Hushed Up

Yucca Valley Hushed Up

What the establishment will not tell you and does not want repeated

Situated 40 miles north of Palm Springs and abutting the rugged and raw Joshua Tree National Park in the California High Desert,  the New York Times describes Yucca Valley as "chain-store doldrums and endless parking lots".  Racially Yucca Valley is 87.26% white.  Median household income is $30,420, while the per capita income for the town was $16,020, lower than most of Southern California. The Cook Partisan Voting Index of +10 indicates strong Republican leanings of the area.

It is located in San Bernardino County where Corruption Is An Old Story.  The Sun newspaper published history of corruption.  Late 2009 has newly opened investigations by the State Attorney General, and persistent allegations of misconduct of the District Attorney Mike Ramos, Public Defender Doreen Boxer, and Supervisors.

Politically, the local area is dominated by members and ex-members of the evangelical Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel.  It is represented by 15 term Congressman Jerry Lewis, ranked by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as one of the top 20 most corrupt members of Congress.  Town of Yucca Valley was subpoenaed for records related to an FBI criminal investigation of Lewis in 2006.

It is also represented by Assemblyman Paul Cook, , who recently penned a letter opposing California's SB777, an existing law that protects all kids from harassment at school.  Cook’s record on civil rights is clear. He supported Prop 8, opposed adding sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws, opposed domestic partner rights to share last names and property, opposed creation of a Harvey Milk Day; opposed coverage of HIV tests by health insurers; and fought to stop condom distribution in prisons.

Military helicopters routinely cruise over Yucca Valley in formations of 4 - 8 units on the way to and from the largest Marine Corp base in the world near the town of Twenty Nine Palms.  One can hear them coming from miles away.  At night, the rumbles of bombing practices can be heard from 25 miles away.  According to George Van Tassel, in 1953 alien spacecraft also rumbled around Giant Rock, about 10 miles North of Yucca Valley.  Thousands of UFO believers swarmed the area for annual conventions for the next few decades.  The interplanetary airport there was quite the attraction.

Religious Domionism

The local Yucca Valley population of 25,000 display a range of diversity spanning interests in astrology, adult bookstores, medical marijuana dispensaries, bedrock Republican conservatism, fundamental and evangelical Christianity, and, crosses and crucifixes galore — until the ACLU won a lawsuit and forced capitulation at a reportedly very high cost in attorney’s fees, the county Yucca Valley Parks and Recreation District once proudly owned the local Desert Christ Park which is filled with crosses and biblical personages as statuary.

The area is politically dominated by traditionalist Christian groups most notably Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel.

None other than the California Supreme Court had to be called upon to separate  improper alliance between church and State in 1991 to stop Christian invocation at graduation ceremonies of the Morongo Basin Unified School District.

JAMES SANDS et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT et al., Defendants and Appellants No. S012721 Supreme Court of California 53 Cal. 3d 863; 809 P.2d 809; 281 Cal. Rptr. 34; 1991 Cal. LEXIS 1724; 91 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3328; 91 Daily Journal DAR 5389 "OPINION BY: KENNARD OPINION [*867] [**810] [***35]

In this case we hold that religious invocations [**836] [***61] and benedictions at public high school graduation ceremonies are constitutionally impermissible. Our review of applicable precedent convinces us that this practice violates the guarantees found in the United States and California Constitutions that religion and government shall remain separate. Ours is a nation composed of people of many different races and faiths. Some are Native Americans, many of whom adhere to beliefs formed here over many centuries; others are immigrants, or the descendants of [*868] immigrants, many of whom came here to escape religious persecution. The historical fact of our diverse origins and beliefs is a vital part of our national heritage and central to the meaning of the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The establishment clause reflects and implements the fundamental wisdom that freedom of religion flourishes only when government observes strict adherence to the principle of separation of religion and state [**864] authority. Government-sponsored religious invocations and benedictions at public school graduation ceremonies contravene the fundamental principle of governmental neutrality and abstention in matters affecting religious beliefs and practices."

And again in 2014! Demand letter from American Humanist Association, Text Format

The local Sheriff Deputy drapes a macramé yarn version of a Christian cross near her service shot-gun in her police cruiser,IMGA0195

residents create 10 to 300 foot "lighted crosses" for the holiday season and beyond. Swastikas and the iron-cross used by Arian (Neo-Nazi) Brotherhoods are often displayed as well.  On entry to the "high end" Von's store multiple swastikas are displayed as graffiti for weeks and weeks on end,


iron crosses adorn automobile bumpers and tailgates, and the local Copper Mountain community college has a sculpture of swastika form permanently installed in an attempt to counteract the 20tth Century Nazi abusive co-option for nefarious purposes of the anciently beneficent symbol.

