Summary

     Rancho Mirage mayor Dana Hobart appears to have been the victim of a deliberate intent to defame his character by a Desert Sun reporter. In today’s $100M CV Link project faces funding questions story in the newspaper by Jessee Marx, the reporter includes selective portions of  his interview with Mayor Hobart. The result is the appearance of questionable integrity on the part of the mayor. Mayor Hobart authored an email to the  community protesting and documenting the misrepresentation. He requested that all forward copies to their friends. 

     A copy of that email proving the misrepresentation appears below. Click here to download a copy of the email.

Bond Shands
Daily Morning Bicyclist
May 17, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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Desert Sun Reporter Misrepresents Interview With Mayor Hobart

 

     The following is a copy of an email to the community from Rancho Mirage Mayor Dana Hobart.

From: Gdanahobart@aol.com
Full-name: Gdanahobart
Date: Sun, 17 May 2015 01:01:15 -0400
Subject: Fwd: Correcting a Flagrant Desert Sun Misrepresentation

Dear All: 

This email has to do with an article that will appear tomorrow in the Desert Sun, but which appeared online tonight. I was aghast to read a very nasty sentence in that article. A comment that has been severely distorted because the context was omitted. What appears below is evidence that the implication drawn from the comment is false.

On May 3, 2015, on behalf of the City I sent an email notifying Tom Kirk, Executive Director of CVAG, of a list of Motions we anticipated placing on the June 1, 2015, Executive Committee Agenda for discussion and vote.  During the week that followed we decided not to present one listed item and to change another for the June 1st agenda.  (Our slightly modified Motions  will be filed this coming week.) I told the reporter he could destroy the earlier list as it has been superceded. He reported that I told him to flatly destroy the list, but without putting the statement in the appropriate context. He intentionally made it sound like I was telling him to hide something by destroying it, during our meeting a week or so ago.

A few days after the reporter and I had met at city hall, the he telephoned me and said he had a copy of the email I had sent to Mr. Kirk regarding the intended Motions I was intending to file so they could be discussed by the Executive Committee. I told him that was the original list we had submitted. I told him we had changed our minds about a couple of the motions and that his document was an old, outdated sheet at this time. I told him to ignore the old list. He says I said to destroy the old list; I may have; I really don’t recall using the word but certainly may have. If I did,  it was in the context of that list now being out of date and unreliable concerning the motions we were then intending to file.

 The way he wrote that part of the article made it sound like I was trying to persuade him to destroy something relevant and important. People who know me would never believe I would do such a thing for any reason. But the newspaper is read by many who do not know me, so I have to detail exactly what the context was for the comment in the hope that word gets around. 

Fortunately, there is proof the reporter is misleading the reader, and not accidentally.

The document in question is presented in its entirety below. As any fool can see, it is copied to many people, including the CVAG Executive Director and the CVAG Attorney, Toni Eggebraaten. Therefore, if I had any interest in “destroying” the document, I had a lot of others to persuade, including Tom Kirk, the CVAG Executive Director as well as his

Attorney, not to mention the Rancho Mirage attorney, our finance director and our city manager.

Sometimes reporters cannot resist taking cheap shots with no substance to support them. It brings more attention to their writings, I suppose. This is one such example. This is what the article states:

The Desert Sun obtained Hobart’s email request through California’s public records law. However, thinking that he might have accidentally given the document to a reporter, Hobart said, “Please destroy it.” He would go on to say that he no longer intended to reopen the matching air quality mitigation funds at the June 1 meeting. 

I wanted you all to see the context of this deceptive and misleading journalistic exhibition.  You should read the entire article because our arguments are persuasive regarding the CV Link. As you may discern from the content of the email, there would be no reason whatsoever for me to ask some stranger cub reporter to join me in a scheme to destroy meaningful data. It was just an outdated document that half a dozen people had received.

Here is a copy of the email in question.

From: Gdanahobart@aol.com To: tkirk@cvag.org CC: randyb@RanchoMirageCA.gov, steveq@qalawyers.com, isaiahh@RanchoMirageCA.gov, tjweill@yahoo.com, Toni@EggebraatenLaw.com BCC: GDanaHobart@aol.com Sent: 5/3/2015 3:13:28 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Subj: Re: Request for Items on June Exec. Comm. Agenda

Sent a second time within one minute because first attempt did not properly identify Tom Kirk’s email address. Corrected with this email.  Sorry for the error. Relevant message follows:

Hi Tom:

The City of Rancho Mirage formally requests the following Action Items be placed on the Agenda for our June 2015 meeting. Please inform me of the latest date to provide you with the equivalent of a staff report (which we can entitle City’s Report or whatever you suggest).

