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March 31, 2012

MSWD Workshop - March 6

Public Comments

Richard Cromwell suggested that the church building recently acquired by the district be termed "the annex."

I commented to the board about that morning's Desert Water Agency meeting and their brief discussion of the possibility of considering acquiring a tablet device for board use.

California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring program and Local Area Geology

This was presented by Dr. Timothy Ross and Eric Gorman.

CASGEM is a statewide program to establish groundwater elevation levels, including seasonal and long term trends. On page 3 of the presentation you'll find a map of the 515 groundwater basins in California. That comes from DWR Bulletin 118-2003. DWR would like to have monitors in all of the basins, but stepping up to be the monitoring agency for a basin is entirely voluntary.

A monitoring entity collects and reports groundwater levels twice per year. All data becomes public information. Public drinking water supply wells cannot be used to monitor groundwater levels for CASGEM. One reason for that is because CASGEM makes publicly available a map of all the monitoring wells in the state, and providing an easily accessible handy-dandy map of drinking water wells in California to our possible enemies is not a good public health practice.

CASGEM data will help identify potential overdraft and land subsidence. Page 8 of the presentation shows a graph for an unidentified groundwater basin. You can see the seasonal variations, but you can also see a general downward trend. This can provide guidance to those entities who use that basin.

Page 9 of the presentation shows a contour map, which can be produced using data from CASGEM. It shows the elevation of groundwater.

Richard J Proctor geologic map and sections of the Desert Hot Springs area Riverside County California 1968
Page 12 of the presentation is this 1968 geological map of the Desert Hot Springs area by Richard J. Proctor
. That image is lifted directly out of the presentation, so it's rather low-res, but you can get a general idea of the subject.

The pink area is the Little San Bernardinos. "This is an igneous, metamorphic complex. It's a bedrock. It's hard, but it's also very highly fractured, which is important. This is a very important source of recharge to this area." They have lots of tributaries that come down, Mission Creek being the largest. As they extend up into the Little San Bernardinos they form catchment areas. The catchment areas recharge the groundwater basins from surface flow, or the water can go into the rock and go very deep, entering the groundwater basin as underflow.

On the west is the Painted Hill formation. "These are a series of complex sedimentary rocks that are tertiary." They are water-bearing, but not as water-bearing as the younger alluvial materials farther out in the main part of the basin. Test wells in the Painted Hill formation have not been highly productive of water. Temperature data suggests there is not a lot of actively moving groundwater there. The theory is that the Painted Hill formation actually extends east-southeast into the basin, restricting groundwater flows coming from Mission Creek. One can see the general curve of Mission Creek. Why doesn't it simply take a straight shot to the lower Whitewater Basin area? It did so in the past, but seismic forces have pushed it aside.

The light yellow areas that dominate the map are the younger alluvial materials. It varies from 200 to 600 feet thick. Beneath the young alluvial material is an older alluvial material. That's Cabazon Fanglomerate. Mr. Gorman said that's shown on the map as a pale orange. It is what you see strewn on both sides of I-10 just east of the Whitewater River. If I read the map correctly, it also occurs at Devers Hill and in the area west of 62 going towards and into Mission Creek Preserve. It is also water-bearing, but doesn't hold as much water as the younger alluvial materials. That's because the sediment is finer in the Cabazon Fanglomerate, so it's more tightly packed. Mr. Gorman said that along highway 62 you will see a lot of boulders, but as you move southeast in the basin they just stop. The boulders are moved there by huge flash floods. They drop out of the flood waters before the smaller sediment.

The map also shows the elephants in the room: the Mission Creek fault, the Banning fault and the Garnet Hill fault. Water travels very deeply, picking up heat, and when encountering the fault, rise to the surface. Next thing you know you're getting TripAdvisor awards. The heat is not magmatic. Up in the Mammoth Springs area it is magmatic. The heat is simply generated by the depth of the ground. Every 100 feet you descend into the Earth, the temperature rises by 1°C. The weight of water entering the ground pushes water ahead of itself deeper into the ground. The fault gouge created at the interface of a slip-strike fault is so fine, it blocks water flow, so the only way the water has to go is further down, or up to the surface. Since the ground is very fractured, the movement up or down is easy for the water.

Director Martin asked why the surface of the Desert Hot Springs (hot water) basin is closer to the surface than the Mission Creek (drinking water) basin. The hot water should be further down, it would seem. Mr. Gorman said the hot water travels downward "many kilometers" before rising back to the surface. It cools as it approaches the surface. There is no direct magma source near the surface here.

Director Bowman said that when the well for his spa was first dug, it hit water at 80 feet. Now the water is ten feet higher.

Dr. Ross said that as pressure builds along the fault the rock is bending. One theory is that the bending of the rock is pushing the water table higher.

Average rainfall up on San Gorgonio is about 38 inches per year.

Vice President Brown asked if the area where the Worsley Road spreading ponds are located would be a good surface water storage area - with a dam and a lake. Director Furbee said that underground storage is more efficient. Mr. Gorman said the surface there is too porous. The water would simply sink through the sand to the underground basin. The area further upstream along Mission Creek where there is more rock would be a better place. [I think it should be said that MSWD is not seriously considering flooding the Mission Creek Preserve, and couldn't do it even if they wanted to - The Wildlands Conservancy has way more money and lawyers than MSWD.]

Page 17 in the presentation is a map showing how the five water purveyors in the valley and the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency have divided up the monitoring responsibilities. The areas do not correspond exactly to political boundaries.

The map on page 18 shows the locations of the monitoring wells. It shows MSWD has two wells in the Mission Creek basin and two in the Desert Hot Springs basin.

Groundwater Protection Program

If you want the nomenclature, it's an "interceptor" if it's 12 inches or bigger, a "collector" if it's 8 or 10 inches, a "private lateral" if it's 4 or 6 inches. There are about 5,000 septic tanks in the district. The district has two wastewater treatment facilities: Horton and Desert Crest.

AD-12 is set to expire in 2014. The district has contacted some bond counsels who think there may be a way to extend that. The trunk interceptors for AD-12 are in place. The design work for sewers is complete for areas M, F, D1, D2, and J.

D1 will be built with Prop 84 money. The design is locked in, the process (if not the digging) has started. SRF funding is "very close" for Area F. Area M can be subdivided into four parts, so if a good, low bid comes in for Area F that leaves enough money to do one of the M areas, then that will get done as well.

A priority list has been developed. Here are the factors considered in establishing priority:

  • Demographics - the cost of abating septic systems is rising, and that's a cost to be borne by the property owner. They don't say it explicitly, but I think this item gives a higher priority to lower income neighborhoods in order to try to save them some money on their septic abatement.
  • Economics of the district - how can the district get the biggest bang for its buck. Areas with a higher density of developed properties are preferred. Being able to tie in with existing infrastructure helps.
  • Density of developed parcels - more density gets more points.
  • Number of parcels - more parcels, more points.
  • Hot water zone - points for being over the hot water.
  • Development level - "Present and near term level of development within the area." I think this means it gets more points for being more built up.
  • Septic tank failures - points for reported septic tank failures based on district and city records.
  • Proximity to existing sewers - this was more important in the past; now all areas are fairly close to existing sewer lines.
  • Septic tank & well proximity - points if septics are close to the drinking water supply!
  • Design of facilities - when the district has an area designed, it gets points over those areas not designed.

