July 31, 2011
Michael Crosby Pleads Guilty
Palmwood was the reason city officials balked at joining the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Protection plan in 2006, making Desert Hot Springs the lone valley city not to join.
Much of the land the regional protection plan wanted to preserve for threatened plant and animal species was within the proposed resort's footprint.
The city settled a lawsuit with the Sierra Club for more than $350,000, and it cost more than a quarter-million dollars for the city to have the multi-species plan reworked so they could join it.
Cactus & Ants
All Mail Goes Uphill From Here
Mecca, California, post office. Photo by Chuck “Caveman” Coker. This is the lowest post office in the United States. If there is one at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, it's only about 40 feet below sea level. The Mecca post office is officially 180 feet below sea level.
July 29, 2011
DHS Festival Advisory Committee - July 27
A few members of the public were in attendance, as at the previous meeting. A reporter from KMIR was there and recorded almost the entire meeting.
The next meeting of the Festival Committee will be Wednesday, August 10, 3 PM, Senior Center. The August 3 meeting has been canceled.
During the past week committee members had submitted, by email, suggestions for revisions to the proposed mission statement. Several remarked that they liked the comments from committee member Warren Bradshaw. He said he tried to leave out some of the hyperbole like "ever-deserving Desert Hot Springs residents." It's a given that you don't need to say, he said, and it sounds like it might have been written by a politician. Ms. Lennon-Roth said the words "educate as well as entertain" should be retained in the mission statement. Chair Michaelz agreed. Attorney Duran suggested that Mr. Bradshaw read his suggested mission statement aloud:
The mission of the Festival Advisory Committee is to assist the City Council in developing a successful annual signature event, health and wellness and water-themed music festival that will promote positive awareness of Desert Hot Springs' natural wonders and healing waters to locals and tourists in the Coachella Valley, southern California and around the world. Our goal is to recommend a qualified event development and promotion team to organize an annual event that will provide an opportunity to promote the city and its assets [and educate the public] including the hot mineral waters, boutique spa hotels, and diverse businesses, thus creating long range benefits for the community.
He said he would insert the words "educate and entertain the public" after "to promote the city and its assets."
The discussion centered around the assets listed on the memorandum that Attorney Duran had sent out a week or two earlier with some warning about confidentiality. I don't know if it was entirely intentional, but the committee members did a very good job of revealing nothing. Items on the list were referred to simply by number "item 1" or "item 6" for example, with no further description as to its nature or value.
Attorney Duran said the assets fell into three categories. The first was relationships, such as agreements with talent, with potential sponsors and with production related entities. The second category are tangible assets. These are only "touched on" in the memo, Mr. Duran said. His reluctance to reveal them totally was not only due to potential litigation, but due to the need to protect intellectual property, strategy, trade secrets, etc.
Here Mr. Bradshaw asked a question, and I don't think Mr. Duran ever got to finish his train of thought to tell us what the third category was. Mr. Bradshaw asked if the city is the owner of the festival. Mr. Duran explained that the producer was the owner, but the city is the owner now. Ms. Lennon-Roth asked about the money given to three talent agencies, had the producer (the still unnamed Tony Clarke) signed an irrevocable agreement to assign those to the city. The answer is yes. Her concern was that the former producer might go to William Morris and draw down money. Mr. Duran said he could not do that.
Ms. Lennon-Roth said she was concerned about cash deposits, but as for the other relationships, she said that it will be up to the future promoter to decide what to do with them.
Mr. Ryan said that the assets are things the city may turn over to the future promoter, and the promoter may or may not want to pursue them. Before we know who our promoter is, we don't really know the value of the asset list, he said. The sponsorship packet has value because the promoter could simply update it. "Items 1 and 2" would have no value, he said. All the "bottom items" may or may not have value to the promoter. He did mention Kiner as one of the parties with whom a relationship had been established.
He said his point was that they are not so important to the advisory committee at this point. They're the assets of the city that the city will turn over to a promoter after selection.
