The Palm Springs Neighborhood Involvement Committee (PSNIC) is an official organization created by city ordinance in 2005. It consists of two representatives from each of the city’s twenty-four recognized neighborhood organizations. PSNIC meets under the auspices of the City Manager‘s office and, according to that office is, “A vehicle for encouraging citizen involvement in government and improving communication between citizens, city staff, and elected officials“. When adoption of the ordinance was first being considered, one serious concern was that recognized official neighborhood groups could be used for political purposes. Assurances were given that such would never be the case. Such assurances now appear to have been hastily made, for politicizing of PSNIC has now occurred.

Palm Springs city official efforts promoting ballot Measure “G”, the Cable and Cell Phone User Tax, have added a bit of arm-twisting to their bag of tricks. The latest step is the politicizing of the Palm Springs Neighborhood Involvement Committee (PSNIC) by enlisting their support for Measure “G”. The City Manager’s office instructed its Director of Neighborhoods and Community Relations to disseminate a new multi-page “Measure G Q&A” advocacy document to all PSNIC representatives and their alternates. That distribution was made through official communication channels on Tuesday, October 13th. The accompanying message urged distribution of the document to all neighborhood organization members. The actual “Measure G Q&A“document includes a paragraph titled “Is Measure G a “bait and switch” ploy by the City“, making it reasonable to conclude it is in part the City’s rebuttal to arguments against Measure “G” that appeared in Sunday’s newspaper. Enlisting PSNIC representatives to promote the city’s efforts at passing Measure “G” definitely constitutes politicizing the neighborhood organizations.

If PSNIC is now going to regularly function as a political arm of the City Manager‘s office? Should the city ordinance be revised to prevent continued politicizing of PSNIC by city officials? What’s to prevent PSNIC from being used to promote candidates for political office?

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
October 14, 2009

Click here to view or download a copy of Measure G Q&A file.

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On September 26th a list was posted titled “26 Questions for Palm Springs City Council Candidates“. Copies were emailed to eight of the eleven candidates. Two replies have been received. Candidates Michael Gallardo and Barbara Beaty provided responses to all questions and graciously assented to publication of their views. Gallardo’s responses were published October 9, and Beaty’s appear below.

City Council Candidate Barbara Beaty responds to questions.

26 Questions for Palm Springs City Council Candidates

1.  Have you seen the latest City budget and, if so, what, if anything, stands out or otherwise leaves you with unanswered questions or concerns?

YES, I have seen the budget. It is apparent that Palm Springs mirrors the over spending we have seen in our nation.  Recently the city had to cut its budget by $11.5 million, the state required $4..5 of redevelopment funds to offset California’s deficit, but the rest of the budget cuts were a reflection of over spending. The majority of the cuts came from employee reductions (64%). 
 
Something that really stood out was that the tax collections in 2007/2008 decreased by nearly 7.4% despite a full year with the new Super WalMart.
Sales and use taxes were down 19.9% since 2006.  
My biggest concern is the city’s mismanagement of Redevelopment Funds.  In 2007 to offset the city’s deficit the council under the direction of the city manager spent $52 million of redevelopment agency money to purchase The Visitors Center and other city owned parks.
According to California law the purpose of redevelopment money (which comes from property taxes in the redevelopment areas) is to “remove blight, increase tax revenue  and remove high business vacancies.” How does the city expect to accomplish this with parks, which cost the city to maintain?
This money could have been used to attract new businesses, and new revenue, much like the city of Indio attracted Jack-A-Lope Ranch with five hundred thousand dollars, a new signal light on a street named “Jack-A-Lope.  This was all done with redevelopment funds.  Jack-A-Lope will pay back the loan in five years and the city collects the tax revenue. 

2.  Are you familiar with the Palm Springs Neighborhood Involvement Committee (PSNIC) and, if so, is your own neighborhood one that’s currently represented?

Yes and my neighborhood is not represented. 

