Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: March 24, 2022

If you’ve traveled via airplane anytime during the last two years, you know that the face mask requirement is really, truly, no fun.

Don’t get me wrong: The federal requirement for people to wear face masks at all times (except when actively eating or drinking) while flying has made total sense, and no doubt has saved some lives. It’s something I fully support—even if it is somewhat uncomfortable to wear a mask for hours on end.

However, that federal mask requirement may soon be ending—especially if the airlines have anything to say about it.

Axios reports: “The board of directors for advocacy group Airlines for America sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday calling for the end of the transportation mask mandate and pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements for international flights. … The letter was signed by the heads of 10 major commercial and cargo airlines, including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and UPS Airlines. Other signatories include the CEOs of Alaska Air Group, Fedex Express, Atlas Air Worldwide, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines Holdings. It was also signed by Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio. … The letter comes as COVID-19 cases around the U.S. have declined in recent weeks, though rising cases in Europe due to the BA.2 variant could soon upend that trend. Earlier this month, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) face mask requirement was extended until April 18.”

The most important part of that Axios excerpt may be the next-to-last sentence: “The letter comes as COVID-19 cases around the U.S. have declined in recent weeks, though rising cases in Europe due to the BA.2 variant could soon upend that trend.

This virus continues to remind us that it’s not going away anytime soon, no matter how much we want it to. And that’s why I am personally hoping the airport/airline mask mandate stays in place a little while longer.

Here’s a prime example why: In late April—after April 18, the date to which the mandate was most recently extended—I am going to be getting on a plane to Reno to go see my mom, who is in her late 70s and has a heart condition. I’ll have a layover on the way there, meaning that I’ll be spending several hours on airplanes—and, more importantly, in crowded indoor airports.

While I am vaccinated and boosted, and my mom is vaccinated and boosted, I REALLY don’t want my mom to get COVID-19, due to her age and health. If I know that most people around me at the crowded airports will be masked up, I will feel a lot better about making that trip.

Look, I get it. Wearing a mask nonstop for hours on end is uncomfortable. I also understand that airport and airline employees have taken a lot of abuse from anti-mask cretins.

But airports are crowded and often poorly unventilated places—meaning they’re places where BA.2 could do a whole lot of spreading.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Which Course to Take? The Oswit Land Trust’s Efforts to Protect Golf Areas as Open Space Garner Opposition

By Kevin Fitzgerald

March 22, 2022

Save PS Golf wants the city to keep control of the two Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort courses and maintain them for the enjoyment of golfers. The Oswit Land Trust wants to purchase them to make sure they’re always open space.

On Cocktails: Lessons in the Art of Starting a Pop-up Food Business

By Kevin Carlow

March 22, 2022

My post-full-time-bartending journey has led me to start a food pop-up business—and I thought I’d share a few things about the experience.

The Indy Endorsement: The West African Peanut Stew at Salt Flats

By Jimmy Boegle

March 23, 2022

This stew, “with harissa, dandelion greens and sweet potato, served with grains,” is more than the sum of its parts.

The Lucky 13: Joshua Adams, aka Blue Diamond, Who Just Released Solo Album ‘Tales From Mojo Saturn’

By Matt King

March 22, 2022

Get to know a little about Joshua Adams, the Fever Dog drummer who just released a new solo album under the name Blue Diamond.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for March 24, 2022!

By Staff

March 24, 2022

Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include pandemic-response defunding, mucus, a Camper Van Beethoven concert—and more!

More News

• Our partners at CalMatters, as always, are doing an amazing job of covering statewide issues. First up: Emily Hoeven reports that a wave of evictions could come soon, after two key programs to keep people in their homes during the pandemic expire next week: “A key deadline in California’s pandemic response is looming: March 31 is the last day for residents to apply to the state’s COVID rent relief program. Starting April 1, landlords can move to evict non-paying tenants in cities or counties without local eviction protections in place—even if they have rent relief applications pending before the state. On Tuesday, advocates urged Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to ‘stop the eviction tsunami’ by extending the rent relief program, citing a recent analysis that found only 16% of the nearly half a million renters who applied for state money had been paid as of early March.”

