Summary.

Coachella Valley residents and communities need a Desert Water Use Code and Water Resource Guardians to provide guidance with respect to minimal water conservation standards. None currently exist or appear ready to make an appearance on the horizon. Who or what agency will step up and provide the real conservation leadership that’s needed?


Coachella Valley Water Resource Guardians Needed

 

Palm Springs, California.  In the Coachella Valley desert communities water is arguably our most precious natural resource. It makes the desert habitable, fosters an attractive lifestyle and allows businesses to prosper. Without it the area would be a vacant swath of sand, rocks and hills. Fortunately there is a huge water aquifer beneath the valley floor that serves to make the desert bloom and present the illusion of an eternal garden paradise. It’s the water continually pumped from the aquifer that makes living in the valley such an attractive place to reside.

 

The water in the aquifer is slowly disappearing. Valley water agencies** and private landowners pump water from the aquifer, deliver it throughout the area or otherwise use as needed. There are no limits on the amounts pumped or the purposes for which used. Outside water, primarily from the Colorado River, is imported to replenish the aquifer. Unfortunately, the water being imported is less than the amount being removed and there are no additional sources available for aquifer replenishment. The aquifer water table level is falling and nothing of significance is being done to reverse that trend.

 

The valley’s water agencies view their function as that of water delivery contractors. They pump the water, deliver it to customers and manage the import of outside water that goes into the aquifer. Water conservation is a phrase they often use but it’s a concept not central to their delivery mission. They offer advice, a bit of conservation-related financial assistance, and support voluntary efforts to conserve water use. They do not consider themselves to be Water Resource Guardians and their measures to foster water savings are probably best rated as timid.

 

Coachella Valley needs Water Resource Guardians. Someone or agency is needed to take the lead with respect to providing help and guidance in what should be accepted standards of water use versus waste. As one of our most precious commodities we need to be continually vigilant of the importance water plays in our lives and how easily it could disappear. A Desert Water Use Code is one that should exist and become part of our daily awareness. Particular attention should be paid to water that’s used in public for it’s that perception of what is or is not acceptable that often drives private consumption.

 

A Desert Water Use Code should seek to question water waste. Among the types of concerns we should all seek to address are the following observations of questionable or inappropriate use.

  • Irrigation water runoff flowing down street gutters.
  • Watering irrigated areas twice, or more, daily.
  • Automatically serving glasses of water on restaurant dining tables.
  • Rinsing driveways and walkways.
  • Mid-day irrigation during summer months and other hot periods.
  • Planting and irrigating water-intensive plants.
  • Drenching recently scalped grass areas in order to foster rapid replacement
    growth.

Water waste occurs daily throughout the valley and it’s evident for all to see. It’s time to stop playing water conservation charade and get serious. Our water agencies, local governments and even the Coachella ValleyAssociation of Governments appear unwilling to assume the conservation leadership role. Our valley needs Water Resource Guardians – and now! Perhaps it’s a task too big for small-minded political leadership. Who will lead the way? Who will step up and take on the jobs of Water Resource Guardians?

 

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
February 7, 2014

 

Notes:

.
1.   Desert water agencies include City of Coachella, Cityof Indio, Desert Water Agency serving Cathedral City and Palm Springs, Mission Springs Water District serving Desert Hot Springs, and Coachella Valley Water District serving other valley communities.

.
2.   The Desert Sun newsdesk requests they be advised of water waste observations. Send tips and photo reports to them via email at localnews@thedesertsun.com or Tweet @mydesert with the hashtag #WhatDrought.

.
3.   Desert Water Agency also accepts waste reports. Email them to www.dwa.org/report-water-waste.

.

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


.

 

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Palm Springs, California.  Posted Observations for Week ending January 18, 2014. The following first appeared under comments to referenced stories online at MyDesert.com and on my Facebook page.



January 18, 2014. The local paper’s “Steve Pougnet says Palm Springs will hold special election on downtown hotel” report represents an admission by the City Council that Frank Tysen citizen petition requesting a vote on a proposed downtown hotel should take place.