3.  The proposed new Palm Springs Animal Shelter facility, on city-owned land, is expected to cost $5,000,000 dollars to construct. The 19,000 sq. ft. facility is planned for 75 dogs and 75 cats. That’s $263.16 per sq. ft. and $33,333.33 per individual animal cage. In your opinion, is the City building an expensive animal palace or do you consider the five million dollar cost reasonable?

After this “animal palace” is built it will cost the city nearly 1 million dollars a year to maintain.  I believe the city should consider using the county’s beautiful new animal shelter in Thousand Palms.  It would cost the city around 100K a year to maintain (1/10th of the cost).

4.  Should the City sell its Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Desert Water Agency and, if so, for what purpose should the money from the sale be used?

Yes.
I would reverse the sales of parks and property to the Redevelopment Agency and repay the money taken in interest and principal payments.  I would also repay the agency the $5 million taken for the animal shelter. 

5. The City Redevelopment Agency board consists of the City Council. Should the council members be replaced or the board expanded to include non-council members?

State law requires the council to act as the agency.  The city should consider having a Citizen’s Oversight Committee that would meet in conjunction with the Redevelopment Agency.  This committee should be comprised of community business leaders, and residential, commercial and industrial real estate developers.

6.  It’s often said that Palm Springs is unfriendly to businesses.. If you believe that to be true, how should the causes be identified and processes followed to address the problems now and on a continuing basis?

I believe all new businesses should be required to attend a business orientation workshop at City Hall within their first 30 days of business to help owners become familiar with the various ordinances and zoning issues. I would also support a business of the month award.  Why not showcase a photo of the business owner on a “Wall of Fame” at the City Hall. At the end of the year the city could give a”BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD”. The city needs to rally around the small business owners with recognition. People typically work harder for praises than raises.  
In addition Palm Springs needs to let business owners explore innovative marketing ideas without the fear of being fined.

7.  Should the City implement an ongoing outreach program to recruit underrepresented community segments for the various board, committee and commission appointments?

YES

8.  Do you support and, if so, would you actively seek a fundraising cap on campaigns for city council seats?

I would not support a cap on individual giving. I would support a cap on corporate giving.

9.  Do you support and, if so, would you actively seek establishment of a new City Audit/Budget/Finance Commission of appointed citizens?

Yes

10. Should the City enter into negotiations with the O’Donnell Golf Club for purchase of the remaining 30+ years in their 99 year lease, so the property can be made available for public purposes?

I understand that there are approximately 300 members in the club.  If they accepted a friendly offer of $20,000 each, that would only cost the city $6 million. That would be an appropriate use of redevelopment funds.

11. Should the City install parking meters on all business streets?

No.  This would discourage people from shopping

12. Should the City encourage community clubs and volunteer groups by offering a large meeting facility of spaces for reserved daily rental at modest fees?

Yes

13. Should the City paint all crosswalks in commercial districts and on streets with speed limits above 35 mph?

Yes

14. Should the City have a uniform maximum speed limit of less than 50 mph and, if so, what should it be? 

Yes, 45 mph

15. Do you support any form of district elections for Palm Springs city council members and, if so, which type (i.e. one council member must live in each district, and (a) voting is restricted to district residents, or (b) voting is city wide)?

No

16. The position of Mayor is a four year term. Would you support term limits for the position?

Yes.

17. The position of City
Council member is a four year term. Would you support term limits for the position?

Yes

18. If elected, how many hours per week, on average, do you plan on devoting to discharging the responsibilities of the position?

As many hours as necessary to get the job done.

19. If you are currently employed, how many hours per week, on average, are needed to fulfill the responsibilities of your present position?

I have a passive income and my hours are very flexible

20. Have you or are you considering a career in politics and, if so, when and what other offices interest you?

NO!

21. Relations between the City’s officials and Desert Water Agency have sometimes been described as “wet” or “frosty”. What steps should be taken to establish a cooperative and, hopefully, friendly relationship between the two agencies?

