February 19, 2019

Desert Water Agency Hearing On District Elections - February 19, 2019

This is a report on the public hearing held by the Desert Water Agency on the subject of "Transition to Elections by Division," i.e., district elections. The meeting was in the Lozano Community Center in Tedesco Park on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, and marks the first time in the history of its existence (well, actually first time in the memory of Nancy Wright, which is probably just as good) that the Desert Water Agency board has visited Desert Hot Springs. All five DWA directors were present.

In the audience, directors from Mission Springs Water District were present, along with Yvonne Parks and Karl Baker who ran for the DWA board in 2018 and lost. No Desert Hot Springs City Council members were present, but this hearing was at 5:30 on Tuesday and the city council meeting was scheduled to begin at 6 o'clock, so they all had a good excuse to be elsewhere.


Intro

You can download the PDF version of the Powerpoint presentation here.

General Manager Krause spoke first, providing some background on aquifers and water districts in the Coachella Valley. Below is a map of Desert Water Agency. You can see they haven't updated it to show the current boundaries of DHS. Desert Water Agency covers almost all of Palm Springs and extends into Cathedral City (about 6,000 people there) and even a tiny segment of Rancho Mirage where 19 people live.

DWA District Boundary

The map below shows Mission Springs Water District. There are small areas of MSWD that lie outside DWA, and there are areas within MSWD that are not actually part of MSWD, but might be covered by DWA. But to oversimplify a little, you can think of MSWD as lying within DWA.

MSWD Boundary Map

In the 2010 census, the population residing in DWA was 89,317. Divide that by five (there are five directors) and each district, if impossibly perfect, would contain 17,863.4 people. Naturally, after each census, the districts would have to be re-apportioned, just as every population-based district in the U.S. does.

DWA Population Map

Below is the map showing the percentage of the population identified as Latino. On the map was this note: "Asian-Americans and African-Americans are not concentrated in large numbers anywhere in the [district]."

DWA Latino Population Map


The Legal Stuff

Next, Desert Water Agency's Attorney Riddell spoke. The DWA was founded in 1961 by an act of the legislature called "Desert Water Agency Law." This particular law seems not to have been entered into the conveniently searchable online database that one would usually use to delve into California statutes. But I did find a Google Books version that you can read.

Attorney Riddell explained the California Voting Rights Act, including recent amendments that created this system that is pushing many agencies and cities to go to district elections. I covered this briefly in my report on the January MSWD meeting. The essential difference is that Desert Water Agency has received notification from an attorney representing the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, which is why the DWA is actively involved in the process of switching to district elections.

The process first requires two public hearings (this meeting was the second of those), then draft map options are prepared (by a demographer hired for the purpose), then two public hearings on the maps (this is where the real fighting will be), and then a final public hearing where the DWA board will adopt a map of districts.


Yet More Info

Outreach & Conservation Manager Metzger spoke next. The demographer will be the same one used by the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and the Desert Healthcare District.

Ms. Metzger estimated the adoption of the final map would come near the end of summer. [If I were inclined to be paranoid, I'd say they were going to try to slip it by while I'm at Burning Man, but I don't think I actually figure that highly in the local political scene.]

She showed us district maps of some jurisdictions that meet legal and constitutional requirements. The City of Compton and Glendale Unified School District based their districts solely on population.

Compton and Glendale Unified District Maps

Pasadena drew their districts so that every one touched Colorado Boulevard, thereby giving every council member some responsibility for the downtown area. Central Unified School District drew their districts so that every high school district was in the districts of two board members, so that all parents would have two board members they could go to if they had concerns.

Pasadena and Central Unified District Maps

DWA is sharing district election information on their website at DWA.org/divisions, including the maps I've posted here. In the future, that will be where they post the proposed district maps. You can send comments to divisions@DWA.org or contact any DWA Director.


Public Input

This was regular public comments where you could comment on anything DWA-related (or not related, for that matter). The Public Hearing would follow, where comments were to pertain solely to district elections. This simple concept was explained by DWA Board President Joe Stuart in such a way that it left experienced politicians like Karl Baker and Nancy Wright wondering what exactly he had just said. What it boiled down to was that you could get two separate 3-minute comment periods, if you wanted.

Karl Baker spoke first. He said he was long-winded so he would take advantage of both comment opportunities, if he understood President Stuart correctly. He said that drawing the districts did not have to be solely on racial lines, but that communities of interest could be considered as well [as was shown in Pasadena]. He said potential growth should be considered. The Desert Hot Springs area has great potential for growth, while Palm Springs and other cities south of the 10 freeway are pretty well built up. Mr. Baker estimated that the 2020 census might show the population north of the 10 equal in size to the population south of it (within the Desert Water Agency, of course). He encouraged the DWA board to draw the lines so that the area north of the 10 would get two districts, the other three being south of the 10.

