Palm Springs, CA
High above Palm Springs, atop The Rowan Kimpton Hotel, still under construction, was the perfect backdrop for a KMIR News special: Rebuilding Trust, The Future of Palm Springs
"KMIR’s Gino LaMont and political analyst Hank Plante had a live, unedited conversation with Palm Springs city leaders and president of Wessman Development. They addressed the corruption scandal that resulted in a raid of city hall and criminal charges against former mayor Steve Pougnet and developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney, and what this will mean for the city moving forward.
Off the top LaMont asked Michael Braun the new president head of Wessman Development, what many have been wondering after the district attorney said the charges may put deals made with Wessman in jeopardy, "Can you tell the citizens of Palm Springs right now that legally speaking that is true or not true that these deals need to be unwound?"
"Our attorneys have told us that no transactions need to be unwound and we can move forward and open up downtown at the end of this year," said Braun.
Wessman Development is in a partnership with the city on the 13 acre downtown redevelopment project Braun, Wessman’s son in law, took over after Wessman retired after being charged with bribing the former mayor in exchange for favorable deals with the city.
J.R. Roberts said the change in leadership has been good, "Working with Michael Braun has always been a pleasure, the man has always been honest with us, we’ve always seen a high level of integrity with him and I will tell you that is not true of John Wessman and it was always very difficult to deal with John Wessman, so this is actually for me a new era."
Mayor Robert Moon addressed calls by some to stop doing business with Wessman Development, "Wessman Development is not under indictment, John Wessman is under indictment … we have attorneys looking at all those agreements so we can have contingency plans in place to be prepared for anything that may come down the road."
All said the project must go on for the good of the city.
"This is going to drive our local economy for the next 50 years it’s going to allow us to provide police and fire services and all the good things we need to do in the city," said City Manager David Ready.
After the show Wendy Braun, Michael’s wife and Wessman’s daughter spoke out for the first time, "This project is a very personal thing for Michael and our entire family … there’s been a lot of bumps in the road however it’s coming to fruition and it’s going to be a game changer for Downtown Palm Springs."
Plante said the open conversation will help rebuild the community’s trust, "There was a lot of fear after the raid and then after the indictments came down that this thing may come to a halt, i get a sense now that everything is on track it will be done on time."