Indy Digest: Feb. 23, 2023
Let’s say you’re an out-of-towner who wants to come to the desert for a three-day weekend, from Thursday, May 11, through Sunday, May 14.
It’s a busy weekend—the White Party is scheduled then, for starters—so you’re going to pay a lot, especially if you want to stay at a nice place.
I just searched four nice resort hotels for rates that weekend. At the Renaissance Indian Wells, you can get a room for $411 a night, before taxes (if you’re willing to prepay). Sounds pricey, but that’s a steal compared to the $470 per night you’ll pay at the La Quinta Resort and Club, or the $479 per night you’ll fork over for a room at the Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage. And if you want to stay at the Kimpton Rowan—perhaps you want to be in downtown Palm Springs—you’re going to need to open your wallet wide, and pay $548 per night.
Pricey, huh? Well … it turns out you’re going to have to pay even more—because they all charge “resort fees” on top of these already spendy prices.
The Agua Caliente’s resort fee is $24 per day. The La Quinta Resort’s is $35 a day, while the Renaissance Indian Wells’ resort fee is $36 per day. And at the Rowan, you’ll have to shell out an extra $46.72 per day.
The good news: The Biden administration wants to do something about these stupid fees. Business Insider, via MSN, says:
President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address earlier this month railed against what he called “junk fees,” allying himself with consumers incensed over elevated charges on everything from credit card late fees to charges incurred simply by switching cable providers.
“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most other folks in homes like the one I grew up in, like many of you did,” he said in laying out his administration’s push for Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act.
“We’re going to ban surprise resort fees that hotels charge on your bill. Those fees can cost up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts,” he said, leaning into his microphone for added emphasis.
Biden has taken on a populist tack to the issue, which is poised to put pressure not only on the hotel industry, but on legislators who will have a hard time justifying many of the fees to consumers who have already been battered by high inflation in the wake of supply-chain issues resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The bad news: The hotel and casino industries are bound and determined to keep them in place. The Nevada Independent reports:
A day after (the State of the Union) speech, the Washington, D.C. based trade organization, in a letter to the FTC, said resort fees shouldn’t be included in the agency’s Junk Fee Prevention Act.
“Resort fees at our members’ properties are charged for services that provide substantial value to customers, enhance the quality of their stay, and distinguish resorts from standard lodging offerings,” AGA CEO Bill Miller wrote to the FTC.
He said the casino industry doesn’t hide the resort fees, which are “disclosed in a clear and prominent way. Casino resort industry practice is to display resort fees early in the online purchasing process.”
Really? So what if you go to a “resort,” and don’t use these special “services”? Can you get a break on your resort fee? And what happens if you don’t use ANY of these
The answer: You still get charged the resort fee, in full. If the fee is not optional depending on one’s use of “services,” that amount should be included in the room price. But it’s not.
Resort fees are a rip-off, pure and simple—but the hotels are going to keep charging them, because they can get away with it.
From the Independent
Civic Solutions: The Desert Water Agency Increases Its Budget for Grass Removal as Residents Take Advantage
By Melissa Daniels
February 23rd, 2023
Desert Water Agency’s grass-removal program pays at least $3 per square foot to remove grass and replace it with more drought-friendly, natural covers—such as stones, gravel, turf or native plants.
Art Harmony: CODA Gallery Hosts the Works of renowned street artists in ‘Burner: The Exhibition’
By Matt King
February 23rd, 2023
CODA Gallery in Palm Desert is hosting Burner: The Exhibition, a touring art show featuring urban artists from all over the world, with works from notable creatives like Banksy, Dalek, KEF! and others.
Restaurant News Bites: Electrical Issue Closes Rio Azul, Rooster and the Pig; Nobu Is Now a Year-Round Local; and More!
By Charles Drabkin
February 21st, 2023
The latest Coachella Valley restaurant news, including a new coffee joint on El Paseo; new digs for Cork and Fork; and more!
The Indy Endorsement: The King Mushroom Burger at Gastro Grind Burgers
By Jimmy Boegle
February 23rd, 2023
At Gastro Grind, customers have three different beef blends from which to choose … and a whole lot more.