Nancy Wright spoke next. She said she agreed with a lot of what Mr. Baker said. She said that based on the volume of wastewater being treated at MSWD's Horton wastewater treatment plant and based on the number of connections and amount of water being sold, MSWD has a sense that the population north of the 10 has grown tremendously since 2010. She also wondered if DWA had tried to reach out to the unincorporated areas around Desert Hot Springs to inform them of this districting process. She wanted also to confirm that after draft maps are drawn, people will be able to comment on them at public hearings.

Ms. Wright thanked the DWA board for being present, saying that it's the first time she is aware that they have been on this side of the 10 in the past 30 years.

A resident of Desert Hot Springs (I couldn't catch her name) spoke next. She expressed her opinion that there should be two districts north of the 10.


Public Hearing

Now the public hearing was open. Yvonne Parks spoke first. She said she had been looking at DWA's Latino population map. She saw that east of Desert Hot Springs there were large areas of purple, indicating a Latino population lower than 25%. Moving west, she saw more pink areas indicating a Latino population of 75% to 100%. Around those were more areas of yellow (65% to 75% Latino) and green (50% to 65% Latino). So her suggestion was to create two districts, one easterly that would include Desert Edge, the other district more westerly with a higher Latino population.

Karl Baker returned to the podium. He suggested Palm Drive be the line between Ms. Parks' suggested east and west districts, but north of Pierson he suggested the line should "take a jog over east" to include an area "that's different than the Hacienda Heights portion of our city." He then spoke of a coming development out along highway 62 that will include 8,500 homes. He said 2,200 of those homes are "active." Then he spoke of the future development at the east end of Pierson which will be about 1,200 homes. There is also an approved condo development that will have about 300 units at Palm Drive and Camino Campañero, he said.

[But the chances of any of these homes being completed, sold and occupied before the 2020 census is very slim, IMO. Those people will have to wait until the redistricting based on the 2030 census.]

Mr. Baker also spoke about the substantial industrial development going on in Desert Hot Springs that would require water. [But would not include any residences, so no population, so it's not very relevant to districting, IMO.]

Nancy Wright came to the podium to say that MSWD's urban water master plan, sewer master plan and the district's water infrastructure master plan would be good references to anticipate areas of expected growth.

President Stuart closed the public hearing and reminded people to follow their website (DWA.org) and social media (Facebook at www.facebook.com/dwawater/) for more information about this districting process.

permalink | February 19, 2019 at 10:14 PM | Comments (5)

November 21, 2018

Mission Springs Water District Board Meeting - November 15 & 19, 2018

The Board of Directors of the Mission Springs Water District meets monthly on a Thursday for a study session and again on the following Monday for the "regular" session. Same agenda for both meetings. Usually, most of study and talking takes place at the Thursday meeting while votes and ceremonial affairs usually happen at the Monday meeting. I write it up as if it all took place at one meeting.


West Valley Wastewater Reclamation Facility

Earlier, the new sewage plant was designed to handle a million gallons of waste per day (1 MGD). But one of the purposes of the WVWRF is to provide a backup for the Horton WWTP and to allow some of Horton's flow to be diverted so that routine maintenance can be performed at Horton. Diverting the flow would mean sending 0.75 MGD from Horton to the WVWRF, leaving the WVWRF able to handle only 0.25 MGD from other sources, which is not enough. Therefore, the proposal now is to increase initial capacity at the WVWRF to 1.5 MGD. That increase adds about $7 million to the initial cost of construction of the plant.

Also, inflation and the general rise in construction costs since the initial cost estimate add another $3 million. Design changes were made to get the construction cost as low as possible, but the total estimated cost now is about $28 million. This plant along with the Horton plant should be able to handle the district's wastewater for the next ten years.

The cost reductions were:

  • Go with one belt filter press rather than two;
  • Use sludge drying beds for emergency backups (as at Horton);
  • Rather than build a brick and mortar building, the district would put up a prefab metal building for sludge handling;
  • Also, the administration, lab and control buildings would be prefab instead of brick and mortar;
  • They would use gravity rather than a pump to move effluent to the spreading basins;
  • The headworks building would be modified to an open air structure; and
  • Defer the rotary drum thickeners until later.

This item was brought before the board to ask, in effect, the question, now that we have a substantially higher price, should we proceed? The board said yes, proceed.

A groundwater analysis showed that the wastewater treatment plant would have no effect on the quality of drinking water from Well 33, which is in the neighborhood. In the future, when the capacity of the WVWRF is doubled to 3.0 MGD, there are potential impacts on the well after 30 years, which is likely beyond the life of the well itself. An anti-degradation analysis was done to measure potential impacts on the groundwater basin there, which is Garnet Subbasin (not the Mission Creek subbasin). This analysis showed potential degradation of the Garnet subbasin with TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) after about 15 years.

