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December 29, 2018

DHS Police Officer Placed On Admin Leave

The Desert Sun story, and because the Desert Sun website is notoriously unreliable, here is the full text.

A Desert Hot Springs police officer has been put on administrative leave while the department's internal affairs office looks into exactly what took place between him and a woman struggling with a heroin addiction who associated with car thieves and drug dealers.

At the core of the internal affairs investigation is a set of text messages between the officer and the woman. They paint a picture of a relationship that went beyond friendship, and may have violated the department's policies.

The department conducted an administrative inquiry into the matter in September, but after The Desert Sun met with the city's police chief to review information about the incident, the department reopened the case in December.

The department has released little information about the case, but The Desert Sun has pieced together some of what took place using a transcript of the pair's text messages, department records obtained under California's public records law, court documents and interviews with some of the people involved.

On Nov. 12, The Desert Sun briefly interviewed Desert Hot Springs police Officer Travis Chapman, the officer involved. Neither Chapman, nor the woman, nor the department's chief of police Dale Mondary dispute that the texts are real.

The Desert Sun is not naming the woman, who is at risk for retribution because of the nature of the information she shared with police, and has omitted some identifying facts related to her story. Also, texts quoted in this article have not been corrected for grammatical mistakes or misspellings.


Early meetings

The woman, who is in her early 30s, said she met Chapman in the spring of 2018.

Chapman, during the course of a criminal investigation, had been monitoring the neighborhood where the woman was living. He stopped her on the street to ask about people who had been going in and out of where she was staying. She didn't tell him much, she said, and ended the conversation quickly.

Chapman went to the neighborhood a second time a few weeks later and again stopped her to talk. But again, she didn't say much. Chapman gave her his card and told her to stay in touch.

Several weeks later, in late May, she had another run-in with the DHS police when an officer pulled over a black sedan on Palm Drive for a busted headlight and expired registration.

The woman was in the passenger seat; the driver's license was suspended and he was on probation, police records show.

While one officer arrested the man for driving with a suspended license, another officer asked her if she had drugs, she told The Desert Sun. She told him she did, and the officer found two baggies in her purse, one containing about a half-gram of methamphetamine, the other containing about a half-gram of black tar heroin, according to police records.

Records show she was arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics, however she and the driver were both issued citations and then released with later court dates.

Police records don't indicate Chapman was at the stop in May, and the woman said he wasn't there. But Mondary, the city's police chief, said Chapman was there.

Riverside County prosecutors filed charges against the driver about five weeks later. Charges against the woman were filed in September, after what appears to be months of provocative text conversations and late-night meetings between her and Chapman during the summer of 2018.

An intensifying text relationship
In an interview with The Desert Sun, the woman said she knows the text messages now seem inappropriate.

She said her relationship with Chapman, which is the subject of an ongoing internal affairs investigation, was friendly and flirty. She said she had a crush on him, but said they never had sex.

Chapman also told The Desert Sun they did not have sex.

"We interviewed them both and could not find evidence that they had a sexual relationship," Mondary said.

The text message transcripts, combined with DHSPD timesheet records obtained by The Desert Sun, show Chapman routinely began texting with the woman minutes after starting his shifts, and stopped when his shifts ended.

Chapman and the woman exchanged more than 1,600 texts over a two-month period.

Between the night of July 29 and the morning of July 30, during Chapman's shift, the pair exchanged more than 300 texts.

Chapman was not using a department-issued phone to text with the woman, Mondary said. The department does not issue officers cell phones. As a result, it's common for officers to have a personal phone they use only when on duty, he said.

Starting in late June, the woman texted Chapman using an online text application that could be used from a phone, tablet or computer, even without cellular service — as long as there was a Wi-Fi network available. She frequently didn't have cellular service for her phone, she said.

The application kept a record of their texts outside either of their phones, a useful feature for someone who gets a new phone frequently, like this woman, but a feature that also ensured their communications couldn't be easily erased.

The text transcripts were sent to The Desert Sun by an anonymous source who said they were concerned about Chapman's conduct. The transcripts only contain the pair's conversations between late June and mid-August.

The woman said she and Chapman began texting around the time of the traffic stop, but she said she no longer has access to the phone she was using at that time.


A partner in crime

Just before midnight on June 26, the woman texted Chapman that her phone number didn't work anymore.

"Pls answer," she texted, "I miss u."

She apologized to Chapman for being difficult to contact.

"How many dam numbers u going to switch on me," Chapman texted back and added that he could get her a phone if she needed one.

In the coming days, they arranged meetings — several at Starbucks and one on a residential street.

"Id rather have u then Starbucks anyway," she texted.

"Ur lucky ur my one and only partner in crime," Chapman texted later.

"I better be," she responded.

Their texts alternated between flirtatious – frequently sexually-charged – comments and photos and information she could provide about Chapman's criminal investigations.

Her addiction also became a point of tension. Sometimes she didn't respond to messages for hours, then texted that she had been high. Chapman became upset, but told her he didn't care that she got high, only that she didn't respond to him.