The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Feb. 23, 2023!
February 23rd, 2023
Topics found herein this week include Don Lemon, jokes about pronouns, redlining, the death penalty—and much more!
• The state is looking into the goings-on at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The Los Angeles Times reports: California’s attorney general has opened a civil rights investigation of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office amid allegations of excessive force against detainees and inhumane conditions in county jail facilities. ‘We all benefit when there is action to ensure the integrity of policing in our state,’ Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said. ‘It is time for us to shine a light on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and its practices.’ Bonta said he was troubled by reports that sheriff’s deputies were using excessive force and by Riverside County’s high rate of deaths in custody. ‘Too many families and communities in Riverside are hurting and looking for answers,’ he said. … Last year, Bonta said, Riverside County jails ‘reported their deadliest year in two decades.’”
• We post links to news stories about recalls fairly recently … and—fun fact!—this is the first time something I have is being recalled. CBS News says: “Popular kitchen appliances brand Cosori is recalling two million air-fryers after receiving 205 reports of the air fryers catching fire, burning, melting, overheating and smoking. Resulting injuries included superficial burn injuries as well as property damage. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall Thursday, urging consumers to immediately stop using the products, which have a wire connection that is prone to overheating, raising concerns the fryers could catch fire and burn or otherwise injure consumers. ‘After a thorough investigation, we determined that in extremely rare circumstances, the closed-end crimp connectors within the recalled air fryers — which are responsible for establishing electrical connections between certain wires — can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards,’ Cosori said in a statement on its website.”
• For the second straight week, Palm Springs wastewater testing shows that the amount of SARS-CoV-2 is on the rise: “The average number of copies (per liter) recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant increased. The average of 379,938 copies/L from the previous week went up to an average of 463,287, copies/L for February 13 and 14.”
• Down in Indio, the Valley Sanitary District’s testing shows the amount of the virus that causes COVID-19 is holding steadyish.
• Lots of terrible news in the journalism world today. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “Even before he stepped into his first newsroom, Dylan Lyons’ future in journalism looked promising. While a student at University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media, Lyons quickly proved himself to be a leader who was interested in teaching others as he learned, said Rick Brunson, a senior instructor in the journalism school. … Lyons, 24, died after he and another Spectrum News 13 employee, photojournalist Jesse Walden, were shot just after 4 p.m. Wednesday while working on a report at the scene of a homicide that happened in the 6100 block of Hialeah Street in Pine Hills hours earlier. Walden was critically injured in the shooting but survived.”
• Pink slips are coming at NPR. According to The New York Times: “NPR will lay off 10 percent of its staff to make up for a $30 million gap in its budget, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday. In an email to the staff, John Lansing, the news organization’s chief executive, said the public radio network’s financial outlook ‘has darkened considerably over recent weeks.’ ‘At a time when we are doing some of our most ambitious and essential work, the global economy remains uncertain,’ Mr. Lansing wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times. ‘As a result, the ad industry has weakened and we are grappling with a sharp decline in our revenues from corporate sponsors.’ Mr. Lansing said the budget shortfall this year, once estimated to be $20 million, had grown to at least $30 million.”
• And finally … if you encounter someone dressed as the Cookie Monster, beware. SFGate says: “A man dressed as the ‘Sesame Street’ character Cookie Monster is frightening locals and tourists in Santa Cruz—so much so that police are asking people to avoid him. Although a Cookie Monster wandering the Santa Cruz Wharf may seem like a fun photo op, the Santa Cruz Police Department warned: ‘Do not engage.’ Police told KSBW several calls have been made to the department about the man, although he has not been arrested or charged with any crimes. Local outlets have reported the man has been seen harassing and shouting at people.’ A spokesperson from the Santa Cruz Police Department told SFGATE the man is believed to be Adam Sandler, better known in the Bay Area as ‘Evil Elmo.’ He is not related to the actor of the same name. … ‘He goes on rants and raves and accuses people of conspiracy theories,’ said Troy Campbell, then-executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District. ‘He frightens visitors and locals. Whatever business he’s in front of has a horrible day.’“
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