Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 7, 2022

For the most part, I am a fan of Gov. Gavin Newsom. He did a decent job of steering the state through the pandemic, and I agree with him on a lot of policy. I also think he’s unfairly targeted at times—most notably via last year’s wasteful, ridiculous recall attempt.

But on occasion, he and his team do things that are just bafflingly dumb. For example, there was the French Laundry incident. And now, there’s the Montana incident.

For those unaware: Last Friday, the governor’s office announced he was leaving the state to spend time with family. However, as CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven noted, his office “did not until Tuesday answer questions about where he was or when specifically he would return, a noticeable difference from communication surrounding other recent out-of-state trips.”

On Tuesday, Hoeven broke the news that Newsom was … vacationing in Montana. So why the secrecy? She writes:

One possible reason could be that Montana is among the 22 states to which California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel, citing policies it deems discriminatory to LGBTQ+ people.

Montana is also one of the states Newsom’s office has called out for restricting abortion access. 

After Hoeven revealed Newsom’s whereabouts via Twitter, his office, rather than attempting to explain things calmly and sensibly, acted, well, petulant. Anthony York, senior communication advisor for Newsom’s office, tweeted in reply:

Furthermore, according to SFGate: “When SFGATE asked why the governor’s office did not disclose Newsom’s trip in advance if it were innocuous, communications director Erin Mellon said, ‘We are not in the business of regulating where people have family or where they spend their vacation. Nor will we persecute them for visiting their family. The press shouldn’t either.'”

Dumb. So dumb.

Here’s the deal: Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has family in Montana. That family owns a ranch where the couple got married. While the state may be paying for Newsom’s security there—his office is being weirdly vague about answering this question, too—the state is not paying for the vacation, as York pointed out.

So, let’s go back in time to Friday. If Newsom’s office had then revealed that Newsom was taking a trip to Montana to visit family—revealing where he was going, just like his office did during previous vacations—you’re likely not reading about this kerfuffle here, or via CalMatters, or via any number of other media outlets who have now picked up on the weirdness. Yeah, the usual critics might lob charges of hypocrisy toward Newsom … but beyond that, most people would find it reasonable that Newsom was going to visit family.

Instead, Newsom’s office chose to be needlessly secretive. And when people began asking the inevitable and reasonable questions about Newsom’s whereabouts, and the answer was revealed, his office became petulant and pissy. As a result, Newsom’s opponents have another thing to use against him—and a whole lot of his supporters are left wondering what in the heck he and his office are thinking.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

That Musical Conversation: Les Claypool Brings His Bastard Jazz Musical-Improv Project to Pappy and Harriet’s

By Matt King

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The Indy Endorsement: The Tom Yum Gai With Chicken at Uncle Chai

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Bright. Colorful. Oh so delicious.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for July 7, 2022!

By Staff

July 7th, 2022

Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include the NRA, the filibuster, fake news, polio—and more!

More News

SARS-CoV-2 levels continue to be on the rise in Palm Springs, according to wastewater testing done last week. Testing done June 27 and 28 showed “the average of 643,585 copies (per liter) from the previous week’s average has jumped significantly to an average of 834,210 copies/L.” Furthermore, 61-65 percent of the virus tested was of the super-duper contagious BA.5 subvariant. Folks, mask up and take precautions; while current vaccines and boosters will likely protect you from the worst outcomes, they likely won’t keep you from getting BA.5—and neither will immunity from previous COVID infections.

The BA.5 plateau-surge is driving up positivity counts and cases statewide. Per The Sacramento Bee: “The California Department of Public Health on Tuesday evening reported the statewide test positivity rate at 15%, up from 13.2% the previous week. The rate is the largest the state has seen since January, and has increased tenfold since early April as new, more transmissible variants grow. Case rates are trending upward as well, with the state reporting 39.9 new cases per 100,000 people, up 15.6% from last week. Case rates, however, are a less reliable metric, as testing volumes remain in free fall. Testing is down 45% since the beginning of June, as more residents opt to use at-home rapid tests or forego testing altogether.”

Is the U.S. currently in a recession? The Poynter Institute reports that we probably are … but then again:(A recent Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta) estimate would mean the U.S. economy has experienced two successive quarters of a negative gross domestic product, which is the (usual) definition of a recession. … But when the new unemployment figures come out on Friday, we will see once again that the jobs report is pretty healthy. And despite high oil prices and supply chain problems, the industrial and service industry sectors say they are still kicking. The Bloomberg Misery Index gives us a picture of how people are feeling, and the charts say people ‘feel’ like they are experiencing a recession, despite what some economists see in the data.” So, is that clear? No? I didn’t think so.

College of the Desert is yet again the victim of another serious technical disruption. News Channel 3 says: “College of the Desert has confirmed … it is working to mitigate the impacts of what administrators describe as a ‘computer network disruption,’ according to public information officer Nicholas Robles. A federal investigation is now under way. COD administrators say they contacted the FBI as soon as they found out something was wrong on July 5. … As of Wednesday, COD was working to restore any of the staff and student email accounts, phone lines, and school servers that were still not operating. … In 2020, the COD website fell victim to a malware attack, wiping out access to online services and email. News Channel 3’s Jennifer Franco asked school officials if the outage was a malicious attack too, but the college would not comment on that question, and said the FBI investigation is still under way.”

• Remember how Wet ‘n’ Wild, the Palm Springs water park on Gene Autry Trail, closed several years ago, apparently to be converted into a Surf Park? Well, the Palm Springs Post reports that those efforts may have “crested.” A quote: “Developers of the project—Pono Partners LLC–purchased the 21-acre site of the former Wet ‘n’ Wild (previously Knott’s Soak City) off South Gene Autry Trail in January 2019, intending to open Palm Springs Surf Club (PSSC) in 2020. Approvals for a $50 million renovation–designed to create a high-end surf park catering to professional and amateur surfers alike–soon followed at City Hall. … Years after the project was approved, area residents and visitors … wonder exactly when they might be able to cool off at the water park again, but fear it might be never. Flinn Fagg, deputy city manager for the city who most recently served as director of Planning Services, said he last spoke with the developers in April. They told him they were planning to open the first phase of renovations sometime later this summer. But while signs of past construction activity are visible at the site, those who work and live nearby said there has been no indication that deadline will be met.”

And finally … Amazon is one step closer to being a big conglomerate monopoly a la the film WALL-E. CNBC says: “Amazon on Wednesday agreed to take a stake in Grubhub as part of a deal that will also give members of its Prime subscription program a one-year membership to the food delivery service. The partnership gives Amazon the option to take a 2% stake in Grubhub, the U.S. subsidiary of Just Eat Takeaway.com, the European food giant said. Amazon will be able to increase its total stake to 15% of Grubhub depending on certain performance factors, such as the number of new customers added.”

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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...