Probably the two most important questions candidates for election to public office should answer are “Why should I vote?” and “Why should I vote for you?”. It’s the second question that is most often answered. The first and probably most important is seldom addressed.

          “Why should I vote for you?” is answered when candidates describe their background including education, experience, activities and relevant expertise that qualifies her/him for the position sought. That’s usually followed by a long list of campaign promises about changes and issues the candidate proposes to address if elected. In reality it’s all about the candidate and what he or she seeks is to convince voters his/her real interest is in serving the public. Too often the actual goal of the candidate is to simply get elected and once that’s accomplished, then to hold onto the job for a very long time.

          “Why should I vote?” meaning “What’s in it for me if I bother to vote?” are too often ignored by candidates seeking votes. It’s the one that really depicts voter interests. Voters  are most interested in their homes, jobs and neighborhoods. Crime and particularly petty theft issues are concerns. Street surfaces in need of paving are important. Increased local taxes that aren’t spent on neighborhoods are resented. Family, children and quality of life are all pressing matters. Better representation and equal opportunities to meet with local officials who are willing to listen and address concerns need attention. Small business owners are tired of fighting city hall red tape. And giving taxpayer money away to developers and businesses who seem to already possess wealth does not seem fair. It’s these and similar issues that concern the voter. 

           Palm Springs voters keep electing charismatic candidates who possess both experience and talent. These smart, friendly and interesting individuals take office and then seem to forget the voters who elected them. Their sold a message in reply to “Why should I vote for you?” that served them well. Whether we’re proud or unhappy with the performance of those in office, ours were the votes that put them there. If there’s a problem and/or need for change then perhaps the fault lies with voters. We fail to ask the question “Why should I vote?” and wait for a satisfactory answer before listening to the less important question of which candidate deserves the vote.

           If you’ve made up your mind which candidate will receive your vote did she or he answer the “Why should I vote?” question to your satisfaction? If you’ve not yet made up your mind which candidate deserves your vote, have you asked the “Why should I vote?” question of any or all the candidates? When it comes to voting in local elections, do you really care who gets elected?

           Why should I vote?

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands
 

5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 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)
http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_Local_Election_Issues.pdf

Palm Springs Local Election Candidates Listing – use following link.
http://desertobserver.bondshands.com/?p=1213

Palm Springs Mayoral Candidate Statements –  use following link.
http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_Mayoral_Candidate_Statements.pdf

Palm Springs City Council Candidate Statements  –  use following link.
http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_City_Council_Candidate_Statements.pdf

“The Ideal City Council Candidate” Request List – use following Link
http://bondshands.com/public/The_Ideal_City_Council_Candidate.pdf

Palm Springs Political & Population Demographic Statistics – use following link.
http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_Political_and_Population_Demographics.pdf

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

Palm Springs Political Election Reports Booklet – use following link.
http://bondshands.com/public/Palm_Springs_Election_Reports_Booklet.pdf

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
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:   www.facebook.com/groups/PalmSpringsLocalGovernment/   and click on the JOIN menu option. And, of course, thanks for your support.

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

      Local elections represent one of the few opportunities to meet and listen to candidates seeking votes from residents to return or put them in office. It’s a perfect time for candidates to share their views and promises with respect to specific city issues. This Election Issues report is intended as a partial list of suggested topics appropriate as background material for questions some may wish to ask of candidates.


