An Open Letter to the Citizens of Palm Springs

What a great event this has become!

May 6, 2015

Dear Citizens of Palm Springs, Friends and Supporters,

There has been much speculation and innuendo recently regarding my role as Mayor.

The Desert Sun, in an editorial that ran April 30th, threw their hat in with the handful of politically motivated detractors who have made accusations about my job as a consultant and my integrity as your Mayor.

I’d like to directly address those accusations and misstatements with you.

What is missing in these opinion pieces is the fact that, like all my colleagues on Council, I also work for a living. In Palm Springs, as in most cities, the Mayor and Councilmembers serve part-time at the pleasure of voters. One reason I believe we’ve enjoyed such a renaissance in Palm Springs is because your Council, like many of you, work full-time in our community in addition to their service at City Hall.

Sometimes, those positions come into conflict with decisions before the City. We have a mechanism to ensure these conflicts don’t interfere with our charter, including the necessary ability to make decisions openly and without bias.

In its editorial, the Desert Sun made a reference to the Fair Political Practices Commission, a body that investigates potential conflicts of interest. They found nothing out of the ordinary and the paper has since made you aware of the Commission’s findings.

This is exactly how open government is designed to work—and it’s no different in Palm Springs.

Instead of getting into the dirt with those whose own interests and agendas drive their strident opposition and personal attacks, I’m going to share with you some of the many positive highlights, of which we can all be proud. It’s with your help that we’ve been able to achieve so much in our City, including:

  • A revitalized downtown, transforming into what is becoming a thriving city center complete with new hotels, restaurants and retail—gaining us international attention and accolades as an exciting, must-visit destination for travelers
  • Four straight years of record growth in tourism – a real benefit for residents and business owners alike
  • A solid recovery from the brink of fiscal disaster after the Great Recession, thanks to our Hotel Incentive Program and strategic public/private partnerships—resulting in record bed tax revenues, low unemployment and an enviable AA++ bond rating for Palm Springs
  • The preservation of more open space than at any time in Palm Springs history, including the iconic Chino Cone
  • A leading sustainability initiative—including a campaign to reduce water usage by 50%, long before our state’s Governor acted to combat this historic drought
  • An improved airport—lauded as the nation’s “Most Stress-Free Airport”, with increased flights, a new control tower and more departures and arrivals than ever
  • The Mayor’s Healthy Planet, Healthy You Race and Wellness Festival, raising over a $1.5 million dollars towards wellness initiatives around the Valley, including teaching every 3rd grader in PSUSD how to swim and chose a healthier lifestyle
  • The creation of the Palm Springs Innovation Hub and Accelerator Campus, which have helped diversify our economy and create jobs

The accolades, milestones and statistics we’ve achieved together speak for themselves, including the most important measure of all: Palm Springs is, once again, an amazing place to visit, work, live and play.

When I ran for re-election in 2011 I made it clear that, despite my husband’s relocation for his job, I would commit to staying in Palm Springs to see through the much-awaited initial approvals for and demolition of Fashion Plaza, which are now complete. In return, you showed your trust in me by reelecting me to office with nearly 70% of the vote. For this, I am eternally grateful.

I’m pleased to say that all of the milestones I promised you during my tenure as your Mayor have been achieved. As such, this December will mark the end of my final term as your Mayor.

I look forward to Palm Springs continuing its renaissance and my new role joining those of you in the community who are actively engaged and interested in watching Palm Springs continue to blossom.

On behalf of Christopher, Beckham and Julia, I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this incredible journey these past 12 years.

Please, never forget that City Hall belongs to YOU, the citizens— and so does our City’s success.

Yours always,

Stephen Pougnet, Mayor
City of Palm Springs

steve@electpougnet.com