Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 22, 2023

Greetings from Dallas, where the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual conference wrapped up yesterday. I’ve been coming to AAN conferences since 2000—and let’s just say things have changed a lot in the 23 years I’ve been involved with AAN.

In 2000, I was the brand-new editor of the Reno News & Review. We hadn’t yet launched our website then—that happened later in 2000; we were late to the website game because of the owner’s hesitance. I remember being in awe of how fat some of the metro papers were, publishing tens of thousands of copies of triple-digit-page issues every week.

Today, many of those huge metro papers are gone (like the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, OC Weekly and the Boston Phoenix) or zombie versions of their former selves (LA Weekly, Village Voice). Some AAN members are online-only; a lot of others only publish monthly print versions (like, of course, the Independent).

In 2000, AAN members were true alternative papers—alternative to the dailies that were in all of our towns, alterative in our arts coverage (we paid far more attention to arts, local music and food than the dailies overall) and alternative in our mindset (although that mindset did not include people of color nearly enough). Today, many AAN members are the most respected and most read news sources in their cities. (This, plus the fact that the far right has co-opted the word “alternative,” has the Association of Alternative Newsmedia seriously considering a name change.)

But not everything is different now than it was back in 2000. I was wowed by the dedication of the journalists, designers and publishers back then, and I am just as wowed today. None of us got into this for the money—and the love AAN members have for their communities is beautiful.

There’s another way in which things are not so different: Bigotry and hate are still around and as virulent as ever.

This year’s AAN conference concluded with our awards show. The Dallas Voice, AAN’s first LGBTQ+-newspaper member, was our convention host, and the awards were combined with a drag show at a bar/venue called the Rose Room. It was a fun, joyous event—with some sobering reminders of the realities of the world today.

The first came when the evening’s hostess, Cassie Nova, mentioned that as of Sept. 1, she could not appear in drag in public, because of Texas’ heinous anti-drag law.

The next came when my friend Fran Zankowski, the Colorado Springs Independent publisher, talked about the Club Q shooting, which took place in his city last November—in a bar much like the Rose Room. Five people were killed, and 25 other injured.

“Our community is under attack,” he said.

It’s a cliché, but it contains a lot of truth: The more things change, the more things stay the same.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Five Districts Confirmed: After Years of Obfuscation and Controversy, the Palm Desert City Council Agrees to Move Away From Its Odd Two-District System

By Kevin Fitzgerald

July 18th, 2023

On June 22, the Palm Desert City Council finally agreed to move to a five district system—but there’s a lot of work left to do between now and November 2024.

Vine Social: Tricks and Tips for Getting the Best—or Least-Bad—Wine on Your Next Airplane Flight

By Katie Finn

July 21st, 2023

Airports and airlines aren’t exactly known for offering a wide array of scintillating choices for the wine lover—but I’ve discovered how to select the least-bad wine available.

Hiking With T: After a Quick Tram Ride, You Can Find Cooler Temps and Discover Hidden Beauty on Mount San Jacinto

By Theresa Sama

July 18th, 2023

After a 10-minute tram ride (and nearly 6,000 feet of elevation gain), you’ll reach the beauty and pristine wilderness of Mount San Jacinto State Park, where you can enjoy much cooler temps—and maybe a hidden lake.

Bangers and Mashups: DJ Duo JADED–Performing at Splash House—Promises to Make Any Partygoer Happy

By Matt King

July 19th, 2023

While JADED’s sound is rooted in the house genre, their electronic jams spread into dance, emotional and techno territories. The duo will be performing at the first August Splash House weekend.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for July 20, 2023!

By Staff

July 20th, 2023

Topics addressed this week include the investor class, Terminator movies, frogs, adorable puppies—and more!

‘Sordid Celebration of Lives’ Is Meaningful Family Reunion (Nonprofit Submission)

By Cara Van Dijk

July 21st, 2023

The Del Shores Foundation is presenting a one-night-only event to tell stories, show clips and share memories of the lives well-lived of Sordid Lives cast members on Sunday, July 23.

More News

• Continuing on the theme of bigotry being alive and well, The Associated Press brings us this disturbing story out of, well, Texas: “Texas A&M University on Friday announced the resignation of its president (Katherine Banks) in the fallout over a Black journalist who said her celebrated hiring at one of the nation’s largest campuses quickly unraveled due to pushback over her past work promoting diversity. … Her departure after two years as president followed weeks of turmoil at Texas A&M, which only last month had welcomed professor Kathleen McElroy with great fanfare to revive the school’s journalism department. McElroy is a former New York Times editor and had overseen the journalism school at the more liberal University of Texas at Austin campus. But McElroy said soon after her hiring … she learned of emerging pushback because of her past work to improve diversity and inclusion in newsrooms.”

