Tribute to Former Mayor Yvonne Parks Already Underway
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – Cities across the Coachella Valley are planning tributes to former Mayor Yvonne Parks in recognition for all she has done for them. It was Yvonne Parks for example who led the movement to designate $17 million of CPV Sentinel power plant mitigation funds for a golf cart and recreation path.
In Desert Hot Springs a move is also afoot to dedicate a building in the name of Yvonne Parks, who after three terms as mayor was defeated in last November’s election.
Private civic leaders are eyeing a county building in the city as a way to create a lasting legacy Yvonne Parks. Typically streets would be renamed as a memorializing recognition but changing street names becomes a very expense proposition for a city.
With Desert Hot Springs teetering on bankruptcy the cost for naming a street for the former mayor is not viewed as an economically viable option.
A building built by the county next to the Von’s shopping center on Palm Drive seems the perfect option. The building will soon house a county Department of Mental Health, a WIC program, a food stamp administration center and other welfare services.
The cost to name the building after Yvonne Parks would be little more than the cost of the sign on the building, a plaque and a dedication ceremony.
Yvonne Parks ‘ Controversy
Such a tribute to Yvonne Parks would not be without controversy. It was the Yvonne Parks administration that on the anniversary of the city’s 50th year of incorporation that is given responsibility for leading the city to the brink of disincorporation and possible bankruptcy.
Yvonne Parks defended that allegation in multiple news interviews that she was completely surprised by the dismal financial report that was released a day after the November election. Her supporters point to several other accomplishments during her term.
Yvonne Parks supporters point out that the city is now enjoying a new city manager that discovered the financial mess and that it was Yvonne Parks that voted in favor of hiring him.
Discovering Rick Daniels
It was the hiring of interim city manager Bob Adams that discovered former City Manager Rick Daniels had withheld critical financial information from the city council, including keeping city financial obligations off the city budget presentations to the city council.
Yvonne Parks detractors counter that it was Yvonne Parks who became too close to the former city manager and in so doing failed to provide oversight as mayor.
It was just that close relationship that caused Yvonne Parks to support the city manager’s decisions to issue $250,000 in checks for a failed music festival and a $250,000 check for the Flamingo Hotel renovation. Yvonne Parks literally handed over her electronic signature to be used every city check Rick Daniels issued.
Undisputed Elevation of City
Nobody is willing to dispute that Yvonne Parks elevated the presence of Desert Hot Springs in the rest of the Coachella Valley; a fact that is no small part of the tribute the Valley’s political leaders plan for her.
Following the November election it appears that with the exit of Parks as Mayor that Desert Hot Springs has been absent at the many valley-wide parties and galas that take place during the holidays. It was a Herculean effort by Yvonne Parks that kept her in attendance.
The city budgeted $35,000 a year for attendance at social functions by Yvonne Parks and spent every penny of that amount last year. Over her six years as mayor, Yvonne Parks spent over $210,000 to wine and dine at political social functions to make sure Desert Hot Springs was on the map politically.
Yvonne Parks – Fun to Party With
Even Yvonne Parks political foes admit Yvonne Parks was fun to party with, even if occasionally she would tip out of chair and require assistance to get up. Her loud jovial laugh at a political social function was impossible to miss.
Much is held in fond memories of Yvonne Parks, especially by those that considered her legendary rumor campaigns useful at putting political foes and others in a bad light. It was those types of rumors that led to a bounty of $100 to capture Yvonne Parks in a compromising moment of a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
To the end, Yvonne Parks was a shrewd enough political player to eluded those would-be bounty photographers and do it with a laugh.
Those Famous Rolling Eyes and Choice Words
The dialog at city council meetings has changed with the absence of Yvonne Parks. Gone are the glorious dramas of uncivil debate led by Yvonne Parks famous rolling of her eyes in a gesture of disgust at opposing council member views. Parks said her rolling eyes were an uncontrollable expression she had since she was a child.
The city council has already been through three council meetings without a council member being called a son-of-a-bitch or told (twice in one meeting) to “shut up.” Those utterances by Yvonne Parks at council meetings dogged Yvonne Parks in an endorsement interview by The Desert Sun but are quickly fading as a memory of a past dysfunction city council led by Yvonne Parks.
Even former President Richard Nixon has his presidential library, forever insuring the distinctive of the city of San Clemente. So say her supporters, it is proper that former Mayor Yvonne Parks should have her name eternally memorialized on the city’s new county mental health and social services building.
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.