Congratulations Frank Tysen, I’m happy to see your legal petition process finally achieving results. All that you and petitioners proved was that the legal minimum were sufficiently concerned and for that reason signed a petition asking the City Council to place the measure on a ballot. Mayor Pougnet’s refusal to honor basic citizen rights in this regard by not honoring the petition request is the reason the project is being held up. Had the Mayor honored the request a year ago I’m certain voters would have approved the hotel and the matter would now be past memory. Residents should blame Pougnet and his stalling tactics and take comfort in the realization we do live in a Democracy and the citizen petition process for review of government actions is alive and well. Again, kudos to Frank Tysen and his group of determined citizens.



January 18, 2014.  Desert Sun editors post “Thumbs down: Palm Springs obstructionists force vote on hotel” hand-wringing cry of despair over the decision to honor petitioners request for a vote on the proposed downtown hotel.

Desert Sun editors used the phrase “obstructionist shenanigans” to describe those who oppose the recent addition of a large hotel to the Desert Fashion Plaza plan. The hotel was never part of the ballot presented to voters in November 2011 and had it then been included it’s possible the vote would have been influenced.

Despite editorial hand-wringing over the cost of a special election to decide the issue, we live in a Democracy and sometimes its implementation can be messy and expensive. But curtailing liberties in order to save money is not really compatible with democracy concepts as practiced in our republic. Our laws provide that citizens, through the petition process, can force city council decisions to be ratified by the voters. There is some murkiness about which council decisions qualify and that appears to be the case here. Since I heartily believe in the citizen petition/review process, I would have preferred seeing the court appeal in this matter go forward and hopefully result in a clear definition of when the petition/review process applies. That will have to wait for another day.

In order to save time the city council decided to throw in the towel and hold the special election that’s been requested by petitioners. That’s the way it should have been done a year ago. Just because some don’t adhere to the city hall/local business/newspaper views should be no reason to deny their right to petition, vote and even force local government to spend money justifying their actions. As previously noted, democracy can sometimes be messy and expensive. But it’s a whole lot better than a dictatorship.

The Desert Sun does its readers no service when they refuse to recognize and support simple democratic concepts like the petition/review process. And that refusal is clearly the case with their “Thumbs down: Palm Springs obstructionists force vote on hotel” editorial.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com
January 18, 2014

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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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:  The Desert Sun newspaper is raising subscriber fees, limiting access to MyDesert.com and closing down the website’s individual blogging facility.


The Desert Sun Running Short of Cash?


Palm Springs, California.
  Desert Sun Publisher Mark Winkler, in a lengthy, rambling and somewhat confusing letter to subscribers, announced a series of price increases. Starting in August monthly fees (plus sales tax) for home delivery will be $16.31, $14.68, $15.00, $13.00 or $11.00 depending on which of several options are selected. According to his letter subscriptions will include full access to website content. Enhancements to website viewing along with content access will be limited for those who don’t subscribe.

Publisher Mark Winkler claims non-subscribing website viewers “have had full access in the past without paying for it and that is not fair to our subscribers“. Many would quarrel with that view about access and free use. The website is not particularly viewer friendly nor designed with ease of access in mind. It could be argued viewers pay a cost in time and frustration while adding to the revenue stream by accepting so much advertising exposure. The MyDesert.com website is chockfull of advertising that slows fresh page loading resulting in time delays. Intrusive pop-up advertisements along with uninvited sound commercials add to the mix. These are all revenue producers for the publishing company and to be successful, from the advertiser’s point of view, need to be seen by many viewers. It will be interesting to see the affect limiting viewer access will have on that advertising revenue stream.

