Daily Digest: March 5, 2021
It’s been almost a year since one of the weirdest moments of my career: the point when I made the decision to turn off our events calendar, and temporarily stop running three of our more popular features—our Indy Endorsements and our Restaurant News Bites column in our Food & Drink section, and The Venue Report in our Music section.
Never in my life did I imagine these features would become, well, pointless, because we’d reached a time when there were no events, and there were no open restaurants. I still get a sickly feeling in my stomach when I think about it.
We turned the events calendar back on when “virtual events” started to become a thing—and I am very happy to say that the time has come to bring back two of the three features.
Next week, we’ll resume doing Indy Endorsements—which, if you’re unfamiliar, are our short pieces on food or drink items, from local eateries, that we absolutely love. Later in March, we will resume our monthly Restaurant News Bites column, with food writer Charles Drabkin taking over the reins. Barring anything unforeseen, these features will also return to our monthly print editions, starting with the April issue.
As for the resumption of The Venue Report, music writer Matt King and I are (very) tentatively planning on resuming that on late April, covering events in the month of May. However, that’s subject to change: If it seems premature, we’ll hold off for a month or two. And if we start hearing about more than a handful of April events, we could restart the column sooner—presuming it seems like a responsible thing to do. (More on this possibility below.)
A year ago, we were experiencing fear and discomfort. Today—while we’re collectively tired and perhaps a bit beaten down from all we’ve experienced since last March—there’s hope and optimism in the air.
From the Independent
Cannabis in the CV: Some Valley Cities Were Among the First to Welcome Cannabis Businesses—but Other SoCal Cities Are Now Getting Into the Game
By Jocelyn Kane
March 4, 2021
Our new cannabis columnist looks at the state of the cannabis industry in the Coachella Valley.
March 4, 2021
On this week’s masked-up weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World hides from anti-maskers; Claytoonz discovers where all the mail has been going; Jen Sorensen […]
By Brett Newton
March 5, 2021
Our beer scribe thinks hazy IPAs can be perfectly decent. But he thinks West Coast IPAs are better.
And Now, the News
• As for why it’s possible that we may need to restart The Venue Report sooner rather than later: The state today announced that as of April 1, outdoor performance and sports venues can reopen to fans—and so can amusement parks (in counties in at least the red tier). The Los Angeles Times explains: “For counties in the strictest tier, purple, capacity will be limited to 100 people or fewer, and attendance will be regionally limited. Advanced reservations will be required, and there will be no concession or concourse sales. In the red tier, capacity will be limited to 20%, with primarily in-seat concession sales. The capacity limit will rise to 33% for counties in the orange tier and 67% for those in the yellow. Attendance will be limited to in-state visitors in the red, orange and yellow tiers.”
• The state is also setting aside 40 percent of the vaccines for use in the state’s underserved communities—and will revise the state’s tier system once more lower-income residents get their shots. SFGate explains: “The state’s wealthier residents have also been vaccinated at roughly twice the rate of the state’s low-income residents, according to state officials. … Roughly 1.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state’s hardest-hit communities that will be targeted as part of the 40 percent allocation, according to (state health secretary) Dr. Marl Ghaly. Once the state hits 2 million doses administered in those communities, the threshold to move out of the purple tier—which would allow counties to reopen indoor dining, indoor gyms and other businesses—would move from seven new cases per day per 100,000 residents to 10. Ghaly said it will take roughly one to two weeks to meet that 2 million dose threshold.”
• I was again a guest, along with Dr. Laura Rush, on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast, with hosts Shann Carr, John Taylor and Brad Fuhr. We discussed Vaxie.info, reasons for hope and all sorts of other things. During the podcast, I promised I’d share the county’s phone number for seniors who need assistance booking vaccination appointments, so here it is: dial 2-1-1 or 951-329-4703.
• The county today announced it was joining forces with some local nonprofits to offer more rental assistance. From the news release: “Applications for the next round of United Lift rental assistance will be available to Riverside County residents beginning on Monday, March 8. The program will continue until funds are depleted, or until December 31, 2021, whichever happens first. This year, the program will provide one-time rental assistance support to cover up to 12 months of unpaid rent during the period between March 13, 2020 until the time of application, plus an additional three months of future rent. Eligibility is limited to renters in Riverside County with a current lease agreement who are earning 80 percent or below of the area’s median income and can document a loss of income due to COVID-19 economic impacts that leave them unable to make their rent. Assistance is provided without regard to immigration status.” To apply or get more info, visit www.unitedlift.org.