Corruption — Public Officials

A former Yucca Valley airport official accused of embezzling $1.3 million in state funds pled guilty to seven felony counts in 2008.

Sheeez...September 2011 and MBO can't keep up with the recent FBI and IRS raids with literally 100 agents fanned out across the County, indictments, and trials of corruption. The Sun issued an 9/25 editorial titled "Hey, FBI, open a local office" urging them to take over the empty downtown San Bernardino Carousel Mall to handle the active investigations of Upland, San Bernardino Airport, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and let's not forget The Colonies continues.  Neil Derry pled guilty to a $5,000 illegal campaign contribution but perjury... Oh heck did he get off the perjury charge or not?  MBO was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, and Derry's indictment did seem like small fry compared to everything else going on.  MBO can not even begin to name all the leaders and officials suspected, arrested, indicted....over two dozen at least!  And the Yucca Valley Town Council continues to seal their lips and make no comment whatsoever.

In 2009 past Chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Party and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Bill Postmus, was arrested for drug abuses, and, he and numerous members of his staff are charged by the Grand Jury of using the time of public employees to conduct political activities for the Republican party.  As part of the probe into Postmus’s activities, Jim Erwin, then Chief of Staff for current Supervisor Neil Derry, who represents Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, was arrested.  Interestingly, Erwin claims that his arrest was politically motivated because his boss aggressively supports pay cuts to district attorney staff and discontinuance of judicial benefits for county judges.  BTW, the County Grand Jury agrees that salaries and benefits of the DA and judges should be reduced.

Summary by Sharon Gilbert:

"For two decades or more San Bernardino County elected officials have been the target of local, state and federal investigations. Of the past six chairmen of the board, all but one has been arrested, named as a “John Doe” in a criminal case or is currently under investigation. Additionally, two former sheriffs, one former district attorney, a former treasurer, several aides to the BOS, two county administrative officers, two or more board members and several department heads have been investigated, arrested, charged and/or convicted.

Corruption is so commonplace in San Bernardino County that criminal acts are committed by county officials with audaciousness and impunity that can perhaps only be rivaled by mob-run cities elsewhere. A reader sent an email today asking, “When the Mormons settled San Bernardino in the early 1800s was the government they initiated honest, or has it always been crooked?” That is a question on the minds of many county residents."

Sheriff Misconduct

In 2004, Floyd Tidwell, the former sheriff of San Bernardino County, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of concealing stolen property as investigators said he took at least 523 guns from evidence rooms during his eight-year tenure. Tidwell first came under suspicion on June 25, 2004 when investigators with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department executed search warrants at the homes of the former sheriff's two sons, Daniel and Steve Tidwell. The brothers were under investigation for illegally using jail inmates as sales agents for their Fontana-based bail bond company. Grand Jury indictments were finally issued in 2007.

In 2007, San Bernardino County agreed to pay $25.5 million to settle a class-action Federal lawsuit to redress illegal body cavity searches of 160,000 inmates, sometimes in front of inmates and deputies of the opposite sex.  Even inmates for minor non-violent non-drug infractions were forced to bend over and spread their buttocks so deputies could see their anuses, and some had their genitals inspected, according to the lawsuit. "Both men and women were often body-cavity searched in areas that could be viewed by anyone nearby, including ... officers of the opposite sex and even visitors," said lead attorney Barry Litt. "Female officers were heard to laugh that they had had their 'thrill for the day.' "

Former San Bernardino County Sheriff Gary Penrod failed to disclose, over a period of several years, ownership of several properties, a violation of the Political Reform Act, according to a 2009 warning letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission.  He failed to report that his association with a business owned by his wife which held a contract with the Sheriff Department.

In late 2008, Victorville Defense Attorney Rick Ewaniszyk obtained a writ of mandate in Mencos v. Superior Court from the 4th Appellate District, Division 2 court in Riverside for his client, Paul Mencos.  The writ overturned a policy which violated due process by requiring felony defendants to post bail twice.  The entire San Bernardino court system was forced to adopt rules that are fair to defendants and their families who often post bail. Petition for WritAlternate Writ
Memorandum of Points and Authorities

March 23, 1986 LA Times: Five former San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies and a sixth man have been charged with raping a 17-year-old female Explorer Scout who worked at the Victorville sheriff's station.  Former deputies Robert Mason Swindle, 31, James Bradley Dawson, 37, William Abernathie Jr., 28, and Timothy Ray Retzlaff, 27, were charged with statutory rape.  Editorial at Daily Press

