CATHEDRAL CITY – Lego Batman received an assist from, not his usual sidekick, Robin, but a caring councilman with a soft spot for children and some discretionary money.

Councilmember John Aguilar directed $1,500 of his annual allowance of discretionary funds toward the “Kids Summer Movie Series” in the community.

The series provided free movies every Friday morning for eight weeks during the summer break from school. “Parents and children were able to watch family-friendly animated films like “Baby Boss,” “Lego Batman,” and “Captain Underpants.”

Two years ago, Aguilar said he was approached by the city’s Parks and Community Events Commission, specifically Diane Hines, a longtime resident and community volunteer who was serving on the Committee at the time. She asked Aguilar if he would consider making a donation to the Kids Summer Movie Series.

“I immediately jumped on it because I think it’s extremely important to support our local kids and families in various ways,” Aguilar told Uken Report. “I felt having a cool place in our hot summers for kids and parents to go for a break seemed like a great thing to partner in – and it is.”

Over the past two years Aguilar said he has allocated half of his discretionary Council funds to keep this series alive.

discretionary“Kids’ programs are really important to me and I like to do whatever I can,” Aguilar said. “I think it’s interesting to note that over the last two summers, we have had 1,750 children and families attend. I find it extremely satisfying to observe the joy in the faces of the little ones and the relief in the Mom’s and Dad’s faces in light of the sometimes almost unbearable heat.”

The series was also made possible in partnership with the Mary Pickford Theatre, the Cathedral City Parks and Community Events Commission, Parks and Community Events Commissioners Thommy Kocan and Gary Marshall, Planning Commissioner Laurie Holk, and many community volunteers who showed up each week to greet the guests and organize the event, according to Christopher Parman, Communications and Events Manager for Cathedral City.

Each Cathedral City Councilmember gets a discretionary allowance of $3,000 per year.

The only stipulation on the use of the funds is that they go to a legal public purpose, said City Manager Charles McClendon.  “In practice they have tended to use the funds to support non-profit or educational groups or activities such as the children’s film series.”

Councilmembers have also used their discretionary funds for:

Among the uses were the following:

  • Cathedral City High School theater department donation
  • Cinema Diverse (the LGBT film festival) sponsorship so it would also come to the Mary Pickford last fall
  • The American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund sponsorship
  • Cathedral City High School choir department donation
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance sponsorship
  • Fallen Heroes banner sponsorship
  • Shelter From the Storm contribution
  • Stonewall Humanitarian Awards sponsorship
  • Children’s summer movie series costs

Some of the above received contributions from more than one Councilmember.

In Palm Springs, each Councilmember receives $10,000 per year in a discretionary allowance, Communications Director Amy Blaisdell told Uken Report. This can be used for them to purchase tickets to community events for nonprofits, like Desert AIDS, Well in the Desert, Boys and Girls Club, and more.

In addition, councilmembers can use these funds for small city sponsorships for special events produced by community organizations like Digicom, Well in the Desert, and more.

In Indio, Councilmembers receive no discretionary funds, according to City Clerk Sabdi Sanchez.