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January 31, 2011

City Manager's Memo

  • There will be a meeting of all parties (City, MSWD, CVAG, Dudek, Fish & Game, Fish & Wildlife) to talk about the details of MSHCP. There will be a notice of the EIR in mid February and "finalization of the Initial Study," whereupon it can be released for the 30-day comment period.
  • Village at Mission Lakes - progress continues. The developer has requested a deferral of DIF. That will come before the City Council on February 15.
  • Annexation 29 - the complete package will be submitted by the applicants to staff in early February.
  • Pierson Professional Plaza comes before the Planning Commission on February 8.
  • Spa Tour - February 3, 4 PM to 8 PM.
  • Tour de Palm Springs - February 12. Worsley Road, Indian, Dillon - no street closures.
  • Mesquite Avenue is done, needs minor striping and marking improvements.
  • Letter sent to developer and bonding company requesting completion of improvements at Agua Dulce.
  • Researching right-of-way on Sonora Drive in preparation of improvements for Painted Hills Middle School access.
  • Met with the owner of 11940 Palm Drive [sometimes called the Hacienda Realty building].
    11940 Palm Drive (1567)
  • Resolved the city's oldest hoarding violation. [I know we'd like more details, but that's all Mr. Daniels says].

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | January 31, 2011 at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

Alta at the Koch Protest

Alta at the Protest
Photo by NancyCain. L.A. Times news story here.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Libertarianism,Photography | permalink | January 31, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2011

The Interviewing Skills Of Alfred Lambremont Webre

Imagine that you found a genuine living space-alien from Tau Ceti residing in the United States and the alien (whose name is Jerry) could speak English fluently and was willing to sit down for a video interview. There's no way you could make such an interview dull, tedious and boring, is there? But Mr. Alfred Lambremont Webre found a way to do just that. The interview is in four videos:

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

I watched about five minutes of the first one and then decided I had something (anything!) better to do. If you watch them all and find anything interesting, do get back to us.

| permalink | January 30, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Comments (3)

Coming Into Los Angeles

Forward-facing camera on an airplane making a twilight landing at LAX.

Filed under Photography | permalink | January 30, 2011 at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

A Brilliant Idea For The Egyptian Issue

Stephenson Billings ("Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector") writes on a website called "christwire.org" ("Conservative Values for an Unsaved World" - even though they don't capitalize "Christ") that Sarah Palin needs to rise up and rattle her saber in order to inspire Americans to support an American invasion of Egypt! I know on the surface this idea seems like the best thing since sliced bread and sliced bacon, because we've had so much success, gained so much power, and increased our treasure so greatly by invading the territories of those other two ancient cultures: Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, we would do even better invading the most ancient culture, especially since it has 84 million citizens (Iraq has only 32 million).

But there are more reasons to favor a Palin-inspired invasion of Egypt than just the fact that it would be such a cake walk. Let me walk you through Mr. Billings Christ-inspired reasons:

  1. First, we know things are really bad in Egypt because "numerous reports of Christians having their phone and internet services cut off have reached America." It's my understanding that phone and internet service have been cut off for everybody in Egypt, so the statement is technically accurate. But he could also have said just as accurately that there were numerous reports that phone and internet service had been cut off for Egyptians who had been planning to visit Disney World next year.

  2. In Tunisia, students were unwitting tools of fundamentalist Islamics, he says. "As was seen in Southeast Asia in the 60s, this movement threatens to ignite the whole continent in revolution against our strongest allies in the region."

    Will my readers please help me recall the student uprisings in Southeast Asia in the 60s? I remember the French losing the Indochina War and dividing Vietnam into the communist North and non-communist South. We should all be well aware of how that went, but I don't recall Vietnamese students being a big part of it. And the eventual success of the North Vietnamese did not "ignite the whole continent in revolution."

