City Council Not Working

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Desert Hot Springs City Council

Desert Vortex News

Desert Hot Springs City Council

What’s Making the Yvonne Parks Council Tick

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – It is obvious the Desert Hot Springs city council is not working. The problems are not jabs being thrown by council members at each other or disagreement over issues. It is not a problem of one council member holding one view and another holding another. The problem is far more basic. The council members do not like each other. The threshold of tolerance for each other has been reached and it is spilling over into the council meetings.

The question for those watching this disgusting drama is how to fix it. That answer is also basic. Every two years there is a council election in Desert Hot Springs and the voters get a chance to fix things.

Some may blame voters for electing certain council members in the first place. But with the pickings of council candidates so slim in past elections, who can really blame the voters. With the candidates on the ballot, especially in the most recent mayoral race, who can blame some for thinking that what we have is the best we can get.

God help the city of Desert Hot Springs if that is the case this election. The sad situation on the city council appears to be rising to desperate. The city has a long, long, long history of dysfunctional city councils. This one is simply the latest.

Motion Passed

Desert Vortex News

Mayor Yvonne Parks and Crew Playing With Themselves

Mayor Yvonne Parks is frustrated she can’t get her way. Also getting in the way is her emulation of former Mayor Alex Bias when he was mayor. Bias could not get his way. He eventually degenerated so low that his frustration caught him telling [then council member] Yvonne Parks to “go play with herself.”

Frustration boiled over for Mayor Yvonne Parks too when she got caught calling a fellow council member “a son of a bitch.” Mayor Parks has become Mayor Bias. Her frustration is causing Parks to go to equally bizarre lengths to try and exercise control.

Mayor Yvonne Parks blew up during the last council meeting by wanting council members to ask her for permission to go to the bathroom and even to momentarily get out of their chairs to adjust the air conditioning or get a bottle of water. She’s lost control of her self and respect.

Thirsty for Solutions

Councilman Russell Betts got up out of his chair at the last council meeting to get a bottle of water and Mayor Yvonne Parks admonished him to get back to his seat. Betts returned only after getting the water he was after. Betts appeared steadfast in going his own way to irrigate himself. He simply refused to stop in his tracks and instead went right ahead and got the liquid refreshment he was after. He didn’t stop and return to his seat and say please Mayor Parks may I get a bottle of water.

Councilman Russell Betts is also frustrated. He joined the council to fix what he saw as significant problems in city government. For four years he had to bide his time, mostly in a 4 to 1 voting situation. He was the 1.

For those four years Russell Betts had the patience of a saint watching some pretty big mistakes. Too often Betts voted alone, powerless to stop the waste of millions of dollars. His patience is now wearing thin and it is starting to show, especially in his opinion of Mayor Yvonne Parks. Betts might be momentarily absent where he gets up for a bottle of water. But it is Parks’ absence of mind that Betts appears to consider offensive. The result suggests the two should not be in the same room, much less serving together on a city council.

A Piece of Pye

Councilwoman Jan Pye’s involvement is of one willing to return to her chair at the wag of Mayor Yvonne Parks’ finger. That is exactly what Pye did at Tuesday’s meeting when she erred – according to Mayor Parks – by getting up during the meeting to use the restroom. It has been a common practice during meetings for council members to use the restroom and no one has ever raised their hand to ask permission. In fact, speakers are installed in the restrooms so the public and councilors can follow the (long) council discussions.

Tuesday, when council member Jan Pye got up and headed for the restroom, she only made it to the main floor where the public is seated before Mayor Yvonne Parks noticed and made it a public issue. Pye could have kept walking, done her business and returned.

Instead of recognizing the Mayor Bias in Mayor Parks and taking a step to ignore it, Pye reversed her step and embarrassingly returned to her seat beside the mayor at the dais. Pye can’t seem to take a position even when it is obvious to everyone in the room a loony idea has been floated.

Council member Jan Pye went along with the music festival, even though Pye was the one council member with warning of a past music festival debacle. The recent music festival failure was not the first time the city council gave money to a so-called promoter and got nothing in return. It is the second.