No answer at this time   

22. The City Council has placed a new Cell Phone Utility Tax on the ballot. If passed it would place a 4.5% tax on monthly cell phone bills, automatically apply the 4.5% tax to similar new technology developments, and automatically increase the existing emergency response utility tax each year based on inflation. What is your position with respect to the ballot measure and its three components?

NO

23. Los Angeles station KABC-TV recently recognized Palm Desert as a community deserving of the “Extreme Green – Finding eco-friendly solutions in hostile places” title. That city has long been recognized as the valley’s energy and water conservation leader. Palm Desert is one of two California cities with a “a direct loan program” that provides residents with loans to finance alternative power systems, such as solar rooftop panels. What steps would you recommend Palm Springs take to achieve equal footing with Palm Desert as an “Extreme Green” city?

1-     The  City has no solar panels on any city building (that I know of) even though extended conversations occurred with our city manager and at least one company (PermaCity Solar of L.A. )
2-     The Energy Audit from Edison on City Hall and/or City Hall is either not complete or still not widely known publicly if complete.
3-     No new bike paths have been added, widened or repainted.  The recent Parks and Recreation Master Plan when presented to the City did not include Bike Paths
4-     No new bike parking racks or slots have been added to downtown..
5-     Architectural Review, Planning Commission and Building Department should require bike parking on all new projects. They should also call for parking stalls in garages to include outlets for future plug-in electric/hybrid cars.
6-     Builders should get discounted building permit fees for going green.  The States new Title 24 will require higher standards.
7-     Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon in the downtown corridor should have the right lane of parking removed to make way for bike lanes that can be used safely with bike racks added each block for convenience.

24. Palm Springs is not touted as a pedestrian or golf cart friendly city – that “friendly” designation belongs to Palm Desert. Do you consider pedestrian or golf cart transport issues an important component for a city like Palm Springs and, if so, what steps should be taken to address the concerns?

YES,  pedestrian and golf cart transportation is very important to our city.    The city should not only be golf cart and pedestrian friendly but it should also be wheelchair friendly.  There are many areas on our public sidewalks that are unattainable by wheelchair.

25. Are you familiar with the Palm Springs 2007 General Plan, including its nine components (Administration, Land Use Element, Housing Element, Circulation Element, Recreation – Open Space & Conservation Element, Safety Element, Air Quality Element, Noise Element, Community Design Element)? If so, are there any portions of the plan that you question or have concerns about?

YES  I am.
Quoting from the General Plan:
“Community Redevelopment Law authorizes a city to undertake redevelopment projects to turn BLIGHTED, deteriorating areas into revitalized community assets”
My Question: How was Sunrise Park blighted or deteriorating? How does a park create revenue for the city?
Quoting from the General Plan
“State law provides for development agreements between a project proponent and the City to provide developers with additional assurances that….conditions of approval…will not be nullified.”
BUT…….
“The City is not prohibited from applying NEW RULES, REGULATIONS, and POLICIES to the property.”
This means the City Council can apply NEW RULES after the $100K (or more) plan is submitted?  This clause is what has held our city hostage for more than ten years with the Fashion Plaza.

26. The Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort (formerly the Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course) is a money-losing operation that’s listed in the General Plan as park land.. Do you support its continuation as a subsidized benefit for the golfing interests in the community?

What is needed is a hotel / resort to attract golfers.  Increased play will eliminate the need for the subsidy.
I would consider a possible acquisition of the Tommy Jacobs golf course on El Cielo as a hotel / clubhouse / restaurant site.  We could tunnel under or bridge over El Cielo for golf carts to access the Tahquitz Creek courses that could be reconfigured to a new clubhouse on El Cielo.  This would also service the Mesquite golf course.  The site is only minutes from the airport and close to downtown.

A copy of the above has also been posted by Observer on the The Desert Sun newspaper’s MyDesert.com website.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
October 13, 2009

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On September 26th a list was posted titled “26 Questions for Palm Springs City Council Candidates“. Copies were emailed to eight of the eleven candidates. One reply has been received.