She grew up in New England with a stable family, both the woman and her mother told The Desert Sun, but as a young adult, shegot addicted to heroin.

She came to the Coachella Valley in the summer of 2015 for an in-patient drug rehabilitation program. Her mother said it was her 14th time in rehab. After seven months, she left the rehab facility and tried to restart her life in the Coachella Valley.

Her mother said she supported her daughter until she found out she was seeing a man involved in criminal activity. The woman and her boyfriend began spending time with her boyfriend's friends in Desert Hot Springs, and before long she was using heroin again.

When her boyfriend was sent to prison for forgery in October of 2017, following a string of other criminal convictions, she stayed in Desert Hot Springs with his friends.


Getting her attention

Just before 11 p.m. on July 18, she texted Chapman that someone was coming to the apartment with a stolen truck. The texts show she sent some details about the truck. Chapman spotted it, ran the plates, and texted that the vehicle was not reported stolen.

"I ran back to the station to check something on the plate," Chapman texted. "I feel like he swapped the plates or something. When did he say he got it?"

"Ugh this is stressful," she texted at 1:45 a.m.

According to DHSPD records, Chapman pulled over the truck about 90 minutes later. Records show the stop was concluded with: "Party advised," which Mondary said could mean the driver was informed that something appeared to be wrong, like an expired registration, but that a citation was not written.

"I pulled your ppl over," Chapman texted the woman at 4:25 a.m. on July 19.

"I know you did lol," she responded.

"I had to try and get Ur attention somehow," Chapman said. "I hate when you ignore me."

He asked why she had stopped responding to his texts for several hours.

"Why couldn't u answer? What were u doing," Chapman asked.

"U want me to be honest w u," she responded.

"Yup,' Chapman texted. "Always."

She texted that she had gotten high. She asked Chapman why he was so mad.

"Because u blew me off for 3 hours," he said. "And that truck left."

Throughout the texts between the two, Chapman became upset with the woman when she stopped responding to his texts. And when the two weren't texting romantic or sexually-charged comments at each other, Chapman pressured her for information about criminal activity.

"U have my word," she responded. "I'll get u a car."

"I'm not doubting u," Chapman said. "But think how I feel u chose getting high over helping."

"I got high and nodded off," she texted. "It's not an excuse."


I could get you paid
Throughout July, their texts increased in frequency, and the two met more and more often.

They followed the same pattern, going from explicit and sexual – referencing her genitals and talking about how sexually aroused they were – to Chapman pressing her for information about crimes.

He often brought her snacks and drinks. Once, when she texted that she was feeling sick, he asked her, if she was pregnant. She said no.

On July 22, she texted Chapman about another allegedly stolen vehicle.

He asked her to describe the vehicle so he could find it and run the plates.

"I wanna get her ridding dirty," he texted, referring to driving a stolen vehicle.

She texted that she couldn't get more information without raising suspicions, that she was having second thoughts about providing information and that she didn't want all her associates to get in trouble.

"If I knew the car I could call the RAID unit who deals with stolen cars and probably get u paid," Chapman texted.

The Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail, RAID for short, is a multi-agency task force that investigates auto theft throughout Riverside County.

Mondary said it's possible to pay people for information that leads to an arrest, but Chapman couldn't authorize RAID payment.

She didn't need to get paid, the woman texted a few minutes later, and besides, someone quickly left with the car. Chapman asked where it was headed. They were driving to a dealer's house, she texted back, to get heroin.

"I want a pursuit lol," Chapman texted. "I need some excitment."

According to department records, Chapman conducted a vehicle check 40 minutes later, between the house where the woman was staying and the area where she said the dealer was located. The records show no action was taken.

"Well tonite will be more exciting," she texted. "I promise."

Chapman asked why.

"Umm because ill be in ur front seat," she responded. "Whats more exciting than that."


Get me another good bust

On July 24, the woman tried to discuss her mixed feelings about her relationship with Chapman, over text message, and about what would happen if they were found out. Chapman reassured her, then diverted the conversation.

He asked for her login information for her Facebook account, to look up information about one of the victims in a case he was working. She texted him her email address and password.

Chapman then downloaded pictures off her Facebook account and texted them to her.

"Last time im giving u my pw," she texted.

The woman told The Desert Sun she later found out Chapman had read messages she sent other people from her account, which she said she found misleading in hindsight.

But at the time, the old pictures started a different kind of conversation. She asked Chapman if he was alone. He said yes and asked why.

"Well i was gonna send u some other pics," she said. "But only if ur alone"

"I'm alone now," Chapman said. "Let's see em."

She texted that she was nervous about sending sexually-explicit photos. Chapman told her not to overthink it. She responded she was afraid of the direction things were heading in, as well as of the risks that came along with their relationship.

"I just get weird still cuz u are still a cop," she said.

"What does me being a cop mean?" Chapman asked.

"Ummmm," she texted. " Idk i guess theres certain 'boundaries' i cant cross."

"Well I'll be sure to tell to U when u do. so far u haven't," Chapman texted.