The request to have these matters placed on the June Agenda is pursuant to the CONDUCT OF CVAG MEETINGS manual, Section VII C (page 11).

  1. Motion to Retain a Major Los Angeles Law Firm to provide the Executive Committee and interested others with a Legal Opinion concerning whether Measure A funds may legally be expended to assist in the payment of future Operations and Maintenance expenses related to the CV Link.
  2. Motion to Appoint a Committee of Three Executive Committee members, including the member from Rancho Mirage, to select the law firm to be retained and to provide such law firm with such relevant data that may be needed to form such an opinion.
  3. Motion to Forthwith Commence the Process of Convening an all-day Joint Meeting in June or Julyof all CVAG cities for the purpose of having an open discussion of all issues relevant to the issue of CV Link’s Operations and Maintenance expenses, projected expenses in the future, and how such expenses are to be paid and by whom. Invited to such meeting from each city will be at least two council members, the City Manager, the Finance Director, and the Public Works Director.

In addition to the foregoing issues and motions, the City of Rancho Mirage asks to be on the June Agenda regarding the following:

Motion to Reconsider the Decision at the February 27, 2012, Executive Meeting at which permission was given for CVAG to use “CVAG Transportation Funds to be used as a potential match as long as such funding does not delay construction of any currently obligated project or delay any other pending high priority project.” Rancho Mirage will provide the equivalent of a staff report concerning the reasons and justification for this motion. (This motion is made pursuant to the CONDUCT OF CVAG MEETINGS manual, section XI, p. 16.)

Please advise me of the last day to submit the equivalent of a staff report, other data and/or any exhibits.

Thank you for your cooperation in achieving the foregoing.

Sincerely,

Dana Hobart
Mayor
City of Rancho Mirage

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

 Please excuse my bothering you but integrity must be defended when challenged. Those of us in public life who have little or no integrity can accomplish little or nothing. I consider my integrity and willingness to fight the hard battles worth fighting to preserve.

Best personal regards to you all.

Dana

Please forward this email to your friends who may be interested.

 

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

      The Desert Sun newspaper’s editorial “Drought solutions must be broad based” states Coachella Valley cheap and plentiful water supplies have “lulled our desert community into a false sense of security. New policies that drive customers to smart water use should be what’s on tap today.” And that “…..all stakeholders from the homeowner or apartment dweller to the farmer planting thousands of acres rethink how they use water.

Overwatering

        It’s true that residents throughout the state need to rethink our approaches to water usage and how to cope with the prospect of continuing drought situations. But that rethinking needs to start at the local level here in Coachella Valley. This is where we should focus our efforts and by example prove we too care about water usage and related drought issues.

     Perhaps among water issues on the top of our list should be a focus on grass (or “turf”). What should be our future approach to this important part of our local economy and quality of life? Should grass have any role in our desert world? Is it practical to import water for maintenance of pleasurable environments as well as for the grass-supported economy?

     In the Palm Springs and Cathedral City communities served by Desert Water Agency there are new water rules now in place. There’s also a strong water conservation ordinance that was enacted by the City of Palm Springs in November. Together the new water usage regulations now in effect severely limit the amount of water that may be used for maintenance of grass (or “turf”). Watering grass is now restricted to three times weekly, after 7 p.m., and no more than 15 minutes for any area.

     The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has mandated that most of the Coachella Valley’s water usage be cut back 36%. It’s for that reason the latest local restriction are now in place. Water districts must meet their assigned water usage goals or face significant financial penalties. Some have questioned whether one of the SWRCB water conservation goals is to reduce or eliminate most, if not all, watering of grass in the valley? What appears more certain is that the new watering restrictions may achieve that result.

     It’s obvious we need to rethink our use of water. Unfortunately there is no citizen panel, commission or agency that exists to foster the rethinking process. Should not some aspect of the rethinking process be coordinated and/or encouraged by an organized approach? Would not a community water conservation panel be an appropriate step that each of our local agencies, governments and/or communities should consider starting or creating? Surely the immediate goal must be to motivate residents to not only conserve but also to become involved in seeking and implementing solutions. If we fail in the people motivation goal how else will success be achieved without significantly and adversely affecting our quality of life?

     So, when will the actual rethinking process begin?

Bond Shands
April 26, 2015
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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

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


     Desert Water Agency (DWA) officials have amassed a competent record in delivering water to the western end of Coachella Valley. The agency was formed for that purpose and few would complain the job is not being done right. And, in years past, when the state’s water resources were more plentiful the task of delivering water was about all that was required of water agencies. All that has changed because plentiful state water resources no longer exist. We’re now in an era where there’s more need for water than there are supplies. Water conservation has become the biggest issue with respect to our water resources. And it appears Desert Water Agency officials are not  up to the task of leading the local water conservation charge. It may be that a change will need to occur in Desert Water Agency water management before that organization truly climbs aboard the drought recognition water conservation train.