Candidate Michael Gallardo provided responses to all questions and has graciously assented to publication of his views.

City Council Candidate Michael Gallardo responds to questions.

1.  Have you seen the latest City budget and, if so, what, if anything, stands out or otherwise leaves you with unanswered questions or concerns?

  • The shuffling of funds and no serious thought to spending.


2.  Are you familiar with the Palm Springs Neighborhood Involvement Committee (PSNIC) and, if so, is your own neighborhood one that’s currently represented?

  • Yes and Yes


3.  The proposed new Palm Springs Animal Shelter facility, on city-owned land, is expected to cost $5,000,000 dollars to construct. The 19,000 sq. ft. facility is planned for 75 dogs and 75 cats. That’s $263.16 per sq. ft. and $33,333.33 per individual animal cage. In your opinion, is the City building an expensive animal palace or do you consider the five million dollar cost reasonable?

  • Considering the state of the current animal shelter, I believe that this is a viable facility that the city is in need of although quite costly to house only 150 animals.


4.  Should the City sell its Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Desert Water Agency and, if so, for what purpose should the money from the sale be used?

  • Yes, the money should be set a side for future reconstruction and growth in the city.


5. The City Redevelopment Agency board consists of the City Council. Should the council members be replaced or the board expanded to include non-council members?

  • Yes, State law says that the City Council must sit on the agency, however I believe we should also have residents as well as business owners sit on the RDA and vote on some of the reckless spending that goes on with the RDA.


6.  It’s often said that Palm Springs is unfriendly to businesses. If you believe that to be true, how should the causes be identified and processes followed to address the problems now and on a continuing basis?

  • I have been visiting business owners over the last four years on a daily basis, I know their concerns and the I believe there is way to much red tape that they make business owners and new business go through just to get their business opened. The city should assemble packets for the different types of businesses. This would help to fast track the opening of businesses. The packet would include every bit of information needed to open the business in a fast and smooth manner. 


7.  Should the City implement an ongoing outreach program to recruit underrepresented community segments for the various board,committee and commission appointments?

  • Yes, there should be fair representation for all segments of the community.


8.  Do you support and, if so, would you actively seek a fundraising cap on campaigns for city council seats?

  • Absolutely, I believe that any citizen should be able to represent the city, however those that have so much revenue I feel have the advantage.


9.  Do you support and, if so, would you actively seek establishment of a new City Audit/Budget/Finance Commission of appointed citizens?

  • Yes, this would help curve reckless spending.


10. Should the City enter into negotiations with the O’Donnell Golf Club for purchase of the remaining 30+ years in their 99 year lease, so the property can be made available for public purposes?

  • Yes


11. Should the City install parking meters on all business streets?

  • Yes, although the initial invest would be costly in the long run it will be ongoing revenue for the city.


12. Should the City encourage community clubs and volunteer groups by offering a large meeting facility of spaces for reserved daily rental at modest fees?

  • Yes, again this too would create revenue.


13. Should the City paint all crosswalks in commercial districts and on streets with speed limits above 35 mph?

  • I believe that should be left up to the residents to vote on.


14. Should the City have a uniform maximum speed limit of less than 50 mph and, if so, what should it be?

  • Seeing how most of our HWY 111 runs through the city limits, a lower speed limit is needed. We are a small city and it doesn’t take much to get from point A to point B, I feel that 45mph is a safe speed limit.


15. Do you support any form of district elections for Palm Springs city council members and, if so, which type (i.e. one council member must live in each district, and (a) voting is restricted to district residents, or (b) voting is city wide)?

  • I feel that we need to split the city up into district so that all are represented fair and equally.  


16. The position of Mayor is a four year term. Would you support term limits for the position?

  • Yes.


17. The position of City Council member is a four year term. Would you support term limits for the position?

  • Yes


18. If elected, how many hours per week, on average, do you plan on devoting to discharging the responsibilities of the position?

