April 30, 2023

Ron Gilbert's Celebration of Life Ceremony

On 4/29/2023 a Celebration of Life Ceremony was held for the founder of Ron's log. It was held at the Cabot's Museum in Desert Hot Springs.

Many wore pink as Ron was famous for wearing pink, plus “pink” was his burner name. His his brothers were present as well as some of their family. Ron had friends come from his various circles and family, friends, and city leaders who spoke.

Here are some pictures submitted to us:

Friend Jeff Bowman was the officiant.

Jeff, Andrew, and Andy have been helping the family since none of the family lives local

Ron's brothers and family who were present standing in front of Ron's pink Burning Man trike

Some Ron pictures

Ron memorabilia


Afterwards the family allowed Ron's friends to take some of his ashes to bring to events that Ron attended like Burning Man, and the World Naked Bike ride Los Angeles.

We, the Friends of Ron's Log, will keep his memory and content here alive.

Please consider giving a donation in Ron’s name to the various organizations that he loved and wrote about. In town: DHSHistoricalSociety.org and CabotsMuseum.org

R.I.P. Ron "Pink" Gilbert

permalink | April 30, 2023 at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2023

Celebration of Life for Ron Gilbert

On Saturday April 29 at 6:pm, at Cabot's Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs there will be a celebration of life for Ron "Pink" Gilbert the creator of Ron's Log. He had passed away suddenly in November and it was a shock to all. His family and friends invite you to attend. In Ron's honor, join us in wearing something pink. The Museum is located at 67616 Desert View Ave, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240


permalink | April 12, 2023 at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2022

RIP Ron Gilbert

It is with profound sadness that we share with you that Ron Gilbert the creator of Ron's Log has passed away in November 2022. He was discovered deceased in his home by friends who had not heard from him in awhile and did a wellness check. The cause of death was a sudden heart attack. There was no sign of stress or prolonged pain. It is the desire of the family to keep Ron's Log going so the "Friends of Ron's Log" has been created. Ron's Log is truly a huge resource for those looking to learn more about the things Ron cared about and the city he lived in - Desert Hot Springs. If you've never read Ron's "About Me" you should. We'll post more later but for now please keep Ron's family and friends in you heart as the loss has been great. - Friends of Ron's Log


permalink | December 10, 2022 at 04:40 PM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2022

MSWD Settles For $175,000 For Sewage Spill At Horton

From the Desert Sun:

After large Desert Hot Springs sewage spill, MWSD [sic] will settle with regulator for $175,000

Janet Wilson
Palm Springs Desert Sun

Mission Springs Water District announced Friday that it will pay $175,000 for allowing a nearly 1 million-gallon spill of treated sewage effluent down residential streets in Desert Hot Springs last October and failing to promptly report it.

The agreement is pending final approval by the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Board, which issued a notice of violation to MSWD for releasing treated secondary effluent from the Alan L. Horton Wastewater Treatment Facility on Oct. 3, 2021. Both sides agreed to the amount in settlement negotiations, MSWD said.

The funds would be used to remove between 21 and 68 properties from aging septic systems and hook them up to safer sewage systems, with priority given to homes closest to MWSD well sites.

The district had faced up to $9.4 million in fines, after officials there waited two weeks to notify state authorities that large amounts of treated wastewater gushed through Desert Hot Springs streets. Such spills are supposed to be reported immediately.

Since then, MSWD said in a news release, the district has worked with regional water board staff to make structural and process improvements at the facility and has broken ground on a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant north of Interstate 10 in Desert Hot Springs.

“Serving a disadvantaged community comes with a unique set of challenges. Some residents simply do not have the means to connect to the sewer system,” said MSWD general manager Arden Wallum. “Using funds for projects such as this not only helps our residents and the District, but the entire Coachella Valley watershed.”

permalink | October 22, 2022 at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2022

Tour de Palm Springs

Yeah, we're talking about the Tour de Palm Springs that took place last February, not next. I went out and photographed the cyclists as they were riding south on Little Morongo. It's been eight months, but I took a lot of photos so they took a long time to edit. The complete set of photos can be seen here, but I'll give you two samples:
Tour de Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs (8114)

Tour de Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs (8269)

permalink | October 20, 2022 at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2022

Everybody's Got Meter Reading Problems

From the Mohave Daily News:

City to rectify billing error

Oct 19, 2022 2:00 AM

NEEDLES — The Needles City Council addressed concerns regarding the electric meter misreads and billing errors and came to a resolution at its Oct. 11 meeting.

There will be no late fees, no shut-offs during an audit period and payment plans will be available for up to a year for the power that was used.

In addition, the city will provide a $25 credit to every utility account for the error which City Manager Rick Daniels said will come out of the city’s general fund.

“It doesn’t move the earth,” he said, but it represents an apology and “the commitment to clean it up and for the terrible inconvenience that has happened.”

Overall responsibility for city operations and municipal utility operations rest with the city manager, Daniels said.

"And as the city manager, the buck stops here,” he said.

Daniels said meters likely were read accurately in July.

“In August, for some reason, many bills were half or even less,” he said. “Now when you get 10 of those, you think that maybe you got an equipment problem but once it crossed 20 and 50, there’s a human problem and that the meters either were being estimated or they weren’t being read, both of which are systematic failures.”

Daniels said that he’s spoken to about 50 residents and the billing office has talked with about 250 residents who’ve had issues and concerns.

An audit will be done for every account, he said, and for consumers who did not use the full hydro allocation, the city will drop the rate customers were charged for those particular kilowatts.

The meter reader responsible has resigned.

There was a cascade of events here, said Pastor James Jones, and there was more than just a meter reader that missed this.

“I’m sure there was an out of range report and if it wasn’t read or wasn’t paid attention to, then this is a systematic error that moved from the meter reader on up the food chain to the people that work in the office,” he said.

Jones said that even though the city will be switching to the automated readers, there’s still the possibility for error if people are not paying attention on that end of the bill.

“The only thing I’m hearing tonight is about the electric meters,” he said. “Well, this same meter reader read the water meters, too, so I don’t think you’ve discovered everything there is to be discovered. If the out of range report didn't catch the electric meters, then they didn’t catch the water meters, either.”

