Cathedral City’s Greg Pettis Target of Desert Sun Witchhunt Revisited

Cathedral City Councilmember Greg Pettis was targeted in the Sunday edition of The Desert Sun newspaper’s Cathedral City Councilman Greg Pettis spent $92,000 using a city-backed credit card
front page opinion piece. The article represents a political hatchet job, a smear, trash or
at best, unsupported opinion. Pettis posted a response on his Facebook page
earlier this evening. A copy of that post appears below.

 


  Greg Pettis

April 29, 2013

In essence, “If not These were just two of the open ended conjectures masquerading as hard news delivered to the doorsteps of Coachella Valley homes yesterday in a breathless front-page story that should have been relegated to the opinion pages of the Desert Sun.

For those of you who live outside the subscription area, Cathedral City’s paper of record published a story in its Sunday edition criticizing my travel on behalf of the city. Good newspapers publish stories like this one all the time, all over the country, and its part of their mission to be a watchdog for the public and our democracy is better for it when the stories are accurate and leave opinion making to the editorial board.

Since this story seemed to be more interested in trying to pose lurid questions about my personal life and the value my travel brings to Cathedral City, Id like to respond to you with some actual facts that were omitted and some that were downplayed in the article.

My work on the Riverside County Transportation Committee (RCTC) was a key factor in the $70 million Date Palm Interchange, $20 million in federal money for the CA-91 freeway (which is being leveraged for another $100 million) and four other new freeway interchanges in the Valley.

As a member of RCTC, I helped secure $221,253 to help reduce air pollution in the Valley by providing shuttle services during the Coachella and Sundance Music and Arts Festivals and $562,000 for local cities to build alternative fuel stations, purchase alternative fuel vehicles and mobile hydrogen refueling stations. Currently, I’m working on another $250,000 in funding to set up bike share programs.

Thanks to my lobbying as Chair of the RCTC and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments Transportation Committee, rail service from the Valley to Los Angeles will be included in the new State Rail Plan with an initial $400,000 in development planning and $4.2 million in the coming fiscal year for the project.

This week, I will become President of the Southern California Association of Governments (SVAG), elected by my peers all throughout Southern California, giving the Valley a powerful voice in the growth, planning and economic development of our region. Since being on its Board, over $1 million has come to the valley for transportation, land use and environmental planning.

And of course this doesn’t even touch on programs brought to Cathedral City like Healing Field, honoring our war dead, prescription drug discount programs, 3rd Grade Literacy efforts or the millions in dollars to offset the high cost of sewer connections in the Cove, Dream Homes and 35th Avenue neighborhoods.

Yes, it is true that my personal fortunes have taken a hit during this recession, and Id like to believe that these hard times make me a better steward of public dollars and more in tune with the difficulties that families across our region have suffered during the worst recession of our lifetimes. I take full responsibility for my own financial shortcomings, but let me be clear: they do NOT include a failure to follow procedure and reimburse the city.

The reporter found no evidence that the city hadn’t properly been reimbursed, so resorted to a sensationalist headline backed up by invective from political opponents with whom I’ve had many policy disagreements with over the years.

The credit card in question has never been used for anything other than city expenses. Cathedral City’s City Manager was quoted as saying, I don’t believe Councilman Pettis has misused his credit card.

As for shamelessly blaming my travel for police and fire department cuts, it should be noted that I’ve been endorsed by the rank and file of both of those organizations repeatedly in my elections to the City Council and the amount of travel taken over the last five years wouldn’t even equal the salary and benefits of one officer during this period of time.

While I applaud good investigative journalism, its a sad truth that sloppy tabloid news like the story some of you read yesterday keeps many good people from running for elected office. While stories like this one won’t keep me away from my duties, I hope it won’t deter any of you who believe public service is an honorable profession.

Greg Pettis


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Summary:  The Desert Sun
produces yet another Witchhunt birdcage liner to fill space in the
newspaper’s Sunday edition. Cathedral City councilmember Greg Pettis is
their target (again) and the story is long, boring, inaccurate and
filled with innuendo designed to convince the reader actual wrongdoing
has occurred. The paper fails in their objective to convince and all
that’s left are the remains of a dead tree ready for recycling.


