PALM SPRINGS — Nine months after the Palm Springs City Council approved an investigation into Mayor Robert Moon’s alleged act of placing a video camera and intercom in City Hall, a damning indictment of the mayor’s paranoid, secretive behavior has been delivered in an official report.

The City Council voted unanimously to make the report public, according to City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger. He will answer all questions about the findings. He was in a City Council meeting Wednesday evening and could not immediately be reached for comment.

One of the biggest surprises might be that City Manager David H. Ready was aware of the security camera in Mayor Moon’s office, according to the official report.

The city of Palm Springs retained Meyers Nave Riback Silver and Wilson of Oakland to conduct an independent, attorney-client privileged investigation for the city regarding Moon’s installation of a motion-activated Blink electronic security camera in his office and an intercom between his office and the office of the [Title Redacted] for the mayor’s office.

According to the report, of the 14 questions/claims the attorneys researched, 10 of the questions/claims were substantiated. The substantiated claims are:

  • that Mayor Moon’s security camera was capable of  recording or livestreaming confidential conversations in the hallway without the knowledge and agreement of the participants.
  • that Mayor Moon’s security camera was capable of  recording or livestreaming confidential conversations in the Mayor’s office without the knowledge and agreement of the participants
  • that Mayor Moon’s security camera was capable of recording or livestreaming conversations of two Councilmembers in the hallway or the Mayor’s office, which could have been viewed or overheard by the Mayor.
  • that Mayor Moon’s security camera was capable of making recordings, in the hallway or the Mayor’s office that should be assessed as to whether they could be discoverable as public records.
  • that, while in his office, Mayor Moon demonstrated to [Title Redacted] [Employee 2] that he had the ability to watch what was occurring in his office remotely by accessing a live feed on his cell phone.
  • that [Employee 3] reported that employees in the facilities department did not want to work in Mayor Moon’s office due to the security camera.
  • that Moon installed an intercom between his office and [Employee 1’s office] that was capable of monitoring sound or conversations in her office when in monitor mode.
  • that [Employee 1] reported that the intercom made her uncomfortable because of the possibility that the mayor could monitor sound or conversations in [Employee 1’s] office.

According to the official report, the evidence in this investigation presented a “stark contrast” between Moon’s stated intention of monitoring his office overnight and the unintended consequence that his security camera, if programmed at its highest level of sensitivity, had the ability to be a sophisticated eavesdropping device.

The evidence also showed that the Blink camera had the ability to allow surreptitious viewing, listening and recording of whatever actions and conversations were within its range, according to the report. Although there was no evidence that such eavesdropping occurred, this created the potential for unauthorized recording of confidential conversations, which could be accessed by the Blink App user or anyone who could access the user’s credentials.

The evidence showed that Moon installed the intercom with the intention of limiting [Employee 1’s] trips to his office. However, its unintended impact was to make [Employee 1] uncomfortable in her work environment because of the intercom’s ability to act as a monitor.

The report is careful to note that the report contains Findings of Fact, not conclusions of law.

The investigative report was the result of the City Council’s Employment Practices Ad Hoc Subcommittee’s work. The subcommittee issued a report dated July 11, 2018 that raised numerous questions about the camera and intercom, specifically regarding the capacity of the devices to eavesdrop on confidential conversations, whether such eavesdropping occurred and what the potential legal consequences could be for the City.

The purpose and scope of the investigation was to determine the facts surrounding the installation and use of these devices, and to respond to certain questions raised by the Subcommittee.

In the midst of the investigation, Moon announced he will not seek re-election in November.

Moon, elected to a four-year term as mayor in November 2015 on the premise of transparency, claimed last year that City Hall has no security so he took it upon himself without allegedly asking – or telling anyone – that he was going to use a motion-detection camera and an intercom.

The camera, he claimed, was to help him detect who was coming into his office during his absence. He claims the intercom was for easier communication with the City Council’s administrative assistant due to logistics.

You may read the full report by clicking here. 



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