Chapter 4: Fight at the Museum

Bloggers Notes: In Chapter 3, I recounted the California Military History Foundation’s (CMHF) courageous battles with the Dynasty in the  California Legislature and  the Governor’s Executive branch. In Chapter 4, I explain:

  • Why the California State Military Department disenfranchised a nonprofit veteran’s organization;
  • How they disenfranchised the California Military History Foundation;
  • What the consequences of this disenfranchisement to California State Military  Reserve and  the Nation’s State Defense Forces

I resume  my series, “Fight at the Museum,” with……                                                                    


Dr. Roger McGrath (left), Chairman of the California Military History Museum, and renown Californian Historian the History Channel repeatedly attributes for historical documentaries, challenged the State Military Department's subordination to the California National Guard's Youth Programs under the command of Brig. Gen. (CA) James Gabrielli (left). Gabrielli reportedly attempted to supervise and counsel the nonprofit organization's employees, prompting McGrath to intervene. (Google photos).
The Junta. Dr. Roger McGrath (left) never imagined the California military History Foundation he  chaired,  would  have  to  fight off a ‘Posse-comitatus-like” takeover from the California  National Guard  Youth  Programs led by Brig. Gen. (CA) James Gabrielli  (Right)

A Dynasty Expands its Empire

This was the scene when the Dynasty’s plot was revealed to me. I was at a coffee shop near the California National Guard State Headquarters in Sacramento, California in 2005.

It was a chance encounter, an unplanned meeting, when I joined  LTC (CA) Joe Righello, the State Military Department’s Government Affairs Officer, and LTC John Haramalis, the President of the National Guard Association of California (NGAC) for a cup of coffee. They were gossiping about Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres, mocking him, alleging state lawmakers disparaged him, and abdicating their responsibility to correct any misconceptions or misunderstandings our civilian leaders may have had of our adjutant general.

I defended Eres, arguing it was their job, by virtue of their positions, to “set the stage” for Eres’ audiences. Their response was telling, and gauging from their tone, Eres was their Hitler, leading the State Military Department astray of their self-serving interests.

“You don’t know the man Stan! He (Eres) is a mean man!,” Righello said. Both continued  on with what I  perceived as their rants about the man’s character. For me, it was an epiphany of a Cal Guard Valkyrie, so to speak, the plot to overthrow Eres and establish a Dynasty’s control over the California National  Guard. Because of my professional and working relationships with the “Valkyrie’s” key figures, I was able to connect the dots of unfolding political events surrounding the Dynasty’s junta and usurpation of the next three adjutant generals.

I had a birds-eye view of their three-pronged conspiratorial attack launched in 2005. The Dynasty and NGAC collaborated to ambush Eres with politically lethal, lobbying in the California Legislature and Governor’s Office. They sued him in Sacramento Superior Court on allegations of strong-arming Hollywood filmmakers and withholding a fictitious $90,000 the Hollywood tycoon intended for the NGAC. And they infiltrated the dysfunctional State Active Duty (SAD) rating chains, with Dynasty evaluators, intimidating SAD-employed subordinates into acts of  espionage, undermining generals, neutralizing staff loyal to Eres, and terminating those who challenged their growing power.

For the  Dynasty’s opposing  factions within the state headquarters, it was the sign of  California National Guard scandals to come, casting gloom inside the Military  Department. For the California Military History Foundation (CMHF), it was an apocalyptic revelation of doom, the coming of its Armageddon and its advancing four horsemen of plot and destruction–a.k.a. collusion, subversion, intimidation, and deception–galloping at full-speed toward the Fight at the Museum.

They surreptitiously resisted Maj. Gen. William H. Wade’s acts of reparation with the CMHF. When Wade released Foundation-owed legislative appropriations, the Dynasty purportedly lobbied lawmakers to reroute Foundation appropriations through the State Military Department. When the adjutant general negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with  the Foundation to release withheld legislative appropriations via temporary State Active Duty Payroll monies, the Dynasty was instep with plots to undo the  processes.