 Cathedral City‘s Greg Pettis Target of Desert Sun Witchhunt

 Palm Springs, California. The Witchhunt reporters over at The Desert Sun
newspaper last took serious aim at Cathedral City councilmember Greg
Pettis in 2008. In that year he ran for the open Assembly District seat
in the Democratic Primary against Manuel Perez. The newspaper’s staff
showed themselves supportive of Perez. Their reporter working alongside
the Pettis campaign was caught passing along confidential information to
a source in the Perez campaign. The paper’s political reporter was
caught assisting an individual in the production of a nasty anti-Pettis
website. Nothing complimentary of Pettis appeared in the newspaper’s
reports during that period.

Today (Sunday, April 28th) the paper’s Witchhunt reporters have again turned their sights on councilmember Pettis. In a “Cathedral City councilman spent $92K on city-backed credit card
story the reporter throws in a huge package of unrelated bits of
information that fail to connect and only serve to give the appearance
of a credible article – it’s not! It claims to be about credit card
travel and lodging costs related to his unpaid service as an
intra-governmental associations representative of the community. The
newspaper reporter appears to believe Pettis should bear all expenses related to his unpaid public services,
in addition to those as a councilmember, representing his city and the
valley. Definitely another creative “public servant” definition.

Councilman Greg Pettis belongs to the Southern California Association
of Governments (SCAG), League of California Cities (LOCC), National
League of Cities (NLC), and the Riverside County Transportation
Commission. His memberships require his unpaid attendance at monthly or
annual meetings to which he incurs travel-related expenses on behalf of
the public. Pettis is a Transportation Nut – one who seeks to improve
all forms of transportation and travel modes for the benefit of valley
residents! Whether it be Sunline Transit, passenger train access, bus
routes, bicycle trails, pedestrian walkways or vehicle
roads-streets-highways, Pettis seeks to ensure a valley voice is present
in all official governmental groups working with these issues. One of
his greatest joys in serving as a Cathedral City councilmember is the
platform and opportunity it provides him to speak, lobby, smooze and
wheedle transportation funds and support on behalf of Coachella Valley.
His unpaid services participating in numerous monthly or annual meetings
of SCAG, LOCC, NLC and Riverside County Transportation Commission
require travel related expenses to locations outside the Coachella
Valley. It is these expenses, allegedly totaling over $92,000 over a
five year period that The Desert Sun uses as justification for their current Witchhunt article aimed at Pettis.

In
producing the story the reporter relied on a number of issues that are
clearly unrelated to five years of expenses (paid by official credit
card) starting in 2008. The reporter mentions his 2008 Assembly race and
how many votes his opponent won by; his 2010 personal bankruptcy filing
(complete with photocopies of filing documents); his 2013 Facebook and
Twitter accounts; a bounced company check for a small amount that was
repaid; his upper cove residency, mortgage and home value; and map of
hotel stay locations. None of these gossip-like tidbits have relevancy
to Pettis’ governmental-related travel expenses. They were clearly included for the purpose of defaming Pettis while making the story appear to be credible.
While the reporter may have succeeded in obscuring anything of factual
value it also fails to definitively state that Councilmember Pettis has
done anything wrong. And, since the vast amount of personal time he has
and continues to devote to transportation-related issues on behalf of
the valley remains uncompensated, Pettis should be congratulated and thanks offered for his generosity and dedication to community service.

The Desert Sun is not a big city operation. It’s true they recently won
a number of small newspaper awards, but the realty is they were
competing in a forum similar to primary school grade level. The best and
brightest of their reporters leave for better opportunities at the
first chance and many of the leftovers lack talent. This latest attempt
to smear councilmember Pettis comes as no great surprise. It’s been
written by a relative newcomer with little personal knowledge of the
valley, its communities and the many sins of her employer. She may not
have known that obtaining quotes from former councilmember England and
mayor DeRosa lack value for both are political opponents of Pettis who
assail him at every opportunity.

According to a careful reading of the article, the reporter admits that “Cathedral City is reimbursed for the bulk of the councilman’s travel” and City Manager Andy Hall is quoted as saying “I don’t believe Councilman Pettis has misused his credit card.
These two factual statements should have guided the reporter and served
as warning. It’s hard to write a convincing Witchhunt story when the
truth calls into question the entire premise on which so much is based.

