|Steve Pougnet - Mayor of Palm Springs|
By the way, did you know Baldwin Park's CPA-less Finance Director comes from Palm Springs. He also stated that David Green, the Finance Director, is a good guy. You know, this Craig Graves fellow has ties with some really sketchy people.
Questions raised about Palm Springs contracts and conflict of interest law
Questions about state law on conflict of interest
|Craig Graves - Former Finance Employee of Palm Springs|
According to the city's Long-Range Property Management Plan for undeveloped land, the lot's value was last evaluated in December 2013 by an independent firm.
"I don't understand why a similarly sized parcel immediately adjacent could only be worth $195,000," Stone said.
Local business owners and people familiar with the area say they're also frustrated that the land value was only assessed using comparable sales, "comps," outside city limits.
We contacted the city about the land sale but city officials refused to talk to us on camera.
"They did a very rough appraisal," says Stone. "So I'm sure for a shrewd investor $195,000 looked like a great deal. I'd go for that too if I was a developer."
A News Channel 3 investigation into the city's economic development programs, which awards grant reimbursements of up to $250,000 to qualifying businesses, found not all business owners experienced equal treatment.
The city gave developer Richard Meaney $250,000 last June for Hacienda Cantina, without obtaining legal proof he paid the contractors who did the work.
"It appears there must have been some oversight of the city process because that's not the rules as I understand," said Geoff McIntosh, owner of Bernie's Supper Club in Palm Springs.
Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Lewin says this doesn't sit well with him and announced at Wednesday's city council meeting that he wants the city to launch an outside investigation into both the incentive program and property transactions.
Lewin claims he didn't know about the business relationship between Meaney and the mayor until he saw last month's news reports.
This bothers Steve Quintanilla, city attorney for Desert Hot Springs and Rancho Mirage.
Both Quintanilla and the State Attorney General's Office pointed us to California Government Code Section 1090, which highlights what may be a bigger issue with land sales and the Hacienda grant awarded to Meaney.
"If we have a council member who is a consultant for a developer or property owner who wants to enter into any type of contract with the city, the city cannot even approve that contract," said Quintanilla.
We asked Lewin whether the mayor was straight up with the city about his financial ties to Meaney.
Mayor Pougnet has continued to deny our requests for interviews.