Rob Moon   –   Geoff Kors  –   J.R. Roberts

.          I recently compiled a list of questions titled “Palm Springs Local Election Issues“. It was also sub-titled “Twenty-six reasons to NOT vote for an Incumbent“. That list included many of my personal concerns about local issues and those currently holding political office in the City of Palm Springs. I concluded that our city needs greater transparency with respect to all government issues, more attention paid to the spirit and letter of ethics legal requirements, more citizen involvement in city finances and the budget process, more community involvement in public works department activities and city council members who are open to input from all residents – including those with unwelcome opinions.

.          It’s my belief that fresh blood – new faces – are needed and for that reason will not be voting for anyone currently holding a city council position. Use the following link to view or download a copy of the “Palm Springs Local Election Issues” questions.

.          My choice for mayor is Rob Moon.

.          My choices for city council members are Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts.

Rob Moon- Geoff Kors - JR Roberts

Rob Moon website:

Geoff Kors website:

J.R. Roberts website:

 .          I hope my fellow residents will be making the same choices. Also, if I had a third choice for city council it would be Jim King.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog –
The Notebook blog –
Twitter – @BondShands

Also posted to the Palm Springs Local Government page at

3.67 avg. rating (78% score) - 3 votes

          I have published six documents that discuss the 2015 Palm Springs mayoral and city council elections. The coverage includes candidate information, campaign issues and voter statistics. The six documents, listed below, are available for viewing or downloading using the appropriate link. All may be freely copied and/or reproduced – and distribution to others is encouraged.

Palm Springs Local Election Issues  –   use following link.
(Subtitled: Twenty-six or more reasons to NOT vote for an Incumbent)

Palm Springs Local Election Candidates Listing – use following link.

Palm Springs Mayoral Candidate Statements –  use following link.

Palm Springs City Council Candidate Statements  –  use following link.

“The Ideal City Council Candidate” Request List – use following Link

Palm Springs Political & Population Demographic Statistics – use following link.

The following document includes each of the above reports combined into a single file.

Palm Springs Political Election Reports Booklet – use following link.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog –
The Notebook blog –
Twitter – @BondShands

           The new Palm Springs Local Government page on Facebook is a place for friendly discussions about local political and governmental affairs. It’s hosted by Barbara Beaty and myself and we hope others interested in exchanging views and learning from each other in a non-threatening environment will join us. Use browser link:   and click on the JOIN menu option. And, of course, thanks for your support.

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

           On November 3, 2015 Palm Springs voters will select one candidate for mayor two city council candidates. Eight registered voters have qualified as candidates for mayor, and six have qualified for city council. All but one have filed official Candidate Statements with the City Clerk’s office. The content of those statements together with other available information are available for viewing or downloading using the links at end of this report.

          Contact information together with data from candidate campaign platform statements appear below. The first group are the Mayoral candidates and the second group the City Council candidates. All are in alphabetic order.

Mayoral Candidates:

Guy T. Burrows, MD,    Age ?? – 760-548-0273
Medical Doctor Neurologist.  Resident since February 2012. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Homelessness, economic development, promoting our local businesses, preserving our history, Measure J improprieties, school funding issues affecting our children, and tribal relations.

Ginny Foat,   Age 74 – 760-413-2650
Councilmember/Senior Advocate.  Resident for more than 11 years. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Build our economy, work closely with businesses, quality of life, homelessness, drought policy leadership, stopping crime, invest in neighborhoods, innovative solutions to issues, continued government transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.  

Erbil “Bill” Gunasti,   Age 57 –  917-434-5810
TV Executive Producer.  Length of residency not stated.
Campaign platform:  Repeal utility tax, open City Hall 5 days & Library 7 days, establish Citizen’s Finance Committee, and build a private university & hospital.

Robert (Rob) Moon, Age 65  760-832-2122
Retired Military Officer and retired corporate officer.  Resident since 2001  email:
Campaign platform:  Full time mayor focusing on integrity, transparency and accountability.

Ron Oden,   Age ?? – 760-534-8026
Executive, Non-Profit Organization.  Resident since before 1995. – Email:
Campaign platform: Promote jobs & economic development, fight crime, traffic & transportation improvements, boost water conservation and promote Palm Springs.

