By clicking on the portal below, you can download a PDF of the August 19 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By Carlos Avalos
During the 1990s and into the 2000s, the city of Fontana was plagued with criminal activity. Methamphetamine, PCP, heroin and crack cocaine had a strong hold on the economically challenged parts of the community. Several police officers and community members expressed the opinion that the Fontana Police Department had to be heavy-handed in order to clean up the streets.
This approach, however, had dire consequences for some; specifically for three men who suspiciously died in Fontana police custody in a matter of six months in 2002.
Ismael Banda, David Michael Tyler, and Fermin Rincon died while being taken into custody by the “San Bernardino County Movement Against Street Hoodlums” – Fontana Police’s “SMASH” unit. That the deaths occurred as the consequences of action by the same unit made them both peculiar and more questionable than they might have been otherwise. Reports conflict as to precisely which officers had a hand in those deaths. One persistent report is that at various levels in the action that led to or followed those deaths, the same three officers were involved.
Extensive investigative research, which included speaking with several Fontana Police Department officers who requested anonymity, indicates the deaths of the three men were most likely due to an unjustifiable use of force under the circumstances.
As it turned out, most of the evidence including police reports pertaining to the deaths of these three men was withheld from public view. The Sentinel requested copies of the police reports, medical reports, or anything related to deaths of these men. The Fontana Police Department did not relinquish any of the pertinent documents requested.
Elements within the department report that the three Fontana Police Department officers involved in these deaths consisted of those then of sergeant, corporal, and lieutenant rank – Robert Ramsey, Obie Rodriguez, and Billy Green. According to individuals within the department, Green was actually personally and physically involved in the three deaths while Rodriguez and Ramsey were involved through their administrative roles.
Ramsey, who has since risen to the position of police chief in the department, told the Sentinel, “I would like to clarify that I was not involved in any of the three cited in-custody deaths. While captain Rodriguez and lieutenant Green were cleared of any wrongdoing in the Rincon case, they had no involvement in the Banda and the Tyler incidents.”
Since these deaths, all three officers have moved significantly up the chain of command in the department. As noted, Robert Ramsey is the current chief of police in Fontana.
There have been numerous documented reports of brutality and complaints of excessive force at the hands of Fontana Police Department officers by members of the community and fellow police officers, as well as reprisal against anyone who speaks about it within the police department.
For example, Fontana Police Department officer Chris Burns and corporal Paul Martin were tormented and ostracized for telling the truth about the brutality they witnessed. The two officers have said they witnessed lieutenant Billy Green and his SMASH crew violently beat a citizen. They were ordered by captain Tim Ousely to tell what they had witnessed. When they complied, they were retaliated against.
When Burns and Martin told the truth about the police brutality they witnessed, the internal affairs investigators reported back to Billy Green and his colleagues. Corporal Martin and Officer Burns were labeled as rats. The Fontana Police Department used corporal Martin and officer Burns as examples to show the department what happens when officers break the “code of silence.” Paul Martin, who had qualifications that would have made him eligible to be sergeant, was never promoted above the rank of corporal.
Chris Burns was hazed out of the department and forced to laterally transfer to the Claremont Police Department. The rumor created by the Fontana Police Department that Burns was a turncoat followed him to Claremont. Burns had no other choice but to return to the Fontana Police Department. When Burns did so, the command staff humiliated him by stripping him of his seniority and ranking him below the newest recruit.
This week, Ramsey told the Sentinel, “The allegation of current and former members being retaliated against for reporting brutality perpetrated by their peers is patently false and would never be tolerated by me, or my staff. All allegations of misconduct reported by the public or from within the department, are taken seriously and fully investigated.”
Excessive force and the use of brutal tactics is nothing new to the Fontana Police Department, and their reputation precedes them. Since 2009 there have been 55 cases against the Fontana Police Department concerning use of force. Most of these filed complaints were made by people of minority descent. And since 2005 there have been 14 fatalities involving the Fontana Police Department.
In a lawsuit, Smith v City of Fontana, it is alleged that two Fontana Police Department officers, Larry Smith and Robert Mejia, responded to a domestic disturbance call at the apartment of Ruffus A. Smith, Sr. on May 27, 1982. The two FPD officers encountered Smith in the parking lot and told him to put his hands on his head so they could question him about an alleged kidnapping incident. Mr. Smith attempted to comply, and without provocation one of the officers clenched Ruffus Smith in a chokehold while the other officer brutally kneed Smith in the groin and struck him in the face. Officer Smith then pulled out his revolver and shot Mr. Smith in the back. Ruffus A. Smith Sr. died an hour-and-a-half later.
The court found that Mr. Smith’s family properly stated a Section 1983 Title 42 of the U.S Code under the Civil Rights Act. This provision was enacted as part of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and was originally designed to combat post civil war racial violence. It is ironic that Fontana, which is notoriously known for their KKK image and presence, broke Section 1983 of the U.S Civil Code, which was created for a problem that has not just plagued the Fontana Police Department but the City of Fontana historically. The court found that Mr. Smith’s fourth, fourteenth amendment substantive due process, and fourteenth amendment equal protection rights were violated by the Fontana Police Department.
On January 12, 2005, Olivas v City of Fontana was filed. In February of 2004 Randy Perchez was fatally shot and killed by Officer Richard Guerrero of the Fontana Police Department. Guerrero was conducting a patrol check for reported gang activity in Fontana, during this altercation; Guerrero shot Perchez after a chase and scuffle. Police claimed Perchez and a friend fled from the Olivas home after officers entered the residence looking for gang members. Perchez was shot when he refused to stay on the ground and grabbed for Guerrero’s flashlight. A witness in the suit stated that Perchez went for Guerrero’s flashlight because Perchez was unable to breathe when the officer used the flashlight to apply a chokehold. The city of Fontana ended up paying the family of Perchez one million dollars for the death of their son.
The Sentinel reached out to the Perchez family for comment. Randy’s mother stated her son was not a gang member and only had a minimal juvenile record; he was asthmatic and had a hard time breathing normally, let alone with a flashlight used as a choking device. She also stated that the so-called gang activity that the Fontana Police Department and officer Guerrero were looking for was actually across and down the street from her residence at a house where known gang members lived.
She went on to say that the Fontana Police Department and officer Guerrero falsely identified her son and the house where he was, and is unimpressed with their ability to collect information, their professionalism, ethics, and respect for human life. She said she found it extraordinary that San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said the shooting was unjustified but didn’t prosecute because his office felt there was not enough evidence for a jury to convict the officer.
With regard to Ismael Banda, Fermin Rincon, and David Michael Tyler, the Fontana Police Department stated that on February 5, 2002, Ismael Banda was arrested by police while driving his motor vehicle for allegedly failing to stop at a stop sign; he was taken into custody and died in jail of a ruptured spleen. David Michael Tyler died on March 14, 2002. The Fontana Police Department was called to his home where officers were asked to remove him from a truck that he was sleeping in; Tyler resisted, fought with police and was subdued. He later died of asphyxiation. On June 27, 2002, Fermin Rincon ran from police when they tried to question him; allegedly Rincon was struck with a baton and was tasered.