Water Usage Customer Education and Records
     One of the most significant tools in water conservation is public education. That starts by providing customers with information about their water use in the current period, their water use history and water use comparison data. In the case of other utilities, such as gas and electricity providers, they routinely provide such information as part of the monthly billing statements. Desert Water Agency fall short in this area. DWA billings provide little information other than current Consumption Charge, Fixed Meter Charge and water used measured in 100 cubic foot totals. There’s nothing in the way of comparative historical use. As for the “cubic foot” counter, why, when “gallons of water used” are the normal public standard, does this agency insist on the obscure “cubic foot” term for water use totals? As for customer data, the question has to be asked whether the water agency possesses a modern computerized accounting system or do they rely on pen, paper and desktop calculators for their record keeping? Why are there no online accessible customer accounts to track water usage? Until the agency provides customers with cumulative and historic water use data it’s questionable how much commitment exists with respect to public education.

Click on statement for larger display.

        Click on statement for larger display.

Support for Significant Ongoing Public Input Lacking
      Unlike other large public agencies Desert Water Agency does not have a customer advisory panel (board, commission or committee, etc.) to work with the Board of Directors. The agency only utilizes customer input in response to specific issues. Such areas as conservation, education, water usage patterns, et.al., are left to the in-house staff and customer input is filtered through staff management. That practice leaves the board with limited access to information and views from sources other than its staff.

Water Use Accountability
     Desert Water Agency needs to step up to the plate and do more with respect to water use and accountability. Simply pointing the finger at customers may not be the most appropriate route to take. A significantly meaningful drought conservation plan with enforced mandatory water use controls and penalties should be part of the organization’s Mission Statement and normal operation.

     Perhaps it’s time for a few new faces who understand and support significant water conservation measures to take charge.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.BondShands.com
April 13, 2015

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


 

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

       It’s local political season time once again in Palm Springs. This year the Mayor and two Council Seats are up for election. Already we’ve learned Mayor Steve Pougnet has a challenger in City Commissioner Robert Moon. Incumbent council member Paul Lewin is seeking another term while the other incumbent, Rick Hutcheson, has decided not to seek reelection. Announcements from challengers (for both seats) have been made by Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts and former Equality California leader Geoff Kors.

     The five named individuals are all seen as highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. That will undoubtedly serve to make this year’s election one truly worthy of closely following. The expected campaign platforms and debate encounters will provide opportunities for learning about each candidate and then deciding which ones will receive votes.

     Among the “wish list” of local issues the candidates may be asked to address are the following:

1.  Palm Springs city government has many citizen boards and commissions. However there is no Finance Commission, Publics Works Commission or Streets & Transportation Commission. Should any of these city departments receive the oversight and scrutiny that would result from creation of a new city commission for their area?

2.  Motor vehicle speed limits are viewed by many as too high on several city streets. Sunrise Way, Farrell Drive, East Palm Canyon Drive, Mesquite Avenue (between Sunrise Way and East Mesquite Avenue), Ramon Road, et.al. are all examples of streets with high-speed limits. Speed limits are set using a required formula, but there are ways to achieve speed limit reductions. Should steps be taken to reduce some of the high-speed limits?

3.  There is no written Mission Statement to guide public works officials in the administration of funding and policies related to streets, bicycle paths, sidewalks and walkways. Past policies have worked to allot the majority of the funding and attention to the needs of motorized vehicles. That sometimes leads to disadvantages for non-motorized vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, runners and walkers. A Mission Statement that clearly differentiates how the share of funding, safety attention and support policies between the groups is needed.

4.  Official communications transmitting news of significant new or changed city ordinances is needed. Too often important decisions made by the City Council fail to receive adequate dissemination to the public. A recent example would be the new city water conservation ordinance that mandated changes in water use by everyone. That information should have been sent by mail (possibly a postcard) to all residents in order to alert them to the change. Each city council action should include an assessment of the type of publication it should receive.

5.  District Elections. In Palm Springs the members of the City Council are elected At-Large as opposed to election by district. In California many districts and communities have switched to election by district in order to facilitate equal representation. Should the City Council provide Palm Springs voters with a ballot option to switch to district elections or retain the existing system?

     These are but a few of the many issues that could be addressed by those seeking election this year. While it’s doubtful any would actually result in official actions, their consideration could serve to provide voters with a better understanding of what to expect from the individual candidates.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook at www.BondShands.com
April 10, 2015

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

 

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