January 12, 2009 VVDailyPress: Sgt. Randy Beavers was recently placed on administrative leave as investigators conduct criminal and administrative investigations. Cindy Beavers was spokesman for the Sheriff Department. Intrigue, Mystery Attend Former Sheriff’s Sergeant’s Case


Several Grand Jury and State reports indicate that there are far too few San Bernardino County judges, district attorneys, and public defenders.  However, Judges are well paid.  In 2007, a Grand Jury report urged San Bernardino County to end or significantly reduce the extra money it was giving to Superior Court judges.  The report noted that the county paid nearly $20,000 each in benefits to 83 judges presiding over court cases in the county.  The report states that the legality of this program is under question as the potential of conflict of interest exists when the County is involved in a court case.  The judges were paid salaries of $171,000 per year by the state, not the county, the report found.  A 2008 San Bernardino County Grand Jury Report found that County Public Defenders were highly overworked.  In 2007, the report states, the average deputy public defender in San Bernardino County handled 562 cases while the average deputy district attorney handled 352.

Even with an overall deficit in judicial personnel on all sides of the justice system, San Bernardino County locks people up at a higher rate than all but ten counties in the United States, and ranks third-highest in California according to an April 2008 study from the Justice Policy Institute – 277 people per 100,000 residents.  Justice is cheap in San Bernardino County.  Correspondingly, San Bernardino is almost unique among counties of its size for never exonerating (PDF)people once they are incarcerated.

Often described as quixotic by local working attorneys intimidated into diplomacy, the San Bernardino service motto, "We don't do that here" is a common response outsiders hear when attempting to interact with the courts.  Noted author of numerous true crime books, Carlton Smith describes the phenomenon.


In findings after a hearing about a renegade Catholic family, Judge J. David Mazurek blurted out a false but common bias of the Morongo Basin's arch anti-government conservatives: "But you know what? Parents have a right to do what they want with their family."  Despite decades of case law to include California and U.S. Supreme Court rulings that parents have no right to perfect isolation and control of their children, the area's cultural capacity to "mind one's own business" and enable social renegades is concomitant with needless, outlying, and rather bizarre forms of child rearing, abuse, and endangerment.

In 2000, Sheriffs found two Wonder Valley boys held captive by chains behind the fence of a 10 acre compound and severely abused by their renegade Christian parents. LATimes  Press Enterprise  The older son, 17-year-old Yahweh, called 911 to say that he and his brother, 12-year-old Angel, were being chained and held prisoner in their family compound.  Investigators say the boys were hidden from the outside world by their fanatically religious family. They had never been to school or a doctor, bore the marks of chains and whips, and were underdeveloped--Yahweh weighs less than 75 pounds.  Deputies testified that the boys' hands were marked with identical brands made by heating a cross with a cigarette lighter. But the deputies conceded that the boys had asked for the brands to prove that they were "soldiers of God."

On June 10, 2009, a Yucca Valley sixth grader was stabbed by one of his classmates such that the knife punctured a lung.  Police and DA refused to press charges apparently because the boy who was stabbed had been bullying the boy with the knife.  Source: Hi-Desert Star

In June of 2009, a bunch of Yucca Valley adults harassed to the point of tears a good-hearted local 14 year old boy who was acting as umpire for younger players.  Seeing the tears one adult man harassed the boy for having the tears.  source: Hi-Desert Star

Andy Williams, 15 year old schoolboy mass killer, learns about guns in Twentynine Palms: Andy took my .22 pistol and the bullets that morning. I didn't know it was my gun. I didn't know I even had any bullets. But apparently I had 50-odd in the gun cabinet. In Twentynine Palms, people were breaking into houses and since I was a single parent and by myself, if I was gone and something happened, I wanted Andy to know where the key to the gun cabinet was.""

Children — Sexual Hysteria

Certainly not all the town's population believes the canard that gay men are child molesters, but the number and virulence of those who do believe this lie are significant factors in the civic life of the area. To its credit, then Mayor of the Town, young Chad Mayes, once opined, "Pedophile, pedophile, pedophile.... I am so tired of hearing people bring up this silly non-sense."  Yet, rumors continue to circulate that the area has been designated by California to be a dumping ground for sexual predators leaving incarceration — a bit of enlightened investigative reporting from the young editor of the local paper debunked that idea but true believers are not swayed by the facts she unearthed.  Historical incidents have fed the paranoia about sexual predators.