According to police chief Ramsey, “The Fontana Police Department experienced three in-custody deaths in an approximate six-month span, around 14 years ago. All three incidents were fully investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, then the case was reviewed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, and the department employees were cleared of any wrongdoing. Under the leadership of then-chief Frank Scialdone, the department proactively hired outside force experts to conduct a holistic review of the training, policies, and procedures associated with use-of-force. This review resulted in a comprehensive 240-page report which included 31 suggestions for improvement. While many of the suggestions were implemented and improvements were made, the department has had additional in-custody deaths since then. We are continuously reviewing our training regarding the handling of suspects and arrestees to prevent these incidents from occurring. Despite following proper procedures, some of these deaths will occur regardless of the best efforts of law enforcement because they can be caused by factors beyond our control.”
Credible sources within the department report an extremely different chain of events surrounding these deaths.
Current Fontana Police Department officer Scott Snyder, who was a paramedic on duty the day that Fermin Rincon died, told several people at the Fontana Police Department he did not believe Fermin Rincon died of natural causes, but of trauma to his trachea. He indicated that when he arrived on scene the night of the incident he tried to insert a trachea tube down Rincon’s throat, but his wind pipe had been crushed severely.
This type of injury is commonly sustained by a powerful chokehold, such as the carotid choke, a deadly force tactic which is taught to officers. When a copy of the autopsy was requested by the Rincon family’s attorney, the biopsy of Rincon’s throat mysteriously disappeared.
Several Fontana officers also reported that they were working within sight or earshot of the front desk when Rincon’s family came into the station and directly accused lieutenant Billy Green of promising to kill Rincon if he did not turn himself in. One officer said that he distinctly remembered Rincon’s sister screaming, “Billy Green said he was going to kill my brother and he did.”
Many Fontana Police Department officers believe Ismael Banda’s spleen in did not just rupture while in the custody of the Fontana Police Department but was in fact ruptured by being beaten severely. David Michael Tyler died from an obliterated larynx.
Fontana City officials paid to have an investigation conducted by former Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Commander Ron McCarthy and former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department lieutenant and SWAT commander John Kolman. These two tactical police squad experts delivered a report that stated the force used was within training and policy guidelines and that the deaths of Ismael Banda, David Michael Tyler, and Fermin Rincon were justifiable homicides.
Chief Ramsey disputed that after he, Rodriguez and Green were re-assigned following the Banda, Tyler and Rincon deaths, there were no further in-custody deaths involving the Fontana Police Department. “The department has had additional in-custody deaths since then,” Ramsey told the Sentinel.
Ramsey did acknowledge Rodriquez and Green took on different assignments after the Banda, Tyler and Rincon deaths, but he characterized these changes as promotions.
“Captain Rodriguez and lieutenant Green were both promoted while assigned to the SMASH Unit and assigned to patrol, which is entirely consistent with organizational practice,” Ramsey said. “As for me, I was never assigned to the SMASH Unit, and never worked in the SMASH Unit with Green or Rodriguez.”
There has never been a formal inquisition or investigation by the FBI or Department of Justice with regard to the Banda, Tyler and Rincon deaths. Elements within the Fontana Police Department have told the Sentinel that if an outside agency like the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the FBI were to look into these deaths along with dozens of others, there are Fontana Police Department officer willing to offer evidence and testify against members of their own department. There does not appear to have been an internal departmental investigation into allegations that Robert Ramsey and Obie Rodriguez protected Green or otherwise hid evidence with regard to the in-custody deaths.
Despite the department’s official assertions that the Banda, Tyler and Rincon deaths were justifiable homicides that in no way tarnish the department or implicate its officers in the use of brutality, uncertainty yet hovers over that chapter of the department’s history and the legacy it represents, even up to the present.
Longtime Fontana resident and political activist Oscar Zambrano told the Sentinel, “In order for us to find out what really happened, the Fontana Police Department needs to release all police and medical reports about these cases and three men. Witnesses need to be re-questioned along with the three officers. Most importantly, these three deaths need to be reopened and evaluated with honesty and integrity to find the truth about the events that took place. The deaths of these three men need to be carefully looked at without Fontana Police Department administrative leaders trying to cover up the truth.”
A more reliable determination of what actually occurred might have been had, some Fontana police officers have told the Sentinel, if Rodriguez and Ramsey in their administrative roles did not thwart the investigation and condone threats that prevented the truth about what really happened to three men from surfacing. The clean bill of health given to the department hinged upon the findings, not of an independent fact-finding body, but rather on the findings of Kolman and McCarthy, two paid consultants hired by the City of Fontana and its police department, both of which entities had potential liability in the millions of dollars with regard to those deaths. Indeed, the actual contents of the analyses of the deaths and their attendant reports was never released by the Fontana Police Department because at that time they were labeled as pertinent to an ongoing investigation.
“It is evident that there is and has been something terribly wrong and sinister in the city of Fontana and its police department, including its policies, tactics, nepotistic culture and integrity,” said Zambrano, a former 47th District Democratic delegate. “People’s constitutional rights are being trampled on, police officers are blatantly breaking the law; and this immoral, unethical, and corrupt behavior by the Fontana Police Department is going unchecked. There is no telling how many people have been brutally murdered, harassed, scared, falsely imprisoned, and how many lives have been forever negatively rocked to their core because of the Fontana Police Department. Putting these three deaths aside, the Fontana Police Department needs to be looked into from top to bottom from the past until the present for an array of issues. These three deaths are only the tip of the iceberg.”
Ramsey disputed that.
“The Fontana Police Department utilizes properly vectored force,” the police chief insisted. “However, I am aware of the reality officers under my employ are humans and can make mistakes. I promote an environment of accountability, which is fostered throughout the ranks of the Fontana Police Department. When a mistake is made, we will own up to it, ensure proper discipline is administered, provide training to mitigate recurrences, and in those severe instances, work to remove individuals from the organization incapable of upholding our obligation to the community. I ask for the public’s support in this endeavor by bringing questionable behaviors of officers to the attention of my supervisory staff.”
By Mark Gutglueck
The California Supreme Court has rejected what is almost certainly the last stab by the defense in the Colonies Lawsuit Settlement Public Corruption Prosecution to have the indictment dismissed before the interminably delayed case goes to trial in October.
More than a dozen requests have been made to set aside some or the totality of charges against the defendants in what is the most energetic and highly publicized bribery prosecution in San Bernardino County history. Though a few of the charges in the matter have been thrown out, all previous motions to have the entire indictment dismissed have been uniformly rejected. On Wednesday, August 17, the Supreme Court slammed the final door on the latest round of such motions, which originated early this year as a motion before San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael Smith to have the indictment thrown out on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct.
That motion, filed by Stephen Larson, the attorney for the lead defendant in the case, Jeff Burum, laid out in detail why Larson, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. District Judge, believes the prosecution, consisting of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office working in tandem withheld exculpatory evidence from the indicting grand jury in April 2011.