Chair Michaelz brought up the projected cost of last year's proposed festival and whether that was public knowledge. Mr. Daniels said that, yes, the feasibility study which was public did disclose the $1.2 million total cost [that's total cost to the producer and sponsors, not the city]. Mr. Michaelz said he was in shock at some of the numbers he was seeing. Vice Chair Mary Stephens said "Well, look at Ziggy Marley." [Ah, if only we could!] "He's not worth $100,000," she said. "Damian, maybe," she added. Mr. Ryan said he agreed with that, but it's water under the bridge. He suggested a motion saying that the committee had examined and discussed the assets that belong to the city and will be made available to a promoter upon selection. As an advisory committee there's no need to spend more time with this. Mr. Bradshaw suggested that the list of assets be given to the proposers so they know what assets will be available for them. This may serve to prevent wildly divergent proposals. Attorney Duran said that perhaps what would be released would be a sanitized version of the list the committee was looking at. The motion was amended to say that the sanitized list should be made available to proposers before they submit their RFP "as appropriate."
Review Of RFP Draft
The committee was working from a draft RFQ that had been handed out at previous meetings. Mr. Ryan said it should include some outline of what we are asking the party to propose. He described it as a "not less than" or a minimum description, including details such as traffic flow, parking, vendors. The "vision of the event" should be included. He also said the potential promoter will need to know how "turn key" this event is.
Mr. Ryan said any promoter will ask "Do I get a guarantee or do I get the gate?" What's the city say? Are we paying them to be the promoter, or are we saying the promoter is responsible to do all the things they have to do and get the gate. Mr. Daniels said the city is not looking to hire someone to do it on the city's behalf. The city is trying to license somebody to conduct a private event. (Murmurs of concurrence from various committee members.) "But it will be an event that will have to meet the minimum requirements for the city to issue license and permits for," Mr. Daniels said. The city is not hiring a "festival director." Maybe the city will grant some form of exclusivity, by not granting permits to another promoter for another event within a certain time frame. "We want to cut somebody loose for the entrepreneurialship and the creativity of the promoter to do their thing."
Mr. Trost asked, then, if the city has minimum requirements. Mr. Daniels said the city wants to select someone with the qualifications and financing to conduct a "couple-thousand, five-thousand person event."
Ms. Lennon-Roth said it didn't seem realistic to aim for less than four or five thousand people. Mr. Bradshaw said he thought it could be successful with only two or three thousand people.
Mr. Ryan noted that the feasibility study counted people per event over the entire course of the event, so that if you had, say, 5,000 people on Saturday and 5,000 people again on Sunday, it would count as 10,000 people. He went on to say that the RFP needed to include some guidelines so that someone doesn't propose a Coachella Fest when the city is looking for a wellness festival.
Ms. Lennon-Roth said the average concert promoter has probably never done a wellness festival. We might get one entity to produce the wellness aspect and another entity to produce the music festival.
Mr. Ryan and Mr. Michaelz suggested it would be up to the promoter to decide if they needed to bring in someone else to provide a complete package, wellness and music.
Mr. Bradshaw said he was amazed to see in the feasibility study the idea of holding a Friday night event for only 500 to 1,000 people at $500/head. He wondered where the former producer was going to get those people. "Maybe if he was the kind of guy who stayed at Two Bunch Palms all the time, he knew those kind of people, but I certainly don't."
Mr. Daniels explained that the former producer had been trying to create a gala. Mr. Bradshaw said that may have been, but he doesn't think anyone pays $1,000 to go to the Palm Springs Film Festival where there are lots of stars.
Mr. Michaelz raised the question of whether the promoter would get the entire gate, or would the city get a percentage, too. Should that be in the RFP. Mr. Ryan said that the promoters should propose what they want.
Mr. Trost discussed how the committee could clarify what it expects to see in a wellness festival and how that could be expressed in the RFP. Mr. Daniels suggested that each of the committee members send him their thoughts on that. He would aggregate them, and then send that back to each committee member so they could be discussed at the next meeting.