  3. "The Taliban took advantage of this type of dilemma several decades ago, leading to the rise of an Al Qaida dictator state in Afghanistan." As I recall, the Taliban emerged after the collapse of the Soviet-installed communist government subsequent to the collapse of the Soviet government itself. This was in the 90s, which is something less than "several decades ago." The Taliban existed because we, the United States, supported them as insurgents against the Soviet invasion. It's a dynamic that is completely different from the ones in Tunisia and Egypt where you've got long-reigning, corrupt, Muslim dictators running the show. And what's this "Al Qaida dictator state in Afghanistan?"

  4. "Socialists, liberals and eco-terrorists are fully behind the violence in Egypt. Their talk of a coup d’etat in the U.S. is dangerous, possibly treasonous, and threatens our greatest traditions of moral primacy." I'm sure we can all agree that the best way to convince "socialists, liberals and eco-terrorists" of our moral primacy and, thereby, gain their support is to invade Egypt. The "moral primacy" argument worked very well during the Vietnam War to assure unanimous support of that war by Americans.

  5. If Sarah Palin were to call for an invasion of Egypt "other Western nations are sure to join us." Oh my god yes, that is so obvious. Palin's support outside the U.S. is tremendous in...uh...is Liberia considered a "Western nation?"

He concludes that the failure of Sarah Palin to get us going on an invasion of Egypt could lead to the creation of 84 million enemies of Christianity. We all know that right now Egypt is famous for its Christian-loving populace. Every single one of 'em. And nothing would confirm them in their love of Christianity more than an American invasion. It's always worked before, hasn't it?

Filed under Religion | permalink | January 30, 2011 at 08:49 PM | Comments (2)

General Amos Delivers The Official Word To The Marine Corp About The Repeal of DADT

General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who Senator McCain most liked to lean upon in his opposition to the repeal of Don't Ask - Don't Tell. But General Amos had always said he would follow orders. Here, General Amos addresses the Marine Corps:

As we implement repeal, I want leaders at all levels to re-emphasize the importance of maintaining dignity and respect for one another throughout our force. We are Marines. We care for one another and respect the rights of all who wear this uniform. We will continue to demonstrate to the American people that discipline and fidelity which have been the hallmarks of the United States Marine Corps for more than 235 years will continue well into the future.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | January 30, 2011 at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

"Concerned American Citizens" Halt Further Action To Oppose Temecula Islamic Center

Light has finally dawned in the minds of some of the key opponents to the construction of a new Islamic Center in Temecula. The only valid legal issues were land use issues, and the Islamic Center has got all of those nailed down tight. Other issues that may have motivated the opponents were irrelevant or unconstitutional.

The blog of the Concerned American Citizens has not been updated since the unanimous vote of the Planning Commission in December 2010, other than to add the note: "All future additions to this site will be found on our companion site below" which links to a blog called "Dangers of Allah." That blog has nothing but anti-Islamic content. It does have a blog entry before last week's Temecula City Council meeting, but nothing about the unanimous vote there.

Filed under California,Libertarianism,Religion | permalink | January 30, 2011 at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

Joshua Tree National Park 75th Anniversary Begins

Today was a reception at Copper Mountain College to mark the beginning of a series of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the creation of Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936 by Franklin Roosevelt. The lack of a portrait of FDR at the event was noticed by me, if not by anyone else.

Huell Howser - Lorraine Becker - Russ Augustine  at JTNP 75th Anniversary Recept
Huell Howser with Lorraine Becker and Russ Augustine.

Huell Howser at JTNP 75th Anniversary Reception (2232)
And here we see Russ Augustine showing off his photobombing skills.

Mark Butler (JTNP Superintendent) at JTNP 75th Anniversary Reception (2213)
Mark Butler, the new superintendent at the park.

