Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: June 7, 2021

A round of applause, please, for the journalists who cover state politics—and, specifically, those who cover Gov. Gavin Newsom.

We’re now eight days from the most significant moment in California’s recovery from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic: The June 15 abolition of the county tier system of restrictions, and the “complete reopening” of California’s economy. However, as that day approaches, there are a lot of open questions about what, exactly, “complete reopening” means.

This brings us to a press conference Gov. Gavin Newsom—who, as you probably know, is facing a recall election later this year—held on Friday. I’ll let Emily Hoeven of CalMatters take things from here:

The stage was set—literally—for a positive announcement. Newsom, standing in front of shimmery gold and red curtains and a Wheel of Fortune-style gizmo in the California Lottery Building in Sacramento, randomly selected the first 15 winners of a $50,000 cash prize from the state’s vaccine lottery program. Confetti rained down on the governor as he held up a supersized check emblazoned with “Vax for the Win” and “FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.”

But then tough questions from reporters began raining down, and the state’s June 15 grand reopening started to look a little hazy.

First, Newsom suggested he wouldn’t take executive action to overturn rules passed late Thursday night by California’s workplace safety agency requiring many employees to keep wearing masks past June 15. Then, in response to a question from CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, he said he would not end California’s state of emergency on June 15.

Newsom“This disease has not been extinguished. It’s not vanished. It’s not taking the summer months off.” … Just like that, the main takeaway from Friday’s event went from “cash prizes for getting vaccinated” to “Newsom doesn’t plan to end the state of emergency.” 

This is a prime example why journalists—specifically, journalists who are present and who are asking difficult questions—are VERY MUCH NEEDED.

If Friday’s event had been left up to the governor, he’d have gotten all sorts of nice press for giving away prizes and whatnot. However, because the press was there to ask questions, we learned more about what’s happening on June 15 … even if that knowledge, paradoxically, made what’s happening on June 15 seem LESS clear.

Journalism: 1. Politics: 0.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Cannabis in the CV: Ignore the Myths and Misinformation—Weed Businesses Actually Increase Safety, Property Values

By Jocelyn Kane

June 7, 2021

The research is in—and various studies show that cannabis businesses are actually quite good for property values.

A Significant Sequel: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Is Much Like the Original—It Is Implausible but Entertaining

By Bob Grimm

June 7, 2021

A Quiet Place was a lot of fun—even if the movie had all sorts of plot holes and implausible plot gimmicks. Well, the same things […]

More News

• Some friends have faced this very question recently—and inevitably, as we all start getting out more, a lot more of us will face it: If you’re fully vaccinated, and you start feeling ill, should you get a COVID-19 test? An infectious-disease specialist, writing for The Conversation, answers thusly: “If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested for COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated. You won’t be at high risk for hospitalization or severe disease, but if you are infected you may pass the virus to an unvaccinated person, who could then get very sick.” This piece has a lot of useful information about what we know—and don’t know—about vaccine effectiveness, breakthrough cases, and more.

Al Tompkins, of the Poynter Institute, takes a look at the huge mess the pandemic has created in the nation’s courts. (It’s a particularly big problem here in California—where courts were already backed up before SARS-Co-V-2 arrived.) Tompkins includes this stunning quote from KXLY-TV in Spokane, Wash: “Even if Judge James Rogers excludes all cases of nonviolent crime and adds one extra judge, he estimates it will still take King County about 13 years to work through the backlog of criminal cases that have built up over the pandemic. That’s 13 years of longer jail times for some of the accused—who are still presumed innocent—and 13 years of waiting for delayed legal proceedings for the accusers.” Yikes.

• Some sad news from the local theater world: Coyote StageWorks is calling it quits. From a press release sent earlier today: “Along with other theatre companies around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Coyote to cancel its 2019-2020 season, and that closure has continued due to the uncertainty thus far in 2021. This period of forced introspection led Coyote’s leadership to conclude that this was the right time to permanently close the company while celebrating its many accomplishments and accolades. … Having accomplished what he set out to do, Founding Artistic Director Chuck Yates said that he ‘deeply appreciates that the community embraced our mission “to provide a forum for thought-provoking, entertaining, and culturally significant works in an environment that nurtures the creativity of the individual and the enrichment of the community.” I am a very lucky man to get to do exactly what I wanted to do for 13 years. It’s been such an amazing ride, and now I look forward to my next chapter. Our rich legacy will live on through the Palm Springs Young Playwright’s Festival, which will continue and thrive … The Festival was designed to help discover and nurture the next generation of writers from local middle and high school students, and that is exactly what it will continue to do as an independent entity.’” Those of us here at the Independent tip our figurative cap to Yates and the rest of the Coyote StageWorks crew.

• Gun-control advocates are quite displeased after a federal judge overturned the state’s three-decade old ban on assault weapons. The Los Angeles Times noted that one particular portion of the ruling seemed particularly, well, odd to some: “In declaring the ban unconstitutional late Friday, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez compared the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife, calling it ‘good for both home and battle.’ Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush and serves in the Southern District of California, issued a permanent injunction against the law’s enforcement but stayed it for 30 days to give the state a chance to appeal.”

The Washington Post pointed out that Judge Benitez’s ruling was further muddled by the fact that he threw in some COVID-19 vaccine-conspiracy nonsense: “Benitez perhaps inadvertently undermined his arguments by reaching for another comparison—one between deaths from mass shootings and coronavirus vaccines. Not the coronavirus itself, mind you, but specifically coronavirus vaccines. ‘The evidence described so far proves that the “harm” of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event,’ Benitez wrote. ‘More people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.’ This is, to put it diplomatically, completely baseless. Such claims often come with citations to back them up, but Benitez offers none, probably because there isn’t one.” Wow.

• The FDA has approved the first-ever drug that’s meant to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease—even though it’s unclear whether it actually works. CNN explains: “The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the use of the experimental drug aducanumab for early phases of Alzheimer’s disease—despite an FDA advisory committee concluding last year that there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of the treatment. … The FDA has not approved a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003.”

• I’m just gonna put this piece of news, from The Hill, right here, and then run as fast as I can in the other direction: “Former President Trump is launching a speaking tour with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that will aim to ‘provide a never before heard inside view of his administration.‘ The series, dubbed ‘The History Tour,’ will feature four live conversations across the country between Trump and O’Reilly in December.”

The Press-Enterprise reported late last week that Sheriff Chad Bianco has not followed through on a promise to form a panel to discuss various issues surrounding policing: “A year ago, when Riverside County supervisors debated reviewing Sheriff’s Department procedures in the wake of George Floyd’s slaying, Sheriff Chad Bianco talked about plans to form a community panel to discuss policing issues. … The board ultimately backed away from taking a closer look at Bianco’s department. But the panel the sheriff said he wanted to form since he was elected in 2018 has yet to meet. In an emailed statement, Bianco said he’s held off on holding panel meetings because of statewide restrictions put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.” The Press-Enterprise went on to say Bianco did not answer follow-up questions regarding the makeup of the panel, nor did he say when the group might actually meet. Sigh.

• And finally … this weird and depressing story from the Los Angeles Times literally made me exclaim, “Holy shit!” when after I read the first several paragraphs: “Eggs littered the sand, but there was no sign of life around or in them. The seabirds that should have been keeping watch had taken off, terrified by a drone that crash-landed into their nesting grounds on an island at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. … Some 3,000 elegant terns fled the reserve after the drone crashed May 12, leaving behind 1,500 to 2,000 eggs, none of them viable. It was the largest egg abandonment that scientists who work there can recall. As for the birds, which are highly sensitive to perceived threats—nobody is sure what happened to them.”

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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...