Ms. Stephens brought up the question of how the RFP would be publicized in such a way that it wouldn't cost the city a lot of money. Mr. Bradshaw said that if the city and Chamber of Commerce are really behind the festival, then you get easier access to print media, like the Desert Sun. Mr. Daniels said that if he put out a press release, he could have three media outlets show up within six hours "because of the infamous nature so far." [I wonder if Mr. Duran has that on the list of festival assets: "Item 11: infamous notoriety - priceless."]
Mr. Trost asked if once a promoter has been selected, does the committee's job end. "No," was the answer from Mr. Daniels. Mr. Trost suggested that then the committee could serve as liaison between the city and the promoter to assure that deadlines are met and the project is tracking. Mr. Daniels agreed that the committee should sit down with the promoter on a regular basis and ask him questions "because that is where the thing fell apart last time. I did not have, nor did the person assigned have the expertise to know when it was going bad until it was too late." He went on to say that the greatest contribution the committee could make to the city would be to stop that from re-occurring.
Mr. Trost said that the ultimate contract should include regular meetings between the committee and the promoter. Mr. Daniels agreed and said the minutes of those meetings would then go to the city council.
Mr. Michaelz said he has noticed that there is still a website up for the festival (Ms. Stephens interjected that Kiner Communications is responsible for that site) and he asked if there is a way to take that down. Mr. Duran said that demand was made of the former promoter and his lawyer, but there was no response. Mr. Michaelz said he didn't want anyone who is going to submit a proposal to find information on the internet about the former festival and get any sort of ideas. [Yes, we'll just press the magic "internet erase" button and make all that history go away.] He wants original ideas from promoters. Mr. Daniels said there's a hundred articles out there.
Mr. Bradshaw asked if anyone thought the website was damaging in any way. Ms. Stephens suggested that the city contact Kiner to get it taken down. Mr. Daniels said his goal was to get the website taken down first. And if that's not possible, the alternative is to turn it into something the city can use.
Ms. Stephens suggested that the name of the future event should have the words "Desert Hot Springs" in it.
The members agreed to email their comments, ideas and suggestions to Mr. Daniels who would aggregate them for discussion at the next meeting.
It was agreed that the next meeting would be August 10, Wednesday, 3 PM (not August 3).
Prop 8 Court Dates
Judges are thinking about the end of their vacation and getting back to their judging work. One scheduled hearing is August 29 for the U.S. District Court hearing on releasing the videos from the original trial (the one with Judge Walker). Then on September 6 the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue of the standing of the Prop 8 propnents in the appeal of Judge Walker's decision in the federal court of appeals.
Possible outcomes: maybe we get to see the videos of the Prop 8 trial; maybe the Prop 8 proponents get standing and the federal appeal continues; maybe the Prop 8 proponents get kicked to the curb and then they appeal that decision to, uh, I guess the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 28, 2011
DHS Senior Center Pancake Breakfast, September 17
Desert Hot Springs Senior Center Pancake Breakfast
Saturday, September 17, 2011
8:00 - 11:00 a.m.
DHS Senior Center
$5.00 per person for tickets bought in advance
$6.00 per person at the door day of
Breakfast will include pancakes, scramble eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and orange juice
This is not just another fundraiser event, it's for the DHS SENIORS! Please come show your support!
Tickets available at the Senior Center:
11-777 West Drive in DHS
(behind the Carl May building and Library)
For more information, please call (760)329-0222
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
INCIDENT: PC 459 / Residential Burglary / Arrest
DATE: 07-27-11 DAY: Wednesday / TIME: 1526 hrs.