Mark Bagley - Mark Wheeler at JTNP 75th Anniversary Reception (2221)
Mark Wheeler (right) from the Joshua Tree National Park Association presenting the Minerva Hoyt Award to Mark Bagley of the Owens Valley Committee.
Mr. Bagley explained to us some of the benefits the LADWP had brought to the Owens Valley since 1913, and how they've been working for the last 40 years to undo those benefits. Here is info about the Minerva Hoyt Award. Here's the website for the Owens Valley Committee.

The complete set of photos of the 75th anniversary reception is here.

Filed under California | permalink | January 30, 2011 at 12:17 AM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2011

Naval Academy Respects Marine's Widower

John Fliszar was a U.S. Marine aviator who married Mark Ketterson in Iowa in 2008. Before he died last July, John Fliszar told his husband that he wanted his ashes interred in the U.S. Naval Academy's Columbarium at Annapolis.

"They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation," Ketterson recalled. "They said they're going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, 'Are you listed on the death certificate?' 'Do you have a marriage license?'"

He showed them the marriage certificate, and "From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing."

The obituary in the publication of the USNA alumni association "noted he was 'survived by his husband, Mark Thomas Ketterson.'" This is thought to be a first for the alumni association.

The article goes on talk about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which is not relevant in this case. The law that matters is the "Defense of Marriage Act" which forbids this sort of recognition of gay marriage throughout the federal government.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | January 29, 2011 at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

Norco Water Rates

Norco is considering an increase in water and sewer rates and fees in two steps over the next two years. They propose to increase the standard ¾-inch meter fee from $14.23/month to $18.97 to $20.87. The rate in Mission Springs Water District is $9.32.

They don't have tiered water rates in Norco. They propose to increase the cost of water per HCF from $1.33 to $1.84 to $2.02. MSWD's tiered rates go from $0.99 up to $1.83.

Norco's sewer base fee would go from $40/month to $46 to $51. MSWD's is $26.98.

Filed under California | permalink | January 29, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)

"Full Metal Jacket" Research

After some intense forensic hours spent with Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, I can say that the only place the word "cocksucker" appears is in the line I quoted previously. But the Bay Area Reporter said in June 2010 that Palm Springs Police Sgt. Anderson said "Are you a cocksucker. Yes." That's not even close to the drill sergeant poetry that's in the movie.

Later in that same scene in the movie the drill sergeant also asks "Do you suck dick?" and "Are you a peter-puffer?" Now, if Sgt. Anderson had been intending to relieve the tension with a quote from Full Metal Jacket," then "Are you a peter-puffer?" would have been the line to do it with.

Googling the police sergeant's exact quote turns up only (1) more links to the Warm Sands story, (2) a forum for discussion of Manchester United, and (3) a sports betting forum.

I'd like to know what kind of answers we'd hear if the defense attorney began to question Sgt. Anderson about some of the content of "Full Metal Jacket."

Filed under Coachella Valley,Film/Movies,Gay Issues | permalink | January 29, 2011 at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2011

Clinton, Iowa, Gets Another 15 Minutes Of Fame

I lived in Clinton, Iowa, for three years when I first started working for Social Security. It was a mildly depressing industrial Mississippi River city with typical Iowa weather. It got a little boost of publicity in 2005 when the Library of Congress put on the "Bound For Glory" exhibit of Kodachrome images taken by photographers for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information between 1939 and 1943. The exhibit included this image and this one of women working on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway in Clinton.

Now, this week, on Monday to be specific, Flavor Flav has opened up his first restaurant called "Flavor Fav's Chicken" on 2nd Street (one of the main streets) in dismal Clinton. He put it right next to a KFC.

Here's the story from the Clinton Herald. It says nothing about the quality of the food.

The Wikipedia article says Mr. Flav's business partner, Nick Cimino, calls Clinton his hometown.

If you're flying in, Rock Island, Illinois, has the nearest big airport. Clinton, Iowa, is a couple of hours west of Chicago, maybe three hours east of Des Moines. Closest big cities are the Quad Cites. I suggest you wait for warm weather.

