Palm Springs Mayor Defends Palm Springs Transgender UBI Basic Income Vote
Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton said Thursday that city staff had been subjected to a wave of “abuse” from people upset by the city council’s recent decision to allocate $200,000 to two local organizations to design a Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program for the city’s transgender residents.
During comments at the end of Thursday’s city council meeting, Middleton, who is transgender, expressed dismay at what she said was inaccurate national media coverage of the vote. She said the vitriol directed at city staff was the result of hostility toward the transgender community.
On March 24, the board voted unanimously to provide $200,000 to Queer Works and DAP Health. Leaders of those two organizations told the board that the funding would allow DAP and Queer Works staff to prepare an application for a share of the $35 million the state has budgeted to provide grants to entities seeking to implement places guaranteed income programs across the state.
The city has not agreed to provide funding that would be awarded to potential participants in such a program, should it receive state approval.
Guaranteed income programs are social safety net programs that provide “no strings attached” regular payments. Proponents argue that such programs effectively tackle poverty and perhaps do so better than other efforts that come with more limitations and requirements.
Monday, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson discussed the city’s vote and the proposed pilot on his popular conservative talk and news show with Seattle radio host Jason Rantz. Rantz called the plan the most woke “guaranteed income plan” “in the country” to date.
Although the pilot program has not yet been designed, Rantz said, “The only rule at this point is that participants must be transgender or claim to be asexual or have multiple genders depending on their mood. Gender doesn’t mean anything anymore and it’s not something that you can really prove and so instead of primarily focusing on using this to end poverty there’s been this focus on health care gender-affirming, which include sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatments.
Middleton also answered questions from Fox News for a story published on the outlet’s website.
This week, “Palm Springs” is trending on Twitter due to national attention directed towards the vote.
Council voted to fund application process
At the March 24 board meeting, DAP Health and Queer Works executives said that while the $200,000 would be enough to fund the process of designing the pilot project and submitting the application, they would likely need about $900,000 more in city funding to operate. the program. However, several board members, including Middleton, said they were unwilling to commit to providing this additional funding.
At this point, Queer Works CEO Jacob Rostovsky said the money wouldn’t be wasted even if the project could finally go ahead.
“This model and this program could be used for something DAP wants to do or something Queer Works wants to do,” he said. “It’s not wasted time or wasted money, something will come out of this proposal if for some reason we don’t move forward with a guaranteed basic income.”
City funding limited to application process
In his comments at Thursday’s meeting, Middleton sought to clarify that none of the money the council had agreed to provide would be used to make guaranteed income payments if the scheme were to be established. Middleton is the third transgender mayor in U.S. history and the only one currently in office.
“What we have approved is $200,000 that will go to DAP and Queer Works to build a pilot project and do the necessary homework to complete a California Statehood application process,” he said. she declared.
Middleton noted that the build would include focus groups, studying best practices, developing messages, proposing a staffing model and an application process.
“None of that $200,000 will provide any income benefit to anyone,” she said. “That’s not what we approved. We approved funding for DAP and Queer Works to apply.”
She added that it will be the state that decides whether the proposed program will receive funding from it.
“It’s not a decision that will be made by the city of Palm Springs,” she said. “We decided to help an organization in our city complete an application process and have the best chance of competing for funds.”
Middleton said people both happy and confused about the program have contacted the council and “are frankly very confused about what’s really going on.”
“We are trying to clarify that no programs have been put in place and no funding commitments beyond $200,000 have been made by the City of Palm Springs,” she said.
Abusive phone calls, City targeted emails
Middleton went on to address the abuse she says was directed at City staff.
“Over the past two weeks, people who answer the phone and receive emails and other things on our behalf at City Hall have been exposed to a level of abuse of phone calls and messages frankly and often disgusting,” she said.
She then told The Desert Sun that the abuse included “highly abusive phone calls that were loud, rude, angry and insulting”.
“[It’s the] so are the emails, some addressed to the council collectively and some individually,” she said. “Others directed to the general addresses of the town hall.
Middleton rebuked the behavior harshly, calling out those upset with the decision to direct their anger at the council only.
“None of the people who answer our phones or our mail make public policy decisions for our city. We do that on city council,” she said. “We are your chosen ones. If you are angry about something we have done, it is entirely appropriate to tell us about it.”
Abusing staff and insulting the families of council members, in the meantime, is not appropriate and does not help this cause, she said.
“We will get through this and we will act collectively as a city,” she said.
Finally, Middleton said she was troubled that much of the criticism seemed to be driven by “animosity against the transgender community.”
“There is only one of the dozens of programs that are in our pipeline today that has received national attention and the kind of anger that the program proposed by DAP and Queer Works has generated,” he said. she declared.
“Many of us would like us to believe that animosity against the transgender community plays no role in their decision to target this particular program,” she said. “It doesn’t add up, it doesn’t ring true. What we understood and what we believe is that it was animosity.”
She said the public can debate whether Guaranteed Basic Income programs are appropriate public policy and noted that City Council held such a discussion two weeks ago.
“This discussion will continue across the country, but targeting one group for abuse does not advance the interests of the country, the city or anyone else,” she said.
Paul Albani-Burgio covers breaking news and the city of Palm Springs. Follow him on Twitter at @albaniburgiop and by email at [email protected]