CVIndependent

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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

We are living in unprecedented times, as far as national politics is concerned.

This thought kept coming to mind as I read the latest installment of Democracy in Crisis published by the Independent. Writer Baynard Woods, simply and briefly, lays out 13 anecdotes that show how authoritarianism is on the rise in our country.

Reporters arrested. Protesters arrested. Conflicts of interest being flouted and going unchecked. Sigh.

However, there’s at least one silver lining I’m finding in all the chaos: It’s clear that great journalism is alive and well in the United States.

Some of the reporting we’ve seen from The New York Times and the Washington Post, just for starters, has been amazing. In recent weeks, these papers exposed the fact that our president apparently revealed classified information to the Russians—jeopardizing, at the very least, relationships with countries with whom we partner on intelligence. They reported that our president apparently asked our FBI director to lay off of an investigation of him—before the president would go on to fire that very FBI director.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles Times in April published an unprecedented six-part editorial series titled “Our Dishonest President,” which made the clear case that Donald Trump is unfit for office.

As always, smaller news outlets are doing great work, too. Take Democracy in Crisis as an example; it’s a joint project of alternative papers around the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent.

While it’s inspiring and amazing to see all of this great journalism, it’s important to point out that these aforementioned newspapers are operating with a fraction of the resources they had, say, 10 or 15 years ago.

That’s why it’s vital that you support great journalism: Buy a newspaper subscription, or two, or three. Advertise. Pay for online articles. It costs money to do well-reported, well-written, well-edited stories.

In that vein, if you like what the Independent is doing, consider throwing a few bucks our way. Both our print version and CVIndependent.com have always been and always will be free to all—but you can join our Supporters of the Independent program for just $10, or even less. Find details at CVindependent.com/supporters.

By the way, pick up the June 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week and early next week. As always, thanks for reading—and if you have thoughts or feedback, email me anytime.

Published in Editor's Note

One of the biggest issues of the Palm Springs city election back in 2015 was the ever-increasing amount of homelessness in downtown Palm Springs.

While I think the Palm Springs City Council has done an admirable job, more or less, since that November 2015 election, the City Council has done a flat-out awful job of addressing homelessness.

Make sure you read Brian Blueskye’s excellent piece on the state of the homelessness problem in the Coachella Valley. As Brian notes, the problem is getting worse—especially on the west side of the valley—and it’s going to become a full-blown crisis when Roy’s Resource Center, the only west side shelter for the homeless, closes its doors at the end of June.

That means 90 people are going to lose their only shelter—in the midst of the summer heat.

In other news: I also recommend you read Baynard Woods’ recent “Democracy in Crisis” dispatch. It’s a wonderful piece of writing, and one point that Baynard makes has haunted me ever since I first read it: Many critics of President Trump heaped effusive praise on him—for the first time—after he ordered an April 7 missile strike in Syria, following the use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan Shaykhun three days prior. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria even went so far as to say that the missile strike marked the moment when “Trump became president of the United States.”

Putting aside the question of whether or not the missile strikes were the right thing to do: What does it say about our country when a violent act of war, justified or not, is the ONE thing that made Donald Trump suddenly become “presidential”?

I’ve been pondering that question now for almost three weeks. I am not at all happy about any of the answers I’ve been able to come up with.

Anyway … for those of you dismayed by the troubling nature of the aforementioned stories, never fear: As always, the Independent has plenty of happy, positive arts, food and music coverage that’ll make you feel a bit better about things.

As always, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and be sure to pick up the May 2017 print edition, being distributed valley-wide this week

Published in Editor's Note

A few weeks back, a fantastic discussion ignited in one of the alternative-newsmedia e-mail groups to which I belong. The topic was readership campaigns—advertising campaigns by newspapers to promote themselves to their own readers.

Some of the slogans being used in these campaigns are brilliant—especially the ones created by our friends at The Austin Chronicle in Texas.

You need us. We need you. Support free press. Read us, follow us, advertise with us.

No news is bad news. We need each other.

Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake. We report the news at no cost to you, and no matter the cost to us.

We here at the Independent will be, uh, “borrowing” some of these ideas (with The Austin Chronicle’s blessing, of course).

These truly are unprecedented times in which we’re living. The attacks on the press by the Trump administration are simply shocking. Beyond the insults and slights, Trump and other members of his administration are picking and choosing which reporters get basic access—of course, less-critical media sources get dibs—that is, if any reporters get access.

(The same thing happens on the local level. We recently reached out to Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon to talk about the downtown redevelopment project and its current entanglements; we got a response from the city PR person saying Moon and other city officials were not giving any interviews regarding the criminal proceedings involving the downtown redevelopment project. Three weeks later, Moon and others sat down with KMIR for a special regarding these very topics. Apparently, Moon and the city PR folks feared what types of questions we’d ask. Read more here.)

