Newberry Springs'
True Poverty

Meet and greet your CSD Board.
The evidence convicts.

Important insight into the slow demise
of faltering Newberry.

Posted:  January 1, 2019
Commentary by Ted Stimpfel, NSCA blog's co-editor.

    Living in Newberry Springs is slow anguish.  Newberrians are getting burned in their own self-made Purgatory... their scorched bones are smoldering and cursing the neglect of the Community Services District's (CSD) directors.

    More than any organization, the Newberry CSD is responsible for the ethos of the community; and the community is paying a heavy price for the minimal leadership it elects.  Especially disappointing is the community's impairment for its children.

    While the county's population is growing, Newberry's population is forecast to continue its decline.  According to the county's recently created Newberry Springs Action Plan (page 18), Newberry's population will continue to drop. 

    Approximately 1/3 of the community's dwelling units are vacant.  With that is a decline in the community's market value and desirability.  This is while other High Desert communities are growing and prospering.

    Newberry's problems start within itself, its leadership denials, its failure to address the outside issues that impact it, its lack of community support (due to poor public education on civic matters), and a lack of overall pride and activism.  All pivoting from the CSD's lack of innovation which is like a slow acid acting upon the community.

Change from within.

    There is a meaningful adage,
"Build your own dream or someone will hire you to build theirs."   Some people have a limited mindset to wait for the outside world to change Newberry while ignoring opportunities to do it now.  Blessings don't fall upon those who refuse to use their own talents.

    There is currently little chance of outside intervention.  Change has got to come from within but Newberry is lacking sensible guidance.  The community's decline was reinforced by last November's election.

    Newberry Springs continues to appoint political leaders that have failed it in the past.  The CSD board lacks a progressive vision.  It is stagnant, it holds onto a policy of isolation and it refuses to voyage into any new frontiers.

    Starting on December 11th, the CSD board now comprises of Robert Springer, Paula Deel, Victoria Paulsen, Larry Clark, and Jack Unger.

    What shifted in the last election was the replacement of the only progressive board member, Robert Shaw, with newbie Jack Unger.  This was another powerful 4-year step backward for Newberry.  Jack Unger is a poorly qualified lackey of Director Paula Deel who brought her amigo into the election to enhance her cronyism support on the board.

    The Newberry CSD directors principally oversee the CSD's management and policies.  The CSD is, however, the only locally elected political body that can help lead Newberry out of its rut.  While the current directors are pleasant civic-minded people, they have proven themselves totally dry and incapable of the true visionary leadership that Newberry Springs desperately needs to grow and create jobs.

Cast of Characters

Victoria Paulsen

    Director Victoria "Vickie" Paulsen (pictured right) is already beholding to Director Deel by many connections.  Therefore, Deel quietly controls the direction of the board.  This is especially sad because no one within the Deel cartel, including Paula Deel herself, has demonstrated any visionary strength in governance.  Ask yourself, "What has the Newberry CSD ever done to uplift the community and make your daily life better?

    Vickie Paulsen has shown a little more independence lately for the recent election, apparently trying to shake off negative reviews.

    While suitable for the current CSD operation, Paulsen has not demonstrated any independent, wise judgment on the board nor with her position with NSEDA (N.S. Economic Development Association) that reaches an understanding level necessary for community development.


Paula Deel

    Director Paula Deel's ego of publicly placing herself in different community organizations has given her a good political persona that hasn't been supported by any meaningful results.  She does handle her involvement in social events, like the Pistachio festival well, so people don't realize (or perhaps care) how badly she has unintentionally been an obstacle to matters of true community progress.

    Paula Deel and Vickie Paulsen failed to deliver on their NSEDA huge Desert Trails Promise Zone application.  They greatly embarrassed Newberry Springs as being incompetent when they disappointed communities like Barstow, Lucerne Valley, Needles, the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, and others from Hinkley to the Colorado River who were co-applicants and dependent upon NSEDA to process the application.

    As the lead applicant, NSEDA's bungling mismanagement of the application's fantastic opportunity disappointed many.  Deel also didn't deliver on a Community Plan she spearheaded, and under NSEDA, there has never been any positive economic development.

    In fact, Paula Deel has a history of toxic ideas.  In the past, Deel strongly promoted the misguided idea of transforming Newberry Springs by allowing dozens of dairies to relocate in Newberry.  The dairies would have created a community stench and polluted the groundwater.  She also wanted Hinkley's Nursery Products, the toxic sludge/compost plant, to be located in Newberry.  In 2017, Deel and Paulsen proposed a new property tax assessment for Newberry.  Funds that under the CSD, they would control and manipulate.  These are things that would have financially benefited Deel and her business, but not the community.  (BTW, the Deels are retiring from their shop.)

Deel and the Chamber.

