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Mon09282020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

When we patronize a service business, if the person with whom we interact is polite, pleasant, personable and a true professional—it makes a huge difference.

That describes Desert Hot Springs resident Randy Ralke, who holds down the fort at Post’n Ship in Rancho Mirage.

Although he’s originally from Minneapolis, Ralke describes himself as a true “valley boy.” He moved to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles with his mom and three siblings after his parents divorced.

“My mom had a friend,” he recalls, “who had moved out a year earlier, after her husband had gone to a retreat of some kind, had a heart attack and died. She encouraged my mom to make the move.”

Ralke is a natural redhead, which got him bullied as a kid.

“I was always seen as different,” he says. “Kids would use lots of nicknames, and it hurt. But it’s also what made me become funny as a way to cope. Plus, it was an advantage at an amusement park—my parents couldn’t lose me!”

After high school, Ralke attended Pierce College.

“I was kind of a professional musician,” he says. “I played drums and percussion, and I admit I was too young at college. I had great fun, but I never graduated. I did work at music stores for many years. In fact, there’s one in Reseda called Kaye’s Music Scene, where I worked for a long time, and it’s still there. I actually started working at about age 8 or 9 with three different paper routes. It meant I always had money in my pocket.

“Of course, if I could have had my dream job, I would have been a professional baseball player. I did play Little League for a while. I was the catcher; I now know that’s why my knees are bad. Actually, my prize possession is a signed baseball my dad gave me from the Minnesota Twins. … Harmon Killebrew’s signature is on it, but it doesn’t have Rod Carew’s, because he was involved in finding a bone-marrow donor for his daughter and wasn’t there that day. I’ll leave that baseball to my son, or a grandson if I get one.”

Ralke’s son, William, 30 and an Iowa resident, was named after Ralke’s father.

“My son was lucky: He didn’t get the red hair,” jokes Ralke. “But he did marry a redhead, and his daughter, my amazing granddaughter, Trinity Rose, is a redhead. (My ex-wife and I) weren’t sure we would be able to have a child, and having my son was the best decision ever, even though the marriage didn’t last.

“My dad and his brother were in their father’s pharmacy business, but after (their father) died, they didn’t really want to be in that business. My dad ended up running a car dealership. Unfortunately, he had an alcohol problem, and my folks divorced.

“I was very close to my mom. She was a pretty funny person, and I think that’s where I got my sense of humor. Friends have suggested I should pursue doing comedy, and I’ve always wanted to write as well, but I’ve always gotten into other things. We lost my mom two years ago at age 89; I took care of her for the last nine years of her life when she increasingly fell to dementia. I’ve always been diligent about handling things, and it’s been a difficult adjustment for me after all those years of caring for her. I’m still not quite back on track.”

Ralke moved to the Coachella Valley from Los Angeles about a year and a half ago, after a brief stint in Florida working with his sister after their mom’s death. (“I hated the Florida weather!”) He’s been the guy behind the counter running Post’n Ship, and he’s a lifeline for customers who have mailboxes, receive packages, buy stamps, get faxes, make copies, or want to purchase cards, gift items or even fine linens.

“We ship things all over the world,” says Ralke, “and I have customers who will, for example, buy a box to pack clothing to donate to needy children in Nigeria. A lot of the people in this area are older and need some extra attention, and sometimes it requires a lot of patience. I’ve also gotten to know the postal workers and delivery people and really appreciate what they do and how hard they work.”

What does Randy Ralke do for fun? He likes mystery stories, listens to ’70s and ’80s rock, and is a science-fiction movie-lover. His face lights up as he recalls, as a kid, waiting 10 hours in line at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to see Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

“Fast forward to when I took my son to the opening of Star Wars: Episode I. I took him out of school, and we spent the day in Westwood and finally got to see it that same day.”

One of the things on Ralke’s bucket list is travel. “My oldest brother has traveled quite a lot, and that’s what I’d like to do. I’d love to go to Europe; our family has German and Czech roots. I would also like to play music again sometime. Plus, I think it would surprise people to know I think I have a really good voice. I used to do backup with the singers I worked with, but I’ve never recorded.”

Too many people take service employees for granted—but Ralke is proof that they can often become a light in a customer’s day.

“I think what makes me who I am is that I do have humor and personality,” Ralke says. “I try to make things better and smoother for anyone who comes in. It’s sometimes a challenge to make people laugh, but it’s always worth it to me.”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

They work together, act together, cook together and laugh together. Dori and Rupert Smith are an example of how committed couples can inspire and support each other to become the best they can be, both individually and as a couple.

Dori, currently president of Democrats of the Desert, was born 70 years ago in Madera, Calif., before being raised in Virginia. She was born second in a family that includes two sisters and a brother. “My mom grew up typically Italian in New York,” she says, “and I would describe her as ebullient: She loved to dance and was a lot of fun, but she also was the one who helped to unionize the tool-and-die company where she worked when we were kids. My dad was a hard-working man who just wasn’t around a lot.

“I was once told that the second-oldest always gets into trouble, and I certainly did. I got pregnant and married very young, but then I finished high school. I waited 10 years before deciding to go back to college, majoring in journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and had worked up until then in the public-affairs department at GTE. After I finished my degree, I came back as a mid-level manager.”

Rupert, 73, was born and raised in Arcadia, Fla. “I was an only child,” he says, “with a pessimistic, introvert mother who was married to an optimistic, extrovert father. I don’t remember my mom ever being overtly happy. She saw the world as black and white, and I had to learn that isn’t true. Somehow, they made me into an idealist who looks for the good in other people. Of course, taken to an extreme, that can be a problem, but I start from a position of trust with everyone.”

Rupert also studied journalism in college, at the University of Florida. He also spent some time in the Army (“They put me in the information office for a while”) and then went into public relations and marketing at GTE.

“They saw my Army experience—and I ended up there for 24 years,” he said.

