Earthquake jolts Indio man who turns self in during stakeout

A 2012 file photo of a police car. (Richard Lui, The Desert Sun)

Richard Lui, The Desert Sun

As she called Coachella Valley police and fire officials to check for injuries or damage caused by Monday’s 4.7-magnitude earthquake and foreshock, Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas got this anecdote from Indio police:

The jolts frightened at least one suspected criminal so much, he turned himself in to police who were surrounding his home, Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said.

The Coachella Valley auto theft task force, RAID, was doing surveillance Monday morning on the suspected thief, after following him with GPS to a home on Jackson Street, just north of Avenue 42.

“This wasn’t a high risk situation,” Guitron said, so officers were content waiting outside until they got a search warrant.

Then the earthquakes struck, and the man looked out the window, saw all the police outside, and just gave himself up, Guitron said.

For more about how the quake affected people — and alpacas (No, really.) — across Southern California, read MyDesert’s main earthquake story.

Coachella Valley police use of force: How your department ranks

A SWAT team practiced at Palm Desert High School in July 2011 in this file photo (Richard Lui, The Desert Sun).

The Desert Sun ran a nearly four-page special investigation Sunday examining Coachella Valley police use of force:

Story: Coachella Valley use-of-force reports drop, but four deadly shootings ties record

Graphic: A closer look at use-of-force reports

Valley police shot seven people in confrontations in 2012, four of them deadly.

So far this year, valley police have shot two people. Palm Springs police shot a man Jan. 9 after they say he ran into three officers with a car. Three Indio police officers shot a man late Monday.

Nationwide, officers used force in 3.6 out of every 10,000 calls over a two-year period, according to the last-known comprehensive national study, published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2001.

Here’s how your police department ranks for use of force — batons, dog bites, pepper spray, physical force, shootings, Tasers — according to The Desert Sun’s analysis of their data:

2012

  • Palm Springs: 28 uses of force (4.36 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Indio: 21 uses of force (3.23 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Desert Hot Springs: 10 uses of force (2.87 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Cathedral City: 3 uses of force (0.68 times per 10,000 calls)

2011

  • Indio: 31 uses of force (4.39 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Palm Springs: 22 uses of force (3.44 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Cathedral City: 9 uses of force (1.95 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Desert Hot Springs: 6 uses of force (1.67 times per 10,000 calls)

2010

  • Indio: 35 uses of force (4.97 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Palm Springs: 28 uses of force (3.9 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Desert Hot Springs: 7 uses of force (1.72 times per 10,000 calls)
  • Cathedral City: 8 uses of force (1.57 times per 10,000 calls)

 

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department — which oversees police services in Coachella, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage — could not provide comparable data.

After repeated requests, it gave The Desert Sun its data on shootings and dog bites, as well as stun gun use for January through August 2012 only.

The sheriff’s department does not track its deputies’ other force, including baton usage, pepper spray or physical force.

Palm Springs film festival: Ben Affleck spit on me

Ben Affleck arrives on the red carpet before the Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala on Jan. 5, 2013. (Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun)

I told Academy Award-winning actor Ben Affleck tonight that he was overrated.

And then he spit on me.

Affleck was my ninth celebrity interview in just minutes amid the flurry of red carpet arrivals for the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s annual awards gala.

When I first saw Affleck walk toward me, he looked every bit of his 6 feet, 2 inches tall. In a perfect Hollywood moment, the gray on the ends of his hair seemed to sparkle.

“Hello, Desert Sun,” he said as his publicist steered him my way.

That’s when I dropped my bomb: “I’ve heard great things tonight about your directing, that it’s overrated.”

Oops.

What I really meant was what Tony Mendez — the real-life CIA agent at the heart of “Argo,” who was presenting Affleck and his cast with an award — told me: That Affleck’s skills as a director are underrated, often overshadowed by his acting. Flustered, I touched his arm and told him immediately that wasn’t what I meant.

Affleck looked at me: “No, that would be awesome if you were like, ‘I’m hearing you’re overrated.’”