Here's the Google street view showing the former Long John Silvers at 916 N. 2nd Street which is now the location of FFC. Feel free to scroll around and see if "dismal" isn't the right word for it. Long time residents were happy to tell me "We're only two hours from Chicago!" From my point of view that was "Oh, my god. It's going to take me 2 hours to get to Chicago!"

Filed under Food and Drink | permalink | January 28, 2011 at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)

Seeking Shooter

Saul Gonzalez Espinoza
Saul Gonzalez Espinoza

CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT

PRESS RELEASE

INCIDENT: Shooting
DATE OF INCIDENT: 01-27-11, THURSDAY, TIME: 8:35 PM
LOCATION: Dillon Road West of Palm Drive
SUSPECT: Saul Gonzalez Espinoza DOB 09-16-1973
aka Jose Crisoforo Baiz DOB 10-08-1973
aka Chobo

DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:

On Thursday, January 27, 2011 at approximately 8:35 PM, Officer Valentich of the Desert Hot Springs Police Department who is currently assigned to the Coachella Valley Violent Crime/Gang Task Force was investigating calls of a shooting in the area of Palm Drive and Dillon Road. Officer Valentich located the victim who was suffering from a gunshot. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he is in critical but stable condition. Detectives from the Desert Hot Springs Police Department continued the investigation and were able to identify the suspect as Saul Gonzalez Espinoza aka "Chobo" DOB 09-16-1973. Espinoza fled the area in a Black over Silver 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with factory alloy rims , CA 4DKM336. Espinoza should be considered armed and dangerous. This shooting is NOT gang related. If you should see the suspect or the vehicle, do not approach, call 911!

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | January 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2011

DHS City Council - January 25

The audio recording of this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs City Council is available here.

Code Enforcement Update

Al Sengstock gave this presentation. He started by telling us that Fred Andre had been in a traffic accident while riding his motorcycle. He will be out of work for about a week. The numbers for October 1 to December 31, 2010:

New cases: 433
Closed cases: 272
Inspections: 1,370
Courtesy notices: 284
Notices of violation: 172
Administrative citations: 156 for $62,500
Citations paid: $10,748
Demand letters: $72,372
Cases to the prosecutor: 9
Abatement warrants: 6

For abandoned properties...
Notices of violation: 67
Inspections: 546
Citations issued: 47 for $186,100
Citations paid: $109,500

Mr. Sengstock said the closure time on cases has gotten shorter. Now they are down to an average of 100 days per case, from opening to closing for code violations. He said that among real estate brokers in the Coachella Valley, DHS Code Enforcement has developed the reputation of being the most consistent and most strict in the valley.

He display several before and after photos that showed dramatic improvements at Von's shopping center. I've never gone in the alley behind Von's, and now I'm glad I haven't. It looks like they were using that alley as an open dump. Stater Bros. is working with code enforcement as well. Von's is restriping the parking lot.

He also showed before and after photos of no longer functional signs (e.g., a business that had relocated) that are now blanked out. These photos included shots of billboards that had been overwhelmed with graffiti. They have been cleaned up by the sign owners.

Code enforcement has been making sure that chronic graffiti in the newly annexed areas gets cleaned up.

Mr. Sengstock said they've really gotten into illicit discharges, such as septic overflows. He showed several before and after photos.

He showed before and after photos of a house that had been occupied by gang members, the front and backyards filled with vehicles. He said that when he got here the house had five sheets of police calls on it concerning everything from weapons to violence to theft. Through the long combined efforts of code enforcement and police, the occupants were removed, the yard and house were cleaned up to meet code, and now the house is for sale and an offer has been made on it.

He said that on some of the streets in the neighborhood bounded by Ironwood, Two Bunch Palms, Palm and Verbena you will find almost all of the properties have completely reinstalled all of the landscaping. At first they got resistance from the owners, but now code enforcement has received thanks from at least one of the homeowners.

