A mass mailing, of unknown size, postmarked Phoenix AZ June 2, 2015 , was received Friday, June 5, 2015 by an undetermined number of recipients in the Palm Springs community. The business letter-size envelopes are printed in large bold characters with the phrase “Learn what Greg Burton, Executive Editor of The Desert Sun is trying to hide“. The contents consist of an unsigned cover letter titled “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” together with an “Arrest Photo” image reproduced at the top of the page, copies of a 4-page Riverside Superior Court Criminal Case Report, and what appears to be a square coaster titled “Justice Delayed = Justice Denied” above a photo titled “The Desert Sun Editor Greg Burton”. The photo on the coaster appears identical to the Arrest Photo reproduced on the cover letter. The paper coaster has the appearance of red beverage stains imprinted on it.

     The Criminal Case Report document describes Case INM-1307093 dated 08/09/2013 with Arrest Charges identified as VC M23152(A) Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Severity code M. The report indicates court hearings have been continued 13 times and the next hearing date listed is June 15, 2015. There are no adverse court actions relating to probation requirements, driver license suspension nor bail requirements noted in the record. The Criminal Case Report document bears what appears to be a print date of 5/5/2015 which may indicate it was copied on May 5th.

     The sender’s accompanying “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” letter notes a refusal “to take any chemical test” occurred, only one very short article ran in The Desert Sun, there have been 13 continued court dates, and it closes by questioning whether special treatment has been accorded Greg Burton.

     Court documents are public records and copies are available. Whether the same applies to Arrest Photos is unknown. Sending the documents through the mail does not appear to represent any type of violation or legal prohibition and, since the content primarily consists of a public record, no slander or character assassination appears to exist.

     There have been many questions raised in various online social forums by those who received copies of the mailing. Among those posted online are:

  • 1.  Who prepared and sent the mass mailing?
  • 2.  What is the purpose behind the mass mailing?
  • 3.  How many letters were mailed and were all the recipient addresses in Palm Springs?
  • 4.  Why has knowledge of the mass mailing’s receipt not appeared in the local media?
  • 5.  Why have court hearings been continued 13 times since the actual 2013 DUI arrest?
  • 6.  Are there legitimate reasons why the case has been continued?
  • 7.  Is it appropriate to claim “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” with respect to the case?

     It should also be noted the online social forums include comments by some who are offended at having received the mailing. The most common reason noted is the mailings anonymity because it is unsigned and there is no return address.

     This is political election season in Palm Springs for voters will be asked to decide who will be elected as mayor, who will fill two city council seats and who will fill two Desert Water Agency seats on its Board of Directors. Whether the mass mailing is an election season offering, or not, remains unknown. What is known is that none of the known candidates for any of these offices has been mentioned as the sender or otherwise involved. It’s for that reason that many believe the mailing represents something other than an election season campaign product.

     The mailing addressed to me has been photocopied and the results available for viewing or downloading using the link below.

Bond Shands
June 7, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.BondShands.com

All comments are welcome and should be sent to editor@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting online here please note FOR PUBLICATION in your message.

 

5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

     Repetition, repetition, repetition – that’s the best way to brainwash others and the public at large. It’s probably one of the oldest of political and media tactics in the playbook. It’s also the best way to mount an attack (or defense) – simply repeat what you want others to believe and keep repeating it until they finally show evidence of having tasted the Kool-Aid and now belong to the club of true believers.

     The Desert Sun newspaper’s front page “Palm Springs to hire 2 firms to look into its programs” story about Mayor Steve Pougnet has a new face. It’s been produced under the bylines of street reporters Barrett Newkirk, Skip Descant and Kia Farhang. Together, these three managed to produce an 890+ word tabloid ostensibly about the June 3rd Palm Springs City Council meeting. It turned out to be just another in the long-running series of witch hunting hit pieces targeting Mayor Steve Pougnet.

     The newspaper articles’ second half, of approximately 450 words, is a series of cut-and-paste rehashed information previously reported ad nauseam about Mayor Pougnet, developer Richard Meaney, Financial Disclosure Forms, Redevelopment Agency property sales, and the Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. Of the four photos appearing in the online version of the story, three are of Mayor Steve Pougnet (and he wasn’t even at the city council meeting). A summary of the story would need to  identify the first section as about the city council meeting and the second as just another rerun of their earlier Steve Pougnet newsprinting excesses.

     There are moments when Desert Sun street reporter articles actually give “yellow journalism” a bad name. That’s the case with the newspaper and its current three-member team pulling together to ferret out more trivia from which to fashion headlines linking Mayor Steve Pougnet and the Palm Springs city council to scandal. They may succeed, not because they’re being truthful, performing a service or acting as 4th Estate public guardians, they may succeed for the simplest of reasons. It’s that vast supply of printer’s ink that allows them to engage in “repetition, repetition, repetition”.

     Here’s a defanged version of the Steve Pougnet story minus the lust for blood. In his regular occupation as a consultant Mayor Steve Pougnet was employed by local developer Richard Meaney. (Note: The mayoral position is considered part-time and includes a small salary. There are no restrictions prohibiting the mayor or city council members from having regular full-time employment positions separate from their part-time city responsibilities.)

