« February 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

March 31, 2009

Bonnie's Kids

Last month as the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society discussed Robert Altman's Three Women, John Furbee, who owned the hotel where Altman and his crew stayed and where they filmed Sissy Spacek in her room, told us that another movie had been made in Desert Hot Springs in the 1970s: Bonnie's Kids (in 1973). Jeff Bowman and I went searching online and all we could find was a bootleg DVD made from a VHS copy of the film. Not well filmed to begin with, the quality degraded at each step of conversion, what I finally saw was not worth much more than the $13 I paid for it.

The story of the movie is irrelevant. It was fairly typical of R-Rated exploitation flicks intended to be shown in a drive-in theater to young people on makeout dates: plenty of gratuitous female breast shots, hints of lesbianism, chunks of explicit violence, and a plot that was unimportant to follow.

But much of it was filmed in Palm Springs, and some of it was in Desert Hot Springs. They put a camera on the east side of Palm Drive between Pierson and Acoma (at what must have been almost the same spot where Altman stood) and filmed the west side of the street, as Altman did later. Scenes were shot along Varner Road and at two gas stations: one at Varner and Ramon in Thousand Palms, the other was somewhere along I-10. A hotel, possibly the Biltmore [or Ocotillo Lodge] in Palm Springs, was used.

The complete collection of screen grabs is here.

Varner - maybe (2)
Varner Road, I think, looking WNW with Edom Hill behind us.

Varner & Mountain View (1)
The remains of that landmark rock gas station that used to stand on Varner Road at Mountain View.
Having heard that it was used in many movies and ads, this is the first time I've actually found it in a film.

The first gas station is at Ramon and Varner in Thousand Palms:
Varner in 1000 Palms
Driving north on Varner toward Edom Hill.

The second gas station, somewhere along the north side of I-10 with Mt. San Jacinto visible in the background:
Second Gas Staton - I-10 Entrance (2)
I think the lower destination on the sign in the background is "Palm Springs."
The man on the right is Timothy Brown playing a character called "Digger" who was a bit pre-occupied with sex. His filmography. He may be most famous for his role as "Spearchucker" Jones in M*A*S*H. He was also the black country singer in Nashville.

Second Gas Station - Approach
Approaching the second gas station.

Second Gas Station (4)

Second Gas Station (5)

Second Gas Station (2)
A phone booth at the second gas station.
An entrance to I-10 can be seen in the background.

Psycho Homage (1)
There is a brief, poorly done homage to the shower scene in Psycho.
Woulda been more impressive if the drain in the bathtub had worked better.

Palm Springs Biltmore - maybe (1)
Possibly the Biltmore [or Ocotillo Lodge] in Palm Springs

Max Showalter
Max Showalter
. His filmography.

Indian Canyon - Looking South
Parking on Indian Canyon in Palm Springs to pick up a package at the Greyhound station.
The gas station in the background is now the location of the Palm Springs Life building.

First Hotel (3)
The first hotel, probably in Palm Springs.

Driving South on Palm Canyon - No Windmills
Driving into Palm Springs on Indian Canyon.
The significance is what is missing: windmills.

Banning Pass (1)
A cafe in the Banning pass.
I think it's in among the businesses where the dinosaurs are now.

Banning Pass (3)
In the Banning pass.

Desert Hot Springs:
Pierson & Palm (8290)
View from the east side of Palm, south of Pierson, looking back to toward Palm & Pierson

Palm Drive (8298)
Palm Drive.

Palm Drive (8296)
Palm Drive, the west side, near Acoma.

Palm Drive (8292)
Palm Drive.

Palm Drive (8291)
Palm Drive.

Drug Store Extras (8301)
Extras inside the drug store on Palm Drive.

Drug Store (8299)
Entering the drug store on Palm Drive, you can see the facade on the building across the street that is now the optometrist.

