Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: May 4, 2023

Before the election last year, I wrote a piece explaining why a big portion of the Coachella Valley would not have elected state Senate representation for two years.

To quote myself:

For the next two years—even though the Legislature will likely designate a non-local senator to handle as a “caretaker” for constituent services—most of the Coachella Valley will have no Senate representation. The reasons? Math, reapportionment, and the state’s unwillingness to do anything to fix this electoral glitch.

Every 10 years, the state, via an independent redistricting commission, takes U.S. Census data and re-draws all the electoral district lines. However, in California, state senators are elected to four-year terms, with half of the senators up for election every two years. But that means that after the newly redistricted maps are released, only half of the new districts are up for election.

Other states deal with this glitch in ways that assure nobody is disenfranchised for two years. Some states only elect Senators to two-year terms. Others—Florida, for example—use a 2-4-4-year-term system, so all state Senate seats are up for election after reapportionment.

Then there are states like California, which deal with it by … not dealing with it.

To clarify: Odd-numbered Senate seats are up for election during presidential-election years (like 2020 and 2024). Even-numbered Senate seats are up for election during years when the state elects its constitutional officers, from governor on down (like 2022). Indio and Coachella residents voted for their state senator last year, after the state’s independent redistricting commission put them into the new District 18, now represented by Democrat Steve Padilla.

The rest of the Coachella Valley was put in the new District 19, which is not up for election until 2024. That means the state senator elected in 2020 in the old District 19, which was/is in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, remains in office until 2024.

However, as I alluded to in our piece last year, we do now have a “caretaker” state senator: Republican Kelly Seyarto.

Seyarto is actually the senator for the new District 32, elected in 2022 by residents of areas including Murrieta, Corona and Temecula. However, he was appointed to also represent the southern chunk of our new District 19, which neighbors his district, until the next election.

You can learn more about Seyarto, and find his contact info should you need it, here. His staff also has a district office in Palm Springs. The three latest news items posted on his site as of this writing have to do with him introducing a Senate resolution to create a California Fitness Day; him holding a “press conference to repeal the death tax and restore taxpayer protections”; and something involving National Crime Victims’ Week, which was at the end of April.

We’ll be reaching out to Sen. Seyarto in the coming weeks to talk to him about the weirdness of representing a whole group of constituents who aren’t actually his constituents. In the meantime, thanks to him for picking up the figurative slack.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Restriction Rollback: Coachella Valley’s Water Agencies Are Dropping Rules Regarding Water Use—but the Colorado River Remains a Problem

By Kevin Fitzgerald

May 2nd, 2023

The governor’s March 24 announcement that he was rescinding the 15% voluntary water-usage reduction target for every household and business in the state prompted many of the state’s water agencies to discontinue most Level 2 usage restrictions.

Music to Help Pets: Punk-Band Sticky Doll Organizes the ‘A Cause for Paws’ Benefit Concert in Twentynine Palms

By Matt King

May 3rd, 2023

Six local music acts, led by punk band Sticky Doll, are coming together at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 13, to benefit two local nonprofits that help animals, the Animal Authority Rescue Team and the Animal Action League.

On Cocktails: It’s Time for Bartenders to Revive Excellence and Creativity—Perhaps With Some Help From Science

By Kevin Carlow

May 3rd, 2023

Beyond the obnoxious trappings that come with it, bartenders putting science in your glass can be kind of awesome.

The Venue Report, May 2023: Lady A, Sponge, Randy Roberts—and More!

By Matt King

May 2nd, 2023

A sampling of May’s Coachella Valley entertainment offerings.

The Indy Endorsement: The Biscuits and Gravy Sliders at Brunch 101

By Jimmy Boegle

May 3rd, 2023

Brunch 101 offers exactly what one would expect: breakfast, brunch and lunch fare like omelets, Benedicts, sandwiches, salads and even a couple taco options. However, a lot of the dishes have a unique twist.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for May 4, 2023!

By Staff

May 4th, 2023

Topics addressed this week include Mike Lindell, magnifying glasses, cave paintings, basketball—and much more!

McCallum Muses Present Historic Check at Annual On-Stage Luncheon (nonprofit submission)

By Jeffrey Norman

May 4th, 2023

With the fun and playful theme of “Muses in Wonderland,” The Muses and Patroness Circle of McCallum Theatre’s 35th Annual On-Stage Birthday Luncheon featured a historic check presentation.