Put all that in the hopper, turn the handle, and here's the priority list that comes out:

  1. M
  2. F
  3. D
  4. J
  5. A
  6. H (Areas H, I, K, and G have not been designed)
  7. I
  8. K
  9. G

Vice President Brown said he is very concerned about K. It seems a high risk area. Director Bowman said there are no spas drawing on the hot water in K. There are, however, in the higher priority J area. There are a lot of spas in area G, but it's at the very bottom of the priority list. Brent Gray explained that G has large lot sizes, so that's how it slid down on the priority list - not as dense. Sewer construction in areas J and K may run into bedrock, which will make them more expensive. Mr. Gray said that J has to be completed before K, because the sewers from K will go through J.

Expansion of Horton WWTP is necessary. The design work for that is complete. Construction of new sewers will increase flows to the WWTP.

There was discussion about the need for the new regional WWTP. The idea of setting up an assessment district extending as far south as the new College Of The Desert campus was tossed around. the sewage from that could flow into a new regional WWTP, or it could go to the existing sewage plant in Palm Springs. Will the citizens of Palm Springs support the expansion of a sewage treatment facility there in the heart of their city, or would they prefer to help pay for a new one north of I-10 in an undeveloped area? [We offer our windswept desert to you.]

One idea for the regional WWTP is to take its treated discharge and pump it uphill to a spreading basin where it will be used to recharge the Mission Creek aquifer.

The Horton WWTP has a real capacity limit of 2.3 million gallons per day (mgd). It's permitted to go only to 2 mgd. It has what they call a "critical maintenance barrier" slightly more than 1.5 mgd. In 2012 or 2013 the actual flows are projected to surpass the critical maintenance barrier. When that happens, the biggest treatment unit at the plant cannot be taken out of service for maintenance, while it also must not be allowed to break down. Construction of the expansion will take at least a year - after construction starts. A regional WWTP will take 2 to 3 years. Treatment units are supposed to get an annual maintenance. In the past, when flows exceeded the critical maintenance barrier, the district went five years without performing maintenance. Everything went fine, but when they were finally able to shut down the units for maintenance they found that 25% of the capacity had been lost due to build up of grit and silt.

SRF money is under review for areas F and M. We are in category 1, which means principal forgiveness. Last year you could get $5 million in category 2 and up to $10 million in category 1. This year the limits are $2 million and $4 million, respectively.

Comments & Reports

Director Bowman said he had a chance to talk to Steve Sobotta [one of the four sponsors of the referendum initiative]. He asked Mr. Sobotta to drop off of the initiative. "He gave the implication that he thought he was." Mr. Bowman said he would stay in touch with Mr. Sobotta. Mr. Bowman and other directors agreed that he is a "nice guy, part of the town, and he was hoodwinked." Director Martin said he has spoken to Mr. Sobotta about this, too. And every time he agrees to "get this behind us." Then Mr. Sobotta would say "I'm sure we can arrive at some compromise." What is that compromise?

Mr. Bowman said good people should be able to dialogue and come to an understanding.

President Wright asked about the district's IT policy and how it applies an individual piece of hardware like the iPad.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 31, 2012 at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2012

Obama At Nuclear Summit

Everybody was so distracted by President Obama speaking the truth to President Medvedev, this part of the summit was totally overlooked:
Obama arrives

| permalink | March 30, 2012 at 07:39 PM | Comments (3)

"Overpopulation Is A Lie"

Michelle Duggar, mother of 19, says overpopulation is a lie. "The idea of overpopulation is not accurate because, really, the entire population of the world, if they were stood shoulder to shoulder, could fit in the city limits of Jacksonville."

You know I just had to run the numbers. The land area of Jacksonville, Florida, is 757.7 square miles or 21,123,463,680 square feet. The world population this coming Sunday is estimated to be 7,004,110,246. Punch the buttons and that means 3.02 square feet per person, which is a bit less than 21 inches by 21 inches. In the comments on the article, one reader says the cross section of an average casket is 23 inches by 28 inches. In this imaginary world of Jacksonville, no one ever lies down, no one has any possessions, no one produces anything, travel is extremely difficult. There are no bodies of water, no parks, no mountains. We could count on a pretty rapid drop in population, though, as people died of exhaustion, thirst, exposure and the diseases that would spread rapidly in the packed, semi-tropical conditions with no medical care at all.

| permalink | March 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

DHS City Council Meeting - March 6

On the subject of the approval of the agenda, Councilmember Betts moved that the City Manager's comments be moved ahead of City Councilmember comments at the end of the meeting. He said this was because people had complained that council member comments went too long and the city manager provided good information. Councilmember Matas had already made the motion to approve the agenda as published. He did this electronically before Mr. Betts got his motion out orally. The agenda was approved as published.

DHS Police Officers Presentation to DHS Little League

DHS POA Contribution to Little League (2000)

Sgt. Ken Peary came forward to present a check for $750 to Mike Platt to sponsor a team in the DHS Little League. He also announced the POA is donating $200 to assist Daniel Gibbs to go the Keystone Leadership Camp in Texas.

AB109 Update

This presentation was made by Chief Williams. He said the law reclassified a number of crimes. In the past, sentences for those crimes would be served in state prisons. AB109 changes that so some sentences will be served in county jails. Up to 50,000 parolees will move to the counties. In Riverside County there are five jails with a capacity of 3,906 beds. The population of Riverside County in the 2010 census was 2,189,641. San Bernardino County has twice the bed space in its jails, with an overall population only slightly smaller than Riverside County's.

There have been 635 early releases of county inmates in Riverside County due to AB109. This allows Governor Brown to claim that he is not making any early releases. Rather than being supervised by state parole, they are supervised by a local probation officer. Parole officers are considered peace officers, are armed and have had training similar to that of a police officer. Most (95% in Riverside County) probation officers are not armed.

The prisoners being transferred are those whose current offense is non-violent, non-serious and non-sex. But their prior convictions are not taken into account, so they may have a history of serious violent and/or sex offenses.

In the past, anyone sentenced to more than year would serve their time in a state facility. That's no longer true. The chief gave an example of one felon who has been sentenced to 14 years, 4 months, who will serve that time in a Riverside County jail. He gave a quick list of other similarly long sentences to be served in county jail: 12 years, 9 years, 8 years, 7 years, 6 years and so on.

Statewide there are about 20,000 who are in what is called "Post-Release Community Supervision" (PRCS). Riverside County will get 2,300. Only 1,149 are under active supervision by county probation. 38 of those are in Desert Hot Springs. The number will increase.

Some funding has come to the county for additional staff in probation and the Sheriff's Department, as well as funds for the public defender, district attorney and courts. There has been no money for local front-line law enforcement. The total dollar amount was $400 million. But it was costing the state $2 billion to deal with these people. $22 million came to Riverside County. The Sheriff got about $10 million. Probation got about $6.5 million. Mental health got $4 million. Local law enforcement (county-wide) got about $780,000. That $780,000 is to be shared among 28 cities (11 have police departments, 17 contract with the Sheriff's Department). That's an average of $27,857 per city which is something like ¼ of a police officer each.

Each county has a seven-member executive board for Community Corrections Partnership (CCP). An AB109 compliance team has been put together in Riverside County. It includes six agencies: Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Springs, Beaumont, Hemet and Corona. They work out of an office in Beaumont and can respond throughout the county.

63% of those being released are deemed "high risk to re-offend" by probation. 19% are medium risk and 18% are low risk. When the legislation was being put together, we were promised those ratios would be the reverse of what they are now. 70% of those released from state prison re-offend within one year. Pushing them out to the counties without additional funding will solve nothing.

Mayor Pro Tem Pye asked if it was correct that when prisoners are being released we are not being informed as to where they are going. The Chief said there are two things going on. Probation has offender data. They have not been willing to share that data. Police have asked for a letter from the Attorney General on the matter. The Attorney General did write a letter "that does not agree with" probation's position. Riverside County District Attorney Zellerbach wrote a similar letter that also "did not agree with" probation's position. A deal has been put together, signed by all the police chiefs, the sheriff, and the DA, promising to use the data for appropriate purposes only. The county's compliance team does not have offender data.

