Desert Observer’s Page

Dear Cathedral City Residents:

Please excuse my interloping and offering an unsolicited opinion about events within your city. I’ve been following news reports about Tami Scott, Cathedral City chief financial and administrative officer, who recently became a convicted felon. The news item which attracted my attention was your city manager’s decision to retain Ms. Scott in her financial services position within city government. It’s a decision that surprises me and one I find highly inappropriate.

My early background in finance (auditing and banking) left me imbued with a firm understanding of the importance of honesty, trust and reputation required of all who have financial area responsibilities. In many businesses, an employment bond is required in order to hold financial area positions and, as you probably know, insurance companies seldom agree to issue employment bonds to convicted felons who wish to work in the financial services sector. I suspect that if Cathedral City tried to obtain an employment bond for Ms. Scott, her criminal conviction would preclude success in that endeavor.

I’m not suggesting or agreeing with any who may be calling for resignations or employment terminations in this matter. Instead I would suggest that if Ms. Scott is a valued employee, she be reassigned to another position within the city away from the financial services sector. I would also suggest the City Council review sensitive city positions from a bonding insurance perspective and determine which ones need to meet similar employment standards. Employees holding sensitive positions who are unable to meet appropriate insurance bonding standards should be moved into other service areas.

Government needs the confidence, respect and trust of its citizens. Public employees need to understand the importance of their function as city ambassadors and that those in the public image are viewed as role models. Perceptions are often more important than reality and in the instance of Tami Scott, her image does not send the message that’s needed. She’s failed to meet the integrity test, is not a positive role model, and should not be allowed to continue as chief financial and administrative officer of Cathedral City.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs

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    Desert Observer’s Page

Palm Springs, California  Last evening I attended a small gathering of Desert Water Agency service area residents and listened to incumbent director Patricia Oygar, who’s up for reelection. The event was promoted as a campaign event intended to encourage support for Pat‘s
reelection. The big surprise for me was to find the evening was about
as far from a typical campaign gathering as it could be.

Pat Oygar
spent her time with us talking about water conservation
issues – past, present and future – as they relate to our district,
Coachella Valley and the state. She is passionate and her enthusiastic
presentation approached that of a positive religious experience. Pat
is really committed to water conservation, knows and understands the
subject, is an excellent speaker, delivered a balanced presentation,
solicited audience questions, and left us convinced she is an
intelligent, competent, knowledgeable and committed water agency
director. I can’t think of anyone who could do a better job.

Near the end of the presentation a local political activist used his question from the floor to remind us Pat is a candidate for reelection to the Desert Water Agency,
and that her’s is one of three seats open for election this year. That
was about the only overt reference to the evening as a campaign event.
There were no signup sheets asking for endorsements, no request for
funds, no contribution envelopes and no campaign  signs. The only
evidence the evening was a campaign activity came from the handout
supply of small, yellow Ducks attached to a blue card reading:

The Duck Stops Here!
Director, Desert Water Agency
Vote For Pat Nov. 3, 2009!

Service as an agency director is primarily a volunteer
activity for incumbents receive little more than a small meeting
attendance stipend. In addition to monthly board and committee
meetings, directors also represent the district at regional and state
water conferences. The water delivery business is a highly technical
field and directors spend a significant amount of time reviewing
engineering and other reports needed to facilitate an informative decision-making
process. It’s a position that requires expertise, a significant time
commitment, and extensive subject knowledge. Pat proved to me she clearly meets those requirements.

I don’t know who the other Desert Water Agency candidates are but have already decided Patricia Oygar deserves to be reelected and she’ll definitely receive one of my three votes.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs

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    Desert Observer’s PageIs Pougnet’s congressional gambit a mistake?

Palm Springs, California  Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet has declared he’s now an official candidate running against incumbent 45th Congressional District representative Mary Bono Mack. Mayor Pougnet
has expressed no plans to step down from his current position in order
to run for another office and will add campaign duties to his already
crowded activities schedule. It appears the mayor will be a very busy
man for quite some time.