As for the industrial zones, he said that a big lot on Two Bunch Palms that was filled with construction equipment has been half cleaned up. It should be completely up to code by March 15. All illegal signs have been removed.

Councilmember Baker asked him to clarify that the clean ups are being done not with government funds, but that we are leaning on the property owner to do what is required of him or her.

Councilmember Matas said he has seen a great deal of improvement in the commercial districts. He said that during the floods there was no reason for code enforcement to be out in the streets with shovels, but there they were.

Councilmember Pye's one word opinion was "Awesome."

Mayor Pro Tem Betts praised Mr. Sengstock's dedication.

Mr. Baker asked if there were a code enforcement officer on duty on weekends. The answer is Saturday only. Mr. Baker asked what the easiest way to contact that Saturday officer would be, the regular police dispatch number 760-329-2904? He said that was right. Mayor Parks suggested the phone app would work too. Mr. Sengstock said you can also report on the code enforcement website or for graffiti there is the graffiti hotline: (888) 562-3822.

Mr. Baker said he was contacted by a constituent who wanted to report that a neighbor had begun possibly unpermitted remodeling work at midnight on a Friday night. Mr. Sengstock said that anything that's disturbing the neighborhood is a valid phone call to the police. The police will investigate and stop the noise, and then code enforcement can follow up to see if proper permits have been issued.

Mayor Parks said she has been in Hacienda Heights for a little over a year. There were many houses in foreclosure that looked atrocious. Now, some have sold, but the rest have been fixed up and look lived in.

Chief Williams praised JAS for their work in revitalizing the community.

City Manager Daniels said that when you get somebody who does good work, you start putting more and more on them. The city is now using code enforcement as the "civil police." This is a much expanded role. Mr. Daniels praised Mr. Sengstock for his "velvet hand;" if code enforcement encounters a violator who just can't do the necessary fixes, code enforcement has volunteers who can help. Mr. Sengstock said that they have three more Good Works Crew jobs scheduled in the next 1½ weeks.

Mr. Baker asked Jason Simpson what's the cost/benefit ratio of code enforcement. The answer is 1:3. That is, it produces three times as much revenue to the city as it costs.

Carl May Community Center Remodeling Plans

Carl May Proposed Floor Plan - center
Click to download a full-size scan of the entire page.

The big change is that the layout will be rotated 45° clockwise. The dais will be along the south wall. Laying everything out in a more efficient rectangular design will allow more people to be seated and eliminate that vast empty acreage that sits between the public and whichever body is at the dais.

It occurred to me during the meeting, however, that the current layout does seem to align itself with our vortex. The flag and the Mayor are in the southeast corner facing toward Mt. San Gorgonio, their view parallel to the San Andreas fault. Mt. San Jacinto sits to the Mayor's left; to her right is the slope going up into the Little San Bernardinos. In the new layout, everything will align with the old city street grid, which is strictly north-south, east-west.

Can somebody tell me when the current arrangement in the Carl May Center began to be used? Does it correlate to any great success (or failure) in the history of the city?

City Manager Daniels introduced the basic ideas. He said that the intent is to accomodate more people, keep the room flexible so that it can be used for different functions, improve the audio-visual system, to upgrade the aging dais, to reconnect the electronic voting system, to improve the council's access to information (e.g., give 'em computer displays). The plans include the space being used by the Chamber of Commerce. The least on the Visitors Center will be ready in early February and the Chamber can begin to move after that is completed. The current Chamber space will be used by Workforce Development and will also serve for closed session meetings of the council.

Rudy Acosta walked the council through a description of the proposed plans. North is to the left on this plan, despite what Mr. Acosta says. The darkened lines behind the new dais are new walls on which will be mounted LCD screens (flat-screen monitors, IOW) facing the public on the left and right.

The accordion wall will be removed. It doesn't meet code and is never used. The door that now goes into the Chamber of Commerce will remain where it is, which will put it directly behind the Mayor in the new layout.