GOVERNMENT & POLITICAL AFFAIRS

Crime and City Jail – The city jail has been closed since the recession in order to save money. The local police force appears to have insufficient numbers to adequately address local crime. According to published sources Palm Springs crime rates are significantly greater than national averages. Should there be a cost/benefit analysis in concert with the police department to determine whether to reopen the jail and address police department needs?
Note: See online crime statistic reports at http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Palm-Springs-California.html  and  http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/palm-springs/crime/

Taxes on Individuals – Significant tax increases have been imposed during the past half-dozen years. These included the 2009 Measure G 4.5% Cell and Cable phone tax; the 2011 Measure J 1% sales tax;  the 2014 Medicinal Marijuana 10% sales tax; and the 2012 Wastewater sewer service tax that’s being increased yearly starting with 20% in 2013 up to 80% in 2016, and then in 10% increments from 2017 to 2031. Is it time to review these taxes for possible repeal? Should candidates be asked to sign a “No New Taxes Pledge”?
Note: See Sewer Tax table at http://www.ci.palm-springs.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=25549 – the “hidden” sewer tax is billed annually on property tax statements.

City Official Ethical Standards – City council members do not uniformly subscribe to “perception as cause for avoidance” with respect to ethics. Some see ethics in government as a moral standard; others consider it little more than a set of defined legal and judicial requirements. Should moral standards of public trust receive consideration so that both the INTENT and the LETTER of the law are observed?

Council Sub-Committees – Policies and practices related to creation of two-member city council sub-committees do not provide they be chaired by disinterested council members and all meetings are not widely publicized. Should all meetings be adequately publicized and those covering controversial issues be chaired by disinterested council members?

Candidate Filing Requirements – Councilmembers Ginny Foat and Chris Mills sponsored the 2011 ordinance that significantly increased filing costs and required number of registered voter signatures needed in order to qualify as candidate for local elective office. One “benefit” was to decrease the number of low income candidates seeking election to office. Should there be alternatives, such as the collection of extra signatures, accepted in lieu of paying the high filing fees?

Councilmember Constituent Access – Some councilmembers are perceived as operating under “open door – closed mind” policies with respect to residents who hold views differing from their own. And in 2012 when over a hundred were encourage to apply for Measure J commission appointments, the council declined to meet or interview more than half of those who had applied. Are there standards of common courtesy that council members should exhibit with respect to Constituent requests for an audience or interview?

City Council Representation – Should the number of council members be increased and their election be by district? One suggested format would consist of FOUR districts, representing four quadrants of the city, with two at-large.  The result would be six council members and a mayor, for a total of SEVEN.  This would appear to address the goal of fair representation for all parts of the city, including the far North and South sections. 

LGBT Minority Political & Government Dominance – LGBT residents do not comprise a majority of the city’s population but they appear more organized and effectively dominate local political and governmental activities. Their sometimes “tin ear” policy result has led to strong support for LGBT same-sex marriage and equal rights issues but SCOTUS striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 received no official local recognition. Should there be guidelines for when it may or may not be appropriate for the city council to adopt resolutions or otherwise express official support for political and social issues not directly related to the duties of their office?

Term Limits – There are no term limits for local elective office. (One candidate has served continuously for almost 12 years and seeks to serve an additional 4 years.) Every Palm Springs board and commission has a seven year term limit. Should there also be term limits for council members and the mayor?


TRIBAL RELATIONS

Government-Tribe Partnership – Relations between the city government and the Agua Caliente Tribe are viewed by some as deteriorating. There have reportedly been only nine joint meetings of the City and Tribal Councils in the past five years. Should steps be taken to strengthen the relationship?

Vacant Tribal Land Sections – Pleasant/Unsightly Appearance maintenance issues associated with areas such as the abandoned Magruder building on tribal land lead to nearby residential resentment. Would improved relations between the city and the Tribe, with more mutual respect and consideration, possibly result in better cooperation and closer attention to these types of issues?


BUSINESS COMMUNITY INTERESTS & TOURISM

Tourism – Tourism now occupies first place in the list of Palm Springs business and economic activities. While it is a leading source of revenue for business and local government, it too often serves as justification for activities and expenditures that otherwise would receive more searching scrutiny with respect to costs and benefits. One result is a perception that the Downtown Business Community receives the lion’s share of Tourism benefits with little left to address the needs of residents, neighborhoods and small businesses. Should this perceived imbalance be an issue of concern to the mayor and city council and, if so, what steps should be considered to address the issue?