That grand jury indicted Burum, former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane, former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, who was the chief of staff of former San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, in April 2011.
Burum was charged with acting in concert with Erwin, who in addition to having wangled the assistant assessor’s post was previously the president of the county sheriff’s deputies union, to first extort and then bribe former San Bernardino County supervisors Bill Postmus and Paul Biane to approve a $102 million settlement of a lawsuit Burum’s company, the Colonies Partners, brought against the county and its flood control district over drainage issues at the Colonies at San Antonio residential and Colonies Crossroads commercial subdivisions in northeast Upland. Burum is also accused of bribing Kirk to convince his then-boss, Ovitt, to join with Postmus and Biane in the November 2006 vote of the board of supervisors to approve, by a 3-2 margin, the $102 million settlement.
Prosecutors allege that Burum and Erwin, coordinating with public relations consultant Patrick O’Reilly, prepared but ultimately withheld electioneering material that exposed Postmus, then the chairman of the board of supervisors and the chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, as a drug-addicted and closeted homosexual and Biane as a spendthrift who was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Ultimately, after the vote to approve the settlement was made, prosecutors maintain, Burum provided Postmus, Biane, Kirk and Erwin each with $100,000 in bribes that were disguised as contributions to political action committees the four controlled. Kirk was allegedly paid for influencing Ovitt to support the settlement.
Postmus has already pleaded guilty to 14 separate felony charges relating to corruption in public office, including taking the bribes offered to him by Burum.
Erwin, Biane and Kirk were indicted along with Burum in 2011.
After Postmus pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against him in March 2011, he was brought before the grand jury as the star witness. The grand jury indicted the four in May 2011. There were other witnesses before the grand jury, including two of the county’s in-house lawyers, county counsel Ruth Stringer and deputy county counsel Mitch Norton. Before the grand jurors, Stringer and Norton, who had defended the county in the suit brought against it by the Colonies Partners, responded to questions indicating that they believed the $102 million settlement was excessive and unreasonable.
In the suit, the Colonies Partners had maintained that the county flood control district, which constructed a two-and-one-half mile long storm drain for the City of Upland which conveyed water east from the northwest corner of the city and then channeled that water onto the Colonies Partners’ property, had interfered with the company’s development plans for the property, rendered some of the property undevelopable and cost the company money because it was unable to complete and market homes on the property subjected to the water overflow.
The county contended that the county flood control district had flood control easements on the property, established in 1933, 1934 and 1939, that allowed the water to be vectored there.
After the settlement was reached in 2006, the county sought to recover from its insurers a portion of the $102 million the county had paid out to the Colonies Partners. One of the county’s insurance carriers balked at making good on the indemnification and the county’s lawyers, including Stringer and Norton, changed their position in an effort to obtain the insurance settlement, filing documents to the effect that the $102 million settlement was a justifiable one.
In his motion before Judge Smith heard in January, Larson asserted that prosecutors violated Burum’s rights when they made a highly selective presentation of evidence relating to the lawsuit and the settlement calculated to persuade the grand jurors of Burum’s guilt. In so doing, according to Larson, the prosecutors failed to inform the grand jurors about countervailing information that suggested Burum was innocent.
In January, Larson cited Norton and Stringer’s court filings and other statements in the effort to recover money from the county’s insurer in which they asserted the $102 million settlement was a reasonable one. Larson asked Smith to dismiss the indictment because, he argued, the prosecution team’s failure to elicit from either Stringer or Norton that they had grown to accept that the $102 million settlement was reasonable violated Burum’s rights to due process. Larson’s argument was essentially that the failure of the prosecutors to inform the grand jurors of evidence that contradicted their narrative of Burum’s guilt was de facto withholding of evidence, tantamount to the presentation of false testimony. Larson maintained that if the grand jurors had been informed that Stringer and Norton reversed their position with regard to the unreasonableness of the settlement, they would not have voted to indict the defendants.
Ultimately, however, Judge Smith, while expressing a level of discomfort with the prosecutors not eliciting from Norton and Stringer testimony with regard to how they had shifted their position once they were focused on recovering the county money, ruled this did not rise to the level of actual prosecutorial misconduct.
Larson filed an appeal of Judge Smith’s ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside on February 22, asking that Smith’s finding be overturned and the indictment in its totality be dismissed. On June 8, the Fourth District Court of Appeals denied that appeal. Undeterred, Larson petitioned the Supreme Court on June 21 to review the decision by the Fourth District Court of Appeals. On Wednesday August 17, the California Supreme Court denied Larson’s petition.
It now appears that the matter will go to trial on October 17, more than a year after what Larson and the attorney for Erwin, Raj Maline, had previously asserted was the deadline for beginning a trial against their defendants, based on their constitutional rights to a speedy trial and their having previously refused to waive any further delays. Because of delays brought on by numerous appeals filed by both the prosecution and the defense as well as Biane and Kirk’s previous substitutions of their attorneys, together with health issues besetting one of those lawyers, Mark McDonald, the trial has been postponed and delayed continuously to the October 17 start date.
After a several-years-long buildup and the accrual of the opposition of scores of nearby landowners and residents, the Highland City Council on August 11 approved the Harmony residential project, which will place more than 3,600 homes on 1,650 acres below and to the side of the headwaters of the Santa Ana River.
The Lewis Operating Company was the project proponent for the Harmony project undertaking, which is to be built southeast of the Seven Oaks Dam, between the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek on the east edge of Highland and continuing through to Mentone. The new development, covering approximately 658 acres, calls for the construction of 3,632 new housing units, as well as a neighborhood commercial center covering close to six acres, an additional 16 acres set aside for neighborhood commercial uses, community public facilities that include the development of one elementary school, a 1.5-acre site set aside for the development of a new fire station after 1,000 homes are built and water reservoirs, a water treatment facility, a sewage treatment plant, and a pump station.
The 3,632 homes will be confined to 658 acres of the land. The commercial and public infrastructure and utility uses, including the school site and wastewater and water treatment facilities will monopolize around 100 acres. Some 1,900 acres will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, as open space.
Homes will range from 1,500 square feet to estate homes of almost 4,000 square feet.
Nearby residents, including those within the Highland City Limits and those outside the city, have not embraced the project. Beyond objecting to the development of what is rustic property at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains and the headwaters of the Santa Ana River, other specific issues were raised by local residents who contested the project proposal, including ones pertaining to traffic circulation, the burden 3,632 homes will place on the school system, water use, the reliance on a Mello-Roos financing arrangement for the infrastructure on the project that will impose on the future owners of the homes in the project assessment above and beyond the property taxes they will be obliged to pay, the consideration that some of the project property was taken from the previous owner by eminent domain, and public safety concerns stemming from the project’s location, its vulnerability to flooding and fire and inadequate routes of escape in an emergency.