Councilmember Matas said we should applaud Chief Williams for being pro-active since 2009 when this thing was conceived. Everybody was focused on the redevelopment problem while this was happening "behind the curtain." Chief Williams went to Sacramento and fought for the local level.

Public Comments

Pamela Berry had a comment about CVAG and the 1e11 study. She had looked at the "WHITEWATER RIVER/PARKWAY 1e11 NEV/BIKE/PEDESTRIAN CORRIDOR PRELIMINARY STUDY REPORT." She said she was disappointed with Mayor Parks for "ignoring a vote of the council on the 21st."

As I've pointed out twice before, what the city council approved on February 21 was this:

  1. "Direct Staff to notify AQMD that the City of Desert Hot Springs intends to submit a Close Proximity Mitigation Funding Allocation Application for $15 million +/- to augment AQMD's Air Quality Pollution Reduction Mitigation Plan within the City of Desert Hot Springs and/or the nearby vicinity." The means of notification would be a letter very similar to the one above after some modifications based on collaboration between the council and the city manager; and
  2. "Adopt a procedure that requires prior to submitting the Close Proximity Application that the City Council and staff solicit public input at notice open and public meetings to identify, develop and review prospective projects that may be eligible for funding pursuant to AQMD's program guidelines." The dates of the meetings to be determined by the city manager after polling the council as to their schedules.

It does not state a position on the pathway and does not direct the Mayor to vote one way or another. But to return to Ms. Berry's comments...

She said there was a vote at the February 28 city council meeting to support the Whitewater pathway. [There was no such vote. At the February 28 city council meeting they voted to send a letter to CVAG in support of CVAG using grant money to study the feasibility of the pathway.]

She wanted to know where is Plan B and Plan C. She pointed out that in the CVAG report the estimate for the total cost of the "Desert Hot Springs Connector" is $12,176,000. That's out of a total of $77,382,000 estimated for the entire project. She said the entire project is "an arm of Agenda 21." She said Agenda 21 started in 1962. [Everything I can find says it was 1992.] She said "another arm of this is the ICLEI which is global governance over our local issues."

She added that she was "personally astounded" by what Sergeant Ken Peary had said a couple of weeks earlier. "He and his followers have a disdain for public discourse."

George Fisher thanked the people who turned out to attend and work on the Earthquake Expo, despite it being a busy weekend. Next year it might be scheduled at a different time. Maybe in the fall. He reminded people to put together their earthquake kits. They can help you in smaller emergencies like power outages, too.

Lorraine Becker said that Michael Chedester had been selected as the new President of the Cabot's board. Mr. Chedester announced that Cabot's had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The application process was spearheaded by Barbara Maron. He introduced John Mahoney, the new Vice President, Barbara Maron, historian, and Linda Stevens. Over the last 2 months more than 3,000 people have taken a tour of the museum. The search is on for a new director. 25 candidates have responded. The field was narrowed down to 11. The four top people will be interviewed.

Reverend Paul Miller said that graffiti came up as a subject of discussion at the Community Policing event a couple of weeks earlier. He said there's an app for that. Go to either the iPhone App Store or Android Market and find "myDesertHotSprings." It guides you through the process of getting info and photos to the code enforcement staff. You can also add a voice description to your report. He used it to report some graffiti and the graffiti was removed within a few days.

He also reported on the progress of construction at Christ Lutheran Church on Pierson Boulevard. Go to >DHSChristLutheran.org where you will find a link to photos of the building's progress from 2005 to the present.

Mike Platt said March 31 is opening day for Little League. 10 AM or earlier to catch the first pitch. There will be a carnival that day, too.

James Provance spoke about the AQMD mitigation funds. The deadline for proposals is June 8. He suggested that we talk to our fellow cities to see if we could get that extended by 2 or 3 months. The reason is that there is a lot of conflicting information out there. The extra time would allow for more clarification and prioritization. It would also give everyone more time to put together better proposals. There would also be an extra 90 days of interest on the $53 million pot of money.

Joe McKee asked about "a small park area by Builder Supply." [The former site of Bank of America]. The water has been turned off to that site and he wants to know who made the decision and why. He is concerned that there is already very little green space and this one seems to be dying.

He also talked about the Whitewater pathway. He said he didn't know if a normal golf cart could make it from Palm Springs to Cabot's on one charge. He called some golf cart experts and they said it was possible under very optimal conditions (new batteries, favorable wind). "I'm also probably one of the few people that have actually ridden a bicycle from here to Palm Springs and back." He suggested that everyone on the city council try it. He has an electric bike with a theoretical 26-mile range and it just barely made it.

He also wondered if police would be able to patrol it. He thought that the sections along washes would be pretty dangerous.

Dot Reed thanked everyone who turned out for the DHS Historical Society Soup Supper which she said was a smashing success. It was standing room only. About 90 people turned out. Paul Gregory kept everyone laughing. The next Soup Supper will be April 26. She did not announce who would be the speaker [but if we get who we are hoping for, it will be great!]. She congratulated Cabot's on making the National Register.

Barbara Eastman said the Desert Hot Spring Women's Club was formed by 9 women in 1953. They sponsored the first city park, which became Arroyo Park, which is Tedesco Park today. Some of the trees they planted are still there today. They also maintained the Desert Hot Springs sign on highway 99 (Varner Road today), purchased benches to be placed along Palm Drive, sponsored citywide clean up programs, and offered prizes for the most attractive yards. Since then they have supported the youth of the city. They have contributed over $272,000 for scholarships to graduating students, ROTC, youth baseball and football. She invited everyone to the annual fashion show of the DHS Women's Club. It was on Sunday, March 18 at Miracle Springs Resort. The models will be the Police Explorer girls. The proceeds of the fashion show go into the scholarship fund.

Mayor's Appointments To The RDA Oversight Board

You thought they did this already? No, those were nominations to Supervisor Benoit, from which he is supposed to pick one. They Mayor gets to appoint two of her own. They are Lorraine Becker and Rudy Acosta.

Funding For Roy's Desert Resource Center

Councilmember Sanchez said he visited a homeless service center in Indio. He is on the CVAG Homeless Committee. Riverside County is facing a financial crisis. He wants to have a discussion on what role we play in DHS with the homeless here. We may think the homeless are transients, but he has seen that is not always the case. What are the nets in the community to help out families who have lost their homes?

Aurora Wilson, CVAG Director of Community Resources, was invited to come to the podium to speak. She asked if the councilmembers had a copy of a letter from Supervisor Benoit regarding future funding of operations at Roy's Desert Resource Center. They all did. The annual budget for Roy's is $1.9 million. This fiscal year the county contributed $1.2 million. For the next fiscal year the county expects to be able to allocate only $120,000! The county paid $7 million to buy the building where Roy's is located. In this past fiscal year the difference between the county's $1.2 million and Roy's full budget of $1.9 million was made up by contributions as follows:

  • Cathedral City: $51,000
  • Indian Wells: $53,000
  • Desert Hot Springs: $0
  • Coachella: $0
  • La Quinta: $0
  • Indio: $127,404
  • Palm Desert: $103,000
  • Rancho Mirage: $103,000
  • Wells Fargo: $20,000
  • Desert Healthcare District: $141,326
  • RAP Foundation (medical supplies): $5,000
  • RAP Foundation (donations): $11,000
  • JARC (transportation grant): $47,859
  • "Help The Homeless" Campaigns: $4,175
  • Union Bank: $2,500
  • Southern California Edison via DHS: $1,000

In calendar year 2011 Roy's served 858 individuals who were identified with local jurisdictions as follows:

  • Palm Springs - 219
  • Indio - 129
  • DHS - 125
  • Cathedral City - 102
  • Riverside County unincorporated areas or cities outside of CV - 78
  • San Bernardino County - 55
  • Coachella - 37
  • Palm Desert - 26
  • Rancho Mirage - 11
  • Imperial County - 10
  • Indian Wells - 8
  • La Quinta - 4
  • None of the above - 54
[We've got to find out what's going on in La Quinta.]