From the Water Research Center:

"Dissolved solids" refer to any minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in water. Total dissolved solids (TDS) comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates) and some small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water.

The EIR and regulatory approval for the plant will potentially be completed by summer of 2019. MSWD may be eligible for up to $8 million in grants for this project. Construction could begin in the autumn of 2019 with about an 18-month construction time.

President Randy Duncan asked Matt McCue, finance director, his opinion on whether the district could take on this expense. There are variables, he answered, saying that re-doing the most recent rate study may be necessary because there are pressures both up and down. Some predicted capital expenditures that were included in the last rate study have not been made, so perhaps rates could be lower. But at the same time there are other rising costs working to push rates up. The district's debt-service ratio "couldn't be any better," he said. The district has almost zero debt.

The wastewater treatment plant in Yucca Valley that is under construction now is a 1 MGD plant (with MBR) which is costing them about $31 million. MBR is Membrane BioReactor. The WVWRF will be built withOUT MBR, but when additional capacity is needed, MBR will be installed and the capacity of our plant will go to 3 MGD.


Proposed Assessment District 18

Proposed Assessment District 17 (to build sewer lines) failed by only 8 votes to get two-thirds approval by the property owners which only means sewers for the areas that would have been included will be later and more expensive. The defeat of AD 17 was attributed to two main reasons: first, a lot of the properties in the area are owned by landlords who, apparently, are motivated only by short term profit, and, second, about 60 property owners who said they would support AD 17 when polled never returned their ballots during the actual voting.

AD 18 would include Mission Lakes Country Club plus six unsewered areas in Desert Hot Springs. This proposal will be structured so that if the full assessment district fails, any of the smaller areas that received sufficient votes could form their own assessment district.

As in the past, MSWD will search for grants to cover up to 50% of the cost of sewering these areas. If they are successful, the actual per parcel cost for the property owner will be in the range of $6,400 to $6,600. A bargain. (In 2004 this charge was $4,124.) That price does not include the property owner's expense of actually hooking up and mitigating their now useless septic tank.

They hope to have this approved by the property owners in 2019 so that in 2020 they can begin to seek grant funding.


Holiday Schedule

Christmas and New Year's Day are on Tuesdays this year, so this was a proposal to grant employees an extra day off for the Mondays preceding those two holidays. Approved by the board, 5-0.


ACWA/JPIA Captive Insurance Company

This is a proposal to be voted on at the upcoming meeting of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). If ACWA forms its own insurance company strictly for ACWA members, they can get lower rates. The insurance covers third party bodily injuries, employment practices liability, public officials errors and omissions, inverse condemnation, drone liability, and workers' comp. The savings come primarily from greater flexibility in investments.


Solar Plant

Even though the ribbon cutting (or switch flipping) has already taken place at the AQMD-grant-funded solar plant on Little Morongo south of Dillon, electricity is not yet flowing to the system because, you know, Edison. Staff estimated that everything would finally fall into line before the December board meeting. It is expected to save the district more than $300,000/year.


I-10/Indian Sewer Financing District

Not much activity lately. Not enough info has been received yet to put together a resolution. The property owners who will benefit from the sewer are the ones responsible to pay for it 100%, so it is up to them to support a financing district to make that possible. As with any sewer construction project, the longer they wait, the more it will cost them.


Holiday Parade

A discussion as to whether MSWD will participate in this year's Desert Hot Springs holiday parade. It will be Saturday, December 8, in the evening (for the first time in anyone's memory). Not all the Directors will be able to be there, but yes, MSWD will participate.


General Manager's Report

There are substantial leaks in the roof at MSWD headquarters on Second Street. Some drywall has been replaced, some mold has been discovered and mitigated. Bids for repair or replacement are being considered. Initial estimates are around $180,000, but staff expects to be able to lower that.


Farewell to Director Bowman

This was Director Jeff Bowman's last board meeting. President of the Board, Randy Duncan, walked around to the podium and spoke.

Director Bowman, when I saw "we," I'm referring to myself, the rest of the board, staff, and even most or all of our contractors. While we seldom disagree on issues, we have all grown to respect and value your opinions and ideas when it comes to the board, both as a director and a person. Regardless of whether we disagree or not, regardless of the direction we decide to take, we all believe you always have the district's best interests at heart. On a personal sidenote, you and I have competed for the same seat (I lost that one) but that was a clean, fair race. And I respect you for that. I think you can take comfort in knowing that the only reason, I think, you lost this seat was because of a very dirty and unethical race. So now, if I could, you would join me down here. We would like to thank you for nine years of service as a Director of the Mission Springs Water District.