DHS Palm Drive (2)
Looking south on Palm Drive

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Film/Movies | permalink | March 31, 2009 at 08:55 PM | Comments (1)

Another Naked Hike In The Mecca Hills

Mecca Aster (3904)

Mecca Hills (3901)

Blazing Star (3911)

Filed under Coachella Valley,Naturism-Nudism,Photography | permalink | March 31, 2009 at 06:11 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2009



| permalink | March 30, 2009 at 11:46 PM | Comments (1)

Obamas Turn Down $100,000

The Obamas will not accept the standard $100,000 government allotment to redecorate the White House. Nor will they use money from the private White House Historical Society. And they aren't going to accept private donations of goods, either (but the article doesn't expressly rule out cash donations). The Obamas will be paying for the redecoration themselves, which allows them to keep it all confidential. Admirable, although I imagine racist conspiracy nuts will have a field day theorizing about the nature of the redecoration.

| permalink | March 30, 2009 at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

Medical Tobacco

A Wikipedia article about the benefits of tobacco administered rectally. Mostly it involves blowing smoke up somebody's ass (honest!), which was said to be able to resuscitate drowning victims, treat cholera and relieve constipation. It was also administered as a decoction to treat convulsions and worked well "although the decoction resulted in excited sickness, vomiting, and profuse perspiration."

The use of tobacco as medicine declined after 1811 when some silly-willy showed that nicotine was a poison. The civil suit against said silly-willy by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco is still working its way through the courts.

So naturally I Googled "cannabis enema" but most of the results are pure spam. The rest are just utter nonsense. I conclude that receiving a cannabis enema totally destroys that part of the brain one uses to navigate the internet.

Filed under Health | permalink | March 30, 2009 at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

We Can All Stop Worrying

Representative John Shimkus from Illinois's 19th Congressional District tells us we don't need to worry about global warming or any other consequences of human behavior because the Bible tells him so.

Filed under Religion | permalink | March 30, 2009 at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Maurice Jarre, 1924-2009

Maurice Jarre, film score composer, died yesterday at age 84 in Los Angeles due to cancer. His first Oscar was for Lawrence of Arabia. His second was for Dr. Zhivago, which included the immensely popular Lara's Theme.

His third Oscar was for yet another David Lean film: A Passage to India. His filmography also includes Dead Poets Society, Gorillas In The Mist, Fatal Attraction, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Witness, The Year of Living Dangerously, Mohammad: Messenger of God, The Man Who Would Be King, Mandingo, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Plaza Suite, Topaz, The Longest Day and a zillion more.

You can hear some excerpts of his music here.

Filed under Film/Movies,Music | permalink | March 30, 2009 at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2009

Stonewall's 40th Anniversay Coming Up

A montage prepared in anticipation of June's 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots (and the death of Judy Garland).

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | March 29, 2009 at 06:43 PM | Comments (1)

Descanso Gardens

Yesterday I went to Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge for my first time. This was part of a Los Angeles Flickr group meet-up. When I got off the 210 and rolled down my windows I was surprised to discover that I'd forotten what spring smells like out in the real world. Flowers and grass everywhere. The gardens themselves are packed with blooming flowers right now, of course. They've also got this little train that you can pay three bucks to ride. Video here. It's got no visible safety features. No seat belts, no crossing guards, no lights, not even warning signs! It's great. It's like recreation without the attorneys.

Pansy (2198)

Descanso Gardens RR (2355)

Descanso Gardens (2236)

Descanso Gardens (2237)

Descanso Gardens (2265)

Descanso Gardens (2309)

Rhododendron 'Nancy Marie' (2359)

Rose Pavilion (2348)

Japanese Garden (2312)

Japanese Tea House Lights (2313)

Descanso Garden (3890)

Descanso Garden (2307)

More photos here.

I would suggest that the Descanso Gardens give up on their lilacs. Maybe the Los Angeles area is just not the right climate for traditional lilacs. Unlike all of the rest of the place, the lilacs are in a flat, dusty area with about half as many leaves and blooms as I'd expect on lilacs at either the Arnold Arboretum in Boston or along the driveway at the house where I grew up in Kansas City.

Filed under California,Photography | permalink | March 29, 2009 at 04:43 PM | Comments (1)

Fresno Bee Does Saline Valley

The Fresno Bee has an article about Saline Valley and its springs which covers all the main points pretty well.

