Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: April 21, 2022

I’d like to draw your attention to a big story we published yesterday, lengthily headlined: “Not-So-Green Energy: Government Agencies and Utility Companies Are Rushing to Construct Large-Scale Solar-Power Projects in Our Deserts—Even Though They May Do More Harm Than Good.” (The piece will serve as our cover story in the May print edition.)

It’s an important story. The CliffsNotes version: The Obama administration, in a “rush to renewables,” pushed for large-scale solar power plants in deserts, more or less viewing deserts as wastelands.

However, deserts are anything but wastelands. Not only are they homes to a wide variety of plant and animal life; they’re also a place where plants have sequestered a LOT of carbon over the years … carbon that can be released into the atmosphere when energy companies start digging around to build large-scale solar plants.

The story touches on various related issues as well—the utilities’ lobbying efforts to promote large-scale power plants over smaller energy efforts like rooftop solar, and so on. It’s DEFINITELY worth a read.

However, in this space, I’d like to highlight a fairly minor point in the story. As staff writer Kevin Fitzgerald puts it: “The Independent reached out to BLM representatives for their input, but after more than two weeks of email exchanges indicating that we’d hear back, we never did.”

Government agencies not getting back to reporters is nothing new … but it’s getting worse. When I started in this business 25 years ago (cue “OMG WHEN DID I GET SO OLD? feeling), it was fairly rare for government representatives not to get back to me—not unheard of, but mildly surprising. But today, getting a response to a government query is a 50-50 proposition, at best.

Why is this happening? While I can’t be sure, I have some educated guesses. First: Government representatives—even people like public information officers, whose job it is to give out public information—aren’t as used to getting back to reporters, because there are a lot fewer of us than there used to be. According to a Pew Research Center piece from last July: “In 2008, there were about 114,000 total newsroom employees—reporters, editors, photographers and videographers—in five industries that produce news: newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable and ‘other information services’ (the best match for digital news publishers). By 2020, that number had declined to about 85,000, a loss of about 30,000 jobs.” I can say with confidence that the number has decreased significantly from 85,000 since 2020.

Second: Media-bashing is far more common among politicians these days. Donald Trump went as far to declare us an “enemy of the people,” if you’ll recall. And if elected officials don’t care much for reporters, why should the people who work under them care much for them?

No matter the reason, it’s not good that government representatives have more or less decided that it’s OK to ignore the requests of reporters—especially if you view honest journalists as the “Fourth Estate.”

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Not-So-Green Energy: Government Agencies and Utility Companies Are Rushing to Construct Large-Scale Solar-Power Projects in Our Deserts—Even Though They May Do More Harm Than Good

By Kevin Fitzgerald

April 20, 2022

Our deserts are not only homes to a richness of biodiversity; they’re also places where a lot of carbon has been sequestered.

Nostalgic Romp: Desert Rose’s World Premiere of ‘Mid-Century Moderns’ Is a Top-Notch Musical in Every Way

By Bonnie Gilgallon

April 21, 2022

Mid-Century Moderns is a fun musical trip back to the 1960s well worth taking

Psychedelically Haunting: Q.Varo Mixes Creativity and Gear to Explore the Outer Realms of Music

By Matt King

April 21, 2022

Local legend Gabriella Evaro and drummer extraordinaire Tyler Saraca conjure up psychedelically haunting jams that are truly out of this world.

An Artistic Legacy: The National Trust for Historic Preservation Celebrates Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum

By Cat Makino

April 19, 2022

Joshua Tree’s Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art was recently accepted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation into its prestigious Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program

The Lucky 13: Jorge Ruvalcaba, aka Quivero, Local DJ/Producer

By Matt King

April 20, 2022

Get to know Jorge Ruvalcaba, aka Quivero, one of the valley’s up-and-coming DJs/producers.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for April 21, 2022!

By Staff

April 21, 2022

Topics addressed on this week’s comics page include plaid shirts, Fenway Park, cliches, George Soros—and more!

More News

It turns out that interest in streaming services has limits. The New York Times reports on a major blunder by a big media company: “At sunset on the last Monday of March, CNN stars gathered for a gala on the 101st floor of a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper to celebrate the launch of CNN+, the streaming service that was supposed to take the network into the digital future. Ethan Hawke, who directed a film for CNN+, mingled with Anderson Cooper and Carl Bernstein as guests nibbled on miniature lobster rolls and gawked at the dizzying views of the New York City skyline. It took three weeks for CNN’s new owners to bring them down to earth. In a move that stunned the media and tech worlds, Warner Bros. Discovery said on Thursday that it will abruptly shut down CNN+ on April 30. The shutdown is an ignominious end to an operation into which CNN sank tens of millions of dollars.”