Fortunately for me — and the 14-year-old me who adored him in “Armageddon” — he had a sense of humor.

Affleck laughed when I asked about directing an actor who he has a close relationship with —  you know, himself.  “I don’t know about easy, but at least I knew he wasn’t going to complain, you know what I mean? He got the part because he was sleeping with the director.”

Ben Affleck arrives on the red carpet before the Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala on Jan. 5, 2013. (Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun)

Then Affleck told me that his father, Timothy, moved to Indio when Ben was 16 years old. He lived there for about 20 years and worked “for many, many years” as a counselor at the ABC Recovery Center.

“I came out to LA when I was about 18, and I used to drive back down and visit him,” said Affleck, now 40. “I used to like to drive by the place where Jimmy Swaggart got arrested with that prostitute. I was like, ‘Dad, where did that happen?’”

It was about this time that Affleck  popped a mint into his mouth, chewing it as he casually continued talking — and the smallest drop of spit came flying out and onto my chin.

My mind muted out his words for a moment as I thought: “Ben Affleck just spit on me. His saliva is on my face.”

I forgave him (really, it was Ben Affleck, who wouldn’t?), as he described the Coachella Valley in a way that reminded me why he won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his screenwriting.

“In truth, I really like the community. I like Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio. I have memories of driving down here in the summers to see my dad and rolling the window down and it feeling like a blow dryer, you know, on your arm,” he said.

“It has this wonderful romance to me of, like, all those pictures you see of old gas station rest stops on the side of the road in the 1950s. There’s a feeling of an older America here that’s past in a lot of places but that I really find romantic.”

Is Indio muni what real golf is all about?

I have this long-time fantasy that someday I’m going to kidnap the entire board of directors of the USGA. I will load them into a van, drive to an location they don’t know, then open the van, hand them all a set of 15-year-old clubs and tell them, okay, this is the Indio Golf Course. Go play it. This is what golf is all about, not Pine Valley, not Augusta National.

I was reminded of that fantasy Monday when I had a day off and went of and walked 18 holes, with a pull cart, at the par-3 municipal golf course for Indio. In the last few months putting together a list of my top 100 holes in the desert (http://top100golf.mydesert.com), I had a chance to visit some of the most spectacular and pristine courses in the desert. And they are light years from the Indio course. Same game, different extremes.

What you see at Indio muni is husbands and wives playing together at their own pace, just happy to be hitting the ball. You see buddies in golf carts running around the course in shorts and t-shirts. If you show up at Indio muni with khaki long pants and a tucked-in golf shirt, you will feel overdressed.

25 bucks for 18 holes walking, $5 for a pull cart. You can rent a regular golf cart in the small pro shop/grill room for more money.

The lights of Indio Golf Course begin to take effect at dusk at the 18-hole par-3 municipal course. (Larry Bohannan/The Desert Sun)

The course is not pristine, but it’s not bad, either. Oh, if you’re a member at Augusta National you may think Indio muni is not in good shape. But the fact is the greens rolled pretty good Monday, is a little slow, and the chipping areas around the greens had plenty of grass. Yes, the tee boxes are a bit beat up, and some of the divot buckets around the course has old paper Coke cups instead of scoops.

But for all of that, I was thinking that there is a lot of talk about renovating the Old Course in St. Andres these days. And I was thinking that when Old Tom Morris was roaming the Old Course, it probably looked a lot more like Indio muni that Augusta National or Pine Valley.

I wonder what the executive board of the USGA would think if I did drop them off for a quick 18 at Indio muni. I hope they would recognizes that for a vast majority of golfers, Indio muni represents what golf is about in their lives.

