February 28, 2013
Here it is: The Obama Administration Amicus Brief Against Prop 8
if a state already recognizes for same-sex couples all the privileges and benefits that married couples have (as in the eight states that do so through "civil unions") those states must go the final step and allow those couples to get married. The argument is that it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of legal equality when both same-sex and opposite-sex couples are entitled to the same marital benefits, but only the opposite-sex couples can get married.
The eight states are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
The brief's final paragraph:
California's extension of all of the substantive rights and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbian domestic partners particularly undermines the justifications for Proposition 8. It indicates that Proposition 8's withholding of the designation of marriage is not based on an interest in promoting responsible procreation and child-rearing—petitioners' central claimed justification for the initiative—but instead on impermissible prejudice. As the court of appeals observed..., that is not necessarily to say "that proposition 8 is the result of ill will on the part of the voters of California." "Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves." Board of Trs. Of Univ. Of Ala. V. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 374 (2001).... Prejudice may not, however, be the basis for differential treatment under the law.
The Signers Of That Amicus Brief
All week long some names of the signers of that particular amicus brief in opposition to Prop 8 have been getting leaked. Supposedly only the N.Y. Times had an early copy, so I don't know how other news sources got additional names. Did, for instance, The Desert Sun call up the N.Y. Times and simply ask if Mary Bono Mack was on the list?
No more speculation. The brief has been filed and you can read it here, including the 8 pages of signatories. They include a lot of people you never heard of, but here are some that caught my eye:
- Mary Bono Mack
- Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001
- Mary Cheney
- Clint Eastwood, Carmel, California
- Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004
- Mark Gerson
- Patrick Guerriero, Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, former Log Cabin President
- Jon Huntsman, Utah Governor, 2005-09
- Gary Johnson, Libertarian Presidential candidate
- James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007
- David Stockman
- Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts 2001-03
- William Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-97 (well, we knew we could count on him)
- Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001
- Meg Whitman
- Paul Wolfowitz
Today is the deadline for amicus briefs, and it is widely reported that the Obama administration will deliver theirs today. But it's 6:30 PM in Washington as I write this, and no word of the actual filing yet. How long do those clerks hang out at the Supreme Court building to see if someone is coming from the White House?
Senator Leno Proposes To Give Prosecutors A Choice
California Senator Leno has submitted a bill that would allow possession of controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, etc. - not marijuana) as either a felony or misdemeanor. Here's the text of the bill. The Times reports this as Leno's reasoning:
"If we want safer communities, our collective goal for low-level drug offenders should be helping to ensure that they get the rehabilitation they need to successfully reenter their communities," Leno said. "Instead, we sentence them to long terms, offer them no treatment while incarcerated and release them back into our communities with few job prospects."
A look at the bill will show you no plans to increase the available rehabilitation services for drug users, nor are there any provisions to create more job prospects for prisoners upon release.
The bill also includes no guidelines for which possession cases are to be prosecuted as misdemeanors and which as felonies. It seems to me this has the potential of leading to inconsistent prosecution from one jurisdiction to another. Nonetheless, the bill seems to have the support of the ACLU and NAACP. The ACLU says the bill could save counties money, by reducing the cost of prosecution. And when did the ACLU become the budget watchdog?
February 27, 2013
DHS Community & Cultural Affairs Commission - 2/13/2013
Kathy Barrett proposed the city should get a grant so that a community garden could be created. She thought the best place for that is behind the Senior Center, near the new Health & Wellness Center and Boys & Girls Club. She said she doesn't want to try to get the grant herself.
Chair Fisher asked Martín Magaña about the status of the community garden project that was started awhile ago. Mr. Magaña said that he understands that project is getting ready to gear up again. He suggested Ms. Barrett should get in touch with Jeanine Plute on this subject.
Commissioner McKee said he and his wife worked on a community garden grant proposal to AQMD for Sentinel mitigation funds. It missed by only 2 points. He is taking that grant request (140 pages) and going to resubmit it to other granting agencies. He invited Ms. Barrett to join him in that effort.
Bill Cook said they are getting together a choir to sing the Battle Hymn Of The Republic. The panels for the replica of the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier are in his garage. The base is being painted this week. Invitations have been sent to Congressman Ruiz (he said he will come) and Supervisor John Benoit. Everything is on schedule. The southbound lanes of Palm Drive between Mission Lakes and San Marcos will be closed off. Southbound and northbound traffic will each have one lane of travel on the east half of Palm. Cactus Drive will be closed off as well near the park. 300 chairs will be rented. The "spiritual thought" will be delivered by the Bishop of the DHS Mormon Church.