  • Considering the state our city is in, this would have to be almost a full time job for sometime.


19. If you are currently employed, how many hours per week, on average, are needed to fulfill the responsibilities of your present position?

  • 20-25 although it can be quite flexible, the magazine can run itself with my competent staff.


20. Have you or are you considering a career in politics and, if so, when and what other offices interest you?

  • No, I would be interested in the Mayor’s position down the road.


21. Relations between the City’s officials and Desert Water Agency have sometimes been described as “wet” or “frosty”. What steps should be taken to establish a cooperative and, hopefully, friendly relationship between the two agencies?

  • Communication


22. The City Council has placed a new Cell Phone Utility Tax on the
ballot. If passed it would place a 4.5% tax on monthly cell phone bills, automatically apply the 4.5% tax to similar new technology developments, and automatically increase the existing emergency response utility tax each year based on inflation. What is your position with respect to the ballot measure and its three components?

  • Anything that says tax can only have a hidden agenda down the road.


23. Los Angeles station KABC-TV recently recognized Palm Desert as a community deserving of the “Extreme Green – Finding eco-friendly solutions in hostile places” title. That city has long been recognized as the valley’s energy and water conservation leader. Palm Desert is one of two California cities with a “a direct loan program” that provides residents with loans to finance alternative power systems, such as solar rooftop panels. What steps would you recommend Palm Springs take to achieve equal footing with Palm Desert as an “Extreme Green” city?

  • We as a city are so far behind on sustainability, which I believe we need to look into the programs that are currently in place down valley and work with their sustainability committee and government agencies so that we can fast track our program here in Palm Springs.


24. Palm Springs is not touted as a pedestrian or golf cart friendly city – that “friendly” designation belongs to Palm Desert. Do you consider pedestrian or golf cart transport issues an important component for a city like Palm Springs and, if so, what steps should be taken to address the concerns?

  • No.


25. Are you familiar with the Palm Springs 2007 General Plan, including its nine components (Administration, Land Use Element, Housing Element, Circulation Element, Recreation – Open Space & Conservation Element, Safety Element, Air Quality Element, Noise Element, Community Design Element)? If so, are there any portions of the plan that you question or have concerns about?

  • Yes, the part that says to make Palm Springs the number one place to bring new business, however we are not the easiest city to set up new business. 


26. The Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort (formerly the Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course) is a money-losing operation that’s listed in the General Plan as park land. Do you support its continuation as a subsidized benefit for the golfing interests in the community?

  • We used to be known as the place to play and golf, this has moved to the cities down valley. To make this viable revenue for the city, we need to promote the golf courses that we have left in our city, give a reason, promo why Palm Springs golf courses stand apart from the other cities.


 

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There are nine challengers and two incumbents in the race for Palm Springs city council seats this year. Three challengers are clearly not worthy of even minimal consideration, and the rest have yet to prove they would do a better job than the incumbents. While incumbents are running on their records and emphasize experience as their main drawing card, no challenger has offered anything similar in the way of credentials, experience or knowledge of the City, its government and activities. That’s unfortunate, for the City needs fresh blood and some new leadership. The most serious problem facing Palm Springs is the current city council, for that’s where change is most needed if longstanding problems are to be resolved.

Incumbents Ginny Foat and Chris Mills last ran for office four years ago. Is the City better off today, four years later than when they were last reelected? Two years ago council elections were held and those incumbents will face voters in 2011. Is the City better off today, after two years has passed, than when the last local elections were held? If the answer is yes (or even maybe), what are those areas of betterment?