 

Football: Breaking down the DVL playoff race

Let’s take a look at the Desert Valley League standings after tonight’s results:

Palm Springs 4-0

La Quinta 3-1

Cathedral City 2-2

Palm Desert 2-2

Coachella Valley 1-3

Indio 0-4

Here are the playoff scenarios:

  • Palm Springs clinches the outright DVL title with a victory over Cathedral City.
  • Cathedral City clinches a playoff berth with a victory over Palm Springs.
  • La Quinta clinches a playoff berth with a victory over Palm Desert.
  • If Cathedral City beats Palm Springs, and Palm Desert beats La Quinta, there would be a three-way tie for second at 3-2 between Cathedral City, La Quinta and Palm Desert. Cathedral City would earn the second seed because it would be the only one of the three teams with a victory over Palm Springs. Palm Desert would get the third seed because of its head-to-head victory over La Quinta.
  • If Palm Springs beats Cathedral City, and Palm Desert beats La Quinta, Palm Desert would finish in a tie for second with La Quinta at 3-2. Palm Desert would earn the second seed because of its head-to-head victory over La Quinta, which would receive the third seed.
  • If Palm Springs beats Cathedral City, La Quinta beats Palm Desert and Coachella Valley beats Indio, there would be a three-way tie for third at 2-3 between Cathedral City, Coachella Valley and Palm Desert. A coin flip would decide the third seed.
  • If Palm Springs beats Cathedral City, La Quinta beats Palm Desert and Indio beats Coachella Valley, Cathedral City and Palm Desert would tie for third at 2-3. Cathedral City would receive the third seed because of its head-to-head victory over Palm Desert.

It will be interesting to watch how it will play out next Friday. The annual rivalry games will take on even more significance.

Football: Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Palm Springs (6-2, last week No. 1): The Indians barely held on to the top spot, coming back to defeat La Quinta 20-14 in overtime last week.

2. La Quinta (2-6, 3): The Blackhawks wore down Palm Springs in the second half, running the ball effectively on tow long touchdown drives. They will look to build on that success.

3. Palm Desert (2-6, 2): The Aztecs’ playoff hopes got a boost when Palm Springs and Coachella Valley both came back to win last week.

4. Shadow Hills (5-3, 6): The Knights have won two in a row, and they are now ranked 10th in the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division, their first appearance ever in the poll.

5. Coachella Valley (2-6, 8): The Arabs climb three spots after stunning Cathedral City 27-24 in double overtime.

6. Cathedral City (5-3, 4): The Lions drop two spots after they couldn’t hold off Coachella Valley in the second half. Will the loss cost them a playoff berth?

7. Desert Hot Springs (4-4, 5): The Golden Eagles haven’t been eliminated from the East Valley Division playoffs after their loss to Twentynine Palms last week, but they likely will have to win their final two games to advance.

8. Indio (1-7, 7): The Rajahs have struggled in DVL play since beating Yucca Valley in their final non-league game.

9. Xavier Prep (2-6, 9): The Saints have won two in a row, and they return home Friday to face Capistrano Valley Christian.

10. Desert Mirage (0-8, 10): The Rams’ offense continued its improvement in a loss to Shadow Hills last week.

Eight-man

1. Desert Christian Academy (7-1, last week No. 1): Ranked first in Division I, the Conquerors close out the regular season against Desert Chapel on Friday.

2. Desert Chapel (7-1, 2): Ranked No. 2 in Division II, the Eagles can take over the top spot by beating Desert Christian Academy on Friday.

3. Marywood-Palm Valley (4-3, 3): The undaunted Firebirds can win the Majestic League by Cornerstone Christian on Friday.

Football: Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Palm Springs (5-2, last week No. 1): The Indians have held the top spot since the season began, and they can solidify their position with a victory over La Quinta at home.

2. La Quinta (2-5, 3): The Blackhawks move up one spot after Palm Desert’s 27-20 loss to Palm Springs. They can take over the top spot by beating the Indians on Friday.