The city owns this problem, Daniels said, and is doing everything it can to correct it.

A new meter reader was hired about five weeks ago, he said.

“He’s being trained, he’s just completed his first cycle of all 15 routes,” he said. “He was trained by individuals who knew those individual routes.”

permalink | October 19, 2022 at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2022

DHS to Burning Man

Video from my dashcam of my drive to Burning Man. Ignore the date/time stamp; it was set incorrectly.

permalink | September 19, 2022 at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2022

Real Rain For The First Time In A Very Long Time

Thanks to Hurricane Kay!

permalink | September 9, 2022 at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2022

I'm Home

After Three Weeks On The Black Rock Desert Playa (2359)
After three weeks at Burning Man I arrived home last night with all my stuff, plus COVID. So, if you'd like to come by and taste some fairly fresh playa dust, that's fine, but no hugs or kisses for me.

permalink | September 8, 2022 at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2022

The Restaurant at DHS Spa, Again!

Excerpts from this report in the Press-Enterprise.

The FOURTH closure for the restaurant at DHS Spa hotel, but they get a backhanded compliment. This time it was NOT for rodent infestations. Good work on fixing the rodent problem, you filthy restaurant!

Restaurant at Desert Hot Springs Spa, 10805 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs

Closed: July 27
Grade: 81/B, failing
Reason: Failing an inspection while on probation. Among the 14 violations, food was at unsafe temperatures in a refrigerator that was impounded, there were flies inside, snap traps had been placed in areas where food contamination could occur, there were some gaps in the walls and ceiling, an insect light was hung over a food-prep table, and a chef wiped a knife with a dirty cloth. This was the restaurant’s fifth failed inspection and fourth closure since 2019, and its second closure since being placed on probation in July 2021. The previous closures were because of rodent infestations. To reopen again, the restaurant would have to correct all violations and purchase a new permit.

Daniel’s Table, 68327 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

Closed: July 26
Grade: Not graded
Reason: Operating without a valid health permit. The report from the restaurant’s last inspection in June said the permit had expired May 31.

KFC, 32120 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

Closed: July 25
Grade: 87/B, failing
Reason: Cockroach infestation. The inspector saw multiple live roaches at a sink and a dead roach on the floor. There was one other critical violation, for the water not being quite hot enough, but that was fixed before the inspection ended.
Reopened: July 27
New grade: 97/A, passing

Casa Blanca Restaurant , at 66370 Pierson Blvd in Desert Hot Springs, was inspected July 26 in response to a foodborne illness complaint. It received a failing grade of 84/B with two critical violations. Food was at unsafe temperatures in two refrigerators that were impounded for not keeping cold. Also, the chef twice didn’t wash hands when they should have. Among the six other violations, food-contact surfaces weren’t being properly cleaned or sanitized, there was biofilm in the ice machine and in the bar beverage gun, and the floors, walls and ceilings needed cleaning. The restaurant passed a follow-up inspection July 28 with a score of 96/A.

permalink | July 30, 2022 at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2022

MSWD Directors Grasha and Duncan

Here's a link to the video of the July 14 study session.

This link is to the video of the July 18 regular session.

Director Randy Duncan has submitted his resignation from the MSWD board because he lives outside the district. Director Steve Grasha is under investigation to determine if he lives outside the district.

At the July 14, 2022 MSWD Board Study Session

The board was in a discussion of item 7 "RESOLUTION 2022-17 - AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2021-18; REVISIONS TO MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS" when President Martin recognized Director Grasha for comments. Mr. Grasha responded "I have no questions on this, but before you move on to the next item I have a point of order and request for clarification from legal counsel on the standing of one former director that seems to be still sitting on the board in violation of the District Attorney's determination that he vacated his seat."

President Martin pointed out that district counsel was absent from this meeting, which was surprising to me because they had to have expected this issue to be raised at this meeting. Mr. Martin asked him if he'd be willing to wait until Monday to ask his question. Mr. Grasha said he didn't have a question, but was seeking clarification. He went on, "We have a letter here stating that the office has been vacated. It's declared by the District Attorney. Apparently there's been multiple acts of perjury that are associated with it that haven't ben charged, and I'm wondering if his continually sitting on the board will activate those charges and smear the reputation of this district. And I think it's time, before we continue on with this meeting to address that as a board, and not pretend that this is not an elephant sitting in the room. I find it offensive that this is happening right now."

President Martin said that since there would be no voting at this study session it was a moot point, and he could address the issue again on Monday in the regular session.

Mr. Grasha offered to read into the record the letter the DA sent to the board of directors. Mr. Martin said he would not grant him time to read the entire letter. Mr. Grasha began to read.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office has received a request to investigate a substantial violation by Director Randy Duncan of his residency requirements of the Mission Springs Water District Board of Directors pursuant to water code 3050A. The complaint alleges that Mr. Duncan no longer lives in the division he was elected to represent. Such a violation may jeopardize the finality of actions taken by the board since the violation occurred which is nearly two years ago. According to the Mission Springs Water District website, Mr. Duncan was most recently appointed to the board in October of 2014 after having served on the board for a few years prior. The website also mentions that Mr. Duncan has lived in Desert Hot Springs for more than 25 years. Our office recently learned that Mr. Duncan no longer resides within the Mission Springs Water District, having purchased a home outside of California. While Mr. Duncan used to live in Desert Hot Springs within the district, we determined that he sold that residence upon purchasing a new home out of state. We also discovered that Mr. Duncan stays with a friend in Desert Hot Springs about four days a week, but that friend's residence is not within Mr. Duncan's water board district. Mission Springs Water board of directors must reside within their respective divisions. If the director moves out of their division, they are deemed to have vacated their position if they fail to establish proper residency within 180 days. This is codified in water code 3050A. If a director's place of residence, as defined in section 244 of the government code, is moved outside the district boundaries or outside the boundaries of the director's division where elected from a division, or within 180 days of the move of the effective date of this section, the director fails to re-establish a residence within the district or within the director's division, it shall be presumed that permanent change of address has occurred and that vacancy exists on the board of directors. A place where one remains for labor or special temporary purpose does not qualify as a place of residence, and a person may only have one residence. Therefore, neither Mr. Duncan's out of state residence nor his temporary stays at a friend's residence that's outside the district would constitute qualifying residence for purpose of compliance with water code section 3050A. Without a qualifying residence within the district, Mr. Duncan vacated his position as Director of the Mission Springs Water District, according to government code 1770. Mr. Duncan's position became vacant when he ceased to be an inhabitant of the district for which he was appointed and within which his duties of his position are required to be discharged. Based upon the facts as we understand them, our legal analysis has concluded that Mr. Duncan's current position as a Mission Springs Water District board member constitutes a clear violation of 3050A water code. The District Attorney of Riverside County is committed to the objective of insuring that the board of directors of public agencies are qualified to hold their position of office and uphold the integrity of the board's actions. To that end, we respectfully request the board comply with the law by officially vacating Mr. Duncan's position as of the date he moved outside his district which was nearly two years ago. We also request the board review prior actions that were taken during the violation period and to insure that you are in compliance with [unclear] majority requirements set forth in water code 30525 and 30523. Failure to appropriately remedy this matter may result in further action taken by the District Attorney's office.

