Reporters are supposed to misquote people, not get misquoted. Welcome to Indian Wells.
Indian Wells ekes money. From their lattice flowered bus stops and manicured luxury golf homes, residents boast the highest per capita income in the Coachella Valley and pride themselves on old fashion manners, propriety and decorum. Irony being what it is, those are the very things that have been sorely missing in the council meetings I’ve covered the past year. Their taped meetings are can’t-miss, unscripted reality TV at its best.
So, last Thursday, council members finally voted after months of haggling to voluntarily lower their monthly stipend from $2,300 to $1,750. The move comes weeks before voters will have their say about reducing the pay even further, to $1,000 a month. No one that I recall has spoken favorably of the council doing this. It’s widely viewed as an effort to circumvent the voter initiative. But I still had to scramble on deadline to find someone.
Here’s what Gail McQuary said in my Sept. 20 story:
“Lowering council’s pay, McQuary said, means the job will only attract those who are retired or wealthy.
‘If you want the best people on the council you have to pay for the best,’ McQuary said. ‘You pay them what you think they’re worth. If you think your council people are only worth $1,000 a month then your council people aren’t worth very much.’
‘I think it shows that we have no respect for them.’”
Of course she said more than I could ever print, which is always easier than someone who gives one-word answers. In the course of our discussion, McQuary lamented the amount and asks if I would ever work for $1,000 a month. Naturally I have, but I don’t relish minimum wage much. I see what she’s getting at, though. She’s equating council members’ public service to a fulltime job, which goes to the heart of the issue: Are council members full time employees? I don’t want to debate her. I just want a quote. I say no, which is of course true because I don’t want to ever have to work for $1,000 a month again, if I don’t have to.
Fast forward two weeks.
Gail steps up to the microphone and talks about being quoted in the newspaper and how she got calls from a silent majority who agree with her. All very nice. And then to press her point, that council members are underpaid, she added, “When I asked Nicole if she would work for $1,000 a month, she didn’t hesitate to say no.”
All I could think was, Jesus! These meetings run on TV. Next thing you know, I’ll be endorsing candidates.
Don’t get any ideas, Gail.