Blogger’s Note: In Chapter 2, I revived the story of Operation Cornerstone, the fundraising campaign to construct a Citizen-Soldier Museum in historic Old Sacramento, California. I recounted how the California State Military Foundation filled its “Ark” with California’s military historical treasures, and how the California Center for Military History shaped the “Mystique” inside the Museum; and became the Cornerstone the United States Army Center of Military History West Coast museum network.
In Chapter 3, I continue with:
- The growing divide inside the State Military Department;
- The State Defense Force rivalry; and
- The first round of legislative battles in “Fight at the Museum.”
The Gathering Storm
At the turn of the 21st century, social factors were gathering in California, and inside state Guard Headquarters, bringing overcast clouds above the California State Military Museum’s mystique, and providing cloud cover for raiders to steal its ark.
Outside Cal Guard Headquarters, a second recall petition was underway to remove California Gov. Gray Davis from office. In November 2003, California recalled Davis for mismanaging the budget, botching the state energy crisis, enacting restrictive gun control laws, and failing to enact Proposition 187–the 1994 Save Our State (SOS) initiative denying health care, public education, and other services to those illegally entering California.
The political tornado rotating across California’s political landscape, emboldened those hunkered down inside the Cal Guard Headquarters. Inside this shelter, they panted seeds of resistance to Homeland Security changes threatening the Military Department’s State Active Duty (SAD) structure–jobs to which they apparently believed theirs by divine right. A theocracy that split the headquarters officer corps into two factions: the apprentices of senior leaders, whom senior leaders were grooming for senior SAD positions; and a sanctimonious clique, acquiescing into their ambition to overthrow the ranks of their (SAD) mentorship. The latter became a cancer that consumed the protégés of mentorship, and metastasized into a Dynasty with seven empires of SAD jobs for cronies.
A malignancy that spread to California National Guard’s ancillary organizations. When Lt. Col. John Haramalis, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Smiley, and I were elected to ranking posts on the National Guard Association of California (NGAC) in 2003, we shunned Col. Ernest Zuick’s grandfatherly advice to form a “Blue-Ribbon Panel” to shore up the Association’s slumping membership, brace its sagging participation, and relight the extinguished flame of Operation Cornerstone’s candle–only still possible because of a group retired and former Cal Guardsmen purchased the museum building and leased it to the Foundation after the NGAC defaulted on its million dollar pledge.
“This is not your grandfather’s National Guard anymore,” one of us routinely gloated during NGAC and headquarters staff meetings.
Some truth to the boast. We began driving our Grandfather’s National Guard away following the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election. We stoked the press and legislature with rumors of their “secret spy unit,” “shaking down a Hollywood filmmaker, and allegations they “intimidated and retaliated against NGAC members” for being so-called whistleblowers. We separated Zuick from the Grandfather pack, preying on him as an example of our Grandfather’s alleged cronyism, feeding him to the press to devour as gobbets of “Bird Sanctuary,” the ‘Good ol’ Boy network, and the O.C.C.–Old Colonels Club. Morsels consumed with great delight.
As NGAC 2nd vice president, I was shamelessly an unwitting party in designing the strategic communication templates for these attacks. I drafted the Association’s strategic communications plan in 2003, a plan, I believe, was altered to target Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres and outset him from office in 2005. Then fine-tuned to finish off his staff, and keep incoming Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. William Wade, in line with Dynasty political strategies and objectives.
When Eres’s was forced out, Col. David S. Baldwin emerged as both the State Military Department’s Director of Operations and Director of Communications. He tasked me to a public affairs transition team, which asked me to design a strategic communications plan similar to that I designed for the NGAC. A plan, I believe, was doctored into information operations, executed in partnership with the NGAC plan, polluting public communications with misinformation, half-truths, and deception.
All the while Baldwin remained heavily involved with NGAC policy, politics, and communications. Looking in time’s rearview mirror, I now opine, as I see myself sitting with Baldwin, Lt. Col. (CA) Joseph Righello, and other kings and princes in the Dynasty Empire at various NGAC forums and impromptu meetings, that we stepped outside our jurisdiction as public officials. We allegedly, perhaps naively, used our military positions in the State Military Department to influence the NGAC to lobby the California Legislature for laws favoring our own interests, and to oppose legislation and appropriations benefiting our perceived enemies.
It’s with 20/20 vision hindsight, I now see when we alienated the NGAC from the California State Military Foundation (CSMF), and made Operation Cornerstone’s treasures vulnerable to raiders desiring to steal its ark. It was within this window, I believe, that all the ingredients came together, for the Dynasty to seed approaching political storm clouds with innuendos, misinformation, and half-truths, forming the perfect political storm, for the “Fight at the Museum.”
