City Manager Says City is the Evil Empire

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Rick Daniels Using Dark Force to Maintain Sith Power

Darth Vader Rick DanielsDESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – Sometimes a casual remark is all that is needed to reveal what a person really thinks. Kinda like the way liquor will loosen a man’s lips. Obviously, the city of Desert Hot Springs is not the evil empire. But read the city manager’s emails and its obvious he thinks it is.

This is no case of sloppy sentence construction.

In an email to a private citizen Rick Daniels is caught politicking, using city equipment and on city time. The email to [Name Withheld] was attempting to sway this citizen against certain council members with disparaging remarks.

To: [Name Withheld]
Date: October 25, 2012
From: Rick Daniels

You are a sweet, sweet person whom I continue to call a friend. I will keep you on some mailing lists just to keep you informed of what the evil empire is up to here.

[followed by some personal information we have edited out]

Prior to that email, the writer [Name Withheld] had written…

To: Rick Daniels From [Name Withheld}
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hi Rick,

I am amazed at your ability to not only work with the Dark Forces but overcome them.

[followed by some personal information we have edited out. See more here]

The city has worked hard to turn things around and improve its image. Every council member has had a hand in that and so has the city manager. Daniels is not Darth Vadar. Unfortunately, he is not Luke Skywalker either. [More like Palpatine.]

The email we obtained as part of 6,000 emails in a public information request says a great deal about the man paid over $25,000 a month to run the city. The Desert Sun (2/15/2013) newspaper picked up on it and gave Rick Daniels a thumbs down for Daniels’ city management.

It’s no wonder the city manager’s fan club includes three council members. His fans herald his accomplishments while ignoring a list of mistakes that keeps on growing. Some people are really, really forgiving.

New Reporter Covering City Beat

Desert Hot Springs City Manager Rick Daniels

photo by Max Lieberman / Desert Local News

Just two weeks ago a new reporter from The Desert Sun was assigned the Desert Hot Springs city beat. It seems that every couple years, just as soon as the beat reporter for the city gets to know who is who and what is up, that reporter is transferred to a new assignment somewhere else in a galaxy far, far away.

This time the city beat assignment went to Tamara Sone who started freelance writing for The Desert Sun a couple years ago. Certain people were thrilled to see the exit of reporter Kate McGinty who was hit with the nickname given her by Mayor Yvonne Parks as “Negative Kate.” McGinty wrote a variety of articles, some benign and some pointing out Mayor Parks’ errors. That upset city management.

A world of writers at The Desert Sun also became targets of the wrath of city management. Nicole Brambila wrote an article covering the city manager’s son, Ben Daniels, involvement in a Ponzi scheme that lost millions of dollars and his SEC ban from investment brokering. Brambila made “the cake” that week, winning accolades from fellow staff writers and disrespect from the city management fan club.

The Sith Lord at the helm of The Death Star then used the Dark Force to expand his “evil empire” beyond planet Desert Hot Springs to include the galaxy of The Desert Sun!

Erica Felci wrote about the city manager’s curious email and that also was not appreciated by the city manager and his team on the city council. Before that there were other agents of communication benefiting the Rebel Alliance going by the names of Marcel Honere, Maricar Mendoza, Nelsey Rodriquez and even Nathan Bacca of KESQ TV News. None were awarded Person of the Year; instead banished to planet Mustafar.

Expecting Tamara Sone to write only good positive articles in The Desert Sun, her keyboard weapon was held out to high praise at the last city council meeting. So enamored were three council members with the presence of a new reporter they all announced she was here to write positive stories – for example, the senior talent show, pets on parade and lost jewelry articles.


No one expected Tamara Sone to write an article about the Jedi Master Riverside County District Attorney initiating an investigation into allegations that Daniel’s violates the Brown Act by illegally meeting with council members to discuss and plan city initiatives.

Rick Daniels History With The Desert Sun

Desert Hot Springs City Manager Rick Daniels

photo by Max Lieberman / Desert Local News

One key consideration for hiring Rick Daniels, especially appealing to this city, was his cozy relationship with the region’s daily newspaper. Daniels bragged he was so chummy with Jedi Master Bob Dickey [then The Desert Sun publisher, now Vice-President of Gannett] that they vacationed together.

For many years prior to Daniels’ arrival The Desert Sun had little good to say about the city council’s mistakes. Instead of fixing city problems, city leaders blamed the press and referred to the newspaper as The Desert Scum.

The first thing Rick Daniels did as city manager was hire pretty princess Laura Green, the wife of The Desert Sun’s managing editor Rick Green. Laura enjoyed working under Rick in a variety of positions. Both had come from planet Salton Sea Authority to land in Desert Hot Springs.

With Laura on his city payroll all the critical stories about the city ended and “good” news was published. It was as if there no critical analysis or reporting in a city that gave away $1.4 million for a building that had to be torn down and $250,000 to a “world famous concert promoter” that lived on a 24-foot sailboat and whose office was a post office box. There is much more. A long list got swept under the carpet and hidden away from the eyes of the public because The Desert Sun ignored reporting certain news in the city.

All that went asunder in October 2010 with the city paying Laura Green $99,000 in a settlement agreement not to sue immediately after she returned from a planet San Diego leadership convention. The event was also attended by Rick Daniels who immediately upon his return went into rehab seclusion for alcoholism. To claim these are unrelated defies belief. From that point forward reporting began to change at The Desert Sun. The dark force was upset.

We can only imagine what is in the mind of [Name Withheld] now that Rick Daniels has gotten a thumbs down and a week of reporting about the DA investigating Daniels’ alleged legal problems. Surely [Name Withheld] is thinking to blame the messenger as the city is bereft of critical analysis.

But we don’t have to guess what Rick Daniels has been thinking. We have his thinking in black and white. On Rick Daniels mind his employer is an evil empire. On our mind is the treasure of Rick Daniels’ 6,000 emails in our possession and the next chapter to write.

Rick Daniels Central
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Dean M Gray

Writer, Artist & Publisher at Desert Vortex News
Dean started in the newspaper business at the age of nine earning 90 cents a week walking 4 miles delivering a newspaper door to door. 500 miles later he began writing his way out of a paper bag and traveling uphill.

For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business. Now online with over 4 million readers worldwide.

Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader. He served as Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs from January 2014 to January 2015 when he resigned.

Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Palm Desert, California.
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