Filed under California | permalink | March 29, 2009 at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

Why DHS Got San Bernardino Police

An article in the San Bernardino The Sun about demoralization in the San Bernardino police department that allowed Desert Hot Springs police to pick up four officers from there. Barstow may get a couple, too.

"Desert Hot Springs sounded very promising with upward mobility," said Officer Raul Sandoval, 33, who only worked in San Bernardino for three months after seven years in the Sheriff's Department. "You want to go somewhere where they treat you well."

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 29, 2009 at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2009

For Your Demolition Pleasure

Video of the demolition of the former gang house after yesterday's press conference.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 28, 2009 at 07:22 AM | Comments (0)

Seismic Activity Near Bombay Beach

map of seismic activity in the Salton Sea
A mapping of seismic activity from the front page of the Southern California Seismic Network
. I will translate their "key" into English:
Red circles: the latest swarm of quakes.
Green circles: mud pots and carbon dioxide vents.
Orange dots: volcanoes.
White dots: 722 quakes recorded since 1932.
Orange lines: "faults that have been mapped and that have exhibited triggered creep during regional earthquakes." These include the San Andreas fault seen near the top of the map.
Red lines: active faults that "have ruptured historically."

Notice that some of the white dots out in the sea seem to form into lines that coincide with the Extra Fault Zone (orange lines) over in Ocotillo Wells, southwest of the sea, suggesting these may be extensions of the Extra Fault Zone.

Filed under California | permalink | March 28, 2009 at 07:00 AM | Comments (6)

More Details On Yesterday's Raids

The Desert Sun reports more info on yesterday's sweep of criminals and gangsters throughout Desert Hot Springs:

Their ace reporter Keith Matheny was on hand at the command center set up at the new, but previously unused, fire station on Karen Avenue by Skyborne. Offices at the fire station were used as interrogation rooms.

A hard-cover dictionary was among the processed evidence. An officer opened the cover to reveal the dictionary was in fact a key-locked storage box full of narcotics.

The bastard! [link to photo of ruined dictionary] He'll wish he had a good dictionary in prison.

Several of those arrested went directly into blue gauzy jumpsuits, meaning they were parole violators and were going to be shipped right back to prison at Chino. The article says "every person on probation in the city" was checked by probationers. That's a lot of work right there. When they ran the probation raid last year, they only targeted some, and didn't find all of those.

"By afternoon, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, District Attorney Rod Pacheco and Daniels went for lunch at Capri Italian Restaurant on Palm Drive." All right! I had been hoping these law enforcement people would eat lunch locally, too, but I was thinking of something like a massive delivery from Vons' deli. BTW, in another article (and I can't find it again now), it said those 700 cups of Starbucks coffee were ordered a month in advance and they were delivered late, the only glitch in the whole day.

But it wouldn't be the Desert Sun if it didn't have odd errors. In this comprehensive article they include this map which says that Ocotillo Road is in the Tedesco Park area, and has a box tied to the intersection of West and Santa Cruz that says "By 8 AM Police raids unfold in residential areas throughout downtown." That intersection is only a block away from wild, undeveloped desert, so we don't call it "downtown." And in Keith Matheny's article we have this unfinished paragraph:

As the officer searched for a vacant interrogation room to no avail, the arrested man, about 20, was left momentarily alone, facing the wall, his wrists bound behind him in plastic ties. The man leaned forward, eyes shut, and put his forehead against the wall. Slowly shaking his head, he mouthed

Mouthed a silent prayer? The Boy Scout oath? A cyanide capsule?

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 28, 2009 at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2009

Gang Playhouse Demolished

In a marvelously dramatic gesture, this afternoon's press conference occurred in front of an abandoned house that had been used as a playhouse by the West Drive Locos gang. As soon as the Q&A was wrapped up, the house was demolished. I've got a half gig video of the process, and I'll share that as soon as I figure out how. Meanwhile, here are some still shots:

Yvonne Parks - Karl Baker - David Avila - (3883)
Mayor Parks, Mayor Pro Tem Baker and Fire Chief Avila taking a break in front of the soon-to-be-demolished house.

Gang House Awaiting Demolition (3887)
Equipment at the ready.