According to the text transcripts, the woman started sending photos on July 25, which continued until Aug. 15.

On July 29, Chapman texted that he liked finding photos on his phone when he got to work. The woman said she liked to make him smile.

She later texted that she was thinking of committing a crime so he would come and arrest her.

"Cuz last time when u had a gun pointed at me," she said, "got ms all excited."

"Well get me another good bust and I'll do it again," Chapman responded.

On July 30, Chapman also texted about his complicated feelings toward her. He texted that he didn't like the relationships he knew she was having with other men. He said he was jealous that she called them "lover."

"I'm just over here like....." Chapman texted.

"Cuz idk how u would feel if i called u love," she said.

"Id feel better than I do seeing u call all these pieces of shit that," Chapman texted in response.

They argued about what form their relationship was taking and how different their lives were. She said he didn't understand what it was like to be an addict. Chapman said he knew people who struggled with addiction. But they ultimately changed subjects.

"Send me a pic to wake up to," he texted just after his shift ended.

Later that day, she texted him a photograph while Chapman was in a work meeting. The text transcript provided to The Desert Sun did not contain the images, only an indication that an image was sent. Chapman texted that he was afraid to open it, because he didn't know the content of the photo.

"Better be for my eyes only," he texted.

"It is," she texted. "I promise."


You're not going to get hurt

Early on the morning of Aug. 14, Chapman tried to call the woman four times, but she didn't pick up. He texted that he was worried. Later that morning, she asked him what the problem was.

Chapman texted that he felt like she didn't miss him. She responded that she did miss him, but said she needed to keep her distance.

"Ill end up wanting something or having an expectation that will never happen and I'll get hurt and that will suck," she said. "Even tho im gonna get hurt anyways."

"Youre not going to get hurt," Chapman texted.

She texted that someone had another stolen vehicle at the house and Chapman asked for a plate number.

But she stopped answering the texts. He called her six times, but got no response.

"Quit ignoring me for ur drug bf's," he texted.

"Shut up they just showed up here," she responded. "I didn't tell them to come."

"I don't care what u do ive told u that just don't blow me off that drives me nuts," Chapman texted.

They arranged to meet up after he got off work.

"Like not in my po po car," Chapman texted.

They made plans to meet shortly after his shift ended on Aug. 15.

Over the next several days, their texts became erratic and infrequent. Soon, things took an unexpected turn.


The texts come to light
On Aug. 20, Chapman texted that he had to tell the woman something. They spoke by phone.

"U sounded so upset on the phone : ( ," she texted just before 8 p.m.

"I am," he responded.

She told The Desert Sun that Chapman was upset because he thought her fingerprints might be on a stolen car that had just been found. If so, she recalled him saying, she could become a suspect in the case.

But on top of that, she said someone found their texts.

"It seems we are both having a fucked up night," Chapman texted at 9:46 p.m.

"I'm about to cry," she responded.

She said that the person found the texts on her tablet, downloaded them from the texting app and started sending them to others and posting them on social media.

"Are u done playing with fire," Chapman asked at 11:35 p.m. on Aug. 20.

"Wh at do u mean," she texted at 12:05 a.m.

"We need to talk in person," Chapman responded.

Chapman started his shift on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. and worked until 6 a.m. the next morning.

The texts ended abruptly after they coordinated a meet up at a hotel in Desert Hot Springs at 5 a.m. the morning of Aug. 21.


The fallout

In late August, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office filed a misdemeanor complaint against the woman for one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of possession of heroin stemming from the traffic stop in May.

Meanwhile, she was still dealing with the severe fallout over her relationship with Chapman, which had been exposed. The texts between her and Chapman had spread among her circle and the response online was fierce.

Some people directly threatened her for providing information to the police.

Others told her to leave Desert Hot Springs, and warned that she'd be injured if she stayed.

Around that same time, the woman posted on her Facebook page that someone had hacked her account.

When the texts were found, so was the login information she texted to Chapman. She said in the post that people should be aware that false information might be sent from her accounts.

She said Chapman and others told her a local gang was planning to kill her.

A few weeks after the texts were found, the woman said Chapman told her the department could get her a flight to wherever she wanted. But she said she declined the offer.

The woman currently has an outstanding bench warrant for not appearing in court on the two misdemeanor possession charges filed against her in August for the traffic stop back in May.

"I was told they might not even file the charges," she said. "I didn't even know I had a court date."

Mondary, the Desert Hot Springs chief of police, said an anonymous informant sent him the transcripts of the text messages at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 16, with a note from the informant saying "look how this officer uses and abuses his powers."

"We have been aware of this and are investigating the officer's actions and it will be handled appropriately," Mondary said in an email to the informant on Sept. 17.

Mondary opened an administrative inquiry into Chapman's relationship with the woman on Sept. 17, he said.

"I wasn't happy one bit with what I found in the text messages," Mondary said. "Our administrative inquiry found violations of department policy, and we took what we found to be appropriate action."

On Oct. 4, Mondary said, Chapman's administrative inquiry was closed.

Mondary said he could not disclose what action the department took against Chapman because of officer privacy laws.