Museum Market Plaza – Local sales taxes together with city General Fund tax monies are being used to completely redevelop the renamed Desert Fashion Plaza. The costs, using taxpayer funds, are in the $100 million range (grants to developer, bond interest costs, underground garage maintenance, new street construction & maintenance, new city park, etc.) with almost no return benefit accruing to taxpayer funded city coffers. Also, the city has reportedly agreed to payment of $55 thousand in Kimpton Hotel TOT rebates to the developer’s company. Should there be an audit and report of taxpayer dollars that have gone and will go into this project? Since costs for the Plaza area will increase over time should the city undertake a cost benefit analysis to determine exactly what, if any, beneficial monetary return exists with respect to the complete spectrum of taxpayer funding for the project?

Museum Market Plaza Underground Parking Garage – The arrangement now in place provides the developer retains legal ownership to the underground parking garage structure and the city owns the facility’s AIR RIGHTS. The city is required to maintain the garage in good condition and that it forever be a free parking facility. The financing arrangements have become a tangled web of funding and ownership. Should the entire web of funding and ownership be untangled and brought to light?

Downtown Event Center Public Park – A recent arrangement with the Museum Market Plaza developer resulted in the city paying $5.3 million for a block of land on which it plans to spend an estimated $12.5 million to develop a downtown event center and city park. The space was originally intended for a new theater and later an open grass space available as a public square. Is it now turning into a gold plated albatross event space intended to benefit both the Kempton and the planned JC Marriott hotels? 

Forever Marilyn – The brief time the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture was on display proved that it had tourist attraction potential. Plans are reportedly underway to purchase the sculpture and return it to Palm Springs for display in the new Downtown Event Center Park. Taxpayer funds have been mentioned as the expected payment source for all or a portion of the costs. Should PS Resorts, beneficiary of TOT tourism dollar rebates, pay any portion of the costs?

BUZZ Trolley – Originally conceived as a service for hotel guests, it has proved quite popular with residents living along its route. Some wish to see the trolley’s route extended and the hours of service lengthened to accommodate closing-time patrons leaving local bars. Some neighborhoods appear concerned over frequent trolley traffic through their area until after midnight. Should neighborhood concerns be addressed? Should the costs, estimated at $4 per rider, be paid from tourism dollars?

Motorcycle Weekend – Viewed as a tourism asset and, as such, it is subject to the whims of downtown business community leaders. This became apparent when local hotel honchos expressed concern this year’s Motorcycle Weekend should be cancelled lest attendee disruptions lead to publicity proving negative to the “Palm Springs Brand”. Should tourism leadership desires be the voice that’s accommodated with respect to the appropriateness of special weekend events?

Developer Fees – Should the city continue to offer cash incentives to developers paid from taxpayer money?

TOT Rebates – The city rebates a portion of the Transit Occupancy Taxes (TOT) to local hotels through PS Resorts, their public representative organization. The rebates may be appropriate for new small hotels during their first years of operations. Should the rebates for both large and small hotels be continued?

Economic Benefits – Downtown development, significant promotional activities and special events are all touted as resulting from tourism and other business activities. What is seldom recognized is that the majority of the costs associated with increased economic benefits come from the investment of taxpayer funds. Taxes raised from residents may well be the secret ingredient that provides the claimed economic benefit successes. Should more of our tourism returns be used to fund streets, the library and maintenance of our public infrastructure?


NEIGHBORHOODS AND RESIDENTS

Homelessness – The local homeless population continues to be one in need of more from city officials than kind words. Various committees have come and gone and yet solutions to the ongoing problem continue to be missing. City resources continue to grow and yet the funding and other attention provided to addressing homelessness  receive very little of the community’s wealth and good fortune. Should a permanent strategy for tackling this situation be developed to replace ad hoc committees that treat the subject as a temporary problem?

