CVIndependent

Thu10192017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Local Issues

08 May 2017
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters)—California legislators have raised fines for traffic infractions to some of the highest in the United States to generate revenue—and the poor are bearing an unfair burden, losing cars and jobs because they cannot pay them, civil rights activists said last week. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area said in a new report that the $490 fine for a red-light ticket in California is three times the national average. The cost is even higher if motorists want to attend traffic school in lieu of a conviction or are late paying. “Our state is raising money off the backs of California families to balance the budget for special projects, and it’s using traffic tickets as a revenue generator instead of to protect safety, instead of to do justice,” said Elisa Della-Piana, the group’s legal director. The report comes as lawmakers in some states…
26 Apr 2017
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Despite a growing economy and decreasing unemployment, the homeless population in the Coachella Valley is expanding—at an alarming rate. The annual Riverside County “point in time” count in January showed the homeless population had increased from 1,351 unsheltered and 814 sheltered individuals in 2016, to 1,638 unsheltered and 775 sheltered in 2017. The Coachella Valley cities had 297 homeless individuals in 2016—and 425 individuals in 2017. Another alarming fact: The number of homeless individuals locally without shelter is about to rise, because Roy’s Resource Center, the only shelter for the homeless on the west end of the Coachella Valley, is slated to close at the end of June. The beleaguered facility in North Palm Springs is shutting its doors largely because some local city governments have not been paying their share to keep Roy’s financially solvent. Before the center opened in 2009, all nine Coachella Valley cities agreed to give…
24 Mar 2017
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John Wessman was a mighty developer, known for his lucrative deals across the Coachella Valley—and his significant influence at Palm Springs City Hall. The high point of his career was supposed to be the Palm Springs downtown revitalization project, currently estimated by experts at $350 million in value. Today, however, Wessman is better known for being indicted on numerous counts of alleged bribery involving former Mayor Steve Pougnet—and involving that downtown development project. Wessman effectively retired upon the indictment and is not talking to the media. So, in an attempt to find out the latest news regarding the downtown development project—which has benefitted from millions of dollars from Palm Springs taxpayers via Measure J—we reached out to city officials, all of whom still publically support the downtown project. We started by trying to talk to Mayor Robert Moon. We received this response from Amy Blaisdell, the city’s communications director: “Mayor…
04 Mar 2017
The quiet bustle outside of Eisenhower Medical Center’s medical campus in Rancho Mirage was disturbed by the old-school call and response of an organizer’s bullhorn and a crowd of protesters on the morning of Thursday, March 2. “What do we want?” shouted Joe Barnes, the California outreach manager for Compassion and Choices, a national advocacy group for terminally ill patients. The crowd of 100 or so enthusiastic supporters of the California End of Life Option Act responded: “Access!” Barnes continued: “When do we want it?” “Now!” hollered the crowd. The protest on the sidewalks alongside the Bob Hope Drive entrance to EMC was organized by, and for, Coachella Valley residents frustrated by the refusal of EMC administrators to allow any of their doctors, other professional staff members and facilities to participate in the new state law, which lays out the strict guidelines under which patients can obtain life-ending prescriptions, should…
17 Jan 2017
A recent review of the budgets of all nine Coachella Valley cities confirms what multiple sources have mentioned over the last several months: The costs of providing police and fire protection have been rising every year—and could soon become a worrisome financial burden. “About 50 percent of our general-fund budget at this time goes specifically to public safety,” Coachella City Councilmember V. Manuel Perez told the Independent in a recent interview. “In the course of the last few years, public-safety expenses have increased between 5 and 7 percent every year. “The passing of Measure U a couple of years ago, which was a 1 percent sales-tax increase, is the only reason why … we’ve been able to sustain ourselves—and we understand that these annual (public-safety cost) increases are going to continue.” With 50 percent of the general fund being allocated to public safety, Coachella falls in the middle of the…
22 Dec 2016
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When children turn 18 and age out of the foster-care system, they face a difficult transition into adulthood: Not only do some of these young people lack a family; they also lack the skills to live on their own. For LGBT youth in foster care, it’s even harder. That’s where Sanctuary Palm Springs comes in: Sanctuary is working toward providing a home with support services to LGBT youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who leave the foster-care system. Sanctuary was founded by David Rothmiller and LD Thompson. Rothmiller explained how they started down the path of creating Sanctuary. “Originally, it was the desire to be a parent,” Rothmiller said. “… My spouse, LD, and I had begun with the intentions of starting a family. We were licensed (for foster children) in Washington state, and that system made us wait for two years for a placement in our own…
19 Dec 2016
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Jana Ploss used to walk the short distance from her condo in Riviera Gardens to her sister’s house on Chia Road almost every given day. She did it for years—walking back and forth, always crossing Vista Chino at Via Miraleste. On Monday, Nov. 14, she left her sister’s home shortly after 6 p.m. About 6:13 p.m., according to police reports, she was struck by a car at the intersection of Vista Chino and Via Miraleste. She was rushed to Desert Medical Regional Center. Some 20 minutes later, according to the coroner’s office, Ploss was pronounced dead. Ploss was 64. She was the second pedestrian killed by a car at that intersection in six weeks; James Harper, also 64, was killed on Oct. 6, according to police reports. Roxann Ploss said that her sister was just 30 yards away from Jana’s front door at Riviera Gardens when she was hit by…
05 Dec 2016
If you’re a casual golfer like me, you have undoubtedly seen signals that seem to portend an uncertain future for public golf courses, private golf clubs and golf retail outlets here in Coachella Valley. When booking a tee time online, you may see more available slots—and cheaper rates—than there used to be. You may hear conversations about a certain club that’s eliminating all ladies’ golf events this season because of the dearth of female members. Then you hear about another club where revenue has fallen so low that the owners are poised to close it down and sell to real estate developers. In La Quinta, the citizens and their City Council are struggling to create a viable community development to support the beautiful SilverRock golf course. Earlier this year, Lumpy’s, which had been serving the local golfing community for some 30 years, closed both its outlets in Rancho Mirage and…
22 Sep 2016
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The Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station, located on Gerald Ford Drive, is the home of the Coachella Valley’s most robust local policing force. The station covers all unincorporated areas of the western valley, as well as the cities of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells, each of which contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to provide police services. Officials in one of those cities, Palm Desert, are expressing concerns about rising public safety costs. Palm Desert Mayor Bob Spiegel recently told the Independent that for the first time, public-safety costs now make up more than half of the city’s budget. After hearing that, we decided it was time to talk to the commander of the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station regarding the local state of crime, public-safety issues and law-enforcement needs. Unfortunately, our media requests were either ignored or shoved off to the cities with whom the Riverside County Sheriff’s…
29 Aug 2016
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The city of Palm Desert is rising up against the state’s tax takeaways by asking its residents to raise a fee on visitors—and this is all unfolding in the shadow of a well-publicized scandal involving the former city manager. According to city officials, the state of California has taken about $40 million away from the state every year in redevelopment funds. So on July 28, City Council members unanimously voted to place a measure on the November ballot that would increase the local transient occupancy tax (in other words, the hotel tax) from 9 percent to 11 percent, to replace a small fraction of the $40 million the state takes every year. That 11 percent would be on par with what other valley cities charge. They nicknamed it Measure T. That may sound somewhat familiar to Palm Springs residents, who in 2011 passed something called Measure J. However, the similarities…