Mayor to statue opponents: Use of #MeToo is ‘offensive and triggering’

Protestors gather during the official unveiling of the Forever Marilyn statue in downtown Palm Springs last month.

Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege fought back Thursday night against opponents of the Forever Marilyn statue on Museum Way, accusing them of co-opting the #MeToo movement as a tool to oppose the artwork.

“For all of us who are listening who are truly sexual assault survivors and have dedicated our careers for women’s equality, it is incredibly offensive and triggering,” Holstege said following public comments on non-agenda items during a regular Palm Springs City Council meeting.

Holstege, a social justice attorney who has been public about her own experience with sexual assault, made her comments after more than half a dozen members of the public lashed out at her and other council members for allowing the statue’s installation on Museum Way. In a rare move, Holstege asked to make a point of personal privilege following the public comments — a request reserved for times that public officials consider their integrity to have been impugned.

Many of those who spoke are part of a group that is suing the city over the placement of the statue. While they have publicly labeled the statue a misogynistic disgrace, their lawsuit hinges on a simpler claim that more public input was required before council members voted to shift the 26-foot-tall statue’s future location from a downtown city park currently under construction to a nearby concrete pedestal on Museum Way.

Holstege, who served on the city’s downtown park subcommittee when the new public park was planned, reminded the speakers that the statue was never officially part of the park.

“There is a lot of misinformation in public comments,” Holstege said while beginning her remarks. “Marilyn was never approved for the park. It was just listed as being considered as a part of the park as we were thinking about art pieces that could go there.”

As she pointed to fellow members of the majority-female City Council, Holstege called out the group for using the #MeToo movement in their arguments against having the statue on Museum Way while also supporting its location elsewhere.

“It’s difficult to hear people say this a #MeToo issue, and to co-opt the #MeToo movement,” she said. “And then say the statue is okay if it’s placed 50 feet away.

“Bring your points about #MeToo to the council and let’s have a discussion about it. But please understand the impact on survivors of sexual abuse when you co-opt the #MeToo movement.”


In other action Thursday evening, the City Council:

  • Officially revoked a conditional use permit for Well in the Desert, 441 South Calle Encilia, effectively closing the homeless services center that provides cooling and meals for those experiencing homelessness at that location. The closure does not end services for the homeless in the city. A facility offering similar services at Palm Springs Methodist Church 24 hours per day was opened by Indio-based Martha’s Village & Kitchen on July 6. The city also plans to open a cooling center, in partnership with Martha’s, at its former Boxing Club on South El Cielo Road. It is unknown whether Well in the Desert will be offering services at the Boxing Club facility.
  • Voted 5-0 to contribute $75,000 annually for membership in the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) — with half paid now and the other half subject to approval in six months  —  and to pay $200,000 to help fund the Palm Springs iHub. The vote followed a lengthy discussion about the share of the regional non-profit’s budget paid for by Palm Springs. Council members questioned why the city was going to pay a total of $325,000 for membership and funding of the iHub in the coming year, while other cities in the Coachella Valley pay much less, if they contribute at all, and still benefit from CVEP’s efforts. CVEP, in operation for 26 years, is designed to serve innovators and entrepreneurs at every stage of business — from incubation to launch to daily operation.
  • Instructed city staff to dig deeper into issues around a proposed outdoor merchandise ordinance that would address retail displays outside downtown businesses. Specifically, council members want more information on possible Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) liabilities for the city and a better understanding of the goals of merchants who want to create outdoor displays. Once staff provides more information, council members said they support the city’s Planning Commission drafting rules that they can vote on.
  • Approved donating a surplus 1999 International Water Tender valued at $20,000 to the City of Cathedral City, waving a requirement that surplus equipment is auctioned. Earlier this year, Palm Springs purchased a 2020 International Water Tender and placed it into service on March 1, creating the surplus. “The donation of this unit to the Cathedral City Fire Department would not only provide a resource for their department to be able to better respond within their own jurisdiction but would also enable them to provide a service to the western Coachella Valley as well,” staff wrote in a report.
  • Presented proclamations honoring Juneteenth in the city and announcing July as Parks & Recreation month in Palm Springs. Members of the Palm Springs Black History Committee and the city’s Parks & Recreation Department staff were on hand to accept the proclamations.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story implied a lawsuit brought by opponents of the Forever Marilyn statue was no longer in court. In fact, a  portion of the lawsuit remains in litigation. You can reach our newsroom with questions, comments and concerns via email at [email protected] or visit our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.


