Indy Digest: June 21, 2021
If you have summer travel plans which involve getting on an airplane … well, you’d best hope the airlines get their you-know-what together before it’s time for you to head to the airport.
Air travel over the last several days has been a complete mess. First up was a series of technical issues that caused numerous delays and cancellations at Southwest Airlines. The New York Times explains what happened last week:
Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights were delayed or canceled again on Wednesday as the company sought to resolve disruptions from earlier in the week amid a pickup in summer travel.
The headaches for Southwest, which is widely credited for pioneering the low-fare airline business model, began on Monday night, when a problem with a weather data supplier prevented the airline from safely flying planes. The issue was resolved within hours, but on Tuesday the airline suffered its own technological problems, resulting in half of its flights that day being delayed and many being canceled, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service.
Spillover from that episode caused Wednesday’s problems, the airline said. About 10 percent of Southwest’s flights were canceled and another 19 percent were delayed by midafternoon, according to FlightAware.
Next up was crappy weather—especially yesterday (Sunday). A New York Times piece from today says:
Among the nation’s largest airlines, Southwest Airlines had the most delays, with 30 percent of flights running late, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. At American Airlines, 25 percent of flights were delayed, compared with 23 percent for United Airlines and 21 percent for Delta Air Lines.
The slowdowns occurred as travel reached new pandemic heights: The Transportation Security Administration screened 2.1 million people at its airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the most since early March 2020.
Several airlines, including Southwest, blamed bad weather for the delays. Thunderstorms affected operations at Delta’s hub airports in Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit and complicated efforts to get flight crews in place, a spokesman said. At American, the problems had been building since earlier in the month.
The third whammy: A reported employee shortage—something that seems to be especially affecting American Airlines. CNBC says:
American Airlines said it canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend due to staffing shortages, maintenance and other issues, challenges facing the carrier as travel demand surges toward pre-pandemic levels.
About 6% of the airline’s mainline schedule, or 190 flights, were canceled Sunday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. The airline said that equaled about 3% of its total flights, including those operated by regional carriers. An internal company list, which was viewed by CNBC, showed about half of those were because of unavailable flight crews. On Saturday, about 4% of its mainline schedule, or 123 flights, were canceled and 106 on Monday, FlightAware showed.
American said it is trimming its overall schedule by about 1% through mid-July to help ease some of the disruptions, some of which it said resulted from bad weather at its Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas/Fort Worth international airport hubs during the first half of June. The planned cuts amount to about 950 flights in the first half of next month.
Yeesh. But I guess travel delays and cancellations are preferable over being stuck at home with no prospects of travel whatsoever, right?
From the Independent
Liquid Gold: Many Coachella Valley Water District Customers Will Face a State-Mandated Increase in Their Water Bills Come July 1
By Kevin Fitzgerald
June 18, 2021
The Coachella Valley Water District is raising rates—a lot, in some cases. However, the board of directors says it has no choice.
By Charles Drabkin
June 21, 2021
It’s long been a Coachella Valley tradition for restaurants to take a summer hiatus—and the tradition is certainly continuing this year, despite hints that the summer may be busier than normal.
By Bob Grimm
June 21, 2021
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It shows off how amazing its subject is—in a big, soul-enriching, impactful way
The Lucky 13: Donny Browne, Guitarist and Vocalist of The Holy Corrupt, Releasing Self-Titled Debut Album on July 10
By Matt King
June 18, 2021
Get to know Donny Browne, the guitarist and vocalist of doom-metal band The Holy Corrupt..
• Back in December, we reported on efforts by the Oswit Land Trust to purchase three Palm Springs golf-course properties, so they could be protected as open space. Well … the Palm Springs Post is reporting on a backlash against those efforts by folks who want to keep playing the courses: “Save PS Golf, formed earlier this month to spread word about their efforts to prevent the sale of city-owned Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort. The group’s movement is gaining steam on Facebook and through a petition. Posts and comments from group members, many of them owners of residences around the courses, are sounding the rally cry as members share information and frustration. The tone is similar to that found on the pages of groups formed to address other environmental and social issues. ‘This would be the biggest homeless camp in the world,’ wrote one group member, predicting the future of the property if golf were abandoned. Added another: ‘Their ‘fear tactic’ is to tell you that the alternative is some kind of dense housing. That of course is total BS!'”