Roy's served 295 females and 563 males in calendar year 2011. 156 clients were over age 55. There were 48 children of school age (6 to 17) and 37 children age 5 and younger. 44 homeless families were assisted. 74 of the clients were Veterans. 167 were disabled.

66,972 meals were served; 27,287 showers were taken; 775 got clothing; 49,477 rides were provided; 4,200 bus passes were issued; 516 clients were successfully placed into housing; 107 were placed in jobs; there were 1,295 nurse visits and 114 doctor visits. The client load at Roy's is fairly stable throughout the year, without large seasonal fluctuations.

Bruce Cravens came to the podium. He is on the Food Now board and gave a short report on the success of the chili cook off. [Ya know, a lot of people made a lot of nice reports on the chili cook off but I almost had to become an investigative reporter to find out who won - and the answer to that is the Elks Lodge.]

Mr. Cravens said Roy's is a state of the art facility. Experts have been extremely impressed by Roy's. The question is asked, how many people from Desert Hot Springs are using Roy's. He said the real question should be, how many are not using Roy's. He lives in Hacienda Heights and he had a neighbor for several years. The father of the family was arrested. Two weeks later it was obvious the electricity had been shut off to the house and the mother ran an extension cord from a neighbor's house. She had a young daughter living with her. He had another neighbor who he didn't like. Within a few months of moving in they had a garage fire and moved out. A month later they showed up in his front yard, barefoot and dirty, asking him "Where do we go?" He offered to drive them to Roy's. They said they didn't want to go to Roy's because the father couldn't be with them there (adult males are segregated at Roy's). He told them how good Roy's is and the benefits it could provide. He called Roy's, and they did not have a bed for an adult man that night. The mother and kids wouldn't go without the father. So they called someone, not friends, who would let them sleep a night for a few dollars. Mr. Cravens gave them $40 to help. "Do we want people going into sort of self-arranged homeless situations around town with other people who are probably making bad decisions, or do you want them going to Roy's?" [Consider that family took their children to sleep in the home of someone they hardly knew.]

That family was able eventually to get food and shelter via Family Services of the Desert and Food Now. The homeless people out there, he said, are not necessarily the ones who made the bad decisions. It's the children who are sitting with the people who made bad decisions who need Roy's assistance. Barefoot, dirty and hungry.

Councilmember Matas said that before Roy's opened we had a large camp of homeless people that used to hang out around Vons and Stater Bros. and sleep behind Pizza Hut. Now a bus comes from Roy's every day. People get on the bus and it takes them to Roy's. You remember those homeless people that used to sleep near the Starbucks drive-through? You don't see them anymore.

He talked about Helene Nelson who operates God's Closet and provides clothes for the homeless. She is going to raise funds for the homeless in Desert Hot Springs and a city in Washington by walking from the city in Washington to Long Beach, California.

He said Roy's is a hand up, not a hand out. He said he was in favor of giving money to Roy's, but it needs to be included in the 2-year budget process.

Councilmember Betts said he wanted to find some funding for this now, not later. He made a motion to contribute $51,500 (half of the amount each city is requested to contribute) towards Roy's. Seconded by Mr. Sanchez.

Mayor Parks said she had been on the CVAG homeless committee, then it was Karl Baker, then Jan Pye. When Karl Baker was on the committee, he and others went back to New York City [Columbia U., IIRC] to devise a fundraising plan. She said private fundraisers can be organized to support Roy's. It has to have outside funding, she said. Some legislation was promised that would have allowed the city to use some of its housing fund to support Roy's, but that legislation never passed. She did not agree to the original request for $103,000 from each city. She believes the allocation should be divided more equitably taking into account population and wealth.

Mr. Sanchez asked Chief Williams about what his officers see out there in regards to homelessness, how often do the police come across people living in cars, shacks, or places not intended as homes? Chief Williams said it's not a regular occurrence, but he could research that data. The police don't track homeless or transient calls for service. The calls they get might be for trespassing or a "suspicious person." He has a sense it occurs not very frequently, "but clearly, one time is too many."

Then Mr. Sanchez addressed a question to City Manager Daniels. What has our CDBG been spent on the last couple of years? Mr. Daniels answered that those funds had been pledged for the next few years for the new Health & Wellness Center. The annual allocation is $125,000. The next three years are pledged. After that, some of it would become available.

Mr. Sanchez asked Jason Simpson what the total budget is for this year. The answer was about $15.5 million. Mr. Sanchez asked Mr. Simpson what percent of the budget 50,000 would be. [The answer to that skill-testing question is that it is a bit under one-third of a percent.] He said we need to look at the budget on July 1 and decide if now is the right time to do this. He asked Ms. Wilson how long a family could stay at Roy's. Her answer was that 90 days is the usual maximum stay, but they can extend the stay 30 additional days, depending on the needs of the individual. She invited a lady to come up and say more [and she did twice say this lady's name, but I cannot make out a syllable of it either time - sorry].

Everyone who comes in Roy's gets an assessment. What a family receives at Roy's can vary widely, depending on what they need. If, for example, the father had mental health issues, the services provided would be very different than those for "highly functioning" parents. Job opportunities and housing opportunities are assessed. They are safely sheltered, showers are available, transportation may be provided, bus passes, medical personnel are available. They have very good success with families. On the first day a family enters the shelter, the children are seen by PSUSD who takes care of their school needs. Some families may be unaware of benefits to which they may be entitled. Roy's assists with that. Very few clients return to Roy's.

Councilmember Matas said the city is stretched and he has some reservations about approving $51,500 today. Do we stop mowing the lawns in the parks to cover that? Do we lose an administrative person? He said he needs to see the numbers. If the city manager said some fund had saved $51,000 this year, he would be happy to approve that. He encouraged Mr. Sanchez to visit the facility to familiarize himself with it. Mr. Matas said he thinks it's irresponsible to say that just because we have a $15 million budget, we can find $51,000 in it.

Mr. Betts asked Mr. Matas if "you're not in favor of sending any money to Roy's this year." Mr. Matas said that is not correct. He repeated that he would be happy to learn that there was $51,500 in the city budget. The $15.5 million is "budgeted to a 'T'." Mr. Betts said he knows we can find $51,500, that he wasn't putting the out their irresponsibly. "There are a zillion ways that we can go find that money." Mr. Matas asked him to tell us how. Mr. Betts said he could sit down with the city manager afterwards and figure it out.

Mr. Daniels interrupted at this point to say "If the question is 'Are there funds available to cover this cost?' the answer is Yes." He went on to say that there is a reserve of 10% held for unanticipated expenditures such as floods. That money is available. The unobligated reserve is $1.5 million. "We had a flood two years ago that cost us $4 million," Mr. Daniels added.

Mayor Parks observed that $1.5 million does not go very far in an emergency.

Mr. Betts said "We've found money in the past. We certainly can find $51,500 out of $1.5 million."

Mayor Parks said about 75% of the $15.5 million goes for public safety. The balance is for everything else.

Mr. Daniels reported that the City Council's own budget had an unspent balance of $20,000. Also the City Clerk has $10,000 unspent. Other departments have $21,000 yet to spend. He asked that if the appropriation is approved, he be authorized to take it out of those funds.

