CVIndependent

Sun10202019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Local Issues

18 Jul 2019
The Grub Plug food truck was parked by the Oasis Street curb in front of the College of the Desert’s Indio campus late in the day on a Tuesday. The city of Indio’s Community Development Department (ICD) was offering the first 120 visitors to their Indio Specific Plan open house—taking place in the college’s main-building lobby—a free food-truck meal, along with the chance to learn information on how to start a food-truck business of one’s own. All the ICD team wanted in return was for each visitor to walk through the display of a half-dozen white boards placed on easels, depicting photos and artist renderings of residential, entertainment-venue and business building options. Visitors were asked to place a colored dot on the images they most liked or disliked. Judging from the lengthy lines both inside and next to the Grub Plug truck, the marketing strategy was a success, as Kevin…
10 Jul 2019
Heather Williams knew as a kid that she wanted to be a piano teacher. She earned her music degree with a piano emphasis from Brigham Young University and spent decades honing her craft. Today, she not only runs her own academy near Sacramento, offering private lessons with a special certification in the Suzuki method of instruction; she also teaches in public schools, though she lacks a state teaching credential. How? Via a loophole that lets charter schools skip some of the credentialing required of teachers in traditional public-school classrooms. The exception has allowed Williams to offer music instruction to homeschool charter students and to group classes in brick-and-mortar charters such as the Sacramento-based California Montessori Project network. Proponents say it encourages enrichment in that privately-run sector of the public-school system. In recent months, however—like many state rules that apply to charters—it has drawn legislative attention. And influential lawmakers say it…
27 Jun 2019
California government’s technology drastically pales in comparison to that from Silicon Valley, but Gov. Gavin Newsom is betting $40.8 million and a new office will change that. Even though California is home to innovative tech giants like Google and Apple, its government historically has used technology that can’t handle simple tasks—like accepting a credit card at the DMV, or in some cases, offering fully functioning websites. To combat this stark digital divide, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed the Office of Digital Innovation. Funding is tucked into the budget starting July 1. Can a new office and $40.8 million fix a decades-long problem? That depends on who you ask. Newsom won enough legislative support to get the funding approved. But observers remain skeptical as to what the office can actually accomplish given entrenched bureaucracy. Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, a Whittier Democrat, counts himself as one of Newsom’s supporters and said he…
23 May 2019
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The California Indian Nations College is celebrating its first year of offering unique higher-education courses to local Native Americans students. While the school didn’t start offering courses until the fall of 2018, its genesis occurred in 2015, when Theresa Mike began meeting with local tribal leaders and academic leaders in Southern California. While there are currently 37 accredited tribal colleges in the United States, there is not one in California. In 2017, CINC received seed funding from the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. The school’s partners include College of the Desert; the University of California, Riverside; and CSU-San Bernardino. The college’s offices are on the UCR Palm Desert Campus. T. Robert Przeklasa, CINC’s vice president of academic affairs, said the college fills a disconcerting need. “The latest figures were put out in 2016. CSU-San Marcos’ California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center put out figures that showed in California and…
21 May 2019
Local news reports as of late have included alarming updates on a spate of disputes that have cropped up involving local water agencies. For example, there’s the outrage expressed by the Desert Hot Springs-area’s Mission Springs Water District over what it refers to as the west valley-area Desert Water Agency’s “seizure” of groundwater management. Or perhaps you saw a headline regarding the Imperial Irrigation District’s concern over the recent legislative action taken by local Assemblymember Chad Mayes (right). His Assembly Bill 854 proposed forcing the IID to expand its board of directors from five to 11 members, with the six new members all coming from Riverside County, whose IID electricity customers pay 60 percent of IID’s power-related revenues. Currently, only Imperial County constituents elect the IID board members, which leaves Riverside County customers with no voice in their power company’s operations. Then there’s the biggest local water dispute—which began in…
16 May 2019
In the past decade, California has adopted more than a half-dozen laws intended to prevent bullying, strengthen suicide prevention and cultivate inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ students in the state’s public schools. But the state’ school districts are implementing these new laws inconsistently, according to a sweeping report-card-style analysis from the Equality California Institute. As an emotional, hours-long hearing last week on statewide sex-education guidance underscored last week at the state Board of Education, California has been slow in general to fully embrace new laws aimed at deterring discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, along with those questioning their sexual identities. Public middle and high schools were required to follow the sex-ed laws in the California Healthy Youth Act beginning in 2016, but the state Board of Education just last week approved a new framework for teaching sex education. The state board came up with the framework—teaching recommendations…
18 Apr 2019
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When Senate Bill 239 took effect last year, it made knowingly spreading the HIV virus a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Opponents of the bill, which was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown, were furious, speculating it could lead to an increase in HIV transmissions. However, people on the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS said the new law was a much-needed step in the right direction, considering treatment and prevention methods have changed significantly since the AIDS epidemic began in 1981. “If you criminalize HIV, it discourages people from getting tested,” said Carl Baker, the director of legal and legislative affairs for the Desert AIDS Project. “Under the old statute, if you didn’t know your status, you didn’t commit a crime (if you passed the HIV virus to someone else). It was better to be dumb and spread the disease than to be smart and prevent…
26 Mar 2019
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Antisemitism and other forms of racial hatred are on the rise—and Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs is taking a stand with the Interfaith Service to Stop Hate, taking place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 29. During a recent phone interview, organizer Bob Weinstein explained the goal of the service. “There’s been a tremendous spike in the hate of minorities, with Jews being shot dead in their houses of worship, and African Americans being persecuted in the streets,” Weinstein said. “Even in Palm Springs, we had an incident with the Black History Parade … where someone from the parade was attacked by a racist. “The LGBT community is systematically being attacked. We have a very polarizing situation today where minorities are being viciously persecuted across the country and around the world. A Jewish person can’t walk down the streets of Paris without being attacked. What I wanted to do to combat…
21 Mar 2019
The flood the Coachella Valley experienced on Valentine’s Day will not soon be forgotten—and the scars it left will be visible for a long time. The severity of the event was framed for us by the facts presented by Marcus Fuller, the assistant city manager and city engineer for Palm Springs, in an email sent after we requested an interview. On that day: • The Palm Springs Airport received 3.69 inches of rain—“almost all the rainfall we receive normally in an entire year, (which) was reported as the third-highest volume of single-day rainfall in our (recorded) history.” • “Riverside County Flood Control reports that rainfall totals in the Mount San Jacinto area (Idyllwild) reached over 9 inches, and (it) was considered a ‘100-year event.’” • “The storm was also warm, and there was no snowfall on Mount San Jacinto. The rainfall melted the prior snow accumulations, generating more runoff into…
30 Jan 2019
As a publicly traded corporation, Pacific Gas and Electric reported $17.1 billion a year in revenues from its electric and gas operations. After operating costs, expenses and taxes, it still made out with a profit of $1.7 billion last year. So why has California’s largest utility filed for bankruptcy? PG&E may be solvent, but it is facing a cash-flow problem as a byproduct of $30 billion in potential liabilities from a series of catastrophic wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018. In the company’s own words, the board has determined Chapter 11 “is ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E’s financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers.” “A company the size of PG&E needs access to the capital markets, and right now, it’s under stress,” said Robert Labate, a San Francisco bankruptcy attorney with Holland and Knight, which has clients that do business…