After Wade honored the Foundation’s choice of Lt. Col. (CA) Anthony Palumbo (see page 14 attached link)–son of a museum forefather Maj. Gen.(Ret) Anthony Palumbo–as that temporary SAD hire until the museum’s revenue flows resumed, the Dynasty was reputedly scheming to oust him, hijack the position, and hire cronies as permanent SAD employees willing to disenfranchise the Foundation and take control of the museum. When Wade relegated himself as a voting member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors recognizing their autonomy from the Guard’s Chain of Command, the Dynasty was already planning to standup a 3,000-person renegade California State Military Reserve (CSMR) under their cronies chain of command.

The Dynasty was gathering its army, forming a coalition of political entities, surrounding the California Military History Foundation to steal”Grandpa’s Guidon,”pilfer Foundation’s Ark, and expand a Dynasty’s Empire.

Missing Artifacts. Once maintained in accordance with Army Standards for Museum curation, a WWI machinegun (Upper left), a Civil War Gatling Gun (Lower Left), and the Curtis Hall Long Gun collection are longer available to the public. The State Military Department claims many of these artifacts are "automatic weapons," and that the public is exposed to danger. (California Military History Foundation photos).
Unaccounted Artifacts. Once maintained in accordance with Army Standards for Museum curation, a WWI machinegun (Upper left), a Civil War Gatling Gun (Lower Left), and the Curtis Hall Long Gun collection are longer available to the public since the California State Military Department confiscated thousands of California Military History Museum artifacts. The State Military Department maintains that many  of these antique weapons are automatic weapons “exposing the public to danger. The Sacramento  Superior Court found no substance to these allegations. (CMHF photos).

Raiders of the Stolen Ark 

Col. (CA) James Gabrielli was the coming messiah of this new empire within the Dynasty’s kingdom, according to Cal Guard insiders.

Gabrielli had political clout with Governor-elect Edmond “Jerry” Brown, political currency for a Dynasty seeking Brown’s endorsement of  Col. David S. Baldwin as California’s 46th adjutant general. Gabrielli became close friends with the career politician while Brown was mayor of Oakland, CA. The retired Guardsman managed the Oakland Military Institute (OMI), a branch of the National Guard’s federally funded Youth Program.

The OMI has been Brown’s “pet” National Guard program since he was Governor in 1975 when it was the Oakland Military Academy. While Oakland Mayor, Gov. Gray Davis made the OMI a charter school. Today, several California Corporations and interest groups pay roughly $3.5 million “tax deductible” donations to the OMI Charter School, some allege, for Brown’s favorable consideration of policies impacting their businesses, reports Bay Area New Group’s Josh Richman.

OMI’s political muscle made the California Military History Foundation (CMHF ) the perfect sacrificial lamb, and the California Center for Military History (CCMH) the ideal pawn for the Dynasty to expand Gabrielli’s Youth Program empire in return for Brown’s appointment of Baldwin. Cal Guard State Personnel insiders tell California’s Home Game that Gabrielli himself admitted to a similar pact. The Dynasty and Gabrielli reportedly collaborated to stage Baldwin’s “recall” from Afghanistan to assume command of a “scandalized” Cal Guard–scandals that Baldwin arguably had a hand in orchestrating.

The Military Department, State Personnel Directorate had to reclassify Gabrielli as Director, Youth Programs to accommodate his promotion. In order to rationalize commensurate duties and responsibilities for a general officer, the  Dynasty had to subordinate the CCMH to the Youth Programs directorate: translation, increase  Gabrielli’s annual salary approximately $100,000, and disenfranchise the CMHF.

On April 16, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown formally appointed Baldwin the adjutant general. On Oct.4, 2011, the Dynasty created the Youth and Community Programs Task Force (YCPTF) and Baldwin assigned Gabrielli its commanding general, according to a memorandum signed by Baldwin. The Dynasty had already downgraded the CCMH from a”General” to “Colonel” Officer,”so Gabrielli could have the higher rank for which the CCMH Commanding General was not paid.

Baldwin arguably created a Posse Comitatus-like situation. The National Guard is part of the organized militia, operating under the charter of Active Duty Army and Air Force, bound to DoD regulations, according to National Guard case-law. DoD Regulations (see page 1, Paragraph 2-Applicability in attached link) preclude the National Guard from including SDFs in its Defense Support to Civilian Authorities (DSCA) missions. Baldwin crossed the regulatory line separating the “National Guard” from the “State Guard” when he reorganized the CCMH as part of the Organized Militia, and stripped the Foundation, a state franchise, of the CCMH command that Gov. Ronald Reagan originated in 1977 under Title 32, section 109.