In summary, The Desert Sun newspaper’s “Cathedral City councilman spent $92K on city-backed credit card
story is a poorly researched, inaccurate, mean-spirited, almost hateful
space filler. The newspaper, its editors and the reporter should all be
ashamed – for this offering is more than objectionable – it’s actually
deceitful!

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com

April 28, 2013

All comments are welcome and should be sent to comments@desertobserver.com.
If intended for posting below please include FOR PUBLICATION in the message.

Click here to view/download a copy of this blog.



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Summary.
Dr. Raul Ruiz and valley Democrats were big winners in the 36th Congressional District race. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, valley Republicans, Palm Springs POA president Sgt. William Hutchinson, the four valley police officer associations, and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet were among the losers.


Congressional Race Fallout in Coachella Valley



Palm Springs, California.
  The contest for the 36th Congressional District seat representing Coachella Valley ended with Democratic challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz defeating fourteen-year GOP incumbent Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack. In addition to the surprising outcome, the race produced more winners and losers than just the two political combatants.

Dr. Ruiz was the big winner for he overcame initial doubts within his own party before going on to best the incumbent. His life story included a promise during his youth to return and serve the community following completion of his education and medial training. Few would have expected that promise would lead him to someday serve as the people’s voice in the nation’s capitol. Ruiz’s knowledge, education, background, charisma, compassion and bipartisanship will serve him well as the valley’s congressional representative.

The Democratic community, after years in the political wilderness, certainly qualify as big winners. Their dream candidate managed to bridge both the east and west ends of the valley’s progressive community and build an unstoppable winning coalition of diverse interests united in support of Dr. Ruiz’s candidacy.

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack mounted one of the nastiest, mean-spirited campaigns of recent memory in a quest to hold onto her seat. The tenor of her campaign advertising was vicious and contemptible in its attacks on Dr. Ruiz, all of which were totally devoid of community issues and concerns. Bono Mack earned for herself the disreputable image of one who would say and do practically anything in order to preserve her congressional paycheck. Her actions cost her support from the Native American community, the local newspaper editorial board and, finally, the voters on Election Day.

The four valley police officer associations (Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indio and Palm Springs) along with Palm Springs Police Officer Association president Sgt. William Hutchinson were big losers. The association representatives banded together for a news conference denouncing Dr. Ruiz’s candidacy because of his support while in college for Native Americans. The tenor of the police opposition placed them squarely against the Native American community, the Hispanic community and the valley’s Democrats. Sgt. Hutchinson and his fellow officers may be questioned by some about their lack of sensitivity to the racial implications of their actions. Some may also ask whether politically active police department personnel can be trusted to place community interests ahead of their personal goals. In their press conference support for Bono Mack’s contemptible campaign, they did so, not as ordinary citizens, but as police officer representatives.

The Republican community not only lost “their” congressional seat, they also learned the district’s voter registration numbers now favor the Democrats. That trend has been increasing and leads to rather solid speculation valley Republicans may be destined for continuing minority status. Their election losses also included the Cathedral City mayoral position and GOP control of the city council.

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet also qualifies as a big loser. It’s believed his plans had included another campaign for the Bono Mack congressional seat in 2014. Now that the seat is held by a fellow Democrat, Pougnet appears to have no political future beyond that of his current mayoral position. If his interest in a full-time elective position paycheck continues, that goal is one he now may be forced to pursue elsewhere.

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion

November 7, 2012

Comments may be posted below or sent to politics@desertobserver.com.


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Summary:
Palm Springs Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem need to clean up their act during city council sessions and avoid taking cheap shots directed against members of the community.


Cheap Shot Comments from Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem


Palm Springs, California
. The city council meeting agendas include provision for “Public Comment” followed by another titled “Councilmember Comments”. Some view the arrangement as a stacked deck for councilmembers aren’t subject to time limitations and are in a position to speak without fear of immediate rebuttal from the public. There appear to be few restrictions on what a councilmember may say during a session. Some councilmembers consistently show restraint and evidence considerable thought in their public comments. Others, including Mayor Steve Pougnet and Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat, sometimes use their council session microphone as a podium from which to deliver cheap shots directed at members of the community. They frequently make clear that Noblesse Oblige is not in their job descriptions.