In 1996, the Yucca Valley Boy Scout Troop 80 forced Daniel Harris, a Life Scout just short of obtaining Eagle Scout status, out of the organization.  When asked, he told schoolmates that he was gay.  After a rumor circulated charges erupted that he had molested another younger scout.  Alone against a panel of 10 assorted Scout and Mormon church officials, Mr. Harris recalls, "They told me what homosexuality was in their view: mainly pedophilia, diseases, and the pure fact that it's a sin, the pure fact that I cannot love and cannot do anything right. They quoted the Bible that it's an abomination."  He didn't deny being gay but did try to reason with them in between sobs. He got nowhere.  In 2009, Harris reports that in 1996, he was physically assaulted while a member of the official Yucca Valley Youth Advisory Commission.  He and his family eventually had to flee the area.  In 2007, Bennet Hubbard wrote about intense anti-gay harassment at Yucca Valley High School in 2006-2007 in Carpe Diem, the Yucca Valley High School student magazine.  According to one 2004 report by a Christian group associated with virulent anti-abortionist Operation Rescue, Yucca Valley is the chosen refuge for families wishing to avoid the homosexual invasion of Palm Springs.

In 2000, felony criminal charges were lodged against six Yucca Valley high school boys, some honor students, of raping younger boys anally with a wooden dildo and false imprisonment. They were expelled, but not until after they received open support from many local residents. Judge Bert L. Swift made an outrageous ruling (E031001)that favored the rapists and penis slapper.  Stunningly, he single handedly decided to redefine and conflate the definitions of the English and legal words "may" and "shall" in a way that helped the rapists.  The school board, having installed at least a good 7th grade English teacher or two over the years, appealed his shenanigans to the mostly sensible Riverside Forth District Court of Appeal which reversed Swift and definitively restored semantic order and justice.

In 2001, Desert Sons, Mark Kendrick’s novel about two gay teenagers living in Yucca Valley was published.  In 2002, the priest of the Yucca Valley major St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church resigned unexpectedly amid renewed revelations that he had been involved in a scandal involving strip searching boys coupled with an allegation of sexual fondling. In 2009, the General Manager of the local Yucca Valley cable franchise, and leader of numerous civic groups including serving on the Morongo Unified School District Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2007 and as director of the Chamber of Commerce pled guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of sex with 5 toddlers.

Skinheads and KKK

Around 2006, Sheriff's deputies worked to crack down on skinheads in western Yucca Valley who were targeting and recruiting middle school children to join their hate groups. According a published report, among them: the Angry Nazi Soldiers, the Low Desert Skins, and the Crazy White Boys, said Joanna Mendelson, an investigative researcher for the Anti Defamation League's civil rights department. Yucca Valley City citizens have recently targeted a local medical marijuana dispensary and adult stores for closure and heavy restrictions.  The County of San Bernardino and specifically the Sheriff Department have waged a campaign against California’s voter approved Proposition 215 of 1996 which specifically allowed medical marijuana.  In 2009, The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the county’s appeal.

In December of 2008, the local Marine Corps approached a violation of the Posse Commitatus Act by "assisting" the local CHP conduct DUI checks and arrests.  A CHP press release was altered after local media began an investigation.

In June 11, 2007 the print edition of U.S. News & World Report listed Yucca Valley, CA as one of the top 10 cities for retirement.  Yet retirees are cautioned to stay out of nursing homes as well as the judicial systems of the area.

Of the three area nursing homes, Sky Harbor Care Center, is rated in mid–2009 as far below average, and, in 2007, the state imposed a $100,000 fine after a resident was dropped on her knees by an employee and died of complications five days later.  A second center, operated by the local hospital is rated below average.  Fortunately, a third center in the area is rated above average.

While the problem of cheap justice was covered previously, the Sheriff Department and courts are routinely disciplined by State and Federal agencies outside of their own internal affairs divisions.

Quality of Life

Quality of Life

Quality of Life Map

Comments from Readers


Yucca Valley local press integrity is low and corrupted by deep seated conflicts of interests and political partisanship of publishers Gary Dagneault of FM Radio KZDZ 107.7, Cynthia Melland of newspaper High Desert Star, and Dan OBrien of CactusThorns.  As such, news articles from these unreliable sources should be scrutinized as political propaganda.

Nevertheless, some reporters attempt to push some truth past the publisher and Editor's strike-out pen and sometimes they are successful.


Dedicated an entire hour to host the proponents of Measure U (a failed initiative for  a 1 percent sales tax) but refused to allow equal time to Opposition of Measure U.

Hi Desert Star

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