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
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
(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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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
One legal challenge to the money grab is currently scheduled to be
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
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 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
(airborne suspended sand particles of respirable size) listed under
Proposition 65 as a recognized cancer hazard.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.