The most recent city council meeting saw both the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem using the occasion to make spurious inferences about individuals who were not present. Mayor Pougnet clearly was playing to those in the audience when he denounced an elderly resident who had composed an email message the mayor claimed he found “insulting”. The mayor was sent a copy of the email but his name wasn’t mentioned in it and the content contained nothing slanderous, illegal, uncivil or objectionable. Its purpose was to express the author’s disapproval of the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture and the City’s sponsorship role. The mayor was quite harsh in his assessment of the email content (which he had misinterpreted) and, facing the TV camera, threatened the author with consequences should there be a follow-up email. Email messages are a valid form of expression and protected as free speech unless the content is found unlawful. The mayor was not elected to advise residents when they may or may not compose email messages that are critical of city policies or officials. No government official, including the mayor, should use their position to threaten a citizen – for any reason! Mayor Steve Pougnet used his “Councilmember Comments” period to deliver a cheap shot. The mayor then crossed the line when he issued his threat against the author of that email.

Later during the meeting Mayor Pro Tem Ginny indicated her approval of the Mayor’s comments when she began her own remarks with “I also want to take a page out of the Mayor’s playbook..” Foat’s ire was directed towards KPSI radio broadcaster Steve Kelly and the Desert Sun newspaper. She accused both of liking “to stir things up” and linked them to “a lot of, so far as I’m concerned, misinformation.” Foat failed to specify what she meant by her charges and no evidence or testimony was produced during the council session that appeared to relate to her statements. What is known is that when Pougnet uses his time to deliver cheap shots at community members, Foat is often the first to indicate her support and then follows his lead.

City council members have the right, and sometimes the duty, to voice disagreement with others over issues. However, there is a standard of conduct our civilized society expects of those holding office. Public officials should evidence respect for the views of others and particularly those with which they may disagree. Remarks made by officials during council sessions about individual community members should be factually accurate, couched in non-threatening language and unquestionably fair. Officials who practice these concepts will surely benefit from public appreciation and approval. Others should be viewed as irresponsible and deserving of community reproach.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
June 11, 2012





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Summary.
A signed email from a local resident provokes Mayor Steve Pougnet’s wrath in which he denounces the author during a city council meeting and threatens him with retaliation should the individual again express similar opinions.


The “Titillating” Marilyn Monroe Sculpture


Palm Springs, California.
  An open letter to City of Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.

Dear Steve,

Last evening’s City Council session was one I missed and didn’t see until viewing the video copy earlier today. I listened with amusement to your display of outrage and report of a signed “Forever M” email message a local resident sent to you and a dozen others. You found the phrases “the ‘type’ of people” and “are they really the people we want visiting Palm Springs” insulting and, after stating your belief the email’s author was watching the meeting on TV, you threatened him with “I will out you“, if he continued to express similar views.

As you reported, here’s what the email’s author wrote:

When I see the “type” of people standing under ‘Forever M.’ — looking up as if they expect to see something titillating, I think: “are they really the people we want visiting Palm Springs — are they at all interested in Art and Architecture?” This grotesque “piece of junk” cheapens the image of what was once, something very special — “I cry for you Palm Springs” — the Merchants Association are unwittingly destroying our wonderful village.

The term “titillating” has been used by many in references to the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture. The International Business Times wrote “This sculpture caters to cheap titillation, titillation that is in itself pathetic”, and “By making Monroe’s panties visible, Johnson encourages voyeurism.” The Internet is filled with similar references and the issue in question is one of sexual arousal.

The email author’s advanced age clearly places him in a generation that views public titillation and voyeurism as offensive and not to be condoned. Those like him who see the “Forever Marilyn” sculpture as an object intended for sexual arousal are shocked, dismayed and saddened that it is being sponsored by the City of Palm Springs and its downtown business community. The email author’s objections are to both the sculpture’s emphasis on its under-the-dress view and any voyeurs it may attract. He questions whether the Palm Springs community really wishes to attract those seeking titillation from a public display.

You may view the sculpture differently. That doesn’t excuse you from an obligation to look closely at what the email’s author has written and do your best to understand its intent and his understanding of the issue.