President Martin said he wanted to make two points. He said Director Duncan had not been convicted of any offense, that these are just charges the DA looked at. Also, Director Grasha is facing a similar investigation from the Attorney General's office for a very similar offense.

Much later in the meeting, President Martin recognized district counsel Peg Battersby who was not present in the board room. She said she had been involved in the Duncan matter. She read the announcement that was made after the closed session at the board's prior meeting in June: "There was a motion in favor of filing a motion to initiate quo warranto proceedings on behalf of the district with respect to Director Duncan and Director Grasha to determine whether they satisfy residency requirements within the division that elected them." She said the documents for that would be brought to the Monday (July 18) meeting.

During Director Comments at the study session, Mr. Duncan had this to say:

Two things. This is, I think, installment chapter number four in my ongoing quest for a new home. Despite the best efforts of two very mentally ill stalkers, Diane and I have been able to stick to our plan, very methodically comb through the Coachella Valley, gosh I couldn't tell you how many times now, bumper to bumper through the valley, Fourth of July we found - and this might be good news/bad news - like I said before. Fourth of July we found the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood, at the perfect price. So we are now getting ready to be homeowners again, okay. That's the good news. Bad news is this house is in Rancho Mirage. So I will be leaving the board. We're scheduled to close August 16, and despite Director Grasha's comments I will welcome the board to continue verifying my address within my division right now, because I do live within my division, and always did.

Second thing, and I'll make this statement and then I have a question to ask, so with all this I'm leading up to a question. My wife and I have owned property in Idaho for a very long time. It's never been an issue. In the year 2000 we bought a brand new boat. Since then, we've been going to Lake Havasu, spending most of the summers there. Sometimes renting a home; sometimes leasing a home long-term. Never been a problem. This last year in October, the developer or builder finished our house. We have a vacation home in Arizona which is totally legal, totally above board, didn't hide it from anybody, but we own property in Arizona. Director Grasha and Russell Betts got wind of it and decided to make it into something that it's not. They have complained, filed complaints, called every news agency, every political advocacy group, the DA's office. They have filed complaints with everyone they know of. I could personally care less. I know I'm in the right. The problem is every time a complaint is filed, every time a news report goes out, whatever the case may be, Mission Springs Water District now gets letters and phone calls which we turn over to the attorneys, and staff time. So what I would like to know, and this is not just for my own benefit, I think our customers deserve the right to know this, I know you can't get it by Monday, maybe by next board meeting, if you could tell me how much Steve Grasha and Russell Betts have cost this district on a wild goose chase that has gone nowhere, I would like to know that please.

At the July 18, 2022 MSWD Board Meeting


President Martin announced that the board would deal with all the other items on the agenda, then go into closed session, then come back and deal with item 17 in open session.

After item 6 (HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT) and before item 7 (RESOLUTION 2022-17 - AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2021-18; REVISIONS TO MISSION SPRINGS WATER DISTRICT PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS) Director Grasha requested permission to make a statement. President Martin said it was okay. Mr. Grasha said:

I wanted to put some fears at rest that members of the public might have over concerns raised by this board and their allegations that have already been investigated in detail and I'd like to read to you a statement from the Riverside County District Attorney in regards to the allegations that you made against me recently.

President Martin said this was not the appropriate time. Mr. Grasha insisted that the audience came only to hear this. As a member of that audience, I can assure you I did not go there to hear a self-serving statement from Steve Grasha. Mr. Grasha argued that his imaginary audience should control the order of the agenda. He kept trying to talk over President Martin until Mr. Martin ordered his microphone to be shut off.


President Martin read the resignation letter from Director Duncan:

Dear President Martin,
After today's board meeting I was told that my comments were either unclear or confusing to a few people, so I would like to clarify my announcement. As of Tuesday, August 16, 2022 I will be resigning my position on the board of directors for the Mission Springs Water District and vacating my seat due to moving out of Mission Springs Water District's service territory. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Director Grasha moved to accept Mr. Duncan's resignation effective June 13, 2021, "as outlined by the District Attorney's letter." The motion died for lack of a second.

Mr. Grasha then moved to accept the resignation as of August 16, 2022, and to direct the General Manager to determine how much the district had paid Mr. Duncan since June 13, 2021, and to try to recover that money from Mr. Duncan. That motion also died for lack of a second.

President Martin moved to accept Mr. Duncan's resignation as submitted. Director Duncan seconded. Approved 4-1 with Director Grasha voting against.

According to Attorney Pinkney, if the board decides to appoint a replacement, they have 60 days after the date of resignation to do so. The board must provide 15 days notice to the public before they appoint a replacement. Anyone appointed would serve for the remainder of Mr. Duncan's term; that is, until December 2024.

If the board decides instead to call an election, they have 60 days from the date of resignation to do so. The election would be on "the next established election date" that is at least 130 days after the date the board called for the election. I'm not completely sure, but that sounds like it would push the election to November 2024.