Administrators on MyDesert.com posted a little-noticed announcement that individual blogging capabilities will end on June 30th. Five years ago, in 2007, MyDesert.com debuted as a replacement for an existing Desert Sun website presence. MyDesert.com  was among the first of the new websites to rollout in the Gannett newspaper publishing empire. A significant component of the new offering was a user blogging facility. Special staff was employed to work with the community and the blogging feature was reported as designed to encourage citizen journalists to share their knowledge and foster communication. In the early days many in the valley community participated in the blogging opportunities. Teachers, politicians, writers, students, housewives, business owners and others all became bloggers on MyDesert.com. From a high point in the fall of 2007, when bloggers numbered in the hundreds, the level of participation has dwindled and only a few dozen continue to post blogs. Many believe the demise of blogging came about from the newspaper’s decision to permit comments and blogs written by anonymous sources. The anonymity aspect allowed for provocative, near-libelous and even nasty postings to appear with those making the statements free from accountability or public scrutiny. The website became a playground for malcontents, political hatchet jobs, reputation-damaging innuendos and worse. Other than a restriction against swearwords there were few prohibitions on the content of posted blogs and comments. It’s all coming to an end. Those knowledgeable will probably not be surprised to learn the failure of the blogging experiment on MyDesert.com and of its demise.

Newspaper circulation counts for The Desert Sun continue to decline. To some degree it’s part of an industry pattern. Online websites may be the future of newspaper publishing but that has yet to be determined. The local paper is not the first to hope so and to view its website as another way to extract subscription fees from subscribers. Whether the result will be more circulation losses offset by additional revenue from the website presence remains to be determined. However, since The Desert Sun does not excel in quality coverage, writing, community involvement or outreach, there may not be enough on the plate they are offering to attract subscribers to their print and website offerings. The long-term future of this particular newspaper and its products does not look promising.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
June 30, 2012



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0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Summary:
A star-quality reporter at The Desert Sun is leaving the area, a local radio broadcaster closing shop and the local newspaper continues to experience diminishing circulation counts.


Local News Tidbits: Mariecar Mendoza, Steve Kelly – and more!

The week past brought news of changes in the local media community. Two veteran news reporters, one print and one broadcast, will be leaving their posts. And the valley’s only daily newspaper continues to lose subscribers.

The Desert Sun’s reporter covering Palm Springs city government, Mariecar Mendoza, announced on her Facebook page she will be leaving for a new position with the Los Angeles Daily News. During her relatively brief time in the valley Mendoza’s reporting often resulted in front page headlines. Moving to the San Fernando Valley-based newspaper, which has a circulation more than three times that of the Desert Sun, represents a significant and well-deserved upward career move.

Local KPSI radio station broadcaster Stephen Kelly reported his 6-9 am weekday Desert Today program will end next month. He will assume other duties with the parent broadcasting group.  Kelly noted long-time broadcaster Stan Layne will come out of retirement and host a replacement 7-9 am program. Previous to his February 2011 retirement, Layne hosted a liberal-oriented morning program of interviews and commentary on the same station.

Gannett Corporation, parent of the Desert Sun Media group, released their annual report for 2011. Circulation figures for the local Desert Sun newspaper continue to fall. Daily circulation fell from 40,214 in 2010 to 38,363 in 2011. Sunday circulation fell from 46,115 to 45,674 during the same period. In 2005 daily circulation stood at 50,715 and Sunday at 52,318. The decrease in circulation numbers reflect an industry pattern. The bright side may be that local advertising dollars appear sufficient to support continuation for another year of the local print operation.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs 
June 24, 2012

Note:  See comments below for update on Steve Kelly’s broadcasting status.


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0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

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





0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Palm Springs, California.  Two weeks ago The Desert Sun editors reviewed Palm Springs City Council actions with respect to the Measure J Oversight Commission candidate selection process.  At that time they gave it their THUMBS DOWN in an editorial stating “...the council shouldn’t be in the position of picking the oversight board in the first place. What’s to stop the council members from picking participants who are beholden to their own views or interests? Unfortunately, not much.”

The editors have again reviewed the Measure J Oversight Commission selection process and their opinion has undergone a complete flip-flop. In their “New selection process for Measure J Oversight Commission is better” editorial they now give THUMBS UP support to the process because the City Council has increased from 25 to 44 the number of candidates to be interviewed. No mention was made in the editorial of the remaining 55 candidates who will not be interviewed nor given further consideration.