There is an opportunity for a flyover. The "big plane" is a Douglas C-47. From Wikipedia:
The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army. Additionally, C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the embattled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying "The Hump" from India into China. The expertise gained flying "The Hump" would later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 would play a major role, until being replaced by the C-54.
In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. In the Pacific, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.
The C-47 continued in use through the Vietnam war.
The C-47 that might be used for the Memorial Day event has five seats that could be rented out to defray the cost of the flyover, which might be as much as $1,500.
Mr. Cook also requested 10 additional American flags which would be arrayed in a semicircle in the park during the ceremony. He found 3x5 flags with a post for only $16.95 each. Also he would like to purchase flags for each military service. All of those cost $195. He would like those to be posted along the south walkway entering Veterans Park during the ceremony. The flags could be stored with the city and used for any event.
Mr. McKee asked about the chance of a free flyover by the Navy or Marines. Mr. Cook said that with the budget cuts, there is no chance of that happening.
Mr. Fisher asked Mr. Magaña about CCAC's budget, pointing out that this is the last budgeted event for CCAC in this fiscal year. $2,000 had been budgeted for the Memorial Day event, but there is still more than $8,000 left in the CCAC budget overall. Mr. McKee asked if some of the police or other expenses for the holiday parade would come out of the CCAC budget. Mr. Magaña said he did not believe that would happen.
Commissioner McDaniel said that CCAC had also agreed to fund Concerts In The Park, an idea that had been tabled. He moved that Mr. Cook's requests be funded fully, including the C-47. The consensus of the commissioners supported this, but no vote was taken.
Commissioner Reed said she is very proud of the work that Mr. Cook has done. She pointed out that the CCAC has been very thrifty at all of its events this fiscal year.
Chair Fisher introduced new Commissioner Christina Garcia, who had arrived late because she works at the Boys & Girls Club until 6 o'clock.
This was placed on the agenda so the Commission could discuss Rick Teisan's proposal for a trail with exercise stations. He presented this to the Commission last month, proposing a route from Wardman Park east on 8th to Palm, north to Mission Lakes, and then back to Wardman Park. Mr. Teisan wasn't present at this meeting, so the item was continued.
Doug (last name unclear) came to the podium. He used to live in Oregon where he had experience with kite festivals. His proposed location for a kite festival is Long Canyon "all the way down the side." He's looking to have it in May. Among the officials and celebrities that he would like to invite to attend he specified "Congressman Perez and Mary Bono" because Mary Bono Mack was a proponent of wind power.
Chair Fisher suggested that the anniversary committee could consider this for inclusion in this year's celebrations. Commissioner McDaniel said he thought it would match well with the Salsa Festival planned for May.
Master Directional Signage Plan
Here are some conceptual drawings put together some time ago. These have already been reviewed by a committee of local citizens (from Cabot's, the Hoteliers, Planning Commission, CCAC and the Chamber of Commerce) and the City Council. The design, costs and locations are far from finalized.
Directional signs that could be located throughout the city.
A welcome sign for the city limits with the illusion of water. One to be located on Palm Drive near I-10 and one on Pierson near highway 62.
Originally, the plan was to have these signs funded from the RDA. Now the Art In Public Places fund is being considered as a source of funds.
Martín Magaña said not to be concerned with the cost of the signs at the moment, because the designs can be shopped around and alternative materials and designs could lower the price. The City Council had directed staff to bring these concepts to the CCAC and to continue to work with the citizens committee to come up with a final design for an entry sign to recommend to the City Council.
Over time the directional signs could be funded through development fees.
The sign at Palm and I-10 would have to be on the west side of the road, since the east side is Cathedral City. Mr. Magaña suggested the location should be just north of the AM-PM, at the intersection of Paul.
The Commission recommended going forward with the monument sign for the entrance to the city on Palm Drive. Commissioner McKee said he thought the midcentury modern design would be more appropriate to Palm Springs than Desert Hot Springs, but said that after we get various designs back, the commission will be able to settle on what's best.
Mr. Magaña said work has begun on the Borrego Clinic. They will have to construct a retention basin, and they will use permeable pavers to keep water from flowing off the parking lot into neighboring properties.
The Hyundae Hotel owners want to rip out the drywall in the basement so they can fully evaluate the plumbing and electrical situation, as well as deal with mold. The city is allowing them to go ahead with this, even though they haven't gotten their entitlements. It's solely at their own risk. The owners say they plan to replace the bright blue tile with "desert toned" tile, and to remove all the fake rock from the exterior (praise Jesus!). They have made a $40,000 deposit with the city to cover the potential risk to the city if these owners bail after exposing the wiring and plumbing.