Against this backdrop, the “Gabrielli Deal” has the earmarks of a conspiracy. Since Gabrielli worked fulltime for the National Guard, was paid, in part, with federal funds, and received increased compensation for commanding a state guard, or state defense force, unit,” he personally profited. This is arguably  a coercive deficiency in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA). By representing the Cal Guard as its”ex-officio”voting member on the its board of directors, while simultaneously being in charge of that same  board, Gabrielli had a conflict of interest in violation of Government Ethics laws.

But the Dynasty commands with the impunity of a “Governor’s Mandate,” and apparently neither fears, nor heeds, federal laws and regulations. This emboldened their newest King to unleash the horseman of intimidation. Gabrielli appointed himself Palumbo’s rater, and, with no knowledge of Palumbo’s pre-agreed performance goals and objectives, counseled and fired him using standards of “hearsay” and “gossip,” according to personnel reports California’s Home Game’s uncovered.

Baldwin was forced to reinstate Palumbo after Foundation Chairman Roger McGrath intervened. McGrath argued  that the Foundation, not the YCPTF, supervised Palumbo under the MOA that Wade negotiated. The Dynasty retreated from its groundless allegation that Palumbo “disobeyed” Gabrielli’s direct orders.

The Dynasty, however, sent forth its horseman of deception and maneuvered around this MOA as well as state and federal laws. The YCPTF declared  Palumbo’s position a permanent SAD slot–the YCPTF’s museum director. They pressured the Foundation to hire Palumbo as their “Museum Director” funded by the museum’s “non-taxpayer” revenues. The Dynasty, in effect, undermined the legislature’s directive to release appropriations the Military Department withheld by diverting funds Wade released through the SAD payroll system into the YCPTF.

The Dynasty dispatched their horseman of subversion, cleverly infiltrating the Foundation with staff hired through Youth Programs. Such was apparently the case with Staff Sgt. (CA) Daniel Sebby, according to Foundation documents California’s Home Game has acquired. The Foundation had terminated Sebby as its curator for allegedly losing an automatic weapon from its vaults, and “misplacing or “failing to account” for military artifacts private citizens donated to the museum, according to Foundation records and Sacramento Police reports. Sebby was insubordinate when he refused to follow Palumbo’s directive to facilitate a 100 percent inventory to reconcile these discrepancies.

The Dynasty, however, hired Sebby in Youth Programs, then detailed him, in effect, as the YCPTF museum supply NCO mirroring  the Foundation’s supply NCO. Sebby was allegedly the turncoat who collaborated with the Dynasty to trump-up charges of Foundation mismanagement. He was reportedly a snitch providing insider information to stage a “state audit” of  the Foundation’s property books through the newly created State Inspector General office.

An audit to which the Foundation agreed, provided the examination was conducted within parameters of AR 870-20, Sebby was not the “middle man,” and audit didn’t substitute the Army History Center’s inspection and museum certification review. The Dynasty scheduled the audit for Sept. 25, 2013, but abruptly postponed it indefinitely on the eve of the inspection. Instead, without warning, the Dynasty sued the Foundation in Sacramento Superior Court on Sept.26, 2013, alleging the Foundation “mismanaged the Museum” and “posed a “public safety risk” for possessing and dealing in automatic weapons that Sebby allegedly removed. The allegations were reportedly based on Sebby’s opinions and nuggets  of “Operation Cornerstone” minutes culled from 1980s NGAC secretary reports. Home Game contacted Sebby who declined comment.

Sympathizing with Foundation, the Sacramento Superior Court granted an “Ex Parte” hearing on Sept. 30,2014. The formal hearing was heard on Nov. 22, 2013, at which time the Dynasty outrageously asked the Court to order the Foundation to capitulate its inventory to the Adjutant General, and name the State Military Department in the lease for Museum building in Old Sacramento in lieu of the Foundation. Shocked, the judge ruled in the Foundation’s favor.