The Desert Sun
editors previously stated the council should not pick the oversight board. Nothing has changed! The council remains firm in their decision to be the only body that interviews and recommends candidates for appointment. No official public acknowledgement of the question about council members picking those beholden to them has been reported. Where is that better selection process the editors report?

Less than half those who were encouraged to apply will be interviewed. The only change is the decision to increase the number of interviews from 25 to 44 candidates. Is the addition of 19 candidate interviews really a “new selection process”?

The City Council’s candidate selection process was arbitrary and secretive. The 55 who were not selected have been publicly identified as either “unqualified” or not “overly worthy“. City Council actions in this regard have resulted in unacceptable treatment and disregard for individual reputations. None of those not selected were notified, no thanks have been extended in recognition of their participation, and no apologies have been made for disparaging remarks with respect to them as candidates. 

What has happened with the selection process that it now merits a THUMBS UP report from The Desert Sun editors? Certainly a flip-flop that leaves so much unanswered reflects poorly on the paper and its editorial staff. And they surely realize their flip-flop action brings into question their credibility. Why did they choose to reverse their position?

Bond Shands
Palm Springs – March 11, 2012
 



0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Palm Springs City Manager Campaigns for Measure J


In a recent Valley Voice offering in The Desert Sun titled “Don’t reject Measure J just because you don’t like John Wessman” the author noted one name, developer John Wessman, is absent from campaign advertising on behalf of Measure J. Actually there are at least two names missing from the roster of Measure J principal players. The other is that of Palm Springs City Manager David Ready. He is the visible presence in city government responsible for taxpayer funding of Measure J supportive campaign propaganda that is being marketed in the City’s name.

City Manager David Ready appears to view passage of Measure J as a personal quest and is leading a crusade in its support. Why a city official would become involved in a local ballot measure remains an open question. Is he the official who authored the Measure J sales tax hike concept and views it as “his baby”? If so, that may explain some of the following.

  • The City Manager has used taxpayer funds to create and publicize an official city website primarily devoted to campaign propaganda supportive of Measure J.
  • The City Manager has used taxpayer funds to produce and publish a four-page supplement in the local paper containing campaign propaganda supportive of Measure J.
  • The City Manager has used taxpayer funds for an expensive glossy-paper mailing to Palm Springs residents with campaign propaganda content supportive of Measure J.

City Manager David Ready alleges his propaganda activities supportive of Measure J passage are “educational” and do not represent campaigning. The common theme in his campaign is the City needs revenues from Measure J or its project wish list will not have adequate funding. There is no theme discussing the many disadvantages to Measure J’s passage.

The City’s campaign website has a back page section that includes reference data from the voter’s Sample Ballot and Information Pamphlet. That is the only instance where information in opposition to Measure J appears. That reference does not qualify the website as an independent or unbiased presentation of Measure J and its full impact. The website is but one more example of taxpayer funds used to fund Measure J campaign propaganda.

Among the many genuine concerns missing from City Manager David Ready’s extensive “educational” campaigning are the following.

  • A sales tax is regressive and its burden falls most heavily on the low, moderate, and fixed income earner. It is one of the least desirable forms of taxation.
  • Sales tax revenues will be pledged to repay approximately $83 million in new twenty (20) year revenue bonds. Those bonds will adversely affect the City’s future borrowing capabilities when funds may be required to meet unforeseen emergencies.
  • A twenty-five (25) year sales tax partially used for recurring maintenance costs represents borrowing from the future to fund current needs. It leaves open the question where funds will come from to pay the next round of recurring infrastructure costs.
  • Only twenty-four percent (24%) of the sales tax funds will be available for infrastructure needs. Twenty-six percent (26%) will go to developer John Wessman and fifty percent (50%) will be consumed by interest and other borrowing costs.
  • The City will need to wait twenty (20) years before it will start receiving all sales tax revenues. Until then only twenty-four (24) cents from every sales tax dollar will have been available for its use.

