Fight at the Museum: Chapter 3

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.” 


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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.”


Our father's National Guard: A proud history of surging our Grandfathers’ State Guard’s California State Military History Museum.
Our Father’s National Guard: A proud history of surging our Grandfathers’ State Guard’s California State Military History Museum.

Grandpa’s Guidon

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.”


The Guidon Bearers. Brig. Gen. (CA) Donald Mattson (left), and Brig. Gen. (CA) William Hamilton were instrumental in adding to the state defense lineage under the Army History Center Guidon.
The Guidon Bearers. Brig. Gen. (CA) Donald Mattson (left), and Brig. Gen. (CA) William Hamilton were instrumental in adding to the state defense lineage under the Army History Center 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.