Dori and Rupert met while working with GTE-Southeast in Durham, N.C. With a clear note of pride, Rupert describes Dori as having been hired as a secretary, but being ambitious enough to go back to school and get her degree so she could come back to the company in management. Rupert was the youngest vice president in the company’s history at that time, and at one point was moved to Connecticut. Dori had taken a job in Indiana after her divorce.

“We finally got tired of flying back and forth, and moved in together in Connecticut in 1987,” says Rupert.

Rupert’s first marriage of 15 years had produced two sons; Dori’s first marriage of 18 years had produced a son and daughter. “We moved in together in 1987 and married in 1994, and we all have a good relationship,” says Rupert.

What makes it work? “He’s patient, kind and generous,” says Dori. “He always encourages me in everything I want to do, and helps me with whatever it takes.”

Says Rupert: “I let her do whatever she wants, and she’s the same with me. If you start thinking about changing the other person, you’re ultimately doomed. I think about a relationship as a three-legged stool: trust, respect and a common sense of humor—the ability to laugh at the same things. I still smile whenever Dori enters a room.”

The Smiths have been Palm Desert residents for 21 years. They began working together locally doing public relations, primarily for local theatrical groups, and both have become involved in local theater themselves. Rupert originally got involved in acting while in Connecticut.

“I needed something that would fit my creative side. I was told to try acting and got involved with a Wilton playhouse. I tried out and got the part, and it wasn’t difficult, because I had done so much public speaking in my job.”

Working with Script to Stage to Screen (S2S2S), both Rupert and Dori have starred in and been nominated for awards in staged readings. During the pandemic, when nothing is being staged for audiences, Rupert has been writing and producing video works for S2S2S that are available online.

For Dori, she started acting when Gina Bikales, the head of S2S2S, asked her to read a part. “I thought it would be fun to do something onstage with Rupert,” she says.

Both have also helped the theater company with website design, public relations and marketing.

“Dori can’t sit still,” says Rupert. “She has to be doing multiple things at the same time.”

Says Dori: “I am always extremely busy. I started the Executive Women’s Golf Association, and that’s how I met women friends when we came to the desert. I also started Moms Demand Action here in the Coachella Valley in response to the gun violence against children across the country.

Dori attributes her current position as president of Democrats of the Desert (DOD) to something her mom said. “When I was a kid, I remember my mom always said, ‘Vote! Vote the whole Democratic ticket! Vote! Vote! Vote!’ I heard about a meeting of Democratic Women of the Desert and started getting involved. I worked to elect Congressman Raul Ruiz, and worked on Barack Obama’s campaign. When I joined DOD, I realized I’d like to lead the organization. I have a terrific board, and we’re holding Zoom meetings and social events. It’s a real challenge to keep people involved with all we’re going through right now.”

Dori had tap-dancing on her bucket list, so she took lessons and is now dancing with her group, including getting a spot in the McCallum Theatre’s Open Call. “But I try to relax, take a nap daily and read,” she says. “I do have a deep need to stay busy. I wish I still had the energy I had 10 years ago.”

Did I mention the cooking? Dori is constantly posting pictures of the beautiful meals Rupert prepares, and together, they make scrumptious pies.

Rupert’s advice to his younger self? “Don’t sweat the small stuff … and it’s all small stuff.”

Dori’s? “Slow down. Enjoy every minute.”

Dori and Rupert Smith are an example of how a committed couple can inspire and support each other—and, in the process, inspire us all.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

One of the most interesting cases Megan Beaman Jacinto has handled as a civil rights attorney involved a class of farmworkers. About 70 percent of the 60 workers in the crew were female—and in need of protection from gender discrimination.

“One day, about 32 showed up at my office,” she says, “and I ended up with 42 clients in a suit for discrimination. Their supervisor was always on them about what tasks they could perform and (wanted) to bring more men into the crew, and if they didn’t, then they were terminated. This is common for farmworkers. I sued for discrimination, and it took until we were readying for trial for a settlement to finally get done. It had taken four to five years. This is one of the cases I’m most passionate about.”

Beaman Jacinto grew up poor in rural Iowa.

“Where I came from,” she says, “it was about 99 percent white, and yet there was evidence of a lot of racism. It was about when I was in middle school that I realized it just wasn’t right to treat or speak about people by making those kind of comments or jokes. A passion developed in me in opposition to racism. I became ostracized—but that motivated me.”

Beaman Jacinto, 38, the oldest of four siblings, was influenced to pursue education by her parents.

“My dad was a factory worker, and my mom was a homemaker until she began working after I graduated high school,” Beaman Jacinto said. “They also maintained a very small family farm with about 30 cattle. They really emphasized the importance of education. Our rural schools were typically underachieving, and I finished all regular classes by the 10th-grade. My mom found other opportunities for us to learn.

“I always knew she would be there for us. It’s a type of advocacy that’s reflected in the way I stand up for others. And there was always an emphasis on treating other people the way you want to be treated.”

After high school, Beaman Jacinto majored in sociology at Grinnell College. “I wanted to better understand where racism comes from, and my responsibility as a white person,” she recalls. “At that point, I had no professional role models.”

Beaman Jacinto finally found a mentor in an American-studies professor who had been a Black Panther and had managed a group of civil rights lawyers who fought against racism. “It was like a light bulb went off,” she says. “I thought that potentially, I could make a difference.”

Before law school, Beaman Jacinto spent some time in San Francisco (“I was a waitress,” she laughs) and Chicago, where she went into an urban-studies program.

While studying law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Beaman Jacinto says she realized she had the drive to help others. “I worked in student clinics, and I always strove to make the greatest impact. My goal was to find meaningful work, so I applied all over the country, with private law firms and nonprofits. I got an offer from California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and came to Coachella 12 years ago. It was my first job out of law school, and the great bulk of the work was representing farmworkers.

