PALM SPRINGS – With less than one month before the California General Election, a dark portrait of Joy Silver has emerged that belies the smiling face she relies on to convey her message to constituents.
A connect-the-dots image has been carefully articulated by local Democrats from Palm Springs to Coachella and places in between. Dark tales from her past life have also surfaced. The picture that surfaces is one of campaign infighting, not unlike the Trump White House, significant staff turnover, lack of messaging, a deep desire to surround herself with sycophants, and more. The desert, insiders say, is littered with former staffers who “suffer PTSD” after working with Silver. Staffers speak of being barked at for not driving Silver to appointments. A former co-worker in Sante Fe, New Mexico, describes her as a “true narcissist,” a “control freak” and one who does not comprehend the meaning of collaboration.
Greg Rodriguez, a Democratic political consultant, who ran V. Manuel “Manny” Perez’s highly successful campaign for Riverside County Supervisor, said he is aware that there are some Democrats that aren’t vocal supporters of Silver’s, but he’s not concerned.
“That happens with every candidate,” Rodriguez told Uken Report. “But I will tell you that the party apparatus, the club apparatus, the real activists in the valley are 100 percent behind her. My gut instinct is that she has a very strong chance.”
It is not the first time Silver has been under a dark cloud. She was one of three top officials to resign at the RainbowVision Santa Fe retirement complex under a stipulated agreement of parties in an ongoing bankruptcy case, according to a Nov. 15, 2011 story in the Santa Fe New Mexican. One resident in the complex posted a quotation in the window of his condo aimed at Silver: “She’s gotta go.”
You may read the entire story here.
A former co-worker of Silver’s at Rainbow Vision spoke to Uken Report on condition of anonymity. The source has been fully vetted.
Silver, he said, “would walk into the main building at RainbowVision and if the employee was not dressed to her specifics,” she allegedly ordered them fired. She cast a dark pall over the community.
Silver also allegedly would confront employees and take them to task rather than through the assigned manager. “She always did this in front of others,” he said, so embarrass and belittle the employee.
Anyone who crossed her would immediately be fired, allegedly. Similar stories have surfaced from her campaign office.
“She was a true nightmare,” the former RainbowVision co-worker said. “As I mentioned, she liked to keep the business in an uproar.”
In 2010, a patient died mid-month. Silver allegedly billed the patient through the end of the month.
“No employee felt safe with her being in charge,” the source alleged, painting a dark image of her leadership abilities.
Allegedly, Silver was constantly having problems paying the bills, the former co-worker said. “Therefore, we had to switch vendors often, food, janitorial supplies, etc. This was stressful as you could never depend on having what you needed. Many times we would run out of items in Assisted Living and have to improvise. Example, due to nonpayment, we would run out of cups to pass meds, therefore we would have to use water cups as med cups. We would run out of milk and had to use petty cash for milk at the local market.”
In the absence of a legislative record, Silver has launched a series of attack ads against her opponent and he calls her a “bankrupt business swindler.”
While many Democrats contacted for this story won’t trash-talk Silver, they declined to sing her praises, or talk at all. They weren’t willing to toe the party line. Those who would speak spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. There was a common dark thread from both her past and present co-workers.
Silver has been criticized for running her campaign like she is running for a seat on the Palm Springs City Council because she has spent so much of her time in Palm Springs, at the expense of spending more time in the district at large. It is her home, She is, by many measures well-liked here, and comfortable. A lesbian, she is embraced by the LGBTQ community.
Uken Report’s attempts to secure an appointment on Silver’s schedule for a one-on-one interview were ignored.
Silver, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Jeff Stone for the 28th state Senate District seat, which is located entirely in Riverside County. It stretches from the vineyards of the Temecula Valley to the Colorado River and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Wildomar.
Amid growing concern among Democrats that Silver had no message, five weeks before the Nov. 6 election, on Sept. 29, she announced her Agenda for Change. Her agenda priorities are: protecting healthcare, helping seniors, tackling the homeless crisis, and fixing the Salton Sea. There are no specifics, just an agenda.
Rodriguez, who is not a paid political consultant for Silver, acknowledged that in the infancy of Silver’s campaign, there was “significant” turnover on her staff and that she focused too much on Palm Springs.
“It’s like in many things, whether it’s a candidate, issues, or a marketing campaign for a business, especially when it’s something new, there’s passion that’s brought to it, you could never be successful if there wasn’t passion,” Rodriguez said, explaining the turnover. “The hard thing is how do you manage that passion? I’m not saying it as a bad thing. It’s just that when you have a group of people that are equally passionate about something, one person’s interpretation of how you go about achieving that result may be very different from the next. And when passions collide, it’s a very powerful emotion.”
The clash of passion led some people to leave, Rodriguez said, adding that such clashes are not unique to Silver’s campaign. He added that the strife and tension he witnessed four or five months ago is not there as some suggest.
“I think she’s grown as a candidate,” Rodriguez said.
What some define as narcissism, arrogant, rude, dark, and cold, Rodriquez describes as “driven.”
“What is the right word to describe a woman who has ambition and power and is driven for all the right reasons? Since I met Joy, and as I’ve watched her during this campaign, she is truly focused on being a better representative than Jeff Stone. She has committed herself to reach that goal. So, when I use the word driven, it is that she has really poured every ounce of her soul into winning this campaign. And I use that word with the utmost respect.”
That drive, that ambition has helped pull in what Rodriguez calls “very impressive” campaign contributions.
Between May 20, 2018 and June 30, 2018, Joy Silver, the Democratic nominee looking to unseat Stone in November, raised $71,760 in contributions. Stone reported contributions of $13,650 for the same period. Through the first six months of 2018, Silver spent $228,092 compared with Stone’s $160,485 for the same period, according to finance disclosure documents.
As her friend and as someone who has worked on countless campaigns, who knows the area, who knows the district, Rodriguez said he encouraged Silver to get out of Palm Springs and into the 28th state Senate District.
“I told her staff the same thing. They want – and need — to make inroads in the district. That doesn’t mean ignore the Coachella Valley, but their primary focus has to be on Democratic voter turnout and independent voters swinging to Joy in areas where she hasn’t had quite the coverage that she’s had here.”
In the June 5 Primary, Stone earned 56 percent of the vote, or 89,426 votes, in a three-way race. Silver pulled in 35 percent, or 55,312 votes.
As of Oct. 1, the latest data from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, there are 159,856 registered Republicans and 149,516 registered Democrats.
Whether the dark cloud lifts before Election Day remains to be seen.