The battle continues over the removal of the controversial statue of former mayor Frank Bogert in front of City Hall.
An interim ruling just obtained by News Channel 3 is in favor of the city, showing the court has rejected the Friends of Frank Bogert’s request to continue withholding the removal of the statue and ending the order temporary previously issued.
“We hope the court stands by its interim decision, so the city can proceed with the removal of the statue from City Hall,” Palm Springs City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger said in a statement. statement to News Channel 3.
The statue was originally scheduled to be removed from the facade of City Hall two weeks ago, but on the morning of the scheduled removal, several local residents guarded the statue and physically prevented the city from storing it.
A lawyer representing the group ‘Friends of Frank Bogert’ filed a temporary restraining order and a judge ruled that the statue should not be moved from its location in front of City Hall until the case can be heard further.
The injunction protecting the law was due to expire on Friday.
On Thursday, the Friends of Frank Bogert group held a press conference to propose moving Bogert’s statue to the Village Green in Palm Springs from its current location in front of City Hall.
Bogert’s widow, Negie Bogert, said the proposed location made sense – and she hopes to put this painful chapter behind her.
“Now is the time to move the statue,” said Negie Bogert, the widow of Mayor Frank Bogert. “Unfortunately, by continuing to drag residents into this fight, our leaders risk tearing this city apart further.”
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Who is Frank Bogert and what is the controversy surrounding his statue?
Bogert was one of Palm Springs’ most famous cowboys and a major figure in the city’s history. He served as the city’s mayor from 1958 to 1966. He returned for a second term as the city’s first direct mayor from 1982 to 1988.
Bogert died in 2009 at the age of 99.
For nearly two years, Bogert was the subject of controversy with public outcry to have his statue removed following accusations that he was part of the removal of hundreds of people from a property block in a square mile in downtown Palm Springs. like section 14.
From 1954 to 1966, approximately 200 structures were demolished and burned. The actions displaced hundreds of low-income residents and people of color to make way for hotels and tourism. The city had no plan to relocate residents, forcing many of them to relocate to the northern part of town and throughout the county.
Check Out: City of Palm Springs Historical Background Statement and Survey Results
The demolition of Section 14 was described in a subsequent California Department of Justice report as “a city-engineered holocaust.”
In April 2021, the Palm Springs Commission on Human Rights voted to recommend the city council remove the statue from city hall. In September, the city council voted to begin the process of removing the statue and issuing an apology for the city government’s role in destroying Section 14.
The process of removing the statue was lengthy, as City Hall is a Class 1 (landmark) historic resource.
On February 1, 2022, the city’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Board (HSPB) voted 4 to 2 (with 1 abstention) to approve a Certificate of Opportunity for the removal of the statue. The council added a strong recommendation to the city council to ensure the statue is moved to a suitable site accessible to the public in perpetuity.
A few days after the council’s decision, attorney Rod Pacheco appealed the decision on behalf of his client, the group “Friend of Mayor Frank Bogert”. The group pleaded for the statue to remain where it is. Frank Bogert’s widow, Negie Bogert, said the campaign to move a statue of her husband was full of slander and lies.
“I don’t think he was perfect, but he was by no means what they describe as being,” Negie told News Channel 3’s Jake Ingrassia in September 2021.
The call was divided into three categories:
- The City did not follow the municipal code by approving the certificate of compliance;
- The appellant’s assertion that the issuance of the certificate of competency
violates the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”); and
- The appellant’s assertion that federal and state laws regarding visual art on the public
the display bars of the proposed City action.
Check out the full call here
On February 24, the city council voted unanimously to dismiss the appeal and upheld the HSPB’s decision.
Council members asked staff to work with stakeholders to identify a suitable location, not on city property, for Bogert’s statue within 60 days. If no other location was found, the Bogert statue would be removed for safe storage until a new home was found.
City officials said the council authorized City Attorney Jeff Ballinger to reach an agreement to extend the statute of limitations by 30 days, but the Friends of Mayor Frank Bogert group did not seek such an extension. . As a result, during this time, City staff made arrangements for the removal of the statue, in accordance with City Council’s February 24 decision.
On Friday, Pacheco filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent the statue from being removed, city officials said.
Despite plans to remove the statue on Tuesday, a hearing on that motion is scheduled for Wednesday.
“The city has been and remains willing to work with the group to find a suitable location to place the statue. It will be stored safely until a new location is determined,” reads a notice from officials. of the city of Palm Springs.