Three members of the Rancho Mirage City Council plan to boycott the preeminent fundraiser for Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert allegedly for reasons that are politically motivated.
Mayor Charles Townsend Vinci, Mayor Pro Tem G. Dana Hobart and Councilman Ted Weill will not attend the Feb. 15 event, according to the City Council’s assistant.
Councilmember Iris Smotrich, who is seeking re-election in April, and Councilmember Richard Kite will attend, they said.
At the time of publication, only one of the three challengers in the upcoming election is planning to attend.
The evening is designed to celebrate three decades of service to children in the Coachella Valley and honor a man, Skip Paige, who has donated more than $1 million to the Rancho Mirage-based museum. Paige just happens to be in a committed relationship with Katherine “Kate” Spates, one of the incumbents’ chief rivals in the upcoming April election.
Spates is seeking one of the seats now occupied by Hobart, Townsend or Smotrich for a four-year term on the City Council.
Members of the City Council became angst-ridden when they discovered Paige would be honored. Kite and Smotrich quizzed Amir Afsar, president of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, about the selection process, how the decision was made, when it was made and on what basis. Afsar told Uken Report that Paige had been chosen long before Spates announced her candidacy. He assured them there was no connection — and surely no favoritism in honoring Paige, a man who has demonstrably shown support for the Museum and children beyond the dollars.
During Paige’s tenure as COO at Goldenvoice, he spearheaded several philanthropic initiatives including the foundation of the Academy of Music Performance which provides summer music camps and year-round educational and performance opportunities to young musicians living in the Coachella Valley; and California CareForce, a three-day clinic in Indio providing free medical, dental and optical services to persons of all ages. The Museum will also highlight the vision for the future and recognize the accomplishments of past and present board members.
The assistant to the City Council told Uken Report that Hobart, Townsend and Weill “had never planned” to attend the event.
Kite said Thursday he and his fiancée, Becky Dehuff, would be going and donating $350. Kite said after talking with Afsar his questions and concerns were allayed.
“I would not miss this event,” Kite said. “I am a big supporter. I’m going to encourage my colleagues to go. I think it would benefit not only the museum but also the entire community. All I can do is ask them and encourage them.”
Smotrich also plans to make her presence known at the event along with her husband of 52 years. “We will be attending and sending our own personal check for a sponsorship … as we do for charities we sponsor,” she said in an email.
Afsar said it is “disappointing” to him that any City Councilmember would not attend to support the Museum.
“It is not appropriate for any City Council member — or candidate — to oppose our fundraiser,” Afsar said in a telephone interview. “”They are opposing our efforts to raise money. They’re not hurting Kate Spates or Skip Paige. They are only hurting children.”
Spates confirmed she’s all in, adding, “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Candidates Michael Harrington and Robert Mueller did not respond to inquiries as to whether they will attend.
The anniversary celebration and fundraiser is Feb. 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is open to adults age 21and older. Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar will offer well drinks, beer and wine. The AMP program will feature performances by several young musicians.
A “giving tree” will display the wishes and hopes for the Museum’s future, and guests can make pledges to see them come to fruition. Tickets are $200 for an individual or $350 per couple. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information or to sponsor or purchase tickets, click HERE or call (760) 321-0602.