Two groups, the Greenspot Residents Association and the Alliance for Mill Creek, registered opposition to the project. The association retained the San Francisco-based law firm of Shute, Mihally & Weinberger in attempting to challenge the project approval, contending there are significant flaws in the city’s resolutions proposed for the approval of various aspects of the Harmony Specific Plan and that the city’s environmental impact report for the project has been inadequate. According to opponents, the environmental review signed off on by the city council did not meet the standards set forth in the California Environmental Quality Act. They maintain the environmental review made false findings with regard to potential flood water generation, the provision of public services to match the increase in housing, and substantial environmental damage in the form of injury to fish and wildlife or their habitat. In accepting the report, the council accepted the report’s findings that the impacts from the development will be less than significant.
According to the association, those findings are not supported by the environmental impact documents and do not establish that the impacts are in fact insignificant, and the impact report and the findings combined do not meet legal requirements in terms of specifying the problems or outlining how they are to be mitigated.
With regard to issues of public safety, project opponents pointed out that the project is to be built in an alluvial fan which has proven to be one of the most flood prone areas in San Bernardino County, with past floods having deposited sediment on the land in question that was 20 feet deep. Though the Seven Oaks Dam by its design is projected to be able to manage 45 percent of the flood risk from the Santa Ana River at that location, in a flash flood circumstance the project area would be inundated with a level of water that would overwhelm the yet-to-be-built housing. At the southern border of the Harmony project site is a levy built after the 1938 Flood that was reinforced in the 1990s, when it was made nine feet taller to be able to withstand a 100-year flood. The levy stands ten feet higher than where homes and commercial uses will be constructed. With the construction, including roads and other paving, the present level of drainage will be compromised, dropping the project area far below the 100-year flood plain in that area, according to project critics.
The term 100-year flood pertains to the most intensive water massing that is statistically likely to occur during a century.
The area, according to project opponents, lying at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, is also vulnerable to wildfire. As the project was proposed and approved, there is but a single route of ingress and egress to the project site, with a tight choke point. This would give residents in the area an inadequate route of escape from the area in the face of a disaster, putting many of the residents who will occupy the project’s 3,632 homes in critical danger, those opposing the project say.
While the development plan calls for a small commercial nub near the fish hatchery at the farthest eastern extension of the project and a stub of a road dead-ending at that point, the project does not include a bridge across the Santa Ana River, with Lewis having refused to pay for bridge construction. Project proponents characterized the city’s willingness to allow the project to proceed without the construction of that bridge as both irresponsible and a further violation of the California Environmental Quality Act requirements.
In general, residents are upset that the historic zoning of the property in the environs of the dam – equestrian-residential or estate residential calling for homes to be built on several acre lots – was improperly and inappropriately converted into a land use designation that will permit a project featuring a density of over five-and-a-half units per acre on 658 acres. This conversion, eliminating rural open space and agricultural land, is a violation of the city’s general plan, they contend.
None of the city council’s members live in or near the area slated for development, which is referred to as the “Greenspot.” The city’s at-large electoral system had been challenged in the court system. That challenge succeeded and the city is now under a court mandate to dissolve its current at-large voting system and put in place a ward system that will ensure the Greenspot will have a representative on the council by next year. Many Greenspot residents feel the city council rushed the approval process for the project before a new council can replace the current members.
Also upsetting opponents of the project is that Lewis will not pay upfront for much of the infrastructure needed to accommodate the development. Rather, Lewis induced the city to create a community facilities district that will be supported through a Mello-Roos financing scheme. The Mello-Roos arrangement will impose on future homeowners assessments beyond their normal property taxes, likely in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $7,000 per year to pay for that needed infrastructure. Project opponents say this is an illegitimate way of transferring the costs of the development from Lewis to unsuspecting future property owners.
The project is to be built on property owned by the Orange County Flood Control District. Orange County took control of the land years ago as a means of preventing entities in San Bernardino County from diverting the water in the Santa Ana River. The Santa Ana River winds through San Bernardino County, Riverside County and then through Orange County before reaching its ultimate terminus in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the land Orange County obtained, including a portion of the property now purposed to be developed by Lewis as the Harmony project, was obtained from private landowners through the San Bernardino County Flood Control District’s use of its eminent domain authority in 1997.
. Since the completion of the Seven Oaks Dam, Orange County now considers the land surplus and has partnered with Lewis Operating Company to have the property developed.
In response to the opponents and critics of the project, city staff, led by city manager Joseph Hughes, public works director Ernest Wong, community development director Lawrence Mainez and assistant community development director Kim Stater, generated a report, essentially justifying staff’s collective recommendation to the council to approve the project. In that response, at least some of the opponents’ points were addressed.
The suspension of the general plan and the previously enacted zoning codes was okay, the report suggested, because a development agreement with Lewis was being put in place to supersede those restrictions. In the words of the staff report, the agreement “provides certainty to the developer that their project will be isolated from changes in the jurisdiction’s zoning laws over the course of development, but it also contracts the developer to provide benefits to the city, such as public improvements, public open space, or monetary payments into funds, such as ‘in lieu’ fees.”
With regard to meeting the proper development and safety standards for the project, the report maintains that a draft environmental impact report was circulated amongst nearby property owners between March 21, 2014 and May 5, 2014 and after 50 comments from the public were received it was amended and re-circulated once more, this time with changes to the air quality, biological resources and traffic issues. A final environmental impact report was completed and made available to the public on March 17, 2016.
While the staff report conceded that “In some instances, mitigation measures for the project could not reduce the level of impact to less than significant [in the areas of] air quality, transportation and traffic,” the city council had the legal authority “to determine whether the benefits of the project outweigh significant environmental effects” and that the council was entitled through its authority to “adopt a statement of overriding considerations stating the reasons supporting the approval notwithstanding the significant environmental effects.”
The staff report said that “Developer Lewis and Orange County hosted numerous meetings and made themselves available at Highland events to answer questions about the project. They staffed information booths at the Citrus Harvest Festival each year since 2012 and Discover Highland Night since 2011.”
The staff report continues, “The City of Highland annexed the Seven Oaks Community Policy Area in 2000 with the intention of having a positive influence upon its development and preserving the quality of life of existing residents. The general plan polices adopted for the Seven Oaks Area recommend that future development be mindful that 1) local and regional trail systems are maintained and planned for, 2) open space linkages within the site connect to adjacent open spaces, 3) close coordination with the City of Redlands and County of San Bernardino occurs, 4) sufficient access supports future development, 5) it tensure adequate public services and facilities, 6) provide habitat corridor linkages and habitat conservation planning, 7) implement development guidance via a specific plan or similar device, 8) hillside development should limit alteration of natural landforms, 9) limit grading to the amount necessary to provide stable areas, 10) minimize import and export of material during grading, 11) consider cluster development in connection with recreational amenities, and 12) maintain the Greenspot Agricultural Preserve until such time that development occurs. Staff is confident that each of the policies has been achieved with the Harmony Specific Plan and related entitlements.”
