Protesters Not Welcomed
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA – A going away reception party honoring the man a local newspaper called “the most divisive person in the Coachella Valley” was marked by well-wishers and protesters.
Some of those attending Saturday night’s posh event were toasting Rick Daniels who once more proved he can draw a crowd. It was a crowd of the well-to-do who showed up to hobnob for a $100 a plate dinner honoring Rick Daniels and dubbed as a fundraiser for the Desert Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce.
The wealthy and influential left their cars to valet parking at Fleming’s Restaurant at the River in Rancho Mirage. Outside the exclusive steakhouse they were greeted by protesters taking pictures documenting who exactly was supporting a man they say left their city drained of all money and broke.
The protesters could not be counted among the wealthy and Illuminati of Rancho Mirage but drove twenty miles from home Desert Hot Springs and offered a contrasting story of Rick Daniels. They expressed problems their former city manager created with signs like one that read, “Money Gone, Daniels Gone. He sucked the city dry.” Another said “Needles, He’s your problem now” in reference of a city manager position Rick Daniels took in Needles, California. Daniels served for six years as Desert Hot Springs city manager before resigning in April of 2013, six months before his contract expired.
Daniels resigned before the release of September 24th report from the city finance committee acknowledging the city suffering a financial crisis. Just prior to his departure Daniels presented a city budget exhausting all $4 million remaining in city reserves.
Traveling 160 miles to attend the fine function, Needles city council members Linda Kidd and Jim Lopez expressed their confidence in supporting Rick Daniels in the new position they are handsomely paying him for.
Shoppers at the River were curious and mystified about the presence of what appeared to be photographers hunting the famous.
“Are you here taking pictures of celebrities,” was a frequent question.
“Nope, it’s just a bunch of local politicians,” was the answer.
Estimated attendance at the event was 100 people, including Mayor Yvonne Parks who took the occasion to get into a shouting match with the protesters once she realized their presence.
Run Out by Mayor Parks
Popping her head through a small glass window in a wall that divided the waiting area of the restaurant and the room where the party was being held, Parks yelled, “You are not welcome here” and “Get out.”
It appears Parks was correct. After Parks escalated what had been a quiet protest into a shouting match, the protesters were greeted by eight security personnel who told them they would have to leave. As the three made no resistance and obliged by heading for the exit, the restaurant manager then took it upon himself to physically push one protester out the door.
The protesters simply walked away, leaving those inside to enjoy the party. Two patrol cars of Riverside County Sheriffs were dispatched to the scene for much ado about nothing as upon their arrival at The River the protesters had all gone quietly home.
Those in attendance at the Rick Daniels Party move in the highest circles of Valley power and influence and able to pay $100 for a dinner that costs no more than $20 on the menu. Working silently in the back of meeting rooms, their mere presence affects affairs of government policy, directs the local economy and defines the region’s future outside the open democratic process.
The event was all for a good cause, and for the legacy of Rick Daniels noteworthy enough to keep the door wedged open for his eventual return to the Coachella Valley political scene.
For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business.
Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader.
In 2014 he was appointed Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs, California.
Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Desert Hot Springs, California.