"We blew up with the disclosure of these texts," Mondary said. "A number of officers have been informed about how to manage developing sources in the future."

Mondary said Chapman was told to cease all communication with the woman. Following the incident, Mondary said, department policies about inappropriate relationships have been reiterated to DHS police officers.

The department's procedures manual prohibits officers from engaging in any sexual activity while on duty, establishing an inappropriate personal relationship as a result of an investigation or associating personally with people who are involved in recurring criminal activity.

The same day the inquiry was closed, Chapman was recognized as one of three officers who were awarded "2018 Desert Hot Springs Police Officers of the Year Award" by the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce at the 22nd annual Peace Officer & Public Safety Awards.

The Desert Sun called Chapman on the phone number from which he texted the woman.

Chapman confirmed that the texts were actually sent between him and the woman, but said the woman was not acting as a confidential informant.

"We don't have any documented confidential informants," Chapman said. "Anybody who provides us with information is doing so as a concerned citizen."

Chapman said the texts were being sent around in an attempt to get back at the woman.

"Her friends got caught and they're upset," he said. "They're trying to get her in trouble by exposing her to the media."

Chapman said he is confident that his relationship did not violate any department policy.

"The department did not take any action against me," he said about the administrative inquiry. "They found that I did nothing wrong."


Another look

After a Dec. 17 meeting with The Desert Sun to discuss the texts, Mondary received a copy of the texts. He decided additional action was warranted.

Mondary said he did not possess a complete copy of the texts before The Desert Sun shared them with him.

"Parts of this were used in our inquiry," Mondary said. "What I was sent was on Facebook messenger and I was not able to print that out. I have a few select messages but not all of them."

Mondary wrote in an email that the department would begin a new internal affairs investigation and that Chapman would be placed on leave with pay until further notice.

"In light of new information that was reported to the department," Mondary said, "I made the determination to place the officer on administrative leave until we can conduct a more thorough investigation."

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Public Safety | permalink | December 29, 2018 at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2018

MSWD Board Meetings, December 13 & 17, 2018

This is a report on the Mission Springs Water District Board of Director meeting that took place on December 13 and 17, 2018. Same agenda both meetings.


Swearing In Of Steve Grasha

General Director Arden Wallum swore in Steve Grasha as the new director. I couldn't help but notice, since I had seen three swearings-in at the city council meeting the night before, that while City Clerk Soriano only requires the new official to say "I will" or "I do" whenever he pauses, Mr. Wallum wants a complete repetition when he does the swearing in.

Then after the swearing in was complete—crickets. Well, one staffer made a little bit of applause, but the rest of public (a pretty good number for a water district meeting) and the board remained silent. The usual round of congratulatory handshakes was dispensed with.


Public Comments

Judy Bowman came to the podium and said...

My name is Judy Bowman. For the past nine years it has been my privilege to get to know you Directors, to know the staff, pleased to know people here at Mission Springs Water District. It's also been my privilege to have a front seat watching my husband demonstrate his dedication to the community and to service. You guys have been a team that works together. You don't always agree, but you know how to work out your disagreements civilly and respect each other.

Steve Grasha, I am grateful for this opportunity to actually see you face to face, but I simply cannot stay silent. I've never seen you before. This is really rare in a political campaign. You've never been out in public. So I wanted to tell you face to face, Steve, if you would look at me, 'Shame on you.' Throughout the campaign you hid behind your keyboard, blasting out false accusations on an almost daily basis. You never came out in public. After years of running for many offices - any office - you finally came up with a political strategy to fool the electorate and to get votes. you have not demonstrated any care of what the office is. You've never demonstrated any care about Mission Springs Water District. It doesn't seem to matter to you that your campaign was full of false credentials, false accusations, fear-mongering over nonexistent issues and outright lies and slander. You do not deserve a seat on this board. It's one thing to exaggerate and outright lie about your own qualifications, but quite another to make up stories. You personally slandered me. You personally slandered my husband. You publicly accused him of felony crimes of the most heinous nature. You've never offered any proof, but somehow you managed to fool the electorate with keyboard courage. Shame on you. You are not an honorable man. And this community will not forget your lies and your [unintelligible]. Thank you.

Jeff Bowman spoke next. He has posted the video of his comment on YouTube.

I will apologize right up front, I've had several of our public yield their time to me, so I can get my full statement out, Mr. President.

The office of Director of Mission Springs Water District is critical to the people of the district. They depend on directors to represent them as you provide, protect and preserve their most valuable resource - water. My comments today are not those of a sore loser, but rather from a concerned and committed citizen to this city and district.

Steve Grasha, my first contact with you was when you were seeking to fill the vacancy left by the late John Furbee. When you came to this podium you sort of slaundered up, leaned on the podium and said 'I haven't had time to prepare for this position.' And I thought to myself, good lord, you're running for a significant place in this community in leadership and you haven't had the chance to prepare. You were not chosen that day because the public deserved better. When you supplied the information to the board for that particular office you listed an RV park as your residence. It is technically in the district boundaries, but on a master meter [one meter for the entire RV park], thus I concluded at that time that you have never paid a bill to MSWD. And I believe you still haven't to this very day. The public deserves somebody that actually pays a water bill like they do.

