Desert Sun Campaigns for Palm Springs Sales Tax Hike
Sun Campaigns for
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.
Palm Springs - October 2, 2011
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