The report states that “During the course of processing the Harmony Specific Plan, staff heard many concerns. Most frequently they related to traffic, environmentally sensitive habitats, wildlife corridors, schools water and sewer services. These are discussed in detail within the finale environmental report.” According to the report, sensitive status, special status or otherwise present flora and fauna included riversidean alluvial fan sage scrub, southern cottonwood, will riparian forest and southern will scrub, mulefat scrub, the kangaroo rat, the Santa Ana Sucker Fish ( in Mill Creek and the Santa Ana River), woolystar, white-bracted spineflower, Parry’s spineflower, Plummer’s mariposa lily, Cooper’s hawk, white-tailed kike, loggerhead shrike, yellow warbler, yellow-breasted chat, southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell’s vireo, Los Angeles pocket mouse, northwestern San Diego pocket mouse, San desert woodrat, and black-tailed jackrabbit. “The project was designed to minimize impacts to sensitive species and habitat that supports them,” the report states. “The areas around Morton Creek and Deep Creek will be maintained as natural open space. A total of 582 acres of the site will be devoted to natural open space. The project proposes a variable width corridor from a minimum of 900 feet to a maximum of 1,800 feet. It will be located at the project’s eastern boundary and will continue to support the wildlife movement between the National Forest and Crafton Hills. It will also provide connectivity between the eastern end of the Santa Ana regional corridor along the northern boundary of the project, and down to Mill Creek.”
With regard to the impact of the project on local schools, the report states, “The Harmony project is located within the Redlands Unified School District. As the boundaries are drawn today, students from Harmony would attend Mentone elementary School, Moore Middle School and Redlands East Valley High School. Given the established rates, Harmony would generate 872 elementary, 436, middle and 581 high school students at build out. There is available capacity at Mentone for an additional 120 students and also at Cram for an additional 63 if necessary. There is capacity at Redlands East Valley for an additional 392 students. Moore Middle School is over capacity by approximately 58 students. The Redlands Unified School District is currently planning to build a new middle school in Loma Linda. It is the city’s understanding that in the event a school meets its capacity, the district may address it in a number of ways.”
Furthermore, according to the report, “Water and sewer service is provided by the East Valley Water District. The East Valley Water district has provided a ‘will serve’ letter for the project. East Valley Water District has indicated that they have sufficient water supply to service the project now and in the future. San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District currently plans to construct a wastewater treatment plant within the City of Highland which would have the capacity to service Harmony.”
The staff report states that “The Harmony Specific Plan has identified a site for a city fire station, located adjacent to the proposed community park. The developer has agreed to construct the new city fire station for the city with appropriate reimbursement as outlined in the agreement, inclusive of necessary furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
With regard to the imposition of the Mello-Roos arrangement and concern that the use of community facilities districts as a tool to help finance infrastructure may be a burden on the eventual homebuyers in the Harmony project, the staff report stated, “Staff agrees that local governments need to exercise caution in their use of Mello-Roos financing, as land-backed securities are inherently risky and may pose an excessive burden on taxpayers when coupled with other taxes and assessments. The proposed Harmony Development Agreement includes provisions for the city and developer to cooperate in the establishment of one or more community facilities districts pursuant to the Community Facility District Act. That being the case, a formal application and study is required to determine the actual cost and eligible facilities for a proposed community facilities district. Furthermore, a detailed community facilities district study cannot be initiated until a project is approved, such as a specific plan or master tract map which will be used to determine the cost of eligible infrastructure improvements to be included in the community facilities district. The city council finance subcommittee will review any proposal to establish a community facilities district with final approval made by the full city council.”
The city further referenced a 1991 publication of the California Debt Advisory commission, which at that time was chaired by then- state treasurer Kathleen Brown, titled “Guidelines For Mello-Roos Financing.”
The city made no defense of the use of eminent domain 19 years ago to put the property into the hands of Orange County, which has at this point forsaken public use of the property and is participating in profiting from the development by its sale of the land.
According to the staff report, “The proposed Harmony Development Agreement was negotiated in good faith at arms-length and scrutinized by the attorneys from the City of Highland, the Orange County Flood Control District, and LCD Greenspot, LLC to ensure compliance with the California Government Code and to ensure the project was a public benefit consistent with the city’s general plan and to ensure the city was not relinquishing its police powers.”
During the city council hearing on August 11, which was a specially called one to deal exclusively with the Harmony project, Patrick Loy, regional project manager for the Lewis Operating Corporation, gave an overview of the project to the council. The council did some relatively minor tweaking to the project, including moving the planned fire station to a more central location in the project, requiring that there be adequate fire protection before any three-story structures are built, eliminating campgrounds adjacent to wildlife corridors, requiring security lighting in line with requirements of the Highland Building and Safety Code, disallowing the construction of carports and instead insisting on garages, and calling for walls and rails to discourage use by skateboarders.
Mayor Larry McCallon precluded the public from participating in the hearing, asserting such testimony had already been offered at the June council meeting. He did, however, allow the Lewis Operating Company to make its pitch. Upon the conclusion of the presentation, the council held its brief discussion and then adopted the environmental impact report, amendments to the general plan, approved the zone change, adopted the specific plan, approved of the development agreement, and approved the subdivision of the property.
CAJON—The Summit Inn, the landmark at the top of the Cajon Pass established by Burt Riley in 1952 that until early this week remained as the High Desert’s most visible link connecting the Third Millennium back to the Twentieth Century and the heyday of Route 66, burned to the ground Tuesday, a total loss as a consequence of the 2016 Blue Cut Fire.
Both the restaurant and the eight room hotel behind it caught fire some time after 6 p.m. August 16. Both structures were fully engulfed in flames by 7:40 p.m.
The destructive fire came slightly more than a month-and-a-half after C.A. Stevens, who had owned the Summit Inn since 1966, sold it to the Recinos Family.
The 2016 Bluecut Fire, which raged along the I-15 corridor, as of press time this morning had consumed 37,200 acres at press time and was 26 percent contained, and at one point had forced the evacuation of an estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 Victor Valley residents. It is a replay of the 2002 Blue Cut Fire, which lasted from June 16, 2002 to June 22, 2002.
The Chevron gas station next to the Summit Inn fared somewhat better than the nearby by structures.
Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency at 8:30 p.m. on August 16 when the massive wildfire was at zero percent containment.
The destruction of the Summit Inn represents the loss of an iconic way station on Old Route 66.
C.A. Stevens, who was an independent operator of Standard/Chevron service stations, purchased the property upon which the Summit Inn is located, which included an existing filling station, from its original owner, Burt Riley, on October 13, 1966 for $335,000. The purchase included the restaurant and an adjacent eight-room motel.
Stevens’ initial interest in the property did not extend to the restaurant or hotel, but he took on both because the location of the gas station was a good one. He maintained the hotel and restaurant operations out of economic necessity.
From Riley, Stevens inherited as an employee Hilda Fish, the manager of the restaurant. Fish essentially operated the restaurant for Stevens for the next 37 years. Since Fish’s departure, two other employees, Joanie Blackburn and Michelle Ranck, both trained by Fish, took over responsibility for the operation.