3. Palm Desert (1-6, 2): The Aztecs need to win their remaining three games to have a chance to make the playoffs.

4. Cathedral City (5-2, 5): The Lions climb one spot after dominating the second half in a 40-7 victory over Indio.

5. Desert Hot Springs (4-3, 4): The Golden Eagles host Twentynine Palms in a key De Anza League matchup on Thursday.

6. Shadow Hills (4-3, 7): The Knights take over at No. 6 because of their 13-7 victory over Twentynine Palms.

7. Indio (1-6, 6): The Rajahs struggled in the second half of a 40-7 loss to Cathedral City.

8. Coachella Valley (1-6, 8): The Arabs will look to get back on track against Cathedral City on Friday.

9. Xavier Prep (1-6, 9): The Saints face Rancho Christian on Friday after a bye week.

10. Desert Mirage (0-7, 10): The Rams’ offense came alive in a 24-13 loss to Yucca Valley.

Eight-man

1. Desert Christian Academy (6-1, last week No. 1): Now ranked first in Division I, the Conquerors take on Division I No. 1 Joshua Springs at home Thursday.

2. Desert Chapel (6-1, 2): Ranked No. 2 in Division II, the Eagles host Bloomington Christian on Friday.

3. Marywood-Palm Valley (3-3, 3): The undaunted Firebirds are 2-0 in the Majestic League.

Football: Week 7 Power Rankings

Before getting to this week’s power rankings, let’s take a look at the CIF Central Division, which is composed of the Desert Valley League and four other leagues. Three teams from each league earn automatic playoff spots, with one at-large berth up for grabs.

INLAND VALLEY

Ranked teams: No. 5 Arlington, No. 7. J.W. North, No. 10 Rancho Verde

Outlook: Rancho Verde, the defending Central Division champion, was upset by Poly (Riverside) 21-14 on Friday. Although Poly’s victory has shaken up the league, Rancho Verde would be in the running for an at-large berth if it finishes fourth. The Mustangs still haven’t played Arlington or J.W. North.

SUNBELT

Ranked teams: No. 2 Heritage, No. 4 Elsinore, No. 6 Paloma Valley

Outlook: Heritage hasn’t played Elsinore or Paloma Valley yet; Elsinore beat Paloma Valley 31-28 on Friday. If these three teams remain ranked, it might shake up the playoff seeding. Could the league’s third-place team host a first-round game?

SUNKIST

Ranked teams: No. 1 Summit, No. 3 Kaiser

Outlook: After beating Kaiser 29-7 on Friday, Summit will likely go on to win the league title. The third-place team will have a losing record. Colton, Fontana and Grand Terrace are all 1-5, and Bloomington is 0-6.

MOUNT BALDY

Ranked teams: No. 9 Chino

Outlook: The DVL and Mt. Baldy League both have only one team ranked. Last year, Colony beat Chino to win the league title and advanced to the Central Division semifinals. Chino hosts Colony on Oct. 26.

* * *

What are the Desert Valley League’s postseason chances this year? With four games remaining in the regular season, it’s still too early to tell, but the league’s relative weakness might hurt it when the CIF determines the playoff pairings. With five leagues in the division, not every second-place team is guaranteed a home playoff game. There are eight first-round games, and 10 teams will finish either first or second.

If the pairings were determined by the current rankings, the second-place DVL team would likely have to go on the road. With at least two ranked teams apiece, the Inland Valley, Sunbelt and Sunkist leagues would likely each be given two home playoff games, and the DVL and Mt. Baldy League would probably get one apiece.

* * *

Here are the power rankings:

1. Palm Springs (4-2, last week No. 1): The Indians will try to keep the top spot when they take on Palm Desert on Friday.

2. Palm Desert (1-5, 2): The Aztecs are eager to take the field after they were forced to forfeit Friday’s game against Cathedral City.

3. La Quinta (1-5, 3): The Blackhawks will get their shot to climb the rankings when they travel to Palm Springs next week.

4. Desert Hot Springs (4-3, 4): The Golden Eagles are off this week as they prepare for a big game against Twentynine Palms.