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BRIEFLY

HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION: Palm Springs police are investigating the death of a 19-year-old woman who was shot early Thursday morning in the north part of the city. According to a police report, the woman, identified by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office as Alexus Franco of Indio, was shot at approximately 2:40 AM in the area of Rosa Parks Road and Granada Avenue. Officers who arrived at the scene after reports of gunfire learned that the woman had been taken to Desert Regional Medical Center, where she died at about 3 AM. Further investigation led officers to the area of Bon Air Drive and Granada Avenue, where they found evidence of a shooting. Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call 760-323-8145. Anonymous information can also be provided to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867. In the meantime, District 1 City Councilmember Grace Garner announced Thursday evening that a community meeting is being planned for next week to discuss the shooting. Details about that meeting have not been announced.

MOSQUITO SPRAYING: Coachella Valley Vector Control will be using a helicopter to spray for mosquito infestations in South Palm Springs on Saturdays, from July 10-31 from 2 AM until 7 AM, then every other Saturday from August 14-28, also from 2 AM until 7 AM. Treatments will take place using an ultra-low volume helicopter along Ramon Road, Sunrise Way, Laverne Way, and western hillsides. For more info, you can visit cvmosquito.org or call 760-342-8287.

EXPANDED SERVICE: Mizell Center, located at 480 S. Sunrise Way, plans to re-open to non-members on Monday, July 12th, at 8 AM. It had previously opened for members only last month. All programs and activities will be open to all members of the community, however, the dining room will remain closed. Also, note that all visitors will now be asked to sign in so that in the unlikely event of an emergency of any kind staff will be able to account for everyone.

GENERAL PLAN WORKSHOP: The City of Palm Springs Planning Department plans to host a second community workshop to discuss the ongoing update of the city’s General Plan on Tuesday, July 13. The workshop will be held from 5:30 PM until 7 PM at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, in room Primrose B.  Participants will have an opportunity to learn about proposed changes to the Land Use Plan and what that means for the future of Palm Springs, as well as provide feedback. A Spanish language  interpreter will be on hand. For more information about the General Plan update, or to register for the workshop, visit this site.

TODAY’S EVENTS

MIZELL CENTER: Today’s events at Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, include “Fit after 50,” Wii bowling, and “Chair yoga with Brigitte.” Information about these events and more can be found here.

POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays this evening at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. A complete schedule is available here.

THIS WEEKEND

INDOOR MARKET: The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 8 AM until 12:30 PM, and has moved indoors for the summer. The market is located inside the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 S. Pavilion Way. Starting tomorrow, the CV WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Office will be handing out Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) voucher packs at the Market each week until Aug. 7. Each voucher pack is good for $28 in fresh fruits and vegetables, and is matched with $10 extra in produce tokens. The result is that each WIC family receives a total of $38 to spend on fresh, small farm-direct produce. Out of the 10 WIC FMNP distribution sites in Riverside County, the one in Palm Springs is the only one that matches with an additional $10. The match is in addition to an existing matching programs benefiting CalFresh, SSDI, and unemployment recipients.

FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest is held Saturday at 675 Crossley Rd. from 7 AM until Noon. Information can be found here.

BRUNCH: Multiple venues offer drag brunch, champagne brunch, and more on weekends. View a complete list here.

LIVE MUSIC: Many live music events are posted on this Facebook page, maintained by two Palm Springs residents since 2015.

POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays Saturday at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05PM. A complete schedule is available here.


COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Palm Springs Library calendar of events

Palm Springs Unified School District calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

Desert Water Agency calendar

ONE-PS calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

Palm Springs Disposal pickup schedule

Palm Springs Power baseball team schedule

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