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.

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

Bond Shands

Desert Political Opinion at

April 28, 2013

All comments are welcome and should be sent to
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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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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