By Allen David
The Election Integrity Project, a collection of nuts and dolts who refuse to let the facts get in the way of their paranoid suspicion that the will of America’s voters is being undermined, is preparing to confront this imaginary scourge in the places it poses its statistically emptiest threat—the polling places across the Inland Empire. EIP members will inspect voter rolls, volunteer as poll workers and hang around voting booths sliding their eyes from side to side, self-importantly taking in every bit of corruption that isn’t happening. And make no mistake—it definitely isn’t happening: a national analysis of voting records going back to the year 2000 found only 2,068 alleged instances of fraud and came up with 10 cases of ballots being cast in someone else’s name. Appropriately surnamed EIP member Linda Paine insists voter fraud is a major threat, anyway. “Of course nothing’s been proven—no one’s been there to prove it,” Paine says. “We are confident in California that we have a serious problem here—far more serious than the citizens of California understand it to be.” Paine likewise brushes off the accusation that the group’s subtle harassment actually suppresses voter turnout, referring to it as “a talking point,” then adding: If you say it over and over again, whether it’s true or not, it begins to take root.” Of course, EIP critics counter with the same argument about these self-anointed vigilantes . . . and well-well-well . . . lookee who’s gone and got her feelings hurt—EIP co-founder Ellen Swensen, a resident, rather appropriately, of Rancho Mirage. Swensen says suggestions of ulterior motives are “really sad because actually what we’re doing is protecting every single person’s vote.”
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
With funding for public education—teachers, curriculum, the arts, sports, supplies, transportation, infrastructure—down to a trickle, maybe you’re caught by surprise that Riverside County is again holding its annual Parent and Family Engagement Summit. No? Then how about the fact that it’s being held at the Palm Spring Convention Center? That’s gotta raise an eyebrow. No? Hmmm. Obviously, you majored in public administration—or at least took its entry-level class, Cookie Jar 101—where the first thing everybody learns about allocating tax dollars is to make sure there’s always enough to pay for bullshit. Thus, on Sept. 13, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth M. Young will be welcoming . . . well . . . “parents” and “families” . . . to this famous desert getaway for . . . umm . . . “engagement” and . . . uhhhh . . . not sure about this “summit” thing—maybe it involves a trip up the tramway.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Can’t stop thinking about this Parent and Family Engagement Summit, which doesn’t so much fill me with anger as leave me drained from shock. Not because people who are well-educated, well-regarded and well-paid to educate our children would abuse all of that to indulge themselves with a party out in Palm Springs. That’s disgusting, but what isn’t? The shock is that these people would go to such lengths to throw a party that’s destined to be absolutely no fun. I mean, the fun was chased away the moment they named the thing the Parent and Family Engagement Summit. Look at the itinerary: a keynote speech by somebody named Michele Borba, who the program bills as an “internationally recognized” child expert and author, but . . . have you ever heard of her? Then there’s a buffet of workshops, more than a dozen of them, with subjects that range from the traumatic (bullying) to the torturous (teaching math at home). Meanwhile, a whole bunch of people tell one another how wonderful they are—which they all find hard to believe . . . I mean, they’re not stupid . . . and thus hand out plaques and trophies as something like proof. And then, at the end of the day, when it’s all over . . . yeah, see, it’s not. This shit never ends.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
It’s “Tyler Clary Day” in Riverside, so declared by the city in honor of the swimmer who won an Olympic gold medal at the London Games. Everybody celebrated by badmouthing Michael Phelps.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
After spending the season playing themselves into a situation that makes it nearly mathematically impossible to win their division, the Angels begin to play well. But this year makes a decade since manager Mike Scioscia led the team to the 2002 World Series title, and after team owner Arte Moreno laid out googillions to assemble a championship-caliber roster for 2012, you gotta wonder if Scioscia will be back—or go the way of Mickey Hatcher, the scapegoated hitting coach who Scioscia fired last spring.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
The anniversary of ominous.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
The anniversary of whatever this is.