The City of Palm Springs upped the
salary for it’s mayor to $40,000 in recognition of the time and energy
requirements on the individual holding the office. The job of mayor is
an executive position with lots of responsibility and the city council,
along with the mayor at its head, has a full plate of important issues.
Whether it’s the reported $12 million budget shortfall, tourism
slowdown, the vacant Desert Fashion Plaza shopping
mall, downtown storefront vacancies, neighborhood needs, crime,
expensive street resurfacing or local effects of the economic slowdown,
residents look to city leadership to provide solutions. Residents
expect their mayor to devote as much time as possible in dealing with
the many responsibilities that go with the position. It’s probable few
would include running for congress as an acceptable addition to the
list of mayoral job activities.

The decision of mayor Steve Pougnet,
in office less than 17 months, to devote time over the next 18 months
to running for a seat in congress may not sit well with his
constituents. He campaigned on a platform of promises that included
early resolution of the empty Desert Fashion Plaza site. That promise remains unfulfilled and The Desert Sun in
an editorial showed it’s lack of confidence in his leadership by
recommending that a mediator be brought in to help find a solution to
the Desert Fashion Plaza impasse. That recommendation
appears to have been ignored and few expect to see early solutions to
the downtown business district’s economic needs. Campaign promises need
to be met and a successful candidate should be able to tout a list of
important, successful accomplishments from his time in office. Failures
don’t count!

The 45th Congressional District is currently represented by Republican Mary Bono Mack.
She’s held the office since 1998 and her name recognition is extremely
high. The district is solidly Republican and she won reelection last
November 58% to 41% over Democratic challenger Julie Bornstein. The underfunded Bornstein
candidacy proved the difficulty a Democrat faces in challenging the
incumbent, even in 2008, a year with a heavy voter turnout that allowed
Barack Obama, at the top of the ticket, to win a majority of the county
vote. The 2010 election is not expected to equal the 2008 turnout and
lowered voter interest usually favors Republican candidates. In 2010 a
successful Democratic candidate will need lots of money, high name
recognition, a very favorable image, and a bit of luck wouldn’t hurt.

The big gorilla in the room facing a Pougnet for Congress
candidacy, not mentioned in politically correct circles, is the
same-sex gay marriage issue. A big majority of Riverside County voters
remain steadfastly opposed to same-sex marriage and candidate Pougnet
is on the opposite of the fence in that issue. He took advantage of the
Supreme Court decision to wed his male partner, performed numerous
same-sex marriages and is a strong advocate for same-sex marriages to
be made completely legal. This is an issue that will probably have its
own spot on the 2010 ballot, but it’s a safe bet same-sex marriage
won’t receive majority support in Riverside County in 2010 and maybe
not even in 2012. If anything, this county is Rush Limbaugh
country, and a gay, Democratic, same-sex advocate running for congress
faces the equivalent of a Mt. Everest climb. It’s one that needs
experience, financial support and, most assuredly, lots of luck. Under
such circumstances, there’s not much reason to believe Pougnet will succeed in his quest.

There may be additional fallout resulting from mayor Pougnet’s
campaign for another political office. The time spent away from his
mayoral duties campaigning for congress may be held against him by
resentful constituents. He could end up getting blamed for unresolved
problems by those who will believe inattention to his duties while
campaigning to be the cause. The fallout may occur during his 2011
campaign for reelection as mayor, for his foray into the congressional
race could give a challenger enough political ammunition to satisfy
voters that another, with limited political ambitions, would do a
better job.

“Is Pougnet‘s congressional gambit a mistake?”

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    Desert Observer’s Page

Palm Springs, California.  The prospects of Mary Bono Mack, incumbent 45th Congressional District Representative, ending her congressional career in 2010 are close to nil! There’s no indication she plans to retire and few knowledgeable Democrats expect a party nominee to take her seat that year. So, what’s the big deal with The Desert Sun front page announcement that Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet has filed papers indicating he may challenge Bono Mack
in 2010?

The real challenge by Democrats for the 45th CD seat will take place in 2012. That’s the year President Obama will be up for re-election and his coat tails may prove sufficient to carry a congressional seat challenger along with him to victory. Also, Republican party voter registrations continue to decline in the district and the offset is seen by increases of Democrats and Decline-to-State voters. That too is expected to play a significant role that favors Democrats in the 2012 contest.

