Ed Smith Worked as Desert Hot Springs Music Festival Spokesman for Tony Clarke
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – Time flies. It hardly seems that two years have passed since Ed Smith worked in this city. His job, consulting manager for the failed Wellness and World Music Festival, unseemingly helped promoter Tony Clarke convince the public the $265,000 city funded event was real and not a sham.
Ed Smith never revealed how much Tony Clarke was paying him. The amount should have been included in the records Clarke turned over as part of a settlement between Clarke and the city when the music festival idea finally collapsed.
Whoever came up with that idea of Ed Smith going to work for Tony Clarke should get an award.
Ed Smith’s public relations gravitas kept the music festival from boiling over publicly as city council incumbents that were responsible for the deal – and the lost $265,000 – were heading into an election.
The gravitas came from Ed Smith’s other job working for the city. Before becoming a music festival manager, he was a highly respected police commander for the Desert Hot Springs police department. Who would question an event with a police commander now at the helm.
Today the city’s former police commander has a new job working in tandem with the city’s former police chief Patrick Williams. The two are in business together putting on management training. The company is called On Base Leadership and offers classes in Monterey and Palm Desert, California. The two veterans share more than 50 years as law enforcement leaders.
Ed Smith Jumped On Tony Clarke Bandwagon
That Smith would bail out of his police job and jump on board Tony Clarke’s bandwagon surprised many but bolstered the idea that Tony Clarke was a legitimate promoter. It was at this time that Clarke’s event was just beginning to unravel as the background of Clarke came to light exposed him as not working out of an office or physical business address but working out of a UPS post office box in Marina Del Ray.
[To this day no physical address has ever been associated with Clarke.]
Discovery of shaky business was just the beginning as it seemed that as more and more came out about Tony Clarke more and more there were problems. In fact, the more the media spotlight shined on Tony Clarke the less the city saw of the promoter as he began refusing to answer phone calls and missing scheduled appearances before the city council.
The city council had spent months reeling from effects resulting from the alcoholism of the city manager and the loss of his administrative assistant. That left the media and the public confused as to who exactly was in charge of the quarter millions dollars and skittish about if the event was going to happen.
Ed Smith – Music Festival Spokesperson
That Tony Clarke hired Ed Smith as his spokesperson was seen as a brilliant move and assuaged public concerns, shoring up confidence in the community that the show would still go on.
More months passed with the Smith making promises the city’s music festival would still happen with officials carefully making sure the operative word was the event was never officially “canceled” but merely “postponed.”
Suggestions the event was canceled were countered with officials promising the assets were not lost and that the promoter would come though. This gave rise to officials casting off doubt by maligning critics.
Thus the public never heard the truth and swallowed the official spin of the bait hook, line and sinker enabling city management and elected officials to avoid responsibility for their oversight failure.
Considerable expenses had already been invested by city employees on behalf of Tony Clarke’s event and declaring the event canceled would have declared those city expenditures a loss as well. After all, there was an election looming in November of 2011 and the incumbents wanted a win, not a loss on their record.
Everyone believed former police commander Ed Smith when he took to the podium and said all the $250,000 was spent by Clarke and was spent legitimately. Who needed details or evidence?
Months later finally the city manager admitted Clarke’s Music Festival was never going to happen when admitting the contract the city signed with the promoter had no guarantee of performance. By this time Ed Smith was no longer in the picture, having simply disappeared from the public stage.
Ed Smith – Experienced Event Manager
While working as Commander for the Desert Hot Springs Police Department Ed Smith was paid to work with Tony Clarke. The police department commander said he assigned DHS officers to work at events in Indio, including the Coachella Music Festival, to serve as training introducing officers to crowd control.
Considerable staff time on the city dime was spent planning and developing event parking, traffic flow and security measures needed for Clarke’s event. All of Ed Smith’s preparation was defined by city manager Rick Daniels as the “music festival assets” explaining these assets had considerable value. Ed Smith had considerable experience in big events.
As a lieutenant for the Monterey Police Department Ed Smith claimed to have gained valuable event prep and management experience in handling these kinds of large public events. For many years the Montery Pop and Jazz Festival has drawn large crowds with little or no negative incidents.
Ed Smith – Toxic Dump Cleaner Upper
For the three years Ed Smith served as police commander for the city he was an independent contractor and never a city employee. He was specially hired by Police Chief Patrick Williams who brought Smith in from out of town to act as his right hand man. During his employ Smith maintained his home in Monterey where he has lived for many years.
Williams assigned Ed Smith to serve as head of code enforcement. Prior to the police department administering code enforcement that department was administered by the building department. Although independently contracted, code enforcement was in disarray and ineffective in cleaning up the city and it was thought having the police department in charge would make positive changes needed by the city.
The assignment of handling the problem of the Dorama Dump was dumped on Ed Smith. This ten acre site adjacent to a housing development was cited by county, state and federal environmental and health agencies as illegal and toxic. The ground was polluted by thousands of gallons of open raw sewage, battery acid, petroleum products, abandoned vehicles, and dangerous materials.
It became Ed Smith’s job to handle the media and he did so with aplomb by insisting on calling the location an “abandoned construction site” instead of the “dump” it had become. Nevertheless Ed Smith finally successfully negotiated a solution for the property owners to clean up the dump and the land was returned to the pristine condition where it has remained to this day.
Postscript… After Smith went to work for Tony Clarke and making appearances in front of the city council and the media he then just faded away never to be heard from in public in this city again. Nearly $100,000 more in extra legal fees were dumped by the city chasing the music festival money. Even to this day, the city’s music festival remains alive with Mayor Yvonne Parks recently announcing she will be pushing for the city to sue the promoter even though the city signed an agreement with Clarke promising not to sue. Parks won re-election in 2011 and is up again for re-election in 2013.
all photos file photos from Bruce Montgomery