Vacation Rentals – Those residing in close proximity continue to voice concerns over the conduct of renters and guests in residences that are used as short-term vacation rentals. Noise, late hours, trash and other concerns all appear on the list of concerns. Should legal steps, including ordinances and strict policing, be taken to identify and eliminate the sources of this problem?

Tahquitz Creek Golf Course – The renamed Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course continues to require financial support from the city in order to fund annual operations. There are three public golf courses in Palm Springs available for tourists and residents to use. Since golfing is a rather expensive recreational activity should the city’s golf course property be considered for other uses if it’s unable to generate revenues sufficient to meet its $5.6 million annual budgetary maintenance needs?

Street Maintenance – There is reportedly an $80 million backlog of street surfaces in need of maintenance. Monies currently being used for street repairs include $4 million from Measure J funds, $5 million in borrowed funds and $1.4 million matching funds from the Tribe for Section 14. Should there be a citizen Public Works Commission to hear resident concerns about needed attention and improvements to the city’s transportation routes, policies and maintenance practices?

CV Link – The CV Link proposed bicycle-pedestrian-electric motor vehicle roadway, approximately 52 miles in length, would be constructed on or closely paralleling the Whitewater River wash embankment (54% on the river embankment – the remainder on city streets). It’s being funded through a combination of grants together with $20 million from Measure A sales tax bridge-highway-street funds money. Future maintenance costs are to be paid from individual valley city taxpayer funds. There are no independent studies justifying the project such as total costs and funding sources, existing and future usage data, and claimed benefits. Each of these statistical studies has yet to be obtained and made available for public review. The total estimated cost of the CV Link roadway is reportedly $100 million dollars. Should the CV Link roadway plan be submitted to Palm Springs voters for their rejection or approval?


     There are many other topics of concern and interest that are equally important to Palm Springs residents. Among the list not included here are vehicle speed limits, water usage restrictions relative to approval of new building projects, family friendly concerns, lengthy business permit delays, waiver of parking space requirements for favored major projects, new Aluminaire House maintenance plans, city policies for treatment of historic buildings, building height limit waivers, a citizens Finance Commission, proposals for mayoral runoff elections, and suspending city council and other official meetings during the month of August.

     The intent of this report is to provide topical background information as support for a question that may be seen as worthy for asking a candidate’s views or position on the matter.

     Please alert me to factually incorrect information that is found to exist in this report and, of course, thanks in advance for that support.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 2 votes

           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.
www.drguyburrows.com – Email: Gabadoc1@me.com
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.
www.votefoat.com – Email: VoteFoat@gmail.com
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.
Email: GunastiForMayor@gmail.com
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
www.robmoonformayor.com  email:  RobertLMoon@yahoo.com
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.
www.mayorronoden.com – Email: RonOden@aol.com
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.
www.psmayor.com –  Email: oz.blueman@yahoo.com
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.
www.votebobweinstein.com – Email: WeinsteinLaw100@aol.com
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.
Email: WrightRicky9@gmail.com
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.
Email: DaveSB1968@gmail.com
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.
www.neighborsforjimking.com – Email: JimKing5000@yahoo.com
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.
www.geoffkors.com – Geoff.Kors@gmail.com
Campaign platform:  Maximize opportunities to grow our economy


Paul Lewin,  Age 44 – 760-303-1992
Palm Springs City Councilmember.  Resident for 44 years.
www.ElectLewin.com – Email: info@ElectLewin.com
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.
www.annanevenic.com – Email: annactnow@yahoo.com
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.
www.VoteJRRoberts.com – Email: buyer66@mac.com
Campaign platform:  Continuing the city’s prosperity by promoting smart, balanced growth.


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

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

Summary:
     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 – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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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 – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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3.75 avg. rating (78% score) - 4 votes

     It’s been 12 years since Palm Springs was headed by a Republican serving as the city’s mayor. In 2003 city councilman Ron Oden, a Democrat, defeated incumbent mayor Will Kleindienst, a Republican, in an upset 51% to 43% sweep that also saw the first time election of both Steve Pougnet and Ginny Foat as new city council members.

