A Republican candidate for the 36th Congressional District seat threw serious shade at the all-LGBTQ Palm Springs City Council last week for not stepping in to quell the vandalism and threats to boycott a local downtown business popular among the gay community.
Dan Ball blasted the City Council after Wang’s in the Desert was vandalized and the chorus of protests to boycott the business grew deafening. Ball said the outrage not only jeopardized a business but also the livelihoods of the employees who work there.
On Thursday night, Palm Spring Mayor Robert Moon made a high profile move to show precisely where he stands on the issue. He announced he was enjoying a rare date Wang’s in the Desert. He referred to it as his “favorite destination.” Will it be the move to put a period on this contentious issue? Time will tell.
The brouhaha erupted after Ball hosted a Happy Hour fundraiser at Wang’s in the Desert on Dec. 28. All hell broke loose when he posted photos of himself with the owners to thank them for providing the space. Some of those who frequent Wang’s said that if fellow diners support Democratic Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, it is troubling to see the owners of Wang’s supporting his opponent.
Many vowed never again to step foot in the Asian eatery on Indian Canyon.
Uken Report reached out to the mayor to see why he felt compelled to visit the restaurant in the wake of the controversy.
“Wang’s is a long established business in Palm Springs,” Moon told Uken Report. “I enjoy going there, and on Friday evenings it is fun place to have a drink and some appetizers and enjoy seeing local friends. I have been to countless events on the patio there for various charities, film festival events, PRIDE events, etc. I feel, personally, that this restaurant business is being treated unfairly. If they want to hold a fundraiser there for a candidate, that is certainly their right. Other restaurants host events for political candidates frequently. This is part of our cherished First Amendment rights, the right of free speech and assembly. “
That being said, Moon added, “If a certain group of people decided to protest any restaurant or business holding an event for someone they do not like, they are certainly free to not visit that business and to encourage others not to visit.”
However, in this case, Moon said he had heard from the owner by e-mail, and called and spoke to him in person. “I was assured that this was not a scheduled event. I was assured that the candidate and a small group of supporters showed up, ordered some drinks and appetizers, and then left. It was not a hosted event, nor was the business involved in it.”
Ball was at Wednesday’s Council meeting and after the meeting I spoke to him and confirmed this, Moon said.
“This is a case, in my mind, where people on social media are making accusations that are unfounded and, apparently, not true in order to stir up people’s emotions,” Moon said. “Threats to boycott this business and put them out of business are outrageous and unfair as they are based on what I feel is incorrect information posted on social media.”
Therefore, bottom line, the owner of Wang’s assured me the stories were not true and Dan Ball confirmed that to me in person, Moon said.
“Why did I go there? To show by my own example that for people to talk of boycotting a business or putting a hard-working business person out of business based on what I find from my own direct first-party research to be incorrect information is unacceptable,” Moon said. “I would do this for any business or individual I felt was being unfairly maligned.”
Still, something doesn’t seem to add up. Was the mayor hoodwinked? What constitutes a “scheduled event?” RSVP’s were requested to be sent to Ball’s fundraising manager Marc Troast.
From all indications, people did not simply “show up.”
Ball publicized the event as early as Dec. 26, two days before the fundraiser. Look at the date of the post.
You be the judge.