The incumbents are proud of their record and neither has indicated an activity or vote that’s since been regretted. Such is the stuff of arrogance and indifference. Recently The Desert Sun, and others, have suggested the City employ the services of a neutral arbitrator to resolve differences between the city council and developer John Wessman. That suggestion fell on deaf ears. Many have criticized the council’s decision to raid the Redevelopment Agency and use its funds to pay city salaries and other operating expenses. They claim redevelopment funds should be used for revenue-producing investments in the community appropriate for such an agency. Such concerns have fallen on deaf ears. It’s been questioned why real estate interests responsible for the numerous downtown store vacancies have not been surveyed or otherwise invited to participate in efforts to rent the empty properties. There appears to be no coordinated overall program with a clearly identified goal designed to restore the downtown area as a vibrant business community. The downtown area’s economic decline during the incumbency of council members running for reelection, has to be considered part of their record – and one in which their performance has not been one of success.

Members of the current city council are good people with successful backgrounds and all have good intentions. But, as a group, they’re autocratic, arrogant, a bit self-serving, sometimes determinedly mistaken and occasionally subject to the unfortunate whims of their partisan majority. Fresh blood – replacement of the incumbents – has to start somewhere and, were it not for lack of qualified candidates, this could and should have been the year for change. But, there’s little chance of that happening when ballots are cast on November 3rd. Challengers started too late, never managed to attract meaningful support and failed to familiarize themselves with the City, its government and the techniques for getting elected to public office.

Two years from now the jobs of mayor and two more city council candidates will be up for grabs. November 4th, the day following this year’s election, should be the time when serious, qualified candidates for those positions start running for office. The next two years should be spent attending council and commission meetings, boning up on city government issues, creating a campaign team and meeting the public. Otherwise, the prospect of another round of reelected incumbents is a certainty.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
October 9, 2009
  

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    Desert Observer’s Page

Palm Springs, CA.  The first public forum for candidates seeking electionto one of two open Palm Springs city council seats was held Mondayevening, October 5th, at Mizell Senior Center. Ten of the elevencandidates participated in the two-hour session in which previouslysubmitted questions were posed by moderator Steve Kelly.Candidates each presented two minute opening and closing statements andalso provided one minute answers to seven questions. Another twentyquestions were parcelled out with each candidate providing one minuteanswers for two from the list. The room was filled and the crowd sizeestimated at over a hundred. The audience was asked to hold theirapplause and other forms of expression until evening’s end. Other thanone loud-mouthed individual, who left early, the audience was attentiveand generally receptive to the candidates and their responses. Theforum was jointly sponsored by the Palm Springs Neighborhood Involvement Committee and the Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors.


The following are paraphrased versions of the eight questions asked of all candidates.

What is the single most serious issue or problem facing Palm Springs today?
Do you agree with the sale of parks and other public property to the City Redevelopment Agency?
What is the Tribe’s relationship and its responsibilities with respect to the City?
Are you currently endorsing any of the other candidates in the city council race and, if so, who?
Do you favor local campaign finance limitations, and how much do you intend to spend?
Do you support the Measure “G” Telephone Users’ Tax issue on the November 3rd ballot?
What changes would you like to see in City Commissions and appointees?
Why should citizens vote for you (asked in conjunction with candidate’s closing statements)?

The following are paraphrased versions of the questions asked of individual candidates.

Barbara Beaty –       Do you support revamping City employee retirement and other costly benefits?
                                 Have you attended or become involved in council meetings or City commissions?
David Carden –         Do you support a vacancy tax for empty downtown properties?
                                 Would you support outsourcing police and fire services to Riverside County?
Alexander Dobrecevic –  Do you agree with proposals to legalize and tax Marijuana?
                                 What are your ideas for increased tourism and how would you be involved?
Ginny Foat –             Do you support the downtown business coordinator as an effective use of funds?
                                 Do you support or oppose the proposed Whitewater county jail?
Michael Gallardo –    Should the City water treatment plant be sold to the Desert Water Agency?
                                 Should the City require proof of new construction financing before approving demolitions?
Christopher Mills –    Is the current Palm Springs sign ordinance effective?
                                  Do you support the initiative to overturn Proposition 8?
Jim Osterberger –     Is Palm Springs a business friendly city?
                                 Do you support the City’s “specific plan” for downtown?
Drew Sweatte –        What are your qualifications (Why are you qualified?) for a city council seat?
                                 What should be in the forefront of local funding options?
John Tymon –           Do you support term limits for the mayor and city council positions?
                                 What state issues most concern you because of their affect on the City?
Mark Walthour –       Should the O’Donnell Golf Club lease be renegotiated?
                                 Do you support allowing two Medical Marijuana Clinics in Palm Springs?