     Will this be the year when Palm Springs elects another Republican as Mayor? Democrats hold a lopsided majority of 11,146 registered voters. Registered Republicans total 5,482 and there are 4,976 registered as Decline to State (Independents) or other small parties. It would appear from these numbers that this will be another good year for the Democrats.

     This year, 2015, will be the first since 2007 in which the mayor position will be without an incumbent on the ticket. That alone makes it both an attractive and a competitive option for anyone seeking the political spotlight. The problem for Democrats, if one turns out to exist, may be that they have too many candidates running for the seat. The field includes incumbent councilwoman Ginny Foat, former mayor Ron Oden, Palm Springs high school principal (retired) Rick Wright, Measure J Commissioner Rob Moon and Civil Rights attorney Bob Weinstein. That could spell trouble for Democrats. These five highly qualified candidates, all with good support, will definitely split the Democratic vote. In her 2013 city council reelection bid Ginny Foat received 5,268 votes. It’s not expected that she or any other candidate’s vote total will reach that figure in this year’s mayoral race.

     If a Republican or “Conservative” candidate enters the race that person will stand a very strong chance of winning the election. The 5,482 Registered Republicans would probably unite behind a single conservative candidate (if there’s one on the ballot). Should that turn out to be the case then the Republican could easily turn out to be the one with the highest vote.

     The following are recent Registered Voter statistics for Palm Springs.

11,146  –
05,482  –
04,976  –
21,604  –

Registered Democrats
Registered Republicans
Independents and Others
Total Voter Registrations

     For comparison purposes, the following is the 2013 City Council Vote Count for Palm Springs.

5,286  –
5,207 –
3,181  –
1,916  –
15,572

 Ginny Foat
 Christopher “Chris” Mills
 Judy Evans Deertrack
 Jeffrey Nichols
Total Votes

     The last day to file completed applications to run for mayor is August 12th. That’s when the list of qualified candidates will be known and that’s when the candidate(s) with “conservative” credentials, if any, will be known.

Bond Shands
August 2, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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     Recycled Water is treated wastewater delivered for irrigation and similar non-potable water uses. The largest Coachella Valley water companies, Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District, deliver a Recycled Water product that includes more than treated wastewater. They add potable water to the mix and the result is a hybrid combination of two. The term potable signifies the water is suitable for drinking.

     Recycled Water has been exempted from most local and State Water Resources Control Board mandatory water usage restrictions. Whether the state board’s definition of Recycled Water includes the hybrid product being delivered by the local agencies is unknown. It’s for that reason I’ve sent inquiries asking whether the local non-standard Recycled Water product qualifies for exemption from water usage restrictions.

     The following are copies of my recently sent inquiries.


Date: Wed, 22 July 2015
Subject: Recycled Water Policy

Dear State Water Resources Control Board:

I’m a Coachella Valley resident interested in learning more about your Recycled Water Policies. It’s my understanding you have exempted users of Recycled Water from your mandatory conservation restriction requirements.

I’ve been led to understand the Recycled Water term is intended to represent non-potable treated wastewater that is used for irrigation of parks, golf courses and similar purposes. It’s not supposed to include fresh potable water.

Coachella Valley has two major water districts that both treat wastewater for delivery to golf course and local parks. Their names are Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA). Neither agency furnishes Recycled Water of the exact type I’ve described above.

CVWD imports Colorado River water via canal. They mix it with treated wastewater and deliver to customers (primarily golf courses) as Recycled Water.

DWA pumps fresh water from the aquifer that it mixes with treated wastewater. The mix is then delivered to customer accounts (golf courses and city parks) as Recycled Water.

Does the State Water Resources Control Board have a definition of what is intended by their use of the term Recycled Water?

Is the mixing of either freshly pumped water or Colorado River water with treated wastewater eligible for classification by you as Recycled Water?

