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Friday, Dec. 2 | 🌤️ 69°/53°

TGIF friends, and thank goodness at least one county has finished counting ballots. To say the wait for the final count in Riverside County was tiring would be putting it mildly. Nearly every evening for 23 days our editor fired up his laptop from wherever he was and reported results, usually well before anyone else, if they reported them at all. We know some of you aren't that interested, but it's our civic duty to see this through. Thanks for sticking with us, even as we stumbled a bit out of the gate. There's only one race left to decide!
🎶 Setting the mood: "The Spot" Your Smith

Leading off: Garner reelected in District 1; Bernstein, deHarte win their races

From left: Councilmember-elect Ron deHarte, Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, and Councilmember-elect Jeffrey Bernstein.

After waiting anxiously for more than three weeks, voters and candidates in Palm Springs can exhale: The final vote count was released Thursday evening showing history will soon be made again in the city and that two new members of the City Council will be seated later this month.

Driving the news: Final results from the the Riverside County Registrar of Voters show Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner holding off a challenge from TV personality and activist Scott Nevins in District 1. That sets the stage for her to become the city’s first Latina mayor.

  • Jeffrey Bernstein and Ron deHarte easily won their races in districts 2 and 3 and will join Garner and Mayor Lisa Middleton on the dais, replacing councilmembers Dennis Woods and Geoff Kors, who chose not to run for reelection.
What they're saying: “It was an emotional journey,” said Garner's campaign manager, Naomi Soto, when reached Thursday evening. “We spent so much time talking to residents in all the different neighborhoods across District 1. We knew having Grace represent the district had been a game changer for so many communities. We put in the work, but waiting for that to be reflected was tough.”

The fate of another member of the Palm Springs City Council remains unknown. Former Mayor Christy Holstege, the District 4 representative, remains in a near dead heat with Republican Greg Wallis in the race for the State Assembly in the 47th District.
  • With 3,150 votes left to count in San Bernardino County, which contains a portion of the district, Holstege currently trails by 20 votes — 84,647 to 84,627. The county is due to update its vote count again tonight.
💭 Our take: District 1 is a "majority minority" district, designed to give Black and brown residents a seat at the biggest table in the city. The election of Garner in 2019 did that, and she got to work advocating for them, often anonymously in the background.
  • Unfortunately, some in the community chose to weaponize Garner's advocacy, insinuating that she was only interested in representing minorities at City Hall.
  • Nothing could be further from the truth, and we hope Garner's history-making reelection is a win for all who choose to call Palm Springs home.
Read our complete story here.

In brief: A boon for business in heart of the city

The area along Tahquitz Canyon Way between Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon drives has always been a happening spot — the very center of Downtown Palm Springs. But it has also seen a lot of businesses come and go and some storefronts often sit empty for unbearably long stretches of time. 

A new business that opened Thursday afternoon is now filling a key corner spot, and there's news that one of the most loved businesses in the area will be there for a good long time, where plans were once in place to replace it.

Driving the news: Oscar's, the lively hotspot famed for its Sunday T-dance and often packed for everything from musical performances to drag shows, has reportedly signed a new, 20-year lease and has plans to expand.

  • Just last year the owners of the building Oscar's is housed in, Grit Development, were planning to develop a hotel at the site. A pool would have gone where Oscar's popular outdoor dance floor is located.

In addition to that news, the doors were flung open Thursday afternoon at nearby Out West Trading Company. The latest location for a chain that offers high-quality tourism-related clothing and handcrafted goods is now open on the northeast corner of Palm Canyon and Tahquitz.

  • That storefront is located at one of the busiest intersections in the city. It's a spot that has sat vacant for what seems like forever after a coffee and tea shop vacated the space.
  • It's just a few doors down from a new bookstore that opened the week of Thanksgiving, and within earshot of Oscar's.
But wait: We've been getting a few questions about whether there's an update on the Agua Caliente Cultural Center, located kitty-corner from Oscar's at the intersection of Tahquitz and Indian Canyon. We ran into some tribal officials at a recent event and can tell you there's nothing new to report since we last wrote about the project  earlier this year
  • “I promise we are coming soon, even though I don’t have an actual date for it yet,” Agua Caliente Director of Public Relations Kate Anderson said last March, adding that it could be open in Spring 2023.

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The Roundup

🩸 The potential change to blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men is catching the attention of local residents. (KESQ)

🎥 ‘The Fabelmans’ will receive the Vanguard Award at the Palm Springs International Film Awards. (Variety)

🎅 In the other Palm Springs, police have a Christmas-themed caper on their hands. (WFLX)

Your weekend

Get in the ultimate holiday spirit this weekend by watching the Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Palm Springs. Lighted floats, performance groups, marching bands, giant holiday balloons and much more will all be part of Saturday night's festivities.  

A long tradition: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the event, which began in the early 1990s and has been held almost every year since.

Details: The parade sets off at 5:45 p.m. Beginning at Ramon Road, participants will travel northbound on Palm Canyon Drive to Tachevah Drive. Everything else you need to know about the event can be found online

Holiday Art Party
Tonight | 5 p.m. | Desert Art Center
Shop artwork from more than 100 talented, juried artists in two big galleries and enjoy "celebratory nibbles." The event will feature wall art, ceramics and glass pieces, jewelry and greeting cards. 

Official City Holiday Tree Lighting
Tonight | 5 p.m. | Frances Stevens Park
The Palm Springs tree lighting event will include holiday caroling, free cookies, hot cocoa and activities for children. 

Sounds of the Holidays at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Tonight and beyond | Times vary | Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Holiday choir season kicks off tonight at the tramway. On more select dates through Dec. 11, visitors can listen to holiday favorites performed by different high school choirs.

Friends of the Palm Springs Library Holiday Bazaar
Saturday | 10 a.m. | Palm Springs Public Library
The event will feature classic books, postcards, coffee table books, gift baskets from local retailers and much more.

Palm Springs Vintage Market
Sunday | 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Palm Springs Cultural Center
This December market is the place for the savvy shopper looking for uniquely fabulous gifts for family and friends.

Lesley Zerebny Memorial Softball Tournament
Sunday | 6 p.m. | Big League Dreams
Watch the Palm Springs Police Department take on the Palm Springs Fire Department. The tournament honors fallen officer Lesley Zerebny. Admission is $5 and benefits the firefighters and police officers memorial foundations.

Submit Your Event

And finally...

🏳️‍🌈Palm Springs has once again passed the human rights test with flying colors. The city received a perfect score of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, it was announced Thursday.

What does it mean: The HRC evaluated different U.S. cities of varying sizes on things like laws, policies, and services for LGBTQ+ people.

  • Specifically, analysts looked at whether there are non-discrimination laws for employment and housing and if cities provide trans-inclusive healthcare for their employees and access to services for people living with HIV or AIDS.

  • Check out the full report on Palm Springs here.

Zoom in: The report looked at all 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the country, the five largest cities in each state, the cities that are home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities that have high proportions of same-sex couples, and 98 cities selected by HRC. 

  • Two other valley cities, Cathedral City and Palm Desert, were also among the hundreds of cities evaluated, with Cathedral City also receiving a score of 100.
  • Palm Springs has received a perfect score on the MEI multiple times.

Why it matters: The LGBTQ+ community has suffered devastating attacks this past year, physically but also legislatively. In Palm Springs, this report offers quantitative data showing that the city is going above and beyond to protect our LGTBQ+ residents.

In case you missed it

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🚘 Kendall is planning out which podcasts to listen to during her long drive tomorrow. 

⌨️ Mark is so, so ready to be done hitting refresh on the Registrar of Voters website.

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