Indy Digest: March 28, 2022
With every meeting I’ve scheduled this week, and every daytime commitment I’ve made, I’ve had to add a disclaimer: ” … that is, unless I get called in for jury duty.”
Yep, this week is my jury duty week, as assigned by the Indio Office of the Jury Commissioner for Riverside County’s courts. If you’ve lived in the Coachella Valley for more than a couple of years, you probably know the rigmarole: First, you get a letter in the mail, a white envelope containing a yellow-gray “summons for jury service” demanding that you be available to report, most likely during the most inopportune time.
In my case, I was originally summoned to appear during the holidays, when I had family in town. Fortunately, you can go online and postpone your service by 90 or so days … which is how this week became my jury duty week.
Second: On the weekend before your summons week, you have to call in or go online to check your status. In my case, I was told I didn’t need to report today, but to check back in this evening after 5:30.
What will happen then and/or for the rest of the week … who knows? During previous local jury duty weeks, I’ve had to check my status every day through Thursday evening, at which point I was excused. At other times, I’ve been told I needed to get my butt to the courthouse the next morning.
Then there are occasions when the instructions get truly nuts. I checked my status one evening, at which point I was instructed to check back late the next morning—and told I needed to be prepared to be at the courthouse within an hour of that check-in.
All of this uncertainty, of course, throws all of one’s plans for the week into chaos. Every day this week, I have meetings on my schedule … meetings which I may or may not need to cancel at the last minute.
This uncertainty makes me wonder: Couldn’t this whole jury-duty process be simplified? Isn’t there a way to do this without putting someone’s schedule for an entire week up in the air?
I have no problem with jury duty at all. I fully understand the reasons why it’s important, and I am happy to do my civic duty (even if I’ll almost surely get dismissed for any jury service that would extend beyond a couple of days due to my status as a small-business owner who can’t afford to take more than a couple of days off). I just think the Office of the Jury Commissioner could take steps to streamline the process, and take away some of the uncertainty.
In the meantime … if we’re supposed to meet this week, stay tuned. I’ll let you know after 5:30 p.m. the night before our meeting if I can make it.
From the Independent
By Bonnie Gilgallon
March 26, 2022
All This Intimacy is funny, witty, well-written and superbly acted—a wonderful evening of theater that should not be missed.
By Matt King
March 28, 2022
Code Orange blends headbanging metal with sci-fi—and frontman Jami Morgan says, before the band’s Coachella shows, that the festival doesn’t realize what it has signed up for.
Diamond in the Rough: Desert Rose Playhouse’s ‘Palm Springs the Musical’ Is a Brand-New Show With a Ton of Potential
By Bonnie Gilgallon
March 25, 2022
The world premiere of Born to Sparkle benefits from a nice story and a cast of strong performers. With tightened-up scene changes, solidified lines and adjusted microphones, Palm Springs the Musical will indeed sparkle.
Rip-Off Rather Than a Remake: ‘The Lost City’ Is a Slog, Even Though Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum Are Great
By Bob Grimm
March 28, 2022
The Lost City is obviously an attempt at making a new Romancing the Stone, but given how lame the finished product is, they would’ve been better off just remaking the original.
By Jimmy Boegle
March 28, 2022
The Thirsty Palms opened late last year in downtown Palm Springs, taking over the space long occupied by Peabody’s—and our breakfast there was almost flawless.
• As of last Monday and Tuesday (March 21 and 22), the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in Palm Springs wastewater remained low. The levels were little lower than they were the week before, and a little higher than they were the week before that. The more-contagious BA.2 omicron subvariant was detected in about 46 percent of the virus samples.
• People over the age of 50 who want to get another booster shot will likely soon be able to do so. NPR reports: “The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the additional booster shots without holding a meeting of its independent vaccine advisors. The plan comes as evidence increases that protection from three shots is fading and a fourth shot would help boost immunity back up. And as BA.2, an even more contagious version of the omicron variant, continues to spread in the U.S., concern is mounting it could fuel another surge. … But others question the plan. The vaccines are still doing a good job of protecting people from getting seriously ill. Critics say there just isn’t enough evidence yet that another shot is needed and that it would provide stronger protection that would last.”