• Tourism groups—including Visit Palm Springs—are calling on the governor to issue guidelines for the resumption of business events and conventions. Fox 11 Los Angeles reports: “In a letter addressed to Newsom, tourism officials say California is losing business and jobs to other states ‘not just today but in 2022 and beyond because of the uncertainty caused by a lack of guidelines.’ … ‘We’re not asking Governor Newsom to open California to business meetings and events tomorrow; we’re asking for a plan today so we can safely hold events in the future,’ said Barb Newton, President and CEO, CalTravel. ‘These events bring more than just direct revenue and jobs. They bring people who spend money on hotel rooms, restaurants, local shops and services. The ripple effect is huge and benefits both large and small communities but we’re losing the benefits to other states.'”
• Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., this is happening, according to The Washington Post: “Senate action on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill screeched to a halt Friday as an 11th-hour compromise on unemployment insurance benefits appeared to unravel, leaving the entire effort in limbo and raising questions about Democrats’ ability to govern with a 50-50 Senate.” Sigh.
• Something else is happening in D.C. and beyond: A series of hypocritical moves by the GOP in the wake of the Trump era. The Post says: “North Carolina’s Republican Party acted quickly last month to censure one of its most senior members, Sen. Richard Burr, for voting to convict President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Burr’s vote was ‘shocking and disappointing,’ said Michael Whatley, chairman of the state party. But the state GOP has shown no interest in exploring a similar action against one of its youngest elected leaders, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a pro-Trump freshman who is accused by a number of women of sexual harassment and has a record of making false statements and baseless claims.”
• Here’s a weird story worth following, as reported by KESQ News Channel 3: “Police in Palm Springs are warning that dozens of homeless people and some inmates are being brought into the city and released. County officials said the people are brought here to quarantine or isolate as part of a county-funded public health program. But city leaders are upset they had no idea it was happening. Last week, officers discovered about 30 people had been bused in from outside the Coachella Valley, PSPD Chief Bryan Reyes told city council. ‘Who knows how many have been coming into our city,’ Reyes said. ‘It’s a little disturbing.'” We’ll keep you updated on this one.
• Speaking of weird, The Press-Enterprise is reporting that the county registrar of voters is accusing the district attorney and a county supervisor of doing some shady things: “Riverside County’s top elections administrator has accused District Attorney Mike Hestrin of intimidation, harassment and interference with county elections. Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer’s concerns include alleged demands not only from the DA, but also from 2nd District county Supervisor Karen Spiegel, that she remove a ballot drop box. Spencer also alleged Hestrin wanted her to allow undercover agents at polling places and make her staff photograph the license plates of those who drop off multiple ballots but refuse to identify themselves. Hestrin denies Spencer’s allegations, which are detailed in emails and letters obtained by this news organization. Spiegel, an elected Republican like Hestrin, denies pressuring Spencer to remove a ballot drop box outside the registrar’s headquarters, a move Spencer argued could be viewed as voter suppression.”
• You know all things you’ve been hearing about a mass exodus from the state of California? Our partners at CalMatters are reporting that a new study shows that’s not really a thing. “A new report released Thursday by the California Policy Lab, a research arm of the University of California, found ‘no evidence of a pronounced exodus from the state,’ nor data to suggest that large numbers of wealthy residents are leaving. Two notable exceptions: the city of San Francisco saw a large year-over-year loss, and the state as a whole saw more departures and fewer arrivals in the final quarter of 2020. Some 267,000 people left California around the end of the year, compared to just 128,000 people moving in from other states. ‘To date the pandemic has not so much propelled people out of California as it has shifted them around within it,’ according to the report. ‘The absence of a pronounced exodus from the state should come as a relief to people concerned about effects on state tax revenues.’”
• Good news: More vaccines are making their way into people’s arms. Bad news: This means we’re seeing more reports of vaccine spoilage. NPR reports: “Health officials are trying to address the problems that lead to waste, but without slowing down the roll out of the lifesaving vaccinations. The incidents include the 335 discarded doses in Lee County, North Carolina that were damaged in shipping, and recent problems in Tennessee, where nearly 5,000 doses went to waste in the month of February, prompting additional federal oversight.” (The story goes on to say the spoilage rate is less than 1 percent, so, whew.)
• One of the most unusual and inspiring TV shows in recent memory will conclude after its upcoming and abbreviated third season. Variety reports: “Pose will end with Season 3 at FX. The groundbreaking series was renewed for a third season back in 2019. The seven-episode final season is now set to debut on May 2 at 10 p.m. ET, with two episodes airing that night. The series finale will air on June 6.”
• Finally … we bring you this revelation, compliments of Esquire: “In a surprising new paper, scientists say they’ve nailed down a physical model for a warp drive, which flies in the face of what we’ve long thought about the crazy concept of warp speed travel: that it requires exotic, negative forces.” Sure, why not?
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