Rancho Mirage voters have made their voices heard on CV Link and all three candidates seeking election to the Rancho Mirage City Council say they have no intention of trying to overturn the voters’ decision.
But at least one of the challengers said the current City Council has been argumentative and contentious and its behavior has disrupted the city — and relationships with other valley communities.
Each of the three challengers to the incumbents in the upcoming April election were asked identical questions via email and given nearly three days to respond out of an abundance of caution given the controversial nature of the CV Link – and out of respect to the candidates.
“Speaking for Rancho Mirage, the voters have already voiced their opposition to CV Link on the 2016 ballot, mostly because of the allocation of operating costs and the selection of a location for CV Link,” Harrington said Tuesday morning.
Going forward, Harrington said he will be objective and informed in the consideration of all options while at the same time always putting the interests and concerns of Rancho Mirage residents first.
The current City Council was not wrong to oppose CV Link because it is members’ duty to take a position and they did.
“But the current council initially was for CV Link before they were against it and this has been disruptive and costly,” Harrington said. “Additionally, the current council was wrong for being contentious and argumentative in their interactions both with Rancho Mirage residents as well as with other valley officials. This behavior has harmed our city. I want to repair the harm. Council members should remain objective, factual and civil; this current council has failed to do so. We need a new council and if elected, I will be well-informed, consistent, transparent and civil in the performance of my city council duties.”
“Rancho Mirage residents resoundingly defeated a CV Link referendum last year,” Mueller said. “I have no intention to question their wisdom.”
Rancho Mirage voters in April 2016 overwhelming rejected a measure that asked if residents would approve of using Measure A money to help build the $100 million, 50-mile transportation corridor. Nearly 80 percent of the voters said, “No.”
“Some may hope to make CV Link a campaign issue but Rancho Mirage voters have already decided CV Link’s fate, at least for now,” Mueller said. “I stand with the city’s voters in opposition.”
Spates is like-minded.
“The voters of Rancho Mirage have spoken on this issue and I am on the record as supporting their decision,” Spates said. “The CV Link is not a campaign issue for me.”
Jim Ferguson, a Palm Desert resident, attorney and former member of the Palm Desert City Council, in October filed a lawsuit alleging that “illegal” funds are being used to build the alternative transportation corridor that would stretch from Palm Springs to Coachella.
Harrington, a family law attorney, said he is not allowed to speak to the merits of a pending lawsuit that is before the courts now but would speak to the procedure.
“Attorney Ferguson should have put his objections on the record at any of the the many CV Link meetings across the valley before filing a lawsuit,” Harrington said. “I personally have attended many CV Link meetings and workshops for years now, in order to be informed and to document my concerns. I have never seen Mr. Ferguson at a CV Link meeting. As a resident of Rancho Mirage, I support the Desert Sun’s request for disclosure of emails between Rancho Mirage council members and Attorney Ferguson regarding this lawsuit because I, as a resident, have a right to know if my council members played a role in Ferguson lawsuit. Cities have a right to sue but again, it is about transparency and integrity. We have a right to know if the current council was involved in this lawsuit. Disclose the emails.”
Harrington said he was not allowed to speak to the merits of a pending lawsuit because, if elected, it will compromise his ability to effectively serve his city.
“We have branches of government and court cases are for the courts to decide,” Harrington said. “We also have a division of duties in city government. When sitting on council, we have a city attorney to consult about legal matters. The current council has failed to respect the division of duties and branches of government. This is one of the reasons that made me step up and run for council.”
“I’m not an attorney but his argument seems to have merit,” Mueller said of Ferguson’s lawsuit. “CV would seem to be an inappropriate use of Measure A funds. Of course, new information may become known that would shed new light on these matters, but the above is my position at the time.”
Spates declined to comment on the worth of Ferguson’s lawsuit.
“Mr. Ferguson and Mr. (G. Dana) Hobart are very accomplished attorneys and are more qualified to comment on the merits of their case,” Spates said.
A hearing on the lawsuit, originally scheduled for Jan. 12, has been continued to March.
Harrington, Mueller and Spates are challenging incumbents Hobart, Iris Smotrich and Charles Townsend Vinci in the April election.