(No
te:
Eight of the ten candidates have campaign websites available by clicking on their names above. Candidates John Tymon don’t have campaign websites but Walthour‘s campaign email address is markwalthour2009@dc.rr.com.)

Candidate Alexander Dobrecevic,age 19, took top honors as the one mort forthright, for his openingstatement included an admission he didn’t know all the answers andwould pass on some questions rather than waste audience time withuninformed responses.

Several questions raised issues notrelevant to the role of council members (state marijuana tax,Proposition 8, Whitewater jail, etc.) and some candidates used thatlack of relevancy as their reason for not directly responding.

Incumbents Ginny Foat and Chris Millsdefended their record and claimed experience made them the bestqualified candidates. Challengers questioned the incumbents’ decisionswith respect to downtown vacancies, the sign ordinance, CityRedevelopment Agency funds, etc., and promised that if elected theywould do better.

My only quibble with the evening’s format wasallowing irrelevant questions into the mix. The number of candidatesand the two hour time frame served to limit the number of questionsthat could be handled. So, using time for issues not directly relatedto Palm Springs city government seemed a waste.

My continuingsurprise is the amount of interest and time both the audience and thecandidates devote to downtown vacancies and related economic concerns.There are so many other continually ignored or overlooked issues inneed of attention that I’m left wondering if the only personsinterested in the election are the members of the local businessestablishment? Palm Springs city government has no provision forcitizen oversight, no taxpayer involvement in City budget and finance,no provisions for free flow of information between the City and itsresidents, and the City Council is among the most autocratic. Had Ibeen asked the question “What is the single most serious issue or problem facing Palm Springs today?“, my response would probably have been similar to, “Themost serious problem is the current city council, for that’s wherechange is most needed if longstanding problems are to be resolved.“.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
October 6, 2009

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    Desert Observer’s Page

Palm Springs, CA.  Palm Springs downtown revitalization suffered a setback when the city council decided that hiding vacant storefronts would serve to divert attention from the real problem.

Once again Palm Springs city council members have demonstrated why they lead and we, the community, follow. At the last council meeting they reminded us there are but two ways to deal with issues – resolve them or hide them. In keeping with that reminder our City Fathers (and Mother) have decided to require the windows of downtown vacant storefronts be camouflaged – hidden. Historic photos, artwork or anything that will serve to convince passersby there’s something there will be acceptable. Blogger Steve Kelly has written that the whole idea smacks of a Potemkin Village – a sham community that doesn’t exist. The decision by the council to hide this particular unresolved problem is in keeping with a long series of missteps, subterfuges, mistakes and fuzzy reasoning that’s dogged the Palm Springs downtown revitalization issue for years and years and years. When will council members realize their efforts have failed, they’ve reached the bottom of the barrel of ideas, and they need to become part of the solution and stop being the problem?

The Empress of Russia wasn’t fooled by the Potemkin Village created for her benefit in the Crimea and Palm Springs residents, shoppers and tourists won’t be fooled by camouflaged store fronts. What’s really needed is for the city council to get out of the downtown revitalization business. The subject requires expertise, knowledge, planning abilities and a host of skills not possessed by the members of the council. The future of downtown revitalization, if there is to be a future, requires that council members admit failure and prove they are real leaders by turning the problem over to professionals with expertise in the subject. It’s time for the pretense, that downtown problems are or will soon be resolved, to end. And the council needs to realize their efforts have now fallen to the level of meddling and they are not serving the best interests of the community.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
September 3, 2009

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