LOCATION: 66000 Block of San Remo Road
SUSPECT/ARRESTEE: #1: Anderson, Joshua Matthew WMA 18 yoa 510 210 Bro Blu Resident of Desert Hot Springs
#2: WMJ 17 yoa 511 148 Bro Bro Resident of Desert Hot Springs
#3 WMJ 17 yoa 600 130 Bro Blu Resident of Palm Springs
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at approximately 1526 hours officers from the Desert Hot Springs Police Department were dispatched to a local pawn shop on a report of subjects at the location attempting to pawn stolen property. Upon officers arrival the subjects had fled the location. Officers searched the area and located the subjects. The subjects were identified and arrested for a residential burglary which had just occurred. At the station officers, with the assistance of detectives, were able to link the suspects to two other burglaries. Property from all three burglaries was recovered and identified by the victims.
Anderson was transported to RSO Banning Jail and the two juveniles were lodged at juvenile hall.
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
INCIDENT: PC 459 / Residential Burglary / Arrest
DATE: 07-27-11 DAY: Wednesday / TIME: 1901 hrs.
LOCATION: 13000 Block of Calle Amapola
SUSPECT/ARRESTEE: BMJ 17 yoa 507 130 Blk Bro Resident of Desert Hot Springs
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at approximately 1901 hours officers from the Desert Hot Springs Police Department were dispatched to a report of a residential burglary that had just occurred. Upon officers arrival they located the subject a short distance away. The juvenile was identified and was in possession of property from the victim’s residence. The juvenile was arrested and transported to the station.
The juvenile was lodged at juvenile hall.
July 27, 2011
Capri Restaurant To Close Permanently
The Capri Restaurant, generally recognized as the number one restaurant in Desert Hot Springs, will be closing its doors permanently after this weekend, July 30-31. If you've been waiting to try their food, this will be your last chance.
UPDATE: The Desert Sun story.
Did anyone else notice in the Desert Sun photo (click the link above for a bigger image) the steak on the plate in the foreground is shaped like the 48 states (north is to the right)? In the background the photographer has gotten Chief Pat Williams, Assistant City Manager Jason Simpson and City Attorney Ruben Duran at lunch as well. If the other two people in the photo want to identify themselves, then we'll have everybody documented.
July 26, 2011
Skydiving at Burning Man
In 2010 we took up about 300 non-jumping observers and we loved doing it. It's our gift to the city.
To get a free ride show up at our camp on Saturday or Sunday and try for the lottery. We will be giving away a ton of rides for FREE. Nothing expected from you except a smile.
This is how it works: Every time the skydiving plane flies it has a few empty seats. We will have a little friendly competition at the Burning Sky camp to find a winner for those seats. Sometimes there is only one seat to give away, sometimes we give away four or five seats. Competitions are about every 30 min between 11AM and 5PM on Sat and Sun. You have to be present to win. If you win we will transport you to the airport and back to our camp.
The Free Market Takes On Burning Man Tickets
Now that Burning Man has sold out for the first time ever, prices for Burning Man tickets on eBay are skyrocketing - $810 for this one or $1,625 for this pair.
July 25, 2011
The Justice System Explained
Burning Man Sold Out!
For the first time ever, Burning Man has halted the sale of tickets saying they have hit the limit. They don't say if that's precisely 60,000, the number the BLM permitted, or if they cut it a bit lower than that for safety.
July 24, 2011
Apparently Not A Joke: "Beware of poisonous poodle-dog bush"
It's not April 1 and it's the L.A. Times, so pretty sure it's not a joke. Turricula parryi grows in areas that have been burned by wildfire and causes severe skin irritation if you touch it. It can be mistaken for lupine.
Last month, sheriff's deputies went to Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road where the body of a homicide victim was found.
"The deputies took police tape and they saw these really pretty purple flowers to wrap the police tape around, and I guess they got exposed pretty good," [Sgt. Rod Kubly, a medic for the L.A. County Sheriff Department's Special Enforcement Bureau] said. "They were out for a couple of weeks. They didn't know what the poodle bush was."