Public seating capacity will increase by about 40 seats...although you will see that the plan doesn't have any tables for members of the press or anyone else who might like to use a laptop. Those tables would reduce seating. The one table-like item at the back of the room will be the spot from which the TV cameras can operated for the televised meetings.

The council dais will be elevated 6 to 8 inches above the floor, as it is now. The staff areas at the dais will be at floor level - same as now. The double dashed line that you can see above the dais is a soffit which will conceal lighting.

Mr. Baker asked if camera equipment will be hidden in that soffit as well. Mr. Acosta said they had talked to Palm Springs One about that. There is enough room for cameras - but obviously, you can put a small camera anywhere you want now. I would like one that can aim directly down on the dais so that we can see who is texting during meetings.

Those who are seated at the dais will have computer displays on which they will be able to see whatever is on the screens facing the public. Bigger displays can be mounted on the west and east walls as well.

On the west side of the room, the cross-hatched restrooms, kitchen, and two storage rooms will not be changed at all. The wooden cabinets in the northwest corner of the room may or may not go. They're not being used.

Over in the space that is currently being used by the Chamber, a modern conference room will be built. The plans don't currently call for any sort of multimedia in there, but if bids are low enough, there might be enough money to put something in.

The circles you see in a few places simply indicate the 5-foot minimum diameter spaces that must be allowed for a wheelchair to be able to turn around.

The podium shown in front of the dais is movable, not fixed. The dais, however, will be fixed in place.

Mayor Pro Tem Betts asked if anything could be done about the camera angles that cause one councilmember's name plate to be in view while another is in view. Mr. Acosta said that had been taken into account. Uh-huh. The only way that problem can be completely eliminated would be if identifying captions appeared on the TV image itself. Take a look at the video from the brand new Temecula city council chambers. This is at least their second meeting hall with built-in video, and it has the same problem.

Mr. Acosta said he would like to replace the chairs that the public sits on.

The work should be about a sixty-day job, but it can be done in phases to minimize the disruption to the council chambers. Even so, a couple of council meetings might have to be held at the Lozano Center.

Mr. Betts asked about media stations where people could plug directly into the audio coming from the microphones. As nice as that may sound, I will still trust the open air more than I will a city-owned sound system where the sound could be easily (even if unintentionally) shut off. More important to me would be getting very quiet voiced commissioners to turn on their microphones and speak into them. That improvement wouldn't cost the city a dime.

Mr. Betts asked about fixed cameras for commission meetings. A great idea, which I've suggested a number of times. Mr. Acosta said it is possible. It's not in this budget, but he said they would at least put the conduit in for it.

The cost will be about $75,000 for capital improvements plus $70,000 for FF&# ("furniture, fixtures and expenditures" I am told). The money is coming from CDBG. It's already been budgeted, but city council still would have to approve the bid. It will go out to bed in February.

A rack would be put near the door to hold agendas and other public information material. Mr. Acosta said they would also try to budget in a modern bulletin board so that agendas don't have to be taped to the windows as they are now.

One assumes that the podium and multi-media system will include the ability for the speaker to control presentations so we can eliminate the "next slide, please" requests. In addition to being able to display electronic documents on the LCD screens, the system needs the modern equivalent of what they called an "opaque projector" when I was in grade school. (Well, looka that, they still call 'em "opaque projectors.") Not everyone at the podium who wants to show something to the council will have it in electronic form. They need to be able to slap their photo or citation or map or sketch down on something that will allow us all to see it.

Councilmember Pye said that if the work is done in stages, the workforce area should be done first because it is more important.

Mid-Year Financial Report

The written report is available here.

Revenue is down, of course. Expenditures are monitored closely, but public safety remains the top priority. The Governor's proposal to eliminate the Redevelopment Agency would mean an immediate loss of $3.4 million plus the loss of $150 million in future revenue over the next 30 years.

CalPERS has changed their methodology in order to make up for losses in the market. The city's increased pension costs in four years are estimated at $500,000/year.

