The Saga of Eloise, a Public Tragedy

Desert Observer’s page

The Saga of Eloise
has to be one of The Desert Sun’s most creative and longest running stories. She appeared from nowhere last August and filed her candidacy for the Palm Springs City Council shortly before the deadline. Her entry was dutifully reported in the newspaper. The lateness of that entry caused her to be overlooked by the local Democratic establishment during their candidate interviews and that too was dutifully reported. Eloise managed to get a local bartender to create a new mixed drink named for her and once again another Eloise non-issue received coverage in The Desert Sun. She later slept overnight in a local park with the homeless and again it was reported in the newspaper.

It soon became clear Eloise was the paper’s creature for she was a complete unknown before becoming a candidate and a newspaper favorite. Her abilities at receiving newsprint coverage reached new heights when she started making false accusations against her fellow candidates and those currently in office. Wherever she went or whatever she said resulted in news coverage in the local paper.

In October Eloise and mayoral candidate Stephen Pougnet had a public disagreement following her disparaging remarks during a candidate forum. Afterwards she claimed he had assaulted her and then filed a criminal complaint against him. Once again this media darling received substantial print coverage. The District Attorney‘s office investigated and found no basis for prosecution or otherwise pursuing her complaint. Again more newsprint for Eloise, the never-publicity-shy city council candidate.

Early in November when the city council election ballots were counted we learned Eloise lost by a landslide. She received less than 300 votes out of thousands that had been cast. Her embarrassing loss was not a setback for it too was mitigated by the press coverage she received. It wasn’t about winning for her candidacy was clearly focused on personal publicity and a place for her in the public spotlight.

In December Eloise announced she was considering an 80th Assembly District Democratic primary run. Nobody noticed except those watching her at The Desert Sun but, of course, but that’s all it took. Once again she received press coverage in the newspaper. Last week Eloise posted a report announcing she had decided against an Assembly seat run. Again few took notice except for her boosters over at the paper. Her withdrawal provided her with – yes, you probably guessed it – more press coverage!

A few days ago The Desert Sun used a quarter-page of newsprint to report Eloise had filed an assault and battery lawsuit against Mayor Stephen Pougnet in Riverside County Superior Court. The story was accompanied by a photo of Eloise, but it contained a few minor errors that offended her, and she forced her newspaper boosters to print corrections. Her lawsuit appears to be without foundation and what wasn’t reported, but later became common knowledge, is that she has been unable to find an attorney to take the case and had filed the lawsuit representing herself. She’s certain to lose but it’s a safe bet it’ll be good for more publicity.

Eloise, as a public entity, is clearly a creature of The Desert Sun newspaper. There’s nothing in her background worthy of public recognition and if it weren’t for her theatrical antics in the political arena, she would probably have remained relatively unknown. The interesting question now is how much longer will The Desert Sun editors allow this ridiculous serial to run? They’re the ones who made her and so long as they continue to publicize her every act The Saga of Eloise will continue and readers will be treated to chapter after chapter after chapter, ad nauseam. Let’s hope not.

Bond Shands

Palm Springs

March 12, 2008


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