Mayor Parks rhetorically asked if those unspent funds would be needed in their respective departments between now and the end of June.

Mr. Matas asked Ms. Wilson where they are on their budget. She answered that they have a deficit of $10,000 this fiscal year. Next fiscal year they are in dire straits. Mr. Matas said the city is starting its budget process now and he thinks we should contribute more than $50,000 to Roy's. Sales tax revenue is increasing.

Mr. Betts said it's common practice to shuffle money around. He said the city manager said the money was in the budget. He said there is $51,500 in the budget to support Roy's. [I think Mr. Betts has misused the words "in the budget" - there are zero dollars in the budget for Roy's, but the city does have $51,500 that the city council could vote to appropriate to Roy's, thereby putting it "in the budget."]

Mr. Sanchez asked how $51,500 might be used in this fiscal year. She said that on top of making up the deficit of $10,000 the money could be used to restore lunches. They stopped giving bag lunches to the homeless.

Mr. Matas said the city council has a responsibility to the full community. He is supportive of contributing to Roy's, but he needs to see it on paper. He said $1.5 million for emergency funding is not a lot of money.

Mr. Betts said, referring to the city manager, "He just said he could find $51,500 in the budget without breaking the bank, without getting us into dire straits." [Actually, the city manager said nothing like that - he said that there is $51,500 that the city council can appropriate.]

Mayor Pro Tem Pye said she has seen the positive results from Roy's. She doesn't agree with taking money out of emergency reserves. That would set a precedent. Not long ago Food Now asked the city for money. If this $51,500 is approved for Roy's she wouldn't blame Food Now if they came back and asked for money again. She thinks the city should wait for the budget process. She verified with the city manager that the city council still has $20,000 in its budget. She suggested taking $10,000 from the city council's fund and contributing it to Roy's this year. Then go through the budget process to see how much can be contributed next fiscal year.

On the motion to contribute $51,500 to Roy's, the vote was 2-3 with Mr. Matas, Ms. Pye and Ms. Parks voting against.

Ms. Pye moved to appropriate $10,000 from the city council's account and that in the budget process the city seek ways to further contribute a minimum of $51,500 to Roy's in the next fiscal year. Approved 5-0.

Consent Agenda

The only item approved without discussion on the consent agenda was the meeting minutes for January 3, 2012.

Complimentary Ticket Distribution Policy

The Fair Political Practices Commission requires the city to adopt a policy governing the distribution of complimentary tickets and passes. Complimentary tickets or passes do not constitute a "gift" and do not count toward the annual $420 limit on gifts in the following circumstances:

  1. The ticket or pass is provided to the official for an event at which the official performs a ceremonial role or function.
  2. The ticket or pass is given to the city (rather than an individual) and then is given to an official or employee of the city if...
    1. The original source of the ticket or pass has not earmarked it for use by any particular agency officials; and
    2. The agency determines in its sole discretion who may use the ticket or pass; and
    3. The distribution of the ticket or pass by the agency furthers a specific governmental or public purpose.
  3. The agency obtains the ticket or pass
    1. pursuant to the terms of a contract for use of public property; or
    2. because the agency controls the event or venue; or
    3. through purchase at fair market value and then distributes to an official for his or her use to accomplish a specific governmental or public purpose.

Mr. Daniels said the Humana golf tournament contributed 20 tickets to the city, but since the city had no written policy in place, those tickets had to be returned.

Approved 5-0.

Payment For Contract Law Enforcement Services

In December 2009 the city contracted with the office of the Riverside County District Attorney for two investigators to work as detectives with our police for two years at a cost of $650,000 ($162,500 per investigator per year). Due to overtime the actual costs have exceeded the authorized amount by $16,634. That's about 2.5%. This item is on the agenda to allocate that additional $16,634.

Approved 5-0.

Comments & Reports

Ms. Pye asked City Manager Daniels about the park next to Builder's Supply. He said it was the Bank of America site and the city had spread some wildflower seeds there. Mr. Matas said it's RDA property. Mr. Daniels said he would be able to give a better answer the next day.

I talked to him after the meeting about this. The site is the former location of Bank Of America and the city has turned off the water to the site as it has to the other empty RDA sites downtown because water has to be paid for and there is no RDA money to pay for it.

Ms. Pye was principal-for-the-day at DHS High School on February 22. She said the teachers are very passionate.

Mr. Betts said there were comments made at the last city council meeting by the Police Officers Association. He said he had an obligation to the people who voted for him to represent their views. [See now, right there he's wrong - he can't have a list of those people who voted for him - his job is to represent the city - the people who voted for him, the people who voted against him, the people who didn't vote, the people who can't vote - the very same people all five of the members of the city council represent - there is no us and them.]

He went on to say that inter-government committee assignments are an important aspect of that representation. He said it wasn't childish to insist on "having a seat at the table." He said it was an integral part of the democratic process which is not always pretty, but necessary.

He heard CVAG Executive Director Tom Kirk on the Steve Kelly radio show talking about the Whitewater pathway. He said Mr. Kirk said the project was too important to be done in a backroom. Mr. Betts said "A back room discussion was exactly what took place last Tuesday when it reversed itself. This council said it was gong to give the public the opportunity to decide how to approach $16 million in AQMD funding. That public input commitment went out the window last Tuesday night with a final vote that came at 10 o'clock at night." He called the action "shameful."

I've said it multiple times already. There is no conflict between the vote at the February 28 city council meeting to send a letter of support to CVAG in their endeavor to use grant money to study the feasibility of the pathway project and the vote at the February 21 city council meeting to notify AQMD that the city would be seeking $15 million from the close proximity fund and would solicit public input on projects for AQMD funding.

As for the late timing of the vote, the meeting started at 4 PM. There was a Planning Commission scheduled in the same room at 7 PM. The city council could have wrapped up its business before 7 PM, but Mr. Sanchez launched into a filibuster on his inability to show up for meetings that he had scheduled for himself.

The discussion itself took place in what could be described as a "backroom" but Attorney Duran announced it to everyone at the Planning Commission meeting. I was there along with Jim Provance. What are we? Chopped liver? I've been at public meetings with fewer attendees than that. The entire planning commission and staff and public in attendance at the planning commission meeting could have stayed for the vote - which took place in the main room at the Carl May Center. But they didn't. My theory is that most DHS citizens understood the letter for what it was and didn't much care if it was sent or not.

Mr. Betts said there have been other meetings on this subject. He said an email was circulated among councilmembers (passive voice, he's not saying who did it) asking the council to make a decision by email. He didn't say what the subject of the requested decision was.

He said the proposed route of the path would make people shake their heads. "Spending $16 million on this path in our city is preposterous." [Actually, no one has requested using our $16 million for that path.] He intends to hold public meetings.

Mr. Betts asked several questions of the city manager for which answers were unavailable. Mr. Daniels suggested that he could provide better answers if council members would email questions in advance of the meeting.

Mr. Betts said that he had gotten noise complaints from Sky Haven about Mission Springs Park late at night. It sounded like a party two Saturdays in a row. Chief Williams said the police had gotten complaints about a loud party at the Aqua Soleil. Police responded and the people turned down the volume. "People called; the cops went out; we dealt with it at the time they called." The park wasn't involved at all.

Mr. Matas was principal-of-the-day at Wenzlaff Elementary, his alma mater. The school needs a lot of repair, and there are plans. He said the principal's rapport with the students was incredible.

He attended the Community Policing Initiative and was impressed by how many people turned out. He said they didn't come to complain, but to participate.

