‘Groundhog Day’ in Apple Valley (Valles)

Some Review readers may recall the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” featuring legendary comedian Bill Murray. Murray plays a weatherman assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

He somehow becomes trapped in a time-loop and is forced to relive the same day over and over. Realizing he is the only person that is aware of this he engages in reckless and irresponsible behavior. He starts binge drinking, having one-night stands, and drives erratically because there are no consequences.

It reminds me a lot of the goings on in Apple Valley where members of the Town Council regularly waste and squander our money on useless trips and junkets. They are reckless and irresponsible with our money because they, like Murray, know that there aren’t any consequences.

Last week in this very column, I highlighted how much “Boeing” Barb Stanton loves to fly on the taxpayers’ dime and have taxpayers pay her cell phone bills. Apple Valley taxpayers have paid for her personal cell phone bill since 2011 — to the tune of $10,000! And she has booked at least 21 airline trips at a cost of roughly $7,500 (not including means, parking and hotel) since January 2015. Why does an Apple Valley Councilwoman need to book a trip every other month?

But Stanton isn’t the only one wasting money. The rest of her colleagues on the Council also like to attend pointless junkets. Why not? We’re the suckers paying for it.

In a previous column I discussed an organization called the League of California Cities. It is essentially an organization that lobbies Sacramento on behalf of local governments. They also put on countless conferences and professional development forums for elected officials and senior staff.

Every January, they host a “New Mayors and Council Members Academy” in Sacramento with classes and discussion panels designed to help newly elected officials get acclimated to their positions. On paper it sounds like a pretty good idea and I don’t really have a problem with it. I attended the academy myself when I was first elected to the Victorville City Council.

However, I only attended it once. You know why? Because after the first year I was no longer a “new council member” and they simply recycled the content and taught the same stuff every year.

Apple Valley Council members must be hard of hearing or have trouble retaining information because they all go to this conference year after year according to credit card statements and expense reports.

Art Bishop and “Boeing” Barb went in 2013 and never stopped going. Sheesh! Do they really need to hear the same stuff six years in a row?

Curt Emick and Scott Nassif have attended five of the last six years with both skipping the 2014 session.

Larry Cusack attended four of the last six years. He skipped the 2014 and 2018 conferences.

And there are at least 19 other instances where various staff attended this academy for new elected officials dating back to 2013. Imagine that! You, the taxpayer, are paying to send regular employees to a “New Mayors and Council Members Academy.” Registration alone is $575 per person. Flights are around $300 a piece. The hotel is $600 and we haven’t even covered transportation, parking and meals.

Heck, even former Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett went to the 2015 and 2016 conferences. I should note that I have received unconfirmed reports that Liberty Utilities booked a charter and had employees tail Puckett’s plane to Sacramento.

Seen this move before

When I say that these conferences teach the same classes every year I am not exaggerating. In case you don’t believe me you can check out the schedule and classes for each year below:

I was stunned when I researched it using Archive.org because I thought that the League of California Cities might mix it up a little bit just out of boredom. But just as Bill Murray’s character experienced in “Groundhog Day,” every conference was exactly the same.

So, dear reader, I must ask you. Why do you think your Council members would attend a conference that teaches the same exact stuff every year?

Maybe we can recruit Bill Murray to run for Town Council this year. At the very least we would get some laughs out of it.

If you have suggestions on subjects or comments please contact me at [email protected]

Source: Angela Valles, Apple Valley Review