S. E. Williams
Last September, Palm Springs joined a growing list of Inland Empire communities to come under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegations of corruption when the FBI with an anti-corruption task force unceremoniously raided its City Hall.
The City’s mayor at the time, Steve Pougnet, remains under scrutiny by the agency along with a couple of key Palm Springs developers, Richard Meany and John Wessman.
The investigation has moved quietly forward until local media recently gained access to the list of items seized by the FBI that fateful day in September. Last week, KMIR published a copy of the evidence list left by the agency with city hall officials on the day the raid occurred. Such lists are not considered public records and the items collected might have remained a mystery had the list not been revealed.
According to KMIR, the items seized included emails, documents, agreements and cancelled checks. The list itself, however, is pretty generic and offered very little about the nature of the investigation itself.
Regardless of this most recent revelation much remains unknown as the FBI investigation is still pending and no one has been charged. What has happened since the raid is an election that gave the city a new mayor, Rob Moon. In light of the scandal, Pougnet did not seek a third term as mayor.
The city council is now working hard to repair its tainted image. It recently solicited residents to volunteer for participation in a soon to be formed Ethics, Transparency and Government Reform Task Force. The stated goal of the organization is to identify best practices and make recommendations aimed at improving the council’s transparency and evade any future conflicts of interest.