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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Features

04 May 2018
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Cleve Jones has been at the forefront of the fight for gay rights since the 1970s. Today, he continues to speak out—and will be honored with the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast on Friday, May 18. The critically acclaimed 2008 film Milk, and the 2017 ABC miniseries When We Rise—which was based on Jones’ memoir—have featured portrayals of Jones and his role as an activist and organizer. In fact, portions of When We Rise take place in Palm Springs, where Jones used to live. “One thing that’s interesting about Palm Springs is that when we look around the country, and also in Canada and Europe, we see that the traditional ‘gayborhoods,’ like the Castro in San Francisco, are going away,” Jones said. “One of the few exceptions to this seems to be in Palm Springs, which is getting gayer and…
12 Mar 2018
Government transparency laws like the Freedom of Information Act exist to enforce the public’s right to inspect records so we can all figure out what in the heck is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. But when a public agency ignores, breaks or twists the law, one’s recourse varies by jurisdiction. In some states, when an official improperly responds to your public records request, you can appeal to a higher bureaucratic authority or seek help from an ombudsperson. In most states, you can take the dispute to court. Public shaming and sarcasm, however, are tactics that can be applied anywhere. The California-based news organization Reveal tweets photos of chickpeas or coffee beans to represent each day a FOIA response is overdue, and asks followers to guess how many there are. The alt-weekly DigBoston has sent multiple birthday cakes and edible arrangements to local agencies on the…
19 Feb 2018
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HIV is no longer a death sentence: Today, most people with the virus—as long as they receive proper medical care—will live long and productive lives. However, the amazing medical advances that have allowed for this have led to a new challenge: an increasingly large number of older people who are living with the virus. The Desert AIDS Project was the first HIV/AIDS organization of its kind in the nation when it was founded by community volunteers in 1984. Today, it’s a federally qualified health center that serves anyone in need, regardless of HIV status—and a lot of DAP’s clients are older people who were diagnosed with the virus in the 1980s and 1990s. “We’ve learned a lot since 1984,” said Jack Bunting, the public relations specialist for the Desert AIDS Project. “… We all know with the advances in pharmacology that people aren’t dying of this anymore. Now, we have…
26 Dec 2017
Every year as of late has seemingly brought about a major change to the CareerBuilder Challenge, the Coachella Valley’s annual PGA Tour event. The latest big change: In early September 2017, Lagardere Sports acquired complete operational control of the golf tournament. In some years, golf’s biggest names have not bothered to visit our backyard for the January event—even though the tournament’s lineage stretches back to the heyday of the Bob Hope Classic. This latest rendition does not even aspire to reclaim the star-studded glitz and glamour associated with its history. That’s what Jeff Sanders, the newly appointed executive director of the CareerBuilder Challenge (and the executive vice president of Lagardere Golf Sports events) said when I spoke with him recently about the tourney, currently played on three courses in La Quinta: the PGA West’s Stadium and Jack Nicklaus Tournament courses, as well as the La Quinta Country Club. “Forty-five years…
28 Nov 2017
As the turbulent year of 2017 churns toward its conclusion, you may be looking for a place to grab a dose of the Christmas spirit. I found a place—the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs, which administers the Meals on Wheels program for the Coachella Valley. “We just put our Christmas ‘giving tree’ up,” said Ginny Foat, the executive director of the center. “Our Meals on Wheels drivers—who are professionally trained full-time employees and not volunteers—come back from their routes and give us the names of clients who are just really poor. We sent each of those poorest clients a flier asking them what they wanted for the holidays. When they send us their wish list, we attach them to ornaments which we hang on the ‘giving tree.’ Then, people voluntarily come and pick an ornament and go out and buy specifically for that one person. The kind of lists…
30 Oct 2017
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After the 2016 election saw Donald Trump and Mike Pence take the White House, LGBT movements across the country have made some 2017 pride celebrations much more political. However, this year’s Greater Palm Springs Pride, taking place Nov. 3-5, will be just like it has been in recent years. However, don’t be surprised if some of the participants take on more of a political, Trump-resisting tone. Greater Palm Springs Pride president Ron deHarte said he’s definitely noticed a heightened political tone at some pride celebrations. “There may be a few places where the ‘resist’ movement took a greater voice in the city over traditional pride marches or celebrations,” deHarte said. “Those, compared to the hundreds of pride events that occur across the country, have been few versus a majority. “What we’re seeing is that there is a need to raise awareness across the country and prevent the LGBT voice from…
24 Oct 2017
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Last year, when I went to Sanctuary Palm Springs—a transitional housing program for LGBT young adults coming out of foster care—co-founder David Rothmiller told me a fantastic story about a young man named Henry Lucena. Henry was 18, straight and transitioning out of foster care. He’d contacted Sanctuary looking for help—but Sanctuary was not yet open. Rothmiller wasn’t sure what to do. Let’s skip ahead to today: Henry is now an entrepreneur and college student, living in a happy Palm Springs home with his adoptive father, Harry Courtright, a gay man who is a retired library administrator. Now let’s go back to the start of the story, when Henry was 8 years old. “I was taken away from my birth parents,” Henry said. “I lived with my foster parents, and it wasn’t the best living situation. I didn’t feel like I was being treated right. I didn’t feel any love…
26 Sep 2017
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Have you ever tried starting your day with ice cream instead of coffee? I have … many times. The cold treat wakes me up, and its sugar gets me going. Hallelujah! But how about starting your day with ice cream made without sugar—ice cream which tastes good while being good for you? Yeah, sure. We’ve heard that empty promise before. However, local culinary guru Les Starks insists the promise is not empty. Starks—who calls Snow Creek (located off Highway 111, 13 miles west of downtown Palm Springs) home—recently published a new book, Sweet Without Sugar: Ice Cream That’s Good for You. The secret, according to the Starks’ book, is to make ice cream with stevia instead of sugar. “Stevia is a plant native to Paraguay,” Starks said. “The Guarani Indians of Paraguay have consumed stevia for over 1,500 years. Stevia has zero calories and is super-sweet.” However, the use of…
18 Jul 2017
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A couple of years ago, Damon Rubio found himself at a career crossroads. The executive vice president at UltraStar Cinemas had been with the company for more than 15 years, and in the movie-theater business since 1991. However, the owners of the company were getting older and had started selling off locations—so Rubio knew his time with UltraStar would be coming to a close. “I had to decide: Did I want to work for someone else, or take the plunge and do something for myself?” he said. He didn’t want to move his family out of Southern California, and he’d maxed out his career opportunities in the area, more or less—so he decided to take that plunge. UltraStar had been managing the Mary Pickford Theatre and the nearby Desert Cinemas, the former IMAX theater, in Cathedral City. However, the lease came to an end last year, so Rubio went straight…
13 Mar 2017
A thick fog is rolling in over Sunshine Week (March 12-18), the annual event when government transparency advocates raise awareness about the importance of access to public records. We are entering an age when officials at the highest levels seek to discredit critical reporting with “alternative facts,” “fake news” slurs and selective access to press conferences—while making their own claims without providing much in the way to substantiate them. But no matter how much the pundits claim we’re entering a “post-truth” era, it is crucial we defend the idea of proof. Proof is in the bureaucratic paper trails. Proof is in the accounting ledgers, the legal memos, the audits and the police reports. Proof is in the data. When it comes to government actions, that proof is often obtained by leveraging laws like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state-level public records laws—except when government officials seek to ignore…

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