But the Dynasty’s three-pronged attack was now at full-throttle and the Court’s decision had little sway. With access to the taxpayers’ deep pockets, the Dynasty was ready to outspend the Foundation in court, while blindsiding them with their legislative lobby. In what might be construed as “covert action,” the Dynasty directly campaigned California lawmakers to revise the California Military and Veterans Code (CMVC) by: deleting all references to the Foundation; amending Foundation budget language; and transferring the authority of the museum business plan to the adjutant general from the Foundation.

“The fact that the military museum foundation was referred to [sic] directly in state law is very unusual and unorthodox, and quite frankly, improper,” Lt. Col. (CA) Darin Bender, the Dynasty’s chief of state policy and liaison later tells the Sacramento Bee.

Bender’s understanding of state and federal laws governing non-profit organizations and historic preservation is sophomoric at best. But I suspect he was fully aware of the State Military Department strategic goals, confident California media would buy his sound bite without fact checking. The Dynasty successfully exhausted the Foundation’s resources, forcing the board of directors to close its doors on March 8, 20014, and pressuring  them into a an inequitable out-of-court settlement in August 2014.

“It’s a shame,” said retired Maj. Gen. Robert Thrasher, the adjutant general who presided over the 1990 ground-breaking ceremonies to construct the museum. “It’s kind of like the Smithsonian of Sacramento for the military.”

The YCPTF started interpreting the Court agreement as they saw it, declaring citizen artifact loans as “state property” and claiming ownership of the Foundation’s property books. A mad scramble ensued with: the YCPTF acquiring the lease to the museum in Old Sacramento, reneging on that contract, and forcing the Foundation to clear all artifacts from the building. Lt Col. (CA) Brian Anderson, YCPTF executive officer, reportedly authorized Sebby to confiscate many of the museum artifacts before the Foundation had a chance to move them. Sebby was captured  on videotape confiscating many  of the artifacts.

Like the final scene in the movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” hundreds of thousands  of dollars of artifacts have disappeared into the dark corners of Cal Guard Bureaucracy. Without either signing for, or inventorying the artifacts, Sebby and Anderson are suspect in losing sight of the Curtis Hall long-gun collection (each musket of which would sell anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 at history auctions), and civil War Gatling guns ($50,000-$85,000). By following the questionable orders of Gabrielli, and the newly installed CSMR Deputy Commander Col. (CA) Michael Herman, Anderson and Sebby are perhaps the “Raiders of the Stolen Ark.”

A California State Military Reserve Civil War

But the Dynasty’s “Fight at the Museum,” also has profound, and maybe devastating, ramifications for the California State Military Reserve  (CSMR) and the Nation’s State defense forces (SDF). The CCMH is a relevant SDF because it operates under a state body other than the National Guard and interacts with the DoD. Most, if not all, 26 states and territories with SDFs lack this relevancy.

The CSMR forefathers and their commander in Chief Gov. Ronald Reagan formed a perfect union of mission and peacetime SDF when they conceived the CCMH one score and 19 years ago. By disenfranchising the Foundation, the Dynasty is dissolving this union, compelling those passionate to history mission to secede  from the CSMR in search of volunteerism to satisfy their passion for charity. Now that the Cal Guard has assumed the role of the state body in charge of California’s SDF, they are forming a confederacy of  forces consisting patronage workers, warrior wannabes, and those seeking to fulfil military ambitions they could not attain while in active Guard service.

Conceived within the parameters of Title 32,Section 109, and dedicated to the militia principles intended in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, California’s “Fight at the Museum” is the Nation’s SDFs “Gettysburg,”testing whether a CCMH properly conceived, or any SDF, can long endure, or forever perish from the face of American Constitutional landscape.

The battle for “Grandpa’s Guidon,”is the CSMR civil war. The  CCMH chain-of-command autonomy is the Nation’s SDF’s model of autonomous authority under state entities other  than their state National Guards.

For SDFs, it a civil war for  their identity as the America’s true Minutemen, the real state guard.


 In Chapter 5, I write how the State Military Department have displaced Museum Civilian jobs, hired cronies to replace them, and are  disintegrating the California Center for Military  History. I conclude with  the debate of  whether the California Military History Foundation (CMHF) or the Adjutant General represents  Army History Command (AHC) for museum activities, and argue for an Army Inspector General and broader-scoped state and federal investigations into the “Fight at the Museum.” 


