First Amendment Declared Void at Cabot’s Museum
Desert Hot Springs, CA – Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is now off-limits as a distribution location for the only newspaper based in Desert Hot Springs (DHS), the Desert Star Weekly. It seems the First Amendment is increasingly sullied in this city. Not only is it a strike against the Constitution, it is bringing harm to local business.
DHS city manager Rick Daniels previously prevented this newspaper from being distributed in the city’s Building Department when he inexplicably demanded the removal of a news rack hosting various local publications that had been available for more than two decades to citizens and others waiting their turn to secure building permits, file business licenses, etc. The Museum is the second location in the city where the public distribution of the Desert Star Weekly has been blocked. But this time the ban is exclusive to our newspaper.
“I was told we can’t deliver at the museum anymore,” said Pamela Berry, the distribution manager for the Desert Star Weekly. “They said it’s because we publish news and they are only allowing newspapers like The Desert Entertainer that have tourist stuff, and that we don’t fit in with what they want – because we publish news.”
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is public property where other newspapers are freely distributed. Apparently the “city boss” in DHS has decided this portion of the town is no longer constitutionally protected.
Thankfully the rest of our more than 800 distribution locations across the Coachella Valley – including our police station, the courthouse in Indio, public libraries, college campuses, and public sidewalks – so far remain safe and unchallenged.
It seems the Desert Star Weekly, a newspaper with an operations office located in this very city, is being specifically discriminated against by the one of the powers-that-be in Desert Hot Springs. The “boss” of the city, Rick Daniels, is apparently flexing his political muscle by infringing upon press freedoms and denying local citizens the opportunity to access our newspaper in a public place.
The Desert Star Weekly was adjudicated in 2009 by the Superior Court of Riverside County, a ruling that legally declared this newspaper to be a newspaper of general circulation. However, DHS city manager Rick Daniels declared at a city council meeting earlier this year that the Desert Star Weekly was not an adjudicated newspaper authorized to publish public notices, and in doing so directly contradicted the decision of the Superior Court.
Daniels’ deception, while helpful to his friends in the Gannett Corporation, owners of The Desert Sun, is costing this newspaper thousands of dollars in business and so denying jobs for local citizens of this city that would be funded by a revenue stream of this kind.
Publishing public notices is a means to distribute information to the public. In this city the Desert Star Weekly has a greater readership than the daily newspaper, The Desert Sun. In addition, the line rate price is less for this newspaper as compared to The Desert Sun. For one sample ad placed in The Desert Sun, the rate in the Desert Star Weekly was $100 less.
Last year the city of Desert Hot Springs spent $36,000 to publish public notices in The Desert Sun, thereby choosing to literally export DHS monies to points beyond our municipal borders, and refusing to instead invest in the newspaper here in town. This decision by city officials is a direct violation of the DHS “Shop Local Ordinance” that both wastes tax dollars and prevents new employment in a city where jobs are scarce.
For those Americans who understand the importance of vigilantly defending their civil rights and resisting government encroachment, the suppression of freedoms represented by censorship and discrimination are as offensive as a simple restraint of trade.