• Second: CalMatters takes an updated look at the various gas-price-relief and stimulus proposals, now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has revealed his plan: “Last week, a cohort of Assemblymembers proposed giving every California taxpayer $400 to offset new, higher prices for goods and especially gas. A few days later, the Los Angeles Times reported details of another proposal, this one from Democratic leaders in the Legislature: $200 to each taxpayer, plus $200 for each kid for families making up to $250,000, and a grant program with the same benefits for people who don’t file income taxes. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom threw yet another idea into the mix which, among other things, would give car and truck owners $400 per vehicle via debit cards, for up to two vehicles per person. The governor’s proposal does not have an income cap ‘in order to include all Californians who are facing higher prices due to the cost of oil,’ the administration said in a statement. The plans to send cash to Californians directly come on the heels of Republican calls to temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax of roughly 51 cents per gallon in its entirety and a proposal from the governor in January to pause a planned 3-cent increase in the state gas tax. Both approaches to reducing the gas tax predate the war in Ukraine, which has driven gas prices even higher.”

A whole bunch of local grocery store workers are currently deciding whether to go on strike. The Associated Press explains: “Thousands of southern and central California grocery workers started voting Monday on whether to authorize their union to call a strike against several major supermarket chains. About 47,000 workers at hundreds of Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores are eligible to vote this week. Results are expected to be released on March 27. The possible strike would involve grocery clerks, meat cutters, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians represented by seven locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Negotiations with Ralphs, owned by Kroger, and Albertsons, owner of Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores, ended without agreement before the latest three-year contracts expired March 6. The union said the next day that the companies’ wage proposal amounted to a 60-cent increase that was ‘shockingly low’ and well below workers’ cost-of-living needs. Employees were asking for a $5-an-hour raise, among other proposals.”

Piece of evidence No. 294,856 that the COVID-19 vaccines are very good things. NPR says: “The chance of even a mild case of COVID-19 turning into a long-term, debilitating medical condition is one of the greatest fears of Americans trying to navigate the pandemic, which is again taking a turn as new data shows the BA.2 subvariant is taking hold in the U.S. … But there is now a growing body of research that’s offering at least some reassurance for those who do end up getting infected—being fully vaccinated seems to substantially cut the risk of later developing the persistent symptoms that characterize long COVID. While many of the findings are still preliminary, the handful of studies that have emerged in the past half year are telling a relatively consistent story.”

• The more things change, the more things stay depressingly the same. That’s a paraphrased version of a piece from The Conversation, written by a law professor, who has been watching the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson: “U.S. Sen. James Eastland posed a question to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Thurgood Marshall during his August 1967 confirmation hearings. ‘Are you prejudiced against white people in the South?’ Eastland, a known white supremacist, could not be clearer in conveying his fears about Marshall and race. Fifty-five years after Marshall’s hearings, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked a similar question of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 22, 2022, during Jackson’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. ‘You have praised the 1619 Project, which argues the U.S. is a fundamentally racist country, and you have made clear that you believe judges must consider critical race theory when deciding how to sentence criminal defendants,’ Blackburn said. ‘Is it your personal hidden agenda to incorporate critical race theory into the legal system?’ Blackburn’s questions, when fact-checked, proved to be as inaccurate as they were inflammatory.”

• Six local restaurants are getting a boost with help from Grubhub, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the Desert Business Association. The grants will be officially announced during an event starting at 4:45 p.m., Monday, March 28, at Oscar’s Palm Springs. From a news release: “Through a joint national project between the National LGBT Chamber (NGLCC) and Grubhub, six local LGBTQ and Ally businesses will receive grants to help them recover and alleviate some of the impacts from COVID shutdowns and operating limitations. These businesses are all members of the Desert Business Association, the LGBTQ Chamber of the Coachella Valley. The grant recipients will include Hunter’s, Bouschet/PS Air, Wilma & Frieda, and Oscar’s in Palm Springs; and Runway, and AMP Sports Lounge in Cathedral City. Grant amounts awarded will be shared at the event, but the minimum grant applied for is $5,000. Thus, this program is returning at least $30,000 to these small and diverse businesses in the Coachella Valley. This national program has awarded over 250 grants, from $5,000 to $100,000, across the U.S. within the past six months. Local councilmembers will be in attendance, as will National LGBT Chamber executives, including co-founder and president Justin Nelson, and co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell, and local LGBTQ Chamber Executive David Powell.”

• And finally … our friends at News Channel 3 have asked us to remind everyone that a local fundraiser for St. Jude is currently under way. Tickets for the Coachella Valley St. Jude Dream Home Getaway are currently on sale for $100. The results of the drawing for the home and other prizes will be announced on KESQ News Channel 3 on Tuesday, March 29. Head to www.stjude.org/give/dream-home/coachella-valley.html for details.

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...