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Politics

21 May 2018
by  - 
The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February changed something among many young people in the United States. First came the March for Our Lives protests on March 24, with teens around the country organizing and speaking out in favor of tighter gun-control laws. Now those same youngsters, as they turn 18, are registering to vote—and trying to put political pressure on congressional leaders who oppose stricter gun-control laws. Matthew Chang, a senior at Palm Desert High School, is one of those teens: He helped mount a voter-registration drive among his classmates. “It was very successful,” Chang said. “During the days we had the drive, we registered about 35 people to vote, and then we worked in conjunction with a club that…
10 May 2018
Lobbyists in slick pinstriped suits and burly veterans with tattooed arms crowded into a Capitol hearing room earlier this month as lawmakers considered a bill to make it easier for Californians to buy legal marijuana. One supporter said people need more access to the “beautiful sacred plant.” But at its core, this was a business dispute—a question of whether legislators would allow cannabis companies to reach more customers, and make more money. The committee passed Senate Bill 1302—to stop cities from banning delivery services that sell pot to customers at their doorsteps—despite objections from cities and counties that favor local control. And the standing-room-only crowd that showed up to push for it revealed the new reality in California, where cannabis interests have become a formidable…
23 Apr 2018
On May 9, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed former state assemblymember V. Manuel Perez to serve the remainder of the term of the late John Benoit, the Riverside County District 4 supervisor. On June 5, Perez will attempt to hold on to the seat, but he’s facing a formidable challenge from Palm Desert City Councilmember Jan Harnik. While June 5 is considered the primary election, these two experienced Coachella Valley politicos will get no primary testing ground—because in their two-person race, one of them will almost certainly get a majority of the vote, avoiding a general-election contest and getting elected to a new four-year term. “I think it’s important that people realize the magnitude of what this (campaign) means for the 4th District and for…
16 Mar 2018
An independent political action committee paid for an ad slamming Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom—partly with money from groups that are backing his run for governor. Welcome to the wild ways of campaign money, circa 2018. The ad comes courtesy of the Asian American Small Business Political Action Committee, one of scores of campaign organizations that, by law, must be disconnected from candidates who may benefit from their spending. Its name aside, the Asian American Small Business PAC is funded by Chevron, AT&T, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and many other big business and labor organizations that are political players in Sacramento. The anti-Newsom ad, like many of its ilk, employs ominous music, fuzzed-up photos and a narrator who uses innuendo as she cites …
08 Mar 2018
A day after the Trump administration sued California over its new “sanctuary” laws, state officials pushed back hard, with Gov. Jerry Brown calling the move tantamount to “war.” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the lawsuit, which he filed late Tuesday, at a police event near the Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday. He said California leaders were scoring political points on the backs of law enforcement with immigration policies that hinder federal agents’ ability to enforce U.S. law. “We’re simply asking the state and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement,” Sessions said as hundreds of protesters shouted outside. “Stop treating immigration agents differently from everybody else for the purpose of eviscerating border and immigration laws, and advancing an open-borders philosophy shared…
27 Feb 2018
As California’s Democrats wrapped up their party’s annual convention Sunday, they left San Diego as they arrived: a party still fraying at the seams after the 2016 election, held together by one strong bond—a unifying dislike of President Donald Trump. Split between their traditional moderate-to-liberal faction and lefter-leaning progressives, the delegates refused to endorse in key races and snubbed a few of their own incumbents, notably longtime U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Their emotional differences over hot issues such as single-payer health care and rent control were on display. Yet through it all, dissing Trump was a reliable applause line. “Let us find what unites us at this convention,” said Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, who’s been discussed as a Democratic presidential prospect, on…
20 Feb 2018
By many measures, the rambunctious campaign for a single-payer health-care system in California appears to be struggling. A bill that would replace the existing health-care system with a new one run by a single payer—specifically, the state government—paid for with taxpayer money remains parked in the Assembly, with no sign of moving ahead. An effort by activists to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for shelving the bill has gone dormant. And an initiative that would lay the financial groundwork for a future single-payer system has little funding, undercutting its chances to qualify for the ballot. But even if single-payer is a lost cause in the short term, advocates are playing a long game. For now, it may well be less a realistic policy blueprint than…
14 Feb 2018
When voters in Rancho Mirage mail in their ballots on or before Tuesday, April 10, they won’t simply be voting for the City Council candidates they prefer; they’ll be voting on the direction in which the city goes. If residents like the status quo, they can re-elect incumbents Dana Hobart, Charles Townsend Vinci and Iris Smotrich. If they want change, they can vote for Michael Harrington, Robert Mueller and Kate Spates. The Independent recently spoke to five of the six candidates for the three seats up for a vote this year. Incumbent Dana Hobart declined to make himself available for an interview. It’s worth noting that the two incumbents with whom we spoke said they wanted to be viewed as a united entry against their…