The property tax decline due to the drop in real estate value means 41% less revenue from property tax to the general fund and 51% less revenue to the RDA.

The economy is very gradually improving. But it is estimated that it will take 8 years for recovery, which is about double of other recent recessions.

Mr. Simpson also pointed out "our debt" (meaning all government debt, I think) is about 6% of GDP, compared with Europe where it runs 15% to 20%. Even California's debt is "very manageable, in terms of being able to repay those obligations," he said.

Mr. Simpson presented a table projecting the general fund in a worst case scenario over the next five years. It shows a balanced budget through fiscal year 2011-12. After that the city is obligated to begin paying our share of the Skyborne fire station, which will be $1.1 million to $1.3 million. There will also be increased police staffing and an increase in PERS costs. On the positive side, there will be mitigation fees of $3 million received in fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 from the new gas power plant.

Code enforcement revenues are expected to decrease over time as people learn to maintain their property well.

The expected revenues coming into the RDA (if there is an RDA) is fully obligated to (1) debt service, (2) the 20% housing set aside, and (3) pass through payments. That leaves no money to program. In 2012-13 and later the RDA goes negative. The RDA's budget is balanced this fiscal year and next because the city has been able to go out and buy back discounted debt.

The RDA amendment is "about 60% done," Mr. Simpson said. It should be done by July 1. It will provide additional cash flow of $130 million over the life of the plan.

Mr. Simpson went on to point out that the schools get a pass through payment from the RDA and the schools benefit from the growth the RDA generates. In the Governor's proposal, the first year after he gets rid of redevelopment, the money won't go to schools. It will go to trail courts and other services. But not schools.

The city may need to look at a new tax measure. The city needs to develop and aggressive pro-growth strategy. There needs to be aggressive economic development. An economic development will be brought forward soon that will highlight the tasks that the city needs to accomplish for growth. DHS needs to develop an image that says we like development and we've got the space to do it.

City Manager Daniels said that the city must develop more revenue so it can put resources into all those other necessary things besides public safety.

Mr. Baker said that the number non-sworn city staff must grow at some time. There are now only 30. Eventually that low staffing level will become a bottleneck to growth. Mr. Daniels said that the city tries to make up for low staffing by contracting out and improved technology.

Mr. Daniels said the numbers of building permits issued has leveled off, but they tend to be small now - remodeling projects, mostly. But the permit process takes up just as much staff time.

Tim Radigan Brophy asked a question from the audience. He said the N.Y. Times had an article about Congress considering allowing states to declare bankruptcy. He asked if the city had any contingency plans for how that would affect the overall bond market or what would happen if we were frozen out of the municipal bond market. Mr. Simpson said it was a good question, but it remains to be seen. Defaults on municipal bonds are less than 1%, he said. Corporate defaults generally are 3% to 4%. It's difficult for a city to go bankrupt. Even if the feds make it easier, the courts will still make it very difficult. Vallejo was forced to restructure. We had to issue debt to come out of the bankruptcy.

Mr. Simpson said the city may look to delay some of the pass throughs that are going to agencies who don't need the money. Mr. Baker mentioned the Vector Control District.

Chief Williams said the police need non-sworn staff as well as the rest of the city does. The police will be doing an analysis to see how many sworn officers the city needs. Now the city is considering increasing the number of sworn officers from 34 to 36 to help deal with the newly annexed areas.

Calls to the police are up 25% since 2009. They are considering adding the ability to report crime to the police via the web. That might serve for instances where the citizen simply needs a police report for insurance purposes.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | January 27, 2011 at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

Anderson Tells The Truth

It's not mentioned in the Desert Sun's news article, but the Desert Sun reports on Twitter that Sgt. Bryan Anderson "patrolled [Warm Sands] about 8 times before sting, witnessed public sex." And "Anderson said he made no arrests during his initial investigation bc Warm Sands sting 'would have been blown.'" IOW, if he had proceeded in a straightforward police fashion and warned, cited or arrested those committing public sex in Warm Sands, that would have been the end of it. But a sting was planned, and the whole point of the sting is to be a sting, not to actually reduce the incidence of any crime or to improve the living conditions of the residents of the area. Straightforward police work would have taken away all the fun of calling people "cocksuckers" and standing around shirtless in the dark.