City Manager David Ready is an employee whose salary and benefits are paid from taxpayer funds. His official position is one of government service to the community. It is not an office that should be involved in local politics. He may be the secret Svengali behind the entire effort; the puppeteer pulling the strings; or the fiddler whose tune causes others to dance. But he should not do so using his official government position and taxpayer funds in support of his campaign quest.

Taxpayers need to send a strong message to City Manager David Ready that use of his office and of public funds in support of Measure J is not acceptable. That message to him can best by delivered by voting NO on Measure J.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
October 16, 2011

– End –

Copies of this blog are available to all on the www.DesertObserver.com website
or to those on the Desert Politics & Elections email distribution list available by request from
politics@DesertObserver.com

Send requests for more information to the following:

Committee for No on Measure J
Renee DeVolt, Treasurer
1111 Tahquitz Canyon Way  – Suite 111

Palm Springs, Ca. 92262

pstaxpayer@
gmail.com
www.VoteNoOnMeasureJ.org

Visit us on our “Palm Springs Taxpayers” Facebook page.
www.facebook.com/PalmSpringsTaxpayers

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Desert
Sun Campaigns for Palm Springs
Sales Tax Hike

The Palm Springs City Council approved the Measure J – One Percent (1%) Sales Tax hike ballot proposal during their final July meeting. Two days later The Desert Sun was one of the first out the door with an editorial endorsement titled “Support sales tax hike to revive Palm Springs”. The editorial was more of a rah rah cheer based on speculation rather than a thoughtful presentation of facts. Support for local taxes is practically automatic for the newspaper as their record of opposition to new taxes is sparse. Two years ago in Palm Springs they were enthusiastic supporters of Measure G, the Cell Phone tax. Although many were surprised by the speed with which the Sales Tax hike editorial appeared, that its message was one trumpeting approval was expected.

In today’s Sunday editorial The Desert Sun again mounts the Sales Tax hike soapbox with another editorial, this time titled “Invest in Palm Springs; vote yes on Measure J”. Coming barely two months following the first Sales Tax essay, it represents more than just editorial opinion. This latest editorial places the newspaper squarely in the role of a campaign advocate supporting the ballot measure. While it is doubtful the paper will report either editorial as an in lieu political contribution, the fact remains the newspaper’s repetitive editorial support represents free advertising for the Yes on Measure J campaign.

Today’s editorial stumbles a bit in its recitation of facts.

  • It reports that $32 million of taxpayer funds deposited into escrow will be “monitored by a new oversight commission”. That is not true! The new oversight commission will have no role in monitoring Desert Fashion Plaza funding.

  • The editorial claims the $43 million for John Wessman is not a gift, but fails to elaborate or otherwise back up that position. Since the $43 million gift to Wessman is fully documented that may be the reason the editorial failed to justify their absurd “not a gift” claim.

  • It is claimed the city and John Wessman are now working as partners. That is not the case! The Financing Agreement makes clear no partnership between the two parties exists. The city will renovate existing plaza parking facilities, build and maintain (a) three new streets, (b) five new public restrooms, and (c) all of Wessman’s Desert Fashion Plaza parking requirements. John Wessman will use taxpayer funds to renovate and construct facilities which he will own and none of his profits will be shared with the city. Is this a partnership? No!  Is it a ripoff of taxpayers?  Yes!

Over time the quality of The Desert Sun editorial section and offerings has deteriorated. Today’s effort is the latest example of that decline. The current editorial board appears to be comprised of like-minded individuals and/or persons who may not be attentive to their roles. The paper does not have an ombudsman, ethics panel or other means of independently monitoring its editorial and reporting activities. Policies, similar to the one that resulted in their campaigning for passage of Measure J, are dictated locally by management. It is for that reason the paper would have a hard time making the case it is a representative community asset. The lack of print competition has produced this result. It is entirely possible continued failure to address and serve the entire community may eventually lead to lessened interest and the eventual demise of the local paper.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs – October 2, 2011

– End –

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