Keeping Wildomar “Running…

…SMOOTHLY”

 At least until a little self-inflicted financial “speed bump” took out one cylinder of the political machinery.

After reading a recent Californian article on the resignation of Paula Willette as Wildomar’s Community Service Manager, Wildomar Park Oversight Committee Member-elect-now Chairman ), John Lloyd offered a bit of insight on his view of Paula’s unofficial role while employed at City Hall.

In his comment attached to the article, Lloyd states, “Paula worked tirelessly to keep things running smoothly within Wildomar.”

Please click on the following link to the Californian, and scroll down to the comments section to confirm:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/25/wildomar-community-services-director-willette/

For an example of  how Willette was “running things smoothly in Wildomar,” the three-member Board of Trustees of the Wildomar Cemetery Special District, included myself, Paula Willette, and Planning Commission Chairman Stan Smith,  it was Willette who originally initiated the idea of merging the Cemetery District into the City of Wildomar (according to the District official minutes.)

Since it appeared to be a good idea (rather than  being forced to merge with the Lake Elsinore Cemetery District, as the County of Riverside recommended), I supported the idea as President of the Board of Trustees, but with the condition precedent, (as agreed to by former City Manager Frank Oviedo), once the merger was complete, that Willette could have no active responsibilities or connection to the Wildomar Cemetery in the future, as that would be a conflict of interest since she voted in favor of the initiative.

One of the primary reasons for my concerns was my observation and experience as a trustee with Willette working “tirelessly to keep things running smoothly within Wildomar.”

In another significant example, Willette promoted a Girl Scout Gold Award project to the Board of Trustees, repeatedly mentioning that she was in contact with “some” un-named Girl Scouts who were considering proposing a “serenity garden” for a small portion of the Cemetery.

At the time, the Board of Trustees was being genuinely sensitive to the efforts of groups, such as the Wildomar historical Society, and  a local Boy Scout troop, who annually volunteered to spend a day cleaning and polishing grave markers at the Cemetery, usually just before Memorial Day.

As a result, the suggestion of a Girl Scout project  for a small serenity garden was not unusual and the Board of Trustees was willing to consider such proposals.

Finally, after a year of “prepping” the Board of Trustees, a formal proposal was made to the Board of Trustees for a Girl Scout Gold Award project, to install two brick-and-mortar “reflection benches,” as well as a kiosk containing a directory for the gravesites. However, it was only at this point that Willette disclosed that the project was being proposed by members of the John Lloyd family.

Had I been aware that the proposals were coming from a politically-connected family, I would have discouraged my fellow trustees far sooner in the process. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing prior encouragement by the Board of Trustees, the Girl Scouts had already invested time and effort with the Girl Scout organization, seeking approval to move forward with their project at the Cemetery District.

As a Trustee, and Vietnam veteran, I consistently resisted efforts to permit politics to invade the serenity and sanctity of our Cemetery, including interjection of Vietnam-era politics, in the form of a request from a local motorcycle club, to continuously fly a POW/MIA flag on the Cemetery flagpole, another “smooth” Willette initiative being foisted from City Hall.

Fortunately, at the end of a robust debate, the initiative was voted down by the Trustees.

Once again, as the Cemetery District was being transferred to the control of the Wildomar City Council, I publicly spoke before the City Council, admonishing them as the outgoing Board President, that they must also resist any efforts to politicize or exploit, for political purposes, the sacred confines of our beautiful cemetery.

For the record, I voted against the final approval of the brick-and-mortar reflection bench portion of the project (the kiosk directory plan and design was still in progress), but was out-voted 2-1 by Willette  and Smith.

Unfortunately for the process of credible political debate, even as the debate was in progress, I observed Paula Willette reach her hand over to one of the Girl Scouts, whose project was being debated, and while patting her thigh, whispered (loud enough for me to hear it), “Don’t worry. We’ll get this done for you,” thereby rendering credible debate meaningless.

As a result, I don’t discount Lloyd’s comment about Willette “working tirelessly to keep things running smoothly in Wildomar.”

Instead, in my opinion, I see it simply as tireless manipulation.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

 Again, for the record, the Cemetery directory is substandard in its construction execution and will require remediation to make it usable.

(Editor’s note:  This article was originally prepared for publication on February 27, 2013, but I withheld its publication due to the resignation of the Community Service Manager. However,  after the passage of 30 days, I believe it is still important for the readers of Wildomar Magazine to understand how their municipal governance has been subjected to political forces operating outside of the parameters of transparency. )

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