He referred to a "marathon study session" [meaning the February 28 meeting, which should be distinguished from the "marathon city council meeting" which was on January 17 - as the year goes along other Greek cities will be used to identify different city council meetings - I look forward to the Athens meeting, but I suggest staying away from the Sparta meeting.] Part of the study session was the closed session performance review of the city manager. He said it was announced publicly and was not a secret meeting.

Mr. Sanchez said that this marked his 99th day as a city council member and they have been the most memorable 99 days of his 14 years in Desert Hot Springs. He asked the city manager to look into the budget to see if there was $10,000 in there somewhere to pay for a July 4 celebration. He said hoped that in next year's budget the city could find a way to give all the youth sports organizations $10,000.

Mr. Sanchez said that the agenda item to approve the letter to CVAG that was dealt with at the February 28 study session should have been on tonight's agenda. He thinks the pathway should start at Cabot's and then "rotate around the city." He has an issue with it going "down south." He doesn't think any of the $15.9 million close proximity money should be spent outside the city limits of Desert Hot Springs. He doesn't "see any people using" a trail between DHS and Palm Springs.

Mayor Parks said that some have been saying that her vote in the CVAG Executive Committee for the feasibility study for the pathway was a vote against the sentiment of the city council. She said there was never a vote of the city council on the subject of a letter of support for an application for a grant for a feasibility study of the Whitewater pathway. She said the pathway is not a given and if we come up with good projects for the AQMD, then we have a chance of getting those projects approved. But the projects have to be very good. At the February 21 city council meeting the council approved a letter to AQMD stating the city's goal was to go for the whole $15.9 million. It has nothing to do with CVAG or the pathway. The resolution also said the city council would support public input. Nothing since then has contradicted that. She said there is nothing that says any of the close proximity funds will go to the pathway.

Attorney Duran interrupted here, saying that two city council members had already spoken about an item not on the agenda. For a third to also discuss it "flirts with a Brown Act violation." [Imagine how you would feel the morning after having flirted with a Brown Act violation!]

City Manager Daniels was principal-of-the-day at Cabot Yerxa. He said the principal and teachers there are exceptional. He said when his ten grandchildren get together it's chaos, but at Cabot Yerxa all 400 of the children are respectful and well behaved.

He said graffiti vandalism costs the city $120,000/year.

He explained that every nickel in the budget is allocated to some category. He told the council not to look to him to find money magically. It means he has to take it from something else.

Public Comment

Valerie Vatrono said that people are breaking into mailboxes where she lives, off of Hacienda. The post office said it would fix the boxes. She wanted to know if there were any other similar complaints. They are the standing, community mailboxes.

Ms. Pye said that the subject did come up at the Community Police Initiative meeting. Mayor Parks suggested to Ms. Vatrono that she bring the subject up at a Public Safety Commission meeting.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Comments (7)

March 29, 2012

Trash News Report

Who knew that anti-gay slurs during an assault could get you a hate enhancement in Texas!?

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | March 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM | Comments (1)

To Serve And Protect

I've heard worse renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody:

Story here.

Filed under Music | permalink | March 29, 2012 at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

Stepping Up To The World Level...

Not too long ago we all read about TripAdvisor's list of the top 25 relaxation/spa hotels in the United States. A mere eight of those (32%) are in Desert Hot Springs.

But how well do we do when we look at the list of TripAdvisor's top 25 relaxation/spa hotels in the WORLD? There we've got to compete with the Japanese, the Germans, the Italians, people who were doing spas for centuries before Christopher Columbus even took his first bath. Let's see how the national rankings turn out:

  • Italy 6
  • Germany 3
  • USA 3
  • Australia 2
  • Austria 2
  • Dominican Republic 1
  • Indonesia 1
  • Costa Rica 1
  • India 1
  • Thailand 1
  • Barbados 1
  • Canada 1
  • Tanzania 1
  • Guatemala 1

Just three in the United States: #16 on the list is Bella Monte Hot Springs Resort and Spa here in Desert Hot Springs; #18 is Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, Florida; and #20 is Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa in, of course, Desert Hot Springs. Two in Desert Hot Springs. None in the rest of the Coachella Valley. (Is it time to raise the TOT again?)

This review by megggggg of Santa Monica is fairly typical of the understated praise the Bella Monte spa receives:

Reviewed March 12, 2012

This place is magic!!! Bella Monte's combination of pristine mineral water pools, spa treatments, cedar sauna, fire pit, immaculate rooms and overall spectacular customer service set in motion an intense relaxation experience that began the moment our party of 5 work-weary gals from Los Angeles set foot on the cool entryway tile and received a warm welcome from one of Bella Monte's friendly staff members. Bella Monte, as some other reviewers note, is located in a residential area, and constructed in such a way that you feel completely secluded and at peace - it's as easy to make the 2 minute walk to a corner store for snacks as it is to forget you're in a world where you have need for anything but a sunscreen and a towel. We arrived with ambitious plans to hike and see the desert sights, but ended up planted poolside the whole time - soaking up the sun, plunging into the three mineral water pools (one large cool pool, 2 smaller & hotter) receiving fantastic massage treatments (try the aromatherapy with Art - amazing!!), watching the sunset by the fire pit, and generally enjoying the blissful break from reality. The grounds are artfully designed so that even if it is busy - which it apparently was during our stay, though you wouldn't have known it - you can find a private spot right next to the mineral pool of your choice. There are plenty of lounge chairs on each level, and a shaded area where the healthful complimentary continental breakfast of homemade crepes, yogurt, granola, coffee and fruit was served - delicious! Our lanai suite was spotless and welcoming - cool tiles, comfortable kind-sized bed, kitchenette, and spacious bathroom with a stand up shower AND jacuzzi tub, so you can enjoy the amazing mineral water in the privacy of your own room. We slept like sun-kissed babies, and woke up never wanting to leave! The closest thing to a negative experience occurred when I went to get some coffee and saw they had run out of mugs, and had to ask for more - which were promptly delivered. I'm serious - that was the worst thing that happened. This place is overall fantastic. Final word - the customer service could not be better. Each and every staff member, especially Tyler, went out of their way to accommodate us, from bringing extra towels and water, to setting up umbrellas when the sun got a bit strong. Their wonderful approach to creating a peaceful, relaxing environment was a huge factor in our experience. We will DEFINITELY be back - and soon!!

Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends

I want to point out that on top of all that, megggggg shopped local, walking to the corner store for snacks.

The reviews of Two Bunch Palms are here. There you'll find several reviews from people who are looking forward to the new owners restoring the quality they remember from years past. And then there's a lot like this from LB_Bunny:

"A truly relaxing oasis"
Reviewed October 16, 2011

I looooove Two Bunch Palms and can't wait to go back. I went as a treat for myself after passing my LCSW exam :) I am so relaxed and recharged it is ridiculous! When I first got there, I was a little puzzled, as I expected something more like the Miramonte in Indian Wells (I've been there and it is very nice, but very different). It is *not* the Miramonte, and I mean that in a good way. It is rustic, outdoorsy and so peaceful. The grotto is beautiful--you can lay about in warm spring waters, gazing up at the palms and eucalyptus trees and just *be*. There are no noisy children (thank you, whoever made this policy), cell phones or loud people talking on them. Just peace and quiet and natural beauty. The place is older, the buildings are made of stone and it looks like a rustic camp. But it is not run down as some have said here--it is just not manicured within an inch of its life. The guests tend to be a little older, more average folks, but everyone seemed pretty friendly. My room was very nice, with a huge, soft bed and the best shower massage ever. And the staff was friendly and helpful--loved my aesthetician, she was a really cool person. She went longer on my facial and made sure I was comfortable throughout. She did not try to sell me expensive bottles of stuff after the facial, which I appreciated. This place has a certain vibe--if you want a place that caters to the botoxed and implanted, it is probably not for you. But if you want beautiful surroundings, quiet and restorative peacefulness, you will love it.