Chair Fisher asked for an update on the jazz festival. Mr. Magaña said that Larry Don Vito hadn't found a non-profit to share in sponsorship yet.
The city has released an RFQ for proposals from artists for an art piece at the Health & Wellness Center. Submissions were received from three artists who provided photos of works they had already done. Mr. Magaña proposed that all three artists could submit a specific proposal to the CCAC for their approval.
He showed the photos that the three artists had submitted. Here's one from each:
Commissioner McDaniel made a motion to direct staff to proceed with plan to solicit designs from the three artists, providing each of them a stipend of $500 to defray expenses.
Commissioner McDaniel said the high school band is preparing for Memorial Day, and the choir is preparing to sing the "Battle Hymn Of The Republic."
Commissioner Reed suggested the commissioners should vist some kite festivals.
Commissioner Garcia said the trails committee is organizing a hike for March 9 that will meet at Cabot's Pueblo.
Commissioner McKee said that Larry Don Vito is looking at May 19 (Saturday) for his concert. He said there would be fireworks on Friday night (May 18) at Mission Springs Park.
Deals On Refurbished Canon DSLRs
Deals offered from Canon itself. At the moment they range from an EOS Rebel T3 Black EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens Kit for $352 (regularly $440) up to an EOS 5D Mark III Body for $2,799.21 (new price would be $3,149 at B&H).
Van Cliburn Dead At Age 78
His obituary in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Here the Star-Telegram has prepared a short video bio of the pianist who they describe as "Fort Worth's finest pianist." Yes, he was so fine, that sometimes they would even let him perform in Dallas!
The L.A. Times obituary concludes with this sentence: "Cliburn, who never married, is survived by his longtime friend, Thomas L. Smith."
Shot with a chest-mounted GoPro Hero, this is a descent of Lippincott Road from the Racetrack to Saline Valley. Lippincott Road is one if the more challenging roads in Death Valley National Park. In this video he finishes his descent a little more than halfway through. Then he continues out to Saline Valley Road, where he turns away from the hot springs.
Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance
Last Sunday at the Desert Princess country club.
1939 Kenworth fire engine. Only five of these were made and this one was originally owned by the City of Beverly Hills.
1947 Delahaye 135MS which wins the prize in the color category, IMO.
1948 Tucker - okay, now I've seen two Tuckers.
1959 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I. The accident happened on the way to this show. Here's what the placard on the car said:
This vehicle has been seen in many movies, mini-series and TV ads including "Columbo," "Murder She Wrote," "Loveboat," "The Thornbirds," "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," "Fresno," and was the Rolls Royce featured in the first Grey Poupon commercial which made the reply "but of course..." popular.
1949 Volkswagen Hebmüller. The placard on the car misspelled the name of the car as "Volkswagon Hebmulle." Car collectors are supposed to be well informed, detail-oriented people, so I found this error to be rather mystifying.
1953 Corvette - from the first year of production when only 300 were built. You could get it in any color, so long as it was white with a red interior.
1953 Cunningham C3. The placard read...
Built in 1953 by Briggs Cunningham in Palm Beach, Florida, at his factory. Body built by Carosserie Vignale in Italy. One of 25 built, 20 coupes, 5 convertibles. Chosen as one of the world's ten best car designs by the New York Museum of Art.
1962 Corvair Spyder - the placard cited a study done in the early '70s that showed this model of Corvair was no more dangerous than any of the other cars being produced in the early '60s.
February 26, 2013
How have I missed this one?
Maybe it's a repeat, here's a good video of Burning Man 2011 released at least a year ago. Includes interesting timelapse and slo-mo from various points of view, including the deep playa and the non-mechanized zone, which gives a fresh view of the lights of the city. It also has some of the best shots of the world's biggest clock that I've seen.
Your Chance To Buy The Bob Hope House
Here's the listing. Not much to go on, but you know the story. Rumored to be asking $45 million. This NY Times article summarizes the history of the house.
The water reservoirs do not go with the house - sorry.
Meg Whitman Comes Out For Equal Marriage Rights
The NY Times reports that an amicus brief expressing opposition to Prop 8 and signed by at least 75 Republican leaders will be filed with the Supreme Court this week. There have been half a ton of amicus briefs filed on both sides, while the one from the White House still exists only in the imagination. I'd like to give you a link to the brief itself so we could see the 75 signatories, but it probably won't be public until it's actually filed. Meg Whitman's name may be the most significant on the list. She expressed support for Prop 8 during her campaign for Governor in 2010, which she lost to Jerry Brown.