Beaman Jacinto worked with CRLA for four years before setting out to build a private practice. “CRLA was federally funded, so I couldn’t represent undocumented individuals or take on class actions,” she says. “I decided the time had come to grow. I had the choice to either leave CRLA for another nonprofit out of the valley or start my own practice here. It was scary at first, but (starting my own practice) would give me independence and room to grow. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Going out on my own, I overcame fear, and I was able to grow and value myself in addition to providing service to people who need help.”

Beaman Jacinto was elected to the Coachella City Council two years ago.

“From the time I came to Coachella, I’ve always tried to build relationships,” she says. “I value the importance of community, and I value the opportunity to serve. I see myself as a community advocate, but I had never seen politics as a goal for myself. There were many factors that came to play in my decision to run for Coachella City Council, including that women are underrepresented. I am driven to ensure that all voices are at the table when decisions are being made, about things like access to water and housing.” Beaman Jacinto is also adamant about helping develop other leaders within the community.

With a husband and two small children, how has Beaman Jacinto managed to get through the pandemic?

“It’s an ongoing process of adjustment,” she says. “I’m able to continue working and providing income, and working from home has given me so much more family bonding time. We all just have to keep the anxiety at bay.”

Does Beaman Jacinto have any talents that might surprise those who know her? “I have to admit I’m pretty good at cooking, although my clients are always surprised that a lawyer can cook,” she says. “And I’m fully bilingual, which is a real help in what I do. I’m also in the Iowa softball pitchers’ hall of fame!”

After coming from such a humble beginning, Megan Beaman Jacinto has established herself as someone who cares about her community and the people she represents.

“If I had to give advice to my younger self,” she says, “I would paraphrase something Michelle Obama once said—that I see all these men making decisions and having a seat at the table, and then I realize they aren’t all that smart. I would say, ‘Don’t be afraid. You’re just as capable as anyone else.’”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Elder-law attorney Michael “Mick” McGuire, 73, says he keeps trying to find a way to retire. “But when the pandemic hit, that went on the back burner.”

McGuire, a La Quinta resident for seven years, used to visit the desert from Long Beach—until his wife of 30 years, Vivien, a public defender, made him to decide to relocate.

McGuire was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and his birth family included grandparents who had emigrated from Ireland. They had four daughters and were scrounging for work during the Great Depression. “My grandfather died in his 30s, and my grandmother was one of those people you’re blessed to have in your life. She cleaned houses to support her daughters.

“My mom had no education past the ninth-grade, and they were always one step ahead of the landlord. My mom always used to say, ‘If things aren’t going your way, just get on with it. If one thing doesn’t work, do something else.’

“My dad was a true Pittsburgh boy. He came along at a time when they were letting guys out of high school to go to war. He was in the Army Air Corps, and then he took a correspondence course at Cornell University. He worked in the restaurant business and became a regional manager.

“I have one sister. I always joke that we’re 'Irish twins'; our birthdays are so close. Once we were out of high school, my folks couldn’t wait to get out of the dire winters of Pittsburgh, so after my freshman year of college, we moved to Arizona.”

McGuire (www.calelderlaw.com) got his education at Arizona State University. After a year in the Army Reserve, McGuire’s first job was with Hallmark Cards in Seattle. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1970 and worked for companies including Xerox, E.F. Hutton, and Home Savings. What made him decide to go back to school and study law?

“I was dealing with real estate agents all day long,” he says, “and I had met my wife, who was in law school at the time. In 1991, I studied at the University of West Los Angeles, and passed the bar on my first try!”

McGuire opened his first law office in Long Beach, doing estate planning, wills and trusts. “I had a client who was having real problems with his elderly mom, and thus I discovered elder law as a specialty,” says McGuire. “I realized the need for people to be able to deal with the Medi-Cal system and Veterans (Affairs).

“The best part of what I do is being able to listen to people’s stories. I had a client who had been in a small village in France during World War II at the age of 16 when the Germans had come. He was stopped by two Gestapo officers, was arrested, and he ended up in a concentration camp. He survived and went to Canada, then came to the U.S. He had told his family that he had been in the war, but his daughters had never heard the full story. When they asked him why he had never told them, he said, ‘I didn’t want you to worry.’

“I had another client who had been a submarine commander during World War II and didn’t realize he had benefits available. You can’t make these stories up—they’re amazing!”

McGuire gets particularly emotive when we talk about the COVID-19 pandemic—and particularly its impact on elders in nursing-home situations.

“The state drives people to long-term care, because there’s nowhere else to go,” he says. “It’s all corporate money now, and they’re driven by profitability. They say, ‘It’s all about heads in the beds.’ People get three meals a day, and poor care—and what we’ve seen over the past months of the pandemic shows how bad it is. It’s a terrible conundrum: You have someone who makes about $12.50 an hour to change people’s diapers and wipe their chin. Those willing to do those jobs are often the migrants at the border.

“We have a glaring hole in Medicare for taking care of seniors when they need help. The Affordable Care Act created a plan to pay up to $1,500 a month for long-term care. On average, decent care costs $10,000 a month for a nursing home in California. Long-term care is expensive, but in my experience, it probably only costs an average family about $1,500 to $2,500 a month to keep someone at home. I’ve never met anybody ever who wanted to go to a nursing home.

“It should be a red flag that out of all the developed countries in the world, we’re (the only one) without a plan. We can talk about it all academically, but when it’s your family member, the whole thing changes. The counties are often ignorant of the actual regulations, and how people are being treated is ridiculous. I’ve become very aggressive and insistent to benefit my clients.”

In 2014, McGuire handled what he described as his most interesting case. Los Angeles County had denied long-term benefits to a man taken to a nursing home as a qualified patient. “It took a year to bring the county to the table. I came to understand how badly the system is stacked against the public interest. You walk away from these experiences and realize that for every one who gets representation—how many are left to their own devices, meeting obstacles at every turn?”

McGuire and his wife are very proud of their family, including son Sean (“He works in the office with me, handling veterans’ cases”) and twin grandchildren. (“She’s at MIT, and he’s at Berkeley,” beams the proud grandpa.)