Demolition Underway (3888)

Demolition Underway (3889)

This house was directly behind the abandoned gas station that used to have the very modern roof that was removed. I tried to bribe Interim Assistant City Manager Rudy Acosta to allow that heavy equipment to make a mistake and demolish the empty building on the gas station site as well, but he would have none of it. Damned sterling character!

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | March 27, 2009 at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

Like D-Day And Early Christmas All Wrapped Up Together

The largest gang raid in the history of Riverside County, informally referred to as "D-Day" by law enforcement personnel. Here's the press conference managed by District Attorney Rod Pacheco:

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco: With me today are Pat Williams, Chief of Police of the City of Desert Hot Springs; Supervisor Marion Ashley who represents the unincorporated area around Desert Hot Springs and the City of Desert Hot Springs; Robert Schoch, Special Agent In Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations of Los Angeles; Jerome Marsh, Public Information Officer for California State Parole [Department of Corrections]. Also with us today is Doris Maylum from Parole; Tony Meeks from HUD, Housing and Urban Development, I'll explain that later; Chief David Dominguez from the City of Palm Springs; Chief Stan Henry, Chief of Police from Cathedral City; Rick Daniels, City Manager for Desert Hot Springs; Chris Wright, District Director for Probation, representing Alan Crogan, our Chief Probation Officer; Cindy Finnerty, City Councilmember from Palm Desert; Yvonne Parks, the Mayor of Desert Hot Springs; Karl Baker, Councilman from Desert Hot Springs; Scott Matas, City Councilman Desert Hot Springs; Russell Betts, Councilmember from DHS; and also Steve Azam, Special Agent in Charge from DEA.

Thank you all for coming. Today I'd like to announce that we added about 700 folks to the population of Desert Hot Springs. Those individuals were law enforcement officers that arrived in the city anywhere between 4 and 6 this morning. We removed 120-plus residents of Desert Hot Springs throughout the day. Those individuals were gang members, criminals and other felons. Over 38 arrest warrants were executed today. Over 120 arrests were made during the lifetime of this investigation. This investigation was entitled "Operation Falling Sun" and it began in August of last year and it has been going up to and including today's date.

We also executed 48 search warrants. 185 probation searches were done today as well. Parole searches of 100-plus. Illegal immigrants targeted by ICE; 70-plus. It's important to note that many of those individuals will be prosecuted under the special arrangement my office has with the U.S. Attorney's office whereby a prosecutor from my office is loaned as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney. We even have the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal agency, which was a somewhat unique element. They performed beautifully today and served six search warrants. And during the service of one of those search warrants uncovered a fairly significant methamphetamine lab in the walls of one of those HUD houses. We had 50-plus firearms recovered during the lifetime of this investigation that we removed from Desert Hot Springs.

Drugs seized: over 400 grams of methamphetamine, 3,000 grams of marijuana, 50-plus marijuana plants, 2 ounces [shifting to non-metric] of cocaine, .5 gram of heroin.

Like I said, 682 law enforcement officers arrived this morning. They are still working today. As I am speaking, going in successive waves throughout the community, targeting 485 different locations throughout the day. Many of which involved gang members. This operation started as the result of a conversation I had with the City Manager last year in July, and the Chief of Police. They asked to do a gang injunction here in the city against a notorious gang called "West Drive Locos." That gang was hit today, and hit pretty darn hard. We're securing a gang injunction against them, but we also are going after another gang with a gang injunction called "True Crime Boys." That gang will also be brought into court so that we can get an injunction against them as well. There are a number of folks that want to say a few words. Importantly, though, after that conversation with the City Manager and the Chief of Police we sat down in our office and brainstormed different ways that we could approach the situation here in Desert Hot Springs. To be quite candid with all of you, the 26,000 citizens of this community have been suffering long enough. They have suffered through gang members, through felons, through parolees, and today that day is over. We did not just come today. We will be here tomorrow, the next day and the next day. We will be back. We're not letting go of this community. And we're not turning it over to gang members, domestic terrorists, or felons.