• Closer to home—Chino Hills, specifically—we find this story, from the Los Angeles Times: “During a chaotic Chino Valley Unified School District meeting Thursday night, (State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony) Thurmond urged against a proposal to alert parents about students’ gender identities, questioning whether it violates privacy laws and calling it a safety risk to LGBTQ+ students ‘who may not be in homes where they can be safe.’ … Thurmond, a former Democratic state lawmaker who is considering a 2026 run for governor, was cut off by conservative school board President Sonja Shaw to cheers and applause. ‘You’re in Sacramento proposing things that pervert children,’ Shaw shouted at Thurmond during the meeting, accusing him of blackmailing and bullying school district leaders who support the proposal. Thurmond said he was ejected from Thursday’s meeting by school board leadership. A livestream of the meeting showed police speaking to Thurmond at the podium after his short speech.” The policy was approved in a 4-1 vote.

Our partners at Calmatters report that a whole lot of people recently lost their state-provided medical insurance: “About 225,0000 Californians lost their free or low-cost health coverage as of July 1, in the first round of a Medi-Cal renewal process that had been suspended since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s approximately 21% of the over 1 million people who were due to reapply for coverage in June, according to preliminary numbers released by state health officials on Thursday. Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income people, typically reviews enrollees’ eligibility every year. The state paused that process during the pandemic at the orders of the federal government, but resumed in the spring. Less than 3% of the people who lost coverage no longer qualify for Medi-Cal because their household income now exceeds the program’s limits. That means the majority of people were kicked off because they didn’t return a renewal packet and county Medi-Cal offices couldn’t verify an enrollee’s income. State health officials said they are trying to reach enrollees in multiple ways — email, mail and texts.”

• After all that depressing news, let’s turn the tables and share some good news: A key stat shows that maybe, just maybe, COVID-19’s grip on humanity is approaching doneness. The New York Times says: “The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against COVID: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause—is no longer historically abnormal. Excess deaths, as this number is known, has been an important measure of COVID’s true toll because it does not depend on the murky attribution of deaths to a specific cause. Even if COVID is being underdiagnosed, the excess-deaths statistic can capture its effects. The statistic also captures COVID’s indirect effects, like the surge of vehicle crashes, gun deaths and deaths from missed medical treatments during the pandemic. During COVID’s worst phases, the total number of Americans dying each day was more than 30 percent higher than normal, a shocking increase. For long stretches of the past three years, the excess was above 10 percent. But during the past few months, excess deaths have fallen almost to zero, according to three different measures.”

Are companies, uh, “spinning” the truth to hire the workers they need? CNBC says: “Flexibility remains a top priority among job seekers, second only to salary, according to a recent report by the UK-based recruitment firm Michael Page, which surveyed close to 70,000 workers worldwide. Last year, it was fourth on candidates’ wish lists. Appealing to this growing preference, more companies are overstating and putting a spin on their flexible work policies, says Molly Johnson-Jones, the CEO and co-founder of Flexa Careers, a global directory of flexible-work companies. Johnson-Jones has noticed more companies offering what she calls ‘fake flexibility’ in recent months. Most policies, Johnson-Jones explains, fall short of offering employees true flexibility: adaptable work schedules, remote or hybrid options without caveats. ‘The term “flexible work” is actually quite problematic because it’s very vague, so it’s easy to be noncommittal about what kind of arrangement, exactly, you’re offering,’ she tells CNBC.”

• And finally … an update on the sea otter near Santa Cruz who does NOT like surfers, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times: “Nobody in this quintessential beach town can say exactly why a sea otter began harassing surfers and stealing their boards a month ago, but officials can tell you that California’s most-wanted sea mammal is definitely refusing to surrender quietly. With helicopters thudding overhead as she lounges in kelp beds, game wardens in wet suits tracking her as she dives for shellfish and crowds of observers cheering her on from the beach, the renegade otter that authorities call ’841’ has so far managed to avoid capture. Officials say the otter needs to be trapped because her unusually bold behavior — which includes gnawing on surfboards — poses a danger to herself and humanity. Taking her into custody however is proving very difficult, and the spectacle of a land, sea and air dragnet is causing some to wonder if it’s worth the effort. At the same time, some observers speculate that 841’s aggressive behavior may be due to hormonal surges brought on by pregnancy.”

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What Has, Hasn’t Changed in Journalism Since 2000; Anti-Trans, Drag, Diversity Efforts Gain Steam–Coachella Valley Independent’s Indy Digest: July 22, 2023 is a story from Coachella Valley Independent, the Coachella Valley’s alternative news source.