Mike Schaefer,   Age ?? – 213-479-6006
Public Interest Advocate – Length of residency not stated. –  Email:
Campaign platform:  Term limits, city council districts, councilmember accountability, street speed zone evaluation, and allow City Manager to run the city.

Bob Weinstein,   Age 50 – 760-797-5502
Mediation Attorney/Businessman. Length of residency not stated. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Public safety (fight crime, restore police positions, target blighted homes), tax credits for business, bureaucratic red tape reduction, tourism and architecture.

Ricky B. Wright,   Age 66 – 760-861-5710
Retired Educator.  A resident since 1998.
Campaign platform:  Candid, accessible, fair-minded and relationship-oriented leadership that identifies community needs and motivates others to accomplish needs.

 City Council Candidates:

David Brown,   Age ?? – 760-699-3395
Dry Cleaning Manager.  Resident for 10 years.
Campaign platform:  Help small business thrive, repeal Utility Tax, oppose CV Link and be fiscally reasonable.

Jim King,   Age 65 – 760-239-8200
Natural Gas Advisor.  Resident for 8 years. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Rational economic development, discourage cronyism or corruption, support historic preservation and cultural enhancement, protect our efficient tourism, and public safety. 

Geoff Kors,  Age 54 – 760-537-0061
Legislative Policy Director. Resident since 2000. –
Campaign platform:  Maximize opportunities to grow our economy

Paul Lewin,  Age 44 – 760-303-1992
Palm Springs City Councilmember.  Resident for 44 years. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Careful tax dollar management, investments in Police & Fire departments, roads, parks, community centers, homelessness and economic innovation.

Anna Nevenic,   Age 66 – 760-321-4111
Registered Nurse, Author.  Length of residency not stated. – Email:
Campaign platform:   Public safety, transportation, infrastructure, street & sidewalk repairs, homeless issues, transparency & comprehensive ethics reform, and more High Tech industries.

J.R. Roberts,  Age 54 – 415-297-9309
Planning Commissioner/Commercial Property Owner. Resident for more than 15 years. – Email:
Campaign platform:  Continuing the city’s prosperity by promoting smart, balanced growth.

Bond Shands
August 23, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog –
The Notebook blog –
Twitter – @BondShands

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

     The national Victory Fund organization exists to place LGBT individuals into elective office. In most instances those efforts are directed towards communities lacking an LGBT presence in governmental affairs. Palm Springs is a fully mature LGBT political community and one that does not need Victory Fund support. Victory Fund’s choice to select and endorse LGBT candidates for local elective office represents interference and the use of their “prestige” to achieve the political coronation equivalent for their chosen candidates.

Victory Fund Intervention in Palm Springs Elections

          The LGBT political community in Palm Springs is one that’s fully mature. It plays a significant role in the economic, social and political activities of the city. There are no LGBT underdog candidates seeking to break some barrier and achieve political office. In fact the opposite happens to be the case. That’s part of the reason why political endorsements from outside political groups, such as the Victory Fund, are seen by some as more a case of interference than welcome participation.

          The Palm Springs area has evolved into a very progressive community. It boasts a large and politically dominant LGBT populace who exercise significant control over the city’s social and governmental activities. Since 2003 the city’s mayor has been an LGBT individual. That’s also been the case with the LGBT city council majority. It’s arguably believed the LGBT community also dominates the 39 organized neighborhood communities. LGBT representatives populate most, if not all, city boards and commissions. The equality sought by LGBT residents appears to have been fully achieved in Palm Springs for it’s clearly a community in which they’ve become the principle political players.

          A majority of the city’s registered voters are members of the Democratic party but there is no regular Democratic political club. That role is played by the Desert Stonewall Democrats, an organization that seeks and primarily endorses LGBT candidates for political office. These factors contribute towards Palm Springs LGBT populace lack of need to seek greater rights for their community. The political dominance they exercise ensures little remains except to fight among themselves over the political spoils. That’s an activity they do well and the current race for mayor and city council members in Palm Springs will be no exception. The candidates seeking a replacement for the outgoing incumbents include many qualified LGBT candidates. All are experienced individuals who are expected to work hard at making the choice for voters one that is informed and in the best interests of the community.

