David Koslow says, ‘My campaign is newsworthy and serious.’
CATHEDRAL CITY — David Koslow is running what many might consider an unconventional campaign. His effort is a zero-dollar campaign, he told Uken Report.
Koslow, who has sued the city over outsourcing the collection of fees from vehicle or municipal code citations, is one of two people challenging Mayor Ernesto Gutierrez for a four-year term to represent District 4 on the City Council.
Gutierrez was first elected to the City Council in 2018. He is currently serving a one-year rotation as mayor. His other challenger is Pastor Rick Saldivar.
“I will not pay the $500 fee for inclusion of a ‘Campaign Statement’ in the official Voter Information Pamphlet,” Koslow said. “I will not pay the $250 fee for inclusion of a ‘Campaign Statement’ in the official Voter Information Website. I will not purchase lists of names and addresses of Cathedral City’s District 4 registered voters’ names and addresses from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.”
He also said he will not purchase campaign circulars or postcards and will not purchase postage to send circulars or postcards to District 4’s registered voters.
“I value trees and don’t want them to be sawed down to generate paper products printed on my behalf,” Koslow said. “I believe that the promotion of democracy in this County and throughout this Country depends upon an active and independent investigatory press and media, through which the candidates are able to present their views and to oppose the views of opponents.”
My campaign is newsworthy and serious, and I therefore look forward to discussing my views, and how they may differ from those of my opponents, with members of the press, he said.
Uken Report (UR) posed identical questions to all three of the candidates. Their responses will be published individually through Thursday.
Koslow: Retired Art Dealer. (This is the Ballot Designation approved by the Voter Registration Office for the County of Riverside.)
I graduated with honors from Yale University in 1967, and with honors from New York University School of Law in 1971. In addition to my law practice, my ownership of a Los Angeles Gallery (Koslow Gallery), and my sales representation for the artworks of important contemporary artists, my career includes my employment as the Assistant Director of the West Hollywood HIV Medical Treatment Center, a free HIV clinic operated by the Los Angeles LGBT Center with grants from the City of West Hollywood, and, in a volunteer capacity, as the Secretary to Mary Nalick, the Director of the City of Angeles Hospice Foundation, Inc., a Cancer and AIDS hospice located in Hollywood, California.
UR: Why specifically do you want to be on the City Council.
Koslow: I am called upon by the times in which we live to be on the City Council, because I am the individual best able to repair the broken relationship of the City Council to the diverse Citizens and Residents of Cathedral City. The New York Times recently asked K-12 teachers to describe what was wrong with the post-pandemic American school system, and these words perfectly describe what is wrong with this City Council’s relationship to the Citizens and Residents of Cathedral City: inequitable; extremist; polarized; divided; unbalanced; corrupt; lacking; turmoil; hate; disregardful; and divisive. Over the past year, I have received document productions from the City’s City Clerk to approximately fifty (50) Requests for Public Records that I sent to the City. I have acted as an investigative reporter. As a result of studying these public records, I have a full “picture” of the inadequacies, of the many unacceptable deficiencies and failures, of this City Council in its responsibilities to conduct itself as a wise and careful fiduciary of the public’s trust.
UR: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment either in or out of office?
Koslow: On the Monday of Thanksgiving week in 1977, at their men’s clothing store located at the corner of 7th and C Streets in San Diego, California, my beloved parents-in-law James and Essie Effron were attacked, separated from each other in rooms located at the basement of their store, tied up with bags placed over their heads, and then bashed on their heads, breaking their skulls. Essie, on chemotherapy for colon cancer, bled out and died immediately. James died 13 days later. One of the murderers was convicted, but under the laws existing at the time of his sentencing, he received two merged life sentences with the possibility of parole. Through the years, I have joined with my ex-wife and her brother in opposing two separate parole board decisions that would have released this psychopath back into society. Luckily, California laws give the Governor the power to veto parole board proposed decisions of release, and, as a result of my letters and those of many others, then-Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and, more recently, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the two (2) parole board release recommendations. Helping to protect the Citizens of California from the return to Society of someone who is a likely recidivist: I consider this to be my greatest achievement and also my loving tribute to my parents-in-law, two individuals who were themselves extraordinarily civic-minded citizens of their beloved city, San Diego.
UR: How do you define “leader” and “leadership.”
Koslow: To understand the word “leader,” I turn to the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, to consider the leaders, Moses (Old Testament) and Jesus (New Testament). Clarity of vision is the quality possessed by Moses that make him a leader. Patience and humility are the qualities possessed by Jesus that make him a leader. One type of “leader” is the kind who identifies – often when others cannot – both the problem and its solution. Another type of leader is the kind whose communications given with patience and humility allow his vision to be received, understood, and accepted by and acted on by others. “Leadership” is the combination of the traits of Moses and of Jesus: clarity of vision communicated with patience and humility.
UR: Do you fit this definition?