Director Grasha had a comment:

It should be clear to the public that this charade is all occurring so that the board of directors can avoid calling for an election as filing for this seat would have opened this morning. [It's only 113 days from July 18 to November 8. To get on the November ballot the board would have to have called for an election before July 1. - Ron] We would have had time to get this on the ballot for the November election and allow the electorate to decide on who should fulfill the obligations of Mr. Duncan. It's unfortunate that this board is up to shenanigans continually and it never ends and here we are going to be forced with another hand-picked successor picked by Nancy Wright and the regime. Thank you.

Mr. Grasha said the board could put this on the ballot in November 2022. Mr. Grasha can't count. He moved to put it on the November 2022 ballot. This died for lack of a second.

Director Duncan moved to choose the appointment process. Seconded by Vice President Wright. Attorney Pinkney pointed out the agenda item called only for the discussion of how to replace Mr. Duncan, so the motion was withdrawn.

When they got to item 26, Director's Comments, Mr. Grasha had something to say:

I wanted to take a moment to allay any concerns the public might have about these outlandish allegations raised for the third time by this board. These allegations were investigated thoroughly by actual law enforcement and I want to read you the statement that they issued in regard to those allegations. "The Riverside County District Attorney's office special prosecution sections received a complaint against you alleging residency violations based on your position as a board member of the Mission Springs Water District. Whenever we receive a complaint against a public official our office is obligated to determine if it is appropriate for action by our office. The public integrity unit investigates and, if appropriate, prosecutes criminal misconduct by an elected or appointed official in accordance with our legal and ethical responsibilities. To that end, our office conducted an investigation into your residency claims made against you. At the conclusion of that investigation we determined there is no evidence of criminal activity on your part. We have not filed any criminal charges against you and we will not take further action on this complaint. We hope this letter provides clarification as to the status of this investigation of this claim at this time. Please contact our office if you have any further questions."

President Martin said that Mr. Grasha missed the main point of the letter. The DA was investigating criminal conduct. The quo warranto procedure is a civil, not criminal, matter.

In his comments, Director Duncan said "I have to give just a word of caution - or, not caution - I don't know what the right word is. To any new hires that are still listening to this board meeting with the childish outbreaks, the crazy accusations that are going on, this is not the normal procedure for Mission Springs Water District and it will change as of November."

I don't know what meetings Mr. Duncan has been attending, but the behavior seen at this board meeting is normal and has been since Steve Grasha was elected.


Attorney Pinkney first reported on closed session. Both Directors Grasha and Duncan recused themselves from closed session.

The attorney explained that an application will be filed with the Attorney General's office. Notice will be given to Mr. Grasha who will have 15 days to respond and provide evidence, then the district will have 10 days to reply. Then the attorney general will make a determination as to whether there are grounds to proceed with the filing of a lawsuit in quo warranto.

He read a summary of allegations against Mr. Grasha:

  • On June 17 the district received a complaint from Russ Martin which he had filed with the DA in November 2020 regarding Mr. Grasha's residence.
  • When Grasha was elected he did not reside within the district.
  • Grasha gave an address of 14200 North Indian Canyon Drive.
  • That address is Two Springs RV Resort which prohibits permanent residence.
  • On January 24, 2020, the district was served with a wage garnishment order against Grasha giving his address his address as 1015 St. Lucia Circle, Palm Springs.
  • The garnishment order was served at that address.
  • Grasha owns two motor vehicles, one of which is registered to a post office box in Kneeland, California. [Kneeland is in Humboldt County.]
  • Grasha maintains a post office box in North Palm Springs, but he received all his mail at the St. Lucia Circle address.
  • Grasha's mother owns 1015 St. Lucia Circle.

The attorney also listed some of the documents that will be submitted with the complaint to the Attorney General:

  • Desert Sun article from November 13, 2018 "Desert Hot Springs elects Steve Grasha, a man with history of angry, sexist, racist tweets, to water board."
  • Two articles from "Ron's Log blog" in 2018. [I have no idea what these could be, since the only original content I have on Steve Grasha was the video of the board workshop where then-President Duncan called the police to have Grasha removed.]
  • An L.A. Times article from 1987 "Tossed in Jail for Contempt of Court: He Slams a Door; Judge Does, Too" [The 27-year-old Grasha, who now lives in Palm Springs, was charged in 1985 with four counts of perjury and one count of filing false statements on nomination papers. He was accused of falsifying his address on papers filed for the November, 1985, election. At the time, he allegedly did not live in Buena Park.]
  • Another L.A. Times article "Buena Park: Candidate Grasha Will Be Tried in Perjury Case" from 1986.

The attorney said the district's records reflect the following:

  • Grasha does not sign for mail delivery at his supposed North Indian Canyon address.
  • Grasha has attended no board meetings in person since February 2020.

Vice President Wright then read some of the lowlights of the 2018 Desert Sun article. I don't know why she chose this time to do so. That information has been available to everyone, including Ms. Wright, since 2018. She has had years and many opportunities to attack Mr. Grasha on his many faults, but she (and the other directors) have held themselves back. Now that we're nearly at the tail end of Mr. Grasha's term when her criticism will make no real difference, she decides to open up.

If you can't read the Desert Sun article, I have it copied here, on Ron's Log.

Ms. Wright encouraged Mr. Grasha to do the right thing and resign.

Director Duncan had comments:

You know, Russell Betts and Steve Grasha have been chasing me around because I own property out of California. It's not a sin; it's not a crime; not even fattening. It's okay to own property out of California. But the hypocrisy of what Grasha is claiming I do - I don't know why they think I live out of state because I own property out of state. They both are such hypocrites. I agree with Nancy. I think Grasha should resign now. He'll never get re-elected to this board. There's only a few months left. Save the money for this "quo wanto" I can't pronounce that phrase, but save the money for that.

Mr. Duncan did not explain what Mr. Betts's hypocrisy is in this matter.

Mr. Grasha was no longer attending the meeting.

President Martin agreed that it would be in the best interests of the district if Mr. Grasha would resign, saving the district money spent on attorney's fees.

Mr. Martin recognized Russell Betts who wanted to make a public comment.

