Mayor Bono and Bill at the press conference announcing the end to the recall. Bill was not a happy camper! Photo 1989.
There was no great love between Frank Bogart and Sonny. Early in Sonny's term of office a life-size bronze statue of Bogart astride
a horse was placed outside city hall. Stories circulated that it was situated specifically so when Sonny looked out the window of the mayor's office he'd see a horse's ass.
We covered Sonny's mayoral campaign and I
would sit near the podium for photographic purposes and often Mary would sit with me and had some great talks. During one of the Film Festival's receptions Mary came up to me and said that Sonny wouldn't admit it but if there is going to be a renaissance
of Palm Springs it would be because of the gay community.
In 1992 Governor Pete Wilson was going to review state Assembly Bill 101 that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. On the Palm Springs
council agenda was a proposed letter to be sent to the governor endorsing AB-101 and urging him to sign it into law. Prior to the Palm Springs City Council meeting regarding AB-101, I went to each gay bar on Sunday afternoon and asked to address the crowds
on the PA system requesting that they join me at the Wednesday council meeting and to sign a statement asking Sonny Bono and Tuck Broich to endorse AB-101 (Neel was a lost cause and we had Chuck & Deyna's votes). We had printed hundreds of the statements
and handed them out - scores were returned. We knew the fax numbers at city hall and for the next three days tied up their lines with the statements that were left with me or dropped off at our office. I had assistance from some businesses that
circulated the statement and faxing those forms as well. That evening Sonny Bono enters the council chambers with a stack of transmissions complaining that he received 10,000 sheets and accusing Deyna Hodges of orchestrating the rally. Afterwards,
I told Sonny that if you want perfect choreography, you start with a gay production company. I had met weeks earlier with the mayor, Tuck, and city attorney after the second reading of the proposed human rights ordinance. They were surprised when
I told them that I was not angry with the meeting's outcome. I couldn't blame them when there were only two gay people speaking in defense of the proposal - where was the outcry from the desert gay community? They provided
the roadmap for the rally. In numbers there is strength. A lesson learned and mastered.
In 1989 our offices were located down the street from The Desert Sun building on Gene Autry and when the
Bono recall was announced reporters and cameramen were setting up in our front office for interviews and quotes - local TV stations sent out crews, People Magazine mentioned the recall and the Press Enterprise was always sniffing around for
the scoop. Bill conveniently disappeared and I was left to deal with the press. My niece Jenny was working with me while I instructed her on computers and publishing - in hopes she would take editorship when I retired - her Goth outfits, make-up
and leather diminished the number of interruptions that the recall created!
My last conversation to Sonny Bono's office before the first AIDS Walk was that I would wear one of his promotional mayoral t-shirts if he wears
a Walk t-shirt. In preparation for his anticipated no-show appearance I had a local shop create shirts for Bill & me stating "WHERE'S BONO" - giving impetus to question why the mayor didn't appear for a major humanitarian event on the streets of
his own city.
One reporter hounded us to shoot pictures for his newspaper, the Press Enterprise. Mary was taking karate lessons at a studio in our complex and it was rumored that she was having an affair with the instructor.
I told him that we were not The Inquirer - but I could confirm that her vehicle was parked in the lot early mornings and would soon leave after I arrived. The story I heard had Mary wanting to protect herself from Sonny's explosive temper. Of
course, Sonny would have had a major tantrum if he ever met Hans, Mary's tall blond dashing German instructor. Rumors also circulated around Sonny's involvement with local developer John Wessman and the preferential treatment he received. According
to one story, Wessman's private jet was at Sonny's disposal - that could explain so much. Another tale had Sonny involved in a romantic affair with city council member Sharon Apfelbaum. Sharon lost her reelection campaign in 1990 to Deyna Hodges
who was elected with a coalition composed of senior citizens, mobile home park residents and the gay community. In that campaign cycle, Chuck Murawski unseated another incumbent proving that the gay community had the power to swing any election. The
gays finally found their political voice and would influence every local election since then - with openly gay people holding a majority vote on the city council and electing gay candidate Ron Oden in 2003 - the first African American mayor of Palm Springs
followed by Steve Pougnet in 2007. Pougnet is currently being investigated regarding a questionable relationship with John Meaney, another developer. If the findings are confirmed, it will only underscore that "Power corrupts!" and gays are not
impervious to the devious tactics of conflicts of interest. You cannot serve two masters at the same time!
