Here’s to our extremely necessary and important foundation on our Hill.

ARF has saved and rescued countless lives of helpless, tortured and abandoned four-footed friends, giving them a new lease on health and fortunate “fun ever” homes with their new found families.

The recent fundraiser “Idyllwild needs a Mayor” yielded ARF much needed funds — a little over $30,000. Wow!

“Candidates,” 14 dogs and two cats, with their “campaign managers” devoted their time and countless hours and efforts raising funds for this benefit — walking, driving and begging for contributions.

However, and it is a huge “However,” one manager, namely Phyllis Mueller, made it a personal campaign, donating huge sums of money to elect “Max for Mayor.” Monies which would have served as additional benefits for ARF.

Yes, it was a very generous donation, but totally misdirected. Yes, of course the funds reached the coffers of ARF not as a direct donation to ARF but as a mayoral contribution to “Max for Mayor.”

Many comments have been made regarding this situation. We would like to share a quote or two made by Mrs. Mueller to the Valley Chronicle (July 4, 2012), “We’re pretty excited about it,” Mueller said. “I was dedicated to having him [Max] win.”

And about the 2013 election if it does occur, she said, “My thought is to give every dog a chance. It wouldn’t be fair to buy every election.”

We say, let’s flaunt our wealth — boo!

She mailed thousands of full-color photo-mailers to nearly all local residents. She even considered having a sky-writing company fly over Idyllwild with a banner saying “Vote for Max,” but reconsidered when the price would be about $11,000 — How sad!

This and all the newspaper ads and huge banners throughout town were absolutely absurd and egotistical.

In the years to come, if this fundraiser is promoted, it has been suggested hat $100 should be the limit in campaign funds.

Each candidate should provide a certificate of spay or neuter — one of ARF’s important education endeavors.

Max is a loving and gentle 11–1/2-year-old who proudly struts around town displaying his family jewels — what irony.

Vice Mayor Hogan and I thought about separating ourselves from ARF. After really thinking about it, we would defeat the purpose of ARF and all its wonderful work.

No, we will remain loyal and support ARF. Hopefully for future projects, ground rules will be set forth and proper practices will be followed.

We thank ARF for our “Angel of the Year” award and again Paws Up for ARF and all its faithful volunteers.

Madelaine Barnett Cresswell, Campaign Manager
and Hogan, Idyllwild Vice Mayor


  1. [Part 1]
    Dear Town Crier,

    It’s come to my attention regarding the ARF Mayoral election that there are some unfair accusations being carelessly tossed around. Max’s owner, Ms. Phyllis Mueller, broke no rules according to the ARF rules and guidelines for the election.

    ARF allowed for a dollar vote whether the vote was donated by any number of individuals or a dollar a vote if you decided that you wanted to donate personally out of your own financial reserves. So there’s no limit on how many people you personally could get to donate to your dog’s campaign or how many votes you wanted to donate by yourself personally.

    These rules were clear and explicit. So to accuse Phyllis for donating and being generous which ultimately benefited ARF and the rescued animals is indeed an unfair accusation.

  2. [Part 2]

    Phyllis did not make these rules. ARF made the rules. And why would ARF want to make it hard to get more donation votes? Of course, they would want as many donation votes as they could get per dog regardless of how the votes came to be. So don’t target the person who played by the rules. If you’re upset, maybe you (Madelaine) had a shaky hand on writing a bigger check.

    It is wrong to accuse someone who simply wanted to be generous and to imply that something underhanded or illegal was done is completely false. It would be a good idea to be a gracious loser. After all, we teach our children that. But then again, “Hell hath no fury like an animal owner who loses an election scorned.”


    Chuck Modrich
    Interested and Supportive Regular Idyllwild Visitor

  3. Dear Town Crier,

    I love visiting Idyllwild and I heard they were electing a four-legged Mayor as a fundraiser for ARF. I thought this was a great idea! After the election, I saw this terrible article attacking the winner and his campaign manager (Phyllis Mueller) so I did a little research.

    This was a fundraiser designed to generate income and support for ARF to help animals in need. From what I can tell Max and Phyllis took this call to arms to heart and generated over two-thirds of the income for ARF! This deserves a huge acknowledgement!!! 🙂

    Anyone who actually cares about the well being of animals would be thrilled that Max and Phyllis went the extra mile and generated all this energy and support for ARF!

    Obviously, Madelaine Barnett has other concerns at heart.

    I would just like to acknowledge Mayor Max and his campaign manager, Phyllis, for doing the exact purpose of the fundraiser–raising lots of funds to save the lives of animals. Great job and have a great year as Mayor!!


    Sean Dernehl