Pye is the one person on this council who served on the past council with the added distinction of voting for a failed music festival twice and losing city money on both occasions  It seems apparent that independent thinking is not this council member’s strong suit when she is pressured by the council majority. Pye’s frustration is being torn between two voting factions and doing nothing but going along with the majority.

Adam Exposed in the Garden

Councilman Adam Sanchez may be new to the city council but he has a long history in city government. He served as planning commissioner and on several city steering committees. Included in Sanchez’s service to the city is a history of acrimonious run-ins with both Mayor Parks and Councilman Matas. Sanchez has seen his share of jabs thrown at him. That past bad blood spills into the council meetings.

Sanchez tried three previous attempts to gain a seat, coming close each time. Now he is finally seated and trying to get something done. But Sanchez finds he is unable to move the ball. The best Sanchez can hope for is to stay partnered with Betts and be content to stop blunders like the music festival. It take four votes to end discussion at a council meeting.

Together council members Betts and Sanchez can stop any hair-brained scheme simply by talking it to death. That tool has come at a price. A public unaware of council rules has been critical of resulting long council meetings. Sanchez is not at his core only about stopping mistaken initiatives. He wants to get things done. With the present council make up, though, if Sanchez moved that the sky is blue, Matas would immediately argue along with Mayor Yvonne Parks by insisting the sky is green. The meekness of Jan Pye only occasionally breaks ranks from the safety of the council majority and not often enough for Sanchez.

A No Brainer

Councilman Scott Matas’ problem is first his lack of education, and little if any world experience outside of Desert Hot Springs where he has lived all his life. His education was limited to graduating from a small alternative high school in the city. Matas was valedictorian – of a class of five. The school was run by Alon Barak, the previous owner of the Jewish Temple building. Barak is the present owner of $1.4 million of taxpayer’s money, thanks to the vote of Scott Matas.

Understandably, council member Matas is frustrated being the least educated on the city council. A “small man” complex leads to acting tough and Matas over-compensates for deficiencies by attempting to be intellectually macho. This comes off as comical, at other times just mean.

The problem is Scott Matas simply may not have enough upstairs for the job since discussions with the councilman often ends up degenerating to name calling instead of debate, or his simply walking away offended by being challenged. On several occasions he has resorting to openly calling Sanchez and Betts liars when they don’t agree with him and on other occasions walked off the dais in a huff.

The leadership qualities of council member Scott Matas are becoming legendary. Matas is invariably recognized as first to lob snide remarks in a soft voice overturning calm council meetings into acrimony and bickering.

Belief System Auto Pilot

Complex issues appear to easily confound council member Scott Matas. Yet, oddly because of that, Matas often seems best equipped to handle the frustration of a serving on a dysfunctional council. His intellectual blinders are solid when the councilman goes into belief system auto pilot – he believed it once, he believes it now and if he says he believes it often enough he thinks everyone else must believe it with him.

The whole lot of them looks desperate. It will be a desperate situation for Desert Hot Springs if quality candidates do not step forward in the next election. The present city council may not be capable of being fixed, but it can be replaced. The public needs something better.

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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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10 thoughts on “City Council Not Working

  1. It really frustrates me to see how one person can take a public forum and use it to their advantage instead of using it for what its designed to be used for. That’s public information on whats really going on. I really don’t think many really care to read or hear about what you have to say about a situation you paint to sound like there’s a wicked old step mother bossing her step children around. According to my observation and that’s what I actually see happen during those lengthy drawn out council meetings. Council members standing up in pairs and exiting the room while important business is being handled. Also council members attending the meetings ill prepared for the meeting and actually acting like they don’t have a clue as to what is going on by the questions they ask during the meetings. Council members texting during meetings to whoever then tying up the meeting for extended periods of time to ask questions revolving around those received texts. Council members continually recusing themselves from city business due to some property they claim to own in the area at hand. This all concerns me as a citizen and a tax payer of Desert Hot Springs. There are Council members that wish to fill the Mayors seat. Is that going to be full of recuse as well? Are we going to back pedal when we really need to go forward and continue to move forward as a incorporated city does? Whats in store for our future as a city. Where are these peoples minds at when they decide they want a Mayors seat let alone a all to important city council position. Are we going to see future commerce or are we going to see the same old rhetoric we have all come to know so well. I think its about time self leaves the scope of our city and progress comes into play DONT YOU!!!!