On the positive side, these unprecedented times have forced many media sources to drop the outdated, dishonest myth of “objectivity,” and instead start calling, as the saying goes, a spade a spade. It’s been downright refreshing to see CNN, The New York Times and other mainstream media sources start calling lies, well, lies. Sometimes, there is no “other side” to a story. Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake.

As another of those Austin Chronicle ads says … we really do need you. Without our readers, the Independent is just paper or pixels. I hope you feel like you need us, too. Please, tell your friends about us. Give us feedback. Support our advertisers—and tell them you saw their ad in the Independent. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, please go to CVIndependent.com/Supporters and sign up for our Supporters of the Independent program.

The April 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent—our special Music Issue—is hitting streets valley-wide this week. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me.

Published in Editor's Note

We put the finishing touches on the March print issue on Thursday, Feb. 16. (Yeah, it was a little earlier than normal, because February is a short month, and we have a narrow window with our printer.)

That particular day was, to say the least, a completely bonkers news day. On a local level, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin announced he was filing corruption charges against former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney. According to Hestrin, Pougnet took in $375,000 in bribes. All of a sudden, the status of Palm Springs’ big downtown redevelopment project is very much up in the air.

Meanwhile, on the national level, the president held a press conference during which he sounded completely unhinged—a term I do not use lightly.

He claimed he inherited a mess from the previous administration. He said his administration was a “fine-tuned machine.” He viciously attacked the press for reporting on various leaks from his administration. He called reports that his campaign advisers were in contact with Russia “fake news.”

The New York Times, which is generally rather restrained, put it this way: “The session was marked by an extraordinarily raw and angry defense the likes of which has never been seen in a modern White House. At times abrupt, often rambling, characteristically boastful yet seemingly pained at the portrayals of him, Mr. Trump seemed intent on reproducing the energy and excitement of his campaign after a month of grinding governance. He returned repeatedly to his contest with Hillary Clinton and at one point plaintively pleaded for understanding.”

Holy shit.

This brings us to this March 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, which is hitting streets now. While the news on the Palm Springs corruption charges broke too close to deadline for us to cover them in any meaningful way—watch for that later—we did include two features in our expanded news section about the mess that is the 45th president’s administration, which you can read online here and here.

Meanwhile, for the second straight month, we’re featuring art—in a big way—on our cover. Why would we do this two months in a row? Well, this month’s subjects—the La Quinta Arts Festival, and the brand-new Desert X—are fantastic. Just for starters, did you know the La Quinta Arts Foundation has given out $1.23 million in scholarships to local young artists over the years? Wow.

Thanks, as always, for reading the Independent, and be sure to pick up March 2017 print edition at one of 380-plus valley locations.

Published in Editor's Note

If you’re like me, the recent political and societal climate has got you down.

Well, thank goodness our lovely valley is doing its part to offer plenty of mood-improving distractions.

Every February, art takes center stage in Palm Springs, thanks to the Art Palm Springs fair (which is rapidly growing) and Modernism Week (which already really huge). Not-so-coincidentally, we here at the Independent have a tradition of bringing you a selection of stories every February previewing these awesome events.

In the February print edition (hitting streets this week), and next week at CVIndependent.com, Brian Blueskye will bring you a fantastic article on the Royal Hawaiian Estates. This little Polynesian-themed south Palm Springs complex has a fascinating history—and even more fascinating architecture. It’s also the site of one of Modernism Week’s biggest parties.

Also in the new print edition and online next week, Nicole Borgenicht has two companion pieces that show the local side of Art Palm Springs: She talks to owners of two local galleries about what they have in store for the fair, and two local artists whose work will be on display at the fair.

Modernism Week and Art Palm Springs are just the tip of the figurative iceberg as far as Coachella Valley arts events go. This weekend brings the Southwest Arts Festival to Indio, while March brings the La Quinta Arts Festival. Of course, April is dominated by two weekends of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—you know it simply as Coachella—and one weekend of the country-tinged Stagecoach Festival.

Now … about that aforementioned political and societal climate: Starting tomorrow at CVIndependent.com, the Independent will publish a new regular column by veteran alt-media scribe Baynard Woods. “Democracy in Crisis” will focus its watchful eye on the actions of the Trump administration. And, man, is there a lot to watch.

In the meantime, I hope the Independent continues to inform you, enlighten you and entertain you.

Be sure to grab the aforementioned February 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, coming to a location near you (if it’s not already there). As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or feedback, please drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Editor's Note

I wish were using this space to discuss the results of the third annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll—and explain how we received an all-time-high number of votes, and gush about how proud I am that our list of winners and finalists represents all parts of the valley.