Before I get to Chief Patrick Williams, I want to point out one particular aspect of this operation. It required the cooperation of a number of different agencies. In fact, today there were 35 different agencies; local, state and federal. Last August we put together a team from the Sheriff's Department. A member of the Sheriff's Department, three members of my office, and a member of Desert Hot Springs Police Department. That team was called "Team DHS." That's what they called themselves. Quite frankly, I call them "the dream team" because they were the most incredible investigators our county has to offer. The worked very quietly. I don't think any of you knew we were here, or they were here. And they've been working since last August. During that time they've uncovered a lot of crimes, solved a lot of crimes, including a couple of homicides. They worked very closely with Desert Hot Springs Police Department.

Behind us is a house that has been used by West Drive Locos for a number of their illicit criminal activities, and pretty much as their own private playground. That house is going to be demolished at the end of this press conference.

Let me introduce to you Chief of Desert Hot Springs Police Department, Pat Williams. Chief Williams.

Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Patrick Williams: Thank you Rod very much, and thanks for coming today. On behalf of the men and women of the Desert Hot Springs Police Department, it's my privilege to share with our community that here's an opportunity to return your community back to the citizens of Desert Hot Springs and out of the hands and the grasp of the illicit drugs, violence and gangs in our community. I'd like to thank particularly D.A. Rod Pacheco, Sheriff Stan Sniff, U.S. Attorney Tom O'Brien, and our valley partners: Chief Stan Henry, Chief Dave Dominguez, [Indio] Chief Brad Ramos, and Chief Vern Horst the DA Chief for the county.

This day will be marked in our history books as the turning point for this community. This is the first installment for a long term road to recovery and health for our community. We need to include all our community partners and our citizens in this task. Together we can drive out the drugs, we can drive out the gangs, we can drive out the street violence. We need to do it collaboratively, together, and find a way for us to continue to remain strong partners in face of those who do harm to us. We are very, very excited about this opportunity. And I welcome all of your support and I appreciate all of the collaborative efforts also of our federal partners in this matter. Please share with your friends and neighbors what a wonderful opportunity we have before us. Thank you.

D.A. Pacheco: When we began early on, we needed to find partners for this operation. We knew it was going to be large. We knew it was going to be comprehensive. We hit those gang members from a lot of different angles today. And we knew we were going to need some significant help. I reached out to the Sheriff of our county. He's an excellent Sheriff. His staff said "Whatever you need." And they did more than that. Throughout this entire operation the Sheriff's Department was the stellar partner they have always been. We're fortunate to have them here. Sheriff Stan Sniff.

Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff: Good afternoon. Today's actions that you saw unfold from early this morning are a direct result of our collaboration together, not only at the local level, but at the state and federal level as well. It's also a clear symbol of our determination in law enforcement to end up combatting not only gangs, but violent crime wherever we see it at. None of us have all the resources to do it ourselves, but regardless of how small or how large our agencies are we all depend on working closely together on your behalf. The Sheriff's Department is very proud to be a participant in this joint effort, and we will continue to be so, and we're very proud to work alongside our brothers and sisters in the Desert Hot Springs Police Department, just as all the other agencies are as well. And we're all in this fight together. And I think it's especially important to kind of underscore, particularly today, when the services of four officers that were gunned down in Oakland, to understand that those nearly 700 officers that performed on the public's behalf today from all the different agencies that support this effort, every single one of those young men and women were passing in harm's way on our behalf. And that's important for us all to understand because what we do collectively in law enforcement is a great personal risk to those young men and women who serve us day in and day out. Thank you.

D.A. Pacheco: A few years ago the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, at the suggestion of our office, the Sheriff's Department and Probation was debating whether or not to form a gang task force and provide the funding. Integral to that particular effort was one Supervisor who stands behind me, Marion Ashley, who pushed forward that initiative and made sure that our county became the only county in the United States of America to insure that every square inch of this county is covered by the gang task force. Today, the gang task force in Riverside County, a multi-agency task force comprised of 19 different agencies was the backbone of this operation. Supervisor Ashley.

Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley: Thank you. I can't tell you how proud I am to be here today. That this massive, collaborative effort, our District Attorney, our Sheriff, Probation, all these law enforcement agencies, the Police Department of Desert Hot Springs. You just cannot tell you what a great police chief you have here.