McGuire’s latest venture is a radio program, Elder Answers, airing every Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. on KNEWS 94.3 FM/970 AM. McGuire describes the show as an opportunity to start a conversation, and he looks forward to, when the pandemic is over, again presenting workshops where people can talk on a more personal level.

“Throughout life, no matter the situation, you’re well-advised to exercise patience and introspection before you react,” McGuire says. “I’ve failed to follow that many times and paid a price for sure. When I’ve done it, it’s always paid off.”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

I first met Mary Borders after I saw her dance.

It was at a gathering in Palm Springs in 1997 to honor the 84th birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. To the accompaniment of drums, Borders danced a free-form combination of modern dance and African tribal movements. Her style was lyrical, fluid and emotional. It was mesmerizing.

Borders, now 72, lives in Perris after being a long-time resident of Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City. She was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and raised by an aunt (“who I think of as my mom”) along with her grandmother, and four cousins who are “like my sisters.”

“My aunt would always tell us that when we grew up, we would go to college and be able to be self-sufficient,” Borders says. “We weren’t to rely on a man for a living. She’d say, ‘You can do it yourself.’ She was there all the time, and she seemed to know everybody and whether they were a good person or not. I also saw my real mother from time to time.

“My dad (uncle) was in the lumber business. He was a strong Black man who laughed easily. He was a solid provider, and although he didn’t talk a lot, he was always friendly and warm. He was every bit my dad as he was with his own kids. He showed me what a man is supposed to be like.

“Our house was like the United Nations, with friends who might be Jewish, Muslim, Okies—lots of people who exposed us to so many other cultures.”

After high school, Borders attended Riverside City College, and later studied business at Ohio State University during her second marriage.

“In my third year, somebody put a cross in our front yard, and the Ku Klux Klan did a march down our street,” Borders says. “We were the only Black family in our neighborhood. We moved to Chicago after that, and then came back to California in 1980.”

Borders’ first job was at March Air Force Base. “It started out just clerical,” she says, “but after three months, they made me a staff accountant. I had studied bookkeeping, so I started working as an accountant and did that all through my career.”

Borders’ daughter, Sherri (“She’s 35 and she still gets carded,” laughs Borders), had asthma and allergies. They used to come to the desert to visit Borders’ half-brother, Tahlib McMicheaux, then a minister in Desert Hot Springs. “Sherri would always feel well in the desert climate,” she says.

Borders sold her house in Los Angeles, and she and her daughter moved to Rancho Mirage in 1994. At first, Borders had trouble finding a job. She contacted a telemarketing company, and after a phone call was asked to come in. “When I got there for the interview, the guy looked at me and said, ‘Uh … I didn’t know you were … uh … a woman.’ I reached across the desk and picked up his business card, turned it over, and said, ‘I’m going to need some information so I can tell the Labor Board.’ He said, ‘OK, I’ll hire you, but you have to meet quota, or you’re outta here.’ I not only met quota; I became director of minority affairs. The company marketed themselves as meeting Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting employment discrimination).”

Borders moved on to work as sales director for Desert Woman, a local magazine that targeted Coachella Valley women. “I got a call from the editor saying that Anita Rufus told her she needed to integrate her staff, and that she should call Mary Borders,” she says. “I got a first-class education selling for Desert Woman. While I met a lot of wonderful women and did a lot of networking, there were some local business people who wouldn’t advertise if they thought I owned it: They didn’t want their ad dollars going to support someone who looked like me.

“One woman thought she recognized the designer jacket I was wearing, and asked me outright about it. When I said yes, it was that designer, without asking if I got it on sale or whatever, she said, ‘I can’t afford a jacket like that; how can you? I want to see your car. If you have a new car, which I can’t even afford for myself, I’m not taking out any ads with you.’ You can’t make this stuff up!

“After that, I worked with the SunLine Transit Agency for six years until I decided to retire. They needed someone who could bring the union and non-union workers together, and I also did PR with a focus on creating a positive public image. ”

Is Borders still dancing?

“I’ve danced all my life,” she says. “I once met a guy associated with Three Dog Night who had gone to Africa and participated in a ritual to make a sacred drum. He offered to drum for me, and I studied the moves. I remember that night at Rosa Parks’ birthday so well—we had Native American bird dancers, and a tribute to Mexican Americans. The guest speaker was Ron Karenga,” the civil-rights activist best known as the creator of Kwanzaa.

“It was quite a night. Later, after I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, once I recovered, I went cruising. They had a salsa club onboard. I came back and spent three weeks in New York taking salsa lessons. One year, I was Salsa Queen of the Desert!”

In 2017, Borders’ aunt was recovering from surgery, and Borders had broken an ankle that was not healing well, so she moved to Perris to be closer to her family.

“I’m now taking soul line-dancing classes offered through Riverside County,” Borders says. “Each class includes a party where you get to know everybody, and we’ve all become friends. After the pandemic hit, it was my birthday, and they came in 10 cars, and put gifts on the curb and sang ‘Happy Birthday.’ It was a total surprise. Now we do it for everybody—socially distanced and dancing in the street with masks on. We also go to a local park, and everybody brings a chair and food for lunch. Then we dance down the path, all 28 of us!”

How does Borders feel about the current activism regarding racial equality?

“I had a therapist who once said there had been a dark space in me that had come to the surface and erupted, and I had to forgive and move on, and eventually the scab would come off,” Borders says. “We, as a society, have had a sore that has festered and finally erupted, and we have to heal it. I always remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and believe that if there is injustice anywhere, then everybody is in danger, because none of us is safe.

“I feel bad for my white friends, who are being lumped into the racist label. People are striving for something to say or do, but people have become afraid to say anything, because it may be the wrong thing. That’s a shame, because it’s all a teaching opportunity.”

Mary Borders has a positive energy that is infectious. She is who she is, with no pretense. She says her greatest accomplishment in life is her daughter—especially since she was told early on that she couldn’t have children. She also says that the best decision she ever made was moving to the desert: “Everything I did turned to gold. Even confronting the racism just made me stronger,” she says.