A representative of the office of Senator Jeff Stone presented Director Bowman with a proclamation.

permalink | November 21, 2018 at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2018

Desert Sun on Steve Grasha

Here's the article:

The Mission Springs Water District's newest board member, Steve Grasha, has tweeted at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, that the senator should shoot himself in the head and that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should be beheaded.

These and other tweets are part of a long history of Twitter posts that include violent, sexist and racist language from a man elected to serve customers of the water district, which services most of Desert Hot Springs.

By Wednesday, after this article published online, it appeared Grasha had removed his Twitter account from public view. Iinks in this article to his tweets are no longer active.

Grasha was easily elected to the MSWD board last week with 33 percent of the vote. In an interview on Thursday, he acknowledged he uses extreme language in his posts but said he did not think it was inappropriate for a public official.

“I think people should be honest, we have a crisis of honesty in our country,” he said. “What they should be concerned about is newspapers like yours, trying to tear down the only honest person."

Grasha has written many tweets saying politicians or journalists should be executed or urging them to kill themselves. He has used terms like "lying c---" and "stupid c---" to insult women.

Grasha also has repeatedly faced judges in Riverside County Superior Court. He was charged with two counts of felony stalking and one felony count of making death threats in 2013. All the charges were either dismissed or discharged.

He said the case was falsified by former District Attorney Paul Zellerbach. Grasha said he then worked with current District Attorney Mike Hestrin to unseat Zellerbach. A representative of the DA's office said Grasha did not "formally" work for Hestrin's campaign.

“I ended his career with one email, boom,” Grasha said of Zellerbach's tenure in office.

He was also named, along with relatives, in two lawsuits brought by Rimcrest Community Association, a condo and apartment complex in Palm Springs. He was sued by the condo association for minor infractions; both cases were dismissed.

He has also been taken to small-claims court regarding debt collections at least twice; judges ruled against him and ordered him to pay both times.

Further, he was sued for libel in 1999 by Environmental Engineering Concepts after publishing a letter stating the company had its California State Contractors license revoked, which it had not. The company had been a competitor of Grasha's company, TrueFog. That suit was settled in 2000.

MSWD board member Nancy Wright, who was re-elected last week with 31 percent of the vote, said she recently became familiar with Grasha’s social media history and said it wouldn’t preclude her from being able to work with him on water district issues.

“I’m a professional and I can work with anyone,” she said, adding she did have some concerns about a lack of transparency with his campaign finances. Grasha did not file any campaign finance forms with the county this year or in 2017.

California Fair Political Practices spokesman Jay Wierenga said the agency had received a complaint against Grasha and that its enforcement division has an open case involving Grasha relating to "potential violations of the campaign disclosure provisions of the Political Reform Act," according to documents provided by the FPPC.

In a phone interview, Grasha accused The Desert Sun of poisoning children by running print advertisements from the Mission Springs Water District. He also said his constituents had no reason to be concerned about his language.

“The only people that should be concerned should be people like John Brennan,” he said of the former CIA director, whom Grasha accused of being a Muslim who wants to destroy the country.

In response to a tweet from journalist Anna Navarro in October 2017 in which she said 1,000 Puerto Ricans had died after Hurricane Maria and millions were without power, Grasha replied: “Listen you’re [sic] lying c---. Not a single Puerto Rican has died because of that f------ Hurricane. Go f--- yourself b----.”

In August of this year, officials in Puerto Rico acknowledged 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane after the results of an independent study were released.

Grasha has tweeted at journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald to “take a bottle of pills and kill yourself,” and that former President Barack Obama was a “criminal and should be hunted down and trapped like the lowlife scum that he is.” He once responded to a tweet by conservative commentator Bill Kristol about meeting an American citizen who immigrated from Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets by saying if the man was a "hero" he would have killed Kristol.

In response to a tweet from former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward calling for the end of amnesty and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Grasha tweeted he felt threatened at a local convenience store.

“I walked into a 7-Eleven near my house the other day and it literally felt like I was in a foreign country and that I needed an armed security force to get me out of the store safely and alive,” he tweeted Jan. 5.

Other tweets have praised President Donald Trump for his relationship with porn actress Stormy Daniels.

“President banged a porn star and walked away with a $211,000 profit! Greatest. President. Ever,” Grasha tweeted on Oct. 30.

The majority of his tweets are about local or national news, retweets of the president’s tweets or retweets of statements of support for the president from other individuals.

His Facebook profile also contains frequent posts about regional and national news and politics. During the campaign, he posted a picture of MSWD board member Jeff Bowman (who was not re-elected last week) naked, with two other individuals — a man who appeared naked, and a topless woman. Bowman, who owns and operates a clothing-optional resort in Desert Hot Springs, appeared to be officiating a wedding.