It was about three years ago, the gang task force was formed. It really was formed at a meeting that District Attorney Rod Pacheco came to my office and we met with the police chief of the City of Banning and the Sheriff's office and after a lot of discussion and planning - and some of it was a little heated - we came out of that united and formed this task force. We took that to our Board of Supervisors. There was no money for a task force. We came up with the money that started this task force which now includes virtually every law enforcement agency in the county. And the federal government, the state, anybody that's involved at all in this area is part of the task force. Look at the wonderful work they did today. This is like unprecedented. A paradigm shift has occurred here in Desert Hot Springs. This city which has struggled so long to pull itself up with its bootstraps is going upward in a positive way fast the last few years. They've got a great City Council that's working together. Terrific City Manager. As you can see, they've got the strongest Police Chief. I'm so proud of all them and what they've all accomplished. Let me tell you today the taxpayers, every taxpayer will tell you when they look at this, they got their money's worth. And this will last for a long time. Thank you.

D.A. Pacheco: Also with us today was Special Agent In Charge from ICE from Los Angeles. ICE was an early participant in this operation. We asked that it participate with us. It's important to remove illegal immigrant gang members from this community, as well as every community in our county. They were a tremendous partner today on the ground, and going through this community and the rest of the Coachella Valley. I'm going to mispronounce his name. Robert Schoch [pronounced like "shook"]? Special Agent In Charge, ICE, Los Angeles.

ICE Special Agent In Charge, Los Angeles, Robert Schoch: Good afternoon. As District Attorney Pacheco said I'm Robert Schoch, Special Agent In Charge with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I cover not only Riverside County but the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Today's operation leaves no doubt about the collective resolve of all the law enforcement departments standing here today. I think it was mentioned that over 35 agencies involved in this operation and 700 officers. Our agency alone committed a hundred of our Special Agents to come in to this area and focus and pinpoint on those foreign nationals, transnational gang members who are violating the law, coming in to this area and causing havoc. Today we have had a successful day for the citizens of Desert Hot Springs. I think the enforcement action also shows the extraordinary level of how multi-agencies, the multi-agency approach to this - as I've mentioned cover seven counties and I've had the opportunity to participate, our agency participated in many of these counties and task forces, and I will say that today's operation has got to be one of the best that I have ever seen executed. With this many people, no officers injured, and over 128 bad guys are going to go to jail. I, in particular, want to applaud the work of the Riverside County [District] Attorney and his team, their vision and expertise that they placed on this such critical issue. United States Attorney Tom O'Brien has been mentioned today. He was unable to join us today. He wanted me to underscore that as many as 41 of our 71 targets will face prosecution once we identify and locate all of those individuals. And that specifically is a federal criminal charge that faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Among the gang members that were arrested as part of this operation who are facing this federal criminal immigration charge is Jesus Vargas Mangaña. Mangaña is a previous deported Mexican national linked to the "Dogpatch Gang" who was convicted of attempted murder in neighboring San Bernardino County. The United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles worked closely with ICE and other law enforcement agencies to target dangerous gang members for federal prosecution, taking them off the street for a long time and out of this community, hopefully forever. Our gang efforts are a part of ICE's "Operation Community Shield" that's been going on since 2005. We're happy to bring that effort to this neighborhood. Last year ICE agents in Los Angeles arrested over 2,000 gang members and gang associates just in that area alone. There's no question that today's operation has dealt a severe blow to the street gangs operating in this area, but our efforts are not at all over at this point. The coming weeks and months ICE will continue to work with the local law enforcement partners here, throughout the Coachella Valley, and around the country to target street gangs that have used violence and intimidation for far too long in the neighborhoods, holding them hostage through fear. Now, more than ever, we're fighting back against gang members who need to be shaking with fear. Thank you very much.