But we were ignorant our Grandfather’s political craftsmanship. artistry of policy-making, and ingenuity in mobilizing the initiative of volunteerism.
As if clairvoyant, “Our Grandfather’s National Guard” established perhaps the only peacetime state defense force (SDF) in the Nation without the glitch of no Department of Defense Interaction. Using analysis from the Department of Defense (DoD) Investigator General report titled: Evaluation of Department of Defense Interaction with State Defense Forces,” there is a compelling argument that the California Center for Military History (CCMH), and its higher headquarters, are part of the organized militia, with DoD oversight, having a federal–or Army– mission under the auspices of a DoD/State Government-sanctioned grassroots organization–the California State Military Foundation. It appears that no state or territory in the 24 states and territories with a State Defense Force (SDF) can make this claim.
The CCMH is the Cal Guard’s only real deployable CSMR unit with a DoD mission to document Military Support to Civilian Authority (MSCA) and Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions during catastrophic emergency response, using DoD IG evaluations. All other SDF units are technically part of the “unorganized militia,” not under the auspices of the Cal Guard at all, but of the California’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) as a “state resource,” as a para-military asset. Thus making the CCMH the only MSCA and DSCA player, and CSMR units the Cal Guard activated in the last year, MSCA and DSCA pretenders, using DoDIG’s evaluation as arguments.
Perhaps testimony to the vision of “Our Grandfather’s National Guard,” born from the experiences, of what author Tom Brokaw calls, the “The Greatest Generation.” The experiences of 1920s prosperity, two World Wars, a depression, and the spirit of America’s Minuteman Militia rolled into establishing peacetime SDF harvested from the character and patriotism reaped from our Grandfather’s experiences.
Experience from which the State Military Department’s CSMR architect, Maj. William Hamilton (later Brig. Gen. (CA), and facilitator, Col. Anthony Palumbo (Later Major General), and its first CCMH commander, Brig. Gen. (CA) Donald Mattson, leveraged a bit part for the CCMH during the Cold War. The Cal Guard could declare legacy WWII and Vietnam hardware and equipment aging in its maintenance shop yards as “historical holdings,” and latterly transfer these holdings to CNGHS’ property books. With this ancient hardware cleared from their books, CNG units were able to receive modern military hardware being channeled to the Reserve Components under President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup.
The CCMH, with its volunteer historians, mechanics, librarians, archivists, armorers, logisticians, and the Museum’s “artifacts responsible officer (ARO) and property book NCO, empowered the 1980s Cal Guard to focus on its training philosophy under Reagan: “It’s not if we go to War with the Soviet Union, but when.” Allowing the Cal Guard to bring its forces to Cold War readiness and online with the Nation’s other reserve and active components. Lending credibility to Reagan’s resolve to showdown the Evil Empire.
Our Grandfather’s scholarship, however, revealed that the National Guard has no Grandfather at all; only a father, the United States Army, from whose loins we came in 1903 when Congress enacted the Militia Act, making us part of the organized militia, not the state guard. It is the SDFs who are the state guard with an ancestral lineage to the militias authorized in Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution.
And the CCMH, an arguably organized militia, perhaps has a more direct historical line to these Minute Men Militias than any of today’s peacetime SDFs, who, according to DoDIG analysis, remain part of the unorganized militia with no DoD relationship. Perhaps it was no coincidence that Gov. Ronald Reagan activated the CSMR for its Army Military History Center mission during the Nation’s Bicentennial in July 1976, restoring the 1776 Minuteman’s bloodline in California. Giving the CCMH an inherent right to carry their ancestors Guidon, their “Grandpa’s Guidon.”
Legislative Battles and Campaign Streamers
And Mattson, figuratively speaking, carried Grandpa’s Guidon into a series of legislative battles against the State Military Department, and with the help of Hamilton, who later became the CSMR Brigadier General and CCMH Commander, added a few campaign streamers before a stroke debilitated him in 2005, and death overtook him in 2010.
When the California Legislature changed the Citizen-Soldier Museum to the California State Military Museum in 2000, the California State Military Department was enraged that the state would expand the museum’s scope beyond the “Citizen Soldier.” The State Military Department was immediately at odds with the California lawmakers replacement for the California National Guard Historical Society (CNGHS), the California Military History Foundation.
