Councilman Art Welch Becomes Mayor – By Voting For Himself !


12/14/15 – When was the last time you saw the Banning City council appoint a Mayor that did not have the support of all 5 councilmembers? This has not happened in decades – until now.

Reason: newly elected Mayor Art Welch is so controversial that he was unable to secure the votes of all councilmembers : Welch only became Mayor by voting for himself.




Mayor Art Welch

Mayor Art Welch

Welch has a long record of deciding what is good for Banning, even when the vast majority of the public thinks otherwise. A recent example is the infamous Paseo San Gorgonio Project, which was subsidized with over $ 4,000,000 in taxpayer money.

After the original developer dropped out, Welch made sure that Vanir Corporation could take over the project, with the goal of building a County Probation Department hub that will serve an area as far away as Blythe.

Besides bad decisions, Welch’s conduct as a councilman leaves a lot to be desired. We cannot recall a member of the Council that has expressed more contempt for his constituents than Art Welch.

If you haven’t seen it already, the following video clip will give you an idea of how Welch feels about citizens who do not agree with him :




ChamberAs we reported last year, the Banning Chamber of Commerce, a private organization, received $ 40,000 in free utilities, based on an illegal “handshake agreement” ( read our previous story here ).The Riverside County Grand Jury is currently investigating the unprecedented scandal – a scandal in which Welch plays a central role.


Secretary of State shows Welch as official Agent for the Banning Chamber. Note that the Secretary of State has since suspended the Chamber (click on image to enlarge)

In the years in question, Welch was the Chamber’s President and also its “Agent for Service of Process”. At the same time he was also serving as a councilman, who is entrusted to protect public funds. There can be little doubt that, as President of the Chamber, Welch had full knowledge of the illegal “handshake agreement”, yet he did nothing to make Banning citizens whole.

It also appears that under Welch’s “leadership” at the Chamber, approximately $212,000 in rental income cannot be accounted for. This money constituted a prepaid rent payment made by the Gas Company to the Chamber.

Gas Company check to the Chamber for $212,616

Gas Company check to the Chamber for $212,616 – (click on image to enlarge)


After having received almost a quarter of a million dollars in cash,  why does the Chamber have a problem paying their outstanding utility debt? Did officials of the Chamber line their pockets, instead of paying for the utilities?

Where did all that money go, Mayor Welch ?





To further illustrate the despicable role of the Banning Chamber of Commerce, one needs to look no further than to its Executive Director James C. “Jim” Smith.

Smith is Banning’s #1 deadbeat debtor. The City of Banning (i.e. the taxpayer) currently holds a judgment against Smith exceeding $ 90,000 – and Smith has yet to pay a dime.

Smith (L)_ and Welch (R) playing pinball together

Smith (L)_ and Welch (R) playing pinball together. Photo: Record Gazette

Other creditors currently or previously pursuing Smith include: the IRS, the California State Board of Equalization, Delton Dysart, Automotive Finance Corp. and Carol’s Kitchen (see our previous article here for details).

Besides being a deadbeat judgment debtor and the Chamber’s Executive Director, Smith has also taken on the role of perma-candidate in Pass area elections. Most recently he ran for the Banning School Board (2013) and for the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (2014); both times he was unsuccessful.

Once we understand the intimate ties between our new Mayor and Smith, the picture darkens further.

Welch and Smith are joined at the hip. The two socialize whenever they can. They seem to enjoy playing pinball together and they also like to gamble.

Welch and his buddy Smith playing poker. Smith owes the taxpayer over $ 90,000 and Welch does nothing about it

Welch and his buddy Smith playing poker. Smith owes the taxpayer over $ 90,000. Welch does nothing about it. Photo: Record Gazette

On more than one occasion, Welch could be observed playing poker with Smith.

The scenario makes it obvious that Welch is not looking out for the hard working people of Banning. If it was left up to Welch, what were the chances of the taxpayers ever getting their money from Smith? – absolutely zero.

Protecting members of the “Club” is what appears to matter most to good-ole-boy Art Welch.




In a recent council session, Welch made an attempt to do the math. His mind blowing calculation : 400% of 10 equals 4.

Believe it or not, this pathetic clown will be dealing with millions of your tax dollars!

Watch for yourself:





Maybe it was because of his inability to do basic math, that Art Welch decided to borrow $ 115 million on behalf of Banning taxpayers. During the last decade, Welch took a nearly debt free City of Banning, and loaded it up with $ 115 million in new debt, all without the vote of the people.

Today most of the money has been spent, some of it illegally. The 17 million dollar Police station was built using water bond proceeds, a clear violation of Prop 218. What benefit the City received from the remainder of the money is left to anyone’s imagination.



Not too long ago, Record Gazette writer David Heiss attempted to paint Art Welch as a person of “kindness” and “community spirit”. Heiss did so by using none other than Jim Smith as reference. (see article here).

Needless to say, Welch’s Chamber utility ripoff scheme points to a form of “kindness” and “community spirit” that every citizen in Banning can certainly do without. The same holds true for Welch’s close personal ties to notorious deadbeat and Banning Chamber Director, Jim Smith, whom he appears to shield from collection.

Allegedly, both Welch and Smith have attempted to lobby former interim City manager Jim Smith (no relation) for a settlement of the utility debt. The proposed settlement provided for the Chamber not to pay a dime. This is yet another example of how Welch and Smith ensure that the public gets the shaft – every step of the way. Welch & Co. get the free ride, while the little guy pays the bill.

fishThanks, but no thanks, for your wonderful “community spirit” and “kindness”, Mayor Welch ! Banning may be better off without it !

As we can see, the Record Gazette makes every effort to lead Banning’s citizens astray. It is only by their absurd coverage (David Heiss, Gail Paparian) that corrupt figureheads like Welch can  hold on to public office.

Last week, during public session, councilman Don Peterson referred to the Record Gazette as only being useful as a “fish wrapper”. The councilman may be on to something  …..




How was it possible for such a scandalous figure as Art Welch to be appointed Mayor, over the likes of councilman Don Peterson, who has a flawless record of fighting for the People of Banning?

Welch's appointment tp Mayor was supported by his political cronies, Franklin and Moyer

Welch’s appointment to Mayor was made possible by his political cronies, Franklin and Moyer

If Banning had a government that truly represented its People, someone like Welch could never become Mayor. But councilmembers Franklin and Moyer have long aligned themselves as cronies of Welch – willing to sell out the public at every turn.

Both Franklin and Moyer couldn’t care less if the Chamber gets free utilities, nor if Sun Lakes gets $ 227,000 in free water. Remember that Moyer, as president of the Sun Lakes HOA, could write a check for this amount any day. The fact that he doesn’t goes to show that protecting the average Banning utility ratepayer is not a concern of his.

Being in the minority, all that councilmembers Ed Miller and Don Peterson could do is send the public a clear message : they do not agree with Welch’s appointment for Mayor.



For the first time in decades, a Mayor has been appointed in Banning that does not have the full support of the council. Art Welch could only become Mayor by voting for himself. That should tell you something.

We anticipate, however, that Welch will not finish office. Once the Grand Jury issues their report, Welch will be implicated in such a way that he will be forced to resign.

Even in the City of Bell there came a day when it all collapsed. And that day will come for Banning’s Mayor Art Welch as well. It’s just a matter of time …..



Fair Use Notice:

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, economic, and social issues concerning the citizens of Banning, CA. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information see:


If you would like to comment or discuss this – or any other – article,  please visit us on FACEBOOK