          The Victory Fund is an IRS 501(c)(3) approved charitable organization that has managed to successfully navigate those rules while endorsing and providing campaign support for LGBT political candidates “of their choice”. In other areas they usually provide support for what some would consider the LGBT underdog candidate seeking election in an area without LGBT representation. Palm Springs is not a community well-suited to their mission for it’s a community in which LGBT election successes have been phenomenal. The value of a Victory Fund endorsement in Palm Springs is not in the leadership training, campaign advice and support for those seeking elective office. The “prestige” of the Victory Fund name is the one prized by local LGBT politicians. And that “prestigious” endorsement has already been conferred on local candidates of their choice. It was done before the local candidate filing date had closed and the Victory Fund did not consider nor interview other candidates. Their endorsement, in the eyes of some, seems to be a deliberate failure to foster equality and, if anything, represents both interference and an attempted political coronation.

          The Victory Fund‘s entry into the Palm Springs electoral race appears little different than if performed by the Democratic or Republican parties – or a well-heeled outside financial supporter. The endorsements of these groups matter greatly to their supporters and also to trusting and otherwise uninformed voters. The Victory Fund either ignores or does not understand that the Palm Springs community is probably least in need of their services. In the future it might serve them better if they first assessed the political realities that exist in the communities they view in need of their support. Their decision to support may not be in the best interests of the LGBT movement. That’s certainly the case with respect to the Palm Springs elections. They simply aren’t needed here and their endorsement presence amounts to little more than unwanted interference in what otherwise is a local election for mayor and city council members.

Bond Shands
August 20, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog –
The Notebook blog –
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3.00 avg. rating (71% score) - 2 votes

      The LGBT political community is not much different from other political communities and it too has its share of corruption and favoritism. The Palm Springs chapter of the Victory Fund is an example of one with its own brand of favoritism for it’s one driven by personal relationships.

       In July the local Victory Fund announced their endorsement of Palm Springs city councilmember Ginny Foat’s candidacy for Mayor. In August they added to the luster of their endorsement by naming her co-chair of their October garden party fundraising event. These actions all occurred before the filing date closed for those seeking to run for Mayor. There’s no indication the local Victory Fund considered any of the other qualified LGBT candidates running for Mayor. It appears none were named nor invited to make presentations seeking the group’s support.

       Former Palm Springs city mayor Ron Oden (2003-2007) was Palm Springs’ first LGBT mayor and also the first who is African-American. He’s currently a candidate for mayor and, based on experience from having held that position, is unquestionably qualified. Mr. Oden was not considered for endorsement by the Victory Fund group.

       Palm Springs Measure J Commissioner Robert “Rob” Moon is another LGBT candidate seeking election as mayor. His was the first candidacy that announced for the position. Mr. Moon is a decorated Military Officer who also has enjoyed considerable success in the business community. He belongs to a number of local civic and social organizations and has been active in LGBT community affairs. His resume includes service commendations for outstanding staff functions which, together with his outstanding business successes, clearly qualify him for the position of mayor. Mr. Moon was not considered for endorsement by the Victory Fund group.

       Palm Springs city councilmember Ginny Foat is also Executive Director of the Mizell Senior Center. Her background includes limited business experience but she’s been an active participant in local community events. Ms Foat identifies herself, not as LGBT, but instead as “genderqueer”. Her position on the city council speaks to her qualifications to serve as mayor but she lacks the depth and breadth of experience that are seen in the other LGBT candidates. She reports her past candidacies have been endorsed by the Victory Fund.

       The mission of the Victory Fund, since 1991, has been “to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBT Americans by increasing the number of Openly LGBT officials at all levels of government”. They further seek to “change America’s politics” based on the belief LGBT “office holders are our clearest and most convincing champions for true equality”.

       What’s missing from the Victory Fund’s mission statement is that the equality they seek is not one that’s fostered in their own organization. Their goals are too closely related to personal relationships and favoritism to allow room for equality. It’s this form of corruption that makes the organization just another crass political entity that exists to benefit the favored few while doing so behind the false façade of equality principles. The local LGBT Victory Fund is clearly a Disgrace!

