In an editorial dated May 18, 2015, titled “Our Voice: Rancho Mirage mayor lashes out in path fight“, the Desert Sun newspaper’s management mounts a strong attack on Mayor Dana Hobart’s character. The editorial is filled with the newspaper’s accusatory claims and would have readers believe Hobart’s prudent concerns for the well-being of the City of Rancho, of which he is an elected public servant, are not the reason for his questions about the costs, design and management of the CV-Link bicycle-pedestrian-Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEVs) path that’s planned for the Coachella Valley.
The editorial includes a number of spurious claims that are not supported by facts nor warranted by other information. Defamation of Hobart’s reputation appears to be the single purpose behind the editorial. The following are some of the specious statements made in the editorial about Mayor Hobart.
….. “flailing in some of his responses to critics and others, including The Desert Sun,”
….. “he sought leverage in the dispute with a threat of possibly further bogging down CV Link”
….. “strategy of threatening the entire project”
….. “lashing out at those telling the entire story”
….. making “arguments in a way that elicited his own praise”
The full editorial may be read or shared using the following link: http://desert.sn/1S3Ekhi.
Mayor Hobart posted a rebuttal to the editorial under the newspaper story’s online Comments section. His full response is quoted below.
Rancho Mirage, California
That the newspaper supports the CV Link without knowing anything at all about Who Will Have to Pay and How Much over the long term debt obligations that the project will impose is a luxury cities cannot afford.
Mark Twain advised against getting into disputes with those who buy ink by the barrel. Good advice which I have tried to follow. But when a reporter tells the public in sinister fashion that I told him to destroy a document, which he knew had no relevance to anything, and regardless would have remained in the hands of the CVAG Executive Director and his Legal Counsel, a response is required.
I sent an email to Mr. Kirk indicating that we planned to submit 5 motions (which I identified by title only) to be placed on the CVAG Executive Committees June 1, 2015 agenda. The email went to Executive Director Tom Kirk and CVAGs legal counsel and three members of Rancho Mirage staff. Later I decided not to go forward with one of the motions. The reporter asked for and received a copy of this email from CVAG. When the reporter asked me about this email I told him I had changed my mind on the motion and suggested he could destroy his copy of the document as it was no longer relevant.
Subsequently, I praised the reporter for getting the facts out; however, I was critical of him for fabricating a controversy that had no basis in fact making it appear I made an unethical request to destroy his copy of an email I had to sent five others. (Email me at GDanaHobart@aol.com if you want a copy of that email.)
To speculate at my motives, as the newspaper does (Hobarts actions suggest he sought leverage) is the worst of journalistic practices. If a story cannot stand on its own feet, assign some sinister motivation lurking behind the scenes? Our 4 motions were adequate and we decided against the contemplated 5th motion. In essence I explained that the original intention was reduced by one. How could eliminating the motion gain me or the City leverage? The suggestion is absurd.
Two things have motivated me to fight this battle, First, to protect the residents of Rancho Mirage from becoming locked into a project that carries with it significant long term monetary risks. Second, neither I nor our council will be bullied or maneuvered into approving a CV Link route through Rancho Mirage that changes the nature of our community or our quality of life. The CV Link and apparently the newspaper are angry because we wont approve a route going along Highway 111. Or build a charging station on our Library property! What other city has CV Link going down Highway 111? The idea is preposterous.
A third motivation how arises: To defend myself from the cheap shots of the press trying to make it appear I said to destroy something of importance. And to then speculate about why.
It is an old debate tactic: if you cant beat them on the facts, then make up a motive and shoot the messenger.
From day one my message has been this: CVAG has no acceptable plan to pay for the decades of operations and maintenance costs this project will generate. They have spent somewhere between $1M and $5M in design and related expenses. Yet, after three years of work on the project there is no answer to the question, Who Pays and How Much? That may be OK for those who bear no financial responsibility, but in Rancho Mirage that is an important, unanswered question.