Should the hybrid mix of treated wastewater and potable water be considered as Recycled Water and eligible for exclusion from your water conservation restrictions?

For documentation purposes the CVWD handling of Recycled Water is discussed in the local Desert Sun’s newspaper 2013 story titled “Coachella Valley Water District looks to speed efforts to take golf courses off groundwater” using the following link. http://desert.sn/1LChV9N

The DWA handling of Recycled Water is discussed in the local KESQ Channel 3 news report of March 25, 2015 titled “New wells help the Desert Water Agency recycle more water” in the following link. http://bit.ly/1emn1YY

Sincerely,

Bond Shands
Palm Springs


Date: Fri, 24 July 2015
Subject: Recycled Water Policy – Part Two

Dear State Water Resources Control Board:

In an earlier email I reported that Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency were each mixing potable water with treated wastewater and labeling the combination Recycled Water. It is then delivered for use to irrigate golf courses, parks and other grassy landscape needs. That report was to document my request for your definition of Recycled Water and whether the combination of potable and treated wastewater met that definition.

With respect to the same Recycled Water subject, it’s my understanding neither water agency includes potable water delivered as Recycled Water in their water usage reports.

I would appreciate learning your position with respect to whether potable water delivered as Recycled Water is a violation of, or is exempt from, your reporting requirements.

Sincerely,

Bond Shands
Palm Springs


     Recycled Water users are definitely a privileged class. They are not subject to the same usage restrictions imposed on potable water customers. Those restrictions are intended to discourage irrigating grass and similarly landscaped areas by limiting the days, times and amount of water that may be used. Recycled Water users are, if anything, encouraged to irrigate grass and similarly landscaped areas. One obvious conclusion is that if your property contains large amounts of grass, converting to Recycled Water would be a nice option to consider.
  
     Should Recycled Water users be a privileged class? The practice of mixing freshly pumped aquifer water or Colorado River water with treated wastewater in order to satisfy the needs of Recycled Water users begs the question of whose best interests are being served by local water agencies. As for the practice itself, it almost appears as if intended to artificially lower reported potable water usage statistics.

Bond Shands
July 24, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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Current Political Statistics for Palm Springs

 VOTER REGISTRATION as of June 29, 2015

Democratic Party

11,146

Republican Party

5,482

American Independent

606

Green Party

104

Libertarian

124

Peace & Freedom

39

MIS

180

No Political Party

3,923

Total

21,604

 

POPULATION COUNTS:

Population, 2013 estimate

46,281

Population 2010 (April 1) estimates base

44,531

Population, 2010

44,552

   

Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010

3.9%

Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010

13.7%

Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2010

26.5%

Female persons, percent, 2010

43.6%

White alone, percent, 2010 (a)

75.7%

Black or African American, percent, 2010

4.4%

American Indian and Alaska Native, 2010

1.0%

Asian alone, percent, 2010

4.4%

Native Hawaiian-Other Pacific Islander, 2010

 0.2%

Two or More Races, percent, 2010

3.1%

Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010

25.3%

White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010

63.6%

 

Bond Shands
July 7, 2015

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    In the City of Palm Springs the ideal mayoral or city council candidate would be one who held out the promise of change. It would be change of the type that would personally impact individual voters and ultimately improve their financial well-being and/or quality of life. Such a campaign platform would provide residents a reason to show interest in the elections and its outcome.

     The ideal candidate would not shirk from promoting decreased taxation, steps towards more equal representation, and better opportunities for citizen input to government affairs. The following are examples of steps to attract community interest and start a conversation about the change each would represent.

1.  Support a measure providing for election of city council members by district. The goal would be to provide more diversity in the city council’s composition. Women, minorities, the financial middle class, and neighborhoods would benefit.

2.  Examine recent Measure J Sales tax implementation. The Measure’s 1% Sales Tax proceeds include a majority component intended for the betterment of the community. Over $43 million has already being diverted for the benefit of tourism and downtown interests. Additional diversion of funds should not be allowed to continue.