• Restaurant-industry news site Restaurant Dive is reporting: “The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration on Thursday urging the agency to find funding for roughly 3,000 approved applicants whose approval for grants was revoked by the agency last week. The SBA rescinded these approvals, which were granted to operators prioritized during the program’s first three weeks, after Texas and Tennessee judges issued injunctions on the disbursement of these funds.” Yahoo Finance further explains what’s going on: “The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), part of the American Rescue Plan passed in March, provided $28.5 billion for businesses impacted by the COVID health crisis. Congress created the fund to provide food and beverage providers with grants equal to their pandemic related revenue loss, capped at $10 million per business, and $5 million per location. More than 362,000 businesses applied for $75 billion in aid, which was far more than could be satisfied with the initial funding. The SBA initially sought to dole out the money by prioritizing historically underserved groups such as women, people of color and veterans. However, the agency was forced to stop processing grants after a three-judge panel late last month ruled in favor of a Tennessee restaurant owner, who argued his application was de-prioritized because he was white. The effort was spearheaded by a conservative legal group.” Sigh.
• If you have unvaccinated loved ones—especially in certain parts of the country—you have definite cause for concern. CNN explains: “About 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC data showed, and in 16 states and Washington, DC, that proportion is up to half. But some states—such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming—have fully vaccinated less than 35% of residents. … The Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease, could cause an upsurge in infections, but the levels will vary depending on the rates of vaccination in each area, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.'”
• Our partners at CalMatters look at the efforts to extend California’s residential-eviction moratorium—which is set to expire at the end of this month: “For the third time during the pandemic, California legislators have pushed off a huge, looming question to the last minute: Will the state shield tenants from eviction? The answer, most likely, is yes, but for how long and under what terms is still up in the air. Several lawmakers told CalMatters a decision could come late this week—only days before current protections are set to expire, after June 30. Rental assistance is the key here: The state has been doling out $2.6 billion it’s sitting on at a snail’s pace, while figuring out what to do with an additional $2.6 billion from the federal government.”
• And now some updates on California’s unemployment situation. First up: CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven takes a deep-ish dive into the state’s unemployment figures, and discovers that things are … kinda weird: “How you interpret California’s latest unemployment numbers may have a lot to do with whether you’re a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person. If you’re the former, Friday’s report from the Employment Development Department is cause to celebrate: It shows that California’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% in May, down from April’s revised rate of 8%. The Golden State also gained a whopping 104,500 jobs in May, marking the fourth consecutive month employers added more than 100,000 positions to their payrolls. … But if you’re the latter, the report is cause for concern: Despite record job growth, California’s labor force only grew by 12,400 workers—meaning thousands of open jobs are going unfilled.”
• Second up: The Mercury News (San Jose) reports that the state is still doing a terrible job at handling unemployment claims: “California workers are facing a steadily worsening backlog for their unemployment claims, a reminder that the impact of the economic infection that the coronavirus has unleashed has yet to fully abate. For well over a year, California workers have complained about an ineffective and unresponsive state Employment Development Department, an embattled government agency that has struggled to pay people the unemployment benefits they’re owed in a timely and efficient manner. … On June 12, the overall logjam to deal with unemployment claims by California workers totaled 1.126 million, up about 1,100 from the bottleneck reported by the EDD for June 5.”
• Speaking of state systems with problems: The Los Angeles Times offers an update on the state’s digital vaccination-verification system. I am one of the many folks who went to the website, put in my info—and was told the state couldn’t find my vaccination record. What do you do if that happens? You fill out a form. Sigh. More info: “One snag that’s emerged is the requirement for an email address or phone number—which has to match what a person submitted when receiving her or his COVID-19 vaccine. However, that information might be missing for some. Because the system pulls from records maintained within and accessible through the state’s immunization registry systems, it’s also conceivable someone’s record may be filed under an email address or phone number that’s either outdated or was used for a non-COVID-19 vaccine.”
• And finally … some long-overdue LGBTQ sports history was made today. ESPN explains: “Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib on Monday became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib, 28, made the announcement in an Instagram post. ‘What’s up people?’ Nassib posted. ‘I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary. But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project.'” Congrats, Mr. Nassib … and on behalf of all gay sports fans out there who rarely see themselves represented on the field: Thank you.
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