I wish I were using this space to discuss the inaugural Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week—and tell you all about how the week was an amazing success that featured amazing cocktails, lots of fun and thousands of dollars going to two amazing charities.

However, I feel compelled to instead discuss the president-elect of the United States.

Barring something freaky coming out of the proposed recounts and challenges, and despite the popular-vote results, it’s undeniable: Donald Trump won, fair and square. He deserves significant credit for confounding the experts and the establishment, and for tapping into and exploiting the serious concerns and pain being felt by many people across this great country.

However, that does not mean that his behavior during the campaign can or should be forgotten or forgiven.

Just like it’s undeniable that Trump won, fair and square, it’s also undeniable that he said and did some despicable things on his way to that win. He mocked the disabled. He demeaned women. He threatened the rights of LGBT individuals. He said things about Mexicans, Muslims and African Americans that were flat-out racist. He demonized the media. And by doing all of these awful things, he sent a message to racists, sexists and other haters across the country that it’s OK to feel and act that way.

As a small-business owner, I am petrified about what Trump could do to the economy. As a caring human, I am fearful of what he, his surrogates and his fans could do to Muslims, women, refugees and anyone else who is not a straight white man. As a reporter and journalist, I am downright pissed about the crap he’s said about the media—specifically newspapers that have exposed his lies, his deception and his wrongdoing.

However, I am not just petrified, fearful and pissed off. I am also motivated.

Since we published our first articles online more than four years ago, the mission statement of the Coachella Valley Independent has included this statement: We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.

We and the rest of the country’s alternative media are on alert. We realize that our work is more important than ever. We’re watching.

By the way, pick up the December 2016 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets all across the valley this week. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

One of my favorite idioms, often attributed to President John F. Kennedy, is: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

This phrase came to mind one recent morning when I woke up to an email from a manager at a local business. He had agreed to participate in an event with the Independent on the day before, but then changed his mind when he realized the event has an advertising element.

“We have never paid for advertising, and we never will,” the manager wrote.

That phrase, frankly, pissed me off. After all, advertising is what keeps the lights on here at the Independent, and it funds all of the journalism that we do here.

My response to him: “I’m a bit befuddled when you say (your business) ‘never will’ advertise. Seeing as I’ve put every dime (and then some) I have into creating a local business that tries to cover our valley in an ethical, honest, meaningful and substantial way, I’m confused as to why (your business) would categorically rule out supporting my business, when I’ve supported (your business) with my dollars plenty over the years.”

Of course, not all businesses can or should advertise with the Independent (or any other media source, for that matter), and a simple “no thanks” wouldn’t have bothered me in the least. What did bother me is the blanket statement; I read it as saying, more or less: We will never support your business under any circumstances.

On a personal level, I’ll most likely take my dollars elsewhere—to businesses that believe in and support what we do here at the Independent.

Because, well, a rising tide lifts all boats.


In other news, we’ve recently launched two brand-new columns.

In the Opinion section, veteran local writer and broadcaster Steve Kelly is now writing a sports column for us. You can read his inaugural piece, on College of the Desert’s athletic director, Gary Plunkett, here.

As for the Food and Drink section, give a hearty welcome to Kevin Carlow and his new cocktails column. His debut column, on the yumminess of mescal, can be found here.

Be sure to pick up the November 2016 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent; it’s hitting streets this week. Not only is it our annual special Pride Issue; it includes the program for the Independent’s Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week, taking place Nov. 11-19.

Happy Pride; enjoy Craft Cocktail Week; and as always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

October has always been a special month for us here at the Coachella Valley Independent, because it was in October three years ago that we moved from a quarterly print schedule to become a monthly in print.

Well, now it’s time for us to take another big step: The Coachella Valley Independent will spend the month of October finalizing the details of our first signature event.

Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week will take place Nov. 11-19. Bars and restaurants valley-wide will be invited to create a special craft cocktail, and offer it for sale for $6 during those nine days. Bars and restaurants will be asked to donate at least $2 from the sales of that special cocktail to our charities: The LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Community Food Bank, and the Desert AIDS Project’s Food Depot.

The week will also include a variety of events. Participating restaurants and bars will be invited to offer special cocktail classes and cocktail-paired meals—and celebrate the art of the cocktail in any way they choose.

We’ll also be holding two major events during Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week. Our Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Competition will feature various valley bartenders competing to see who can create the most delicious drink without using any liquor or spirits. After all, people who don’t drink alcohol shouldn’t just be stuck with coffee, tea, juice or soda, right?

