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Politics

23 May 2014
Mark Twain was one of the first to publicly sing the praises of the California red-legged frog. Back in 1867, in a short story titled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” he wrote about a fellow “by the name of Jim Smiley … He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal’klated to edercate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump.” In 2014, the ancestors of that exceptionally “edercated” California red-legged frog became the catalyst for a local educational experience involving Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez, and some inspirational students and faculty members at Salton City’s Sea View Elementary School: fifth-grade student Samantha Lambarena; sixth-grade…
04 Mar 2014
Last April, partisanship reached new extremes in the Montana Legislature. Democratic lawmakers, shouting and pounding their desks, drowned out the Republican majority’s attempts to read Senate Bill 408. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, called the partisan warfare “worse than Washington, D.C.” The bill, which passed on a party-line vote, sent to the November 2014 ballot a referendum that will let Montanans choose to replace party-based primaries with a top-two system: Rather than advancing the Republican, Democratic and third-party primary winners to general elections, top-two systems require all candidates to face off in a single primary. The two most-popular candidates advance, regardless of party. (Even though Bullock opposed the measure, referendum bills don’t need to be signed by the governor in Montana.) Washington state implemented the…
21 Feb 2014
It’s going to be a busy election year in the Coachella Valley. Residents of Rancho Mirage will kick things off with a municipal election on April 8, before the spotlight moves to the hotly contested big-name races. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat, will be opposed by Republican State Assemblymember Brian Nestande in a fierce battle that could help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. And Gov. Jerry Brown will be seeking his second term as the 39th governor of California against an as-yet-undetermined Republican candidate. Down the ballot a bit is the election for Riverside County District 4 supervisor, featuring Republican incumbent John Benoit, and Democrat V. Manuel Perez, who is currently serving as the state assemblymember for the…
24 Jan 2014
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There is no question that the city of Desert Hot Springs is in financial trouble: The city is facing a deficit of $6 million or more. However, bankruptcy is off the table, as far as the newly elected mayor, Adam Sanchez, is concerned. Sanchez was elected to the DHS City Council in 2011, and ran for mayor against incumbent Yvonne Parks in 2013. Sanchez won by the narrowest of margins—12 votes. During a recent interview with the Independent, Sanchez discussed the economic issues that Desert Hot Springs faces, as well as his plans for the city, and his first month in office. “It feels like it’s been a year,” Sanchez said. “I think the obvious reason why is because one day after the election, we’re…
03 Jun 2013
Over the last decade in the Coachella Valley (and Riverside County overall), there has been a seismic political shift that is not related to the proximity of the San Andreas Fault. In 2004, as the presidential election drew near, the Republican Party in Riverside County held a voter-registration advantage of 12.5 percentage points over the Democratic Party. Four years later, that Republican advantage had dwindled to slightly more than 5 percentage points. And in 2012, as the race between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney neared its climax, the Democratic Party had narrowed the gap to just 4.5 percentage points. According to data released on May 20 by the California Secretary of State, that differential is now just 4.1 percentage points. It’s…
23 Apr 2013
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When the Tea Party tide crested, a number of Western Republicans surfed it into the U.S. House of Representatives. There was Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, who promotes gutting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, saying it's "low-hanging fruit" that must be picked to shrink the federal deficit. New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce harnessed anti-government momentum to win a tight oilman-versus-oilman race. Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador, at first a long shot, also triumphed. In January, Pearce and Labrador were among 12 Republicans who voted against John Boehner for speaker of the House. Boehner supported a fiscal cliff deal they believed included too many tax hikes ($600 billion over 10 years), and too few spending cuts ($0). But the cuts just came later. On March 1, after Congress…
10 Mar 2013
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Sunshine Week starts Sunday, March 10—so let’s celebrate by shining a light on the gifts received by Coachella Valley-area legislators. Earlier this month, the California Fair Political Practices Commission released the 2012 Form 700 filings—aka “Statements of Economic Interests.” These documents contain all sorts of information—on investments, loans, etc.—but the most interesting disclosures involve gifts. One area state senator received a five-digit trip to Brazil; the other received a trip to Australia and New Zealand. One local state assemblyman enjoyed free baseball tickets, while the other went to Disneyland on the house. Here’s a list of all the reported gifts for four area state legislators. State Sen. Bill Emmerson, District 23 League of California Cities: food and beverage, $19.16 Pacific Gas and Electric: food and…
29 Oct 2012
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Unless you’ve been living under rock (and if you’ve been living under a rock, well, you’re probably not reading this brand-new local-news website), you know that Proposition 37 is Big News, both here in the Coachella Valley and around the country. In summary: Prop 37, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would require that any food using genetically engineered ingredients be labeled as such (save meats, dairy products and booze). Proponents say that consumers have a right to know what they’re putting in their bodies; opponents say that such labels are unnecessary and would cause unneeded concern, since many scientists say genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe. We at the Independent believe that more information is always better, so we think Prop 37 has more pluses…