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Politics

08 May 2015
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The metal tab pulls back with a familiar click-click-hissssss as bubbles rush to the top of the can. The alluring scent wafts through the air, a familiar smell that hints at what’s to come. If you’re drinking a 20-ounce Mountain Dew, you’re consuming the equivalent of 18 teaspoons of sugar. A same-sized Pepsi equals 16 teaspoons, and a Coke comes out to 15. A 16-ounce Rockstar Energy Drink slams more than 15 teaspoons. Here’s the problem with what you’re drinking, some scientists say: Humans are not biologically designed to deal with that much liquid sugar at once. Since there’s no digestion involved, it enters the bloodstream and is absorbed more quickly than food. As it does, the sugar overwhelms the pancreas, the organ tasked with…
24 Dec 2014
In 2003 and 2004, an ambitious group of young Latino community organizers and activists, all raised in the eastern Coachella Valley, returned home after earning college degrees. They were known as over-achievers in their hometowns, and they searched each other out, they say, because they were determined to make a difference. They wanted to improve the lives of their friends and loved ones in the barrios and farm fields of the eastern valley, in part by gaining power via the political process. A decade later, it’s clear: These organizers and activists, all Democrats, are making a mark and attaining many of their lofty goals. V. Manuel Perez recently was elected to the Coachella City Council after three terms in the State Assembly. Eduardo Garcia swapped…
06 Oct 2014
After the November election, California Assembly District 56 will have a new representative, because incumbent Democrat V. Manuel Perez has reached his term limit. That new representative will be either current Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat, or Republican Charles Bennett Jr. The heavily Democratic-leaning district covers much of the north and east portions of the Coachella Valley, including parts of Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Indio, Coachella, Thousand Palms, Bermuda Dunes, Thermal and Mecca. Bennett is a self-proclaimed political neophyte. “This is the first anything I’ve run for,” said Bennett. That’s not the case with Garcia. “It’s been an ongoing process that goes back to 2004, when I ran for (Coachella City) Council. Manny (Perez) ran for the school district. We shared a vision…
19 Aug 2014
Since 2008, Republican Brian Nestande has represented much of the Coachella Valley in California’s Assembly. However, that will be changing this year: Nestande—the former chief of staff for the late Congressman Sonny Bono, as well as Bono's wife, Congresswoman Mary Bono—is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against one-term incumbent Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, who upset Mary Bono Mack in 2012. So the field was wide open during June’s primary election for Nestande’s District 42 seat. The contenders included two well-funded and politically established Republican candidates—Chad Mayes and Gary Jeandron—and one Democratic candidate, Karalee Hargrove. Jeandron, a former Palm Springs Police chief, and Mayes, the current chief of staff for San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, each raised six figures plus for the race…
17 Jul 2014
State legislators are finally addressing one of the most racist drug laws on the books. On July 2, the state Assembly Appropriations Committee approved the California Fair Sentencing Act of 2014 on a 12-3 margin (with two abstentions). Aided by a bullish review from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the bill will hit the full floor in August. It passed the Senate on a 21-12 vote in May. The act, Senate Bill 1010, aims to reverse a drug policy that for years incarcerated people of color for exponentially longer prison terms than white individuals for violating essentially the same law: possession of cocaine for sale. “(It’s) one of the most egregious missteps of the drug war,” said Glenn Backes, a spokesman for the Drug Policy…
29 May 2014
V. Manuel Perez was uncharacteristically feisty and aggressive when the Independent recently spoke to him about the final push in his campaign for the Riverside County District 4 Board of Supervisors seat, against incumbent Supervisor John Benoit. “Benoit claims credit for efforts that are not even his, because I think he lacks substance,” said Perez, who is currently a member of the state Assembly. “He lacks vision, and he’s part of an effort that’s business as usual—and that’s getting old.” Perez cites a bill that he sponsored as an example. “We passed legislation (AB 1318) for the Sentinel power plant,” built by Competitive Power Ventures in Desert Hot Springs and operational since May 2013, Perez said. “My opponent continues to claim that it was him…
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…