When you started your campaign you said typical political exaggerations, like 'we are poisoning our children because of chrome-6.' These things, as stupid as they were, are par for often campaigns. But then you went further. I've been in this community for fifteen years running my award-winning spa. I love the town and the district, having served thousands of hours in community service. Because I love my community, I have assisted many folks. One such woman was Donna Poyuzina. Donna found herself in a homeless situation and I reached out to her, offering her a place in one of my condos for rent. You took that information and you spun it 180°. You said, and I quote, 'The poorest people of Desert Hot Springs have been used and manipulated for too long with the likes of the current MSWD board that takes so many millions from us, only to redistribute that power and money back to their favorite friends and supporters and special interest golddiggers by giving them free houses at our expense.'

Shame on you, Steve, for taking my love and kindness and equating it with greed and power. Yes, I helped a friend who was in need and needed a place to stay. That's how love works. And, you know what? It also shows how a director should act with love and compassion to the community in which they live and serve.

But you didn't stop there. You not only picked on me, but also my award-winning business, Living Waters Spa. You wrote, 'Whenever he talks he creepily mentions the old widow ladies what a great masseuse he is and he invited the lonely widows to his nudist colony. He's a sick creeper that should not be allowed near children or by lonely old women.' Shame on you, Steve.

Then you pick on my wife. You said, 'He'll be asking you if you can bring a friend for his wife to share the experience with. He will film it and sell it to Chinese porn sites. He's a disgusting pervert.' And, you know what, Steve? That wasn't enough. You stepped over the line even further. You sent an email to the entire database of registered voters with the headline 'Child Porn Photo of MSWD Director Jeff Bowman Appears Online Followed by Massive Sex Offender Raid on Desert Hot Springs by Riverside County District Attorney and Multiple State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.' You wrote that. You took a picture of a wedding that was held at my spa, a very sacred event, I may say. A picture I used years ago to promote nudist weddings. You took and spun it 180° from the purity it was. You portrayed it as child porn. Everybody was appalled at this outrageous lie. Even the chief of police with whom you then chose to debate on Facebook, was blown away by your libelous statements and wrote an email - he did - wrote an email defending my integrity.

One week after the election, November 13, our local newspaper and NBC station finally documented your frequent racist, violent and angry posts that you have made on Twitter and Facebook. These were not political things. These come from a heart that's bad. They documented your involvement with the court system, how you were charged with two counts of felony stalking and one felony count of making death threats in 2013. They document some, but not all the numerous lawsuits that had been leveled against you during your adult life because of your poor character. Had the Desert Sun or NBC Palm Springs done this reporting the month you filed your paperwork, the public would have known the real Steve Grasha and you would have not fooled them into voting for you.

Steve, I'm not going anywhere. I'll continue to run my award-winning mineral spa. I'll continue to pay MSWD bills. I'll continue to volunteer in my community to make it better. And I will retire here. The character you exhibited during the campaign does not befit the office to which you were elected. Your MO has been to take innocent actions and turn them 180°, distorting the truth just like you distorted the truth of your own qualifications and experience. For a fact, the voters did not know these things or they would have not voted for you.

My comments today come from a heart of a concerned and committed citizen to the city and district. Steve, the people you have fooled are going to be the ones who will judge you in your actions. They are holding you to a standard that you've never demonstrated in your entire life.

You, Steve Grasha, are not fit for public office.

Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to have that extra time.

Chelsea Vivian spoke next:

I am new to this community, however, I have been coming here for five years as a client of Jeff and Judy Bowman and their Living Waters Spa. I'm not a nudist, actually. I am a woman who suffers from something called psoriatic arthritis. This causes huge sores all over my body. Sometimes covered up to 30 to 40 percent of my skin's surface when stressors trigger this. There's very expensive medications that can help remedy this. But there is one medicine given to me by God that cures my skin and that is sunlight. The transition from the sun hitting my skin to the production of vitamin D heals psoriasis. And unfortunately, the psoriasis likes to go into places where bathing suits cover. So I chronically sought places in my life where I can safely and comfortably lay out in the sun in the nude where nobody will bother me. Knowing the waters of Desert Hot Springs, knowing the mineral waters, that is another healing aspect to arthritis. As you all probably know this is a mecca for [unintelligible]. So I hit the internet and I looked for places that were clothing optional and there were a few options. A couple that I clearly wouldn't be comfortable with given my personal choices. But there was one that rose to the surface. There was one that kind of said this is a very comfortable environment. So I called up one day and I ended up speaking to Jeff and he quizzed me and I quizzed him back and I felt okay, this is a place that I can be comfortable at. So I came and we all got to know each other. They learned that I had lost about my entire family and that the stressors that were engaged in my life at that time. Since then I have not only been a client, I have become a very close friend of Jeff and Judy Bowman's. I know dozens upon dozens of their clients that come there, many of them for the same reasons. I have come to know their family. I have come to know their friends here in Desert Hot Springs and I am astounded at what upstanding and amazing human beings they are. And what they have provided, the Living Waters Spa is not a place for nudists to go hang out - I mean, yeah, it is - for me, it's a safe harbor. It was a place where I was given the opportunity to lay out, get my medicine, and not be ridiculed. Even at other gyms and other places when I go in a bathing suit I get stares when I have to show that part of my body. I've had people get uncomfortable about me going into a pool with them because they think I'm contagious because they are not educated about my condition. I experienced none of that with Jeff and Judy.

