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Local Issues

02 Sep 2013
More than 40 cities in California have terminated red-light camera programs within the last 10 years, according TheNewspaper.com, “a journal of the politics of driving.” San Diego announced the end of that city’s program—in which drivers were mailed tickets after tripping sensors and then getting photographed in the act of an apparent traffic violation at an intersection—in February of this year. Numerous cities in other states have similarly ended participation in this well-intentioned, but often ill-conceived approach to traffic law enforcement. At least eights states prohibit the use of red-light camera systems, including Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Yet Cathedral City is sticking with its red-light camera program—at least for now. Since March 2006, the city has had a red-light camera at Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road; in February 2009, the city added two more: At Date Palm and Vista Chino,…
27 Aug 2013
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“You know daddy loves you. … This has to be our secret … just between us. Mommy wouldn’t understand and might keep me away from you.” Words like these are too often said to little kids—and not just little girls. It happens to boys, too. Cathedral City resident and Rancho Mirage family therapist Carol Teitelbaum and her husband, Robert, have started programs too address the abuse of children … all children. The statistics are mind-blowing regarding how many children are abused on a regular basis by the people they trust the most, including parents, teachers and clergy. Boys are much more likely to hide their fears and think there’s something wrong with them … something they should hide. Carol and Robert hold workshops for men who’ve been victimized, some of whom are so ashamed that it’s taken years of failed marriages, substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors to make them…
19 Aug 2013
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Palm Desert resident Lindi Biggi has taken on the daunting task of advocating for the animals in our desert. She founded Loving All Animals in 2009, and is currently the organization’s president. The organization’s mission is to bring together local and national animal welfare organizations. Loving All Animals currently holds adoption fairs, fundraisers to help local animal groups in need, and supports an Internet networking organization which helps find homes for critters big and small. Biggi recently took some time to discuss the emotional roller coaster that is “animal rescue” at her getaway home at Lake Arrowhead. She also answered some follow-up questions via email. For more information, visit www.lovingallanimals.org, or call 760-776-9397. What ignites your quest to devote most of your waking hours to animal advocacy? In other words, what floats your boat about critters? I am genetically programed to dedicate my life to animals. It’s all my mother’s…
22 Jul 2013
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The 100 or so community judges were watching the sixth of 22 entries in the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s “In a Center Minute” Commercial-Making Contest. Shortly after that sixth commercial started playing, the judges knew they were watching something special. In fact, when the commercial finished, the audience broke into a spontaneous round of applause. The commercial—which would go on to take top honors in the contest’s student category—was made by College of the Desert student Daniel Meyers. Using dry-erase drawings, the commercial tells the story of Aaron, an 18-year-old who discovers he is gay as he is dealing with the death of his father. He goes on to find low-cost grief counseling and a community of friendship at the Center. Meyers’ commercial, simply put, was amazing. (It’s the first commercial embedded below. Go ahead and stop reading, and scroll down to watch it; come back here when…
26 Jun 2013
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With its lavish resorts and golf courses, the Coachella Valley is a getaway to some, and a retirement home for others. But beyond the shadow of the country clubs and music festivals lies a Coachella Valley that is largely unknown. “Revealing the Invisible Coachella Valley: Putting Cumulative Environmental Vulnerabilities on the Map,” a report released this month by the University of California at Davis Center for Regional Change, shows the cumulative environmental health hazards of living in the Eastern Coachella Valley. “You can see the east versus west story,” said Jonathan London, the principal investigator and primary study author, “where in the west valley, there are much lower levels of environmental hazards, and much higher levels for quality of life, compared to the east.” While this data seems to state the obvious to those living and working in the eastern Coachella Valley, it wasn’t until recently that people outside the…
14 Jun 2013
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Shann Carr thinks that The Center—the Coachella Valley’s community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks—is grossly underutilized. She says that when she discusses The Center with locals who are L, G, B or T, she learns that a shocking number of them aren’t familiar with the services it provides. “Half of them have never even been here,” says the center’s volunteer and community outreach coordinator. Therefore, she’s decided that it’s time for The Center to get the word out—and that’s where its Commercial-Making Contest comes in. (Disclosure time: I’ve helped Shann and her “secret meeting volunteers” here and there as they got the contest off the ground—and the Coachella Valley Independent is a sponsor of the contest. That's just how we roll.) The rules for the contest, which can be found at thecenterps.org, are pretty simple: Anybody can sign up for the contest, and winners will be selected…
08 Jun 2013
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Earlier this week, nonprofit medical-marijuana dispensary Desert Organic Solutions celebrated its third anniversary. While three years does not sound like a long time, in medical-marijuana-dispensary terms, it’s practically an eternity: Since the June 5, 2010, opening of Desert Organic Solutions, the legal landscape for medical marijuana has been constantly shifting, and as a result, countless collectives and dispensaries have come and gone in that time. The most recent shift came on May 6, when the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that local governments had the authority to prohibit medical-marijuana dispensaries. Since Palm Springs is the only Riverside County city to license marijuana dispensaries, all medical-marijuana storefronts in the Coachella Valley—other than the three allowed by Palm Springs—were either forced to close, or risk an ugly government shutdown. Gary Cherlin, the president of Desert Organic Solutions, had nothing to worry about regarding the May 6 legal decision. His dispensary—located at 19486…
27 May 2013
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College of the Desert Superintendent/President Joel L. Kinnamon doesn't have an opinion on legislation that could radically impact 2.4 million students in California's beleaguered community-college system. The legislation in question, Assembly Bill 955, would permit community colleges to offer self-supporting courses at increased rates during winter and summer sessions, following budgetary cutbacks—to the tune of $800 million systemwide since 2008—that have left many of these institutions incapable of meeting ever-increasing demand. Under AB 955, students would pay tuition of about $200 per unit for these courses, reflecting the actual costs associated with providing them, instead of the state-subsidized rate of $46. A third of the revenue generated from the courses would go to financial assistance for low-income students. Critics charge that the bill would create a "two-tiered system," in which those who can afford to pay the increased rates are able to get the classes they want and need. Proponents—including…
29 May 2013
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Initial steps toward building an alternative-transportation corridor for valley residents are being taken—without specifics on a potentially costly variable. The Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the organization spearheading efforts to construct the Whitewater River Parkway, has secured grants from various sources worth as much as $49.4 million, according to Mike Shoberg, CVAG transportation program manager. An exact accounting isn't possible, Shoberg said, because the Desert Healthcare District has pledged "up to $10 million." The tally includes a $17.4 million contribution from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which was charged with doling out $53 million in pollution-mitigation fees stemming from the construction of the Sentinel power plant near Desert Hot Springs. The project, also known as the Parkway 1e11, is envisioned as a 52-mile paved path for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers of small, low-speed electric vehicles. It would wind its way through nine cities, from Desert Hot Springs and…
24 May 2013
The slick brochure advertising homes in Indio’s Sun City Shadow Hills neighborhood has escapist senior fantasy written all over it. “Get Ready For The Next Great Chapter Of Your Life,” it says. On the cover, a lush green expanse of golf course fairway cuts through two shimmering lakes and ends at what looks like a Spanish village, where uniform clay roofs sit on top of white building facades, offering a perfect color transition between the Bermuda grass in the foreground and the desert mountain landscape behind it. But there is trouble beneath the utopic veneer: Many of the 55-and-up "active adults" who live here have become disillusioned with the homeowners association and the property managers who run it. They worry about how their nearly $9 million in annual dues money is being spent, complain about financial conflicts of interest, and say they collectively are getting gouged by fees and fines…