Constituent Demands an Apology from Members of Rancho Mirage City Council

RANCHO MIRAGE — Kate Spates, an independent businesswoman, demands an apology from members of the Rancho Mirage City Council after they dismissed her efforts to change the time of Council meetings — and further attempted to discredit the Rancho Mirage Forward group as political rather than concerned citizens.

Spates, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, initiated a petition in February to change meeting times of City Council. Her petition also calls for elections to be inclusive. Spates started the Petition on and has collected more than 300 signatures.

The Rancho Mirage City Council should change its general meeting time to 5 p.m. or later and align our election date with federal and state election cycles in the hopes of being more inclusive and giving our citizens as much of an opportunity to participate as possible, according to the petition. (It’s also cheaper to not run one election one month after a federal election.) There is no good reason for not making these changes, unless the City Council wishes to have minimum citizen participation and only hear from those that have the luxury of attending a meeting in the middle of a workday and remembering to vote in an easy-to-miss special election.

Mayor Dana Hobart, often referred to as King Dana, said the City Council has over the years experimented with different times and has found a time that works best for both residents and the City Council. Hobart also said holding the election in April garners a higher voter turnout than federal elections.

Some members of the City Council immediately discredited the petition as being politically motivated and implied Spates was posturing herself for another run in April 2022.

“I haven’t decided,” Spates told Uken Report about running again. “But I am willing to support a good candidate that I feel would represent the interests of people under age 70 and people who are not retired.”

Spates, not one to be intimidated by bullies, recently addressed the City Council. Her blistering remarks follow:

“I attended the last City Council meeting on February 18th via Zoom and watched as you spent nearly 40 minutes, delivering highly orchestrated, condescending, defensive, and dismissive statements that you all read word for word to vehemently deny anyone would want to move the meeting time or election dates. Who did you poll to get this vast majority you spoke of?

“My petition currently has 311 signatures of actual people who support changing the meeting time to 5:00 PM and aligning the city council elections with state and federal elections. How dare you talk negatively about me and dismiss my concerns as political? You work for me. I am one of your constituents, and I demand respect and a public apology.

“And I want to emphasize that Rancho Mirage Forward is not just me. It’s a group of concerned residents. And by dismissing me, you dismissed all of us. Mr. Hobart incorrectly stated we were looking to change the time to 7 p.m. when we clearly said 5 p.m. He said it was utter nonsense. And (to talk of) the City Council meetings going until midnight is actually the true utter nonsense.

In the last three years, the average time of a City Council meeting is 121 minutes. Starting at 5 p.m. would give people plenty of time to have dinner and attend other evening functions. Mr. Townsend criticized me for using an image of a woman at the mic of your city council meeting in my online petition. However, it’s the thumbnail of your Rancho Mirage City Council meeting May 18th, 2017. I was making a point about empty seats behind the speaker.

I created this specific petition because I am looking to the future. Whether you choose to accept it or not, the demographics are changing. Nearly a third of the population is under 55 and nearly half of the population is under 65. It’s not quite the retirement community you make it out to be. If the person who works wants to run for city council, it is a complete interruption to their workday to meet at 1:00 PM, thereby effectively limiting council members to retirees or people with the luxury of having free hours during the work day. It also limits real-time participation for residents to provide public comments.

This current council cannot serve forever. So who will represent the people in the future? There needs to be age equality and equal representation for all, not just the elderly population. This council is a good old boys network, and you should be ashamed at your behavior. You are ignoring a large part of your city, and it must stop. Your single-mindedness has caused you to lose sight of what the job is.

I’ll wait for your apologies.”

Spates has not received an apology.

Asked why she felt compelled to address the City Council, Spates told Uken Report, “I feel like the interests of people under age 70 and people who are not retired in our city are not being heard. I am not saying the current Council is doing a bad job, but I do feel like they have lost sight of what the job is. They are supposed to listen to all constituents, not just their country club friends. Their dismissive and defensive attitude is unprofessional and makes them look ridiculous. They are not looking to the future of who will make up the City Council. They act as if they weren’t in power, the city would collapse. They have created a little fiefdom and they act like they are royalty. They are not. They are elected officials who are to listen to and represent the interests of all constituents.”

Spates has resided in Rancho Mirage for more than six years and has lived in the desert for more than 40 years.

Spates is not the first constituent to be verbally bullied from Councilmembers on the dais.

Then-Mayor Pro Tem G. Dana Hobart, from the dais at a Feb. 20, 2020 City Council meeting, belittled, mocked and disparaged a candidate in the April 2020 City Council meeting.

Hobart’s colleagues — Richard Kite, Ted Weill, and Charles Townsend — sat silent while Hobart, who is nearly 90, railed on Stephen Jaffe for more than 25 minutes. At its conclusion then-Mayor Iris Smotrich thanked Hobart.

Hobart’s attacks on then-candidate Jaffe were directed at him as a member of Save Rancho Mirage, an opponent to the In-N-Out project at 42-560 Bob Hope Drive on a vacant lot in the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center, according to a complaint Bruce T. Bauer filed against the city. He is the attorney representing Save Rancho Mirage,

The “diatribe,” as Bauer characterized it, lasted 25 minutes — almost a third — of a 1 1/2-hour public meeting  designed to do the people’s business. Members of the public are given a maximum of 3 minutes to speak.




Image Sources

  • Kate Spates: Kate Spates