Desert Observer’s page

Here’s a handy recipe that budding designers may find useful in their pursuit of an active and vibrant new website creation.

1.  Register your new website name in the Internet registration database on Tuesday. Select an alias name for yourself so you can remain anonymous. Use that alias in all your correspondence about the new website.

2.  Upload a skeleton design to your website and then fill a few pages with anti-Democratic political garbage.

3.  Send out email announcements advertising your new creation to local politicos and, of course, to lots of staff members at The Desert Sun newspaper.

4.  Wait while The Desert Sun newspaper reporter logs on and critiques your new website effort’s content.

5.  Review email from The Desert Sun newspaper reporter advising of errors and suggested corrections.

6.  Make changes to your website content to free it from error and thus enhance its credibility.

7.  Wait for Monday morning’s Political Insider column to appear in The Desert Sun newspaper.

8.  Read lead story announcing the debut of your new website – written under the oversight/supervision of the reporter who so helpfully critiqued your new creation.

9.  Notice the Internet address of your new website has been published in the newspaper’s article promoting your diligent efforts.

10. Sit back, have a martini and congratulate yourself on your exemplary accomplishment. You, an unknown entity, acting anonymously, have created a new anti-Democratic political website and managed to have its debut the subject of a newspaper story – AND they’ve even printed the Internet address of your creation. Your identity is secret and nobody knows whether or not you’re an employee of The Desert Sun newspaper. They took your offering, hook, line and sinker – just like fish bait – and didn’t bother to learn the identity of their source. They can’t even prove you exist! They’ve left no doubt about you for it’s clear you’re a genuine professional – and possibly the only one of that caliber sitting at their table.

Lest anyone question whether this report represents fantasy, it’s all based on fact. The numbered steps above represent a fairly descriptive recitation of events leading up to The Desert Sun’s publication of Monday morning’s “Mystery ‘Scoop’ slings Pettis dirt” story in its Political Insider column. One word of warning to other new website designers.  Don’t expect similar red carpet treatment from the newspaper if you’re planning on an anti-Republican political website. Your effort has to be directed against Democrats in order for you to merit their support and the free publicity.

Here’s a suggested new motto for The Desert Sun newspaper. “We don’t just report the news, we create it!

Bond Shands


Palm Springs


March 25, 2008


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Desert Observer’s page

Our valley’s local newspaper, The Desert Sun, is widely understood by realists to be staunchly in the Republican political camp. Political editorials are predictably skewed towards GOP candidates and favoritism is the daily watchword when it comes to Republican issues and officeholders. Newspaper reporting, separate from the editorial department, is sometimes less biased, but if an issue has a political bent the benefit often accrues to the GOP side. Today’s newspaper included an excellent example of such politically slanted reporting.

The front page of the Monday newspaper’s Local section was partially devoted to the weekly Political Insider gossip column. The lead article is titled “Mystery ‘Scoop’ slings Pettis dirt” and it represents an instance of the newspaper playing its own role as contributor in that bit of dirt slinging. In this instance it appears The Desert Sun has found a proxy assailant to further its determination to undermine the candidacy of local Democratic Assembly District candidate Greg Pettis. The Political Insider reporters have produced an anonymous mystery person and a new website whose sole purpose is to trash the Pettis assembly candidacy. This secret individual, whose name is unknown to them, is the source on which they’ve based their smear campaign against Pettis. Using someone whom they can’t prove actually exists, as the foundation for a newspaper story, is surprising, for that person could easily turn out to be a reporter or other employee of The Desert Sun. If they don’t know who created the website, how do they prove they’re not involved and their hands are clean?

The anti-Pettis website is quite new and still in development but it was partially completed in time to make its debut before the appearance of the Monday morning Political Insider column. That was most important. It’s quite easy to build a new website and populate it with content. The very difficult job is in attracting viewers. With hundreds of thousands of sites around the world, getting the attention of web surfers is an almost insurmountable challenge for a small operator. That won’t be a problem for the operator of the new website, for his friends at The Desert Sun gave him the best gift of all – free publicity! They printed his new website address where it’ll be seen by everyone reading the newspaper. Truly a website designer’s dream come true!

An obscure new website, designed to trash a Democratic candidate, created by a completely anonymous source is publicized by The Desert Sun newspaper and the website browser address printed for all to see. Suddenly the website is no longer obscure and its anti-Democratic content neatly dovetails into the overall goal of the GOP-leaning newspaper. Contrast that with a few other websites that appeared last fall trashing Congresswoman Mary Bono. Those efforts received scant publicity and the website addresses were never printed. The Political Insider may be intended as a gossip column, but it continues to prove it can be just as insidious, malicious, and prejudiced as the neighborhood backyard fence variety. It’s just more evidence of distasteful political mud-slinging – absolute garbage! Our community is not well served by the one-sided political smears evident in this type of reporting in The Desert Sun newspaper. They can and should do better.

Bond Shands

Palm Springs

March 24, 2008

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Desert Observer’s page

The Saga of Eloise
has to be one of The Desert Sun’s most creative and longest running stories. She appeared from nowhere last August and filed her candidacy for the Palm Springs City Council shortly before the deadline. Her entry was dutifully reported in the newspaper. The lateness of that entry caused her to be overlooked by the local Democratic establishment during their candidate interviews and that too was dutifully reported. Eloise managed to get a local bartender to create a new mixed drink named for her and once again another Eloise non-issue received coverage in The Desert Sun. She later slept overnight in a local park with the homeless and again it was reported in the newspaper.

It soon became clear Eloise was the paper’s creature for she was a complete unknown before becoming a candidate and a newspaper favorite. Her abilities at receiving newsprint coverage reached new heights when she started making false accusations against her fellow candidates and those currently in office. Wherever she went or whatever she said resulted in news coverage in the local paper.