D.A. Pacheco: Robert touched on an important point. There were no shots fired during the operation today. No injuries to law enforcement. There were no injuries to the suspects. They were secured and there were no injuries to any of the citizens of Desert Hot Springs. In fact, one of the things that the officers kept telling us as they were coming back to the command center, is that as they were leading off the gang members out of their homes and residences in handcuffs, the neighbors would come out and give them thumbs-up, applaud and really appreciated the service we were giving today. We are fortunate that nobody was hurt. The FBI played an incredible role. Again, it's important to have a federal partnership on this. They brought numerous teams here today and worked extremely hard securing some very dangerous individuals. With us today is Supervisory Special Agent Don Roberts. Don.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Don Roberts: Good afternoon. It's truly a pleasure and honor on behalf of the FBI to have brought in a number of special agents to assist in this operation. The FBI in Riverside and Los Angeles has been a part of this operation since this summer as District Attorney Pacheco said. We have been here throughout the operation. We are not going anywhere. First off, I want to thank and commend all of the law enforcement officers from all of the agencies for a fantastic job and tremendous result. The many decent, hardworking and honest citizens of this community have suffered long enough. They've been intimidated, harassed, and they've been victims of violent crime. Today, we've all come together and done the right thing and put many of them in jail. We'll put many of them in jail tomorrow. Gang violence is not a local issue. It's not a state issue. It's not a federal issue. It's an issue for all of us. For all of the men and women behind me from all the agencies, it's a very significant issue, and the FBI is here to stay and contribute as long as necessary to keep this community safe. Thank you very much.

D.A. Pacheco: This operation could not have been done without the commitment of this City of Desert Hot Springs, and of course the City of Desert Hot Springs is led not only by the Chief of Police but also the City Manager. But on top of them is the City Council. With us today is the Mayor of Desert Hot Springs, Yvonne Parks. Yvonne.

Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks: Good afternoon. This is an extraordinary moment for the City of Desert Hot Springs. We sent a message today that criminal activity will not be tolerated in this community. I want to thank our District Attorney Rod Pacheco, our Police Chief Pat Williams, and all the agencies that came to Desert Hot Springs to assist in a clean up and roundup of known criminals in our city. Public safety is the number one issue for the residents of Desert Hot Springs. We have for too long been the city of choice for the parolees released back into the county and gang members relocating from areas to our west. I believe the reason for DHS being the city of choice is that we were perceived as the place to live because the rents were low and we did not have enough officers to monitor their activities. Well, the rents are still low, but we are now monitoring their activities and making the life of a criminal in DHS less than desirable. But we still need more officers. With the passage of Measure A we will have the ability to hire five {5) more officers. We will then work to gain the funding for more. We can now continue to focus on providing sustainable neighborhoods for our residents and continue moving forward on projects like the Boys & Girls Club. Thanks again to District Attorney Rod Pacheco and the hundreds of law enforcement officers in Desert Hot Springs today. They understand fully the dilemma we face here in DHS and want to help us. With each of our police sweeps we will reduce the number of criminals living here and deter others from coming in the future. Thank you.

D.A. Pacheco: Shortly before Christmas 2001 a young man named Henry Lozano left his girlfriend's house and was ambushed on his way home to his father and mother's house. That was here in the City of Desert Hot Springs. Henry was a Corporal in the Marine Corps of the United States of America. That case had numerous challenges from the very beginning, and unfortunately was not solved even though the suspect was the leader of the West Drive Locos gang here in Desert Hot Springs. I did not know his parents Henry and Donna Lozano until one day a few years ago she called me in Riverside and spoke to me and asked me if we could look at her son's case and see if we could re-open it. Our office then contacted Desert Hot Springs to begin working with them to re-open that case. Shortly thereafter - actually, it took a little bit of time to put that case back together - but at some point we arrested the perpetrator of that murder, the leader of West Drive Locos. Emilio Avalos now sits in custody in our Riverside County facilities facing the death penalty. It was during those many conversations I had with Ms. Lozano about her son that I learned about Desert Hot Springs and the troubles that were facing this fine city. She filled me in. She also expressed a great deal of frustration. But today's a new day and I think today Henry Lozano is looking down and smiling. Ms. Lozano.

