PALM SPRINGS – A petition drive started in June to remove the statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert, which is mounted in front of City Hall, created a furor among both supporters and opponents. Like a hanging chad, the issue remains unresolved and likely won’t be addressed before the Nov. 3 election – by design.

Sources tell Uken Report that city leaders do not want this single issue to suck the oxygen out of the election cycle. City Manager David H. Ready did not return multiple requests for comment as to when public meetings might be held on the petition.

As of this week, more than 2,260 have signed the petition David Weiner, an accountant and consultant, started for residents of — and visitors to — Palm Springs.

A group opposing the statue’s removal has launched a Facebook page titled “Frank Bogert the Man not the Myth.” The private group currently has 1,800 members.

The goal of the petition drive is to not only get the statue removed from its residence at at 3200 E Tahquitz Canyon Way but also serve an educational tool.

Frank Bogert was one of the “founding fathers” of Palm Springs, a Hollywood actor who moved to the Desert oasis and became one of its bigger boosters, starting around 1930. In 1958, Bogert was elected to the Palm Springs City Council and served as mayor from 1958-1966.

Candidates Speak on Removing Bogert Statue

Frank Bogert Plaque

It was during this time that Palm Springs had one of its greatest failures to the non-White residents of the City, particularly in Section 14, a square mile of land next to downtown that was part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, according to the petition. Through a series of schemes that he operated with attorneys, some tribal members and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bogert and the City Council evicted many lower income and almost exclusively Black residents of Section 14. The homes they rented were torched with the assistance of the Palm Springs Fire and Police Departments, and many were “relocated” to Desert Highland Estates on the north end of town.

There is much more to this history, but the bottom line is that Frank Bogert, who was instrumental in these atrocities against Palm Springs residents, has been memorialized by a prominent statue of him in front of Palm Springs City Hall that was installed in 1990, Weiner writes in the petition.

“We, the residents, citizens and visitors of Palm Springs, California, believe it is time to remove the statue to a man that only represented White Palm Springs during his time as a booster and politician” Weiner writes in the petition.

You may sign the petition by clicking here.

Uken Report asked each of the candidates in the Nov. 3 Palm Springs District 4 election for their thoughts.

McCulloch

Mike McCulloch

Former Palm Springs City Councilor Mike McCulloch said, “I have a fond memory of  hearing Frank speak years ago when he was spending a lot of time in Mexico. He spoke of his love for horses, Mexico, the Mexican people and his wife, Negie, who was in attendance that day. He was not racist. Frank worked hard to promote the brand ‘Palm Springs’ by enticing Hollywood stars to visit the desert to be photographed poolside or just enjoying ‘The Village.’ The effort to remove his statue and characterize the City of Palm Springs as racist is lunacy, and threatens to destroy our tourism industry, the source of revenue that the City desperately needs when facing a $75 million budget deficit. The petition to remove the statue unfairly scapegoats Frank Bogert and misunderstands the complex history of Section 14.”

Candidates Speak on Removing Bogert Statue

Christy Holstege

Mayor Pro Tem Christy Holstege told Uken Report, “The entire country is currently reckoning with our history on civil rights, equality, and racial justice, and our city is no different. Thousands of our residents called on us to have this conversation in our city, like most other cities across our country.

“Palm Springs is not immune to addressing whether our city, over the last 83 years, has stood for civil rights for all residents, or if we can better improve city government for all of the communities in our city. As a City Councilmember entrusted to govern the city by the residents of Palm Springs, it’s my duty to ensure we are always seeking to improve the city and provide the best services and best quality of life possible for all of our residents.

“Earlier this year at City Council meetings, we led a conversation about the city’s history and racism and discrimination in our city, and over a hundred residents participated and provided public comment about not just the statue, but programs and policies to improve life for everyone in Palm Springs and to better address racism. Residents raised ideas ranging from increasing funding to programs for children, offering incentives to locally owned minority businesses, issuing a formal apology for the city’s role in Section 14, and addressing rising housing costs and the affordability of living in Palm Springs.

“On City Council, I supported and we successfully created an equity committee, made of members of our Human Rights Commission as well as a diverse group of residents from all over the city, to review all of these ideas and suggestions, hold a comprehensive public input process, and make a formal recommendation to city council after everyone has has an opportunity to be heard and share their stories. I believe first and foremost, that decisions like this should be made by the community and people affected, and not by the city council alone. I will continue to work to prioritize the views and experiences of the community in any decision we make on this issue. ”

Dian Torres

Dian Torres

Dian Torres said, “I support the people of color, as a woman of color I would follow their lead.

Vote By Mail Information

Beginning Oct. 5, 2020, every registered voter will receive a Vote By Mail (VBM) ballot, including a prepaid postage return envelope. Any voter may drop-off their VBM ballot at any drop-off location within Riverside County. Below are the VBM Drop-off Locations within the city of Palm Springs:

Palm Springs City Hall, City Clerk’s Office
3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., except holidays.

Demuth Community Center, Reception Desk
3601 E. Mesquite Avenue, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., except holidays.

 

Image Sources

  • Frank Bogert Plaque: Owned by the author
  • Mike McCulloch: Facebook
  • Mayor Christy Holstege: Christy Holstege
  • Dian Torres: Dian Torres
  • Frank Bogert Statue: Owned by the author