  • It is the opinion of the email’s author that sexual titillation is fairly associated with the sculpture.
  • It is his opinion those seeking public titillation are not the type of visitors we should seek.
  • You may not share his views, but that is your opinion, and one with which others may disagree.

Your interpretation of the email’s content and intent are mistaken and it was a rather cheap shot to use your position on the city council dais as an opportunity to threaten the email’s author. If, as you have stated, you really love Palm Springs, then you need to show respect for its citizens and their diverse opinions. If you only appreciate the views of those who agree with your own, then you can’t truly claim to love our City. An apology for your comments and related threat would seem appropriate.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
June 7, 2012






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Summary:
Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat engaged in a spirited email exchange asserting no Conflict of Interest exists with respect to her functions as a paid City Council member or salaried Executive Director of Mizell Senior Center. She claims her actions securing Measure J Oversight Commission appointments for two of her Mizell Senior Center employer representatives did not violate any legal restrictions.


Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat on War Path


Palm Springs, California.
  City Council interviews of 42 applicants ended with council members instructed to submit their list of 11 candidates for nomination as Measure J Oversight Commission members. Those lists were then consolidated into one of 26 nominees, of which 10 each received a majority of 3 council member nominations. The council agreed to appoint the 10 as members of the new commission.

Mizell Senior Center president John Williams and Mark Marshall, the Center’s 1st Vice President, were among those receiving the minimum 3 nominations. Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat is Executive Director of Mizell Senior Center and both Williams and Marshall are officers and board members employing her services. Foat’s was one of the 3 council member nominations that placed her employer representatives on the prestigious Measure J Oversight Commission. Despite the obvious conflict of interest Foat failed in her duty to refrain from promoting her employers for the coveted commission appointments.

In an email to Mizell Senior Center president John Williams, with copies to both Marshall and Foat, I noted my status as a member and supporter of the Center, and my objection to Foat wearing two hats – that of a city council member and Executive Director of the Center. My objection was based on the conflict of interest actions I had observed. I subsequently posted the “Palm Springs: A Pay-To-Play City?” blog that detailed specific concerns regarding Foat’s conflict of interest actions with respect to her Oversight
Commission nominees.

Neither of the Mizell Senior Center officers replied to my email. Instead a quick response was received from Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat along with a “spur of the moment” No Conflict of Interest opinion from the City Attorney. Foat and I exchanged several messages. She made clear I have absolutely no right to question her actions as Executive Director of Mizell Senior Center or as a member of the Palm Springs City Council. She referred to me, my letter and a related blog using such terms as “divisive”, “mean and wrong”, an “incredible insult”, “designed to hurt people”, an “injustice”, filled with “venom”, “outrageous”, “laughable”, “harming others”, and “poison pen”.

The content of Mayor Pro Tem Foat’s two emails border on the uncivil and are not couched in the polite phrases one would expect of an Executive Director or a city council member. Her style is rambling, somewhat haughty and definitely reminiscent of the “kill the messenger” variety. Another remarked, after seeing the email content, that she is clearly “on a War Path”. Click below to view copies of four (4) emails exchanged with Foat.

Bond Shands
May 6, 2012





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Palm Springs, California.  Mayor Steve Pougnet is promoting the “1st Annual Mayor’s Healthy Planet-Healthy You Race and Fitness festival to fight childhood obesity” 5k and 7 mile walk or race fundraiser in Palm Springs. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 21st, at Ruth Hardy Park. Registrations must be made by April 17th and may be made online at www.active.com.

KPSI Newstalk AM 920 radio host Steve Kelly has challenged the mayor to appear on his program. In exchange Kelly has promised to complete the 5k course by strolling the entire 3.1 mile, 5,456 yard, 16,368 foot route – practically nonstop – without assistance. Rumors that Kelly uses an electric cart to move between his office desk and the comfort facilities have never been verified. His appearance with or without a support team in the walker/stroller/doggie friendly marathon is of keen interest among the Newstalk groupie community.

Will other local broadcast celebrity hosts step up to the plate and issue their own challenges to the mayor?