In the post, Grasha said Bowman was with “a seemingly underage girl” and accused him in an email, provided to The Desert Sun, of child pornography. In an interview with The Desert Sun, he accused Bowman of possibly molesting or trafficking a child, based on the image he shared, which he said originated from Bowman’s website.

“The voters decided that wasn’t cool,” he said, adding that he didn’t send out the email or Facebook post to be underhanded. “That was a chance I had to take because people have a right to know what might be going on.”

Bowman vehemently denied all of Grasha's accusations. He said the wedding in the photo was from 2006 and the pair pictured were "a lovely couple" who were both of age and had a valid marriage license.

“There’s no words to describe when your life is slandered in such a way that your integrity is called into question, your business,” he said. “For something that was so sacred to be taken and spun 180 degrees and then the slander, defamation of character. I have never met a person that has done something so heinous."

Grasha said he believed the post may have led to action from the Riverside County District Attorney.

John Hall, the district attorney's office spokesperson, said the office was unaware of the photograph Grasha referenced and said the sexual assault task force, which is separate from the Gang Impact Team, conducts regular sweeps of registered sex offenders, and Bowman was neither a target of the task force nor a registered sex offender.

In an email to Bowman, Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Dale Monday said Bowman had never been implicated in any child pornography or child sexual exploitation.

Grasha dismissed that statement.

In addition to a prolific social media footprint, Grasha formerly published an online newsletter, the Palm Springs Village Voice, and is the owner of TrueFog USA, which sells the type of misting systems seen outside many Coachella Valley bars and restaurants.

Grasha made several unsuccessful bids for public office before his election to the MSWD board. In 2014, he ran for the District 1 seat on the Coachella Valley Water District board but was defeated by G. Patrick O’Dowd. He ran for a seat on the Palm Springs City Council multiple times, including a special election in 2002 and a regular election in 2013.

He said in 1999 that he had registered as a Democrat to run for the congressional seat encompassing the Coachella Valley (the 44th Congressional District, at that time). He announced in 2011 that he would run for Congress in 2012 as a Republican, challenging then-incumbent Mary Bono Mack for the 36th Congressional District seat, but did not win.

Grasha said winning an election was a "new experience" for him and said Thursday that MSWD voters had overwhelmingly voted to make a change.

He has flip-flopped between saying he was a Democrat or Republican in previous campaigns, though many local races are nominally nonpartisan, and in a 2003 interview with The Desert Sun he said he wasn’t concerned about the way those inconsistencies would look. That year, he had touted himself as a Democrat to try to get the endorsement of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, a powerful local LGBTQ political group, during the Palm Springs City Council race.

“I understand the process. I understand politics. I understand I should be kissing up to these (special interest) groups,” he said.

In interviews with The Desert Sun during his MSWD and CVWD campaigns, Grasha expressed serious concerns about the levels of chromium-6, a cancer-causing agent found at varying levels in drinking water across the county, and accused Wright and Bowman — and The Desert Sun — of poisoning children.

After his election to the MSWD board, Grasha released a statement on social media saying he was “honored” and thanking Bowman, whom he accused of poisoning children and being a child molester, “for his commitment to public service and our water district since 2009.”

Grasha said in the statement that the water district was facing challenging circumstances.

“I will work together with anyone and everyone who wants to create a better path forward for families that rely on our sacred duty to protect our most precious resource, our water supply,” he wrote. “And I will fight for all of you, each and every day to make your lives better and our entire community stronger."

Bowman was the third highest vote-getter on Election Day, netting 21 percent of the vote. Malcolm McLean finished last among the four candidates, with 15 percent of the vote.

permalink | November 14, 2018 at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2018

U.S.-Mexico Border Flyover

From the Washington Post. The 3D map is annotated and shows where walls and fences have been constructed.

permalink | October 24, 2018 at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2018

Dodge City Voter Suppression

For the upcoming election, Desert Hot Springs (population 29,000 or so) will have four polling places. Dodge City, Kansas, (population 28,000 or so) will have only one polling place. The four polling places in DHS will be within walking distance of most of the city. In Dodge City that one polling place will be as shown on the map below:

In DHS about half the population is Hispanic. In Dodge City it's more like 60%.

I picked a semi-random spot that looked like it was in the middle of old Dodge City, Central Avenue and Ash Street, and Google maps tells me it's about a 3 mile walk to the polling place. But when I ask for mass transit directions, Google comes back with this message:

Sorry, we could not calculate transit directions from "Central Ave & E Ash St, Dodge City, KS 67801" to "11333 US-283, Dodge City, KS 67801"

IOW, no bus. Here's a map of their bus system. It does look like the Green route would get you within a half mile of the polling place. The streetview image below shows the intersection of two highways (US 400 and US 283) that you'd pass through on the way to the polling place. Looks easily bikeable and even walkable, but not very enjoyable.