• But if it turns out that everyone needs that additional booster, we may have a problem, as The Washington Post explains: “The Biden administration lacks the funds to purchase a potential fourth coronavirus vaccine dose for everyone, even as other countries place their own orders and potentially move ahead of the United States in line, administration officials said Monday. Federal officials have secured enough doses to cover a fourth shot for Americans age 65 and older as well as the initial regimen for children under 5, should regulators determine those shots are necessary, said three officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail funding decisions. But the officials say they cannot place advance orders for additional vaccine doses for those in other age groups, unless Congress passes a stalled $15 billion funding package.”
• Another casualty of the funding dispute: free COVID-19 tests for people who are uninsured … even if those people are symptomatic, ABC News says: “Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the country, told ABC News that patients who are not on Medicare, Medicaid or a private health plan will now be charged $125 ($119 and a $6 physician fee) when using one of its QuestDirect PCR tests either by ordering a kit online or visiting one of the 1,500 Quest or major retail locations that administer the tests, such as Walmart or Giant Eagle. More than 30 million Americans had no insurance during the first half of 2021, according to CDC estimates. … Federal funding to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment for uninsured Americans officially dried up; any further infusion of cash hinges on Congress passing the White House’s request for billions more in COVID relief, which is still stuck at an impasse. Quest has begun notifying its clients and partners they can no longer expect to be reimbursed for uninsured claims, barring additional funding from Congress.”
• The state, at the last minute, has agreed to extend pandemic-era eviction protections for renters who have an application in to California’s rent-relief program. Our partners at CalMatters report: “The state’s rent relief program, which has struggled to reach the neediest tenants and landlords from the start, continues to lag. As of last week, the state has paid $2.4 billion to about 214,000 households—fewer than half of all who have applied for aid. Those delays—which one study found left the average tenant waiting about three months to get paid—forced legislators’ hands: Last Thursday, the state’s top legislative leaders struck another last-minute deal designed to stave off eviction for another three months for hundreds of thousands of renters who have applied for relief but are still waiting to hear back. … The new legislation, expected to go into effect by Thursday, would shield tenants through June 30 as the state continues to process their paperwork.”
• Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill. The The Associated Press reports: “The law states: ‘Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.’ Parents would be able to sue districts over violations. … ‘The bill’s intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level,’ said state Rep. Carlos G. Smith, a Democrat who is gay. ‘Even worse, #DontSayGay sends a hateful message to our most vulnerable youth who simply need our support.’ Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said the law amounts to a political wedge issue for Republicans because elementary schools, especially in kindergarten through third grade, do not teach about these subjects and have state curriculum standards guiding classroom lessons.”
• Workers at Ralph’s, Vons and Albertsons have agreed to strike if their union can’t negotiate new contracts. The Press-Enterprise says: “The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents about 47,000 workers from Central California to the Mexico border, announced the vote Saturday. The ‘yes’ vote doesn’t automatically mean a strike will take place, but it authorizes the union to call a walkout if no progress is made during contract negotiations. UFCW Local 770 alerted its members Saturday. ‘Should your employers continue committing unfair labor practices, (ULP’s) like conducting unlawful surveillance of workers protesting or refusing to implement wage increases as required by your contract, to name a few, then we must take action,’ the union said in a statement.”
• And finally … as if we didn’t have enough to worry about, now we need to worry about local governments getting hacked. A computer science expert, writing for The Conversation, elaborates: “Local governments, like schools and hospitals, are particularly enticing ‘soft targets’—organizations that lack the resources to defend themselves against routine cyberattacks, let alone a lengthy cyber conflict. For those attacking such targets, the goal is not necessarily financial reward but disrupting society at the local level. From issuing business licenses and building permits and collecting taxes to providing emergency services, clean water and waste disposal, the services provided by local governments entail an intimate and ongoing daily relationship with citizens and businesses alike. Disrupting their operations disrupts the heart of U.S. society by shaking confidence in local government and potentially endangering citizens.”
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