Koslow: Yes. My middle name is Solomon. Solomon was the son of King David, the warrior King. In contrast to his father, Solomon was the King known for his peaceful and wise deliberations. At age 72, I look back on an eventful life with many successes and many sorrows, from which I have learned two important lessons which qualify me as a leader. I have learned to exercise caution in all of my decisions, and to act decisively once the way is clear. My mother had an expression which I think of daily: when in doubt, don’t. My abilities as a leader depend upon this: that I do not offer a solution or take a position on a problem until I fully understand all of the relevant facts involved, and only when the solution is absolutely clear to me. This is what I call “clarity of vision.” As I live, I continue to receive lessons in patience and humility, because there are always resistances – internal and external – to any change, to any new ways of “looking at thing.” Communicating reasons for change takes time and patience, just as to have a friend takes time.
UR: What are your top three goals for Cathedral City and why?
a. Absolutely No. 1: Support the Cathedral City Police Department and the Cathedral City Fire Department.
The increase in crime rates and the increase in the vulnerability of property to fire due to drought are two “givens” that cannot be ignored. Unless citizens and residents feel safe in their persons and in their properties, there quite literally is no city. Any friction between the Police Department and the current Mayor must be ended by the Nov. 8 Council election. All reasonable funding requests by the Police and Fire Departments must be (and can easily be) accommodated by the recently announced budget surplus. In short, in a list of priorities for city governance, Police and Fire Departments are uniquely entitled to the number one priority level.
b. End unlawful outsourcing of essential Government functions.
(1). The June 20, 2013, annually renewed, (alleged) illegal outsourcing contract between the City and the private for-profit debt collection company, the Irvine-based DATA TICKET, INC., doing business under the fictitious name of CITATION PROCESSING CENTER (“CPC”), needs to be terminated immediately. CPC is engaged in an obvious and (alleged) illegal conflict of interest, (a) when it supplies its employed hearing examiners to decide Citizens’ and Residents’ 2nd Level Appeals from Vehicle Citations, and (b) when it supplies its “independent contractor” State Bar licensed attorneys to perform as hearing officers to decide Citizens’ and Residents’ appeals from Municipal Code Violation Citations issued by the City’s Code Enforcement Officers. After the CPC-supplied hearing examiners (in Vehicle Code citations) and the CPC-supplied hearing officers (in Code Enforcement appeals) issue fines, CPC then collects the fines! Truly outrageous. CPC supplies the “judge,” and then, as a debt collection company, collects the “judgments.” In one year, CPC (allegedly collected (and received a collection fee from the City) $300,000.00 from Municipal Code citations issued for violations of the City’s prohibition on Short Term Vacation Rentals. In collecting these fines, CPC made the determinations – without City input – which fines could be paid on an installment basis and which fines were immediately payable. These fines were subject to penalty fines of up to 100% of the base fine should payment not be made immediately. Because the debts that CPC collects are not the result of consumer purchases (and therefore not “consumer debts”), CPC is not regulated in its debt collection practices by either of the federal or state regulatory agencies that oversee the laws controlling consumer-debt debt collection agencies. If the City contracts with a debt collection company, it should select one that voluntarily agrees to be regulated in its practices by state and federal laws and that agrees, in its collection of City’s fines, to be so regulated. However, there is no real need to outsource collection of vehicle fines to a debt collection company. State law places holds on vehicle renewal licenses until outstanding vehicle citation fines are paid. State law also places a lien on state tax refunds until outstanding vehicle citation fines are paid. In other words, the city can easily collect outstanding vehicle citation fines without outsourcing the function to CPC.
(2). The (alleged) inadequacies (and unjustifiable expenses to the City) of the existing City Attorney function being supplied by Eric Vail and his law firm Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP have been dramatically revealed by the incorrect advice and resulting wasteful attorney billings in the Koslow v. City of Cathedral City trial court and appeals, and in Rayl v. City of Cathedral City trial court matter. These wasteful attorney billings are the result of the City’s bad decision in contracting with Data Ticket, Inc., described in subparagraph 1. Above. For many reasons, the City needs to bring in-house the provision of all of the City’s legal service’s needs – the responsibilities for the City Attorney described in the City’s Municipal Code – through the hiring, as a full-time employee, a State Bar licensed attorney with experience in Municipal Law. This will eliminate the need for other outside law firms to provide advice, as happened in 2022 with the payment of Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00) to the Palm Desert law firm of Best, Best & Krieger, LLP.
(3). The outsourcing of initial decision-making on Government Code Section 910 Claims to the Public Entity Risk Management Authority (“PERMA”) is most likely illegal under two sections of the Government Code, and also delegates to PERMA decisions (whether or not to settle claims at an early stage) that should only be made by the City Council with the advice of the City Attorney. PERMA is an organization that claims to be established for the handling of a City’s employee injury claims, but somehow it has “morphed” into providing legal advice (although PERMA is neither a lawyer nor a law firm) on Section 910 Claims against the City from third parties. By eliminating PERMA from consideration of non-employee Section 910 Claims, the city will be returning decision-making (and, often, early settlement and avoidance of litigation) to the City Council, with advice from the City Attorney. Currently, the contract between the City and Mr. Vail (and his law firm) specifically excludes the City Attorney from providing the services which PERMA currently provides.