So, Steve Grasha, I am deeply offended at the smear that you put upon them. And I would like to say that you should feel ashamed of yourself, but I would like [unintelligible] on this planet to feel shame because that is only a curse that you would have to suffer that would continue and perpetuate these force of actions. But I can say in looking at you is that you already have shame if you have to take this course of action to get elected to a seat on a water board. So, congratulations, you have really shown us all how dirty and ugly people can be.

Margaret Web spoke next:

I've been a resident of California since 2007. I've been part of the political life, you may say, for thirty years with the Kennedys, with my mom growing up with [unintelligible], I got a chance to know a lot of politicians in my life. It's a dirty game. People slandering people. People making up lies, all the way up to the presidency. It's not about slander or smut, because I've had my smut in my life. I've had to deal with people looking at me not because of sores, but because of the color of my skin, thinking that my black skin's going to wipe off on them if they get in the pool after me. So I can feel you on that.

[The board President reminded her to address her remarks to the board.]

Yes, I will. I'll do that. Okay thank you, Mr. President, thank you for telling me that, Randy. This is my first time speaking here. I love Mission Springs Water District. Every time I have an event I can come here and I can get water for my babies. I feed the homeless.

You guys here, you make a part of what I do happen. So I didn't come here to talk about anybody. I came here to thank you guys for being here for our community. Because for me, that's what it's about. As long as you guys can sit there and you do your job, when I get ready to come in here and I need you or you know I'm there, if you need me, then that's what makes a beautiful community. It's not about the past. It's about us living in the future. We've got to push forward. We've got to do more. And I'm not going to take any more of your time because I've got to go run to the hospital. I've got a sick baby I've got to go visit. Y'all be blessed.

Donna Wardine spoke next:

I've lived in Desert Hot Springs for nineteen years Christmas Day. I love my city. I moved here for the water. When I came here I went to water college which MSWD used to make available to citizens. I just want to say that, understanding that one of the members of your board, Steve Grasha, has run and been elected under false pretenses, I would just like to say that I am 100% behind the Bowmans, and I did not appreciate your inattention to the speakers. I thought that was exceedingly rude. Very unbusinesslike, as well. The smirk on your face is insulting to all of us. All of us. And you, sir, are a piece of work. I don't appreciate your lies, either.

Pastor Kephyan Sheppard spoke next:

I'm a local resident here. I wasn't going to say anything. I kind of like to stay quiet in the back. I just wanted, first of all, Mr. Bowman is extremely integral in all his dealings with me, with our church community. Anytime we've had an issue, I've been able to call him, pull on his coattail and get resolution quick. To see that he lost the election was one thing, but to see the way the election was lost was another. I have no personal problems with Mr. Grasha, however the way that campaign was run with a clear lack of integrity, slander, false accusations, I just don't think that that's the type of individual that we should have representing our water board. I don't know what all the procedures are. I'm not really involved with it. But what I can say is that anyone in leadership in this capacity should show a clear pathway of integrity. And what I saw during the election just was not fair. And, for me, I think it would go a long way if you were even able to apologize to Mr. Bowman publicly, because you disrespected him publicly. I think that's the way a public official should carry themselves. Now the election was done. I don't know if anything can be done about that. But as someone who's going to represent this city going forward, it would go a long way to show just an ounce of character to say, you know what, things that I said were not true, I apologize or anything. But I think that's the way to move forward. Because right now, it's real bad. Thank you.


Annual Report From The District's Washington Lobbyist

Our Washington lobbyist used to be Thane Young who was with the firm of Van Scoyoc. From the conversation between the Directors and Laura Morgan-Kessler, I pieced together that she had worked with Mr. Young at Van Scoyoc and sometime a year or more ago Mr. Young retired. Ms. Morgan-Kessler left Van Scoyoc and MSWD followed her to her new firm, Carpi and Clay Government Relations. You can see on their website that they represent many California-based agencies, including Indio Water Authority, San Diego County Water Authority, Santa Clara Valley Water District and Long Beach Water Department.

Since 1995 MSWD has received grants from Riverside County totalling $823,000, the federal government for $11 million and the State of California for $23 million. The district's population currently is about 37,600. These grants amount to more than $926 per capita. That's $926 each district resident did NOT have to pay to MSWD.

Ms. Morgan-Kessler said that over the years MSWD has built up a very strong positive reputation on Capitol Hill and with the Army Corps of Engineers. She said there is a lot of discussion in Congress about removing the ban on earmarks in appropriations bills. For this to happen, both the House and Senate would have to agree to do so.