Kansans can vote by mail, but it doesn't look like you can choose that permanently, as in California, so you'd have to fill out a request for every election.

Unrelated note, Dodge City still has brick streets! I remember these, especially in small towns in Iowa. I'd thought almost all had been paved over. Maybe the weather is really, really nice in Dodge City.

permalink | October 19, 2018 at 10:47 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2018

Wende Museum Of The Cold War

I recently visited the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, which had been on my gotta-see list for quite a while. Open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday; no charge for admission; check the website for variations on that. It's right next door to Veterans Memorial Park which is right next door to Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

City of Culver City (4838)

On the other end of the museum sits the House of Warrior Poetry (Dance. Parkour. Acrobatics. Action Arts. Yoga. Movement.).
House of Warrior Poetry (4829)

Veterans Memorial Auditorium - Culver City (4836)
Veterans Memorial Auditorium - the marker out front was placed in 1950, so call it 1950.

Kimmy Schmidt Fashion (4850)
In the museum I thought the cover of this magazine said "1961."
Only when I went to edit it did I see it was actually 1981! It sure has the look of 1961.

Yuri Gagarin (4862)
Yuri Gagarin hanging out with kids.

Wende Museum of the Cold War (4874)
Sly Lenin.

Entertainment Center (4877)
Soviet radio.

You can see all the photos here.

permalink | October 15, 2018 at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2018

Photos of the Library of Congress

Library of Congress (4807)
The ceiling in the grand hall where one enters the Jefferson building.

Library of Congress (1916)

Library of Congress (1915)
A bit of the ceiling.

Library of Congress (1913)

Jefferson's Library (1917)
Thomas Jefferson's library.

Baseball - Library of Congress (4814)
Naked baseball players on the ceiling of the Library of Congress.
I've got another photo showing football players.

Library of Congress (4827)
Down in the tunnels connecting the Jefferson and Madison (and I'm sure other) buildings.

Library of Congress (4825)
Some of the floor.

Library of Congress floor tiles (1912)
More floor.

Madison Memorial building (8120)
Columns at the entrance to the Madison Memorial Building.

Madison Memorial Building (5943)

Click here to see all 22 of my photos from the Library of Congress.

permalink | May 15, 2018 at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2018

Greg Louganis Shares His Opinion Of Pence

permalink | February 9, 2018 at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2017

Sessions

Representative Hakeem Jeffries questioning AG Jeff Sessions today:

Someone has observed that Sessions reacts differently to the Senators depending on their race. I haven't (and don't plan to) watched enough C-SPAN to have an informed opinion about this. But if one of my readers does, do let me hear from you.

permalink | November 14, 2017 at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2017

Amazing!

Snopes says this is genuine!

The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a "Trump" character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled "The End of the World," featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of "Walter Trump."

permalink | January 10, 2017 at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2016

The Guide To What To Do To Contain Trump For Four Years

I think this may be the workable, practical plan [PDF] to resist Trump that I hoped some knowledgable people would put together before January 20.

It's a guide put together by "former progressive congressional staffers" on how to keep Trump from putting his "agenda" ("whim" might be a better word) into effect. They want to be like the progressive counterpart of the Tea Party, but without all the horrid negative stuff. Their recommendations are pretty basic: pay attention to your Members of Congress, communicate with them, influence them. As former congressional staffers they can advise on the psychology of Members of Congress and how to make the most of that.

And what about the fortunate few like me with two Democratic Senators and a Democratic Representative? Here's their recommendation ("MoC" = "Member of Congress"):

Congratulations! Your Senators and Representative are doing what they should to fight racism, authoritarianism, and corruption. They're making the right public statements, co-sponsoring the right bills, and voting the right way. So how does this change your strategy? Two key things to keep in mind:

1. Do NOT switch to targeting other MoC who don't represent you. They don't represent you, and they don't care what you have to say. Stick with your own local MoCs.

2. DO use this guide to engage with your MoCs locally. Instead of pressuring them to do the right thing, praise them for doing the right thing. This is important because it will help ensure that they continue to do the right thing. Congressional staff are rarely contacted when the MoC does something good — your efforts locally will provide highly valuable positive reinforcement.

And (my personal add) we should avoid internal bickering and focus on the enemy.

» Donald Trump’s agenda will take America backwards and must be stopped.

