Indy Digest: Aug. 11, 2022
If you live in the Coachella Valley, you are currently in California’s 28th State Senate district, represented by Sen. Melissa Melendez, a Republican out of Lake Elsinore.
After this year’s election, however, the Coachella Valley will be split. Coachella and Indio residents are part of the new 18th District, and will decide in November between Democrat Steve Padilla and Republican Alejandro Galicia.
The rest of the Coachella Valley is part of California’s new 19th State Senate district, and will be represented after the next election by … well, nobody.
It’s true: 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 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.
Our partners at CalMatters explained that the independent redistricting commission does its best to minimize the problem:
What are deferral and acceleration?
They are the terms insiders use in talking about what may be the most confusing factor in redistricting. It’s caused by the staggered, four-year terms for state senators. Because only half the state Senate is elected every two years, the commission will try to make sure that as many voters as possible stay on the four-year election cycle in their new districts—and as few voters as possible have to wait six years until their next chance to elect a senator.
That will be determined in part by how the commission numbered the districts. Some voters will have two senators, or none, living in their new districts between 2022 — when the 20 even-numbered districts will be on the ballot — and 2024, when the 20 odd-numbered districts are up.
Alas, most of the Coachella Valley is firmly in the “none” category. Since the 19th District is not up for election this year, the representative of the pre-redistricting 19th District, S. Monique Limón, will continue representing residents of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Lompoc.
No disrespect to Rep. Monique Limón, but for most of Coachella Valley, that stinks.
(Shout-out to reader Scott H. for the suggestion that the Indy Digest to cover this. Thanks, Scott!)
From the Independent
Open Space Preserved: After Four Acquisitions in Less Than Two Years, the Oswit Land Trust Makes Plans for Its Crown Jewel: the Prescott Preserve
By Kevin Fitzgerald
August 10th, 2022
In addition to the Prescott Preserve, the South Lykken Trail property and Oswit Canyon, the OLT purchased nearly 4,000 acres of land above the Rimrock Plaza, known as Palm Hills and the Goat Trails, in April.
A Way to Make Noise: Angel Chavez’s Goal: Offer a Platform to Local Artists, Starting With a YouTube Documentary Airing Sept. 9
By Matt King
August 11th, 2022
Angel Chavez says he wants to foster the Coachella Valley music scene by giving young musicians content they can share with the world.
Real-Life Suspense: Ron Howard’s ‘Thirteen Lives’ Enthralls as It Tells the Tale of a Famous Flooded-Cave Rescue
By Bob Grimm
August 9th, 2022
Thirteen Lives retells the story of the 12 boys and their coach who got trapped in a Thailand cave during a monsoon, and the daring divers who managed to not only find them, but retrieve them in a seemingly impossible operation.
August 11th, 2022
Topics touched upon via this week’s comics page include the flea market, recreational sex, logo towels, the Cayman Islands—and much more!
By Bob Grimm
August 9th, 2022
You won’t walk out of Bullet Train mad that you’ve seen an awful movie, but you will walk out feeling dejected at its mediocrity.
• Good news: The federal government has come up with a way for more people to get monkeypox vaccinations. The New York Times says: “The Biden administration has decided to stretch out its limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by allowing a different method of injection that uses one-fifth as much per shot, according to people familiar with the discussions. … The move would help alleviate a shortage of vaccine that has turned into a growing political and public health problem for the administration.”
• Bad news: The maker of the monkeypox vaccine isn’t so sure about the idea. The Washington Post reports: “The manufacturer of the only vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration to protect against monkeypox privately warned senior Biden health officials about their plan to split doses and change how the shots are delivered. ‘We do have some reservations … due to the very limited safety data available,’ Bavarian Nordic CEO Paul Chaplin wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert M. Califf in a letter sent Tuesday and obtained by The Washington Post. ‘It would have been prudent’ to conduct further studies before overhauling the nation’s monkeypox vaccine strategy, Chaplin said, adding that his company had been ‘inundated with calls from U.S. state government officials with questions and concerns’ about how to implement the new plan. In interviews Wednesday, Biden administration officials acknowledged Bavarian Nordic’s concerns but said they would not affect their vaccine strategy.”
• Meanwhile, the number of monkeypox cases in Riverside County—where a public health emergency was declared earlier this week—keeps going up and up and up.
• The CDC has decided to no longer suggest quarantining for unvaccinated people who are exposed to SARS-CoV-2. CNBC explains: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its COVID-19 guidance on Thursday, saying the virus now poses a much lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic. The CDC no longer recommends testing people in schools who don’t have COVID symptoms, its previous strategy to catch possible infections and head off outbreaks. But such screening is still recommended in certain high risk settings such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters. And people who aren’t vaccinated no longer need to quarantine if they have been exposed to COVID, according to the new CDC guidance. Instead, public health officials now recommend that these individuals wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.”
• Moving away from infectious viruses … today was a big day at the Legislature. Our partners at CalMatters report from Sacramento: “On most days, California lawmakers deliberate, debate and decide bills out in public for every Californian to see. Today is not one of those days. In simultaneous marathon hearings, the appropriations committees in the Assembly and Senate rattled through hundreds of bills in a single discharge of rapid-fire legislating. Many proposals lived to see another day. Among them: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal for new courts to compel more homeless individuals to seek mental health and substance abuse treatment, and bills to strictly limit the use of solitary confinement in California jails and prisons. … But many other closely-watched bills came to an unceremonious end, killed in one of Sacramento’s most opaque lawmaking processes. They included a Republican-backed bill that would have capped copays for insulin. … It’s called the suspense file. For months, the appropriations committees, tasked with assessing the fiscal impact of any bill outside the annual budget, gather any legislation with more than a negligible price tag and put it to the side. Then twice a year, after legislative leaders decide which bills live and which die behind closed doors, they announce the results in a single hearing. In most cases, no public votes are taken, and no debates are held.” Read the piece for details on the 200-plus bills that were killed, and the almost 600 that remain alive.
• Some good news … all California school students can get free meals at schools this school year—and this will no doubt help a lot of struggling families and hungry kids. The Sacramento Bee says: “The state’s department of education is implementing a Universal Meals Program for school children. Starting this school year, 2022-2023, all public school students can get free lunch and breakfast, according to the department’s website. California is the first state to have a statewide free school meals program. The meals are served during the school day for students regardless of income status or eligibility for free or reduced programs. This includes students in state public school districts, county offices of education and charter schools that teach students in transitional kindergarten to grade 12. The program is part of state Assembly Bill 130, which focuses on education finance and was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021. Funding comes from the department of education.”
• And finally … a shout-out of support to the members of the Desert Sun NewsGuild and other unionized Gannett reporters across the country who today took part in a “Local News Lunch Out,” in the wake of threatened layoffs after yet more terrible corporate earnings numbers. Keep fighting for local news and against the corporate idiocy!
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