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Politics

06 Nov 2018
The California Democratic Party no longer accepts donations from the oil industry, viewing that as politically unsavory for a party pushing to curb climate change. But that hasn’t stopped oil companies from spending millions to help California Democrats win. Instead of giving money to the party, oil companies are donating directly to Democratic candidates and pouring huge sums into outside groups that campaign for a mix of Democrats and Republicans. The petroleum industry has put at least $19.2 million into California politics in the 2017-18 election cycle, according to a CALmatters analysis of campaign finance data. Much of it is helping Republicans, including $2 million to the California Republican Party. The industry also gave roughly $14 million to independent committees supporting some politicians from both…
01 Nov 2018
It wouldn’t be election season without a bunch of big-money interests trying to tell you how to vote—and with hundreds of millions of dollars rolling into initiative campaigns over housing and health care, California hit a new record this year. The $111 million campaign against Proposition 8 on kidney-dialysis clinics amounts to the most money poured into a single side of a ballot measure in the United States—at least since electronic record-keeping began in 2002, and possibly ever. Here are three industries spending huge sums to influence your vote: Landlords and real estate agents outraising rent-control advocates 3-to-1 Landlords are largely bankrolling the campaign against Proposition 10, which would allow local governments to expand rent control. “They don’t want to see their property values decline;…
01 Nov 2018
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When I spoke to the candidates for Cathedral City’s City Council two years ago, the main concern was economic development—how to generate revenue, grow new businesses, and continue to come back from the devastation of the Great Recession of 2008. Today, the city is undeniably in a better financial position. Revenues from the new and growing marijuana industry have been a boon—but each candidate I spoke to this year acknowledged that Cathedral City still has a long way to go. This year’s election is being done differently: Under threat of a civil-rights lawsuit, Cathedral City—like many other California municipalities—has switched from at-large elections to district-based elections, and three of those five new district seats are up for election this year. The city is also eliminating…
25 Oct 2018
California is politically lopsided: Most of the people live in the south, but most of the political power is based in the north. In recent years, the majority of politicians elected to statewide offices have been northern Californians—including the governor, lieutenant governor, schools superintendent and both U.S. senators. That could change after November’s election, because a striking number of statewide races this year pit a NorCal candidate against SoCal candidate, testing the political power and competing priorities of the Golden State’s two most populous regions. But don’t count on it. Northern California is likely to continue to dominate for reasons that largely boil down to this: People in the Bay Area just vote a lot more than those in Los Angeles. Economic and demographic changes…
23 Oct 2018
Palm Desert was incorporated as a city just 45 years ago—on Nov. 26, 1973, making it the second-youngest city in the Coachella Valley. This November, Palm Desert is poised to become the fourth valley city to approve and regulate cannabis-industry retail sales, commercial cultivation and delivery services within its city limits—presuming voters approve the resolution put on this year’s ballot by the current City Council. Also on the November ballot: Palm Desert voters will choose among five candidates—two incumbents and three challengers—for two seats up for election on the City Council. The Independent recently spoke with four of five candidates. (Matt Monica, who identifies himself as a retired educator on the city’s candidate-information form, did not respond to the Independent.) Incumbent Jan Harnik is winding…
17 Oct 2018
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has given the public a series of piecemeal explanations as it acknowledged making more than 100,000 errors in recent months while registering Californians to vote. Software problems, it said in May. Human errors from toggling between computer windows, it said in September. Data-entry mistakes that were corrected but never saved, it said in October. What DMV officials didn’t acknowledge—and still haven’t—was what may be the underlying problem: The agency rolled out a massive new voter-registration effort with a piecemeal computer system. Instead of the properly integrated computer program that was needed, the agency launched in April with disparate computer systems that didn’t automatically link together, according to advocates who have been working closely with the DMV on the new…
09 Oct 2018
The two men competing to be the next governor of California met earlier this week for their first (and, alas, probably only) one-on-one debate. If you didn’t see it, that’s because the showdown—which was structured more as a spirited conversation than your standard dueling-podiums-style debate—was on the radio, hosted by political reporter Scott Shafer, out of the San Francisco-based station KQED. And if you didn’t hear it, that’s because it was on a Monday. At 10 a.m. On a federal holiday. It’s a low-profile treatment for what may be the sole in-person exchange of ideas between the two candidates vying to become the next leader of the fifth-largest economy on Earth. But then again, few voters will have a difficult time distinguishing Lt. Gov. Gavin…
05 Oct 2018
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On Nov. 6, Desert Hot Springs voters will choose between five candidates for two City Council seats. Incumbent Joe McKee chose not to run for re-election, while Jan Pye hopes to retain the seat to which she was appointed earlier this year when Yvonne Parks stepped down. She’s joined on the ballot by a former Desert Hot Springs mayor and several relative newcomers. We spoke to four of the five candidates for this story. (Peter Tsachpinis didn’t respond to e-mails or phone messages.) Here’s what they had to say. In 2015, then-DHS Mayor Adam Sanchez narrowly lost his re-election bid to Scott Matas. Sanchez’s term started off with the city near bankruptcy. Sanchez helped turn the city around, but a feuding City Council, as well…