California National Guard, Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Paul D. Monroe, “unilaterally” rescinded the Cal Guard’s 1976 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Foundation. This triggered a series of legislative skirmishes between the Foundation and the California State Military Department/California National Guard.
When Assembly member Ed Chavez introduced legislation to appropriate $125,000 from the General Fund for the continued operation of the WWII Oral History Project in 2001k, the State Military Department resisted. They refused to sign a MOU with the Foundation, and then proceeded to withhold several years of legislative appropriations, according to California Legislative Digests.
Mattson raised the staff of “Grandpa’s Guidon,” lowering its ferrule to bring the Foundation online with Assembly Bill (AB) 543. The legislation directed the State Military Department to negotiate a MOU with the Museum. Gov. Gray Davis signed AB 543 on Sept 3, 2003. The Cal Guard defied the law by refusing to reach an agreement and release appropriations. Mattson again lifted the guidon staff, this time bringing its ferrule on line with Senate Bill (SB) 480, a measure to channel the appropriation through the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“The Museum provides a vital service to the state in honoring the men and women who have served in the military,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when signing SB 480 into law in 2004. “Although I have deleted the General Fund Appropriation (from the State Military Department Budget), I am directing the Department of Parks and Recreation to allocate $100,000 from existing funds to the California Military Museum to ensure continued operations.”
The legislature followed up with SB 1939 in July 2004, declaring the California Military Museum the State’s “official military museum” for all of California’s veterans. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 1349 on July 13, 2004, aligning the Museum with the United States Army Military Command, reasserting the Cal Guard’s relationship as “liaison” only, and forcing the California National Guard into compliance with the Federal Historic Preservation Act statutes.
In 2005, Mattson suffered a debilitating stroke, passing the Guidon to Brig. Gen. (CA) William Mattson. Hamilton was CCMH’s architect while part of the National Guard organized militia in 1977, and later became the CCMH commander and Board Trustee following his National Guard retirement. At the same time, that cloud hanging cover the museum lifted, revealing the Dynasty’s lobbying and propaganda machines. Hamilton would carry Grandpa’s Guidon head-on into the Dynasty’s legislative volleys.
The Dynasty’s champion of the ’05 Cal Guard Spy Scandal, Sen. Joe Dunn, fired the Dynasty’s first legislative salvo when he introduced legislation undercutting the Foundation’s authority. Under the pretense of an administrative bill to correct grammatical and cross reference errors in section 179 of the California Military and Veterans Code (CMVC), Dunn introduced SB 1106, slipping in language that the Adjutant General was the authority over the Museum’s operations and management on June 7, 2005.
The Dynasty’s legislative power surfaced, and Foundation’s vulnerabilities were exposed. The Dynasty appealing, and receiving, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s support that the Adjutant General controlled the Museum; the Foundation dependent upon the California Assembly and Senate to remain entrenched in their resolve that Museum operated autonomously of the State Military Department and behalf of all California’s veterans, according to California Legislative Digests.
The impasse came to a loggerhead on March 21, 2006 when representatives from the Governor’s office, the Legislature, State Military Department, and the Foundation convened to resolve these legislative issues at the State Capitol. Subsequently, Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II was directed to renew the MOU between the foundation and the Department; and to release–in installments–appropriations the Dynasty withheld from the Foundation in Fiscal Years 2006-07 and 2007-08. The State Military Department was ordered not to interfere with the Legislature’s continuous $100,000 annual appropriation from FY 2009-10 forward.
The Dynasty’s resistance, however, took its toll on Mattson. The debilitating stroke he suffered temporarily hindered the Foundation’s high-intensity fundraising campaigns, forcing them to reach into the Foundation’s reserves to pay the museum’s overhead costs such as lighting, heating, security, and electricity that the state appropriations covered. Overhead that the state legislature appropriated to pay, portions of which, the U.S. Army reimbursed the State Military Department since the Museum was legally an Armory under state law.
But with the legislative battle streamers the Mattson added to Grandpa’s Guidon, Hamilton was able to restore these money flows that the Military Department interrupted when Wade released withheld approriations.
The Dynasty, forced into begrudging respect for the battle streamers Mattson and Hamilton added to Grandpa’s guidon, were preparing for its second legislative campaign, and an assault in the courts, with it raiders in tow to steal the Foundations Ark, in its unrelenting “Fight at the Museum.”
In Chapter 4, I write about the California Military History Foundation’s last stand, how the State Military Department disenfranchised the Foundation, confiscated and scattered 30,000 museum artifacts, and what taxpayer are paying to run a closed museum.