That strength comes through whenever you see Mary Borders dance. She is mesmerizing.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

When I told my editor I felt compelled to write about race and the issues currently dominating our news, he said, “Do you feel you—as a white person—really have a lot to add to the conversation? If so, go for it. But make sure you're answering that question in the affirmative.”

Let me start by saying I am a white person who was lucky enough to be raised to know that the only difference between people is in their immutable characteristics: skin color, hair color, eye color, height, sexual orientation—but not in their worth or value as a human being deserving of respect.

I’ve written almost 200 columns now, and too many of them have touched on race, discrimination and the outrages perpetrated against people of color, or people being wronged based on their gender, sexual orientation or religion. I’ve written about my own father threatening my life if I came to my brother’s first wedding with my Black boyfriend. I’ve written about the attack on a Muslim community in Coachella, and on the unconscionable dislocation of Black, Mexican and Indigenous peoples from what is now downtown Palm Springs. I’ve talked about local residents with a long history of fighting racism who are committed to the realization of a diverse society where nobody is considered lesser. I’ve written about my own history of working for civil rights and gender equality. And I have three Black ex-step-children whose safety is always on my mind.

We are right now at a time of profound change—if we are courageous enough to follow through and not let the latest distractions divert us from the hard work that needs to be done.

After the horrifying killing of George Floyd, the shooting in her own apartment of Breonna Taylor, and all the other people we’ve had to add to the list in recent years, the latest indignity is Bubba Wallace—the only Black first-tier NASCAR driver, who pushed the racing series to ban Confederate flags—finding a noose hung in his garage at the raceway. Too many people are willing to distort the message of the tens of thousands of protesters who have filled streets throughout the country and around the world, and label them as thugs, hoodlums and terrorists.

For those who object to what’s happening by maintaining that THEY aren’t racist and have never done anything against others based on skin color, or those who are sick of all the whining and complaining because we all have problems, or those who turn away because it’s too difficult to watch, or those who work with people of other races and have never felt the comfort to have a conversation about these issues, or those who sympathize and wish they could do something to make a difference but don’t know what—this column is for you.

The only way to be part of the solution is to recognize the problem.

We’re born into a culture based on racism, and we absorb it in every interaction and through every institution with which we come into contact. It’s only by awareness and conscious action that we have any hope of overcoming that history. White people, born into the privilege of being considered the norm against which everything else is compared, are the ones who have to change the course toward our future.

There’s a difference between personal bias—where you may have been raised to believe that people who look a certain way are somehow inherently inferior or to be feared—and institutional racism.

A racist system is insidious in its reach, influence and impact, and all too often, especially if you’re white, you’re not even aware that it exists. It’s at the core of education, health care, housing, banking, elections and the police who are supposed to protect and serve the public.

Police forces were originally created to control slave uprisings or escapes, and that mindset is at their core. Let local law enforcement know that you want change in their training, their disciplinary practices, their transparency. Show your appreciation for their efforts in keeping the peace, and lobby for the re-funding of social services that can more appropriately deal with social issues that don’t require an armed response. Never forget that your taxes pay their salaries.

Institutional racism is at the core of our banking and real estate systems. Red-lining is historically how we keep people “where they belong.” Home ownership is a key asset, and if you get into trouble, you have no way to access funds to help get you back on your feet without assets. Identify minority-owned businesses and patronize them. Ask your own bank how they do inclusive outreach in the community. They need to know white customers care about this, and you can influence change by threatening to move your money to a more community-friendly entity.

People of color often have lower-paid jobs without benefits—particularly health care and savings for retirement. Individuals without health-care coverage are more at risk of illness and earlier death. The disparate rate at which people of color are suffering from COVID-19 is evidence of this. Let your elected representatives know you support everyone having access to both.

Education is supposed to be the means by which we offer equal opportunity to get ahead—but public education is not equal when poor neighborhoods have sub-standard schools. Even if those students get through high school, they’re not able to compete with those who have had the advantage of special prep classes, counseling for college applications and financial assistance. Let your children’s teachers know you want them to teach ALL of our history. Remember that children hear EVERYTHING and learn not just from what you tell them. You have to model the behaviors you want them to emulate. Teach them to recognize bias and to be willing to speak up when they see it.

In our political system, although people of color are now more represented in elected office, suppression of votes is another way our country institutionally limits the ability of those who have been most marginalized from having real power to effect change. You can make a difference by getting involved with a local political organization or the Registrar of Voters.

You need to identify your own personal biases, and there are things you can do to change: Put yourself in situations where you have a chance to interact and listen. Expand your awareness of our history so you can teach others.

Perhaps most important, intervene whenever you hear something that is inappropriate. You can do it quietly and firmly, and it will make a difference. Just know that silence is tacit agreement. Do SOMETHING.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

When Jane Williams was 16, her 13-year-old brother began using drugs and stealing money from the household.

“For four years,” she says, “we lived with a lot of trauma. When my brother was 25, he was heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. He was on the phone with me when he committed suicide. I heard the gunshot. I thought at the time that it was nothing but cruel and horrible, but a therapist once told me that when someone knows they’re going to die, they often contact the people around them who will care. That made it easier for me to handle.”

Williams also has twin sisters, nine years younger. Their mother and father both had master’s degrees in education.

“My mom was a junior-high-school history teacher,” she says, “and she taught me to be strong, to be independent, and to learn to think for and care for myself. I didn’t always live up to that.

“My dad, now deceased, was an elementary-school principal. My parents were always working, so I didn’t spend that much time with them. He didn’t talk to me all that much. I do remember sometimes sitting with my father and just being—just being there with him. Before he died, he did tell me he was sorry and apologized for not supporting me, with all we had been through.”

Williams, now 61, was born in Sweetwater, Texas, but her parents relocated to the Imperial Valley when she was 4 years old.