During the Indian Wells rally in 1992 we had the troops picket on Highway 111 and used the crosswalks to bring
traffic to a stop as we vented our disapproval of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and his veto on AB-101 - a state assembly bill that would prohibit employment based on sexual orientation. Our presence caused the Riverside County Sheriff's department worries
since they believed it may turn violent and they would easily be outnumbered. I found out that they had called in reserve officers and state troopers for fear that we would riot. The governor entered through a back entrance but he was aware that
the Coachella Valley gays and lesbians had enough of Sneeky Pete - and we're going to stand up to his bigotry and far-right leaning politics.
While on the Historical Site Board we were aware of the changes to the Desert
Hospital location, once the site of the legendary El Mirador hotel of early desert days. The blueprints clearly showed that the bell tower of the long demolished resort was a hundred or so feet in the way of the proposed construction details. Within
weeks the tower mysteriously burns to the ground but they were able to salvage roof tiles & the weather vane that now adorns the replacement in the proper location. Hmmm!? The original tower was where Amos & Andy would do their popular
radio shows many years ago.
Blueprints were presented to the HSPB meeting at the Welwood Library by developer John Wessman and Library Board president Wil Kleindeinst - informing board members that the changes to the
library would make it more historical - I questioned the freely used words "renovate," "redesign," "adjust," "remodel" in the presentation. Instead of preserving the library, their plan was to incorporate and change, modify and alter the historical
building so that it would fit better with the newly finished development that surrounded it - because there was no consensus the discussion was tabled. Wil was an architect and in our profiles of mayoral candidates we highlighted his achievement in designing
numerous floats for the Palm Springs H.S. homecoming parade.
Mr. Kleindeinst had his eyes on the mayor's office and after I reported to the council the findings of the task force created to study & recommend uses for
the vacant building he presented his Library Board update stating that the report was a duplicate of one done previously. Since I was sitting next to the podium at the press table, I didn't hesitate to jump to my feet and questioned his lying to the
council and challenged him to a debate as he exited the council chamber - followed by the chamber exploding into bedlam & an intermission was called by the mayor - I was invited to present my report directly to the mayor & council at their next meeting.
Wil's campaign was derailed that election cycle but he soon would find himself looking out the mayor's window and seeing the horse's ass.
When Tony Miller was campaigning in 1994 for the office of secretary of state we faxed
a press release announcing a fundraiser sponsored by our publication to The Desert Sun. No mention was made that it was a gay magazine in fact the word "gay" didn't appear in our copy - yet when it appeared the newspaper's editors changed the
wording making it sound as if the reception & fundraiser were only for gays & lesbians. Needless to say I called to object to the unnecessary & unwarranted rewording of my press release and was invited to speak to their editorial board.
Editor Joan Behrman offered her seat at the table and I addressed my concerns. It was interesting to hear the Business Editor raise her objection to the use of "straight friendly" appearing in a number of our ads. I explained to her that
it was only the mirrored reflection of the use of "gay friendly" that their advertisers used frequently. The next 12 editions had us using the phrase "a local heterosexual newspaper" each time The Desert Sun
was mentioned. Ms. Behrman was not amused when I informed her that her newspaper was commonly referred to as The Desert Scum in gay circles & she still didn't find it funny when I attempted to lighten the mood adding, "don't worry, we're known as
The Bottom Slime!" and there's MEGA-Scream (Bob Hoven's MEGA-Scene newspaper) and the SCAR (Tackee David's Star magazine). She still thought "Scum" was demeaning!