K-News Radio’s Bulldog Bill Feingold and his trusty sidekick Kevin Holmes work late hours and may find a Saturday morning 8 am walker/stroller/doggie friendly start time intimidating. Will KNEWS FM 94.3’s Bulldog issue a challenge to the mayor to appear on his program in exchange for Feingold and Holmes promise to participate in the childhood obesity fundraiser?

The Lee Rayburn Show on K-News Radio fearlessly takes on local current political issues and personages weekday afternoons. None are safe from his persistent and sometimes daunting search for answers. Will Mayor Steve Pougnet accept a challenge to appear on his program in exchange for Rayburn’s promise to run or walk either the 5k or 7 mile fundraiser?

How about other valley media celebrity types? Will others be willing to challenge the mayor to sit for an interview in exchange for their promise of support and participation in the April 21st childhood obesity fundraiser and festival? How many hosts will be accompanied by a support team? Are any in shape to finish a 5k or 7 mile course?

Bond Shands
April 2, 2012




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Palm Springs, California.  The dream of a public valley promenade and green space bordering the Whitewater Wash is now on life support and its prospects for survival appear greatly diminished. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack has turned the subject into an election year issue and is exercising her considerable clout to see no air quality funds are used for the project. The green space promenade, intended for recreational use by walkers, runners, bicyclists and other outdoor nature lovers, was planned to extend from Desert Hot Springs to the City of Coachella. While the dream may live on, without a source of funding, it may never become reality. If that becomes the case, future generations may forever blame us for not creating and protecting a community environmental asset.

In her March 23, 2012 letter to the South Coast Air Quality Management Quality District, Bono Mack urges that no air quality funds be spent on an outdoors pathway through the valley. She short-sightedly questions whether an analysis exists “of how many cars would be replaced by golf carts, bikers and hikers verses the improved fuel efficiency of passenger vehicles in the years ahead?” Bono Mack urges that funds be used for eastern Coachella Valley communities surrounding the Salton Sea. While most would agree the Salton Sea is a key component of valley air quality concerns, Bono Mack could provide a greater service by obtaining federal assistance to save the Salton Sea and its related environmental needs. Her passing the buck on Salton Sea water issues to the Coachella Valley does not appear to be in the best interests of Bono Mack’s constituents.

Bono Mack’s letter distorts the purpose of the Whitewater promenade. Her letter objecting to use of funds implies it’s intended for the exclusive use of “golf carts, bikers and hikers“. She offers no support for its intended use as a valley promenade and green space with important environmental qualities. In an interview with The Desert Sun as reported in their “Mary Bono Mack: Don’t build Whitewater River trail” story, she continually attacks the promenade proposal as “a bike path” when that use is but one small part of the green belt’s intended function.

One of the greatest misconceptions in Bono Mack’s position is that summer months in the valley are not a time when residents and visitors spend time outdoors. She implies these months are not ones worthy of consideration. While she and others may spend their summer months in other areas, valley year-round residents do not hibernate during summer months. Golfing, walking, running, bicycling, golf cart travel, bird watching and other outdoor activities continue. To imply that a promenade and greenbelt would have no value during the summer months implies that anyone interested in outdoor activities should stay away from the Valley.

It’s too bad Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack has chimed in with an objection to a publicly funded valley promenade and green space. Her claim that she is “just not that convinced we have fully evaluated the best use of the mitigation funds” rings false for the actual evaluation process has yet to begin. In her determined quest to impede the evaluation process, she does the Coachella Valley community a disservice.

Bond Shands
March 29, 2012





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Cathedral City, California.  Former Cathedral City council member Paul Marchand
served from 2002 through 2010. His bid for a third 4-year term failed
and a fresh face, fellow Democrat Sam Toles, took his place. Marchand’s
period of service included numerous highs and lows with respect to
accomplishments and working with others. Although the City Council
positions are considered to be nonpartisan the reality is otherwise.
Council members routinely obtain endorsements from local political clubs
and Marchand, a registered Democrat, is one who traveled that route.

Marchand is a practicing attorney and as is sometimes the case with
legal advocates, has a very strong personality. He holds firmly partisan
often uncompromising views. His time as a council member seldom found
him brokering bipartisan legislation. In a recent Valley Voice op-ed
piece a local elected official from his city implied Marchand is one “who blindly follows partisan ideology“, resorts “to name-calling” and possesses an “extreme, narrow vision“.