    Paula Deel, despite sitting on the board of the local Chamber for many years, has failed in attracting any new businesses to Newberry Springs or furthered any measurable improvement for any local business.  The Chamber is little more than a facade for a social club supporting community events.

    Paula Deel has promoted billboards and the CSD board may be encouraged to support the placement of new illegal billboards in the future.  If so, Newberry Springs could become the target of a new Grand Jury investigation and possible FBI inquiry.  The billboards clearly violate federal law and there is a question of probable corruption of who and why county and state permits were issued.

    The state of California received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government in a contract under the Bonus Act portion of the Highway Beautification Act to not permit the erection of billboards along Interstate-40.

    Deel also has a voice in a private group that distributes payola billboard kickbacks to organizations in the community that support the illegal billboards and subversion of the federal law.

    In 2010, the Newberry Springs Chamber leadership interfered in and dissuaded a business that was prepared to build in Newberry that would have provided 125 full-time jobs with benefits.  Sandy Brittian and Paula Deel managed the Chamber at the time.  Leadership failure appears to be the norm for Newberry not prospering.

    With a wannabe leader ego, Deel continually steps up to the plate.  But as a batter, she constantly strikes out!  She has demonstrated a lack of wherewithal to complete projects of meaningful development.  Normally, bungling political strike-out artists whose performance do not stand-up to scrutiny are not revered and are not rehired (except in Newberry).


Robert Springer

    Robert Springer has a good grasp of LAFCO knowledge.  The Local Agency Formation Commission is the authority that the Newberry CSD is licensed under.

    Springer usually presides over the monthly meetings as Chair very well and he is to be highly commended for orchestrating the meetings procedurally.  The CSD board has done a good job of maintaining the status quo of its basic services.

    Springer is very good at management but his leadership seemingly subscribes to the comfort of a low-level employee who simply follows the prepared procedures from manuals versus the action of taking-on entrepreneurial-type challenges.

    Understandably then, under his role as president, the CSD has not expanded beyond its vintage 60-year-old service role of fire, a single park and recreation, and paying a street lighting bill.

    The community needs the CSD to step-up and be a strong advocate for advancement.  What we have for future community development is a rudderless ship that is aimlessly drifting.

    At a CSD meeting a couple of months ago, this writer suggested that the board either write a letter or prepare a Resolution against the county's massive expansion of Fire Protection Zone-5 (FP-5).

    While FP-5 is currently not visibly threatening Newberry Springs because Newberry provides its own fire protection, the county's method of new taxation is blatantly illegal.  County Fire is attempting to assess a "levy" of $157.26 (plus annual increases) on the majority of unincorporated county parcels regardless of size or value.  It is a massive County Fire money grab.

    The county's three "downhill" urban supervisors love the idea because rural desert properties are assessed for fire protection that will principally benefit urban areas, and the cost of fire protection will be partially removed from the General Fund which will allow the supervisors more money to spend on pet projects.

    Chairman Springer dismissed this writer's concern at the CSD meeting stating that he was knowledgeable that the expansion is legal.  Well, it appears to violate both federal and state Constitutions and Propositions 13, 26 and 218.  One legal challenge to the money grab is currently scheduled to be heard in San Bernardino Superior Court on January 16, 2019.

    If the FP-5's proposed expansion is allowed to stand, it could lead to the county's eventual takeover of the Newberry Springs Volunteer Fire Department and assessment of new taxes on Newberry's parcels.

    Under the guise of efficiency and for the betterment of the entire unincorporated county being placed under a single fire command and operation, the Newberry CSD's fire authority could be rescinded.

    This matter is a very serious concern that was presented to the CSD board and which was inappropriately and quickly dismissed by the Chairman.  Not a single other board member expressed any knowledge nor interest to learn more (Director Shaw was absent).  Again, the stagnant board would not listen to nor act on anything outside their comfort zone, even if it potentially impacts the community's fire department and the citizens' wallets.

    Springer apparently derived his information on FP-5 from the self-serving County Fire and he has ignored the massive legal evidence that has been presented by the opposing legal experts.


Larry Clark

    Larry Clark doesn't hide that he has been a board do-little seat warmer.  His votes usually fall in-line behind those of Deel and he can be considered to be aligned with her.

    Clark has been the Board's outspoken supporter for the construction of utility-scale solar in Daggett and Newberry Springs which is forecast to spread cancerous PM10 sized silica dust over Newberry.

    The potential health, financial, and other damages to Newberry from industrial solar doesn't seem to bother Clark as his well business could benefit from solar development.

    The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (under CalEPA) has crystalline silica (airborne suspended sand particles of respirable size) listed under Proposition 65 as a recognized cancer hazard.


Jack Unger

    Early in last November's election campaign, in speaking with Jack Unger (later elected under the supportive slate of Springer and Paulsen), I informed him that in the candidate's pamphlet (mailed out by the county's Registrar of Voters), that I had pledged to give my CSD board stipend to the fire department if elected.  That I believe that all of the board members should do likewise and that the CSD should better compensate the fire personnel.