Bond Shands
August 16, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog –
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3.75 avg. rating (78% score) - 4 votes

     On November 3rd voters in the City of Palm Springs will choose a new mayor and up to three seats on the city council. The seat held by Councilwoman Ginny Foat, a declared candidate for mayor, would be the third council seat to be filled should she be elected mayor. Two seats are up for election to the five-member Desert Water Agency’s Board of Directors. Is it too early to predict which candidates will be successful in winning election to one of the open seats?

     The official candidate filing period runs from July 6 to August 7 for council seats and to August 17 for mayor. Prospective candidates must file a Declaration of Candidacy during that time, along with optional Candidate Statements, and must be nominated by 80 to 120 registered Palm Springs voters. The public’s right to inspect Candidate Statements starts on August 8. 

     July 6 may be the official start of the political season but the true beginning occurred several months ago. A number of prospective candidates have announced their candidacies and most have been actively campaigning and fundraising.

     Mayor Steve Pougnet has announced his intent to not seek reelection. The seat he leaves open has attracted considerable interest and at least four contenders are campaigning for it. Measure J Commissioner Robert Moon was the first to announce his candidacy. Others with declared interests include Councilwoman Ginny Foat, Psychologist Michael Birnberg and Civil Rights Attorney Bob Weinstein.

     Councilmember Rick Hutcheson announced he too would not seek reelection. That seat, the up-for-election seat of Councilmember Paul Lewin and a possible third open seat have served to create considerable interest in the council elections. Former Equality California leader and LGBT activist Geoff Kors was the first to announce his interest in the vacant council seat. Others throwing hats into the ring are Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts and Neighborhood Leader Jim King.

     Desert Water Agency board members Craig Ewing and Richard Oberhaus are expected to seek reelection to their seats. Their only apparent opposition is from Neighborhood Activist Kristin Bloomer who initially announced her water board candidacy via Facebook.

     With four candidates for mayor plus four council member candidates and only one seat held by an incumbent seeking reelection, it would appear the current season could resemble a political horse race. That may not be the case for it’s quite possible the list of winners turns out to be rather easy to pick. The candidate for mayor with the most recognizable name is Councilwoman Ginny Foat. The candidates for city council with the most recognizable names and/or campaign support are incumbent City Councilmember Paul Lewin, LGBT Activist Geoff Kors, and Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts. Other prospective candidates suffer from lack of name recognition, lack of widespread support and/or inadequate campaign finances. They are starting from the back of the pack and the odds of any finishing with a win are stacked against them.

     The two Desert Water Agency board member seats are held by incumbents. It’s extremely difficult to unseat an incumbent and particularly so with the water agency board. Their area of coverage extends beyond Palm Springs city limits and the difficulties in reaching the large number of voters outside of Palm Springs represent serious obstacles. Incumbents Craig Ewing and Richard Oberhaus are expected to easily coast to victory.

     With a four month campaign season ahead anything is possible. But if ballots were cast today there’s a strong possibility only those with recognizable names and support would be elected. Serious campaigning will be required from others who are new to local politics if they are to receive sufficient votes for election. Betting today against the perceived “front runners” would be a rather poor one to make. It may not be an actual horse race for the winners appear ready to cross the finish line.

Bond Shands
Twitter Handle: @BondShands

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

     With the announcement by Mayor Stephen Pougnet that he would not be seeking another term the question immediately became who will be his replacement. Measure J Commissioner Robert Moon had already announced his candidacy for mayor in advance of Pougnet’s statement. Today, June  18th, City Council member Ginny Foat is announcing her own candidacy for election to the mayoral position this November. The filing period for November’s candidates is not until July and already two major contenders are actively campaigning for the seat. And, considering the number of days until the early August filing date cutoff, voters may see more mayoral candidates on the campaign trail.

     Robert Moon is a decorated military veteran, successful businessman, city commissioner and is involved with, or a member of, numerous local activities and organizations. His candidacy platform is one in which he promises to be a full-time mayor who best represents significant change in the way city affairs are handled. A difficulty his campaign quest for mayor faces is its start-from-behind uphill battle. He lacks the name recognition, funding, connections and number of contacts that serve to benefit other candidates. He’s seldom been spotlighted or otherwise in the public eye. It’s very difficult to get the attention of a  significant number of voters in the short time that remains before ballots are cast in October and November. His quest remains an uphill battle.