“I had been a sick child, and my parents were told I’d benefit from the desert climate,” she says. “They had friends who lived in Brawley, so we moved, and I lived in Imperial Valley until 1978.”

After graduating from Imperial High School, Williams attended Imperial Valley College, and then earned her degree in criminal-justice administration from San Diego State.

“I moved to the Coachella Valley in 1978 with my first marriage,” she says, seemingly embarrassed to admit she’s been married twice—until I mention I’ve been married four times, which she responds to with a hearty laugh.

“I have two sons, 39 and 37. My youngest lives in Bermuda Dunes and is married with two children. He has a master’s in social work and is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and also with ABC Recovery Center. My older son lives in Fresno, and after 13 years with the Air Force, he now works for the Department of Defense.”

Williams worked as a probation officer with Riverside County, and as a parole agent with the California Department of Corrections. She retired in 2001.

“I was always proud to be working with my clients, and also with their families,” Williams says. “When someone has been in the system, especially with drug and alcohol problems, it’s gratifying to help them get their lives back on track. They need to learn what they are capable of doing. Having lived the life I’ve lived gives me the opportunity to help them understand they aren’t alone in their journey. I’m still in contact with some of them.”

In 1999, Williams was in an accident on Interstate 10, hitting two cars that had stopped on the freeway—and then getting hit from behind.

“Why I lived, I have no clue,” she says. “The angels were with me. The message that came was, ‘You have more to live in your life. We’re not finished with you.’ … Over time, my body started to atrophy, and I suffered PTSD, which took about three years to get diagnosed.

“Two months after the accident, I started drinking … a lot. Over the time, from the accident until I retired, my body was falling apart physically. I became someone who was angry, isolated, even suicidal. I’ve now been in recovery and sober for six years, and I found a chiropractor who started stretching me and gave me the ability to walk again. I had to redefine myself, and there are relationships within my family that have still not been healed.”

Williams decided to study to become an esthetician and a massage therapist.

“I went to work at a dude ranch in Wyoming for two years, and came back to the desert and bought a home in Indio in 2009,” she says.

But Williams is now doing what she considers her “calling”: She’s a shaman. A shaman is generally thought to be a healer who can bridge the material and spiritual worlds.

“When I was 16,” Williams says, “I had a vision of seeing my best friend in a car accident. That same day, she had three separate accidents. In 2016, I went on what’s known as a ‘guided journey,’ where I felt I had entered a fourth dimension. On that journey, I saw a man pass over, and then three days later, my dad had his stroke and died.

“I knew I had a gift, but I needed to study so that I could share that gift. I did some research, found ‘Be Heaven on Earth’ in Santa Cruz, and went to school there for three years. 

“What I’ve learned is that we tend to put our traumas in a box and store them away, but we have to bring them out in order to heal ourselves. I work with people to help them heal. On several occasions, when someone has been ready to pass over—to die—I’ve found I can help them, and their loved ones, through that process. I’ve actually seen their souls going toward that open space where the light is.

“We’re all connected to the earth, and everything in and on it. It’s our energy source—all interrelated, all interconnected. We just need to learn how to live within that reality. It can be truly beautiful.”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Jimmy Boegle didn’t start out wanting to be a newspaper editor. What he really wanted to do, since the third-grade, was be around baseball.

“I got into journalism while I was in college,” he says, “because I had the athletic ability of a turnip.”

When you first meet Boegle, you get self-deprecating humor, and the idea that he’s a man who is open, warm, gentle, focused—and anything but shy and introverted, even though he insists he is.

“When I was young,” he recalls, “I was tagged very early as gifted and talented, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but I was socially awkward and shy. Even now, put me in a room with lots of people I don’t know, and I’m still shy.”

After graduating from high school in Reno, Nevada, where he was born and raised, Boegle, 45, headed for Stanford University. He decided the way to be part of the sports world was to become a sportswriter for Stanford’s student newspaper, but covering even minor sports required attending all of the games or matches—which took up a lot of time.

“I worked my way through college,” he says, “and couldn’t do that, so I began covering events rather than sports, which didn’t require that kind of schedule.”

Between his junior and senior years of college, Boegle got an internship with the weekly newspaper in Reno, and upon graduation, he began working for The Associated Press in San Francisco.

“I had started dating a girl in my freshman year, and we were engaged, but I knew it was over when she showed up not wearing the ring the day before I graduated,” he says. “I went to work for the AP and was supposed to be there for about five months, and then they would reassess my job. After those five months, I decided to go back to Reno, and got a job with a small daily newspaper in Sparks, Nevada.”

Ah, if only our life stories unrolled in a straight line. With Jimmy Boegle, the back story is full of twists and turns.

“I was an only child,” he says. “My mom and dad had been told they couldn’t have children, so when I came along as their only child, it did lead to some smothering. My mom is still living in the same house we had in Reno since I was 8 years old. She had been a housewife, but later worked as a secretary/assistant for a real-estate appraiser. She would say, ‘If you work hard at anything, you can succeed.’

“My dad was complicated—a rural man, hunter and construction worker. He could be very loving, but also very gruff. He died in 2012, and at his memorial service, it (was a theme) that he would have given the shirt off his back for his friends if they needed it. As we had gotten older, we developed a good relationship.”

Most of Boegle’s friends in high school were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormon church, and he became a member of the church after his freshman year of college.

“Although I had some issues with the church, I saw much good there,” he says.

He said that during his freshman year of college, there was a dorm get-together during which questions were asked for the attendees to get to know one another; if the answer to the question was yes, the attendees were to go to the other side of the room, while if the answer was no (or the attendee didn’t want to answer), the attendee stayed in place. After lots of easy questions, like one’s favorite color, they asked whether attendees were attracted to the same gender.

“I knew I was different all the way back in middle school, but I had never actually known anyone who had come out as gay,” Boegle says. “At that event, seven or eight did, out of maybe 100 there. That got my mind going.”