In October Eloise and mayoral candidate Stephen Pougnet had a public disagreement following her disparaging remarks during a candidate forum. Afterwards she claimed he had assaulted her and then filed a criminal complaint against him. Once again this media darling received substantial print coverage. The District Attorney‘s office investigated and found no basis for prosecution or otherwise pursuing her complaint. Again more newsprint for Eloise, the never-publicity-shy city council candidate.

Early in November when the city council election ballots were counted we learned Eloise lost by a landslide. She received less than 300 votes out of thousands that had been cast. Her embarrassing loss was not a setback for it too was mitigated by the press coverage she received. It wasn’t about winning for her candidacy was clearly focused on personal publicity and a place for her in the public spotlight.

In December Eloise announced she was considering an 80th Assembly District Democratic primary run. Nobody noticed except those watching her at The Desert Sun but, of course, but that’s all it took. Once again she received press coverage in the newspaper. Last week Eloise posted a report announcing she had decided against an Assembly seat run. Again few took notice except for her boosters over at the paper. Her withdrawal provided her with – yes, you probably guessed it – more press coverage!

A few days ago The Desert Sun used a quarter-page of newsprint to report Eloise had filed an assault and battery lawsuit against Mayor Stephen Pougnet in Riverside County Superior Court. The story was accompanied by a photo of Eloise, but it contained a few minor errors that offended her, and she forced her newspaper boosters to print corrections. Her lawsuit appears to be without foundation and what wasn’t reported, but later became common knowledge, is that she has been unable to find an attorney to take the case and had filed the lawsuit representing herself. She’s certain to lose but it’s a safe bet it’ll be good for more publicity.

Eloise, as a public entity, is clearly a creature of The Desert Sun newspaper. There’s nothing in her background worthy of public recognition and if it weren’t for her theatrical antics in the political arena, she would probably have remained relatively unknown. The interesting question now is how much longer will The Desert Sun editors allow this ridiculous serial to run? They’re the ones who made her and so long as they continue to publicize her every act The Saga of Eloise will continue and readers will be treated to chapter after chapter after chapter, ad nauseam. Let’s hope not.

Bond Shands


Palm Springs


March 12, 2008


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Desert Observer’s page

The Desert Sun’s Washington Bureau posted a short article on MyDesert.com yesterday about Representative Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, and her lack of influence in congress. It reported the results of a study by Congress.org that placed her 309th out of 435 House members based on their relative influence, legislative activity and earmarks. The title of the story was “Bono Mack not powerful in House, study says“.

Later in the day an expanded version of the same story was posted on MyDesert.com that included short blurbs about Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif and Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The report is quoted as ranking Senator Feinstein 8th and Senator Boxer 26th out of 100 Senators in influence, etc. The title of the story was expanded to read “Study: Bono Mack ranks toward bottom of power among House members“.

Today’s newspaper readers have been treated to a bit of editorial political chicanery. There’s a reworked and longer version of the story in this morning’s The Desert Sun’s newspaper. The segments mentioning Senators Feinstein and Boxer continue to be rather brief and most of the article is devoted to Representative Bono Mack. The article is clearly about her low influence ranking, but the Bono Mack name has been removed from the headline. The Bono Mack story headline now reads “Congresswomen climb Washington power ranks“.

Newspapers, whether on the right or on the left, often intentionally slant their news reporting to favor a particular bias and I submit the case here as just one more example of that practice. The Desert Sun newspaper is one of Representative Bono Mack’s strong supporters and they don’t wish to embarrass her by drawing attention to failures. The newspaper isn’t doing readers a favor, for our valley needs to seek out and elect officeholders who are effective, influential and able to “bring home the bacon”. The Congress.org report clearly shows that Bono Mack does not possess those attributes and is unable to achieve results. We need better representation.

Bond Shands


Palm Springs


March 7, 2008


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The old spirit of volunteerism has really changed in my lifetime. The change is not so much on the part of those willing to give of their time and talents. It’s with those who run some of these charity outfits and their attitude towards volunteers. One of Larry Bohannan‘s recent columns reported on the golfing tournament community’s “sock it to volunteers” attitude.

In the beginning our golf tournaments welcomed and appreciated their volunteers. As time went on some began to realize they were attracting more volunteer applicants than needed for a smooth, low overhead operation. That’s when things began to change. It became clear there was more supply than demand. The solution was obvious. Why not make a few bucks out of the situation? That’s when a decision was made to charge a cash fee – $75, $95, or whatever – for the privilege of – VOLUNTEERING! These smart Madison Avenue golf tournament types put a great spin on this bit of creative gouging by claiming the fee is to cover the cost of the uniforms. These “uniforms” (pants, shirts, cap, and windbreakers) usually carry sponsor advertising logos and the tournaments like to change their outfits each year so it’s not possible for volunteers to recycle last year’s uniform. At tournament’s end most of the garments are thrown away or donated to one of the thrift stores.

Last year the Kraft Nabisco LPGA tournament joined the “sock it to volunteers” club and imposed a $75 fee on all their volunteers. They subsequently received a rude shock. The number of volunteer applicants dropped! This year they’re running newspaper advertisements seeking help. They need more volunteers. Well, golly gee whiz. I’ll bet there’s a good reason the supply of free help suddenly dried up. Anyone care to offer a guess?

The Palm Springs International Film Festival requires volunteers to wear a suggested uniform. It consists of black pants and a white shirt. Period! No logos, no special brand of pants or shirt – just the same types of garments suitable for other occasions. Hey, they even allow white shirts with somebody else’s logo over the breast pocket. Now, here’s a surprise. The festival attracts lots of volunteers! I wonder if they’re given thought to charging their volunteers for something? Seems to me they might be missing out on a good thing.

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