Just about everyone is being hit by these tough times. Even one of the Coachella Valley’s wealthiest people appears to be in financial turmoil.
Dozens of her employees tell News Channel 3 they’ve been left jobless and unpaid.
This case involves Edra Blixseth, a well-known, part-time valley resident, who devoted a lot of time and money to local charities.
Locally the property is called Porcupine Creek. It’s in Rancho Mirage. It comes complete with a 30,000 square foot mansion and its very own 19 hole golf course.
It belongs to Edra Blixseth, the ex-wife of former billionaire Timber Baron Tim Blixseth.
To maintaine Porcupine Creek, Mrs. Blixseth employed dozens of workers and vendors who now say they’ve gone months without getting paid.
We talked with one woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, who has a relative who’s worked at the 240-acre estate for the past two years.
“About two and a half months ago she mentioned she hadn’t gotten paid,” this woman told us. “We figured everything had worked out. We asked a month later [and she said] she still hadn’t gotten paid.”
Employees and vendors tell News Channel 3 they continued to go to work, believing they would eventually get their money.
“For a couple weeks they were told ‘next week, next week.’ Then, the next two weeks, then ‘we’re not sure, but you’re getting paid.”
On Friday, December 19, employees were said to have been called in and told they no longer have jobs.
“They were basically not told very much besides there was no money to pay them. They werenot to come back to work on Monday ‘or any time after’. [They were] just told there was no money, and asked not to come back.”
Similar stories have been told at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. In a bitter divorce settlement earlier this year, Edra Blixseth won control of the club, an exclusive resort for the super-rich. It’s now in bankruptcy.
“People are quite upset,” said Jonathan Webber. He’s with NewWest.Net and has been covering the Yellow Stone Club’s legal battles. “There are a lot of contractors, people owed money by the club. And, then the members are concerned. They spend a lot of money to build houses. If the club isn’t operating, they can’t get their property.”
Last week in a Montana courtroom, Webber talked with Mrs. Blixseth.
“At the hearing I asked her, ‘We’ve got calls from people at Porcupine Creek who say the employees are not getting paid, is that true?’ She said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t comment to the press.’ And I said in that context, ‘if you don’t deny, it’s true. I’ll take it as a confirmation.’ She said she couldn’t confirm or deny.”
The employees and vendors we’ve talked with have been reluctant to speak out on camera. They say mainly because of the confidentially agreements they signed in order to work there.
“Everybody was just hopeful that everything was just going to work itself out. These people are very loyal to Mrs. Blixseth. Thought she would work it out and they’d get paid. Nobody wanted to say anything, thought they’d be employed and be able to bring presents home for their grandchildren.”
Employees say they liked working at Porcupine Creek. They were paid decent with benefits. Some are holding ono hope they’ll be called back, but that sounds unlikely.