Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Holidays Celebrity Construction in Palm Springs
There are construction cranes all over Palm Springs these days, and the most alarming is the new shopping mall development by John Wessman on Palm Canyon Drive which is looking nothing like the original plans submitted to the voters four years ago. The two-term Palm Springs mayor, a handsome gay realtor named Steve Pougnet, was an honest broker for years in balancing development and preservation in the small city of 40,000, but he got greedy and began accepting "consulting contracts" in the six figures for unspecified services with more than one developer.
This was exposed by an investigative journalism series in the local paper, The Desert Sun, and eventually the FBI arrived in September and hauled away files from City Hall. Unlike San Francisco, where that kind of behavior is considered business as usual and the San Francisco Chronicle ignores institutionalized municipal corruption, Palm Springs voters recently booted out the old slate and elected a new mayor, Rob Moon above right, posing with my friend Cory Dingle.
We walked down Palm Canyon to the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Francis Stevens Park last Thursday, passing under banners created by local schoolkids who have an annual competition for the honor of having their painted signage flying over the main drag all December.
We also saw evidence of other holiday traditions, as evidenced by the Menorah bolted to the roof of the car.
At the tree lighting, there was a Palm Springs High School madrigal group singing carols...
...delicious cookies, and not-so-hot chocolate.
There are usually a bizarre selection of local celebrities in attendance, and this year it was (left to right) Palm Springs Councilwoman Ginny Foat with poodle who lost the recent mayoral election even though she was the clear favorite in money and name recognition, supermodel/actress/businesswoman Beverly Johnson, TV's Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner, Mayor Moon, and Linda Gray from the old Dallas TV show edging out of the frame.
Unusual for Hollywood and Palm Springs, the 66-year-old Bionic Woman Wagner looked like she was aging fairly naturally and well.
At the Palm Springs City Council meeting the night before, disgraced outgoing Mayor Steve Pougnet made a few remarks and then it was time for public comment. The final speaker was Frank Tysen, a small hotelier who was a onetime ally of the mayor and then an adamant critic. "You threw it all away, Steve, a promising career, political allies, the trust of this town." Let's see if the new regime can alter some of the recent dumb development deals that are already in place.