Director Grasha asked when and what was the last example of funding we got via earmarks. Ms. Morgan-Kessler said that would have been in 2009 when we got a grant for the septic to sewer conversion program. Mr. Grasha pointed out that Jerry Lewis was our Congressional Representative then and he was chair of the House Appropriations Committee.


Anual Report of Capacity Fees and Related Capital Expenditures

This is an annual report required by law which, I suppose, is intended to ferret out agencies who collect high fees and then do little to nothing with them. In FY 2018 the district collected $176,240 in connection fees and spent $477,932.10 in capital expenditures. From the beginning of the report (1989) the district has collected $19,255,258.11 in connection fees and spent $33,121,659.63 in capital expenditures. To summarize, you're getting more than you pay for.


Award of Contract for Horton Wastewater Treatment Plant Infiltration Pond Expansion

With fewer septic tanks and more sewer connections, sewage flow at Horton has increased sufficiently to justify construction of three new infiltration ponds there. Effluent is allowed to rest in the infiltration ponds to gradually seep into the ground, eventually making its way back to the aquifer after being cleaned the natural way.

There were three bids Tryco General Engineering for $170,669, Tri-Star Contracting for $180,775, and Jones Bros. Construction for $199,354. Staff recommended awarding the contract to Tryco. Approved 5-0.


Acceptance of Willow Hole Groundwater Monitoring Wells Project

When MSWD joined the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan the district agreed to install two monitoring wells near the mesquite hummocks that run along the Banning branch of the San Andreas fault. One of the wells is along Palm Drive, just south of 20th. The other is on Mountain View 4,100 feet south of 20th. The wells extend to a depth of about 80 feet and cost $60,699.75, total. Funding came from a grant from the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. Today's vote was to release the final payment of $3,034.99. Approved 5-0.


West Garnet Avenue Water Line Reimbursement Agreement

When KW Palm Springs built the new FedEx facility on Garnet Avenue west of Indian, along I-10, they had to put in a larger water main 2,235 feet long from Indian. They paid $858,861.82 for it, and it passes in front of undeveloped lots. When those lots are developed and connect to the water main, MSWD will collect a fee that includes $192.14 per foot of pipe in front of that development. MSWD will then turn around reimburse KW Palm Springs 80% of that. This item on the agenda is authorize a 10-year agreement between MSWD and KW Palm Springs for this. After the agreement expires, MSWD will no longer reimburse KW Palm Springs. Approved 5-0.


Solar Plant

It's still not online. It's all in the hands of Edison now. In the coming week Edison is supposed to perform a "witness test," which should be last step before final authorization.


I-10/Indian Sewer Collection System Financing District

There are 140 parcels totaling 695.5 acres. 51 parcel owners have returned surveys. Five owners representing about $670,000 in total assessed value) are opposed. One of those five owners represents over $500,000 in assessed value. 46 owners representing about $1,200,000 are in support. But 89 property owners (almost $8 million) still have not responded to the survey. So it's 13% yes, 7% no and 80% we don't know yet.

The financing of the construction of the sewer collection system is entirely the responsibility of the property owners in that area. If they never approve it, development of their properties will be far more difficult and expensive, if they can develop at all.


Election of Officers

Director Wright nominated Director Duncan to serve another year as President. Approved 5-0. Then Director Wright nominated Director Martin to serve another year as Vice President. Approved 5-0.


General Manager's Report

A car hit a fire hydrant in Mission Lakes. Rumors abounded that it took MSWD hours to shut off the water, but this is not correct. MSWD responded and had the hydrant shut off in less than half an hour. However, in the same accident, the car also took out a Mission Lakes backflow prevention device, and it was Mission Lakes' responsibility to shut off the water flow that resulted from that. It took a lot longer.


Director Comments

Steve Grasha said, "Well, I guess I could thank the voters for their confidence. Pretty big turnout, I guess. The largest percent of votes ever received by a Director, 35%. First person to ever defeat a certain incumbent who called me 'creepy' on a Friday after, so I thought I'd react to that and let people know what creepy actually was. Just so you have that out of the way, that's what happened there. So I'm looking forward to spreading my wings a little bit on this board and doing the job people elected me to do. And I want them to know that their vote was not misplaced, regardless of what they might hear from those who weren't as successful as they would have liked to have been. Thank you."

At the Monday meeting, Mr. Grasha said, "Well, I have a whole list of things I could talk about, but in the interest of decorum and good citizenship I think I will pass until maybe a future date."

Nancy Wright said the election turnout was the biggest ever for MSWD because this is the first time the district elections have coincided with the general election.


Epilogue

Immediately after the Thursday study session adjourned on Thursday, a man from the audience went up to Mr. Grasha at the dais, handed him some paper and said "You've been served." I suppose people who have been waiting to serve Mr. Grasha with papers will be pleased to be able to find him in a specific location at least twice a month.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs | permalink | December 19, 2018 at 05:48 PM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2018

Texas AIDS Ride 1

Mumford (1)

Bus interior
After just one day of riding, we were hit by a severe thunderstorm in the middle of the night. We grabbed our stuff (excluding tents and bikes) and they transported us to a nearby high school where we hung out for hours in the gym until they bused us from there to what would have been our destination on that second day. No bike ride that day. The photo below is of me in the night as we were evacuating.