Important names that have express support for equal rights in the past that are not yet on the brief are Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Colin Powell.
February 25, 2013
Flowers In Joshua Tree National Park?
Although most are predicting a not so great season for desert flowers, here's one person who thinks there will be a decent show in the area around the Cottonwood (south) entrance to the park in early March. You can pay them $60 and drive up to the 29 Palms visitor center to join them, or you can just use that $60 to buy gas and drive to Cottonwood yourself. Often there are good displays of flowers along the entrance road north of I-10 before you even get to the visitor center at Cottonwood.
February 24, 2013
Another Look At Eagles Nest II
DHS Planning Commission - Feb. 12, 2013
The audio recording of this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs Planning Commission is available here. Cathy Romero returned as a Commissioner, beginning with this meeting. The attorney at Planning Commission meetings now is Jennifer Mizrahi
Craig4G, which provides wireless internet connectivity, is proposing to install antennas on top of Miracle Springs Resort & Spa. They will put four wireless antennas on the exterior of a stairwell that rises above the roofline, plus one microwave antenna to connect to their base on Edom Hill. The antennas will be painted to match the color of the building. DHS customers who sign up with Craig4G will pay a utility users tax.
Bob Lienhard, Regional General Manager for Craig Wireless, represented the company. Craig4G already has networks established in Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Palm Desert. Craig Wireless is an international business with headquarters in Rancho Mirage. Besides having the license for the 4G spectrum in the Coachella Valley, they also own the 4G spectrum in Greece, Norway, New Zealand, Cambodia and even Laos.
He said Craig4G will rent a 10' x 10' space at Miracle Springs for their equipment, which runs on standard 110 volt power. He explained that the 4G antennas are about 40% as big as a cellular antenna, being about 14 inches wide, 3 inches deep, and 42 inches high. The microwave antenna is about 2 feet in diameter, but it will be set back on the roof, blocking it from view from most angles. About a hundred residents of DHS have come to their retail store in Palm Springs to express an interest in their service.
Craig4G provides a variety of services and two prices. $30 per month up to 4 Mbps download, 0.5 Mbps upload - no limits. For comparison, Time Warner Cable nominally provides 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, but higher download speeds are available and I've often seen speeds faster than 20 Mbps. (At this moment I'm getting 26.58 Mbps download). According to this article, DSL can be as fast as 3 Mbps download. But this page at Verizon says their DSL service is only 0.5 to 1 Mbps! Verizon FiOS download speeds can range from 3 Mbps to 300 Mbps - if the service is available, and I don't believe it is in DHS.
It sure looks to me that if you're in Desert Hot Springs and you don't want to pay Time Warner Cable prices, then Craig4G will be the way to go, if you are within range of their signal.
At Craig 4G, you can increase your upload speed to 1.5 Mbps by upping your fee to $45/month. Modems cost $100, no matter your speed.
Mr. Lienhard called their system WiMAX. He said that after this site is up, he expects to come back to the city with a couple of more sites for DHS. The effective range is about 3 miles, but he said his own house is 6 miles away from Craig4G antennas and his service works. He said their service is 20 times faster than DSL. That would be true if your DSL was actually only 0.2 Mbps, or 200 Kbps, which is the upper end for dial-up speeds. not DSL. Here's the speed test that I like to use. It will tell you what you're really getting at the moment you do the test.
Mr. Lienhard acknowledged that service could be slowed by contention. There's only one microwave link to Edom Hill. Everybody in DHS who logs onto Craig4G for internet service will be on that link. The more users, the slower.
Vice Chair Gerardi moved to approve the Conditional Use Permit. Approved 5-0.
Sunset Springs - Coachella Valley Housing Coalition
It's not déjà vu, this was approved in February 2009, but the Coachella Valley Housing Commission did not follow through and everything has expired, so it has to be re-done, which means everything (specifically, a Development Permit and a Design Review Permit) is back on the table and can be re-argued and re-negotiated. Sunset Springs is an incomplete development (62 lots, 15 completed homes) and CVHC's proposal is to build homes on 32 lots using "sweat equity."
Martín Magaña explained that this proposal came before the Architectural and Landscape Review Committee on January 31. That committee requested additional information, which CVHC did not provide at the committee's February 7 meeting. Therefore it won't go to the ALRC until February 21. Staff requested that this Planning Commission hearing be continued to the Commission's March 12 meeting.
