CVIndependent

Tue07142020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Local Issues

09 Jul 2020
More critically ill Californians utilized the state’s End of Life Option Act in 2019 than in 2018—but almost all of those who did so were white. That’s the big takeaway from the California Department of Health’s yearly report, released on June 30, on what is sometimes called the death with dignity law. Consider: In 2019, some 618 terminally ill adult patients received prescriptions for medical aid in dying, and 405 patients took the medication to end their lives. Of those 405 Californians, 353 of them were white—or 87 percent, even though white people make up just 36.5 percent of the state’s population, according to 2019 U.S. Census estimates. (Full disclosure: My mother-in-law utilized the law in 2016.) Only 5 Black Californians (1.2 percent), 26 Asian Californians (6.4 percent), and 16 Hispanic Californians (4 percent) utilized the law, although these demographic groups together represent 61.4 percent of the state’s population (Black…
07 Jul 2020
On July 31, Dr. Conrado Barzaga will celebrate his one-year anniversary as the CEO of the Desert Healthcare District—and what a completely unforeseeable year it’s been. His organization and the valley’s overall health-care infrastructure are being severely challenged by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic—as well as a related and much-longer-term issue that came to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness on May 25, when George Floyd was killed while restrained and lying on a street in Minneapolis police custody. The baring of the long-simmering racial injustices in our society ignited the passion of Barzaga—so much so that on June 3, he issued a statement linking systemic racism to the subpar public-health outcomes of minority populations, both in the Coachella Valley and across the country. Here is an excerpt: “As communities across the country take to the street and risk their lives to demand justice, the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation stands in…
26 Jun 2020
Yadira Rayo-Peñaloza, an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, nearly sat out the fall term. She didn’t want to spend another semester taking just online courses, which is what she expects all of her classes to be when school starts up again late August. Rayo-Peñaloza, along with her girlfriend and a few of her other friends, weighed her options, considering the likelihood of finding work during a pandemic and what a pause would mean to her financial aid. Ultimately, she decided she’d remain a student. “It was a hard decision to just say that we’re definitely going to go back in the fall.” She also thought about returning to campus in the fall, but will remain at home in Orange County, where she attended community college before transferring. That decision, too, was tough. “It’s really difficult to concentrate back home,” she said. “‘Are we hurting our GPAs?’ That was our biggest…
22 Jun 2020
When the state closed down schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, an oft-ignored inequity in the everyday lives of Californians became glaringly obvious: A significant portion of the state’s population still lacks reliable broadband access. When families without reliable internet have children who can no longer go to a physical school, those students’ chances of educational success decrease dramatically. “In the Coachella Valley, we met with the superintendents of all three school districts early on in this pandemic, and the distance-learning issue was one of their top challenges,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, who represents much of the eastern Coachella Valley, and serves on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s newly formed Closing the Digital Divide Task Force. “It wasn’t from the standpoint of the teacher not being with the students; it was that they couldn’t even connect with some of the families, because they don’t have the…
17 Jun 2020
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Areli Galvez began her speech by asking the crowd to imagine George Floyd’s final moments—without ever mentioning his name. “Nothing is working,” she said, reading from her phone. “So you do what you do best when everything goes wrong: You call for your mom. You begin to yell, ‘Momma, Momma please!’ Yet you’re still stuck in the same position.” The powerful four-minute talk by the 16-year-old La Quinta High School student was one of the key moments of the “Enough Is Enough” Black Lives Matter rally and protest, at Palm Springs’ Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, June 6. Around 1,000 face-mask-wearing people attended the morning rally, which was organized by Galvez and several other young women—including Hina Malik, Jazlina Morgan and Sadie Reese—who took on the name Young Justice Advocates. During a subsequent phone interview, Galvez explained how her group and the rally came to be. “We came together with…
16 Jun 2020
A group of people—mostly born and raised in Indio—organized a rally on Tuesday, June 9, at Miles Park to fight for racial equality and urgently needed policing reforms. The group called itself We Are Indio—and called the event #NoMoreHashtags. One of the organizers was Erin Teran, a nurse at a local hospital. “There were five of us,” Teran said about the organizing group. “Three of us have grown up together. (Indio City) Councilmember Waymond Fermon and I have been friends since kindergarten, and April Skinner and I have been friends since we were really young, too. Our parents were even friends. They’re both people I talk to all the time, and we always support each other.” The other two members of the team are Maribel Pena Burke and Kimberly Barraza, Teran said. “When the whole George Floyd incident happened, I was so upset and emotional about it, because one of…
09 Jun 2020
Since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, parks and streets around the country and world have become staging grounds for massive outpourings of frustration and anger over systemic racism in the United States. On Monday, June 1, a Black Lives Matter protest took place at Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park, organized by a self-described band of “newbie” community organizers who wanted their voices heard. Their Instagram account is called Coachella Valley Activists. The group originally called for an evening protest on El Paseo. However, on the day of the gathering, the group moved the event to Palm Desert’s City Hall-adjacent Civic Center Park—and made the start time earlier in response to a countywide curfew. “For everyone, it was their first time staging a protest rally,” said Angel Moreno, one of the organizers. “Our team is more than 20 people. It’s a…
05 Jun 2020
Nathaniel Johnson walked past a CVS pharmacy in Hollywood with his phone camera trained on men running out of the looted store with armfuls of stolen goods. After a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, Johnson had protested police brutality for two days while dressed in civilian clothes. But that afternoon, he decided to change into the uniform he wore for five years—his Army fatigues. He had no idea that—across the street and two stories above him—a porn star and former reality show actress with 2 million Instagram followers was recording the events on her phone. “Get out of the CVS; you’re criminals,” shouted Farrah Abraham in a 57-second video posted to Instagram. ”Get out of CVS!” She turned her camera to Johnson. “This guy in the Army uniform is literally with them!” she shouted. She later took credit for sending 20 people to jail with her video, adding “I’m…
20 May 2020
Water infrastructure is finally coming to three underserved portions of the eastern Coachella Valley—if state budget cuts don’t get in the way. After nearly six years of work by Castulo Estrada, the rest of the Coachella Valley Water District board and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, the water district announced in early May that the State Water Resources Control Board had approved two construction grants, totaling about $3.3 million. The funds will be used to complete three projects that will bring safe, reliable water service and fire protection to two disadvantaged communities and one elementary school in the eastern Coachella Valley. “The reason we put out the press release was because the financial agreement was executed,” said Estrada, the CVWD board’s vice president, during a recent phone interview. “Once an agreement has been executed, it’s a contract between the state of California and the CVWD for the execution of the project (for…
08 May 2020
Ever since the end of the Great Recession, Rancho Cucamonga has been on a tear. New retailers and restaurants have sprung up to serve the residents of its gated ‘burbs. The city’s population has swelled with Angelenos in search of cheaper housing. And at last count, its unemployment rate sat at just 4 percent. The city earned an upgraded credit rating earlier this year. But now that shopping and dining have been deemed non-essential activities, the good times are gone, said Rancho Mayor Dennis Michael. “Since we recovered from the Great Recession, we generated about $9 million in new sales tax revenue,” he said. “We’ve lost all of that gain. We’re basically starting from square one.” For local governments still sporting the budgetary scars of the last “once in a generation” recession, this downturn is at once familiar—forcing elected leaders to cut, furlough and delay—and entirely new. Never before in…

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