Self

Sons Of Confederate Veterans

Texas Capitol (1)
A Confederate memorial on the grounds of the state capitol building in Austin.

Tom & John
Tom & John who hosted Michael and me in Houston. John had lived in Boston for a little while around 1980-'81 and I knew him from then.

Waxahachie
The Ellis County courthouse in Waxahachie which Michael and I rode through on our way from Dallas to Austin before the ride started. We were rather surprised to suddenly see what seemed an obvious H.H. Richardson in a small Texas county seat. Turns out it was designed by a student of Richardson, James Riely Gordon.

Me & Michael
Michael riding right behind me in a pace line. This was shot by a professional photographer who had stationed himself along the route.

Michael and I had flown into Dallas with the plan to stay at the home of my friends Steve & Jeff (formerly of Kansas City) and then bicycle on our own to Austin. TAR would take us from Austin to Houston and then to Dallas. As we headed from Dallas to Austin we tried to follow small tw-lane highways, of course, but in Texas (or at least in this part of Texas) those roads all go either north-south or east-west and a direct route from Dallas to Austin would be something of a diagonal. I-35 would be the direct route, and the inefficiency of our route became annoyingly obvious as we continually crossed and recrossed I-35 on roads that weren't going in the direction we wanted to go. BUT, in Texas the interstates are parallelled on each side with smaller two-lane, two-way roads that I believe are intended mostly for slow farm vehicles. Turns out they are also excellent for bicycling...if you don't mind parallelling an interstate highway. Even at complex highway interchanges, these small roads were designed to carry us through the interchange without risking our lives. It'd be great if every state had the money and space to build roads like these. You can see an example of one of these roads on the right side of the photo below.
I-35

Bike Assembly
Re-assembling my bike at Steve & Jeff's place in Dallas.

Bike Lift
Closing ceremonies in Dallas.

Bush Library
At College Station. In 1998 there had been only one President Bush, so there was no need to insert any middle initials to eliminate ambiguity.

Cotton (2)
My first time seeing cotton growing.

Dealy Plaza (2)
The Dealey Plaza memorial in Dallas.

Banner
In Dallas, the banner made for us by Steve & Jeff.

Entering Dallas (1)
That's Geoff in the shade.

Four of us
Steve, Michael, myself and Jeff in Dallas.

Geoff (2)
Geoff who was also from Boston.

Me & Dan Pallotta
Myself with Dan Pallotta, who created the AIDS Rides.

The complete set of photos is here.

Filed under AIDS Rides,Cycling,Photography | permalink | December 13, 2018 at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2018

Goat Canyon Trestle

Wikipedia article about Goat Canyon Trestle.

Scott C. led me on a hike to the Goat Canyon Trestle in 2014, but I've only recently posted the photos to Flickr. We hiked in the "easy" but longer way, following a mostly flat route from Dos Cabezos, across desert, to the railroad near Tunnel 20. From there, we hiked the railroad to the trestle, which comes just before Tunnel 15. The acceptable, standard way to hike in without hiking on the railroad as much requires one to take a straighter, but more difficult hike up and over the mountains.

You can also hike from the clothing optional resort at DeAnza Springs which is near I-8. From there you will be hiking uphill to the trestle. On the route we took, we hiked slightly downhill to the trestle...and then had to hike uphill on our way out. A few of the photos:

08.02.33 Dos Cabezas
The water tower at Dos Cabezas
. You can drive to this point. The railroad is right there, but if you follow it, you will go on a loop that makes your hike even longer. It's shorter to hike cross desert to Tunnel 20.

09.03.53 Carrizo Gorge Hike

09.48.56 Carrizo Gorge Railway
Tunnel 20
. This is where we started hiking on the railroad.

10.25.04 Carrizo Gorge Railway - First View of Goat Canyon Trestle noted
Our first small trestle and our first view of the mighty Goat Canyon Trestle.

10 41 33 Carrizo Gorge Railway
There are some wrecked railroad cars resting downhill from the railroad.

10 47 49 Carrizo Gorge Railway Tunnel 18
Tunnel 18
.

11 07 26 Carrizo Gorge Railway Tunnel 17
Tunnel 17
.

11 21 58 Goat Canyon Trestle
Goat Canyon Trestle
.

12 19 45 Goat Canyon Trestle

11 40 39 Goat Canyon Trestle

11 37 10 Goat Canyon Trestle

13 25 36 Carrizo Gorge Railway (2)

Carrizo Gorge Aerial Annotated
The red line is the railroad
. The purple line is an approximation of the cross-desert route we took to Tunnel 20. The green line is the proper, standard, more difficult way to hike in.

The complete set of photos.

Scott's photos.

Filed under California,History,Photography | permalink | December 8, 2018 at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)