Stevens simultaneously grew into something of a political figure. In the 1970s, he was appointed to the county’s local service district agency board, which was affiliated at that time with Phelan. From that position he oversaw functions relating to water provision to the rural area in the area just north of the summit. To some extent, Steven’s was responsible for separating the area east of the 15 Freeway from the property west of the freeway and designating it as Oak Hills, which was given its own zip code – 92344. There was a time when that area was looking to maintain its own identity and there was small talk about Oak Hills incorporating as a city. It has since been subsumed by Hesperia.
Stevens has also been a steady contributor to politicians’ political funds over the years.
The board members sent out a questionnaire to residents asking for suggestions and received dozens of responses.
Stevens closed the motel more than two decades ago. The restaurant, however, found a niche, and was known for featuring ostrich burgers. When Denny’s in 1994 tendered an offer for the restaurant, Stevens resisted and the landmark has remained as one untainted by national corporate affiliation, except, of course, for the Chevron gas station.
Stevens, now 84, sold the restaurant, the long-shuttered motel, a business office and the Summit Station Antique Shop at an approximate price of $1 million to Otto Recinos. Recinos, with his mother, Annabella Recinos and his sister, Katherine Juarez operates the Grand Pines Cabins in Wrightwood. The Recinos Family intended to reopen the motel and keep the museum and restaurant in place, continuing to employ the current staff of waitresses and cooks. The restaurant was to be augmented with an outdoor barbecue grill, featuring ribs.
Recinos, who was scheduled to meet with his insurance adjuster today, said he was contemplating rebuilding the Summit Inn from scratch.
A cultural and generational gulf in the City of Gracious living was in clear evidence at Upland’s Carnegie Library on August 17.
Playing to an extremely hostile crowd, former Upland City Manager Stephen Dunn on Wednesday gamely sought to convince a key cross section of the community that the era of strict prohibition of marijuana is an anachronistic relic of an era gone by. He asserted that permitting the sale of what is purported to be medical marijuana under a regulated regime will triply benefit the city. He said permitting licensed dispensaries will give the city the tools to rein in a burgeoning black market, eliminate the proliferating illegal dispensaries that are encroaching on city neighborhoods by confining their presence to a relatively compact geographical area in what has become the city’s red light district and providing the city with revenue in the form of what has been variously represented to be a tax or a franchise fee.
Dunn is one of a relative handful of current or former civic leaders in California intrepidly seeking to convince an entrenched and powerful strata of the population that efforts to maintain an across-the-board ban on cannabis is a vestige of a mindset that has been overtaken by events and the march of societal change. Dunn’s message was that a new ethos is upon Upland and California in general, such that attempts to cling to the standards of the past is counterproductive to the underlying principles and goals of those so adamant on maintaining the status quo. Dunn asserted that the city and its residents had to accept “the new reality” or consign themselves to waging a battle they could not possibly win.
Apparent to neutral observers in the room was that the vast number of those in attendance – those adamantly opposed to the liberalization of marijuana laws – shared little or no common ground with Dunn in his perception of the nature of the substance at issue – marijuana. While Dunn perceives cannabis as a relatively benign intoxicant that has found currency with what is undeniably a critical mass of the California population, most in the crowd, it seemed, saw no real distinction between marijuana and other street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. And though one of Dunn’s precepts was that social, political, legal and practical reality dictates that some middle ground be found to accommodate the social trend at large not only in Upland but up and down the state, the vast majority of those present at the Carnegie Library on Wednesday evening evinced no willingness to back off on holding the status quo line and maintaining an official stance that prohibits sale and distribution of the drug, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that those restrictions are porous at best, and the acknowledgement of government officials that enforcement is non-existent or ineffectual.
In scheduling the presentation, Dunn had hoped to attract a balance of residents concerned enough about the failure of the city’s current approach and the expense it entails to have them undertake an openminded consideration of his proposed response. Indeed, Dunn and his organizations, regulateupland.com and Californians For Responsible Government, paid the city a $150 rental fee to use the library for the meeting. He mailed numerous fliers to attract people to the meeting. Upon learning of the meeting, however, prime movers in Upland’s anti-marijuana movement rallied, alerting others of like mind to attend Dunn’s presentation. Based upon the body language of the 150-plus crowd that showed up, well over 90 percent of those there were entirely indisposed to Dunn’s message.
Dunn began his presentation with the assertion that a new era is at hand in which marijuana use is moving into the mainstream and a thriving black market to serve the appetite of those using the drug has established itself in Upland.
“Upland is swamped with illegal marijuana,” Dunn asserted. “Why are criminals free to profit?” he asked. Because he said “enforcement has failed.” The city, beset with “a budget stretched thin,” he said, does not have the financial resources to carry out vigorous enforcement of the ban it has in place. As a consequence, he said, there are “eleven illegal storefronts” that are selling marijuana “near schools and homes with no control, no oversight and untaxed profits.”
He noted that the eleven storefronts he referenced were merely the ones that were advertising their presence. There were several others, he said, operating more discretely.
“Criminals free to profit,” he said, because “federal & county attorneys won’t prosecute and Upland has only civil penalties & fines” to combat the proliferation of dispensaries. The city’s civil action against the “dispensaries tie up the courts,” he said. “This is expensive, failed enforcement. Millions of tax dollars are wasted.”
He said that while he was city manager, the city followed a hard line against those who attempted to purvey the drug, with only limited expense. “The contract lawyers cost the city millions,” he said, and quantified the cost of the effort as running to “$100,000 per enforcement.” The city overall, during his three-year tenure as city manager, spent $1.4 million in those efforts, which he said proved ultimately quixotic because “When we would get a dispensary closed at one location, it would reopen at another.”
At this point, Dunn said, “The city faces a budget crisis,” and he referenced an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin report that in a “best-case scenario, the city could be in a deficit in two years.”
It was time, Dunn reasoned, for the city to take “an alternative approach” that such cities as San Diego and San Jose had embraced. The strategy would be, Dunn said, to permit a limited number of dispensaries to be licensed and allowed to function under strict regulations which would include the city taxing the sales. This would allow, he said, the city to tap into a heretofore unavailable revenue stream, sidestep the looming deficit and simultaneously generate money to enforce the sensible regulations of the marijuana clinics.
Even before he completed his presentation, however, Dunn was set upon by many of those in attendance.
Clearly, few if any accepted Dunn’s premise that tolerating the use of or sale of marijuana in the city was reasonable. The crowd evidenced an outright philosophical rejection of Dunn’s position that current society must come to terms with the actuality of widespread use and availability of the substance, though he did score at least one debating point by asking for a show of hands as to whether any one there disputed his assertion that the drug could be purchased easily in the city by anyone, including teenagers. No one raised a hand in response to the question.
