Councilman Russell Betts: Mayor campaign ‘not in the cards’

Just days after telling The Desert Sun that he was open to running for Desert Hot Springs mayor, Councilman Russell Betts has changed his position.0

“It’s just not in the cards this time,” Betts said this morning. “At this point in time, there’s no option open.”

Betts had earlier said he was “not ruling out the option” of challenging Mayor Yvonne Parks this fall.

Betts previously tried to unseat Parks in the 2009 election.

Odd display in Desert Hot Springs

Most city halls prominently display photos of their elected leaders in nicely framed portraits.

But in Desert Hot Springs, it seems Councilman Adam Sanchez isn’t getting the same level of recognition as his colleagues.

Check out the gallery that my newsroom colleague, Kate McGinty, recently spotted at city hall:

That would be Sanchez’s photo, sans frame, taped to an 8-by-10 piece of paper.

We’d like to say that the display is just temporary. But Sanchez has been on council for a year, often irritating at least two of his colleagues by his frequent opposition to the mayor’s ideas.

Ironic timing

In case you missed it, reporter Kate McGinty has a front page story today that reveals Desert Hot Springs leaders are calling on Councilman Russell Betts to resign.

Betts, whose term runs until December 2015, has been accused of harassing the city’s recently departed finance director, Jason Simpson.

You can read more about the allegations and Betts’ response here.

It’s worth noting that the news came out Thursday — the same day that Desert Hot Springs City Manager Rick Daniels was scheduled to meet with a professional consultant about creating an intense relationship-building program for council.

Council members previously voted 4-1 to spend as much as $25,000 for the sessions.

The lone vote? Betts himself.

Mailer touts Baker’s former endorsements

A campaign mailer for embattled Desert Hot Springs Councilman Karl Baker touts the support of four elected leaders who aren’t actually endorsing his re-election.

The mailer describes Baker as “effective,” “experienced” and “endorsed.” It then quotes U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis, Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks and fellow council members Scott Matas and Jan Pye.

The three city leaders all pulled their endorsements amid allegations that Baker violated the state’s conflict of interest laws.

A spokesman for Lewis, whose district includes Desert Hot Springs, said the Redlands Republican doesn’t make endorsements in local elections.

Baker told The Desert Sun that the mailer was put together before his council colleagues yanked their sup port. Baker said he had permission to use a photo taken with Lewis, but never sought the congressman’s endorsement.

“I did not mean to imply in the mailer that he endorsed me,” Baker said. “What I wanted to do was support the information on the other side (of the flier), which was all the money I brought to the city.”

For more on this story, check out Thursday’s Desert Sun.

Last chance to get a vote-by-mail ballot

Today is the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the Nov. 8 election.

Interested? The easiest way to get the information is by going online to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ website.

Five desert cities will have an election next week to vote on elected leadership and proposed tax hikes, including Palm Springs’ high-profile Measure J.

Vote-by-mail ballots allow residents to vote early. As of today, 29,242 of those ballots have already been returned. 

If you are voting by mail, remember that your ballot must be filled out and received by the registrar before polls close on Nov. 8. The postmark doesn’t count.

Eyeing a comeback

Between a proposed tax hike and Mayor Steve Pougnet’s campaign launch, Palm Springs’ upcoming election garnered plenty of attention this week.

But the Desert Hot Springs’ mayoral race may be just as interesting.

Mayor Yvonne Parks is being challenged by none other than Alex Bias, a controversial former mayor who Parks actually unseated in 2007.

Perennial candidate Robert Bentley has also pulled papers for the seat.

Candidates have until Aug. 12 to qualify for the ballot.

Parks back at dais just 8 days after surgery

Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks is recovering from a June 27 surgery where doctors removed the right half of her thyroid because of tumors.

The tumors were benign, Parks said when she discussed the surgery during last night’s council meeting.

But it has left the energetic mayor’s voice weak and scratchy, forcing her to occasionally stop and take deep breaths in order to be heard.