5. Cathedral City (4-2, 6): A victory over Indio on Friday would help the Lions’ playoff chances.

6. Indio (1-5, 7): The Rajahs jump ahead of Shadow Hills because they have beaten Yucca Valley.

7. Shadow Hills (3-3, 5): The Knights drop two spots after their loss to Yucca Valley on Friday.

8. Coachella Valley (1-5, 8): The Arabs’ three-game road swing begins Friday in La Quinta.

9. Xavier Prep (1-6, 10): The Saints climb one spot after their victory over Firebaugh on Friday.

10. Desert Mirage (0-6, 9): Injuries have hurt the Rams this year.

Eight-man

1. Desert Christian Academy (5-1, last week No. 1): Ranked third in Division I, the Conquerors open Victory League play against Bloomington Christian on Friday.

2. Desert Chapel (6-0, 2): The Eagles, ranked second in Division II, face Division II No. 1 Joshua Springs on the road Friday.

3. Marywood-Palm Valley (2-3, 3): The Firebirds are aiming to win their second consecutive game Saturday as they face Calvary Baptist.

Football: La Quinta looks rejuvenated in win over Indio

Two weeks ago, I watched La Quinta’s offense grind to a halt in a 24-0 loss at home to Roosevelt. It was a dreadful end to the Blackhawks’ challenging slate of non-league games. They were 0-5 for only the second time in school history.

La Quinta looked revitalized tonight in a 63-0 victory over Indio. Sure, the Rajahs aren’t as talented as Roosevelt, but they showed flashes of promise in their last two games, a loss to San Jacinto and a victory over Yucca Valley. Blackhawks assistant coach Dave Gurbada said after the game that he didn’t expect such a resounding result.

The primary reasons for La Quinta’s impressive showing were the return of running back Isaiah Verazas and the cohesiveness of their offensive line. Two weeks ago against Roosevelt, Verazas was sidelined with a thigh bruise, and the projected starters on the offensive line were playing their first game together. Center Nick Licalsi made his season debut, and left tackle Malik Blankenship was playing for the first time since the opener. Verazas was back healthy on Friday, and the offensive line had regrouped during the team’s bye week.

La Quinta will be more dangerous if junior running back Kenyon Williams can return and be effective. He broke his foot in the opener against Los Osos, but he could return in two weeks against Palm Springs. That would make a crucial matchup even more intriguing.

Indio will try to bounce back against Cathedral City next week. It will be a consequential game as both teams are trying to challenge La Quinta, Palm Springs and Palm Desert for playoff berths. The Lions have an edge already because of their forfeit victory over Palm Desert. Indio can hurt Cathedral City’s playoff chances by beating them next week.

Football: Week 6 Power Rankings

At the midpoint of the season, I believe the desert’s teams fall into three distinct groups: Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta; Desert Hot Springs, Shadow Hills, Cathedral City and Indio; and Coachella Valley, Desert Mirage and Xavier Prep.

First group: Regardless of their records, the Desert Valley League’s three perennial powers will always lead the rankings until one of them is beaten by Cathedral City, Indio or Coachella Valley.

Second group: Cathedral City and Indio have each defeated a De Anza League opponent. The Lions edged Twentynine Palms 3-2 last week, while Indio shut out Yucca Valley 32-0 two weeks ago. How Desert Hot Springs and Shadow Hills fare against these De Anza rivals will help to sort out the power rankings.

Third group: Results against a common opponent, Banning, have led me to place the second group of four teams ahead of the three teams in this group. The Broncos beat Coachella Valley 56-0 last week, while Cathedral City (62-32 loss) and Shadow Hills (50-47 loss) were more competitive against Banning.

Here are the power rankings, which are unchanged from last week:

1. Palm Springs (3-2, last week No. 1)

2. Palm Desert (1-5, 2)

3. La Quinta (0-5, 3)

4. Desert Hot Springs (3-3, 4)

5. Shadow Hills (3-2, 5)

6. Cathedral City (4-2, 6)

7. Indio (1-4, 7)

8. Coachella Valley (1-4, 8 )

9. Desert Mirage (0-5, 9)

10. Xavier Prep (0-6, 10)

Eight-man

1. Desert Christian Academy (4-1, last week No. 1)

2. Desert Chapel (5-0, 2)

3. Marywood-Palm Valley (1-3, 3)