(4). The $15,000.00 annual membership “dues” paid by the city to the “League of California Cities” should be discontinued forthwith. During the pandemic, the city did suspend its membership for one year in, and did not pay “dues” to, the League. This demonstrates that membership is not essential. The reason why the city should have nothing to do with the League, however, is this: the League’s purposes and activities are hostile to the responsibility of Cathedral City’s obligations to maintain good relations and communications with its citizens and residents. The League provides training to the city how to avoid being responsive to its Citizens. This is an organization inimical in its purposes to good governance, to responsible City relations with its Citizens.
(5). Finally, and worst: the proposed outsourcing of the management of the City’s parks and the production of a recreation program to Desert Recreation District (“DRD”) is completely unjustifiable. It is long past time for the City – after a twenty-year hiatus – to establish its own Parks and Recreation Department to manage the City’s parks and to produce a recreation program. In arriving at its recent vote to put a measure on the November ballot for a new tax that will add to residential property owners’ tax bills around $300 per year, the City Council, in an act of absolute hubris, did not request the City’s own Citizens’ Parks and Recreation Commission for its views. The Council allowed the DRD to print and mail two expensive circulars praising the outsourcing of the City’s parks and recreation programs to DRD as if were a “done deal.” These circulars were mailed out before the City Council meeting approved the ballot measure! Two-thirds of the voters must approve the taxing measure, and I believe voters – struggling with inflation and an impending recession – are in no mood (or position) to approve another tax.
c. Tighten the City’s financial belt.
In the current dramatic inflation of food and housing costs. Citizens and residents throughout California are finding ways for their household budgets to make ends meet. With an international economic recession looming, there will be several “lean” years ahead for which all of us must prepare, and the city is no exception. The city must find ways to reduce costs. One way is to reduce its payroll. With the exception of the salaries paid to police and fire department employees, a reduction of pay scales for City Manager, City Clerk, other officers, and City staff is necessary and appropriate. Elimination of unnecessary job titles is necessary and appropriate. A top-to-bottom HR review of pay scales, and a comparison with the pay scales for parallel employee positions in cities of comparable population and annual budgets, is long overdue.
UR: COVID-19 has taken a toll on the Coachella Valley’s economy. What specifically will you do or are you doing, to help Cathedral City rebound.
Koslow: The existence of a thriving business sector is essential to the rebound, post-COVID, of Cathedral City’s economy. As a result of the pandemic, there are far too many vacant spaces in the City’s shopping centers. There are also far too many vacant lots that are already zoned commercial and available for commercial development. If amazon.com relocates its Desert Cities’ delivery hub from Cathedral City to its newly acquired property in Desert Hot Springs, yet another empty commercial building will be unproductive of rents and non-generative of taxes. A full report to the City Council by the Public Works Department is needed to list all currently under-utilized commercially zoned properties within the City. This list would then be circulated with requests for potential referrals to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP), Coachella Valley Realtors’ Association, and similar organizations. Unfortunately, the City’s unwise eminent domain action that resulted in the taking of the property (and the cruel displacement of the homes of low-income Citizens and Residents) on which the City Hall and other under-utilized buildings now stand has no obvious solution, absent the removal of the commercial buildings and the establishment, in their places, of popular fast food, drive-through restaurants like In-n-Out Burgers. The City may also re-consider past efforts at annexations of Riverside County unincorporated areas as potential locations for concentrated commercial businesses. Finally, Palm Springs’s cannabis businesses are brisk competitors of those of Cathedral City. The City Council should consider ways in which, by relaxing City taxation and other regulations, Cathedral City can assist its local cannabis businesses in maintaining a competitive edge over those of Palm Springs.
UR: You are all well-known. What is one thing people don’t know about you.
Koslow: I have a daughter! She is the one who is well-known! My wonderful daughter, Jessica Koslow, is the owner of the popular Los Angeles restaurant SQIRL. She also runs a mail-order company which sells and ships SQIRL’s world-famous seasonal jams and preserves. Jessica has written two cookbooks, one on her SQIRL recipes, one on her jams and preserves.
UR: Is there one decision the City Council has made with which you strongly disagree? If so, what was it and why?
Koslow: Answered in Section 6(b)(5) – the measure on the November 8 ballot to increase taxes so that the City can outsource its parks management and recreation programming to Desert Recreation District, when the City should simply re-establish (after twenty years) and fund its own Parks and Recreation Department. The money for doing so can be found through payroll savings and position eliminations, and by eliminating the discretionary funds given to each District’s Council member.
UR: Tell readers one good thing about each of your opponents.
Koslow: Both of my opponents deserve praise for seeking public office. By seeking public office, each candidate demonstrates a commitment to democratic principles and to his vision for a better Cathedral City. I thank them both for their sacrifices made by engaging in this campaign.
- David Koslow: David Koslow