But Dunn found himself hamstrung in having to advocate for the medical marijuana clinic permitting initiative currently on the ballot, one that was sponsored by strip club owner Randy Welty, which will allow three clinics to operate along Foothill Boulevard at the city’s western extreme between Airport Drive and Dewey Way, proximate to the city limits and the San Bernardino County/Los Angeles County border. In recent years, the span of Old Route 66 has become dotted with a host of businesses dealing in illicit products and services, including marijuana dispensaries and brothels in the guise of massage parlors. Welty owns or controls property along that span of road, as does the Cable Family, which currently employs Dunn as the manager at Cable Airport. Dunn, not very successfully, had to fend off counter-assertions from the crowd that the pending marijuana dispensary permitting initiative was drafted by Welty to meet his own selfish designs and would confer upon Welty a monopoly that would need to be enforced by the city. Rather puerilely, Dunn argued that the passage of the initiative would not lead to an actual monopoly, since there would be two other dispensary operators beside Welty. This led to insinuations from the crowd that Dunn and the Cable Family had some level of financial interest in promoting the initiative, since it would lead to the Cable Family establishing a dispensary on their property along Foothill. Dunn disputed that suggestion, implying though not directly stating that the Cable Family had no such future plans or intent.
When pressed on the flaws within the pending initiative, Dunn sought to turn the tables on those making the point, saying that city had been offered the opportunity in 2014 before Welty’s people began to circulate the initiative petition to provide input with regard to the proposed regulations within the initiative, but had spurned that opportunity.
In one pointed exchange, Dunn was confronted with the assertion that legalizing the sale of marijuana in the city would have the dual effects of making it more easily accessible to minors and compromising the ability of parents to advocate against their children using it on the basis of its illegality. Dunn countered that revenue from the marijuana tax could be used to educate youth to abstain from its use. That triggered a counter-response to the effect that it would be preferable for the drug not to be available at all.
Maxine Curtis in addressing Dunn did not question him as much as she challenged the need for medical marijuana dispensaries altogether. She said those needing the drug for its therapeutic properties could get it in its oral pill formulation – Marinol – at a licensed pharmacy. She said that the State of Colorado had deteriorated after recreational use of marijuana was legalized there.
Tom Mitchell questioned Dunn’s assertion that the initiative would provide for any sort of meaningful regulation at all, asking how Dunn calculated an ordinance that permitted three dispensaries to operate legally could be enforced to prevent unlicensed dispensaries from operating if the city could not at the present time effectively enforce its total ban. To this question, Dunn suggested that the revenue to be generated by means of the $75,000 per year franchise fee at each of the dispensaries – $225,000 annually – could be used to fund the enforcement.
At one point, the forum was on the brink of declining into a round of pointed personal attacks on Dunn himself. After Dunn made reference to the anemic enforcement effort by the city, Rod McAuliffe essentially accused Dunn of being responsible for that lackadaisical enforcement effort. McAuliff asked Dunn if he had, while he was city manager, instructed then-police chief Jeff Mendenhall to have the police department “stand down” in its marijuana dispensary enforcement, implying by the way he worded the question that Dunn had done just that. Dunn disputed McAuliffe’s suggestion.
Albert Pattison, seemingly fed up with the suggestion that the city could convert making marijuana available to those who want to use it into a tax revenue-producing boon, eschewed the microphone being used by most of those present to offer their input or ask questions of Dunn, and instead inveighed, in his loud baritone that needed no amplification, that many families in Upland, including his own, had been damaged by the scourge of drug addiction and that neither he nor those he is personally in league with would idly accept having marijuana sales condoned by the passage of the pending initiative.
Dunn, who has two more such forums on tap for later this year, privately told the Sentinel he did not believe he obtained the results he had hoped to achieve with the informational meeting. He implied, however, that the true test of the community’s judgment with regard to the wisdom of putting in place a regime to regulate and tax the scores of millions of dollars in medical marijuana being sold in the city will come with the balloting in November in which the entirety of the city’s electorate will weigh in rather than the energetic, passionate and well-meaning minority of the city’s residents who confronted him this week.
The full transfer of Ontario International Airport to the City of Ontario will be delayed until this fall. Very likely, the changeover from the current arrangement by which Los Angeles controls the airport will come on November 1.
Ontario Airport had fewer than 200,000 passengers pass through its gates in 1967, at which time it entered into a joint operating agreement with Los Angeles. Under Los Angeles’ stewardship, ridership at the airport grew exponentially, as the larger city was able to use its control over gate positions at Los Angeles International Airport to induce more and more airlines to fly into and out of Ontario.
All told, Los Angeles instituted some $550 million worth of improvements to the airport, including paving its gravel parking lot, laying down a second and entirely new east-to-west runway over its obsolete northeast-to-southwest landing strip, and modernizing its existing east-to-west runway, including the widening of taxiways and the addition of storm drains. Ontario Airport’s landing and take-off paths were converted into the longest such civilian facilities in Southern California, and Los Angeles erected a state-of-the-art control tower, and constructed two ultra-modern terminals at a cost of $270 million, augmented with a world class concourse.
In 1985, after all criteria in the joint operating agreement were met, Ontario deeded the airport to Los Angeles for no consideration. The airport continued to prosper under the guidance of Los Angeles World Airports, the airport-managing corporate arm of Los Angeles, which oversees operations at Los Angeles International, Ontario and Van Nuys airports.
In 2007, 7.2 million passengers flew into and out of Ontario. The downturn of the economy that ensued, however, prompted a drop off in the number of passengers and some airlines ceased operating there.
There followed an effort by the City of Ontario, led by councilman Alan Wapner, to push Los Angeles officials into relinquishing management and ownership of the aerodrome. The once-cordial relationship between Ontario and the megalopolis to the west grew acrimonious as Ontario charged Los Angeles with purposefully mismanaging the airport to increase ridership at Los Angeles International Airport. Ultimately, in June 2013, Ontario filed suit against Los Angeles, seeking the return of the airport.
In 2015, in a deal tentatively arrived at in August and ratified in December, Ontario agreed to pay Los Angeles $150 million for the airport, provide another $60 million to purchase assets technically belonging to Los Angeles World Airports that are in place at Ontario Airport and which are crucial or indispensable to its operations and assume bonded indebtedness of roughly $50 million related to the airport. Los Angeles agreed to transfer ownership and operation to Ontario as of July 1, 2016.
Ontario missed that target date for the airport takeover.
In January 2016, Congressman Ken Calvert introduced Bill 4369, intended to make future passenger fees at Ontario Airport available to partially defray the cost of building its two terminals, a major part of the investment Los Angeles made at the airport. In June, Bill 4369 was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives, and another bill, one sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein, subsequently passed muster with the Senate, with the combined package being signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 15. That legislation cleared the way for up to $70 million in passenger facility charges being collected at the airport to be used by Ontario to make good on its payments to Los Angeles.
In August 2012, anticipating that Los Angeles would eventually be prevailed upon to transition the airport back to local control, the Ontario City Council voted to enter into a joint powers arrangement with the County of San Bernardino to create an entity that would ultimately assume operational and administrative authority over the airport. Simultaneously, Ontario moved to assure that the city would dominate that board. It designated Ontario city councilmen Alan Wapner and Jim Bowman to serve as the city’s representatives on the airport joint powers authority board, and the county, in acceding to the cooperative effort, appointed then Fourth District supervisor Gary Ovitt, a former mayor of Ontario in whose Fourth Supervisorial District the airport is located, as one of the county representatives on the JPA board. County chief executive officer Greg Devereaux, who had previously been Ontario’s city manager, was also named to the board. The fifth member was Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge. Curt Hagman, who replaced Ovitt as Fourth District supervisor in 2014, replaced Ovitt on the Ontario International Airport Authority board.
