Some See Saving Of Recreation & Cultural Programs As Effect Of Yucca Valley Recall

(July 26) YUCCA VALLEY — While advocates of the recall of two Yucca Valley town council members have yet to achieve their stated goal of having councilmen Robert Lombardo and George Huntington removed from office, their petition gathering effort to qualify a vote on the Lombardo and Huntington recall is progressing, with nearly a third of the 2,356 signatures needed to endorse the petitions having been collected.
Moreover, the effort has been accompanied by some town policy changes which supporters of the recall say are a direct result of their undertaking.
Among the issues fueling the recall attempt was the town council’s vote in February to extend town manager Mark Nuami’s employment contract another three years and up his total compensation package to over $300,000 annually. Nuaimi’s contract and salary enhancements were accompanied by the announcements that the town would do away with or severely curtail four popular municipal programs – the operation of the town’s pool during summer months, the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, the town museum and Yucca Valley’s Concerts in the Park.
Lombardo and Huntington, along with their colleagues Dawn Rowe and Mayor Merle Abel, found themselves at the center of a firestorm following those votes. Bob Leone, elected to the council in March during a special election to replace Isaac Hagerman, who departed last year, was not subjected to the enmity nor obloquy reserved for the rest of the  Yucca Valley town  council. Leone, in fact, had been critical of the raise provided to Nuaimi and advocated against the closure of the pool and museum and the discontinuation of the firework and concert events.
Lombardo and Huntington’s supporters, as well as those of Rowe and Abel, have denounced the recall attempt as misguided, saying Lombardo and Huntington have done nothing meriting the attempt to remove them and had merely taken prudent steps to ensure the town’s solvency.  Nevertheless, the cancelation of town recreation and cultural programs while the council was rerouting money that would have paid for their maintenance into the town manager’s pocket was resonating around the community, making the task of signature gathering for the petitions much more easy.  Significantly, the pool has not been closed, at least entirely. It remains open in the morning, when swim lessons are offered and lap swimming and exercising activity is allowed. At 11:30 a.m. it is open for general public use and remains open until 1:30 p.m.
Likewise, the threatened cancellation of the fireworks show did not materialize. That display was again put on after sundown on Independence Day. The museum remains open three days a week. Concerts in the park are being put on through August.
While Lombardo and Huntington supporters deny the continuation of the programs were in no way an outgrowth of the recall campaign, certain elements of the community have a different perception.

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