  2. Mike Rizzio,
    Council members recuse when they have a financial conflict of interest over an item before the council. That’s normal. All council members have had to recuse. At our last council meeting, for example, Jan Pye had to recuse because a paving project was too close to her home. That’s as it should be.

    About your point on council members sending text messages during council meeting, I am not sure where you were seated to be able to make that claim but I have never seen that activity taking place. The only exception as Councilman Scott Matas pointed out at a council meeting is in a situation of a family emergency and I concur with Scott on that.

    With regards to your allegation that council members are not prepared for meetings, I am certain every council member takes the time required to fully prepare for a meeting. To give you an actual look at the work that goes into preparing for a council meeting, please consider this an open invitation to join me ahead of any council meeting to go through this process. You are more than welcome to join me and I will value your input. My phone number is on the city website.

    You are correct that it appears council members are asking questions on issues that they should already have he answer. I’m sure I leave that impression. I assure you it is not because I do not already have the answer. I ask the questions in open council meetings to give the public the benefit of having issues fully discussed. Especially on important decisions, I do not favor all the conversation taking place outside of the open meeting process.

    I certainly agree with you that our city has made progress in the last five years. But there have also been some very significant problems that have prevented our city from being much further along in its progress. I’m sure the council regrets those decisions. If we can correct the behavior that led to those mistakes, the progress in the next five years will make it look like we have for the last five years been standing still.

    To Dean Gray thanks for this space to add to this discussion.

    Best Regards,
    Councilman Russell Betts

    • Recusal Defined

      Recusal or to recuse oneself means to remove oneself from participation in a decision so as avoid a conflict of interest.

      No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or
      pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization. For
      example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a
      contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is
      an officer and from which contract he would derive personal pecuniary
      profit, the member should abstain from voting on the motion. (Robert’s Rules, 11th ed., p. 407.)
      Recusal normally occurs when a director has a conflict of interest or prejudice concerning a particular matter. A
      conflict of interest is any situation in which financial or other personal
      considerations may unduly influence the director’s judgment. This includes matters such
      as a disciplinary action against the director for violating the CC&Rs or
      voting on a potential contract with a company owned by a close relative of the

      Leave the Room.
      In each case, the director has a personal interest in the outcome of the vote–an interest not shared
      by other directors. In such instances, the interested director should leave the meeting room so the remaining directors can
      freely discuss and vote on the issue. (California’s Fair Political Practices Act, Calif. Code of Reg. §18702.5.) Once the vote is taken, the recused director may return to the

      If the interested director were to stay in the meeting, his presence could
      inhibit the board’s discussion and influence the vote.

      …the disqualified member’s mere presence, or knowledge
      thereafter, might also subtly influence the decisions of other council
      members who must maintain an ongoing relationship with him.

      The attorney, as well
      as the other council members, might not feel as free to disclose
      everything necessary when a “biased” public official were present. The
      council members and attorney might feel similarly inhibited where they
      are aware that a “biased” council member can later obtain a tape
      recording of the attorney-council discussion. The town might thus be
      denied effective assistance of counsel. (Hamilton v. Los Gatos.)
      to Leave. If the interested
      director does not leave voluntarily, the board can ask him to leave. If
      he refuses to leave, the board can adjourn the meeting to another location
      where they can hold the discussion and vote without interference by the interested director.
      Under those circumstances, the board might also consider a vote of censure against the director for his refusal to
      recuse himself.

  3. This idea that “No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization” is being taken a bit far with this council. Why should Betts recuse himself every time anything is voted on regarding downtown? It’s absurd. If recusal is king then he should also recuse himself from any votes on shopping cart ordinances as the store is right next to the salon and the carts end up being left in front of or near the salon. Parks should recuse on vote regarding traffic speed as she has a direct personal interest in the speed being higher on Pierson by the school as she has stated that is a route she takes and wants it higher. For that matter, every one on council should recuse themselves of
    everything, as everything that council votes on affects everyone on
    council, all having a direct personal interest in what goes on in the
    city as they all live there. In reality, the rule is meant to apply to DIRECT interests such as a
    DIRECT involvement in the sale of property where much is to be gained,
    not all these other affairs like paving, etc.

