Lame Duck Waddles Back

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Rick Daniels Returns to Job He Wants to Leave


DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – City Manager Rick Daniels’ bid to depart Desert Hot Springs was not successful. As one of two finalist for a Clackamas County Administrator job he came up short. By a unanimous vote the county commissioners selected Donald Krupp over Daniels.

After failing in his bid for the job, Rick Daniels returns to the city that he described in his resume as a low-income and high crime-rate city. He returns to a city now struggling to keep itself from falling apart financially. The unanimous vote of the five elected county supervisors failed to provide Daniels the freedom he was seeking to move out of the city he manages.

For Daniels it would have been a move to his boyhood home in Oregon, a return to the state of his alma mater the University of Oregon and The Ducks, and a chance to live near his nine grandchildren. He also returns to numerous critics and an uncertain future in the city.

Rick Daniels abandoning his job in Desert Hot Springs caught city residents by surprise and off guard. He told everyone he was merely taking a vacation in Oregon.  He did not announce he was trying to leave the city. It was a successfully held a secret. Insiders did not spill the beans.

Press reports from Clackamas County Oregon, however, made their way to Desert Hot Springs California. Those reports explained why Daniels was “vacationing” while a city finance committee worked to figure out a budget mess that experts say leaves the city broke in a year if not resolved.

Rick and Joyce Daniels

Rick and Joyce Daniels

It seemed odd to members of the finance committee that Rick Daniels was not at their meetings helping solve a financial debacle that experts said was the result of six years of city manager budgets, budgets that according to Michael Bush of Urban Futures, a city paid financial consultant, stacked up six years of deficit spending.

City’s Dire Fiscal Crisis

Urban Futures detailed for the committee a looming financial crisis that spells trouble for the city if not resolved immediately.

As city manager, Rick Daniels is responsible for city spending. Urban Futures has been advising Daniels for years that something must be done to correct the spending problem. All the while Daniels was advising the city council and the public that all was well.

[picturefill id=”11657″ alttext=”Council member Jan & Mayor Yvonne Parks”full ]

Desert Vortex News

Councilmember Pye and Mayor Parks
reacting to Finance Committee discussion.

Over the last three years Daniels insisted the city budget was balanced.  He bragged about of the city’s economic development and financial stability. Ironically, this year he advocated using the last of the city’s savings, $4 million in reserves, to get through the next fiscal year. That, according to Urban Futures, leaves the city broke in twelve months.

An attempt to fly under the radar and avoid tipping off city residents about his leaving the the city behind, Daniels used the name Richard A. Daniels in his job application. This masked his commonly used name Rick Daniels – the name he uses every day and the name emblazoned on his three personal websites. The name Richard A. Daniels is also a name unfamiliar to Google Alert services.

Daniels chances in Clackamas may have been hurt, however, by news of his own making. In three front pages stories in three days appearing in The Desert Sun newspaper, details about Daniel’s complaint against two Desert Hot Springs council members was broadcast. This, at the same time Daniels was in the thick of the new job competition.

That news made it all the way to Oregon, appearing in The Oregonian newspaper, a newspaper it is safe to say, that Clackamas County commissioners read.

The Spin

Rick Daniels’ harassment claim six months earlier had been denied by the city’s insurance carrier. The insurance carrier told Daniels in a formal response letter that Daniels’ claims were unfounded.

Rick Daniels claim was that Council Members Russell Betts and Adam Sanchez were guilty of “bullying” [as Daniels called it] for sending him emails during his non-work hours. The assertion by Daniels was that he should only be contacted by Betts and Sanchez when he is at work from Monday through Thursday. Daniels like the rest of city employees works a four-day work week, 10 hours a day.

Rick Daniels City Manager

Max Lieberman / Desert Local News

Rick Daniels City Manager

Rick Daniels tried to manipulate the ill-timed news reports by suggesting that Betts and Sanchez were telephone calling him in the middle of the night, an allegation both council members called absurd and that was never documented anywhere else.

Daniels failed to mention Councilwoman Jan Pye also regularly sent him emails during his off work hours.

The exaggerated spin found its way into two prominent newspapers, The Desert Sun and The Oregonian. By the time the spin was finished, Rick Daniels’ complaints over emails had morphed into Daniels receiving phone calls “in the middle of the night.”

Who would not think that was not bullying and explain away the kerfuffle.

Rick Daniels is reported to be returning to Desert Hot Springs on Monday July 22 to confront the hard feelings of city residents now saddled with the burden of having learned Daniels is actually working to bail out from his job.

Meanwhile, the lingering question about city finances remains. In the face of the Urban Futures report, citizen finance committee criticism and the public now asking questions, how can he continue suggesting all is well financially in Desert Hot Springs?

Rick Daniels returns as a lame duck city manager by virtue of his announcing his intentions to leave and his city manager contract that expires in December 2013.

