactly have you done / are you doing to make this a better place to live? Bitching and moaning ain't working too well for ya.

Posted by: Doug at Aug 13, 2013 6:50:30 AM

Regrettably, Ron, you have slipped into a severe state of deep denial about the gross misdeeds of Daniels and his Council marionettes. You can attempt to justify and rationalize all day long about the purest of motivations by these people DHS has the misfortune of now being yoked with. At the end of the day, they act only on their own behalf, and I can't bring myself to believe a word you have said due to your manipulations of fact and denials of the truth. Please do not continue to set yourself up as official chronicler of City business. It's a joke. I don't believe you are taken half seriously even by the corrupt city officials you have been cheerleading for here. Sorry, but I can't waste any more of my valuable time on you and your ingenuous log.

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 12, 2013 9:21:12 PM

Darel you make a number of rambling and unsubstantiated statements in your various postings including this one; "Sadly, you cheerlead for an individual who practices a dysfunctional and unprofessional management style here in our City." Darel can you tell me who you cheerlead for? Are Betts and Sanchez on that list? The results of the investigation make it pretty clear that their management styles often fell far short of what could be considered professional. Actually more like childish. Sure, Mr. Daniels has made some mistakes, but I think you should be very careful what you wish for.

Posted by: Doug at Aug 12, 2013 6:48:01 PM

Mr. Propst has a poor grasp on language. If he thinks an investigation into Rick Daniels is worth the price, I say let him pay for it, if it makes him happy.

A ton of information is available on Ron's Log about the post-Tony Clarke activities of the city. I'm the only mere citizen who attended every meeting of the Festival Committee and they're all reported here on Ron's Log. City staff and the festival committee discussed what they got back from Clarke. I don't think any dollar value was established. I'm surprised Mr. Propst hasn't already pleasured himself by reading those, since in there he will see that Mr. Daniels heaps blame on himself as well as explaining the number of elements that came into play to sink the festival.

Where in the world did I say Rick Daniels had nothing to do with the Tony Clarke contract? Any reader should be able to think for a moment and ask himself or herself "Who on city staff reviews contracts? Who had that job when the wellness festival was proposed?" The answer is obvious, but I just want to see Mr. Propst warm up his brain a bit.

I've never even hinted that there is no room to criticize Mr. Daniels. I do, however, point out the mistakes others make when they criticize him for things he didn't do, things that were not his responsibility, things that never happened.

While it doesn't coincide exactly with Rick Daniel's administration, I did prepare a list of things the city did during the four years from December 2007 through November 2011. Rick Daniels came on board in September 2007. People should feel free to go through the list, inform themselves and criticize. It's in four parts.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 12, 2013 3:23:35 PM

It has occurred to me that maybe I'm shooting way over Mr. Propst's head. How about this: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." We're at the point of the pound of cure now. There is no valid question as to whether someone "supports" the pound of cure. The pound of cure just is.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 12, 2013 2:11:44 PM

You don't seem to be interested in learning the truth, Ron, considering your blind loyalty to a City Manager who should be investigated for malfeasance in the performance of his job as City Manager. You are correct when you said a successful investigation gets at the truth of the matter. So, failed it is, since this inquiry did not report any actions which were grounds to substantiate any of the charges made by Daniels. Daniels was engaging in a witch hunt in retaliation for Betts and Sanchez demanding that Daniels and his Gang of Four do their jobs. Definition: "Spurious - outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities." There were no 'genuine qualities' detected in the spurious charges leveled against Betts in the investigation. I believe you are advancing another smoke-screen in order to hide the fact the Daniels is the prime mover in demanding an investigation which cost the City $77k.

It would certainly be worth the price to ferret out all of Daniels' misdeeds in a new investigation of him. Already, Needles is having second thoughts about their plans to hire him as their new City Manager considering his terrible fiscal track record here. They are aware that Daniels could drive them to the brink of bankruptcy like he did here. And they would be correct in that thinking.

You are apparently not inclined to say how much money was recouped from Tony Clark after Daniels let him slip away with a full $250k. To my knowledge, this information was not commonly available. I believe the community has a right to know a dollar figure, since we are on that subject. Did you receive your information direct from Daniels and or the Gang of Three? If you know, Ron, you need to be forthcoming with that..

I hear you saying, Ron, that Daniels had nothing to do with Tony Clark's contract. Wrong. Everything, especially with a price tag of $250k, would and should go through Daniels. If not in this case, it classifies as another act of malfeasance by Daniels. Who, then, would you name in City Hall for the lack of vetting of Tony Clark and the terms of his contract? Won't you share that, or do you feel safer in making an oblique reference to it here?

Yes, Ron, I am so ill-informed on the issues I outlined above, so you say, that there leaves absolutely no room for criticism of the poor job performance Rick Daniels has engaged in. All of this information is common knowledge in Desert Hot Springs. But, your log seems to avoid any mention of the issues that would put your local friendly City Manager on the hot seat. That in itself is totally suspect.

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 12, 2013 2:10:53 PM

Mr. Propst has failed, again, to grasp the facts. Mr. Daniels did not make a "$77k request." I believe successful investigations get at the truth of the matter - and I think most people would agree with me on that. Mr. Propst defines a successful investigation as one in which all of Mr. Daniels' complaints are confirmed. The investigator did not find any of the complaints to be spurious. She did say none rose to the level of creating a hostile work environment. She also said that none of the three principal people were fully forthcoming.

Mr. Propst supports the notion of spending MORE money to investigate Mr. Daniels for malfeasance. Even if an investigation found malfeasance, the only use for that finding would be to fire Mr. Daniels. This may be news to Mr. Propst, but Mr. Daniels is resigning, therefore spending money to justify firing him would be a complete waste.

Mr. Propst shows himself to be ill-informed on several subjects, but I'll address just one. The city did make attempts to recoup losses from Tony Clarke and did get a little back from him, but they have no legal leverage to get more because of the way his contract was written. I'm curious as to why no one criticizes the person who reviewed the contract and recommended it to the city council.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 12, 2013 1:04:23 PM

Thanks, Ron, you have a most unique way of answering a yes or no question. Time for honesty, though, did you support Daniels in his $77k request for, as it turns out, a failed investigation? The message I get is "no" you did not support the investigation. Your analogy about better city maintenance of vehicles comes off as a smoke screen to further cloud the issue.

To answer your question, a successful investigation would have resulted in all (or at least some) of Daniels' charges being confirmed. As it was, none of them were proven to be true. All of them were spurious..

Now if you are interested in learning what a real investigation would have look like with real culprits, then listen up. Rick Daniels should be investigated for many of his questionable and costly decisions. You can keep going back to saying that it's the work of the City Council to approve his actions, but let's just look at a few of those bad decisions Daniels has spearheaded with the help of his Gang of Three on the Council; he did not properly vet the music concert organizer who absconded with City funds to the tune of $250k, money, again, lost. To my knowledge, Daniels has made no effort to recoup that loss while the City sorely needs the money now.

And then there's the matter of... maybe you can tell me what became of DHS's priceless treasures removed from Cabot's Old Indian Pueblo by Daniels and placed somewhere into 'safekeeping.' But, just where that is still remains a secret, though numerous freedom of information requests have been made to learn about the disposition of the treasures. The ancient Native American artifacts are worth upwards of a million dollars, plus. I want our history back, or at least given to the Smithsonian to guard against possible theft by City functionaries.

Then, what about the Flamingo Hotel fiscal disaster? On Daniels' watch, another $250k went missing when a developer skedaddled out of town with these funds from our treasury. The project was a total disaster, and a costly one at that, again spearheaded by Daniels. The hotel burned down with DHS left holding that costly bag of thin air.

Let's not forget about Daniels being at the helm of a $1.1 million dollar loss in selling a local Jewish Temple, owned by the City under redevelopment, for a paltry $291k which was a really big hit on the City's purchase price of $1.4 million dollars.

Based on the above examples supported by fact, just to name a few of Daniels' missteps here, I think he should be investigated for possible malfeasance in the conduct of his job. It would be far more credible and enlightening than a ridiculous investigation of he-said, she-said to the tune of $77k which went nowhere. At least maybe some of the lost money can still be recouped.

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 12, 2013 12:07:32 PM

What you "asked" was "Are you supportive of our near-bankrupt City spending the sorely needed $77k on a frivolous and failed investigation?" A sentence that contains so many pre-suppositions I understood it to be a statement, not an actual question.

The simple question of "Do you support the $77,000 spent on the investigation" is pointless. To use a more neutral subject as an example, suppose a police car has a mechanical failure resulting in an accident and the city has to pay a pile of money for workers comp and some other resulting liabilities. Do I "support" spending that money? What I would support is better maintenance of vehicles so they don't fail. What I would support is reform of workers comp and the tort system that costs so much money. But the law says we have to shell out that pile of cash and so we do.

What I would have supported in the matter of Rick Daniels was spending only $2,500 for that psychologist that was going to help with goal setting in 2012. What I would have supported was anyone who knew a way to cut the Gordian knot that seemed to keep Betts and Daniels in a permanent state of conflict. But none of that happened. The city proceeded and we came to this train wreck. The law says the train wreck has to be investigated and resolved. There were lower cost options for an investigation, but they probably wouldn't have satisfied anyone. I'm sure there were higher cost options, too. I wasn't in the closed sessions where these options were discussed, so I don't know in detail what choices were possible. The city's law firm may have said they didn't want this hot potato or maybe the city council didn't think it would appear to be objective to have them do the investigation. In the end, the city conformed to the law and the bill comes to $77,000.

Everybody would rather have that $77,000 stay in our general fund. Everybody would rather see a city council that supports its city manager unanimously. We can all hope for world peace and an end to hunger, too.

You've said you consider the investigation to have failed. Why do you say that? What would a successful investigation have looked like, in your opinion.

If you think I've made errors of fact or left out material facts, then tell us what those are. If your opinion is just different from mine, then it's just a difference of opinion.

The City of Needles doesn't need Ron's Log to read about the investigation. They've got a copy of the investigation itself.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 11, 2013 6:37:39 PM

Unfortunately, Ron, you don't seem to understand the disservice you are doing to Desert Hot Springs with your entire posting on the investigation which is highly skewed favoring Daniels. Sadly, you cheerlead for an individual who practices a dysfunctional and unprofessional management style here in our City. You never answered the question concerning whether or not you are supportive of the $77k wasted on the failed investigation which the City cannot afford. Bankruptcy here, no thanks to Daniels, should occur towards the end of next year if no positive fiscal changes are made and made now. Daniels wants to get out of town while the getting is good. He doesn't have the coconuts to stick around and help the City through this crisis.

I have a feeling that when Needles learns of Daniels' many administrative missteps here in Desert Hot Springs, which your log remains in steadfast support of, they'll have a quick change of heart for hiring the guy. Being so much in favor of Daniels' costly administrative blunders here, perhaps there'll also be room in Needles for you and your excessively biased opinions. Desert Hot Springs has outgrown Daniels and his gang of three in a big way. Sadly, there'll be plenty of room in Needles for him to 'grow' into his obvious preference for city mismanagement and quite possibly fiscal bankruptcy should this tiny California city of 5000 unsuspecting souls allow themselves to be buffaloed by him. Perhaps Council members Parks, Matas and Pye should start packing their bags as well.

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 11, 2013 5:46:03 PM

Again, Mr. Propst fails to understand what's going on. I am a friend and supporter of Rick Daniels. I've never made any secret of that. My opinions in this post are clearly demarcated.

As to getting it "on the agenda" - when Mr. Daniels submitted his letter of complaint, it had to go on an agenda so the City Council could discuss it. He didn't need the support of any member of the council to make his complaint. The process to come to the decision to go with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai to handle the investigation was all handled in closed session. If you want to know in detail how that went and what the vote was, you'll have to ask Mr. Betts.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 11, 2013 1:08:59 PM

Sorry, Ron, but your summary of the report of the investigation is liberally sprinkled with subjective comments of a negative nature which speaks loud and clear about where your allegiances are. Quite often in the report, I could not distinguish your slant on the report and the far more objective report by the investigator. This is not good reporting when you intentionally skew your comments so blatantly. Next thing you know, you'll want to say Betts and Sanchez helped promote the investigation of themselves. It would have never got on the agenda for approval had Daniels not, himself, promoted it with the blessings of the gang of three on the Council, Parks, Matas and Pye. Time to fess up about where your allegiances are, Ron. Are you supportive of our near-bankrupt City spending the sorely needed $77k on a frivolous and failed investigation?

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 11, 2013 12:58:42 PM

Mr. Propst misunderstands. I'm not summarizing their feud. I'm summarizing the report of the investigation into Rick Daniels' complaint which was about Adam Sanchez and Russell Betts. Therefore, the investigation is all about what Sanchez and Betts did or didn't do. The investigation does not, therefore, include any investigation into any misdeeds attributed to Rick Daniels.

Mr. Propst also seems to be one of those who misunderstands who decided to do the investigation and pay for it. It was a decision of the City Council to do that. The law required them to investigate, but they had a range of choices on how to go about it.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Aug 11, 2013 11:07:54 AM

Well Ron, your summation of the Daniels/Betts/Sanchez feud is more than slightly biased in favor of Daniels and his gang of three, Parks, Matas and Pye. Daniels is doing everything in his power to bail from DHS, due to the heat he is facing for bad decision making, and we all know what those are, the latest not as gross an example being the $77,000. he wasted on this go-nowhere investigation of alleged misdeeds of other council members. Daniels should stay around and face the music for bringing the City to the edge of bankruptcy. On second thought, no, I hope Needles takes him and he becomes long gone from here. I am looking forward to having Mr. Sanchez represent us as our next Mayor come November.

Posted by: Darel Propst at Aug 11, 2013 9:05:10 AM

My recollection of the conversation with Russ Betts is slightly different than what is stated in the investigative report. As I recall, Councilman Betts CALLED ME and asked what I knew of the Laura Green matter (which was nothing). Betts alleged possible illegal conduct. I advised him that if he was aware of illegal conduct, he had an obligation to report it to the proper authorities.

Posted by: russ martin at Aug 8, 2013 12:23:36 PM

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