Robert Julian Stone is in a unique position as a candidate for the Palm Springs City Council. He is one of a duo who claims to have built a case over “many, many months of hard work” to bring down former Mayor Steve Pougnet.
“We received no money for our efforts and expected none,” Stone said. “We brought it to the investigators on April 10 of 2015 and the … felony counts that are currently pending against our former mayor and two local developers are precisely based upon the case we brought to the public corruption task force.”
Six men and women are vying for two seats on the Palm Springs City Council in November. Uken Report submitted questions to each candidate and all accepted.
They are Judy Deertrack, Glenn Flood, Harry Hampton, Christy Holstege, Lisa Middleton and Stone, who refused to say how old he is. He is an author, journalist and political activist.
Each candidate received identical questions. Their answers appear as they were submitted and were not edited or altered.
Exactly why are you running?
I’m running to bring integrity to the public process and institute reforms that will make sure we never have 31 felony counts for corruption within City Hall. I also want to balance our budget and rethink the way we do business. We now have an unfunded pension and health care liability of $220 million dollars. If we don’t reinvent our business model we will absolutely be in bankruptcy within 10 years.
What quality do you have that you believe your opponents do not? In other words, what sets you apart?
I am the only candidate in the race this year who has been a full-time resident of Palm Springs for the last 12 years. And there is simply no substitute for this sort of institutional memory. I have read every City Council Agenda for the last 10 years. And if there was an item of significance, I pulled the Staff Report and reviewed that. I have 15 years of Federal Government experience working for the Social Security Administration, and I served three years as a Palm Springs Public Art Commissioner. I am also the author of two books about Palm Springs, Postcards from Palm Springs and Hollywood or Lust. After many months of work, Judy Deertrack and I built a case that suggested corruption at City Hall. We brought that case to the Public Corruption Task force on April 10, 2015 and it forms the basis of the 31 felony counts pending against our former Mayor and two local developers. Other than Ms. Deertrack, all of the other candidates did nothing to object to the outrageous giveaways to these developers. And one candidate actually voted in favor of many of them as a City Planning Commissioner. As they say, if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
How much to you expect to spend on your race?
Who is your political role model?
“Give ‘em hell,” HarryTruman.
What are the three most notable endorsements you have received to date?
The endorsement process is an extension of the institutionalized political machinery that has led our city to its current situation. The political establishment in power seeks to maintain itself; party endorsements are passed out to those who go along with the current program. The many employee groups who sup at tables maintained by City coffers line up candidates and size them cup to determine from whom they can get the best deal and the most promises. That’s who gets endorsements. I’m not working on that level.
Who recruited you, or did you decide to run on your own?
After many years of political activism in Palm Springs (I wrote a book about the Warm Sands sex scandal), I had hoped the modus operandi at City Hall would change – that we would have a more open and transparent government. But after the FBI raided City Hall on Sept. 1, 2015, little positive change took place. Only out of my frustration with the failure of City administrators and elected officials, did I decide to run. I will seek no higher office, nor will I take any outside employment during my tenure as a Councilmember.
What will you specifically do to restore trust in City Hall?
I will stop the backroom deals that have always been made with developers through the “subcommittees” consisting of two Councilmembers. I will stop the unprofessional bullying of members of the public who give testimony in opposition to measures Council wishes to pass. I will stop the lies and misrepresentations of fact that routinely come from City Hall, by exposing their nature and substance. And I will open the doors to productive public engagement on every topic of major concern. There are so many specific things I am proposing. I am attaching three links to my YouTube videos on the most important topics. They speak clearly. One specifically details my plans for moving our city away from corruption.
Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or moderate and what does that mean to you?
I am socially liberal and increasing conservative fiscally. I was raised by depression era parents who always paid every bill on time, and in full. I do the same myself, and think our government should also.
Is it appropriate for Palm Springs City Council candidates to accept campaign contributions from outside Palm Springs?
I really don’t have a strong feeling about that one way or the other. There are many people who have businesses here who do not live in Palm Springs, and it would seem logical that they would want to contribute to campaigns.
What is the single biggest challenge facing Palm Springs?
Fixing our budgetary problems and arriving at a workable solution to homelessness.