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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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12 thoughts on “Lame Duck Waddles Back

  1. As much as I won’t wish Mr.Daniels on the people of Oregon for his so called self righteous invented web B/S. Now we have to deal with him. This is exactly when the people have a responsibility to let him, Parks, Matas, & Paye their job is done here period. There’s no reason the next public meeting should not address everything with aggression and strong conviction. The extreme financial situation this city is in should maybe should consider filing Bankruptcy. It would clean the slate once and for all. And most all city that have done so have come back gang busters. The bad thing is people will lose their pensions. That’s a tough call. But at this point The city of Desert Hot Springs needs to take extreme measures and extreme action when the NEW administrators take over. I have total confidence in all the candidates running for all the open seats available . They are all qualified to step in and take charge of the disaster to say the least of what they face moving forward.

  2. I’m not so sure any reputable, responsible Doctor would sign for him on a medical leave. And as far as him filing any suite ? The Insurance Co for the city won’t be wanting to pay for his wages. Once the city attorneys investigation is done and fines NO Harassment on Mr.Daniels. His goose is cooked. He’ll look like the Rat he is running around the bottom of a card board box with NO way out. LOL….Now that I think about, Parks, Matas & Paye are more likely than not doing the same thing right now. LOL…LOL…. I wish I was a fly on the wall, listening to them trying to create some trumped-up strategy game for their defense. There is only 1 way out of this for all of them and that is a swift kick in the ass as they hit the door !

  3. As a BIG SUPPORTER of city bankruptcies, let them continue your moronic spending…bk the sooner the better for all these cities. It is the only way to clean house. Cities are an unnecessary bloated layer of government spending of our taxdollars on crony projects and ridiculous golf courses, country clubs and a feeding trough for the egos of these small town players.

    • Hey Linda, I’ve said the very same thing about Bankruptcy . At this point Bankruptcy would be exactly what should be done here. It would in fact clean the slate and growth would prevail in abundance. Cleaning the slate is exactly what should be done as far as the administration too. A clean Slate all the way around.

  4. Mr City Manger Duck Daniels or now should be called DD ,should be asked but will not i bet about his comment “the city that he described in his resume as a low-income high-crime rate city. ”
    Again we have who is Richard Daniels or Rick Daniels is another smoke and mirror job, Different web sites for different jobs ,but so good is the internet you cannot hide ,you reap what you sow ,and his performance is terrible the truth and he lost the job. how could he show his face again in the City we all love and it looks as he dose not ,he has no shame leaving this city broke while he adds to his Rich pension plan what a joke shame on him
    Am betting he will go out on disability as soon as he gets home

  5. It’s going to make for great theater these next few meetings. I hope Adam and Russ use their public comments to address the city’s financial problems and how this budget needs to be redone quickly. Also bring up how our city manager had planned to leave town before the reality of his spending plan had shown it’s negative consequences.

  6. If even a small percentage of all the stories about Mr. Daniels are true then he really should take some time off and look for another job or even retire and I am willing to tell him so.

  7. Well here we are. It’s July 22nd and Mr.Daniels is back from his failed attempt to seek employment out of state. Lets see what the next several days and so on happens. The citizens better stand up and flat out tell the entire administration they have had enough and their time here is done period. That is unless today he goes out on a medical claim. If that happens, the outrage should clearly be known to the rest of the administration. That we the people are NOT going to stand for this kind of support in any form. If Mrs.Parks continues to defend his health and stress ? Then she obviously does not care about the people she vowed to listen to when she took the Mayors position. That goes for Matas & Paye also. The support for getting rid of them is growing rapidly. The next city counsel meeting is going to be interesting to say the least. I’ll be watching obviously and of coarse making my comments.

  8. I think the first requirement of Rick Daniels should be drug and alcohol testing as soon as he hits the front door

  9. Well, if Mr. Daniels will continue with his job as city manager, he has more guts than I would have. Anyone who talks about this city like he did in Oregon and has the guts to show his face at a the public meetings either is stupid or does not give a damn what the people here think. He owes the city a big apology for what he said about us and then he should resign from his office. But if he resigns that means he will be getting more money than he is making now. So what it the correct answer? Resign of course, take the money and run and foul up some other city. Has everyone forgotten how much money this man has cost the city of DHS? It is in the millions and yet he sits at his seat at the council meetings and acts like he has done no wrong.
    Come on Mr. Daniels, give it all up. You fouled up and you should resign at the very next meeting. And if you got the guts to do so, APOLOGIZE to everyone.

  10. It is so sad about Mr. Daniels. Some of the remarks he made in Oregon about DHS is really sad. Thinking that me would get the job up there, he thought he could say whatever he wanted and nothing would be done about it. He is kind of dumb to think that comments like that would bother a lot of people here in DHS. Most of us love this city but he seems to be the minority about people not liking it. How could he show his face at the next city council meeting? It takes guts to do it but he is arrogant enough to think that people will forget what he said. The time really has come for him to bow out of politics here in DHS and take his tail and go far far away.

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