The board subsequently hired Kelly J. Fredericks, the executive director of T. F. Green Airport near Providence, Rhode Island, to serve as the executive director of Ontario Airport.
Frederics and the board adjusted to having missed the July 1 date of achieving Ontario International Airport’s certificate of operation, and has now given up on completing the transfer of operational authority from Los Angeles World Airports to the authority by no later than October 1.
Key to making the ownership and management switch is ensuring the financing to make the payments to Los Angeles are in place. Accordingly, in less than two weeks, on August 29 and August 30, analysts with Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings are scheduled to do a thorough examination of the airport’s books and the city’s financial standing to ascertain that the debt the city will take on to make the $260 million in payments to Los Angeles can be serviced. It is anticipated both firms will find the city and the airport authority is indeed in a position to assume the debt, since the city is already preparing a notification to Los Angeles World Airports that is to go out on September 1 saying all is viable for the transition of ownership to be initiated.
Tentatively, the official transfer is set up to take place November 1.
Theodore F. White was born in Morristown, Pennsylvania, in 1844, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James White. T.F. White was raised on his father’s farm and after completing his public school studies, he took up mining engineering and graduated from the Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania in 1862. During the invasion of the state by the Confederate Army, he enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Militia.
Following the Civil War, Mr. White went to Nevada where he worked for three years as the superintendent of a mine, after which he was with the Memphis and El Paso Railroad and came to California for the purpose of assisting in the building of the railroad through to San Diego. Upon completion of that project he became the chief clerk and draftsman in the surveyor general’s office in Arizona, but soon afterward resumed field work which he followed for ten ears. He was the president of the Chiracua Cattle Company of Arizona.
Mr. White and Miss Annie Maxwell, daughter of a San Francisco merchant, were married in 1876 in San Diego. They had four children. In order that he might be nearer his home and family, Mr. White abandoned his field work and returned to San Diego where he was temporarily engaged in the cattle business. In 1891 they moved to Chino where Mr. White became the superintendent of the Chino Land and Water Company. Two years later he accepted the position of manager of the L.W. Blinn Lumber Company, which was established in 1891. The Whites reside in an attractive home on Seventh Street in Chino. In 1898 White was selected to represent the Fourth District on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. He served in this capacity from January 2, 1899 to January 5, 1903, succeeding Oscar Newberg and being succeeded by Samuel Pine. Mr. White proved to be a man of great public spirit and was intensely interested in programs which were beneficial to the people. He sponsored highway construction and became known as the “father of oiled roads” in California. He was prominent in the political life of the county.
Following his term of office as a county supervisor, White was a road construction contractor and lived in other parts of the state for about twelve years. On January 27, 1914, while inspecting the flood damage to a road he was constructing in Colton, he slipped and fell into the swollen Lytle Creek at Eighth and Johnson Street and drowned. He was 69 years old.
He was survived by his wife and four children, Frederick P., an engineer and machinist with the Edison Company in Los Angeles, Florence (Mrs. C.V. Newman), Edith and Leonard. At the time of his death, the Whites resided at 1526 Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood.
Mr. White was a member of the Blue Lodge and Chapter, F. and A.M and was an Elder in the Christian Church.
The collared lizard, which proliferates in Mexico and the south-central United States including in particular Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Kansas, ranges into San Bernardino County, as the full extent of its habitat in the United States spans from the Ozark Mountains to Southern California and eastern Baja California. The collared lizard is the state reptile of Oklahoma, where it is known as the mountain boomer. It is also known as the eastern collared lizard, the common collared lizard, Oklahoma collared lizard or collared lizard.
Known scientifically as Crotaphytus collaris, it can reach 8 to 14 inches in length, including the tail, and has a large head and powerful jaws. A medium-sized collared lizard runs 4.65 inches from snout to vent, with a four to five inch tail. Males are generally larger than females.
Collared lizards are well known for the ability to run on their hind legs, looking like small theropod dinosaurs. At top speeds this lizard lifts the forelimbs off the ground and runs on its hind limbs. They share two-legged mobility with a handful of other lizards, including the frilled lizard and basilisk. They are relatively fast sprinters, capable of reaching speeds of around 16 miles per hour, which is somewhat slower than the world record for lizards, 21.5 mph, which is credited to the larger-bodied Costa Rican spiny-tailed iguana, Ctenosaura similis. Collared lizards have a stride up to three times their body length.
The name “collared lizard” comes from the lizard’s distinct coloration, which includes bands of black around the neck and shoulders that look like a collar. Adult males have bright green scales as well as tan, olive, brown, bluish and yellow scales. Females are less colorful than the males, but females do have orange markings on their sides. Both have whitish bellies. Males have a blue-green body with a light brown head. Females have a light brown head and body. The head and feet are often tinted with yellow and the back is usually marked with many light dots. This pattern reverses on the tail and hind limbs, becoming dark gray to blue-green dots on a light background. The front limbs usually lack spots. The inside of the mouth and throat are often black. The tail is round in cross-section distinguishing this lizard from the similar Great Basin Collared Lizard.
Collared lizards are silent.
These lizards do not lose their tail very easily, but if they do it does not grow back.
Collared lizards are found in a wide variety of habitats, including sagebrush, desertscrub, pinyon-juniper stands, interior chaparral and desert grasslands. They prefer the rocky areas of these habitats as well as areas with open vegetation. They adhere mostly to elevations ranging from 1,400 feet to about 8,500 feet.
The collared lizard is often seen basking atop large rocks or boulders in the mid-morning sun. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall. Unlike many of our lizards collared lizards can not cast off and regenerate the tail.
They eat insects such as grasshoppers and crickets, using their powerful jaws on their prey, which also include spiders, other lizards, and small snakes. It also occasionally eats plant material including berries, leaves, and flowers. Predators can include other lizards, birds such as roadrunners, as well as coyotes, house cats and other carnivorous mammals. These lizards prefer spending most of their time on and around rocky areas. These areas provide shelter from the sun and predators. Their average life span is five to eight years. When the female lizard is carrying eggs she develops bright red splotches of color on her body. This color will disappear after she has laid the eggs.
The female will lay a clutch of anywhere from 1-14 eggs in the early summer.
Their reptilian nature accounts for some behaviors that seem brutal by human standards. Collard lizard parents do not care for the babies when they emerge from their eggs. The hatchlings are on their own. Indeed, Collard lizards will eat other collared lizards. Collared lizards are territorial and aggressive to other males. In captivity, if two males are placed in the same cage they will fight to the death. It does not hesitate to bite when captured and it can easily draw blood with its powerful jaws.
By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the August 19 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.