Tram to Humber Park
Yesterday I went on a hike with Great Outdoors from the tram to Humber Park. It was a one-way hike, since we had arranged a shuttle back to the lower tram station, making this a pretty easy hike, as it's a big downhill. The views were marred by the smoke, but if you closed your eyes and held your breath you'd hardly notice it.
Smoke from the fire in San Diego County floats through the valley. You can see (maybe you need the larger image) that all the recharge ponds are full in both Whitewater and Mission Creek.
July 22, 2011
DHS Festival Advisory Committee - July 20
Selection Of Chair
Brian Michaelz was the only volunteer to accept nomination for the position of Chair. He was elected unanimously. Mary Stephens was the only volunteer to be nominated for Vice Chair. She too was elected unanimously.
Review Of City Festival Assets
City Manager Daniels handed to each committee member a paper copy of a memo from City Attorney Duran that had also been emailed to each of them. The memo is considered protected by attorney-client privilege and remains confidential (until the issue of whether the city is going to sue Tony Clarke gets settled). My Superman-telescopic vision failed me at this moment, and I wasn't able to read even a word over anyone's shoulder. Sorry.
Mr. Michaelz said it would be discussed at the next meeting of the committee(!?).
Review of RFQ
The committee had a draft of a boiler plate RFQ. After the committee finalizes this, it is subject to approval by the City Council.
Ms. Stephens asked how the Community & Cultural Affairs Commission would be included in the process. Mr. Daniels said it would not be. Ms. Stephens is to report to the CCAC (and vice versa), but the Festival Advisory Committee reports directly to the City Council. Mayor Parks said that the committee has ultimate, final authority. She said the CCAC is not to direct the Festival Committee. Dot Reed agreed.
Mr. Daniels said that after getting the replies to the RFQ, he would expect the committee to rank them and then review the 2 or 3 most promising. Or, they could send an RFP to the top few applicants.
Ed Trost asked if there was a reason not to go directly to the RFP. He suggested that doing so might eliminate those who are inexperienced. Mr. Daniels said that, yes, it's possible to do it that way. Proposals, however, take a lot of time and resources to prepare. Mr. Trost said it would be unlikely that someone without qualifications would submit a proposal.
"Someone did previously," observed Ms. Lennon-Roth. [Oh, I like her!]
Mr. Bradshaw suggested doing an RFQ first and said that if someone stood out, the committee could settle on them and give them an RFP. If two or three seem equally good, then perhaps "preliminary proposals" [less work & money] could be requested from them.
Mr. Michaelz asked if it was necessary to do the RFP at all. Mr. Daniels said the committee would want to know the applicant's specifics. The committee will want a very detailed list that the city can use as a checkoff list as planning for the event progresses.
Mr. Bradshaw said he saw nothing in the draft RFQ that asked for a financial statement or ask about financial capacity or stability. Ms. Stephens suggested asking about insurance and bonds. A full background check should be required, Mr. Michaelz said.
Mr. Bradshaw pointed out this sentence in the draft RFQ: "The private entity shall conduct a quality event that also stimulates visitors and boosts city tourism." He suggested something should be added about increasing local and regional awareness of the city.
Mr. Michaelz read from the feasibility study: "The World Music and Wellness Festival in Desert Hot Springs offers visitors a wide array of experiences that promise to please the senses and nourish the body and soul." He thought this was very well said and should go hand in hand with the mission statement.
Mr. Trost said he thought they would be adding an additional step by separating the RFQ from the RFP.
Mr. Daniels said that it can work either way; separate RFQ/RFP or simultaneous RFQ/RFP.
Ms. Stephens said everybody in the world is going to try to apply for this.
Mr. Bradshaw suggested that the committee go ahead and work on the RFQ and if they decide to turn it into an RFP, that would be pretty easy to do. Mr. Trost suggested that the RFQ could be a section of the RFP.
Ms. Stephens moved to write an RFP with a subsection for qualifications. Seconded by Mr. Ryan. Approved 7-0.