3.  Repeal of special ongoing taxes including elimination of the  Utility tax and the Cell Phone tax  (both are around 5%). Palm Springs taxes are being used to support a city government structure that is considered by some to be extravagant.

4.  The city currently provides cash subsidies from taxpayer funds to assist new developments and businesses. The practice should be eliminated.

5.  Eliminate the city subsidy for the Tahquitz Creek Resort golf course. If the golf course (aka Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course) can’t pay its way something else should be done with the property. Subsidizing it amounts to little more than a boondoggle.

6.  Create a citizen Finance Commission to review budget & finances. Perhaps the most important annual city ordinance is the one creating the budget. There is no decent mechanism for citizen input and review. It’s entirely a staff and city council activity.

7.  Create a citizen Public Works & Transportation Commission. Transportation, including motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, are implemented by staff without provision for significant residential input. Whether it’s new bridges, streets and highways, or bicycle and walking paths, there are few opportunities for residents to provide input to an independent commission regarding their concerns with respect to these infrastructure and maintenance activities.

8.  Add more street signal lights to slow vehicle speed limits. Vehicle speed limits must be set by a formula relating to how fast traffic is currently moving. The only way to slow fast moving traffic is to decrease the distance between stop signs and signals. Increasing the number of signals, set for slower traffic flows, would serve to decrease our high traffic speeds on major thoroughfares. The law states every intersection is a legal pedestrian crossing but the majority do not have pavement crosswalks and vehicle traffic too often refuses to stop. The rights of pedestrians to safely cross streets are not receiving sufficient support from those responsible for roadway traffic issues.

9.  Increase city support for homeless issues. The City of Palm Springs provides more support for seniors, tourism, recreation, bicycling, developers, the animal shelter and practically everything other than support for those who are homeless. Throwing money at the issue may not be the solution but more emphasis on seeking actual solutions must be taken. Creating a citizens Homelessness Commission would be a first step in the quest for answers.

10. A past budget included a provision to close City Hall on Friday and change the employee workweek to a four-day activity. There’s no longer a budget crunch and the reasons for closing City Hall are no longer compelling. Opening City Hall on a five-day basis should be a requirement.

11. Negotiate arrangements with the Tribe for beautification of their vacant properties. There are many tribal sections that are vacant and unsightly. Some agreement should be sought that would facilitate improvement to  the appearance of these areas.

12. The Springs and Gene Autry shopping areas represent a vibrant component of the Palm Springs shopping community. However, they are shortchanged when it comes to support from the Tourism honchos and other downtown interests. One step to recognize their importance and facilitate resident and tourist access would be to add them to the BUZZ trolley route.

13. More Palm Springs Police Department walking and bicycle patrols are needed. Support for adding four or more patrol positions to the department’s budget should be a high priority.

      Unfortunately there’s little need for any of the candidates currently running for office to step out in front and seriously consider these proposals. Too many of these suggestions represent issues that would step on sensitive toes. Strong opposition to cutting taxes, district elections and money for the homeless would certainly be heard. And, if no candidate raises issues, such as the ones listed, there’s no reason for other candidates to open what could ultimately turn out to be a “can of worms”.

     Without significant campaign issues our current election season promises to be boring. It will at least share that status with previous elections. The last time Palm Springs had serious issues raised by candidates occurred in 2003 when the LGBT community campaigned against the incumbent mayor because of his position with respect to gay issues and the annual White Party.

     The ideal city council candidate probably doesn’t exist here in Palm Springs. Most, if not all, don’t qualify as populist candidates. Skewed views favoring business community interests over those of residents and neighborhoods tend to be the norm. And, with only one announced candidate debate on the calendar, there won’t be multiple opportunities to see and hear candidates in a moderated forum. The current election, as has been the case since 2003, will probably not be one worthy of remembrance by any – other than the candidates themselves.

Bond Shands
July 5, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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