Editor’s Opinion by Jackie Devereaux
Recently, I and Desert Star Weekly Publisher Mike Perry, met with Cathedral City Mayor Kathleen DeRosa and their new City Manager Andy Hall to discuss several topics ranging from their balanced budget to attracting new business and achieving a consensus on the city council. Hall agreed that since DeRosa’s razor thin win (by 14 votes) in November’s election, he has seen a “true effort” on the part of each city council member to work things out. Each council member has their own frustrations but they also realize that if they’re going to compete for new jobs and growth, then they must say, okay, to those differences and compromise in order to build a consensus.
“Our city council has been focused on the community and the issues, achieving a 5-0 vote most of the time,” Hall said during our meeting on January 16.
“There may be an occasional 4-1 vote, but that is mostly on social issues,” Mayor DeRosa added. “We are a very committed group and understand how important it is to have a consensus.”
That is heart-warming to hear especially when compared to the chronic dissention that occurs in the neighboring city of Desert Hot Springs. Unfortunately for the residents of DHS, there are two city councilmen who appear to be “running the show” and it’s not a pretty picture. On Tuesday evenings, there is a five-hour marathon city council meeting where nothing seems to get done because these two council members create a huge riff by challenging and criticizing the city’s every move. Rarely has there been a 5-0 vote. Often the vote, on whatever issue, comes in at 3-2.
No doubt things get a little sticky in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City on heated issues, but somehow those cities seem to be able to reach a consensus for the betterment of their constituents, and the question looms large as why DHS cannot?
City government and the growth of each city are dependent upon a consensus. We hear so much talk about DHS wanting to fix its bad reputation and negative image. Outsiders listen but go to a city council meeting and hear nothing but arguments with not a singular focus on moving the city forward. All people hear is dissention from two city council members. For once, I’d like to see the five person council get through a meeting and get things done without the chronic disagreement from Council men Adam Sanchez and Russell Betts.
American government, founded in the late 1700s, faced a leadership that was overseas, taking money through taxation without any representation. This situation led to the Revolutionary War. Today, a city council that has no singular focus and that suffers from chronic dissention is not the kind of representation that its residents wanted or voted for. These two city councilmen were elected from platforms that said, “I’ll get the job done,” and not from platforms that said, “I’ll block any progress at every meeting.” In my opinion, this lack of solidarity and dissention is not what the voters want or deserve.
Never in all my experience living in a small community have I witnessed a public official being elected from a platform of dissention. My question is this: Does Cathedral City operate that smoothly? Do they have the consensus that Mayor DeRosa and City Manager Hall claim? Does their city council really choose an offer in compromise and do they build a consensus? After looking at their recent voting record, the answer is “Yes.” How do five to seven people, who don’t think the same, manage to reach a consensus? Do they say, “I see what you mean, so let’s meet halfway?” It appears so.
Unfortunately, it is obvious to anyone who attends a DHS city council meeting that Councilmen Sanchez and Betts have made their dissenting decisions without any glimmer of compromise.
It’s time for the entire Desert Hot Springs City Council to get on the same page. This is not about power and control, it’s about proving to a community that you have its best interest at heart.
Jackie Devereaux is the Editor-in-Chief of the Desert Star Weekly and her opinions are not those of the newspaper’s owners, management or staff, but solely her own. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-671-6604.