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

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

Victory Fund Intervention in Palm Springs Elections

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

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

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

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

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

Bond Shands
August 20, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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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
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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  –

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


Current Political Statistics for Palm Springs

 VOTER REGISTRATION as of June 29, 2015

Democratic Party


Republican Party


American Independent


Green Party




Peace & Freedom




No Political Party






Population, 2013 estimate


Population 2010 (April 1) estimates base


Population, 2010



Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010


Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010


Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2010


Female persons, percent, 2010


White alone, percent, 2010 (a)


Black or African American, percent, 2010


American Indian and Alaska Native, 2010


Asian alone, percent, 2010


Native Hawaiian-Other Pacific Islander, 2010


Two or More Races, percent, 2010


Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010


White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010



Bond Shands
July 7, 2015

Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
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5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Each year the Palm Springs annual budget appears on the City Council agenda during the first meeting in June for the required “hearing”. Then again on the agenda of the second meeting in June for its adoption. Despite the 292 pages in the budget documents and the $97,514,596 size of the Appropriations Summary totals, there’s little discussion and it sails through the proceedings faster than a request for a new traffic signal.

     This year’s budget documents are divided into three sections consisting of:
…..  Appropriations Summary data – 100 pages
…..  Positions and Compensation Plan – 100 pages
…..  Comprehensive Fee Schedule – 92 pages

     The Appropriations Summary section is not all numbers and spreadsheet data. The second half  includes copies of all the letters and other data provided by those seeking donations of taxpayer funds as Contributions and for Special Events. It’s a section with sufficient narrative detail to interest those who otherwise care little for accounting numbers and spreadsheets. The $97,514,596 supporting figures in the first half are probably the ones of most interest to financial analysts and others concerned by the lack of transparency associated with city finances.

     Residents of Palm Springs are being shortchanged by the speedy procedures that serve to swiftly move the near-secretive budget process towards approval. The city has many different boards, commissions and committees but none exist to oversee the city’s finances. There are no independent eyes watching the budget preparation process, no opportunities to interview departments and learn the specifics supporting individual appropriations, and no ongoing monitoring of budgeted expenditures. The budget process is one of the most critical functions of city government and in Palm Springs it’s one that’s done behind closed doors.

     One of the greatest services new city council members could perform would be to seriously consider the manner in which city finances and the budget occur without a lot of independent scrutiny. We need a watchdog team of qualified individuals to work with the city to make the finance and budgetary activities completely transparent and one that benefits from outside scrutiny. It’s time for a continuing Board, Commission or Committee to be chartered by the city council to serve as independent guardians of the finance and budgetary processes. As for those seeking election to city government positions, they should be questioned by all to learn their views of this subject.

Bond Shands
June 17, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
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Access June 17th City Council meeting agenda -use following link.
http://www.palmspringsca.gov/ /Com /Calendar/Event/9748/526

Access Budget Part 1 document using the following link.

Access Budget Part 2 document using the following link.

Access Budget Part 3 document using the following link.

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     Repetition, repetition, repetition – that’s the best way to brainwash others and the public at large. It’s probably one of the oldest of political and media tactics in the playbook. It’s also the best way to mount an attack (or defense) – simply repeat what you want others to believe and keep repeating it until they finally show evidence of having tasted the Kool-Aid and now belong to the club of true believers.

     The Desert Sun newspaper’s front page “Palm Springs to hire 2 firms to look into its programs” story about Mayor Steve Pougnet has a new face. It’s been produced under the bylines of street reporters Barrett Newkirk, Skip Descant and Kia Farhang. Together, these three managed to produce an 890+ word tabloid ostensibly about the June 3rd Palm Springs City Council meeting. It turned out to be just another in the long-running series of witch hunting hit pieces targeting Mayor Steve Pougnet.

     The newspaper articles’ second half, of approximately 450 words, is a series of cut-and-paste rehashed information previously reported ad nauseam about Mayor Pougnet, developer Richard Meaney, Financial Disclosure Forms, Redevelopment Agency property sales, and the Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. Of the four photos appearing in the online version of the story, three are of Mayor Steve Pougnet (and he wasn’t even at the city council meeting). A summary of the story would need to  identify the first section as about the city council meeting and the second as just another rerun of their earlier Steve Pougnet newsprinting excesses.

     There are moments when Desert Sun street reporter articles actually give “yellow journalism” a bad name. That’s the case with the newspaper and its current three-member team pulling together to ferret out more trivia from which to fashion headlines linking Mayor Steve Pougnet and the Palm Springs city council to scandal. They may succeed, not because they’re being truthful, performing a service or acting as 4th Estate public guardians, they may succeed for the simplest of reasons. It’s that vast supply of printer’s ink that allows them to engage in “repetition, repetition, repetition”.

     Here’s a defanged version of the Steve Pougnet story minus the lust for blood. In his regular occupation as a consultant Mayor Steve Pougnet was employed by local developer Richard Meaney. (Note: The mayoral position is considered part-time and includes a small salary. There are no restrictions prohibiting the mayor or city council members from having regular full-time employment positions separate from their part-time city responsibilities.)

  • 1.)  Mr. Meaney reportedly has benefited from legitimate financial dealings with the City of Palm Springs. The transactions were handled by city staff and ultimately approved by the City Council. Mayor Steve Pougnet has since apologized for overlooking a need to abstain from a procedural vote regarding one of the financial transactions.
  • 2.)  Questions have arisen whether the city received fair value from the arrangements with Mr. Meaney or whether undue influence occurred with respect to any of the transactions.
  • 3.)  No evidence has been produced indicating undue influence occurred. No evidence has been produced linking these transactions to Mr. Meaney’s employment of Steve Pougnet as a consultant.
  • 4.)  No evidence or link has been produced indicating that Steve Pougnet benefited from other than his regular fee for consulting services.
  • 5.)  A former Palm Springs resident now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area reportedly filed a complaint with the FPPC. Copies along with the FPPC form letter reply were shared with the local media. There’s no evidence that an actual FPPC investigation is underway.
  • 6.)  That same San Francisco Bay Area resident reportedly filed a complaint with Riverside County’s outgoing civil Grand Jury. Copies were shared with local media along with a response indicating the complaint would be passed along, without action, for consideration by a new civil Grand Jury in July. The media identified the complainant as “a long-time detractor of the mayor”.
  • 7.)  An opinion was requested from the county District Attorney for an interpretation of the state’s ethical requirements for elected officials. That opinion was provided but no other indication exists that the District Attorney currently has an interest in the local media’s political targets.

     Whether in war, peace or the media there are some who appear to have an unquenchable thirst for fresh blood. That’s beginning to appear to be the case with Desert Sun street reporters and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet. If reports of an ongoing FPPC significant investigation were to surface, a criminal Grand Jury indictment handed down or evidence that crimes or other violations of law disclosed, then the newspaper would be performing the right job in reporting such events. None of this has occurred, no evidence produced and nothing beyond speculation presented to substantiate the series of Desert Sun stories on this subject. It continues, in the minds of many, to be just another instance of a “Guilty until proven innocent” judgment from those who would surely expect something better should they ever become targets of a media witch hunt.

Bond Shands
June 4, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.BondShands.com

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