     Ginny Foat has been a fixture in city politics since 2003. She has served on the city council since that time and sailed through several re-elections without serious difficulty. Her current incumbency status on the council gives her the edge – a head start in the quest for mayor. She has about as much local name recognition as is possible to obtain. Foat has a lock on the downtown business community vote, the women’s community vote, the outgoing mayor’s support, the endorsement of too many in the community to list, lots of campaign works waiting to get started, as much money-money-money as may be needed, and the LGBT community vote may split in her favor. The race for mayor is her’s to lose! She has lots of negatives, detractors, unpleasant ancient history issues (though mentioned so many times they’ve reached the yawn state), and a reputation for being dismissive, unforgiving, rude and sometimes unpleasant. Those negatives, little different from many others holding similar political positions, failed to sway voters in the past and there’s little reason to believe they’ll have any effect on her quest for mayor. That race is definitely “her’s to lose!”.

     Making political predictions is always risky for intervening events before ballots are cast could serve to change the entire character of the mayoral race. Suffice it to way that if balloting were to occur today, tomorrow or even next month, it would be foolish to place bets on anyone other than Ginny Foat as the winning candidate. The list of advantages that favor her provide a huge head-start in the race. The financial support and campaign workers needed by another to overcome her lead show little promise of being there. Ginny Foat will be the next Mayor of Palm Springs.

Bond Shands
Twitter Handle: @BondShands

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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
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3.00 avg. rating (71% score) - 2 votes

     This year’s elections in Palm Springs for Mayor, two City Council seats and two Desert Water Agency Board of Directors seats, stand a very good chance of changing the way things are being done or continuing the “Business as Usual” program that’s proved satisfactory with many in the past.

     Who will enter the race for Mayor is important because Mayor Steve Pougnet’s stepping down leaves a vacancy without an incumbent? Will we see fresh faces or those whose names are familiar to all? Mayor Steve Pougnet is finishing his eighth year in office and he is credited by many for the economic increases the community has experienced following the recent Depression. His last race for reelection was a cake-walk for he didn’t face any significant challengers. This year’s election could turn into a nasty bloodbath or it could simply take on the characteristics of a beauty pageant.  

     Announced candidate Robert Moon, a member of the Measure J Commission, is one who merits the outsider designation. His exemplary military service background, successful business experience and length of Palm Springs residency are all desirable qualities. He has not been shy in stating his positions on government transparency, help for the homeless, discontent with the existing city council, greater citizen involvement in city affairs, disapproving of city fees paid to developers, and more.  His candidacy apparently is one representing change.

     There are no other announced candidates for Mayor and the rumors that council members Paul Lewin and Ginny Foat are each considering making a run for the job remain speculative – though perhaps not for long. Both have reportedly made known they’re considering throwing a hat into the ring.

     The list of those currently seeking a seat on the City Council is and probably will continue to be the longest. Those announced include LGBT Activist Geoff Kors, incumbent Paul Lewin, Planning Commission member JR Roberts, and Neighborhood Leader Jim King. Of the three, Geoff Kors has taken the lead with large teams devoted to handling campaign development and finances. At this point it’s highly probable that Kors may easily coast to victory for his lifetime record of LGBT community service and support give him a running start in the quest for a city council seat. Among many areas of concern he’s also evidenced an interest in homeless issues and greater attention to water conservation and similar drought-related subjects.

     When the candidates list is complete the next big question is who will receive support from the major political groups? That long list includes Palm Springs POA, Main Street merchants, Desert Stonewall Democrats, the organized GOP community, Neighborhood groups, Religious community leaders, other Chamber of Commerce members, and Big Money individuals and interests.