» In order to work together to achieve this goal, we must model the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness.


permalink | December 21, 2016 at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2016

Campaign Detritus

Johnie's Coffee Shop With Bernie Sanders Leftovers (3360)

Johnie's Coffee Shop With Bernie Sanders Leftovers (3354)

permalink | December 16, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2016

This Is A Good One

This is definitely a step above the usual star-studded political ads.

permalink | September 22, 2016 at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2016

A Comprehensive Report

permalink | September 14, 2016 at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2016

Normal/Abnormal

permalink | August 23, 2016 at 10:47 PM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2016

Problem Solved! Republicans Declare Coal To Be "Clean"

The GOP's platform committee unanimously voted to declare coal "an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource."

The word "clean" was not initially included in the Republican platform committee's coal statement. It was added by David Barton, an RNC delegate from Texas. Barton is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas and an evangelical leader, popular for his claims that the U.S. Constitution is a biblical document.

From a 2012 NPR report on David Barton:

"You look at Article 3, Section 1, the treason clause," he told James Robison on Trinity Broadcast Network. "Direct quote out of the Bible. You look at Article 2, the quote on the president has to be a native born? That is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim.

The treason clause is is actually Article 3, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

I'm not even going to search for it, but if any Bible expert thinks they know where Article 3, Section 3 is in the Bible, I would be delighted to learn that amazing fact.

Article 2, Section 1, the requirement for the President to be a natural born citizen says this: "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States."

Deuteronomy 17:15 in the Complete Jewish Bible: "In that event, you must appoint as king the one whom Adonai your God will choose. He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you — you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman." King James: "Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother."

Clearly related, but I don't think Mr. Barton knows the meaning of the word "verbatim" nor the obvious fact that a verbatim quote from the Bible would never be in English.

permalink | July 12, 2016 at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2016

DHS Walmart Petition

I finally got around to reading the Walmart petition. There's no game-playing in it that I can detect. No exemptions from any taxes or fees. In fact, they'll kick in an additional $75,000 on top of the DIF fees. That's supposed to help pay for something at what will be the future intersections of Cactus and Camino Aventura and Claire Avenue—although I don't think $75,000 would cover very much. Here are some of the bits I found interesting:

  • Permitted to be open 24 hours.
  • Exterior payphones permitted. Open 24 hours, outside payphones, right across the street from Dos Palmas. Potential for a public safety issue there.
  • Landscaping will be xeriscape, but they don't say they will conform to MSWD's ordinance on this.
  • They will need to extend a 1,806 foot sewer line from Camino Idilio.
  • Palm Drive will be widened to allow for a right-turn lane.
  • Traffic signals will be installed at Camino Aventura and Palm Drive.
  • All (or almost all) of the lighting will be LED. There will also be a daylight harvesting system (is that like a sophisticated skylight?) and a computer controlled continuously active system that adjusts lighting up and down.
  • Waste heat from refrigeration will be captured and used to heat water.
  • The site will be inspected for desert tortoises and burrowing owls. But they don't make any promises about any other endangered creatures or plants.
  • They will also observe the usual rules if they discover archaeological artifacts.

Summary: if you want the Walmart, you can sign this petition with a clear conscience. Unless somebody wants to point out some heinous provision in it that I missed.

permalink | April 3, 2016 at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2016

The latest NBC/WSJ Presdential Election Poll

Numbers from the latest Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies paid for by NBC and Wall Street Journal. I never like the way any press or media digest and spit out the results of surveys, so I went to the source and did some of own digestion and spitting, so maybe you want to clean up afterward.

800 registered voters; 400 Republican primary voters plus 400 Democratic primary voters.

"Now I'm going to read you the names of several public figures, groups and organizations, and I'd like you to rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative. If you don't know the name, please just say so."

PosNeg
Barack Obama4742
Bill Clinton4536
Hillary Clinton4049
Bernie Sanders3831
George W. Bush3743
George W. Bush3743
Marco Rubio3129
Ted Cruz3135
Ben Carson3035
Donald Trump2958
Chris Christie2436
Jeb Bush1946


Asked of those who would vote in the Democratic primary: "If the next Democratic primary for president were being held today, which one of the following candidates would you favor?"

Clinton59
Sanders34
O'Malley2


Voters who said they would vote in the Democratic primary were asked whether they perceive the following individuals as very liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative or very conservative. I'll just list the top one for each.

Hillary ClintonModerate48
SandersVery Liberal41
ObamaModerate44
Bill ClintonModerate48


Again, the following question was limited to those who said they would vote in the Democratic primary. "...would you prefer a president that is more liberal or less liberal, or about the same as..." the following individuals.

ObamaAbout the same56
Bill ClintonAbout the same55

No earth shaking surprise there. The majority of Democrats like Obama and Bill Clinton.


Republican primary voters were asked if they could see themselves supporting each of the following individuals for the Republican nomination. I'm just going to list the Yeses.