    Serving on the board should be a public service and the board members should not be coming to the table to pocket CSD cash.

    I asked Unger if he too would donate his stipend if elected.  He immediately retorted that the Newberry Springs citizens want to reward their CSD board members with a generous stipend and that he would be keeping his.  Unger's logic seems so out-of-step with the reality of the community.  It appeared obvious that pocketing a stipend income was a very important incentive for his candidacy.

    Unger's life background experience doesn't translate into economic nor business savvy.  Director Deel targets such vulnerable cronies that can be easily manipulated.  Unger lives frugally about a quarter-mile from the Mojave River.

    In the age of satellite telephones and worldwide cellular video communication, Unger appears to be living deep in the historic past.  He is a big advocate of amateur shortwave radio as an emergency means of communications.  Perhaps waiting for a cataclysmic episode of the Unger Games.


Newberry's future continues to drip away.

    So, there you have the cast of characters that Newberry Springs must depend upon for its best chance of a transformation.  It is the only locally elected community body available.

    While limited in scope under LAFCO, there are ways that the directors can be addressing the problems facing Newberry and be an influential force in rallying community improvement.

    Unfortunately, with a lack of creative leadership, the directors coward behind excuses while they line their pockets with stipends.  If not watched, the board may attempt to increase their stipends in 2019.  The board has already approved a budget that anticipates an increase.

    The CSD board is expected to continue the good overview of its minimum services.  That basic service, however, is a no-brainer for the board as their hired staff handles the daily management and the bookkeeping.

    Understand, there is a big difference between the directors' minimal status quo overview of the CSD, in which they do fine, and their forward-thinking leadership which truly sucks.    

What the CSD directors and voters are ignoring.

    Newberry Springs is a petri dish of growing problems.  With utility-scale solar threatening the community with an inundation of respiratory health-damaging PM 10 silica dust, the county's Fire Protection Zone-5 movement quietly eyeing a possible takeover of our fire department, the alfalfa farmers' depletion of the minimal producers' groundwater, land subsidence, contamination of our topsoil and groundwater from toxic urban waste, declining population, aging facilities, a community drug problem, struggling core organizations like the Family Center (with a leaky roof), a lack of social equality and economic growth in our severely disadvantaged and impoverished community, the county's continuing environmental racism against Newberry, a lack of community engagement, and the lack of job opportunities, we have again elected do-little-action CSD directors.

    Yet, the voters complain that Newberry Springs doesn't have a grocery store and other convenient, basic necessities.  Well, duh!  They continue to vote for inept candidates guaranteeing such deficiencies.   

Community problems.

    Newberrians are content at being uninformed and they don't make any connection between the CSD board and our severely economically disadvantaged community.   Most simply base their uninformed vote upon the social recognition of names and ignore the lack of competency, performance, and the absence of community improvement behind the names.   

    Newberry is not likely to change.  Newberry is a bad investment for this generation.  The prognosis for Newberry is continued self-deterioration.

    The CSD board will continue its failure to address the public's desire for a better community because the CSD doesn't appear to have the capability to do otherwise.  Strong representation will find ways to move mountains, Newberry's leadership instead has tied its economic development to NSEDA's goofy communal vegetable farm.

Conclusion

    This blog is being written because I am tired of the severe incompetence.  Newberrians don't have to continue to accept it anymore.  The community (YOU) can wake-up and press the CSD directors to do far more.  Make the CSD's incompetence to improve the community a discussion with those around you.

    If the directors cry and whine that the community doesn't understand that they have limited authority under LAFCO, the community needs to recognize that such is an excuse for the directors' lack of progressive vision and lack of leadership ability to pioneer the expanded capacity and the capability of the CSD.

    Other CSDs are growing their communities with improvements and expanded services.  To start, the Newberry CSD should get rid of the shameful stipends.  Doing so might drop some dead wood from the tree.

    Where there is a will for higher living standards, there is a "can-do" solution, but visionless people will never see the possibilities, understand, nor seek them.  YOU should take an interest in the CSD as it is suppressing YOUR community's progress and your life.


       

Related past news blogs:
Rational thinking was a no-show. - 7/27/18
Painful 7-months of CSD inaction. - 7/22/18
Newberry CSD Board exposing themselves. - 6/25/18
Newberry CSD remains paralyzed. - 6/24/18
Newberry families may move for health reasons. - 3/26/18
CSD Board's mismanagement may lead to deaths. - 3/11/18
Newberry CSD struggles with solar development. - 3/2/18
Newberry CSD's inaction threatens community. - 2/24/18
Communities collaborating for protection. - 2/11/18
Newberry CSD falls short against solar opposition. - 2/4/18

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