Stayed October 2011, traveled solo

There will be some champagne (California, purchased at Vons, I'm sure) being uncorked tonight in DHS!

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Health,Travel | permalink | March 29, 2012 at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)

All Growed Up

Joe Kennedy III is running for Barney Frank's seat in the House. Joe was begat of Joe II, the son of Robert who was brother to Joe Jr. and son of THE Joseph Kennedy. When last I saw little Joe 3 it was not long after his birth (October 4, 1980). At that time father Joe II and mother Sheila Brewster were living like ordinary working people, renting a place in Brighton, across the street from one of my co-workers (I worked in the Waltham Social Security office then). After work, my co-worker and I could sit in his place and look down (very big hill, tall 3-story house) into the living room of the Kennedys next door and see Joe 2 lying on the couch with Joe 3 in some little baby bed nearby. That was as exciting as it got.

Today, Caroline is hosting a $5,000/person reception for Joe 3 at her place in Manhattan. You got your invitation, right?

| permalink | March 29, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2012

Councilmember Betts on the Lee Rayburn program

I listened to the interview with Councilmember Russell Betts on yesterday's Lee Russell program between 3 PM and 4 PM. I have made notes of a few interesting points in the interview below.

Mr. Betts begins at 2:15. I have to say that among the many things Lee Rayburn does that annoy me, the very worst is his apparently irresistible urge to interrupt the person being interviewed in order to put his own mouth unnecessarily up front. It reminds me of baby birds being fed. I probably should have counted the number of times that Mr. Betts sounded like he was going to explain something or tell us some interesting point, when Lee Rayburn interrupted and derailed him. I just wish he would have let him talk - but then the program would have probably been less than 10 minutes long.

5:22 - He said he has been accused of harassment more than five, but less than eleven, times.

5:36 - Speaking to a city consultant after a council meeting discussing bonds he asked for more information. When he did not receive it after "two three weeks" he called the consultant at least twice and then was accused of harassing the consultant.

6:21 - A citizen was having a problem with code. Mr. Betts talked to the attorney who handles code. Lee Rayburn interrupted before he could say more.

11:34 - For "three four years" the harassment card has been dropped on him at every turn.

14:08 - "There was no closed session discussion that took place."

14:48 - "Stuff's been brewing for two months, this particular one." He's heard there's an allegation, but he hasn't heard what it is.

17:18 - Not just one incident. "If I go down this list for you, it's about eight times I've..." Lee Rayburn interrupts.

17:35 - He's working on a "Spa City concert series." He's talking about the June 30 fireworks and concert. He is afraid that getting a permit from the city will be a barrier.

19:12 - He said a subcommittee under the Streets Committee [I thought it had been renamed the NICE Committee] is working on a grant application for some of the AQMD mitigation funds. He is afraid that his involvement with it will doom it. [He doesn't offer an explanation who on the AQMD staff or board is against him or why.]

20:23 - "Threats to go to Grand Jury." [He hadn't mentioned that before.]

23:55 - "I heard the scuttlebutt around town is see if we can get him to resign." Lee Rayburn interrupts.

24:35 - Mr. Betts thinks the tension on the city council can be resolved. Lee Rayburn interrupts.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 28, 2012 at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

Desert Daze Festival

This will be a music festival taking place out at Dillon Roadhouse from April 12 through April 22, with something going on every day.

This is organized by Moon Block Party who also organized a multiple-artist event in Pomona last June.

You can read the official press release for Desert Daze Festival here:

Moon Block Party has just announced their first annual Desert Daze Festival, an 11-day festival held in North Palm Springs [sic]. Although there is a suggested $5 donation, every day of the festival is completely free!

Desert Daze Festival is set to take place April 12-22 at Dillon's [sic] Roadhouse, 64647 Dillon Rd., North Palm Springs [it's in Desert Hot Springs!]. Moon Block Party is a community effort to facilitate the ever expanding growth of the human spirit. The huge celebration is set to include over 111 bands across 3 different stages. Aside from music, there will also be live artists, visual installations, hand-picked food vendors.

They suggest a "$5 donation," but I don't think you should interpret the word "donation" to mean that any charity is getting anything from this. At least they don't mention a charity. Oh, hold on, possible correction. Keep A Breast Foundation is listed as one of their sponsors, so maybe they will receive some of the proceeds.

Their web page includes this information on where to stay:


Moon Block Party will be taking over a top secret spa motel near Dillon's Roadhouse for 11 days. Located on an energy vortex, the spa offers 5 natural mineral hot spring pools, a large swimming pool, a sauna, a bbq area, free wifi, and massage therapy. We will have live music and DJs by the pool every day, and food trucks before and after the festival each day. In order to keep the motel exclusive to Moon Block Party Desert Daze bands, artists, and friends, the location and name of the motel will remain top secret until you book your rooms.

To book your room please e-mail [email protected] to begin the process.

Anyone care to engage in a game of Name That Spa?

This should be very interesting, possibly very entertaining for many, and very beneficial for Desert Hot Springs and nearby areas. Without making the least little effort to check my facts, I think I can say this with assurance:

  • Tony Clarke is not involved.
  • ALL permits will be obtained.
  • Dillon Roadhouse and Moon Block Party have, at their own considerable expense, arranged to have fully sufficient security on hand to deal with traffic and other issues that arise.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Music | permalink | March 28, 2012 at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

A Different Story About Dennis Mayer and John Hart

Mayer and Hart were the two Palm Springs men who were arrested in Dominica recently. They say they were arrested just for being gay. Odd, then, that the Dominica authorities allowed 2,000 other gay tourists to just sail away. Since their arrests, Atlantis Events and others have been saying that the couple did have sex in full public view when the ship was docked in Dominica. Today, Queerty has published a report from James Claudio, another gay tourist on that cruise who was on the dock at the time Mayer and Hart were doing their thing. He confirms that it was full on sex in public view. His report uses accurate English to describe the behavior with no little asterisks to protect your eyes from the nasty stuff, so if that's not the sort of thing you want to read, then don't read it.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Gay Issues | permalink | March 28, 2012 at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)

L.A. Times On Desert Hot Springs & The High Desert

This 3-page article runs down a list of places to see, do, eat and sleep. They say that "On another day we'll come back to the desert areas south of I-10, including Palm Springs and its Coachella Valley neighbors." So I guess they saw I-10 as a bigger dividing line than the natural geographic line between high and low desert.

They start with Joshua Tree National Park (Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, etc.), the town of Joshua Tree, Pappy & Harriet's, the Integratron, Twentynine Palms, Stony Haven, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, and then finally (best for last) Desert Hot Springs. They single out Two Bunch Palms Resort, but they also mention Cabot's, Sagewater Spa, El Morocco Inn, Hacienda Hot Springs Inn, and the DHS Spa Hotel.

Filed under California,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 28, 2012 at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

Last Night's Road Block On Hacienda



INCIDENT: Sexual Assault Roadblock Canvass



On Tuesday March 27, 2012 the City of Desert Hot Springs Police Department along with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team (SAFE) conducted a roadblock canvass at the intersection of Hacienda Avenue and Eliseo. The purpose of the roadblock canvass was to obtain information from subjects in the area regarding the sexual assaults of females in the area. We educated the public on our objective through direct contact and handout material. During the event, over 300 vehicles, including buses, were stopped and approximately 800 fliers were distributed.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 28, 2012 at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2012

Boys & Girls Club Easter Egg Hunt

Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley, Desert Hot Springs Unit Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 7, 2012
10 AM to 2 PM
Wardman Park
8th & Cactus

Join us for a fun morning of hunting and much more! A tisket a tasket be sure to bring your own basket for collecting eggs and other goodies at our Easter Celebration. Several eggs will have a winning ticket for an Easter Basket. This event is for the whole family and wil include Face Painting, Arts, Crafts, Entertainment, Carnival games, and other surprises. Egg Hunt begins promptly at 10 AM. Children will be divided into age groups for the hunt. Each age group will have at least one winning ticket for an Easter Basket.