I just wanted to explain a couple things here. My involvement regarding statements made against me by Randy Duncan. And my inquiry into this started with a simple public records request to the board, or to the district, asking for all the home addresses of all the directors. Which I don't think somebody who's doing a public information request should be referred to as a "stalker." That's a pretty darn bad attitude to have towards what is a legal and proper process in our system. The information that came back was that Randy Duncan, and all the directors' addresses came back. The district responded very quickly. But Randy Duncan's address came back as on Mission Lakes Boulevard where I know he doesn't live because he and I used to - I used to drive by and we'd occasionally talk, found he didn't live there anymore. So I asked the board about that and the response I got back was "we rely on the director to determine where they live." And I even talked to the attorney Pinkney, and he said, well, basically I'll get back to you, but we just rely on the director. And I said, well, I'm letting you know now that he doesn't live there. And the reply was "Well, we consider your public information request closed and nobody was interested in that." Now, Mr. Duncan most certainly does live in Arizona because that's where his license plate for his vehicle is, and you don't move to a state and change your license plate, unless you live there. You certainly have all kinds of indication as to why...anyhow, so I want to say when I found out that there was this discrepancy I did as i should have done and let the District Attorney know about it. The District Attorney looked at it, made their determination, and it is quite clear from the District Attorney that Mr. Duncan, indeed, does not live in the district and not once has Mr. Duncan - I invite him to tell us now - what is your address in the district? You told the District Attorney, apparently, that you were staying with a friend. [President Martin tried to cut him off as he had reached his 3-minute limit.] If I could just wrap up quickly. I'm following what is the legal and proper process for public record request and to be called a stalker because of that, I understand it's not nice to have to resign your position, but the public information process is a very integral part of our system of transparency.

I think his point about the plates on the vehicle is pretty weak. If Duncan keeps a vehicle in Arizona, there would be no requirement to license it in California. Now, if Mr. Duncan had gotten an Arizona drivers license or registered to vote in Arizona, we'd have something. But Arizona plates on a vehicle in Arizona indicate nothing as to residency.

Director Duncan said he called Mr. Betts a stalker not because of the public records act. The form provided to Mr. Betts was Mr. Duncan's campaign filing statement which was filed in June 2020. He still lived on Mission Lakes Boulevard in June 2020 and in November 2020, the date of the election. He sold his house "well after that." The truck with Arizona plates mostly stays in Arizona. He said he called Mr. Betts a stalker because he saw him filming MSWD directors and staff as they were leaving through the gate. Mr. Betts then followed Mr. Duncan for several blocks. Mr. Betts also copied a photo from the Facebook page of Mrs. Duncan showing their property in Arizona. He said Mr. Betts posted that photo and a photo of downtown Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Duncan said he didn't own any property in Prescott.

Suddenly Mr. Betts's voice re-appeared saying "It's outside Prescott, Randy, it's not in city proper." President Martin called him out of order.

Mr. Duncan continued saying Mr. Grasha had been taken into court on a stalking case. Betts's photos of Duncan's vehicles and properties, sitting outside the district's gates filming employees. "Betts, if you ever try something like that again I will file stalking charges against you."

Betts's voice appeared again saying "Go right ahead."

Duncan: "Don't tempt me."

Betts: "So what? File it. I can't wait 'til you do. Do it. Do it, Randy."

Finally, President Martin ordered Betts muted.

Vice President Wright moved to approve the resolution as presented. Seconded by Director Sewell. Approved 3-0 with Director Duncan recusing himself and Director Grasha absent. Directors Martin, Wright and Sewell each individually called for Grasha to resign to save the district money.

permalink | July 21, 2022 at 10:30 PM | Comments (3)

July 20, 2022

Juvie Cannabis Thieves Busted

Press release from the Desert Hot Springs Police:

Armed Robbery Arrest

Desert Hot Springs, July 20, 2022:
On Monday, 07/18/2022 at approximately 11:51 am, Desert Hot Springs Police Officers responded to the 66900 block of Ironwood Drive for a report of an armed robbery. The victim, a cannabis delivery driver, told officers she was making a delivery of product at an apartment complex in the area. When she arrived, a male subject walked to her vehicle and identified himself as the customer. While speaking with the subject, he attempted to forcefully take the product from the delivery driver. She initially attempted to resist the subject, at which time, he drew a black handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the driver. The driver fled in her vehicle and the suspect fled on foot. DHSPD Detectives responded to the scene and assumed the investigation. Detectives were able to develop information on a suspect, and on July 19, 2022, at approximately 11:00 am, DHSPD Detectives and Patrol Officers, assisted by a helicopter from CHP Air Operations, served a search warrant at an address in the 66900 block of Ironwood Drive. During the warrant, a firearm believed to be used in the robbery was recovered and two male juvenile suspects were located and detained. Following additional investigation, both suspects were subsequently placed under arrest and later booked into the Riverside County Juvenile Hall in Indio. Charges include violations of Penal Codes 211 – Armed Robbery, 245(a)(2) – Assault with a Firearm, and 182(a)(1) – Conspiracy to Commit Robbery.

permalink | July 20, 2022 at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2022

Yucca glorioso blooms

About a year ago I had big tree that had been shading most of my front yard cut down. There was a noticeable increase in growth of all the plants that had been getting filtered sunlight prior to this. I'm guessing that's why this past April two of the yucca gloriosos in my yard sent up flower stalks. That's the first time any of the yuccas in my yard have done that, so I started photographing them. Now, in July, they seem to have reached and passed their sexual attempts and are in the process of withering and dying. The complete set of photos are here, and these are a few of them:

Yucca glorioso [2022-05-19 10.39.08]

Yucca glorioso [2022-06-19 14.04.21]

Yucca glorioso [2022-07-06 14.49.05]

Yucca glorioso [2022-05-01 12.04.24]

permalink | July 16, 2022 at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 2, 2022

Kam Lun Chinese AGAIN!

There seem to be a lot of especially gross reports in this week's list of health department inspections in the Press-Enterprise, including this bit: "the inspector saw several dead cockroaches, including in a pot on the stove" [Pho TYC, Wildomar]. But there were only these three in the Coachella Valley.

Kam Lun Chinese Food, 66610 8th St., Desert Hot Springs
Closed: June 29
Grade: 81/B, failing
Reason: Failing an inspection while on probation. Among the 13 violations, the inspector saw rodent droppings in several areas including by the food-prep sink and a microwave; there were flies at the cook line; cooked meat was sitting at room temperature and an employee said the practice is to leave it on the counter until it’s ordered; shrimp, beef and eggs were at unsafe temperatures in a refrigerator that was impounded for not keeping cold; dishes weren’t being washed properly; raw and ready-to-eat foods weren’t adequately separated; and the floors, walls and ceilings needed cleaning. The restaurant has been on probation since last August after failing three inspections and being shut down twice for rodent infestations in a two-year span. This is its second failure and closure since going on probation. To reopen again, it would have to correct all violations and purchase a new health permit.
The restaurant at Desert Falls Country Club, at 1111 Desert Falls Parkway in Palm Desert, was inspected June 22 and received a failing grade of 80/B with one critical violation. Dishes and other surfaces weren’t being sanitized. Among the 11 other violations, the inspector saw a live cockroach in a walk-in cooler and two dead roaches in other locations, meat and cheese were at unsafe temperatures in a cook-line fridge, the bar area didn’t have hot water, the women’s restroom didn’t have cold water and there was a long list of items that needed cleaning and repair. On June 29, the restaurant passed a follow-up inspection with a 97/A.
The restaurant at Terra Lago Golf Club, at 84000 Terra Lago Parkway in Indio, was inspected June 20 and received a failing grade of 82/B with one critical violation. The inspector saw rodent droppings on top of the food prep sink, on the back of a unit for holding hot food and on the floors, and noted rodent and cockroach traps in the kitchen and bar areas, as well as dead flies in the bar area. Among the 10 other violations, some food wasn’t being kept hot, there was pink mold in the ice machine and equipment, floors and walls needed cleaning. On June 23, the restaurant passed a follow-up inspection with a 94/A.

permalink | July 2, 2022 at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2022

Herb Ritts Took A Photo In Desert Hot Springs?!

I had never heard of that before. "David with Lampshade, Desert Hot Springs, 1989".

permalink | June 27, 2022 at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2022

Desert Hot Springs LGBTA+ Pride Proclamation Video

permalink | June 22, 2022 at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2022

First-Ever Pride Proclamation In Desert Hot Springs

Desert Hot Springs' first-ever proclamation recognizing LGBTQIA+ Pride was delivered at tonight's city council meeting by Mayor Scott Matas.
Mayor Matas Reading Pride Proclamation (1104)
Mayor Matas reading the proclamation

James Nindel Speaking On The Pride Proclamation (1110)
Planning Commissioner James Nindel speaking on the significance and need for the proclamation

Pride Proclamation by the City of Desert Hot Springs (1117)

And while I'm on the subject, you should check out GayDHS.com.

The City Council meeting tonight was a lot of the usual administrative items that they always have to handle at this time of year: landscape and lighting districts, putting DVD bills on the property tax bill, etc. But there was one significant item: approval of $3,172,000 to Onyx Paving Company and approval of a total project budget of $4,298,600 for a total redo of Palm Drive north of Pierson. This includes not just resurfacing, but bike lanes, sidewalks, additional street lighting, a 4-way stop at 12th Street and newly painted crosswalks. Palm Drive north of Pierson will be reduced to two lanes for motor vehicle traffic. The additional space gained will be used for the sidewalks and bike lanes. Councilmember Nuñez suggested the sidewalks should be 8 feet wide. Assistant City Manager Porras said that 8 foot sidewalks could be constructed where there are no sidewalks, but to tear out all sidewalks to rebuild them to an 8-foot width would really expand the size of this project [and I think it would probably need to be re-bid and, thus, delayed].

Mr. Nuñez's really bonehead suggestion was to retain the current four lanes for motor vehicles on Palm Drive, but WIDEN the road to be able to add sidewalks (16 feet) and bike lanes (maybe another 16 feet or so?). I'd suggest Mr. Nuñez actually go look at that segment of Palm Drive. It has the least traffic of any segment of Palm Drive. Residences north of 12th Street already suffer cramped front yards and driveways and no street parking is permitted. A narrowing of this part of Palm Drive has been under discussion for years. There are businesses along Palm Drive north of Pierson, including the new Dollar General, that are close to the roadway. The city couldn't add 16 feet to a side without the considerable expense of having to tear out or rebuild some commercial buildings.

And then there's the utter lack of need for a 4-lane road that far north in the city. The population won't grow much at that end of the city, unless someone is planning on building multi-family housing up the sides of the mountains. The growth in the city is all farther south, west or east.

The item was approved 3-1 with Mr. Nuñez voting against. Councilmember Betts was absent tonight.

Finally, there was this:
Red Curb Parking (2269)
It was okay because no conflagrations were on the schedule for tonight

permalink | June 21, 2022 at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2022

Something Stinks, Do You Smell It Too?

For years now, Arden Wallum and Nancy Wright have treated MSWD board meetings as if they were their own little coffee chats, speaking spontaneously and freely without recognition from the board president, even interrupting other speakers, including board members, staff and members of the public.

Since the board meeting where then-President Duncan called the cops to eject Director Grasha, every board meeting has begun with the attorney reading the "rules of procedure." I'll summarize:

  • The rules of procedure were adopted by the board;
  • Rosenberg's Rules of Order are followed;
  • Directors should refrain from responding directly to public comments;
  • The President is responsible for maintenance of order and decorum;
  • No one speaks who has not been first recognized by the President;
  • No board member should speak more than once on a subject until every other board member has had a chance to speak;
  • No board member shall interfere with the orderly progress of the meeting; and
  • The President regulates the amount of time spent on each agenda item.

These guidelines are applied to Director Grasha but usually to no one else. Let me say up front that they do really need to be applied to Director Grasha. He cannot control himself and attempts to run amok at almost every meeting.

The board President is Russ Martin. Nancy Wright is Vice President, but that gives her no special rights when the President is present and presiding.

At the June 16, 2022, study session the discussion of the budget begins at 6:56 in the video of the meeting. President Martin said that before they began to get into the budget, he wanted to discuss some good news about the financing of the new wastewater treatment facility. He recognized staff member Steve Ledbetter to deliver the good news. Arden Wallum began speaking immediately, without asking for recognition and without apology. Mr. Wallum said it was good news, indeed, and asked Mr. Ledbetter if he would like to share the info. Then Mr. Wallum just kept talking. But Director Grasha interrupted with a "point of order," saying "This kind of news should be backed up with documentation." Vice President Wright, unrecognized and unapologetic, said something but she was too far from her microphone to be heard clearly. Mr. Grasha continued, "Making assertions that certain things have happened without the documents being forwarded to the board prior to the meeting." Then Mr. Grasha, never knowing when it's in his own best interest to just shut up, wandered into vague accusations that there have been many lies from other directors and staff. His suggestion that the board should never hear any news unless it's backed up by solid, printed documentation that has already been distributed to the directors is just nonsense. It's common for staff of any agency to share good (and sometimes bad) news with their respective boards as soon as possible, even though sometimes the paper verification won't be received for weeks or even months. If the staff did not do this, directors like Mr. Grasha would accuse them of attempting to hide something.

Ms. Wright began speaking again (unrecognized, of course). She said this is a public meeting so it will be public information...as if that were some sort of satisfying logic.

Mr. Grasha countered with another point of order, "Would you get your board member under control, please." President Martin asked Mr. Grasha if he had made his point. There was no response, so Mr. Martin again recognized Mr. Ledbetter and this time Mr. Wallum let Mr. Ledbetter speak.

He reported that he spoke to the State Water Resources Control Board on June 15 and was told that the assistant deputy director has approved that the new wastewater treatment facility can proceed "at 100% grant funding." Those grants will come from a number of different buckets, but the important thing to my ears is "100% grant funding" which on the bare face of it says to me that someone else will be paying for the construction of the new facility, and it doesn't get any better than that. 100%. He said 100%. The documentation will not be finalized for two to three months, because, jeez, do you have to ask? It involves water and government money from multiple sources. That is not a small and nimble operation.

Mr. Wallum, unrecognized, thanked Mr. Ledbetter and continued to talk, adding no substantive information. Then he asked President Martin if he would like him to introduce the budget. Mr. Martin said he would.

Here's the link to the agenda for the June 16, 2022, meeting with budget info included.

The board had discussed the budget at a workshop earlier this month (video).

Mr. Wallum introduced Finance Director Arturo Ceja. The district has 53 staff positions and this budget seeks to add one more in wastewater. The salary matrix is unchanged from the previous budget.

Director Grasha interrupted to repeat, using different words, his wish to see some documentation of the agreement by the state to 100% fund the construction of the wastewater treatment facility. Mr. Ceja repeated what Mr. Ledbetter had said, in essence. The documentation isn't there because the district doesn't have it yet.

Then Mr. Grasha went on to say that he couldn't find anything in the budget to reflect "the $10-million fine that we're facing that will be required to be paid in October." He's talking about the fine for untimely reporting of a sewage spill at the Horton wastewater treatment plant. The maximum possible fine would be $9-million, but nobody expects the maximum possible fine.

Several voices erupted at once; one of them might have been Mr. Ceja's. Someone sounding like Mr. Wallum said "Irrelevant." Other voices were unclear. Then President Martin spoke saying "You're getting off-topic." Mr. Wallum said "There is no $10-million." Mr. Grasha (who was never recognized to begin with, either) spoke up, "This is a board meeting, not a staff meeting, Mr. General Manager. This is between the five directors. This is the directors' budget. This is what you expect us to provide you and it needs to be complete and the public needs to be assured..."

President Martin called him out of order. Mr. Grasha countered saying Mr. Martin was out of order. Mr. Martin acknowledged that he never recognized Mr. Grasha, but he let him proceed until he "went on this rant."

So, while Mr. Martin may have been right on procedural matters, Mr. Grasha was right in what he said. If Mr. Wallum wants to interrupt a director he should seek recognition from the president before he does so. The only person who had been recognized to speak was Mr. Ceja.

The budget is anticipating a 38% increase in revenue from property taxes, from $1,517,480 this fiscal year to $2,099,989 next fiscal year. Salaries and wages are budgeted to increase about 12.3%, from $4,268,359 to $4,795,173. The biggest increase in budgeted expenses is in capital improvements which will rise from $30,589,349 in 2022 to $87,180,394 in 2023; an increase of $56,591,045, or 185%.

At this moment, the board secretary interrupted to report that Russell Betts had a question. The secretary's interruption was out of order, IMO. She should have either notified President Martin silently (but I don't think they have a way to do this) or wait until Mr. Ceja had finished his presentation. A public comment is not quite an emergency. Mr. Betts said he would be happy to wait until the public comment period, whereupon the secretary responded "Thank you. We'll allow Mr. Ceja to finish his presentation." Oh, we will, will we?! Who actually is presiding at these meetings? The board secretary and Mr. Wallum act as if they're in charge.

Director Grasha (recognized!) said he saw nothing in the budget to address the expenses of meeting the as yet unestablished chromium-6 standard two years hence. We don't know what the standard will be, we don't know what the expense might be, and it's not going to be in the next fiscal year, so what does he want? President Martin called on Mr. Wallum to answer that. Mr. Wallum said the district has no idea what the standard will be. Mr. Ledbetter pointed out the budget does have a line item for a chromium-6 compliance study.

Mr. Grasha continued, failing to acknowledge that no one knows what the target level will be, saying in essence that the district should follow the credo "Ready. Fire. Aim."

Ms Wright spoke up, unrecognized, saying that in the last few years some water agencies have found less expensive ways to deal with chromium-6.

President Martin called for public comments. Pamela Edmondson spoke first. She had three (maybe four) questions

  1. It appears to her that the total budget is $114-million. Is that correct? Does that cover some of the things brought up by Mr. Grasha?
  2. The budget shows a revenue increase. What is there to substantiate those increases? Can you really count on that revenue?
  3. Will those increased revenues provide for hiring additional employees, covering unexpected expenses like chromium-6, or even paving 20th Avenue to the new wastewater treatment facility?
  4. How close was the district on the 2021-22 FY budget?

Mr. Wallum suggested Mr. Ceja would be the one to answer these questions. President Martin said he was concerned that the board couldn't have a back and forth with a public commenter. "You can," Mr. Wallum incorrectly advised.

The $114-million figure is the Gann limit, not the total budget. Mr. Ceja said he was very conservative in estimating future revenues. (The budget anticipates an increase in water revenue of only 1% and a 2.7% increase in sewer revenue.)

Ms. Edmondson asked if she could ask a follow-up question. President Martin told her to go ahead. Will the interest rate hikes have any influence that the district can foresee? Mr. Ceja said that the district has access to loans at lower than market rates as well as grants. Mr. Wallum spoke again without asking for recognition, saying that the district has already locked in some loans at low interest rates.

Ms. Edmondson said she had one more question. What about new employees or paving that road? Mr. Wallum said that the district had not yet been required to pave the road, but they might be expected to.

Now Mr. Martin called on Mr. Betts for his comment. He spoke about the spill at Horton and the impending fine. He said DWA had been fined $1-million for a sewage spill that they had. Ms. Wright began to speak. Mr. Betts addressed the President saying he would like to get his statement out without being interrupted. Mr. Betts said the Desert Sun reported the DWA fine was $1-million. His question was how is a fine ($10-million or whatever) handled in a budget. President Martin responded that the district was never facing a $10-million fine. The maximum is $9-million. "That's splitting hairs. I'll correct myself to $9-million," Mr. Betts said. Mr. Martin responded, "You're interrupting me."

At this point in the meeting there had been many interruptions by different people, and President Martin sat there silently every time. But now, when a ratepayer calls in with a very legitimate question of how to budget for a potentially large fine of an unknown amount, the President gets snippy and decides the rules will be enforced. Mr. Martin went on to say there had been a lot of back and forth (between whom he did not say) and they were not prepared to give any info. Then Attorney Pinkney spoke up to say there wouldn't be a $9-million fine or anywhere near that figure. The district has been in discussions over the matter but the discussions are still confidential.

Mr. Betts spoke again, "Mr. Chair, may I ask." Mr. Martin replied "Just a moment, just a moment." But Mr. Betts continued speaking "We're way off of the question. I didn't ask for any of these answers."

"You brought it up, sir," Mr. Martin replied. "No I didn't bring...I brought up a very specific question."

"Okay, that's enough. You're cut off," Mr. Martin announced.

There you have it. If you've followed MSWD meetings for as long as I have, you've seen their well-established practice, regardless of who is board president, of being very sloppy in allowing back-and-forths with public commenters. I don't think they should do it that way, but there is no question that the standard of conduct at MSWD board meetings permits casual back and forth conversations between the public and either staff or the board. But now that someone wants to ask a real question about how a potential $9-million fine can be budgeted for, the ax drops, the board is going to work to the rules and the ratepayer can just shut up and fuck off.

This is from the same board that knew about the spill and the potential fine, but never informed the public until Director Grasha brought it up at a board meeting. Some shit stinks here. I just can't tell yet how deep the shit is or who has stepped in it.

President Martin felt the need to add "One of the things that was another mistake that Councilman Betts made was the fine for DWA. Nancy can you clarify that?" Ms. Wright said the fine was $150,000-$160,000 plus building some project. "The $9.5 million what it was in the newspaper, that was somebody else made those. They took what the maximum fines could be. I don't think I've ever seen a maximum fine actually used." The $9.5-million figure was never put out by the regional board.

All still leaving Mr. Betts question unanswered. I'd like to know the answer too. Yes, the board can mut a public commenter who is abusing his privileges, but that doesn't mean the comment and question just go away. I'd like to know how it is budgeted and I'd really like to know why the board is so defensive that they can't even hear the question. The answer might be as simple as "We just don't put it in the budget; when we know the final amount, then we'll adjust the budget." Maybe. But nobody was willing to say that.

BTW, the DWA fine was $181,947, but half of that amount will go to "purchase and install the Cathedral Canyon Lift Station Flow Meter Monitoring Vault and Sample Box to detect flow variations that indicate pipe breakages and take water samples to identify pollution in the river channel and local groundwater." But DWA's fine was for the sewage spill. It's my understanding (not that anyone on the MSWD board would ever feel the need to explain to the public) that MSWD's violation was that the sewage spill was not reported in a timely fashion, so we may be comparing apples and applesauce.

Mr. Grasha had another point of order. But now that President Martin had strapped on his testicles, he interrupted Mr. Grasha to say he was not recognized and Mr. Grasha stopped.

That was the end of the budget discussion. The board meets again on Monday, June 20 (no Juneteenth holiday for them!) to vote on it.

If you'd like to see a meeting properly and efficiently conducted in accordance with the Brown Act, you only need to look to the City Council of Desert Hot Springs. It's extremely rare for the City Manager to speak up unless called on by the Mayor. If anyone tries to speak over another person, Mayor Matas will shut that down instantly. He never, never, ever permits a back and forth with a public commenter. And no one is on a first-name basis while the meeting is proceeding.

permalink | June 17, 2022 at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2022

Photos From The MSWD Groundbreaking

Yesterday was the groundbreaking ceremony for the new wastewater treatment facility for the Mission Springs Water District.
MSWD Wastewater Facility Groundbreaking (2265)

MSWD Wastewater Facility Groundbreaking (0765)

MSWD General Manager Arden Wallum (0772)
MSWD General Manager Arden Wallum

Mayor Scott Matas (0762)
Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas

Free Lens (0774)
If you're missing a 50mm Canon lens
, you left it sitting like this atop a loudspeaker.

permalink | June 11, 2022 at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2022

The Fire Was Where?

There was a fire last night around 7 PM in Desert Hot Springs. The Desert Sun phoned it in, relying on the fire department's tweet that said the location was "66700 Blk 6th St." But the fire department included a map in their tweet that pointed to the coordinates 33°58'07.4"N, 116°29'47.1"W, which is on 8th Street just east of Mesquite.

KESQ actually sent out a reporter and camera, but they were even less specific than the newspaper. KESQ said it was at "Mesquite Avenue, just off of Palm Drive." Since Mesquite parallels Palm, that's the equivalent of saying "somewhere on Mesquite."

So I put on my Brenda Starr boots and headed out to investigate. The fire was right where the fire department's map was pointing; they just mistyped 6th for 8th.

permalink | June 4, 2022 at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)