  4. Dear Mr. Gray I find your writing to be petty and uninformed. If you do not have anything to write about but personalities and snipping you should close up shop. It is clearly obvious that you are biased towards schanchez and Betts. Betts lives on his council pay and is a small minded fraud and you choose him over others?? Lets hope that few read your junk rag.

  5. I have watched many a council meeting and the frauds are not Betts by any stretch. That term might apply to Parks who is constantly putting her lipstick on her hog wild ugly decisions that stretch into almost a decade of city involvement that have dotted the landscape with unfinished projects that have cost taxpayers millions, but not Betts. Dean Gray has diligently fought to expose the lies and deceit of Parks, and at minimum the poor leadership of Matas, and Pye. Betts has worked diligently to protect the taxpayer at EVERY turn and that’s why we voted him and Sanchez in. Parks, Matas, Pye and that former councilman Baker have a well proven vote record of city administration dictated from the clouds, not one of reality. They have spent millions they don’t have, gone on endless wasteful trips, and got the city stuck in a huge RDA mess, sinking the city into a minimum of 20 million in debt (after the properties they bought at 5x value are auctioned off) due to their Grand Vortex ILLUSION who’s purpose seems to be creating car destroying curbs, music festivals to nowhere, and real estate purchases buying high and selling low. The city needs people like Gray to inform the public, and he does it well. Betts and Sanchez vote using logic, and not their egos and desire for re-election. Betts and Sanchez never voted to waste 1/4 million on a music festival that never required a performance where the scam artist called his company THE BACKWARD DESERT. HOW STUPID CAN COUNCIL BE! THAT TAKES THE CAKE. I have never seen such stupidity. The promoter made a complete joke of every single council member who voted yes on a contract they didn’t even read (Betts voted NO) and it’s now written into history, showing how Desert Hot Springs is managed by a backwards group of idiots. Voters, you must dethrone Yvonne Parks if you want to save your city, before it’s too late!

  6. It’s really good to see people here in DHS so fed-up with Parks, Matas & Paye leaving their comments. Being a new home owner here and watching the city counsel meeting on TV for the last year and a half have really got my attention. Just as recently as June I attended a city counsel meeting in Palm Springs. As a home owner there also, I’ll tell you this much. The city counsel conduct their meeting with respect and plain common courtesy. When I first started watching the city counsel meetings here I immediately got disturbed by the Mayors behavior. As time went on I saw Mr. Matas as an arrogant, self-righteous, condescending, combative, uneducated idiot. One night watching a meeting, I got so mad I almost got up and got dressed. It was about 10.30 or 11 pm and Scott Matas was literally creating and vocally attacking Mr. Betts completely way , way out of line and completely uncalled for. It infuriated so much I literally got out of bed and started to get dressed. I actually wanted to go down there and rip him right out of his chair and kick his arrogant ass. Of coarse I would have gone to jail. I was so pissed-off and actually it put me into a RAGE I’ve never experienced in my life. That pretty much is what made me pay attention to what was going on here in Desert Hot Springs. Owning homes in Palm Springs & Rancho Mirage I”v attended and watched on TV many, many city counsel meetings. Never , Never have I witnessed such an unbelievable out of control person like Mr. Matas in any city counsel meeting. When I owned homes in Northern California & Las Vegas, this kind of behavior would never be tolerated period. The bottom line is, If the people of this city continue to be irresponsible and accept these people because they feel there is no other candidates stepping forward to replace them then it’s never going to change. The people of this city would be far better off electing someone with little to no experience. There is absolutely NO excuse for what we have except for the people of Desert Hot Springs allowing this to continue. The Mayor Yvonne Parks, Mr. Matas, Jan Paye and the City Manager Mr. Daniels ? Not one of them are QUAILFIED to any of the positions they currently hold to begin with. There are people who are very capable and EDUCATED to replace them. If people here are as out-raged as I am about their leadership then change will take place hopefully. Bottom line ? It’s all about the VOTE. It’s the peoples VOICE who change things.

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