More News

• The good news: After being the third-leading cause of U.S. deaths in 2020 and 2021 (behind heart disease and cancer), COVID-19 was not the third-leading cause in 2022. The bad news: It was still the fourth-leading cause. The New York Times breaks it down: “Unintentional injuries—a category that includes drug overdoses and car accidents—were responsible for more deaths than COVID last year and were the nation’s third leading cause of death. Deaths from heart disease and cancer both rose in 2022, compared with 2021. Some 186,702 of the 3.2 million deaths in the United States in 2022 were caused by COVID. The virus contributed to another 58,284 deaths for which it was not deemed the underlying cause. A large proportion of COVID deaths occurred during the first months of 2022. (All together), the virus played some role in about a quarter million deaths last year, a 47 percent decrease from the 462,193 COVID-related deaths in 2021.”

In other virus-related news: The FDA has approved a vaccine for RSV, to be used in people 60 or older. NBC News says: “In a late-stage clinical trial, the single-dose shot lowered the risk of symptomatic illness by 83% and of severe illness by 94%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must still recommend the vaccine before it becomes available to the public. A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet in June to discuss how the shot should be used. Dr. Phil Dormitzer, GSK’s senior vice president and global head of vaccines research and development, said the company is already manufacturing doses of the vaccine, to be sold under the brand name Arexvy. … RSV causes a lower respiratory illness that is typically mild for healthy adults. But in serious cases, the virus can lead to pneumonia or bronchiolitis, which inflames airways and clogs them with mucus. Older people and infants are particularly at risk: RSV kills up to 10,000 people ages 65 or older and up to 300 children under 5 every year in the U.S.”

ProPublica has published yet another piece regarding yet more undisclosed gifts U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received from a wealthy megadonor. The lede: “In 2008, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas decided to send his teenage grandnephew to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in the foothills of northern Georgia. The boy, Mark Martin, was far from home. For the previous decade, he had lived with the justice and his wife in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin when he was 6 years old and had recently told an interviewer he was ‘raising him as a son.’ Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month. But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow. The payments extended beyond that month, according to Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at the school. Crow paid Martin’s tuition the entire time he was a student there, which was about a year, Grimwood told ProPublica. … Before and after his time at Hidden Lake, Martin attended a second boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia. “Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,” Grimwood said, recalling a conversation he had with Crow during a visit to the billionaire’s Adirondacks estate.”

• A follow-up, of sorts, to the intro in Monday’s Indy Digest: Wired magazine says a new Twitter alternative may have what it takes to compete: “Have you heard about Bluesky? If you haven’t, you will soon. For now, the Twitter alternative is in invite-only mode—but the people on it won’t shut up about it, so the hype is loud despite its small size. (‘Everything I have learned about Bluesky has been against my will,’ one of my friends recently complained.) Backed by Twitter cofounder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, Bluesky is part of a motley pool of competitors jockeying to become the next great microblogging platform, including Hive, Mastodon, Post, Truth Social, T2, and Substack Notes, among others. So what makes it special? When you log in to the app that’s not immediately apparent. Bluesky looks like a stripped-down version of Twitter, missing features like drafts, a “block” button, and direct messages. It’s easy to use, but that’s because it’s so unoriginal—if you’ve ever tweeted, you’ll be familiar with the interface.”

The Coachella Valley Water District says people need to stay the heck out of the Whitewater River. From a news release: “Coachella Valley Water District reminds residents and visitors of all ages to avoid the Whitewater River channel near Windy Point on both sides of Interstate 10 north of Palm Springs. Entering the area is extremely dangerous and illegal. The high and fast water flows in the channel can easily knock a person off their feet and sweep them down the channel leading to injury or death. Children are even more susceptible to the force of the water. Currently, the flow rate in the channel is about 525 cubic feet per second. That is the equivalent of 525 basketballs moving past a given point every second. Because the Department of Water Resources recently granted CVWD 100% of its State Water Project allocation, the water delivery is expected to increase to 725 CFS beginning the week of May 7. CVWD expects significant deliveries throughout the year.”

And finally … The Associated Press reports that for the first time, scientists have observed a star swallowing up a planet all at once: “Astronomers on Wednesday reported their observations of what appeared to be a gas giant around the size of Jupiter or bigger being eaten by its star. The sun-like star had been puffing up with old age for eons and finally got so big that it engulfed the close-orbiting planet. It’s a gloomy preview of what will happen to Earth when our sun morphs into a red giant and gobbles the four inner planets. ‘If it’s any consolation, this will happen in about 5 billion years,’ said co-author Morgan MacLeod of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. This galactic feast happened between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago near the Aquila constellation when the star was around 10 billion years old. As the planet went down the stellar hatch, there was a swift hot outburst of light, followed by a long-lasting stream of dust shining brightly in cold infrared energy, the researchers said.”

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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...