The 2010 45th CD race is viewed by many as a warm-up effort leading to the main event in 2012. It’s often considered a smart move for interested candidates to file paperwork early. That puts them at the head of the pack and on the starting line. Potential backers and existing supporters are put on notice and the budding candidate may then weave congressional campaign moves into schedules and activities. The free publicity that automatically accrues in the time leading up to the actual primary election is worth its weight in gold for the name recognition it provides. Others contemplating a run for the seat in either 2010 or 2012 will need to make a move at an early date in order to avoid seeing party support align with the guy already at the starting gate.

What are Steve Pougnet‘s prospects in 2010 or 2012? There are a number of campaign negatives associated with him that a 2010 “warm-up” effort may help resolve. He has little campaign experience. His first run five years ago in Palm Springs was an amateur hour effort. His second run, almost two years ago  for Mayor of his city, was a “cakewalk”, for he didn’t face serious competition and did almost no campaigning. So, while he clearly possesses business, management and people skills, his campaign abilities need testing and refining. A “warm-up” 2010 race would give him campaign experience, allow for greater name recognition in the district and, of course, make possible the creation of a district-wide campaign organization ready for 2012.

Pougnet has a few less-than-positive factors associated with his name that he’ll need to overcome. As Mayor of Palm Springs, he represents the most liberal – some would claim libertine – community in the district. Whether it’s marijuana collectives, same-sex marriages, or the huge LGBT community, he is associated with a movement that’s far from the moderate middle-of-the road reputation that a candidate may need in order for Democrats to take the 45th CD seat.

The first job of any aspiring 45th CD Democratic candidate will be to secure the party’s nomination from the June 2010 primary elections. That’s when Democrats will select their candidate to face off against Rep. Mary Bono Mack (should she choose to run again). Many non-Palm Springs Democrats are less than enthusiastic about Mayor Pougnet, for he hasn’t been particularly supportive of local party candidates. He was pretty much politically absent-without-leave during last year’s election activities and nothing noteworthy was recorded in terms of his involvement on behalf of Democratic candidates or ballot measures. Add to that a bit of recent scuttlebutt he strongly favors re-election of Palm Springs city council member Chris Mills, a Republican, later this year, and the question of his Democratic party credentials becomes, in some quarters, somewhat suspect.

Pougnet‘s early announcement is a risky gamble. If it serves to scare off potential contenders, it’s a smart move. If it serves to pull others into the race early, he risks eating their dust and ruining his prospects for 2012. The party’s previous 45th CD candidate, Julie Bornstein, has yet to be heard from. However, she’s not ruled out another run and if she decides to take up the Pougnet challenge, he may find that genuine campaign experience really makes a difference.

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Julie Bornstein for Congress

Julie Bornstein



While there are about 100,000 ballots left to be counted in
our race, it appears now that Mary Bono Mack has won re-election in California’s
45th Congressional District.  I congratulate

I am sure you will join me in wishing her well, and in the
hope that she will return to Washington to work in a truly bipartisan and
constructive way with the Democratic majority and President Obama’s

This was a hard-fought campaign, and I am very proud of the
effort we made together.  I want to thank my tireless staff, our
hundreds of volunteers and the nearly 600 of you who contributed to our campaign
for change: you are the essence of any campaign and I appreciate your efforts
and support more than I can say.  I am also truly grateful to my
husband, Steve Gordon, my sons Loren and Brian Gordon, and my extended family
for their love and support.

And I thank all of you for your efforts before and on
Election Day.  Your kind words and encouragement sustained me
throughout this campaign, and continue to do so now.

I hope all of you will look at this election as I do: Not so
much a loss as a point in a process.  Democrats made enormous
progress this cycle in our district and all over Riverside County.  We closed the
registration gap by more than half, mounted the first-ever comprehensive ground
effort and made great gains at the ballot box.

Let’s not stop now!  Let’s work together with
our County Chair Betty McMillion and her team, as well as newly elected
Assemblyman Manuel Perez, to keep building our party and making Riverside County a better place.  As
President-elect Obama said Tuesday night: “This is not the change we seek, it is
the opportunity to make that change.”

Thank you all again for everything.

All my best,



Paid for by Julie Bornstein for Congress.

P.O. Box 2585
Palm Desert, CA 92261

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