That event helped Boegle realize he had, in the Mormon church’s terminology, a “same-gender attraction issue.” Still, he decided to try to fight the attraction—until after his engagement ended.

“I’m no longer a member of the church,” he says. “After I admitted to myself who I am, and they were pushing anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives, I couldn’t stay. … I finally told my parents (I was gay); my mom had probably known before I did, and made it clear she loved me anyway. We agreed it was probably better if she told my dad. He wasn’t thrilled with it, but we got past all that.”

In 1999, the Reno paper he had interned with, the Reno News & Review, hired him to come back as their news editor. A short time later, even though he was just 24, the paper made him its editor. Then Sept. 11 rocked the newspaper industry, putting papers at risk all over the country as businesses could not afford to advertise.

“In October of 2001, the paper decided to cut me since I was paid the most (on the editorial staff),” Boegle says. “A month later, I got a job with Las Vegas CityLife as the political reporter and news editor.”

While he was in Las Vegas in 2002, he met a man named Garrett.

“We’re now coming up on 18 years together, five of them married. He is also from Reno, so when we go there, we get to spend time with both of our families,” Boegle says.

“The Tucson Weekly was looking for an editor (around) that time, and although I initially turned it down, they talked me into it. I was there for 10 years, before we came to Palm Springs.”

Boegle has been in Palm Springs since January 2013—when he founded the Coachella Valley Independent, because he saw the need for an independent voice dedicated to local issues and local entertainment. He has recruited writers to cover news, sports, local clubs and restaurants, local musicians and artists, theater productions and movies—and a column to acquaint locals with some of their neighbors. (Ahem.) The CVI is online and distributes a free print edition monthly throughout the Coachella Valley.

Much like what happened after Sept. 11—but far worse—the pandemic has made running a newspaper difficult, with advertising revenue disappearing. On March 13, as the reality of the pandemic was setting in, Boegle began writing a new “Daily Digest” to bring news updates and provide links to helpful information.

“This (the pandemic) is so unprecedented,” he says. “We haven’t faced anything like this since the Great Depression. I’m just trying to get the CVI through this.”

When I ask what motivates Boegle, he answers quickly: “A lot of things. Fear. The support of friends and family. … I’m blessed to know so many amazing people rooting for me to do well.”

Boegle has won many awards for his writing, and CVI has won four national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN). He is currently serving the as membership chair for AAN. For fun, he plays softball, watches the Los Angeles Dodgers, and loves good conversation with friends.

“There’s no better experience in life than sitting down with good friends and having a good meal,” he says.

What’s the best decision Jimmy Boegle ever made?

“Going on a second date with Garrett! On our first date, he kind of creeped me out – he seemed decent, but a little weird.” Now, Boegle says he most prizes Garrett, their cat and the Coachella Valley Independent.

Jimmy Boegle’s athletic ability may have been limited—but his vision for what is possible is playing out in real time.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

When the virus shutdown began, it was difficult for me to acknowledge that I am considered one of the vulnerable ones—someone who’s “elderly.” After all, I know people at least 15 years older than I am who are in great shape, mentally sharp and active.

Then I realized that being considered “vulnerable”—whether one is “elderly,” physically at-risk, or in a dangerous place like a nursing home or prison—should be a term that describes someone society should quickly move to protect.

Well … then I heard the lieutenant governor of Texas talk about how old people should sacrifice themselves so the economy can once again flourish. (At least that was my interpretation of what I heard him say.) Then I heard the president say we’re all “warriors,” like Americans during World War II, and some of us need to be willing to risk death so that the rest of us can feel safe and rebuild our country.

For what it’s worth, I am not expendable! I would die to protect my children or grandchildren, or maybe even somebody else’s kids, but I do not wish to be sacrificed to create a job.

On the other hand, I might kill a total stranger to get my hair cut.

Staying in and staying apart has had a definite effect on me. I’m not totally alone—my boyfriend stays with me, but after more than two months basically inside, there are days I might prefer being alone. You know what I mean.

I keep in touch with friends, sending messages of support and sharing both inspiring videos and hilarious jokes. I spend two to three hours a day on my computer, reading news feeds, responding to emails and checking out Facebook.

And then there’s Forty Thieves solitaire. I’m an addict to crossword puzzles, KenKen puzzles and soduku—and now that I’ve discovered Forty Thieves, I’m hooked. Once I start, I’m determined to beat the game, and that can stretch into hours of time.

I have friends who claim to have completely reorganized their closets (mine are already color-coded), scrupulously cleaned their houses, filled bags of clothes to donate, and baked everything from sourdough bread to cookies. To them, I say: “Shame on you for trying to make the rest of us feel guilty.”

When it comes to being lazy, this shutdown has been a guilt-free gift to me. I’m pretty lazy to begin with. Sure, I do a weekly radio show, write this column every other week, go to the market once a week and read every police procedural upon which I can get my hands. Beyond that, I’m perfectly happy sitting on my couch in front of the TV and watching reruns of everything from CSI to Law and Order, and the previous night’s late-night comedy. (I’m elderly, you see, so I go to bed too early to watch them live.) I have not cleaned out my closets, although I’ve been threatening to for years. My house is dusty—that’s a genteel way of saying I’m not a good housekeeper. I manage to make sure we eat, but my cooking philosophy is that if you can’t just heat it up in the microwave, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Then there’s the crying.

I’ve always cried easily. When everyone stands up to sing “The National Anthem,” I cry. When I see a news story about how people have come together to help someone in need, I cry. When I watch videos of people bring reunited, or nurses and doctors trying to save people’s lives, or anything inspirational, I cry. When Miss America is crowned, I cry (even though I don’t believe in beauty pageants). Moments of togetherness, of families caring for each other, of strangers reaching out to strangers, of individuals putting themselves in harm’s way to help others —it all makes me cry. When I see protesters toting long-arm weapons, or innocent joggers being shot down, or the worldwide numbers of the ill and dying, I cry.