Mr. Daniels said he had already received 35 to 40 requests from people and firms expressing an interest in producing this event. The city will send the RFP to those people and advertise via the web. A press release might generate inquiries from the entertainment industry press. Mr. Daniels said he also expects the committee members to take advantage of their contacts and knowledge to spread the word.
Mr. Daniels reminded them again that there is no house on fire. The direction from the City Council is to do it right, not fast.
After the RFP is prepared, the committee will not need to meet so frequently.
The draft of the mission statement that was handed out to the committee to consider:
The mission of the Festival Advisory Committee is to assist the City Council in developing a successful health, wellness and water themed music festival that will educate as well as entertain its audience, including the ever-deserving Desert Hot Springs residents. Our goal is to organize an annual event that will provide an opportunity to promote the City and its assets, including the natural hot mineral water, boutique spa hotels and diverse businesses, thus creating limitless long-range benefits to the community.
City Manager Daniels said that it was cobbled together from the words used by the committee members during the previous meeting.
Weekly meetings will continue until the RFP is written. The next meeting will be July 27 at 3 PM at the Senior Center.
At this point the committee moved to the city van and took a tour of potential sites around the city. Ms. Stephens suggested the Snellenberger/Highland Falls property as a site. It's got a great view. Mr. Daniels said the city hasn't heard from them in quite awhile. Snellenberger tried to sell the place, but he still owns it.
First stop was the grubbed area south of Mission Lakes Boulevard, west of the Village at Mission Lakes - fabulous view of Mt. San Jacinto.
Next was Desert Dunes. Mr. Daniels said that the city is working with Desert Dunes on a pre-annexation agreement. It would include the golf course and 300-400 acres around it. Canadians own it now. They want to get it into the city within 12 months. It's approved (by Riverside County) for the construction of 1,800 homes. They want to add a hotel site. The Canadian PGA will be there in December.
From there they drove to Mission Lakes Park, Two Bunch Palms Resort and then out to Rotary (Coyote) Park.
Next, the van traveled past Cabot's and some of the spas nearby. Judging from the reactions, this was the first time some of the committee members had seen some of our better spas and Cabot's itself. I think there's an outreach opportunity for Cabot's and the spas.
Last stop was Tuscan Hills.
Popular MacBook Comes To An End
The bestselling, bottom-of-the-line simple white MacBook has disappeared from the Apple store. Now, for the same $999 price, you can get the upgraded MacBook Air. The cheapest model comes with 2 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. There are two USB 2.0 ports and a Thunderbolt port. (For $5.60 you can connect the Thunderbolt port to an HDMI port.) It also has an SDXC slot. It has no optical drive, but it can connect wirelessly to any nearby computer and use its optical drive.
If you want a laptop with a hard drive. the upgraded MacBook Pro starts at $1,199. It adds two FireWire ports and a DVD drive (not Blu-ray). Comes with 4 GB RAM and 320 GB hard drive.
The Mac Mini has also been upgraded and starts at $599. 2 GB RAM and 500 GB hard drive. Thunderbolt and HDMI ports, an SDXC slot, four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port.
Nude Rugby - See It Here
Here's a 25-minute video of a rugby match played in Dunedin, New Zealand, between a Kiwi squad and a Fijian squad. The Kiwis are fully nude, including their one female teammate. The Fijians are topless - or as the lurid press would say "half naked" - and barefoot. The video begins with the prematch Maori haka. There is no pixelation and no censorious black bars in this video. The match is played in front of a clothed audience (who seem to possess remarkably few cameras) at what appears to be a public field. The video is provided by "3 News" television, so it's of good quality.
And there is, literally, a blind referee.
July 21, 2011
One More Step Toward Repeal Of DADT July 22
Tomorrow, Friday, July 22, the Pentagon will announce that they are prepared for repeal of DADT. Next, the President certifies it. And then a 60-day countdown begins.
UPDATE: President Obama didn't waste any time in certifying the repeal of DADT. Now we can look forward to 60 days of Republican members of Congress exhibiting their lack of self-confidence.