Paul Marchand is once again a candidate for a Cathedral City council
seat. He is not running against Sam Toles, his replacement, for that
term of office has two more years to run. His expected competition may
be incumbents seeking reelection together with others who could decide
between now and the August filing date to throw hats into the ring.
Marchand has appeared before a local Democratic Club seeking an
endorsement of his candidacy.

During his Democratic Club endorsement interview Marchand reportedly
accused his replacement, incumbent council member Sam Toles, of being a “fake Democrat“. The response from Toles appeared in a March 6th “Don’t let partisanship invade the local level” op-ed piece, that included the following points:

  • Toles’ own seat has 2-1/2 years to run before being up for election;
  • If Marchand is successful in his bid for a council seat, they would be working together;
  • Those entrusted to represent the people should work with broad, bipartisan support to solve problems.

Marchand made no public response
to Sam Toles’ op-ed piece and when questioned responded by changing the
subject. When asked whether he intended to offer Toles an apology
Marchand again responded by changing the subject. When it was noted he
had been singled out as among “…those who blindly follow partisan
ideology and resort to name-calling of those who won’t sign on to their
extreme, narrow vision
“, he again failed to offer any response other than changing the subject.

Will Marchand’s unexpected and unprovoked oral assault on a fellow
Democrat cost him support or votes? Will he ultimately decide his
actions were inappropriate and offer Sam Toles an apology? And if he is
successful in his quest for another Cathedral City council term what
will subsequently be the dynamics that will then exist among Marchand
and his peers?


Bond Shands
Palm Springs – March 13, 2012
 

Note: Corrected edition. Previous version’s subject title was incomplete.



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Palm Springs, California.  California-Colorado commuting Palm Springs
Mayor Steve Pougnet may be on the brink of genuine financial independence. After
years without private sector employment he has a new job that should free him
from dependence on others for continuing financial support. And he gets to keep
his current mayoral position with its $40,000 annual salary. Mayor Pougnet has
managed to sell himself, though the salary  from his new job remains secret, and
only he knows if his services are going to the highest bidder.



Palm Springs Mayor Sold To Highest Bidder?


It appears the Palm Springs City Council has a new unofficial member, one without an actual vote, but with substantial behind-the-scenes influence. Local political power player Harold Matzner has hired California-Colorado commuting Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet for full time work as his assistant at the Palm Springs International Film Festival where Matzner serves as chairman. In these types of relationships it’s not the employee who calls the shots and those in need of influence with the City Council could surely do worse than line up Mr. Matzner in their corner.

Matzner shared leadership of last Fall’s controversial Yes on Measure J campaign and at $75,156.75 was that campaign’s second largest contributor. He and his Spencer’s Restaurant also hosted Mayor Steve Pougnet’s reelection campaign kickoff and victory party events. And his influence undoubtedly facilitated inclusion of a new theatre complex as a requirement for the Desert Fashion Plaza renovation plan. He has previously been identified as a local philanthropist who is often in the news as the contributor of $100,000 checks to various charitable activities. It’s surprising to see him step out of the philanthropy mode and extensively dabble so prominently in local politics.

Much speculation surrounds the shocking purchase of the Mayor’s services by Matzner, but few believe it is for personal financial gain. He reportedly is a man with extensive New Jersey-based financial resources and his real interests may lie in producing a lasting legacy as a significant local personage. While the names Frank Bogart, Sonny Bono, Jackie Lee Houston and even John Wessman are the stuff of local legend, the name Harold Matzner has not achieved that level of recognition. He surely doesn’t wish a John Wessman reputation but any favorable comparison to recently departed Palm Springs Angel Jackie Lee Houston would be the legacy desired. Why Matzner would derail his legacy goals by walking down the political trail and picking up the California-Colorado commuting mayor as his assistant is a question that doesn’t seem to have an obvious answer. One would assume a carefully nurtured legacy would not be well served by the friends and foes involvements often found in the political arena. Perhaps there is an irresistible degree of personal satisfaction in knowing that one is in a position to manipulate the local levers of power.

As for Mayor Steve Pougnet the question that’s been raised is whether he sold himself to the highest bidder? Or did Matzner merely acquire something off the shelf?

Bond Shands
Palm Springs


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