Personal Note: I dedicate this chapter to Mother Teresa’s prayer, “Do it Anyway.” Despite the oppression of a Dynasty that would neither recognize nor reward their efforts,  more than 100 California National Guard Headquarter staff, California Center for Military History staff, and field headquarter staff persisted in their duties to perform their jobs within the parameters of the state and federal law realizing the Dynasty would not recognize them, and in fact, might punish them. In the end, it was never between the Dynasty and us, but between us and one state and Nation under God.








  1. Very well thought out and good research, but unfortunately not the whole story. It is unfortunate indeed, that adults with years of military service to our state and nation can not set down around a table and come to a reasonable consensus on how to continue the project of a State Military Museum. Many of us contributed over many years towards the success of our museum. I was the State CSM when the museum was dedicated and my boss, MG Thrasher helped open the doors.

    Most of what we are reading here is about old grudges and sour grapes between a hand full of overly anxious people to be in the driver’s seat. Personal egos have no place in this. While that author is an outstanding writer and researcher, he also has his plate of sour grapes, leading him to try and make a point.

    As a life member, I have never received a new letter that mentioned any of the conflicts and asked for member input. There seems to be just a few who have personal agendas that want to make decisions without input from members. In reading the MV/Code, I understand that this falls under the venue of the Adjutant Genral to oversee the assets and insure security of all property in the care of our museum facilitators.

    I have a great deal of respect for several on both sides of the argument, but have to support the law as defined under the MV/Code. It reads very clearly!

    John W. Jackson
    CSM, USA (Ret)

    1. As you say, this article is well researched and thought out. For the record, California’s Home Game has reached out and offered the current leadership opportunity to respond, they decline.

      I too worked under Maj. Gen. Thrasher. From my understanding, he too has reached out to the current leadership encouraging them to back away from their “Fight at the Museum,” to no avail—as well as Maj. Gen. Eres and other former adjutant generals. But Thrasher, and Eres, both led from the front, not behind—as appears to be the case with the current leadership. Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin’s evasiveness with the NBC Bay Area Investigative team’s request for interviews on sexual misconduct, and most recently, the Line of Duty (LOD) backlog perhaps substantiates this perception.

      This seems a pattern of this leadership on all issues beyond the Museum. As you and I know, Command Sergeant Major, Thrasher would have never ducked the press; he would have taken them head-on, and never relied on the “sound bite.” I can speak from experience that he would have answered the media honestly, and if wrong, admitted it, and driven on.

      For example, in the case of the LODs, you and I know he would have turned to his director of Human Resources, said fix it, and then monitored the situation until it was fixed. If more resources were needed, he would have found them—perhaps through the imaginative use of the California State Military Reserve (CSMR). Many retired Cal Guard personnel management officers and NCOs have volunteered to join the SMR to help reduce California’s 88 percent backlog on LODs. But the current leadership has rebuffed their support. Do you think Thrasher or past adjutant generals would have done this?

      As far as sour grapes on my part, I will let the reader judge that. I would like nothing more than for the current leadership to be successful. But success measured by taking care of the soldier, not perpetuating a system of cronyism that takes care of an oligarchy.

      I’m looking forward to moving on to other series—especially my Counterdrug series—the “untold story of success” during the Hipsley years.

  2. Hello,
    I am the daughter of Curtis Hall, and trustee of the Curtis Hall gun collection since his death. What no one seems to realize is that per his will, if the guns cannot be displayed in the California National Guard museum, they will revert to a historical museum in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We are about to unleash this to the state and force his wishes to be followed. The state does NOT OWN this collection, it was on loan only.

    1. Thank you Audrey. The California Military History Foundation and the California Center for Military History are arguing this for you. Col. (CA) Michael Herman, however, has spun his own interpretation, declaring your property the state property. I know because I myself have heard COL (CA) Herman say about the same thing. Col (CA) Harman has the support of the Governor on this case, but the Foundation is still trying to fight it. They have just run out of money for the courts. Good luck, I know you will have a lot of support, the California State Military Department, however, has the taxpayers’ deep pockets to exhaust all challengers funding in court. Hopefully, many will rally to your cause.

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