     Desert Water Agency board member elections are usually rather quiet affairs. The sleepy board positions are great ones for those seeking expense-paid travel and conference trips or in need of something to occupy their time. Most of those currently occupying these positions were first appointed to “planned” vacancies that permitted them to later run for re-election as incumbents. This year’s two incumbents up for re-election are the agency’s current rotating board president, Craig Ewing, and recent appointee Richard Oberhaus. The water board on which they serve operates more like a business corporation than a public agency. There are no citizen committees nor other outreach activities intended to assess public interests and concerns. The directors take their cue from and rely on staff as the source for their monthly meeting actions and decisions. Board member positions appear to be jobs requiring little in the way of conservation and management expertise or community outreach skills.

     Craig Ewing, a retired City of Palm Springs employee, has yet to state his reelection intentions. He is known to oppose many of the water conservation standards being implemented elsewhere though in the past has favored a switch to tiered water rates. Ewing’s lifetime bureaucratic background is evident from the positions he takes with respect to water department management and rate payer interests. He doesn’t appear interested in community input with respect to the agency’s affairs.

     Democratic campaign consultant Richard Oberhaus has indicated he will stand for re-election and is currently developing a website. His record is one sometimes supportive of water conservation goals but is not a leader when it comes to furthering those efforts. As an appointee who can be replaced by a vote of the directors who appointed him, he’s probably wisely kept a rather low profile though that may change if successful in his re-election efforts.

     Neighborhood activist Kristin Bloomer has announced her water board seat candidacy on her Facebook page. Bloomer’s is the only active candidacy currently on the list. If elected she would join Pat Oygar as the second woman on the Desert Water Agency board.

     The most recent Desert Sun newspaper’s commentary on the Palm Springs mayor’s race, titled “Dramatic changes possible with Palm Springs election” is available using the link.

Bond Shands
May 24, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at
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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

       It’s local political season time once again in Palm Springs. This year the Mayor and two Council Seats are up for election. Already we’ve learned Mayor Steve Pougnet has a challenger in City Commissioner Robert Moon. Incumbent council member Paul Lewin is seeking another term while the other incumbent, Rick Hutcheson, has decided not to seek reelection. Announcements from challengers (for both seats) have been made by Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts and former Equality California leader Geoff Kors.

     The five named individuals are all seen as highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. That will undoubtedly serve to make this year’s election one truly worthy of closely following. The expected campaign platforms and debate encounters will provide opportunities for learning about each candidate and then deciding which ones will receive votes.

     Among the “wish list” of local issues the candidates may be asked to address are the following:

1.  Palm Springs city government has many citizen boards and commissions. However there is no Finance Commission, Publics Works Commission or Streets & Transportation Commission. Should any of these city departments receive the oversight and scrutiny that would result from creation of a new city commission for their area?

2.  Motor vehicle speed limits are viewed by many as too high on several city streets. Sunrise Way, Farrell Drive, East Palm Canyon Drive, Mesquite Avenue (between Sunrise Way and East Mesquite Avenue), Ramon Road, are all examples of streets with high-speed limits. Speed limits are set using a required formula, but there are ways to achieve speed limit reductions. Should steps be taken to reduce some of the high-speed limits?

3.  There is no written Mission Statement to guide public works officials in the administration of funding and policies related to streets, bicycle paths, sidewalks and walkways. Past policies have worked to allot the majority of the funding and attention to the needs of motorized vehicles. That sometimes leads to disadvantages for non-motorized vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, runners and walkers. A Mission Statement that clearly differentiates how the share of funding, safety attention and support policies between the groups is needed.

4.  Official communications transmitting news of significant new or changed city ordinances is needed. Too often important decisions made by the City Council fail to receive adequate dissemination to the public. A recent example would be the new city water conservation ordinance that mandated changes in water use by everyone. That information should have been sent by mail (possibly a postcard) to all residents in order to alert them to the change. Each city council action should include an assessment of the type of publication it should receive.

5.  District Elections. In Palm Springs the members of the City Council are elected At-Large as opposed to election by district. In California many districts and communities have switched to election by district in order to facilitate equal representation. Should the City Council provide Palm Springs voters with a ballot option to switch to district elections or retain the existing system?

     These are but a few of the many issues that could be addressed by those seeking election this year. While it’s doubtful any would actually result in official actions, their consideration could serve to provide voters with a better understanding of what to expect from the individual candidates.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at
The Notebook at
April 10, 2015

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