The biggest event of them all will take place the evening of Thursday, Nov. 17: The Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Competition will be held at the Purple Palms Restaurant at the gorgeous Colony Palms Hotel. Local comedian Shann Carr will host as eight of the Coachella Valley’s top bartenders and mixologists battle it out in the Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Cocktail Championship. Attendees and an esteemed panel of judges will both vote to determine the winners. (Yes, attendees will get to try all of the cocktails!)

More details will unfold in the month to come; visit pscraftcocktails.com for updates. Also, be sure to pick up the November edition of the Independent, which will feature a special pullout section explaining everything about the event.

If you know of a bar or restaurant that should be involved, drop me a line at the email address below!

In the meantime … you might have heard that an election is approaching. We have done a whole lot of election coverage—with even more yet to come. In fact, our election coverage is on the cover of our October print edition, which is hitting streets valley-wide this week.

As always, thanks for reading, and please email me with any feedback you may have.

Published in Editor's Note

There are many alternative-newspaper editors out there who would take one look the story we put on the cover of our September print edition and instantly declare that I, your humble editor, am a total moron.

Stories about water-district boards, as a general rule, don’t sell newspapers. (Thank goodness the Independent is free, right?) So why, you might ask, did I decide to put a story about a water-district board on one of the only 12 covers the Independent has in year?

The answer is simple: This mundane-sounding story is really important.

It’s important for Coachella Valley residents to know that until two years ago, white people basically made up the entire board of the Coachella Valley Water District, the valley’s largest water agency, even though a third of the residents within the CVWD are Latino. It’s vital to know that many people within the CVWD boundaries don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water—largely because these people were never on the minds of the CVWD board members.

It’s crucial for the public to understand that while positive changes seem to finally be coming to the Coachella Valley Water District, there’s a lot of work to do—and it’s the public’s job to make sure that work actually gets done.

So … that’s why Kevin Fitzgerald’s excellent-if-not-so-sexy story on Castulo Estrada and his work on the CVWD board is on the cover for September. (Thank goodness designer Mark Duebner is talented enough to come up with a compelling piece of cover art, no matter the story!)

In completely unrelated news: It’s Best of Coachella Valley time again! Voting is now open in the first round of our annual readers’ poll. For more details, head to our Best of Coachella Valley page!

Be sure to follow the rules; for example, you have to vote in at least 15 categories; you need to put down your full name; and you need to provide a real, working email address. (If our test email bounces, we delete the ballot!) If we see more than a handful ballots coming from the same IP address, we’ll investigate to make sure the electronic ballot box is not being stuffed.

First-round voting takes place through Monday, Sept. 26. After that, the top three to five vote-getters in each category will advance to the final-round vote, which takes place throughout October. The winners and placement of the other finalists will be announced here at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 28, and in the December print edition. Email me if you have any questions!

As always, thanks for reading. Also: Be sure to pick up a copy of the September 2016 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets throughout the valley this week!

Published in Editor's Note

When we decided to put a story about police-involved killings on the cover of our July print edition, we had no idea that the month would be dominated by news about police-involved killings—and the killings of police.

Yet that’s exactly what happened. The deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., sparked yet more outrage about the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officers. The country watched in horror as Micah Johnson mowed down police officers who were watching over a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, killing five officers and injuring nine other officers and two bystanders. Then came the murder of three law enforcement officers, and the wounding of three others, again in Baton Rouge, La., by Gavin Long.

These terrible deaths prove, yet again, that our country has some deep and serious problems. Way, way too many people are dying at the hands of law enforcement. On the flip side, while the vast majority of police officers in this country are fantastic, some troubled souls view all cops as being bad. And, of course, systemic racism is alive and well.

None of these problems will be solved overnight—especially considering the fact that one of this country’s two major parties is pushing an agenda that marginalizes LGBT Americans, Mexican immigrants, Muslims and many others. Sadly, more blood will be spilled before things get better.

That’s not to say there’s no reason for optimism. That aforementioned July cover story was about the fact that for the first time ever, the country has access to the fairly complete Fatal Encounters database of law-enforcement-related deaths—and that data can be analyzed and used to create better public policy.

It’s also important to note that violent-crime rates are much, much lower today—about two-thirds lower, in fact—than they were in the early 1990s. So even though it may not seem like it at times, our society today is way safer than it used to be.

Finally, despite all of the political rancor, many amazing people are working hard to unite us and develop understanding. For example, there’s Tizoc DeAztlan, a young local Democrat who’s working with his friend Hugh Van Horn, former president of the Coachella Valley Young Republicans, to hold a series of “Perspectives” discussion groups. Anita Rufus recently wrote about him in her Know Your Neighbors column; read that here.

You can also read Anita’s column in the August 2016 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, which is being distributed across the valley and High Desert this week. Enjoy, please, and drop me a line if you have any questions or comments.

Published in Editor's Note