Cruz71
Rubio67
Trump65
Carson60
Christie48
Fiorina45
Jeb Bush42
Huckabee36
Paul32
Kasich28
Santorum26

But as to which candidate they want to get the Republican nomination, Trump comes out on the top when they ask the question a few different ways. BUT, if they eliminate all the candidates other than Cruz and Trump, Cruz comes out on top with 51%, Trump gets 43%. Between Rubio and Trump the Republican primary voters prefer Trump at 52%, Rubio at 45%.


How Republican primary voters view the following individuals on the very liberal to very conservative scale.

TrumpModerate35
Jeb BushModerate44
CruzVery Conservative47
George W. BushModerate41


Republican primary voters were asked "Would you prefer a president that is more conservative or less conservative, or about the same as George W. Bush?" "About the same" got 43%. Again, the earth does not tremble.


And now we get down to the Presidential election.

Trump/Clinton41/51
Rubio/Clinton46/47
Cruz/Clinton45/49
Trump/Sanders39/54

Sanders has been correct that according to the polls he could defeat the likely Republican candidate better than Clinton.


"Has what you have seen, read, or heard so far during the Republican [or Democratic] presidential nominating process made you feel more favorable or less favorable toward the Republican [or Democratic] Party?" The majorities in each party both said it has had no impact on how they feel about their own party. But the results from all registered voters comes out differently. These are the top categories.

Republican PartyLess Favorable42
Democratic PartyNo Impact54


Those who will vote in the Republican primary still strongly support "the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman" (65%) and the NRA (62%). 33% say they are strong supporters of the Tea Party.

They gave more choices to those who said they would vote in the Democratic primary! There is strong support for immediate action to address climate change (67%), 62% strongly consider themselves environmentalists, 61% strongly support the gay rights movement, 54% are strong supporters of unions, and 50% are strong supporters of Black Lives Matter. Only 26% are strong supporters of "the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman" and 3% are strong supporters of the Tea Party!


11% of all surveyed did NOT vote in the Presidential election of 2012; 33% did not vote in the 2014 Congressional election. Those are pretty big numbers that could shift almost all of the results of the survey.


29% of those surveyed said they were employed in the "Professional/Managerial" category; only 5% were stay at home parents; 25% said they were retired. Those do not look like representative figures. Those seem to be people who might have the time to answer a lengthy survey. Other categories were white collar (17%), blue collar (17%), student (2%), unemployed (3% - "thanks Obama"), and 2% who are not sure if they are currently employed.

20% say their highest education level was a high school diploma, 26% have a four-year college degree. Only 2% say they dropped out of high school.

45% of those surveyed said they support or lean towards the Democratic party. 39% said Republican. Liberal 26%, moderate 37%, conservative 34%.

79% of those surveyed live in "non-union households."

24% never attend religious services; 34% say they attend weekly.

Household income: under $50,000 36%; $50,000-$100,000 32%; more than $100,000 27%.

permalink | January 20, 2016 at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2015

DHS Mayoral Election Decided By November 3 Ballots

The agenda for the city council meeting on December 1 includes details on how the voting went in each precinct, for each candidate, mail-in or walk-in. The last time I looked at this, I think about two-thirds of the votes in Desert Hot Springs were by mail. 71% of the ballots were cast by mail in this most recent election. One might think, then, that the outcome was pretty much decided before the traditional November 3 ballot. And you would be mostly right. Comparing mail-in totals with ballot totals below, one sees that the November 3 ballot moved Richard Duffle from last place to next to last, and it determined the mayoral outcome. Sanchez had the majority of mail-in ballots, but Matas got enough votes on the 3rd to defeat him.

You will also see that Zavala picked up a somewhat disproportionate number of votes on the 3rd, but they didn't change the ranking of the council candidates. Horton gained the smallest number on November 3 and slipped down to last place.

IOW, the increased campaigning in the last two weeks before November 3 is probably worth it in order to hold on to or grab a victory.

NOV 3MAIL-INTOTALS
Matas44332%95968%1402
Sanchez35727%98273%1339
TOTALS80029%194171%2741
 
Betts27525%81375%1088
Zavala36235%67465%1036
Parks20127%55273%753
Buchanan18927%52473%713
Jaime18628%48972%675
Duffle10529%25271%357
Horton9126%25874%349
TOTALS140928%356272%4971
 
Mayor & Council
GRAND TOTALS
81529%199571%2810

Source:
November 3, 2015 Election Results

permalink | November 26, 2015 at 05:06 PM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2015

"The Insanity Of Your Stupidity"

Scott Matas explains his opposition to the so-called “Good Wage Ordinance” at the November 17, 2015 city council meeting. Scott Matas is the new Mayor, to be sworn in on December 1. You can perhaps see why I thought it was so important to replace the current mayor.

permalink | November 25, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Comments (3)