Age groups are as follows:

  • 3 & under (1 parent permitted to assist in hunt area)
  • 4-6 years old (no adults permitted in hunt area>
  • 7-10 years old (no adults permitted in hunt area)

The Easter Bunny himself will be available for visits and pictures (bring your own camera) from 10:30 AM to 1:45 PM.

This event is FREE to the public. If you need more information, please contact us at 760-329-1312

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2012

From City Manager Rick Daniels

Extracts from the City Manager's Memo:

  • The first RDA Oversight Board Meeting will be at 8:00 A.M on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Carl May Community Center.
  • At the Community Health & Wellness Center:
    • Roofing is ongoing.
    • Store front installation expected to start within the next 2-3 weeks.
    • Sprinkler modifications are taking place in various locations.
    • Over excavation for additional 4,200 sq ft completed.
    • Water/sewer off-site work is complete. On-site is ongoing.
    • Dry utilities contractor expects to start off-site installation next week.
    • Lath and plaster work is underway at the locker room.
  • Construction continuing at Ocotillo Road and Mesquite Avenue, at Ocotillo Road and Hacienda Avenue, and at Two Bunch Palms Trail and Palm Drive as part of Safe Routes To Schools.
  • As part of a future Safe Routes To Schools project, sidewalks on 4th Street between Cholla and West are being designed. "Staff has provided comments to design consultant on maximum driveway grades to meet existing improvements."
  • Driveway issues and grade differences are also being examined as part of Essential Street Improvements Phase III, which will be for the area bounded by Cactus, Pierson, Palm and Hacienda.
  • Improved directional signs for Highway 62 and Pierson Blvd. have been placed on order.
  • A new dedication sign at the Henry V. Lozano, USMCR Community Center has been installed.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

Sweet Jesus

Lawrence Welk calls it a "modern spiritual."

Filed under Religion | permalink | March 26, 2012 at 08:10 PM | Comments (3)

At LG's

LG's Steakhouse (7809)
Eric, Ken, George, myself, and Bob.
This photo was taken on their last night in Palm Springs when they took me out to LG's Steakhouse. That was my first time to eat there, and I hope it's not my last, but I can't afford to pay those prices. Maybe I'll make that my price for showing out of towners around to all those dirty, dusty places like the mud volcanoes and Slab City.

I've known Bob & Ken since I moved to Boston in 1980. New in town, my way of meeting new friends was to volunteer for folding & stuffing on Friday nights at Gay Community News. That was a weekly newspaper that was mailed out nationally and distributed to newsstands around Boston on Friday night. In 1980 there was some sort of automated system that printed the address labels in zip code order, but everything else, including sorting according to USPS standards, was manual. That was our job, and we got it done every week while mixing in a lot of goofing off and eating and flirting. That was where I met Bob & Ken and a lot of my other guys who remain friends today. Bob & Ken have been a couple for about 30 years now, if my arithmetic is correct.

Filed under Coachella Valley | permalink | March 26, 2012 at 07:59 PM | Comments (1)

An Almost Foolproof Plan

Except for the foolish mistake of going out and using the stolen credit cards locally.

Press Release: Robbery Investigation
Agency: Palm Desert Police
Station Area: Palm Desert
Incident Date: March 19, 2012 Time: 8:00 P.M.
Incident Location: 33200 block of Sky Blue Water Trail, Cathedral City 32700 block of Sky Blue Water Trail, Cathedral City
Booking Photos: 03-26-2012


Officers from the Palm Desert Police Department investigated three robberies occurring from March 19, 2012 to March 21, 2012. The first robbery occurred on March 19, 2012, in the 42000 block of Hastings Street. The second robbery occurred on March 21, 2012, in the 74100 block of Fairway Drive. The third robbery occurred on March 21, 2012, in the 46000 block of Verba Santa. All three robberies occurred at residences.

The investigation revealed an armed, masked suspect walked up to open garages and approached the victims as they were inside their garage. The suspect was in possession of a handgun, pointed it at the victims and demanded their wallets, and cell phones. The suspect then fled the area on foot. The Palm Desert Station Investigations Bureau, Palm Desert Station Burglary Suppression Unit, and the Palm Desert Station Special Enforcement Teams completed follow-up on the cases.

During the investigation several credit cards belonging to one victim were used at several businesses within the Coachella Valley. Officers completed follow-up and identified three of the suspects who were using the stolen credit cards.

On March 23, 2012, officers served two search warrants regarding this investigation. The search warrants were conducted at residences located in the 33200 block, and 32700 block of Sky Blue Water Trail, in Cathedral City. Arrested at one location was John Paul Munoz, age 38 of Cathedral City, for burglary, conspiracy, credit card fraud, committing a felony while out on bail, and a probation violation.

The second suspect identified as Juan Reyes, age 37 of Desert Hot Springs, was arrested during a traffic stop near Palm Drive and Buena Vista in Desert Hot Springs. Reyes was arrested for burglary, conspiracy, credit card fraud, and a probation violation. The third suspect identified as George Blackstone, age 32 of Indio, was later arrested at the Palm Desert Station. Blackstone was arrested for burglary, conspiracy, credit card fraud, and a probation violation. The investigation is continuing and additional suspects are being sought.

Anyone with information can call the Riverside County Sheriff's Department-Palm Desert Station at 760 836-1600 or Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-Stop (7867).

Juan Reyes
Juan Reyes; Desert Hot Springs
John Paul Munoz
John Munoz; Cathedral City
George Scott Blackstone
George Blackstone; Indio

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 26, 2012 at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Disney Hall Recital

I went into Los Angeles last night to see Bob & Ken before their flight home to Boston today and thank them for bringing so much New England rain to southern California. While there we went to hear an organ recital by Isabelle Demers at Disney Hall. She didn't play this Mendelssohn transcription there, but you might like it anyway.

Disney Hall (0693)

Disney Hall (0702)

Disney Hall (0708B)

Disney Hall Box Office (0710A)

Red Bike on Grand (0714A)
Just an ordinary errand bike for riding at night in the rain in downtown Los Angeles.

The complete set of photos is here.

Filed under Architecture,California,Music,Photography | permalink | March 26, 2012 at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2012

Rational Thought

Frank Bruni at the N.Y. Times writes about a former college dorm-mate's journey from unquestioned Roman Catholicism to a world view based in reality.

He grew up in the South, in a setting so homogenous and a family so untroubled that, he said, he had no cause to question his parents' religious convictions, which became his. He said that college gave him cause, starting with me. Sometime during freshman year, he figured out that I was gay, and yet I didn’t conform to his prior belief that homosexuals were "deserving of pity for their mental illness." I seemed to him sane and sound.
[H]e added to his teaching duties in Africa a weekly, extracurricular Bible study for the schoolchildren. But the miseries he witnessed made him second-guess the point of that, partly because they made him second-guess any god who permitted them.

He saw cruelties born of the kind of bigotry that religion and false righteousness sometimes abet. A teenage girl he met was dying of sepsis from a female circumcision performed with a kitchen knife. He asked the male medical worker attending to her why such crude mutilation was condoned, and was told that women otherwise were overly sexual and "prone to prostitution."

"Isn't it just possible," he pushed back, "that women are prone to poverty, and men are prone to prostitution?"

Filed under Religion | permalink | March 25, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)