  • 1.)  Mr. Meaney reportedly has benefited from legitimate financial dealings with the City of Palm Springs. The transactions were handled by city staff and ultimately approved by the City Council. Mayor Steve Pougnet has since apologized for overlooking a need to abstain from a procedural vote regarding one of the financial transactions.
  • 2.)  Questions have arisen whether the city received fair value from the arrangements with Mr. Meaney or whether undue influence occurred with respect to any of the transactions.
  • 3.)  No evidence has been produced indicating undue influence occurred. No evidence has been produced linking these transactions to Mr. Meaney’s employment of Steve Pougnet as a consultant.
  • 4.)  No evidence or link has been produced indicating that Steve Pougnet benefited from other than his regular fee for consulting services.
  • 5.)  A former Palm Springs resident now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area reportedly filed a complaint with the FPPC. Copies along with the FPPC form letter reply were shared with the local media. There’s no evidence that an actual FPPC investigation is underway.
  • 6.)  That same San Francisco Bay Area resident reportedly filed a complaint with Riverside County’s outgoing civil Grand Jury. Copies were shared with local media along with a response indicating the complaint would be passed along, without action, for consideration by a new civil Grand Jury in July. The media identified the complainant as “a long-time detractor of the mayor”.
  • 7.)  An opinion was requested from the county District Attorney for an interpretation of the state’s ethical requirements for elected officials. That opinion was provided but no other indication exists that the District Attorney currently has an interest in the local media’s political targets.

     Whether in war, peace or the media there are some who appear to have an unquenchable thirst for fresh blood. That’s beginning to appear to be the case with Desert Sun street reporters and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet. If reports of an ongoing FPPC significant investigation were to surface, a criminal Grand Jury indictment handed down or evidence that crimes or other violations of law disclosed, then the newspaper would be performing the right job in reporting such events. None of this has occurred, no evidence produced and nothing beyond speculation presented to substantiate the series of Desert Sun stories on this subject. It continues, in the minds of many, to be just another instance of a “Guilty until proven innocent” judgment from those who would surely expect something better should they ever become targets of a media witch hunt.

Bond Shands
June 4, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.BondShands.com

Copies have been emailed to all on the current subscriber list.
All comments are welcome and should be sent to editor@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting online here please note that it�s FOR PUBLICATION in your message.
3.00 avg. rating (71% score) - 2 votes

      In an editorial dated May 18, 2015, titled “Our Voice: Rancho Mirage mayor lashes out in path fight“, the Desert Sun newspaper’s management mounts a strong attack on Mayor Dana Hobart’s character. The editorial is filled with the newspaper’s accusatory claims and would have readers believe Hobart’s prudent concerns for the well-being of the City of Rancho, of which he is an elected public servant, are not the reason for his questions about the costs, design and management of the CV-Link bicycle-pedestrian-Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEVs) path that’s planned for the Coachella Valley.

     The editorial includes a number of spurious claims that are not supported by facts nor warranted by other information. Defamation of Hobart’s reputation appears to be the single purpose behind the editorial. The following are some of the specious statements made in the editorial about Mayor Hobart.

…..  “flailing in some of his responses to critics and others, including The Desert Sun,”

…..  “he sought leverage in the dispute with a threat of possibly further bogging down CV Link”

…..  “strategy of threatening the entire project”

…..  “lashing out at those telling the entire story”

…..  making “arguments in a way that elicited his own praise”

     The full editorial may be read or shared using the following link: http://desert.sn/1S3Ekhi

     Mayor Hobart posted a rebuttal to the editorial under the newspaper story’s online Comments section. His full response is quoted below.


 Dana Hobart
Rancho Mirage, California

That the newspaper supports the CV Link without knowing anything at all about Who Will Have to Pay and How Much over the long term debt obligations that the project will impose is a luxury cities cannot afford.

Mark Twain advised against getting into disputes with those who buy ink by the barrel. Good advice which I have tried to follow. But when a reporter tells the public in sinister fashion that I told him to destroy a document, which he knew had no relevance to anything, and regardless would have remained in the hands of the CVAG Executive Director and his Legal Counsel, a response is required.

I sent an email to Mr. Kirk indicating that we planned to submit 5 motions (which I identified by title only) to be placed on the CVAG Executive Committees June 1, 2015 agenda. The email went to Executive Director Tom Kirk and CVAGs legal counsel and three members of Rancho Mirage staff. Later I decided not to go forward with one of the motions. The reporter asked for and received a copy of this email from CVAG. When the reporter asked me about this email I told him I had changed my mind on the motion and suggested he could destroy his copy of the document as it was no longer relevant.

Subsequently, I praised the reporter for getting the facts out; however, I was critical of him for fabricating a controversy that had no basis in fact making it appear I made an unethical request to destroy his copy of an email I had to sent five others. (Email me at GDanaHobart@aol.com if you want a copy of that email.)

To speculate at my motives, as the newspaper does (Hobarts actions suggest he sought leverage) is the worst of journalistic practices. If a story cannot stand on its own feet, assign some sinister motivation lurking behind the scenes? Our 4 motions were adequate and we decided against the contemplated 5th motion. In essence I explained that the original intention was reduced by one. How could eliminating the motion gain me or the City leverage? The suggestion is absurd.

Two things have motivated me to fight this battle, First, to protect the residents of Rancho Mirage from becoming locked into a project that carries with it significant long term monetary risks. Second, neither I nor our council will be bullied or maneuvered into approving a CV Link route through Rancho Mirage that changes the nature of our community or our quality of life. The CV Link and apparently the newspaper are angry because we wont approve a route going along Highway 111. Or build a charging station on our Library property! What other city has CV Link going down Highway 111? The idea is preposterous.

A third motivation how arises: To defend myself from the cheap shots of the press trying to make it appear I said to destroy something of importance. And to then speculate about why.
It is an old debate tactic: if you cant beat them on the facts, then make up a motive and shoot the messenger.

From day one my message has been this: CVAG has no acceptable plan to pay for the decades of operations and maintenance costs this project will generate. They have spent somewhere between $1M and $5M in design and related expenses. Yet, after three years of work on the project there is no answer to the question, Who Pays and How Much? That may be OK for those who bear no financial responsibility, but in Rancho Mirage that is an important, unanswered question.

—– End of Mayor Hobart’s rebuttal. —–

      I find it extremely distressing to witness the power of the press being used to intimidate and possibly silence a critic who shares positions that differ from their own. In my opinion the Desert Sun’s editorial represents a shameful attack upon the character and integrity of one who has the best interests of his community at heart. It’s for that reason that I’ve added my name by posting my own comments in rebuttal to the Desert Sun newspaper’s editorial. The following is a copy of my statement.


 Bond Shands commented on an article.

Desert Sun Attacks Rancho Mirage Mayor Dana Hobart

.      What I had assumed would be a simple Desert Sun response to Mayor Hobart’s challenging the newspaper’s reporting turned out not to be the case. The paper’s editors have mounted a frontal attack against Mayor Hobart’s character, apparently out of pique over his fearless daring to question their “4th Estate” right to serve as our valley’s unquestioned arbiters.

.      The Desert Sun’s reporting of what Mayor Hobart may have said differs between their May 17th and May 19th stories. In the first one they quote the mayor without accurate context as:

“However, thinking that he might have accidentally given the document to a reporter, Hobart said, ‘Please destroy it.'”

.      Today’s May 19th story quotes the Mayor’s actual email in which he wrote “No, that is not to be a motion. My mistake it was apparently in among the others. Please destroy it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”

.      As is evident, context is everything. The newspaper’s reporter failed to accurately include context and instead decided to make it appear that Mayor Hobart was requesting something be covered up. Today’s journalistic instincts often remain little different from those initially used by Randolph Hearst in order to sell newspapers. Don’t report everything, just stuff that makes for a good story. Those instincts appear alive and well in the halls of the Desert Sun newspaper.

.      I remain disappointed in the Desert Sun’s insistence that theirs is the only voice that counts with respect to so many valley issues. There have been a number of instances in which it was clear they acted without basing it on all the relevant information, acted based on opinion rather than facts, went for headlines over substance, or chose to place business advertising community interests first. The newspaper’s determination to act as a “voice of authority” in their editorial denunciation of Mayor Dana Hobart adds more fuel to the fire of their disappointing personal agenda. When they accuse the mayor of “lashing out” perhaps they should step outside the ring and take a look at their own actions for their record, in this instance, is not only a very poor one, but one that smells of hypocrisy.

.      Mayor Dana Hobart has taken a courageous stand in questioning CV-Link’s departure from the original promises to new ones that significantly differ from those that produced initial valley community support. The latest CV-Link design devotes the majority of the path for use by Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) – not quite the healthy benefit the route was intended to achieve. The original plans said the route “will not require local funding”, and yet it’s now reported future annual operating costs must be paid by the community. And the original plan called for a path along the embankment of the Whitewater River channel. That too has turned out not to be the case for the portion through Rancho Mirage is being designed to run along its city streets. The Desert Sun was one of many who rushed in and voiced full un-wavering support for CV-Link. They’ve since endorsed a call for answers to questions but their support shows no sign of weakening. They continue to bolster claims CV-Link will serve as “a tourist magnet”, “recreational marvel”, it will benefit “impoverished neighborhoods” and generate tourist dollars (presumably from the hoards who will flock to the valley in order to ride the trail on bikes or in NEVs). They haven’t yet claimed it will bring about world peace, but the bucket for absurd claims appears bottomless, so don’t be surprised if more ridiculous promises of CV-Link benefits surface.

.      I applaud Mayor Hobart for the stand he and his city have taken with respect to CV-Link design, funding and management questions. He deserves better than cheap attacks on his character by Desert Sun editorial writers. The mayor quoted Mark Twain’s advice “against getting into disputes with those who buy ink by the barrel”. The Desert Sun has wasted too much from their ink barrel on attacking one whose only purpose is to care for the best interests of the city in which he was elected to serve. Is it so wrong (or even shocking) to find an elected public servant who really has the best interests of his constituents at heart?

.      Good work, Mayor Hobart. Thanks for being the voice so many need to have raised on their behalf. I enthusiastically applaud your efforts seeking a realistic approach to the proposed CV-Link dream so that it can proceed towards completion in a manner that warrants full community support.

Bond Shands
“Daily Morning Bicyclist”

—– End of Bond Shands’ rebuttal. —–


Bond Shands
May 19, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

All comments are welcome and should be sent to editor@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting online here please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.
5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

Summary

     Rancho Mirage mayor Dana Hobart appears to have been the victim of a deliberate intent to defame his character by a Desert Sun reporter. In today’s $100M CV Link project faces funding questions story in the newspaper by Jessee Marx, the reporter includes selective portions of  his interview with Mayor Hobart. The result is the appearance of questionable integrity on the part of the mayor. Mayor Hobart authored an email to the  community protesting and documenting the misrepresentation. He requested that all forward copies to their friends. 

     A copy of that email proving the misrepresentation appears below. Click here to download a copy of the email.

Bond Shands
Daily Morning Bicyclist
May 17, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

All comments are welcome and should be sent to editor@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting online here please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.

Desert Sun Reporter Misrepresents Interview With Mayor Hobart

 

     The following is a copy of an email to the community from Rancho Mirage Mayor Dana Hobart.

From: Gdanahobart@aol.com
Full-name: Gdanahobart
Date: Sun, 17 May 2015 01:01:15 -0400
Subject: Fwd: Correcting a Flagrant Desert Sun Misrepresentation

Dear All: 

This email has to do with an article that will appear tomorrow in the Desert Sun, but which appeared online tonight. I was aghast to read a very nasty sentence in that article. A comment that has been severely distorted because the context was omitted. What appears below is evidence that the implication drawn from the comment is false.

On May 3, 2015, on behalf of the City I sent an email notifying Tom Kirk, Executive Director of CVAG, of a list of Motions we anticipated placing on the June 1, 2015, Executive Committee Agenda for discussion and vote.  During the week that followed we decided not to present one listed item and to change another for the June 1st agenda.  (Our slightly modified Motions  will be filed this coming week.) I told the reporter he could destroy the earlier list as it has been superceded. He reported that I told him to flatly destroy the list, but without putting the statement in the appropriate context. He intentionally made it sound like I was telling him to hide something by destroying it, during our meeting a week or so ago.

A few days after the reporter and I had met at city hall, the he telephoned me and said he had a copy of the email I had sent to Mr. Kirk regarding the intended Motions I was intending to file so they could be discussed by the Executive Committee. I told him that was the original list we had submitted. I told him we had changed our minds about a couple of the motions and that his document was an old, outdated sheet at this time. I told him to ignore the old list. He says I said to destroy the old list; I may have; I really don’t recall using the word but certainly may have. If I did,  it was in the context of that list now being out of date and unreliable concerning the motions we were then intending to file.

 The way he wrote that part of the article made it sound like I was trying to persuade him to destroy something relevant and important. People who know me would never believe I would do such a thing for any reason. But the newspaper is read by many who do not know me, so I have to detail exactly what the context was for the comment in the hope that word gets around. 

Fortunately, there is proof the reporter is misleading the reader, and not accidentally.

The document in question is presented in its entirety below. As any fool can see, it is copied to many people, including the CVAG Executive Director and the CVAG Attorney, Toni Eggebraaten. Therefore, if I had any interest in “destroying” the document, I had a lot of others to persuade, including Tom Kirk, the CVAG Executive Director as well as his

Attorney, not to mention the Rancho Mirage attorney, our finance director and our city manager.

Sometimes reporters cannot resist taking cheap shots with no substance to support them. It brings more attention to their writings, I suppose. This is one such example. This is what the article states:

The Desert Sun obtained Hobart’s email request through California’s public records law. However, thinking that he might have accidentally given the document to a reporter, Hobart said, “Please destroy it.” He would go on to say that he no longer intended to reopen the matching air quality mitigation funds at the June 1 meeting. 

I wanted you all to see the context of this deceptive and misleading journalistic exhibition.  You should read the entire article because our arguments are persuasive regarding the CV Link. As you may discern from the content of the email, there would be no reason whatsoever for me to ask some stranger cub reporter to join me in a scheme to destroy meaningful data. It was just an outdated document that half a dozen people had received.

Here is a copy of the email in question.

From: Gdanahobart@aol.com To: tkirk@cvag.org CC: randyb@RanchoMirageCA.gov, steveq@qalawyers.com, isaiahh@RanchoMirageCA.gov, tjweill@yahoo.com, Toni@EggebraatenLaw.com BCC: GDanaHobart@aol.com Sent: 5/3/2015 3:13:28 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Subj: Re: Request for Items on June Exec. Comm. Agenda

Sent a second time within one minute because first attempt did not properly identify Tom Kirk’s email address. Corrected with this email.  Sorry for the error. Relevant message follows:

Hi Tom:

The City of Rancho Mirage formally requests the following Action Items be placed on the Agenda for our June 2015 meeting. Please inform me of the latest date to provide you with the equivalent of a staff report (which we can entitle City’s Report or whatever you suggest).

The request to have these matters placed on the June Agenda is pursuant to the CONDUCT OF CVAG MEETINGS manual, Section VII C (page 11).

  1. Motion to Retain a Major Los Angeles Law Firm to provide the Executive Committee and interested others with a Legal Opinion concerning whether Measure A funds may legally be expended to assist in the payment of future Operations and Maintenance expenses related to the CV Link.
  2. Motion to Appoint a Committee of Three Executive Committee members, including the member from Rancho Mirage, to select the law firm to be retained and to provide such law firm with such relevant data that may be needed to form such an opinion.
  3. Motion to Forthwith Commence the Process of Convening an all-day Joint Meeting in June or Julyof all CVAG cities for the purpose of having an open discussion of all issues relevant to the issue of CV Link’s Operations and Maintenance expenses, projected expenses in the future, and how such expenses are to be paid and by whom. Invited to such meeting from each city will be at least two council members, the City Manager, the Finance Director, and the Public Works Director.

In addition to the foregoing issues and motions, the City of Rancho Mirage asks to be on the June Agenda regarding the following:

Motion to Reconsider the Decision at the February 27, 2012, Executive Meeting at which permission was given for CVAG to use “CVAG Transportation Funds to be used as a potential match as long as such funding does not delay construction of any currently obligated project or delay any other pending high priority project.” Rancho Mirage will provide the equivalent of a staff report concerning the reasons and justification for this motion. (This motion is made pursuant to the CONDUCT OF CVAG MEETINGS manual, section XI, p. 16.)

Please advise me of the last day to submit the equivalent of a staff report, other data and/or any exhibits.

Thank you for your cooperation in achieving the foregoing.

Sincerely,

Dana Hobart
Mayor
City of Rancho Mirage

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

 Please excuse my bothering you but integrity must be defended when challenged. Those of us in public life who have little or no integrity can accomplish little or nothing. I consider my integrity and willingness to fight the hard battles worth fighting to preserve.

Best personal regards to you all.

Dana

Please forward this email to your friends who may be interested.

 

5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

Summary.

Coachella Valley residents and communities need a Desert Water Use Code and Water Resource Guardians to provide guidance with respect to minimal water conservation standards. None currently exist or appear ready to make an appearance on the horizon. Who or what agency will step up and provide the real conservation leadership that’s needed?


Coachella Valley Water Resource Guardians Needed

 

Palm Springs, California.  In the Coachella Valley desert communities water is arguably our most precious natural resource. It makes the desert habitable, fosters an attractive lifestyle and allows businesses to prosper. Without it the area would be a vacant swath of sand, rocks and hills. Fortunately there is a huge water aquifer beneath the valley floor that serves to make the desert bloom and present the illusion of an eternal garden paradise. It’s the water continually pumped from the aquifer that makes living in the valley such an attractive place to reside.

 

The water in the aquifer is slowly disappearing. Valley water agencies** and private landowners pump water from the aquifer, deliver it throughout the area or otherwise use as needed. There are no limits on the amounts pumped or the purposes for which used. Outside water, primarily from the Colorado River, is imported to replenish the aquifer. Unfortunately, the water being imported is less than the amount being removed and there are no additional sources available for aquifer replenishment. The aquifer water table level is falling and nothing of significance is being done to reverse that trend.

 

The valley’s water agencies view their function as that of water delivery contractors. They pump the water, deliver it to customers and manage the import of outside water that goes into the aquifer. Water conservation is a phrase they often use but it’s a concept not central to their delivery mission. They offer advice, a bit of conservation-related financial assistance, and support voluntary efforts to conserve water use. They do not consider themselves to be Water Resource Guardians and their measures to foster water savings are probably best rated as timid.

 

Coachella Valley needs Water Resource Guardians. Someone or agency is needed to take the lead with respect to providing help and guidance in what should be accepted standards of water use versus waste. As one of our most precious commodities we need to be continually vigilant of the importance water plays in our lives and how easily it could disappear. A Desert Water Use Code is one that should exist and become part of our daily awareness. Particular attention should be paid to water that’s used in public for it’s that perception of what is or is not acceptable that often drives private consumption.

 

A Desert Water Use Code should seek to question water waste. Among the types of concerns we should all seek to address are the following observations of questionable or inappropriate use.

  • Irrigation water runoff flowing down street gutters.
  • Watering irrigated areas twice, or more, daily.
  • Automatically serving glasses of water on restaurant dining tables.
  • Rinsing driveways and walkways.
  • Mid-day irrigation during summer months and other hot periods.
  • Planting and irrigating water-intensive plants.
  • Drenching recently scalped grass areas in order to foster rapid replacement
    growth.

Water waste occurs daily throughout the valley and it’s evident for all to see. It’s time to stop playing water conservation charade and get serious. Our water agencies, local governments and even the Coachella ValleyAssociation of Governments appear unwilling to assume the conservation leadership role. Our valley needs Water Resource Guardians – and now! Perhaps it’s a task too big for small-minded political leadership. Who will lead the way? Who will step up and take on the jobs of Water Resource Guardians?

 

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
February 7, 2014

 

Notes:

.
1.   Desert water agencies include City of Coachella, Cityof Indio, Desert Water Agency serving Cathedral City and Palm Springs, Mission Springs Water District serving Desert Hot Springs, and Coachella Valley Water District serving other valley communities.

.
2.   The Desert Sun newsdesk requests they be advised of water waste observations. Send tips and photo reports to them via email at localnews@thedesertsun.com or Tweet @mydesert with the hashtag #WhatDrought.

.
3.   Desert Water Agency also accepts waste reports. Email them to www.dwa.org/report-water-waste.

.

All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting online here please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.


.

 

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Palm Springs, California.  Posted Observations for Week ending January 18, 2014. The following first appeared under comments to referenced stories online at MyDesert.com and on my Facebook page.



January 18, 2014. The local paper’s “Steve Pougnet says Palm Springs will hold special election on downtown hotel” report represents an admission by the City Council that Frank Tysen citizen petition requesting a vote on a proposed downtown hotel should take place.

Congratulations Frank Tysen, I’m happy to see your legal petition process finally achieving results. All that you and petitioners proved was that the legal minimum were sufficiently concerned and for that reason signed a petition asking the City Council to place the measure on a ballot. Mayor Pougnet’s refusal to honor basic citizen rights in this regard by not honoring the petition request is the reason the project is being held up. Had the Mayor honored the request a year ago I’m certain voters would have approved the hotel and the matter would now be past memory. Residents should blame Pougnet and his stalling tactics and take comfort in the realization we do live in a Democracy and the citizen petition process for review of government actions is alive and well. Again, kudos to Frank Tysen and his group of determined citizens.



January 18, 2014.  Desert Sun editors post “Thumbs down: Palm Springs obstructionists force vote on hotel” hand-wringing cry of despair over the decision to honor petitioners request for a vote on the proposed downtown hotel.

Desert Sun editors used the phrase “obstructionist shenanigans” to describe those who oppose the recent addition of a large hotel to the Desert Fashion Plaza plan. The hotel was never part of the ballot presented to voters in November 2011 and had it then been included it’s possible the vote would have been influenced.

Despite editorial hand-wringing over the cost of a special election to decide the issue, we live in a Democracy and sometimes its implementation can be messy and expensive. But curtailing liberties in order to save money is not really compatible with democracy concepts as practiced in our republic. Our laws provide that citizens, through the petition process, can force city council decisions to be ratified by the voters. There is some murkiness about which council decisions qualify and that appears to be the case here. Since I heartily believe in the citizen petition/review process, I would have preferred seeing the court appeal in this matter go forward and hopefully result in a clear definition of when the petition/review process applies. That will have to wait for another day.

In order to save time the city council decided to throw in the towel and hold the special election that’s been requested by petitioners. That’s the way it should have been done a year ago. Just because some don’t adhere to the city hall/local business/newspaper views should be no reason to deny their right to petition, vote and even force local government to spend money justifying their actions. As previously noted, democracy can sometimes be messy and expensive. But it’s a whole lot better than a dictatorship.

The Desert Sun does its readers no service when they refuse to recognize and support simple democratic concepts like the petition/review process. And that refusal is clearly the case with their “Thumbs down: Palm Springs obstructionists force vote on hotel” editorial.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
January 18, 2014

All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting below please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.

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4.50 avg. rating (91% score) - 2 votes

Summary.
Coachella Valley’s unlimited use of scarce water resources is serving to deplete the reserves in the underground aquifer. Water agencies need to adopt firm policies that serve to restrict water use from continuing to lower the aquifer water table. Such restrictions, including water rationing and a ban on new water hookups, should be  implemented.



Coachella Valley: A Place of Water Hogs, Water Wasters and Cheap Water Rates

Palm Springs, California. I applaud the Desert Sun’s “Desert water supply strained by heavy pumping” valley water use iSun investigation and editorial opinion summarizing that report. It’s been made clear more water is being consumed in the valley than is being replaced. That has resulted in too much water being pumped from the underground aquifer and water table levels have fallen significantly. The solution is to use less water or find additional sources to replace the water overdraft.

The “Valley aquifer disaster is under our feet” editorial stated “Restrictions on water use should be considered here” but fail to address the obvious solution that must be followed. Voluntary conservation measures aren’t enough to resolve the problem. And genuine public awareness only occurs when actual pain is shared by all. Otherwise water overuse will continue and Coachella Valley will remain the state’s poster child example of Water Hogs, Water Wasters and Beneficiaries of Cheap Water Rates.

A firm policy intended to bring water use and replacement into balance together with restoration of appropriate underground aquifer water table levels should be in place. Mandatory water use restrictions – including water rationing – should be adopted and enforced. If we fail to address the problem it’s rather clear the underground water table levels will continue to fall. Our continued overuse of water, as if we had an unlimited supply, will undoubtedly serve as a public relations disaster in terms of working with the rest of the state to seek additional sources of water supply. It could even affect efforts to save the Salton Sea.

Local water agencies need to create a Mission Statement that’s fully supportive of water conservation issues. They need to address their obligation to protect the underground aquifer. That protection should include provisions for meaningfully significant aquifer water table levels restoration and maintenance. Protecting the valley’s underground aquifer must be a priority.

We need to get our house in order, face reality and do something about our water waste and overuse problem now!

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com

September 16, 2013 (updated September 21, 2013)


All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting below please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.


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To:         Palm Springs City Council Members
Subject:  A 15% Sin Tax on Physician Prescribed Medical Marijuana  Pharmacy Sales

Dear Mayor Pougnet and Councilmembers:

Today’s local newspaper urges that you “Let Palm Springs vote on a medical marijuana tax“. The editors acknowledge our valley has “a high percentage of AIDS patients and elderly residents, (and) it makes sense … to give people in pain the relief that cannabis can bring.” The remainder of their rather cynical editorial is devoted to support for a new 15% tax that will ultimately be paid by those who are in pain. They rely on an undocumented claim the City may have spent as much as $500,000 over the years “controlling illegal dispensaries” as justification for salivating over their “new tax could bring in $900,000 a year” recommendation.

The local paper would have you believe that legal Medical Marijuana pharmacy sales require strict controls and that patients in pain seeking relief should pay for policing “illegal store fronts” and other costs unrelated to healthcare prescription purchases. It’s too early to know whether the the City will incur unusual costs with respect to authorized Medical Marijuana pharmacies. A year from now firm cost figures may be available and that’s when a tax, related to just those costs, may be appropriate for your consideration. Now is not that time. The 15% recommended by the newspaper would represent little more than an opportunist grab for additional tax revenues from those in pain.
 
The newspaper editors are probably betting a new 15% Medical Marijuana tax would stand an excellent chance of passage. It’s a fact that Palm Springs city officials have an excellent track record when it comes to getting ballot tax measures passed. It’s their job, they do it well – as they’ve previously demonstrated – and once again all available resources will surely be brought to bear in order to secure passage of a new tax. There will be campaign publications, press releases, media appearances and key city officials, including those in protective services, will undoubtedly be employed on behalf of a new tax.

A ballot measure authorizing a tax on healthcare may be a harder sell. It’s not a utility, cell phone, sewer or sales tax – and it’s not a sin tax on alcohol or tobacco, etc. It’s going to be a tax on healthcare!

Is Palm Springs so strapped for cash that taxing medical pain prescriptions to pay for unrelated (or any) local government services is a step we wish to take? Have we so little compassion for the financial well-being of AIDS patients, cancer stricken sufferers, the elderly with painful arthritis and other age-related maladies?

Palm Springs, “a place like no other”, should also be a City that cares.

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com

July 3, 2013

All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting below please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.


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Cathedral City’s Greg Pettis Target of Desert Sun Witchhunt Revisited

Cathedral City Councilmember Greg Pettis was targeted in the Sunday edition of The Desert Sun newspaper’s Cathedral City Councilman Greg Pettis spent $92,000 using a city-backed credit card
front page opinion piece. The article represents a political hatchet job, a smear, trash or
at best, unsupported opinion. Pettis posted a response on his Facebook page
earlier this evening. A copy of that post appears below.

 


  Greg Pettis

April 29, 2013

In essence, “If not These were just two of the open ended conjectures masquerading as hard news delivered to the doorsteps of Coachella Valley homes yesterday in a breathless front-page story that should have been relegated to the opinion pages of the Desert Sun.

For those of you who live outside the subscription area, Cathedral City’s paper of record published a story in its Sunday edition criticizing my travel on behalf of the city. Good newspapers publish stories like this one all the time, all over the country, and its part of their mission to be a watchdog for the public and our democracy is better for it when the stories are accurate and leave opinion making to the editorial board.

Since this story seemed to be more interested in trying to pose lurid questions about my personal life and the value my travel brings to Cathedral City, Id like to respond to you with some actual facts that were omitted and some that were downplayed in the article.

My work on the Riverside County Transportation Committee (RCTC) was a key factor in the $70 million Date Palm Interchange, $20 million in federal money for the CA-91 freeway (which is being leveraged for another $100 million) and four other new freeway interchanges in the Valley.

As a member of RCTC, I helped secure $221,253 to help reduce air pollution in the Valley by providing shuttle services during the Coachella and Sundance Music and Arts Festivals and $562,000 for local cities to build alternative fuel stations, purchase alternative fuel vehicles and mobile hydrogen refueling stations. Currently, I’m working on another $250,000 in funding to set up bike share programs.

Thanks to my lobbying as Chair of the RCTC and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments Transportation Committee, rail service from the Valley to Los Angeles will be included in the new State Rail Plan with an initial $400,000 in development planning and $4.2 million in the coming fiscal year for the project.

This week, I will become President of the Southern California Association of Governments (SVAG), elected by my peers all throughout Southern California, giving the Valley a powerful voice in the growth, planning and economic development of our region. Since being on its Board, over $1 million has come to the valley for transportation, land use and environmental planning.

And of course this doesn’t even touch on programs brought to Cathedral City like Healing Field, honoring our war dead, prescription drug discount programs, 3rd Grade Literacy efforts or the millions in dollars to offset the high cost of sewer connections in the Cove, Dream Homes and 35th Avenue neighborhoods.

Yes, it is true that my personal fortunes have taken a hit during this recession, and Id like to believe that these hard times make me a better steward of public dollars and more in tune with the difficulties that families across our region have suffered during the worst recession of our lifetimes. I take full responsibility for my own financial shortcomings, but let me be clear: they do NOT include a failure to follow procedure and reimburse the city.

The reporter found no evidence that the city hadn’t properly been reimbursed, so resorted to a sensationalist headline backed up by invective from political opponents with whom I’ve had many policy disagreements with over the years.

The credit card in question has never been used for anything other than city expenses. Cathedral City’s City Manager was quoted as saying, I don’t believe Councilman Pettis has misused his credit card.

As for shamelessly blaming my travel for police and fire department cuts, it should be noted that I’ve been endorsed by the rank and file of both of those organizations repeatedly in my elections to the City Council and the amount of travel taken over the last five years wouldn’t even equal the salary and benefits of one officer during this period of time.