However, EVERYTHING makes me cry right now. When I go to the market and see everyone wearing a mask, I cry. When I see a YouTube video of parents dancing with their children or roughhousing on their living-room rugs, I cry. Intellectually, I know my tears are an expression of the concern, and even depression, that I feel during these perilous times. Knowing that, however, doesn’t stop the tears from flowing. Even things that are absurd or hilariously funny make me cry!

We’re all going through our own adjustments. Some are catching up (remotely, of course) with family members and old friends. Many are reading or playing video games or binge-watching shows they didn’t get to see when they were living “normal” lives. Most of us are sincerely feeling that by staying home, we’re not only protecting ourselves, but others as well.

But a lot of us are also feeling cabin fever. How desperate am I, after more than two months of being stuck in my dusty house with its overcrowded closets? Yes, I enjoy being lazy—but the loss of haircuts and mani-pedi appointments has been shockingly difficult. I have lousy hair, and I can barely comb it myself.

I previously mentioned that I’d kill for a haircut. OK, I wouldn’t really kill anyone. But I might trade my first-born for a mani-pedi. OK, I probably wouldn’t really do that, either. Instead, for now, I’ll just cry.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

I first met Alden West in January when I was helping direct Taking Care of Mimi, a provocative play being produced as a staged reading by the Script to Stage to Screen (S2S2S) theater. West was playing a lead role as a matriarch with dementia whose death leads to a murder investigation—and I couldn’t believe it when West revealed she was 87 years old.

“Eight-seven and a half!” she proudly proclaims.

West, a resident of Sun City in Palm Desert since 2003, was an only child, born in Washington, D.C.

“I figure I can claim any state,” she says with a laugh, “and I was raised all over the country: West Virginia, Detroit, Buffalo, Baltimore, Richmond and New York City. I went to so many different schools, each with its own teaching styles, that when I moved from Buffalo to Baltimore, I found that they had learned script writing in the first-grade, while I hadn’t. I had a little yellow desk at home, and many tears were shed at that desk!

“It was a challenge going to schools in big cities and then in rural areas. I came from Jackson Heights in New York City, where if you bumped into somebody, you’d never say you were sorry. In rural areas, if you bumped into somebody, they’d say they were sorry—they were very polite.”

West’s father worked at Chevrolet, which moved him around a lot; he also served in the Navy during World War II.

“My mom had married early, at age 18, and was a homemaker until the war, when she went to work,” West says. “I was very close to my mother, even when I was a teenager, and I could tell my dad anything. I not only loved my parents; I liked them.

“My dad was a college graduate, and after I graduated high school in Virginia, where we had lived since I was about 11 or 12, I went to Cornell, where both my dad and granddad had gone. I didn’t stay at college, however, because I had promised to marry my first husband, so I left school at Christmas of my sophomore year. If I had stayed in school, I would have majored in theater arts, but I left too soon to declare a major.”

West proudly proclaims that she had three grandparents in Congress.

“My father’s father was a Republican; my mother’s father was a Democrat. Then when my mother’s father passed away, his wife filled out his term. She had to run for it and was elected.”

West’s jobs over the years included retail; she also worked as assistant in a dental office. In 1980, she studied for and got her real estate license. She sold real estate until she moved to Sun City from Hillsborough, Calif.

West started acting in high school, in Falls Church, Va.

“There was a local community theater, and a friend suggested I audition,” West says. “I got a part and was cast as an Eskimo girl, in a full Eskimo costume, doing a hula. I loved it! I did a little acting before I had my children, and I still remember getting my first stage kiss.

“In college, I got the lead part in my freshman year in The Importance of Being Earnest, and in my sophomore year, in The Madwoman of Chaillot. In that one, I actually had to learn how to whistle! I had always been a little shy; I’d cross the street to avoid someone I didn’t know well. What I found was that when I’m onstage, I’m the character.”

West didn’t start acting in earnest until she came to the desert.

“There was a Panhellenic group meeting I attended, and at the end, they announced an audition was being held for some work at local venues,” West says. “They gave me a part, and that gave me confidence. Then Ron Celona (artistic director of Coachella Valley Repertory) cast me in Driving Miss Daisy. I got a nomination from the Desert Theatre League for that part.

“After that,” she laughs, “I tried out for all the old-lady parts!”

West has subsequently earned more nominations and several wins from the Desert Theatre League—including the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“When I went up to get the lifetime award, I said, ‘I feel like this is the gold watch,’ but then I thought, ‘You people probably don’t even know what I’m talking about.’” Again, she laughs heartily.

West never formally studied acting, although she has taken some courses locally. She says she can’t do “method acting,” in which an actor digs into personal experience to present a realism-based performance. “I try to think of what is written and who that character is. I try to figure out how that character would deal with the situation being portrayed.

“Truth is, it’s getting more difficult to memorize lines. Sometimes, there’s a word I just can’t get, and I have to substitute one. Lately, I’m noticing that I can only be friends with someone who can complete my sentences,” she says, again with a laugh. “I always have to respond to what’s written and what’s happening onstage in that moment.”

Respond, she does. In the show I helped direct with Script to Stage to Screen, West portrayed an aging woman whose family is at odds about her condition. West’s ability to become that woman and respond to what was happening around her, even when she had no dialogue, was astounding.

West has three children—two daughters and a son. Her second marriage began in 1960 and lasted until her husband died in 2011.

“I’m lucky to have two of my children living fairly close, and the third has a place in Mexico, so it’s a great place for a getaway,” she says.

Does West have a guilty pleasure? “Sweets,” she answers immediately. “My kids tell me I’m indecisive, but I’ll take a cookie over a drink any day.”

How has the current stay-at-home policy affected West? “Being an only child, I’ve had no problem at all,” she says. “I walk every day and do my cardio exercises. I’m used to being alone. I even prefer it sometimes. I’ve learned to adapt to whatever is going on.”

That is a reaction worth emulating.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs weekdays on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

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