Closing the books on Measure J

Today’s the deadline for campaigns to reveal their fourth quarter fundraising efforts.

Both the supporters and challengers of Measure J have already reported their figures. And it is no surprise that developer John Wessman — who needed taxpayers’ help to finance his vision for the Desert Fashion Plaza — invested heavily in the effort to pass the sales tax hike.

Wessman donated more than $95,000 over the course of the campaign, according to the latest reports filed with the city.  Almost half of those contributions came after the Nov. 8 election, indicating Wessman was tapped to cover the costs of late-arriving bills and campaign debts.

All told, supporters for Measure J raised almost $260,000 over the course of the high-profile campaign.

The Measure J campaign also relied heavily on restaurateur Harold Matzner. He gave $52,000 in donations and non-monetary contributions. His restaurant, Spencer’s, donated another $4,657 in meals.

The Measure J debate captivated the Coachella Valley last November, but it wasn’t a competitive fight financially: The opposition campaign raised only $13,473 over the entire campaign, according to the most recent filing.

Measure J passed with more than 57 percent of the vote. It increases the city’s sales from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent for 25 years, generating an estimated  $200 million for revitalizing the Desert Fashion Plaza and other capital projects throughout the city.

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.

Permits in place for Measure J’s headquarters

Palm Springs officials today confirmed that the paperwork is in order for the Measure J supporters to set up their campaign headquarters in the old Bank of America.

As reported in Saturday’s  Desert Sun, the committee unveiled a massive banner on the downtown building. But because city hall was closed Friday, city officials couldn’t confirm whether the occupancy paperwork was in order.

City Manager David Ready confirmed today that the certificate of occupancy, issued in 1968 for business or office use, is still valid. The building also passed a 2009 fire inspection – a check that’s done roughly every three years.

“It meets the code, it passed the fire inspection,” Ready said today. “That building, as all buildings there, are eligible for occupancy.”

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

Tourism officials endorse Measure J

In a rare move, the Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority is taking a stand on a campaign matter.

The tourism group known as the CVA has endorsed Measure J, a proposed 1 percentage point hike in the Palm Springs’ sales tax.

As a quasi-government body, the CVA can endorse a ballot measure but cannot donate to the campaign.

The CVA hasn’t taken a stand on any other ballot issues in recent memory.

A spokesman for the CVA did not return a call from the Desert Sun today to explain what made the group jump into the Measure J debate.

In a statement released by Measure J supporters, CVA president Scott White said the tourism authority views “the plan as critical to ensuring future success for the City of Palm Springs as well as the entire Coachella Valley’s tourism industry.”

Notably, the city of Palm Springs is a member of the CVA. In the last fiscal year, the city’s paid the CVA $355,587, a figure that’s based on the revenue from the hotel bed tax.