Anderson said he only took off his shirt because it was a Palm Springs Police shirt. Uh-huh, and who dressed him for this sting? Anderson has promised to retire if asked to participate in another sting.

Here's a long excerpt from Full Metal Jacket that is rich with possible sources for a quote:

UPDATE: KESQ reports that Sgt. Anderson says there is no public heterosexual sex in Palm Springs.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Gay Issues | permalink | January 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2011

Quick Guide For Gay Visitors to Palm Springs

It's in the Bay Area Reporter. They point out which resorts are new or have changed hands, mention the bars, and a couple of restaurants. What? You want to do something not gay? The old standbys: Indian Canyons, the Tramway, Joshua Tree National Park. How did they miss Village Fest?

Filed under Coachella Valley,Gay Issues | permalink | January 26, 2011 at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

The Art of Non-Attachment

Halcyon, who made a great video about gifting which I linked to some months ago, has now, inspired by the Burning Man ticket-buying fiasco, put together another great (and longer) video about The Art of Non-Attachment.

I admit to a bit of smugness. As he described his giant Xara blacklight artificial forest back in 2000 I thought to myself, "Self, that looks like a giant windcatching sail. I wonder how they held it down?"

BTW, live sod is no longer permitted on the playa. No living plants at all are allowed.

"I heard it will be dusty this year."

Filed under Burning Man | permalink | January 26, 2011 at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

Another Odd Headline In The Desert Sun

The headline says Desert Hot Springs mountain up for national monument, but I suppose they could revise it before you get to see it. It's about Senator Feinstein's proposal for the Sand To Snow National Monument. Maybe the headline is to make up for so many articles where murders, robberies, fires, car crashes and the whole long list of bad news have been misattributed to Desert Hot Springs. So, in the middle of the night, a headline writer thought to himself "Let's give 'em a mountain." I only wish the article had said which mountain they're putting in our city. We do have some very nice hills on the west end of the city, but no one but a New Englander would consider them mountains.

Do you suppose the staff at the Desert Sun refer informally to Mt. San Gorgonio as "you know, that Desert Hot Springs mountain." I guess San Jacinto, then, would be "that Palm Springs mountain."

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | January 26, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

Anti-Mosque Appeal Rejected 4-0 In Temecula

It was another unanimous vote in Temecula last night, as the city council rejected the appeal by opponents of the Islamic Center. The Press-Enterprise says the meeting went until past 3:30 AM, so I consider myself lucky that there was also a Desert Hot Springs City Council meeting at the same time to keep me at home. The Temecula City Council did add a condition that the traffic conditions would be re-evaluated every 5 years. They also wrote in a condition forbidding loudspeakers on the Islamic Center, but it was explained to us at the Planning Commission meeting last month that outdoor loudspeakers are already banned throughout Temecula, so this provision is just gilding the lily.

Over 112 public speaker cards were filled out, compared to 80-something at the Planning Commission meeting.

Video of the vote:

Filed under California,Religion | permalink | January 26, 2011 at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Palm Springs Police Credit Kubrick Film

Yesterday, Palm Springs police said the "controversial comment" uttered during the Warm Sands sting came from Full Metal Jacket.

Here's a line uttered in the film by the now-famous R. Lee Ermey, but I can't guarantee it's exactly what Sgt. Bryan Anderson said: "Who's the slimy little communist shit, twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant?"
R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket

Filed under Coachella Valley,Film/Movies,Gay Issues | permalink | January 26, 2011 at 06:20 AM | Comments (3)