The next COVID-19 vaccines will likely be designed to combat multiple variants. Time magazine reports: “… To get longer-lasting and stronger immune responses, the next booster might have to target more than one strain of SARS-CoV-2. That would make COVID-19 vaccines similar to the annual flu shot, which normally helps the body to generate immunity against up to three different influenza strains. On April 19, Moderna, which makes one of the two mRNA vaccines available in the U.S., reported results of the first such combination vaccine. … Overall, the combination booster generated higher antibody responses than those produced by the original booster against not just the original virus strain but against others as well, including Delta and Omicron, even though the new vaccine did not target those and was designed to focus on Beta specifically.”

Kaiser Health News asks the question: “Better Ventilation Can Prevent COVID Spread. But Are Companies Paying Attention?” Key quote: “One of the most effective ways to curb disease transmission indoors is to swap out most of the air in a room—replacing the stale, potentially germy air with fresh air from outside or running it through high-efficiency filters—as often as possible. Without that exchange, ‘if you have someone in the room who’s sick, the viral particles are going to build up,’ said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Exchanging the air five times an hour cuts the risk of coronavirus transmission in half, according to research cited by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Yet most buildings today exchange the air only once or twice an hour.”

Housing prices continue to set records throughout Southern California. According to The Press Enterprise: “Steeply rising mortgage rates are starting to chill the region’s housing market but not enough to keep prices from hitting all-time highs in all six counties last month. The median price of a Southern California home—or price at the midpoint of all sales—was $735,000 in March, DQNews reported Wednesday, April 20, using data from Irvine-based real estate research firm CoreLogic. The region’s median set records in 12 of the past 14 months, rising $105,000, or nearly 17%, since March 2021. That’s an average price hike of $2,019 per week. Prices were up by double digits in all six counties.”

• An Indian Wells City Councilmember is resigning, apparently because she’s moving. From a news release: “Council member Kimberly Muzik has resigned her seat on the Indian Wells City Council effective May 31, 2022. Council member Muzik has been a valuable and dedicated public servant for the city of Indian Wells since being elected to council in 2016 and serving as mayor from December 2017 through December 2018. ‘It is with a heavy heart and sadness that I resign my seat on the City Council as I will no longer have my primary residence in our beautiful City of Indian Wells,’ said Councilmember Muzik. … The Indian Wells City Council plans to hold a preliminary discussion about filling the Council seat at its next meeting, which will be May 19. Under state law, the council may appoint a replacement or hold a special election. Council must decide how to fill the seat within 60 days of the seat becoming vacant. In either case, the new council member will be appointed until the November ballot election.”

Sunnylands is bringing back Family Fun Day this Sunday. From a news release: “After a two-year pause during the coronavirus pandemic, Sunnylands Center and Gardens is reviving its free Family Days with an April 24 celebration of desert birds, bugs, and plant life. ‘Family Day: In the Gardens’ runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features a variety of activities tied to the ecosystems of the desert, including guided bird walks at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. with knowledgeable birders; … Opportunities to speak with Master Gardeners from the University of California, Riverside; the creation of a community mural with artist Tysen Knight that is inspired by the colors and shapes of the desert environment” and more. (FYI: The release also goes on to say Sunnylands will be closed April 25-May 3 for a conference.)

• A downtown Palm Springs restaurant is turning 30, and has two events coming up. First, Friday, April 22 is Pink Day, Owner Kelle Baker tells us: “It is our day to honor our Blue Coyote family and friends that have been affected by breast cancer. On this day, we become the Pink Coyote Grill! This is a benefit for Shay’s Warriors a local organization that helps inspire, inform, empower and help heal women and their families through health, fitness, and the mind-body connection after cancer … 15% of our sales that day will go to them.” Two days later, on Sunday, April 24, they’ll have a 30th birthday party. Learn more about both events here. (You can read more about Blue Coyote turning 30 at

• And finally … David Robinson, the director of analytic services for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, does a lot of great local number-crunching features, and the one this week is especially interesting: The U.S. Census Bureau just released 1950 Census data, so Robinson decided to take a look at the Coachella Valley back then. A taste: “Note that there were only three incorporated cities in 1950—Indio (1930), Palm Springs (1938), and Coachella (1946). … The census boundaries comprising the Coachella Valley in 1950 had a total population of 51,214, between the current population of Palm Springs (47,600) and Cathedral City (54,130). The current population estimate for the Coachella Valley is 460,800, a nine-fold increase from 1950!”

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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...