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Politics

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…
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…