While I applaud good investigative journalism, its a sad truth that sloppy tabloid news like the story some of you read yesterday keeps many good people from running for elected office. While stories like this one won’t keep me away from my duties, I hope it won’t deter any of you who believe public service is an honorable profession.

Greg Pettis


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0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes


Summary:  The Desert Sun
produces yet another Witchhunt birdcage liner to fill space in the
newspaper’s Sunday edition. Cathedral City councilmember Greg Pettis is
their target (again) and the story is long, boring, inaccurate and
filled with innuendo designed to convince the reader actual wrongdoing
has occurred. The paper fails in their objective to convince and all
that’s left are the remains of a dead tree ready for recycling.


 Cathedral City‘s Greg Pettis Target of Desert Sun Witchhunt

 Palm Springs, California. The Witchhunt reporters over at The Desert Sun
newspaper last took serious aim at Cathedral City councilmember Greg
Pettis in 2008. In that year he ran for the open Assembly District seat
in the Democratic Primary against Manuel Perez. The newspaper’s staff
showed themselves supportive of Perez. Their reporter working alongside
the Pettis campaign was caught passing along confidential information to
a source in the Perez campaign. The paper’s political reporter was
caught assisting an individual in the production of a nasty anti-Pettis
website. Nothing complimentary of Pettis appeared in the newspaper’s
reports during that period.

Today (Sunday, April 28th) the paper’s Witchhunt reporters have again turned their sights on councilmember Pettis. In a “Cathedral City councilman spent $92K on city-backed credit card
story the reporter throws in a huge package of unrelated bits of
information that fail to connect and only serve to give the appearance
of a credible article – it’s not! It claims to be about credit card
travel and lodging costs related to his unpaid service as an
intra-governmental associations representative of the community. The
newspaper reporter appears to believe Pettis should bear all expenses related to his unpaid public services,
in addition to those as a councilmember, representing his city and the
valley. Definitely another creative “public servant” definition.

Councilman Greg Pettis belongs to the Southern California Association
of Governments (SCAG), League of California Cities (LOCC), National
League of Cities (NLC), and the Riverside County Transportation
Commission. His memberships require his unpaid attendance at monthly or
annual meetings to which he incurs travel-related expenses on behalf of
the public. Pettis is a Transportation Nut – one who seeks to improve
all forms of transportation and travel modes for the benefit of valley
residents! Whether it be Sunline Transit, passenger train access, bus
routes, bicycle trails, pedestrian walkways or vehicle
roads-streets-highways, Pettis seeks to ensure a valley voice is present
in all official governmental groups working with these issues. One of
his greatest joys in serving as a Cathedral City councilmember is the
platform and opportunity it provides him to speak, lobby, smooze and
wheedle transportation funds and support on behalf of Coachella Valley.
His unpaid services participating in numerous monthly or annual meetings
of SCAG, LOCC, NLC and Riverside County Transportation Commission
require travel related expenses to locations outside the Coachella
Valley. It is these expenses, allegedly totaling over $92,000 over a
five year period that The Desert Sun uses as justification for their current Witchhunt article aimed at Pettis.

In
producing the story the reporter relied on a number of issues that are
clearly unrelated to five years of expenses (paid by official credit
card) starting in 2008. The reporter mentions his 2008 Assembly race and
how many votes his opponent won by; his 2010 personal bankruptcy filing
(complete with photocopies of filing documents); his 2013 Facebook and
Twitter accounts; a bounced company check for a small amount that was
repaid; his upper cove residency, mortgage and home value; and map of
hotel stay locations. None of these gossip-like tidbits have relevancy
to Pettis’ governmental-related travel expenses. They were clearly included for the purpose of defaming Pettis while making the story appear to be credible.
While the reporter may have succeeded in obscuring anything of factual
value it also fails to definitively state that Councilmember Pettis has
done anything wrong. And, since the vast amount of personal time he has
and continues to devote to transportation-related issues on behalf of
the valley remains uncompensated, Pettis should be congratulated and thanks offered for his generosity and dedication to community service.

The Desert Sun is not a big city operation. It’s true they recently won
a number of small newspaper awards, but the realty is they were
competing in a forum similar to primary school grade level. The best and
brightest of their reporters leave for better opportunities at the
first chance and many of the leftovers lack talent. This latest attempt
to smear councilmember Pettis comes as no great surprise. It’s been
written by a relative newcomer with little personal knowledge of the
valley, its communities and the many sins of her employer. She may not
have known that obtaining quotes from former councilmember England and
mayor DeRosa lack value for both are political opponents of Pettis who
assail him at every opportunity.

According to a careful reading of the article, the reporter admits that “Cathedral City is reimbursed for the bulk of the councilman’s travel” and City Manager Andy Hall is quoted as saying “I don’t believe Councilman Pettis has misused his credit card.
These two factual statements should have guided the reporter and served
as warning. It’s hard to write a convincing Witchhunt story when the
truth calls into question the entire premise on which so much is based.

In summary, The Desert Sun newspaper’s “Cathedral City councilman spent $92K on city-backed credit card
story is a poorly researched, inaccurate, mean-spirited, almost hateful
space filler. The newspaper, its editors and the reporter should all be
ashamed – for this offering is more than objectionable – it’s actually
deceitful!

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com

April 28, 2013

All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting below please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.

Click here to view/download a copy of this blog.



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