—– End of Mayor Hobart’s rebuttal. —–
I find it extremely distressing to witness the power of the press being used to intimidate and possibly silence a critic who shares positions that differ from their own. In my opinion the Desert Sun’s editorial represents a shameful attack upon the character and integrity of one who has the best interests of his community at heart. It’s for that reason that I’ve added my name by posting my own comments in rebuttal to the Desert Sun newspaper’s editorial. The following is a copy of my statement.
Bond Shands commented on an article.
Desert Sun Attacks Rancho Mirage Mayor Dana Hobart
. What I had assumed would be a simple Desert Sun response to Mayor Hobart’s challenging the newspaper’s reporting turned out not to be the case. The paper’s editors have mounted a frontal attack against Mayor Hobart’s character, apparently out of pique over his fearless daring to question their “4th Estate” right to serve as our valley’s unquestioned arbiters.
. The Desert Sun’s reporting of what Mayor Hobart may have said differs between their May 17th and May 19th stories. In the first one they quote the mayor without accurate context as:
“However, thinking that he might have accidentally given the document to a reporter, Hobart said, ‘Please destroy it.'”
. Today’s May 19th story quotes the Mayor’s actual email in which he wrote “No, that is not to be a motion. My mistake it was apparently in among the others. Please destroy it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.”
. As is evident, context is everything. The newspaper’s reporter failed to accurately include context and instead decided to make it appear that Mayor Hobart was requesting something be covered up. Today’s journalistic instincts often remain little different from those initially used by Randolph Hearst in order to sell newspapers. Don’t report everything, just stuff that makes for a good story. Those instincts appear alive and well in the halls of the Desert Sun newspaper.
. I remain disappointed in the Desert Sun’s insistence that theirs is the only voice that counts with respect to so many valley issues. There have been a number of instances in which it was clear they acted without basing it on all the relevant information, acted based on opinion rather than facts, went for headlines over substance, or chose to place business advertising community interests first. The newspaper’s determination to act as a “voice of authority” in their editorial denunciation of Mayor Dana Hobart adds more fuel to the fire of their disappointing personal agenda. When they accuse the mayor of “lashing out” perhaps they should step outside the ring and take a look at their own actions for their record, in this instance, is not only a very poor one, but one that smells of hypocrisy.
. Mayor Dana Hobart has taken a courageous stand in questioning CV-Link’s departure from the original promises to new ones that significantly differ from those that produced initial valley community support. The latest CV-Link design devotes the majority of the path for use by Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) – not quite the healthy benefit the route was intended to achieve. The original plans said the route “will not require local funding”, and yet it’s now reported future annual operating costs must be paid by the community. And the original plan called for a path along the embankment of the Whitewater River channel. That too has turned out not to be the case for the portion through Rancho Mirage is being designed to run along its city streets. The Desert Sun was one of many who rushed in and voiced full un-wavering support for CV-Link. They’ve since endorsed a call for answers to questions but their support shows no sign of weakening. They continue to bolster claims CV-Link will serve as “a tourist magnet”, “recreational marvel”, it will benefit “impoverished neighborhoods” and generate tourist dollars (presumably from the hoards who will flock to the valley in order to ride the trail on bikes or in NEVs). They haven’t yet claimed it will bring about world peace, but the bucket for absurd claims appears bottomless, so don’t be surprised if more ridiculous promises of CV-Link benefits surface.
. I applaud Mayor Hobart for the stand he and his city have taken with respect to CV-Link design, funding and management questions. He deserves better than cheap attacks on his character by Desert Sun editorial writers. The mayor quoted Mark Twain’s advice “against getting into disputes with those who buy ink by the barrel”. The Desert Sun has wasted too much from their ink barrel on attacking one whose only purpose is to care for the best interests of the city in which he was elected to serve. Is it so wrong (or even shocking) to find an elected public servant who really has the best interests of his constituents at heart?
. Good work, Mayor Hobart. Thanks for being the voice so many need to have raised on their behalf. I enthusiastically applaud your efforts seeking a realistic approach to the proposed CV-Link dream so that it can proceed towards completion in a manner that warrants full community support.
“Daily Morning Bicyclist”
—– End of Bond Shands’ rebuttal. —–
May 19, 2015
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