Donna Lozano: Thank you very much. My son was a Marine and he was going to be a CHP officer and because of perceptions, this person who didn't even know my son took him away from us. It's been a long, hard battle, but justice will prevail. We now fight a fight that crime will no longer be unaccounted for, glorified or handslapped. I did what a mother would do. I never gave up. My heart will always go out to Rod Pacheco, Riverside County D.A., David Greenberg, Hank Hohenstein (a prior councilmember), and [DHS Police Officer] Radames Gil who all listened to me and started the ball rolling. And with the new regime, with Rick Daniels and all the staff that was involved in getting an injunction, we're on our way. My son was always a hero to me, but now he's a hero to your community. And I hope and pray that all of us will help each other to help our community and fight crime one person at a time. Thank you.

D.A. Pacheco: We're going to open it up for questions but let me just say in closing, we're not going away. If you're a gang member, you're in the wrong city, and you're in the wrong county. We're not looking the other way. We're not tolerating your behavior. We're not going to slap you on the wrist. We're gonna keep you in custody and send you to prison.

DHS Anti-Gang Raids Press Conference (3881)
D.A. Pacheco.

DHS Anti-Gang Raid Press Conference (3886)
The press.

The Desert Sun summary of today's activities.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 27, 2009 at 09:34 PM | Comments (2)

Cactus Flower

Cactus Flower (3770)

Filed under Photography | permalink | March 27, 2009 at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

Big Sweep

Here, I think, is the buried lede in the Desert Sun article about this morning's massive police sweep across Deset Hot Springs:

Just after 6 a.m., at the Starbucks on Palm Drive and Two Bunch Palms, two police officers were seen walking in, one wearing a bullet proof vest.

When they ordered coffee, the clerk told them it would be a while because the store were in the process of making 700 cups of coffee for the city.

In the midst of working on raids involving not only DHS police, but police from other nearby cities, Riverside County sheriff's deputies, CHP, Immigration and FBI, Police Chief Patrick Williams remembers to "buy local." That's the kind of guy he is.

Anyway, I slept through the whole brouhaha, including Blackhawk helicopter, but we've still got the weekend to clean up anything that got missed today. None of the raids were closer than half a mile to my house due to the clean up of the trailer park and the shutting down of the local meth house, thanks to DHS code enforcement and RDA.

District Attorney Rod Pacheco seems to be on the scene too. He said "There’s a lot of hardworking decent people in DHS. This town has suffered for decades. Those days are over, starting today." Good words to hear, but Riverside County needs a lot more judges, or D.A. Pacheco needs to begin to accept some plea bargains. Otherwise, those arrested will sit in limbo for years before they get a trial.

I guess yesterday's raid on the home of a parolee meth dealer was a practice run for today's operation - just making sure the flash-bangs were fresh, or sump'n. KESQ has a photo of that meth dealer, Daniel Adelizzi, who they are still searching for (nice beard).

Let me say this before Chief Williams does sometime later today: on May 19 there will be an election and on the ballot in DHS will be a utility tax that will allow us to hire four more police officers. Ya gotta vote YES for that.

BTW, when I search for "Desert Hot Springs" on the Desert Sun's website why do these ads show up at the very top of the results:
ads for colon cleansing and lip plumping

Couldn't the ads be configured so those two never show up together?

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 27, 2009 at 10:35 AM | Comments (3)

But What About Buster?

Mythbusters went a bit overboard when they blew up 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate recently, somewhere near Esparto, California. They broke windows in town and knocked Sherril Stephens off her couch. I can't wait to see this episode.

Filed under Television | permalink | March 27, 2009 at 02:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2009

Mayor Parks' 'State Of The City'

The Desert Sun's report on the mayor's State Of The City address which I'm pretty sure was given to the Chamber Of Commerce, although the article doesn't say that.

  • Violent crime down 20% from '07 to '08.
  • Wardman Park rehabbed.
  • Work initiated on police/community center building in Tedesco Park.
  • Upgrade of Mission Springs park coming soon.
  • Repaving of 37 miles of streets.
  • New sidewalks on Palm, West, Two Bunch Palms, and Pierson.
  • Construction of improved interchange at I-10/Palm/Gene Autry expected to start this year.
  • New traffic light at Camino Campanero this year.
  • Downtown improvement plan moving along steadily [facades soon!]
  • Annexation to the Ten moving along smoothly.
  • Progress on getting a county health clinic.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 26, 2009 at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)