PALM SPRINGS — Political candidates of various political persuasions — local, state, and national — have long sought out space at the Mizell Senior Center for candidate forums, meet-and-greets, debates, and more.

Then-candidate Gavin Newsom campaigned for governor in Palm Springs on May 31, 2018. The Democratic candidate who went on to win the Governor’s seat campaigned during an event sponsored by Equality California at the Mizell Senior Center.

Former U.S. Congresswoman Mary Bono held office hours at the Mizell Senior Center.

Such is the case of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, who tonight, Tuesday, July 16, are hosting a “Palm Springs City Council Candidate Forum.” The Forum is set for 6 p.m. at the Mizell Senior Center.

It is a common and legal practice to rent space in nonprofit organizations for political functions.

Mizell Senior CenterKaren Kirby, director of administration for the Mizell Senior Center, told Uken Report the Center is open to any political group that wants to rent it.

“We can rent it to any political group as long as we do not have an opinion,” Kirby said. “Obviously we would not rent it to some group wanting to hold a hate rally.”

Ian Murray, director of programs for Mizell Senior Center, said on behalf of the Center, he will rent to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Courageous Resistance, weight-loss groups, and more — all for the same price. The fee is usually $75 for an hour.

Scott Myer, a Libertarian, who is seeking a seat on the City Council in District 1, attempted to cast shade on the Mizell Senior Center and Desert Stonewall Democrats on July 16. Myer, a civil rights attorney, questioned whether the Stonewall event would threaten the tax-exempt status of Mizell Senior Center.

Since this is a political event, doesn’t this risk the tax-exempt status of the Mizell Senior Center that they excluded non-Democrats, Myer asked, citing the following from the National Council of Nonprofits. Click here to read more.

“The fact that anyone would say that is just absurd,” Murray told Uken Report. “That’s just silly. That’s coming from people not calling the Center and asking whether they can rent a room.”

Mizell Senior Center

James Williamson

James Williamson, president of the Stonewall Democrats, said, “Mizell is not holding the meeting, they are simply renting the space. Rental income is a revenue stream for the organization to help them fund their mission of supporting our seniors. Mizell has a rental policy which would allow the Republican Party or Mr. Meyer to similarly rent the space. This endorsement meeting is by nature the same type of event as the Democrat or Republican Conventions – members of the party are picking the candidate from their party that they want to support.”

 

Image Sources

  • Mizell Senior Center: Mizell Senior Center
  • Gavin Newsom at Mizell: Twitter