Several residents of Sunset Springs were present and made comments. They can make comments again at the March 12 meeting.
Allen Taus said he was concerned with property value. He said the surrounding area should be kept up to the quality established. He moved to Desert Hot Springs because he saw the downtown renovation. He said Sunset Springs has probably the best coalition of neighbors. He talked about "a particular community this name is already on" near Stater Bros. It's supposed to have a standard, but "it doesn't have that standard," he said. Everybody has a right to live where they like, he said. Construction of the homes should not be done by cheap contractors. He asked the Planning Commission to hold that standard.
Jack Meyers spoke next. He said he doesn't care who lives there, but he hopes the new houses will be "a nice transition." He didn't expect their interior to be as high quality. He just wants to make sure the street has a nice appearance and transition.
Ron Tilton said that when he initially bought his house he wasn't told about this planned development. He asked if there would be any oversight after the homes are built to make sure they are kept up. [Does that question mean Sunset Springs doesn't have an HOA?] Chair Sobotta said the Commission is pretty much in the dark and hasn't gotten any details. He further explained that is normally the task of Code Enforcement. Mr. Tilton asked for a list of homes built by the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition throughout the valley so they could go look at them.
Chair Sobotta asked if the CVHC had had any meetings with the current residents. Martín Magaña said they had not.
Mr. Sobotta asked for the thoughts of the Commissioners, but the attorney interrupted and said that since the public hearing was still open and would be continued to the next meeting and since the applicant was not at this meeting, it would not be appropriate for any Commissioner to share thoughts. Only the motion to continue was needed. Commissioner Romero made the motion to continue. Approved 5-0.
Staff & Commission Comments
Mr. Magaña said that the city had worked out an agreement with Borrego Solar for the solar installation that will be built at Little Morongo and Indian (originally Aloha Solar). The city doesn't have an established DIF structured for solar power installations. After it's built, the project will generate very little road traffic and have little impact of any kind on city services. Therefore, they will agree to a covenant based on an analysis of a similar project in the county. Under the usual DIF rules based solely on acreage the fees would have been about $8 million. If the fees were based on the square footage of the panels (and not the size of the parcel), the fee would have been about $2 million. Using the county's analysis, the fee comes to only $8,000, which is more equitable and more realistic in the opinion of city staff. The covenant is an agreement for that lowest amount.
Federal agencies are dragging their feet on approving the city's application to fully join the MSHCP. This is delaying the EIR for the new General Plan. Congressman Ruiz's assistance has been sought.
The Hyundae hotel story continues. Revised plans have been submitted and they will have to go through the ALRC and then the Planning Commission.
Escrow closed on the Flamingo hotel recently and the city is waiting for the new owner to bring us a plan.
Chamber Mixer at MSWD
February 23, 2013
Betting On The Pope
But here's the real thing: PaddyPower.com is taking bets and giving odds. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana has the lead at the moment with odds of 11/4.
You can also bet on
- The next papal name (even odds on "Peter")
- The length of the papal conclave
- Whether or not the new Pope will also resign
- Whether any Cardinal will break the Twitter ban during the conclave
- The next Pope's country
- His age
- The number of ballots
- Ratzinger's residence at the end of 2013 (1000/1 odds on both the Playboy Mansion and Big Brother House)
- And whether there will be a Twitter outage of 5 minutes or longer during the conclave
February 22, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I went on a short hike with Great Outdoors to Willis Palms. You may recall the dramatic fire about two years ago in that oasis. Here are some photos from 2008, before the fire. Today, all but a couple of the palms have completely recovered. There's a lot less brush at ground level, however.
Question Of The Day
On Yahoo Answers, Angela asks "I live in desert hot springs how long will it take to get my check?" As I write, that question has been languishing unanswered for 23 hours! Won't someone please answer her?
February 20, 2013
Groundbreaking For Sewers In AD12, Area F
It was a beautiful morning for a groundbreaking, but I couldn't make it. These photos are by Richard Cromwell. The event was the groundbreaking for sewers in Assessment District 12, Area F; which will pave the way for the elimination of up to 1,400 septic tanks, IIRC.
As part of Modernism Week I went this morning on a tour of the Frey II house, which is owned by the Palm Springs Art Museum. Albert Frey built it as his own residence in 1963-64 and lived there until his death in 1998. Frey I would have been his first residence which was down in the flat part of Palm Springs. It no longer exists.
The view to the east from Frey II - looking along Tahquitz to the airport.
Perforated aluminum ceiling. Above that is a layer of insulation and then the steel roof.
UPDATE - Other designs by Albert Frey: