By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the April 29 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By Mark Gutglueck
As San Bernardino officials pursue the rejuvenation of the county seat’s downtown as a key to the 147-year-old municipality’s economic recovery, their myopic intensity is laying the groundwork for a bare-knuckled, protracted and expensive court battle with advocates for the homeless which is not likely to be adjudicated in the city’s favor.
Once majestic San Bernardino has been in a downward economic spiral for a generation, having suffered a major blow with the Department of Defense’s closure of Norton Air Force Base in 1994. The previous, simultaneous and subsequent exodus of businesses from the county’s largest city resulted in unemployment rates that significantly exceeded state and national levels. The local economy sputtered and real estate values plummeted. The financial malaise of the community at large was reflected in the budgets and operations of local governmental entities, and by the beginning of the millennium perpetually dwindling revenues had pushed the city to the point where its expenditures chronically exceeded its income. Beset with $180 million in ongoing unfunded liabilities and a $49 million annual operating deficit, the city in 2012 filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. For more than three years the city tarried in bankruptcy, and only within the last two months was it able to structure its exit therefrom.
On the agenda for city officials is remaking the city, rejuvenating it and restoring it to the reputation it once enjoyed at the beginning of the 20th Century, when it and its surrounding communities were considered a Mecca, a resort community in the midst of an agricultural wonderland. Though all hope of restoring the city to its quaint agricultural splendor is eroded, local officials are still possessed of the concept of transforming the dilapidated urbanized landscape into an attractive living arrangement in keeping with modern standards.
Part and parcel with that is having the private sector involve itself – in the form of investment – to rebuild or replace whole city blocks, including the construction of office and professional concerns, retail operations and boutiques combined with inner-city residential uses, what is known as a mixed-use concept.
Indeed, late last year, even prior to San Bernardino making its bankruptcy exodus, city officials hailed obtaining an agreement with AECOM, The Fransen Company and KB Homes to redevelop the Carousel Mall, the once vibrant shopping venue at the heart of the city which included the Harris Department Store, first established in San Bernardino in 1905, J.C. Penney; Montgomery Ward; Cinema Star; and later Gottschalk’s along with over 100 other tenants. The San Bernardino City Council entered into an exclusive negotiation agreement with the three companies as part of what it hopes will be the first major infusion of private capital into the downtown area in decades, an undertaking that will involve reestablishing it as a retail district capped or intersticed with town homes and condominiums.
Simultaneously, the city has embarked on Mayor Carey Davis’s Quality of Life Initiative, a program aimed at removing all visible signs of social problems – graffiti, vandalism, prostitution, property crimes – from San Bernardino’s urban core. As articulated in principle – on paper and in public presentations – Davis’s initiative stands as an eminently reasonable approach toward reinvigorating the city, making it a safe and pleasant place for residents to frequent while simultaneously giving investors a reason to consider San Bernardino as providing the prospect of a decent return on their money. The rebirth of the downtown core could be, Davis and his supporters believe, the spark that will jumpstart the progressive growth that will emanate outward into all other areas of the city.
The catch is that the tactics being covertly employed to achieve this quality of life involve what many consider to be draconian elements, which upon discovery might prove disastrous for the city in terms of the actual costs the city will sustain if its new way of doing things is met with a legal challenge.
Moreover, many feel the use of public money and resources in an effort to criminalize homelessness is both immoral and an abuse of governmental discretion.
San Bernardino officials maintain no effort to criminalize homelessness is ongoing in the city. Many of the homeless and those who have witnessed the action of city employees believe – or know – otherwise.
Efforts to harshly deal with homelessness in both America and California predate substantially the current effort in San Bernardino. In recent years, those policies were inevitably subjected to legal challenge and the courts have consistently held such measures cannot be constitutionally applied. Many of those subjected to this harsh treatment, and the lawyers who have represented them, have recovered substantial amounts of money. More significantly, those efforts have resulted in rulings that establish the homeless cannot be treated as if they are animals, or criminals or third class citizens.
Long ago, the Supreme Court looked favorably at policies that conferred second class status on those who did not have anywhere to live. 180 years ago, the State of New York put in place a law to prevent the “pestilence of paupers, vagabonds, and possibly convicts” from infesting state ports. A challenge was made, but the U.S. Supreme Court, as it was then composed, said the law could stand. Since the dawn of the 20th Century, however, federal courts have consistently found laws, statutes and ordinances which exclude the homeless from public land and criminalize the status of vagrancy to be constitutionally objectionable on multiple grounds. Local governments have pursued creative means – including zoning, loitering and restrictions on camping or remaining in place on public property – to prevent the homeless from lodging in public areas. As the homeless crisis has intensified in recent decades, dozens of cities with populations exceeding 100,000 have have provided themselves with the authority to criminalize all level of activities deemed undesirable, such as sleeping or camping on sidewalks or parkways, panhandling, vagrancy, or erecting tents or temporary shelters on public property.
The City of Los Angeles, in particular, took the lead. By 2005, Los Angeles County was host to more than 80,000 people who had no home. The most intensive concentration of those homeless were those living on Skid Row, which was defined in the course of one court case as the area east of Main Street, south of Third Street, west of Alameda Street, and north of Seventh Street. The stable, or permanent, population of Skid Row has been counted at various times as being between 3,000 and 6,000, the largest concentrated collection of homeless people in the United States. On a typical night, between 11,000 and 12,000 would sleep on Skid Row. In response, the Los Angeles City Council moved to enact, and the Los Angeles Police Department began to enforce, ordinances which prohibited sleeping, sitting, or lying on the street at any time of day. Police officers began to routinely descend upon Skid Row late at night or early in the morning, demanding that those there leave with their belongings. If they did not move on at once, the homeless would be arrested or cited. Any of the items they left behind would be discarded. Then-police chief William Bratton called the collection of ordinances allowing these tactics “a very effective tool” in securing the downtown area.
In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Jones v. City of Los Angeles, held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the city from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles.” In October 2007, the parties settled the case and sought withdrawal of the opinion, which the Court of Appeals granted. Nevertheless, the ruling in Jones v. City of Los Angeles set the prevailing standard which effectively prevents ordinances from criminalizing conduct that, due to the shortage of housing for the homeless, is an unavoidable outgrowth of being without a place to live, making it legally unacceptable for cities struggling with homeless population challenges from shifting the homeless from streets to jails.
Again pushing the envelope of what restrictions could be placed on the homeless or what ordinances or policies could be employed to induce them to leave, the City of Los Angeles enacted an ordinance allowing authorities to seize and discard unattended personal property located on public property, in particular sidewalks. This provoked a lawsuit, Lavan vs. Los Angeles, in which eight homeless people claimed their personal belongings were illegally taken from the sidewalk when they got up to use the restroom or run an errand. In September 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the city was not allowed to remove and destroy unattended property on the sidewalk, citing Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. The City of Los Angeles for two years sought to appeal the ruling and amend the consequent injunction it entailed, but the U.S. Supreme Court did not deign to review the ruling.
Issues with homeless are seemingly universal in Southern California. Roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Bernardino, officials in the City of Pomona, reasoning that the Lavan and Jones cases might be considered applicable only to the ordinances passed by the Los Angeles City Council, sought to test whether it could get away with instituting policies that would so complicate the lives of the homeless that they would elect to leave. Utilizing its police, code enforcement officers and sanitation workers, the city seized the personal property of the homeless: bicycles, tents, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, knapsacks and bags containing papers and documents, identification cards, birth certificates, Social Security cards, medications and other items, and then hauled them away in trash trucks, ultimately depositing them in a landfill. Public Counsel, a public interest law firm of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills bar associations, representing 14 Pomona homeless residents and the North Towne Christian Church, filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court, seeking to stop the city from confiscating and discarding their belongings. According to the suit, the city was utilizing its police, code enforcement officers and sanitation workers to seize the personal property of homeless residents without notice and disposing of it in defiance of laws requiring municipalities to store the items and give people the opportunity and adequate time to recover them.
Recognizing that it was in a very weak legal position, the city caved almost immediately, and within three weeks worked out with the attorneys with Public Counsel an agreement that the police and other city personnel will no longer confiscate and discard the property of the homeless and filed the agreement with the U.S. Central District Court’s Western Division.
Across the Los Angeles County/San Bernardino County line, the cities of Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Rialto and Colton separate Pomona from San Bernardino.
That physical buffer, some San Bernardino officials have convinced themselves, insulates them from the legal requirements imposed on their counterparts in Los Angeles County. Banking on the theory that San Bernardino County, including the county seat, qualifies as an obscure backwater jurisdiction which is unlikely to garner the attention of such homeless advocacy groups as Public Counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union, San Bernardino City Officials have instituted an unofficial policy of both reducing the visibility of the homeless on its streets while inducing as many as possible to leave. That unofficial policy is out of synchronization with the city’s written policies on its formulas for dealing with the homeless, which is essentially in compliance with the principles embodied in the Jones v. City of Los Angeles and Lavan v. City of Los Angeles decisions. This two-tracked approach – what city officials, including the city attorney’s office, say municipal employees are doing and the activities police officers and code enforcement officials are actually engaged in – constitutes, city officials believe, a fig leaf behind which the city can maintain itself if an outside group does emerge to challenge the efforts to encourage the homeless to leave San Bernardino. The calculation city officials have made, which so far at least has proven safe, is that the homeless are not financially fixed to stand up for themselves, that is, to be able to hire an attorney to legally contest what is happening to them.
Last month, after a three-year abeyance in bankruptcy, the city presented its “plan of adjustment” and is now taking its first baby steps back to financial, or what approximates financial, normalcy.
Understandably, city officials at this juncture are anxious to put the city’s best foot forward and make a favorable impression upon potential investors or entrepreneurs contemplating setting up operations in the city. Accordingly, they are seeking to redress the city’s image. This appears to include getting the “riff-raff” off the streets, using whatever tactics suffice.
Part of that effort exists under the guise of Mayor Davis’s “Quality of Life” initiative, which is ostensibly aimed at making tangible improvements to the city. Mixed into the agenda of making visible improvements to the city’s appearance, reducing or eliminating blight, improving or refurbishing infrastructure, raising property values and restoring civic pride is the goal of persuading the homeless to go elsewhere. According to many living on the streets, the police department has been employed as a cat’s paw in achieving this end. Where arrests of a homeless person on an ostensibly bonafide criminal charge, probation or parole violation or outstanding warrant can be made, that often occurs. Those who are merely living on the streets and are not engaging in any overt criminal wrongdoing present a greater challenge. In San Bernardino, seizing their possessions – sleeping bags, blankets, tents, backpacks, clothes, medication and food – either while the homeless are there or when they have temporarily left those items to go find a restroom or do something else – is a means of encouraging or inducing them to move on.
Multiple anecdotal accounts of that sort of treatment of the homeless in San Bernardino have reached the Sentinel. Homeless individuals have related to the Sentinel their version of events relating to the loss of their possessions after city employees, including police officers, have seized their items and jettisoned them. More recently, a Sentinel reporter witnessed two police officers, neither of whom appeared to have warrants, rifling through the effects of a homeless couple who were camped in the storefront area of a building on E Street. One of those officers ordered the Sentinel reporter to leave.
In response to a Sentinel California Public Records request for city “policies on interactions with homeless persons, seizure of possessions for homeless individuals, and a log of property seized/disposed of for homeless individuals,” the city attorney’s office provided copies of “Policy 418 [and] Policy 804 [and] Policy 464” in the “San Bernardino Police Department Policy Manual.”
Policy 418 pertains to “Mental Illness Commitments” and “guidelines for when officers may take a person into custody for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.” Stating “It is the policy of the San Bernardino Police Department to protect the public and individuals through legal and appropriate use of the 72-hour treatment and evaluation commitment,” Policy 418 goes on to state, under section 418.4.1 Securing Of Property, “When a person is taken into custody for evaluation, or within a reasonable time thereafter, and unless a responsible relative, guardian or conservator is in possession of the person’s personal property, the officer shall take reasonable precautions to safeguard the individual’s personal property in his/her possession or on the premises occupied by the person (Welfare and Institutions Code § 5150). The officer taking the person into custody shall provide a report to the court that describes the person’s property and its disposition in the format provided in Welfare and Institutions Code §5211, unless a responsible person took possession of the property, in which case the officer shall only include the name of the responsible person and the location of the property.”
Policy 804 in the San Bernardino Police Department Policy Manual pertains to “Property and Evidence” and pertains to “the proper collection, storage, and security of evidence and other property.” In addition to specifying how evidence seized during police operations is to be secured for aiding in follow-up investigations or prosecutions, the policy also covers “found property” which “includes property found by an employee or citizen that has no apparent evidentiary value.” According to the policy, “found property and property held for safekeeping shall be held for a minimum of 90 days and 60 days respectively. During such period, [department] personnel shall attempt to contact the rightful owner by telephone and/or mail when sufficient identifying information is available. Property not held for any other purpose and not claimed within 90 days after notification (or receipt, if notification is not feasible) may be auctioned to the highest bidder at a properly published public auction. If such property is not sold at auction or otherwise lawfully claimed, it may thereafter be destroyed.”
Policy 464 in the in the San Bernardino Police Department Policy Manual pertains to “Homeless Persons.” According to Policy 464, “The San Bernardino Police Department recognizes that members of the homeless community are often in need of special protection and services. The San Bernardino Police Department will address these needs in balance with the overall mission of this department. Therefore, officers will consider the following when serving the homeless community. It is the policy of the San Bernardino Police Department to provide law enforcement services to all members of the community, while protecting the rights, dignity and private property of the homeless. Homelessness is not a crime and members of this department will not use homelessness solely as a basis for detention or law enforcement action.”
Policy 464 states, under the heading ”Field Contacts” that “Officers are encouraged to contact the homeless for purposes of rendering aid, support and for community-oriented policing purposes. Nothing in this policy is meant to dissuade an officer from taking reasonable enforcement action when facts support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. However, when encountering a homeless person who has committed a non-violent misdemeanor and continued freedom is not likely to result in a continuation of the offense or a breach of the peace, officers are encouraged to consider long-term solutions to problems that may relate to the homeless, such as shelter referrals and counseling in lieu of physical arrest. Officers should provide homeless persons with resource and assistance information whenever it is reasonably apparent that such services may be appropriate for community-oriented policing purposes.”
Under the heading, “464.4 Personal Property,” the San Bernardino Police Department Policy Manual states, “The personal property of homeless persons must not be treated differently than the property of other members of the public. Officers should use reasonable care when handling, collecting and retaining the personal property of homeless persons and should not destroy or discard the personal property of a homeless person. When a homeless person is arrested or otherwise removed from a public place, officers should make reasonable accommodations to permit the person to lawfully secure his/her personal property. Otherwise, the personal property should be collected for safekeeping. If the arrestee has more personal property than can reasonably be collected and transported by the officer, a supervisor should be consulted. The property should be photographed and measures should be taken to remove or secure the property. It will be the supervisor’s responsibility to coordinate the removal and safekeeping of the property. Officers should not conduct or assist in clean-up operations of belongings that reasonably appear to be the property of homeless persons without the prior authorization of a supervisor or the department homeless liaison officer. When practicable, requests by the public for clean-up of a homeless encampment should be referred to the homeless liaison officer. Officers who encounter unattended encampments, bedding or other personal property in public areas that reasonably appears to belong to a homeless person should not remove or destroy such property and should inform the department homeless advocate if such property appears to involve a trespass, blight to the community or is the subject of a complaint. It will be the responsibility of the homeless advocate to address the matter in a timely fashion.”
There are strong indicators that the City of San Bernardino is not living up to the compassionate and humanistic ideals expressed in its police department policy manual.
The city did not provide a response to the Sentinel’s public records request for a log of property seized/disposed of for homeless individuals.
Similarly, the city deemed the Sentinel’s earlier public records request for the identities, that is, the names, of all individuals detained, cited, arrested, prosecuted or processed on loitering, trespassing, vagrancy, squatting or occupation of public property charges or their equivalents as “overbroad.”
Amid the persistent reports that the city has stepped up its efforts to arrest, cite or otherwise process the homeless in an effort to persuade them to leave San Bernardino, the city excluded from its response to the Sentinel’s Public Records Act request a delineation of citations and arrests of homeless individuals in the last three months.
The city did, however, provide arrest statistics pertaining to the homeless for 2013, 2014 and 2015. Those statistics show that in 2013, there were 143 arrests of homeless in the city; a significant upsurge to 583 in 2014; and 178 in 2015.
Belinda Escobosa-Helzer an attorney with the Southern California Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the City of San Bernardino was treading on extremely thin ice in pushing to persuade the homeless to leave town.
“The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and governmental entities cannot criminalize someone for being homeless,” Escobosa-Helzer said. “Cities cannot arrest or cite people from resting or sleeping in public or stop them from storing their property unless and until they provide sufficient shelter for that portion of the population. You cannot criminalize people for engaging in something all human beings must engage in. In the 2015 point in time survey, 2,140 were counted as homeless in the city of San Bernardino. There are a number of factors that go into what makes up homelessness. A certain percentage of the homeless population are those who have recently lost employment and have undergone foreclosure and eviction. Many of those will regain employment and cease being homeless. But those who have been living on the street for a long period of time or have mental and physical disabilities are defined as chronically homeless. The 2015 point in time count showed that 61 percent of the homeless people are unsheltered. So when you look at the numbers of people in San Bernardino who are technically homeless and how many beds are available, the city still has an unmet need of 600 to 800 beds per night. It is these people with mental and physical disabilities that local governments tend to look upon as a so-called blight on the community, but San Bernardino, under the principles of the Jones decision, which has been supported by the Department of Justice, cannot criminalize people for being homeless until there is a place for them to go.”
Escobosa-Helzer then referenced the Lavan decision, which, she said “originated as a property rights case involving the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments.” The ruling in that matter, she said, establishes that “the police can’t seize property or take custody of someone else’s personal property, and if they do because they deemed it to be abandoned, they have to leave a note as to where the property is taken and provide the opportunity for that person to get it back through some sort of process.”
Escobosa-Helzer said that “With the Jones and Lavan cases it is recognized that just because people are experiencing homelessness, they have rights against unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment and unreasonable search and seizures and they have the right to due process.” She said that denying the homeless their constitutional rights has become part of “the tactics governments have generally engaged in which are based on the assumption and belief that homelessness is a choice. Criminalizing homelessness is a far more ineffective and expensive policy and practice than providing people who are living on the streets with a place to stay.”
Lieutenant Rich Lawhead, the official spokesman for the San Bernardino Police Department, insisted in his statement to the Sentinel, that the police department had a policy in dealing with the homeless that adhered to the fundamental principles embodied in the Jones and Lavan decisions.
“I will tell you they have been given guidelines to follow,” Lawhead said of the department’s officers. “At the time any property is seized it will be tagged and appropriate notification given before we throw anything away. There is no law against being homeless. Thank God we live in a country where we have the right to be homeless if we want to. People have the right to be homeless. We don’t infringe on people’s right to be homeless.”
Lawhead acknowledged that the department’s officers do take action against the denizens of the streets, but only when it is called for.
“Property owners have rights too and when anyone intrudes on the rights of business owners who have the right to enjoy their property, there has to be a balance,” Lawhead said. “When we come across a homeless camp, we give people notice before we do anything. If we clear out what might constitute an illegal homeless encampment and if there is an arrest relating to illegal activity, we tag their property and keep and hold it for them until such time as they are allowed to come and get their property. There is nothing to prevent a private property owner from clearing his property.”
As to Mayor Carey Davis’s Quality of Life Initiative, Lawhead defended it as a well-intentioned and effective measure toward improving San Bernardino. “This is not a program aimed at the homeless,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the homeless. It is a program to clear blight. We have mattresses and chairs and couches out on our sidewalks. We have yards with accumulated debris. It is an effort to deal with those issues and other illegal dumping material. Our goal is to make the city look better overall. Do we clean up what is left after homeless encampments? Yes. Every personal item we come across we tag and preserve for recovery.”
Lawhead acknowledged that people are not permitted to set up overnight residences on public property and they are not allowed to encroach on the city’s sidewalks.
“We have an ordinance against camping on public property,” he said, but indicated that the enforcement of that ordinance has much to do with “where and how. It depends on what the circumstances are. If there is an encampment that forces someone in a wheelchair to go off the sidewalk into the roadway, that is unsafe, and we do not allow it. We have had three or four people in wheelchairs in the city struck by cars and killed in recent years. If they have set a tent up in a park during daylight hours, that is not necessarily illegal. But you can’t be in the park after nine or ten p.m.”
Lawhead disputed accounts of individuals being arrested for vagrancy in conjunction with Davis’s Quality of Life Initiative. And he disputed that the action of two of the city’s police officers seen rifling through a homeless couple’s effects represented a departure from the department’s official policy with regard to interactions with the homeless or a violation of the principles inherent in the Lavan decision. Rather, he suggested, the Sentinel had, by seeking to photograph the encounter, “interfered with an investigation. You really don’t know anything about why they [the officers] asked you to leave. They may have gotten the impression you were interfering with the investigation. Your interpretation of what you saw and their interpretation of what you saw may not commingle.”
A picture that depicts the City of San Bernardino and its police department as being hostile to and unwelcoming of those living on the streets would be a false one, Lawhead said.
“I think one of the keys is that we offer a number of resources for those that we come in contact with and we are one of the only cities in the county that currently operates a resource center,” he said.
Christina Giorgio, an attorney with Public Counsel, told the Sentinel, “Individuals experiencing homelessness have the same constitutional rights in their property as a housed person. When a city, through its employees, summarily seizes and destroys the property of individuals experiencing homelessness, the city violates the Federal Constitution and numerous state laws as well. Such conduct is not only illegal, it endangers the health and safety of homeless individuals, as it typical involves the seizing and destroying of life-sustaining items such as prescription medication. The conduct is also terribly counterproductive to the process of ending homelessness, as the seizure typical strips these individuals of papers and IDs they need to access housing and benefits and apply for jobs. Also, it is terribly inhumane, as the items carried by those experiencing homelessness are among the most precious and irreplaceable keepsakes imaginable, such as the ashes of deceased parents, as was the case for two of our clients the Pomona case. To rip these belongings away from someone forced to live on the streets constitutes a huge psychological blow from which it is extremely difficult to recover.”
The Hesperia City Council’s approval of a resolution to unfreeze wages for city employees has resurrected concern throughout this largely rustic and blue collar city that City Hall is dominated by elitists out of step with the community.
The manner in which the item to increase city employee salaries was approved did not blunt those criticisms, as the council did not hold a public hearing on the matter but discussed it in a closed session and then approved it in the form of a resolution on the consent calendar. The consent calendar is normally reserved for non-controversial items.
The resolution ratifies the changes to the memorandum of understanding arrived at through negotiations between city representatives and the Teamsters Union, with the salary steps that were frozen in 2010 being unfrozen.
Employees represented by the Teamsters will advance one step, which will boost their pay by 5 percent, based on merit on their anniversary date, effective July 1. In addition, for the first full pay period of fiscal year 2016-17, all salary ranges will reflect a 2.5-percent base salary increase, plus an additional cost of living adjustment increase of no less than half of a percent and no more than 1.5 percent. A city staff report said the cost of living adjustments will be calculated based on the Consumer Price Index.
The total projected cost of implementing the Teamsters-negotiated memorandum of understanding compensation adjustments is $376,397 through the end of 2016. The total projected cost of implementing the non-represented employees’ changes in compensation is $542,596 through the end of the year.
In San Bernardino County in general, wages, as measured by per capita and household income lag behind the rest of the state and are well below those in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Hesperia is nineteenth among San Bernardino County’s 24 cities in this regard. Nevertheless, Hesperia city employees are paid very well in comparison to city residents, with the average city worker making pay that is more three times what the average Hesperia resident pulls down. Hesperia city workers also receive benefits that dwarf those provided to workers in the private sector. Forty-six Hesperia employees make more than $100,000 in total annual compensation.
City manager Nils Bentsen is getting $235,012 in salary, $31,611 in other pay, with $74,139 in benefits for $340,762 in total compensation per year. Director of development services Scott Priester is receiving 234,394 annually. Assistant city manager Brian D. Johnson makes $233,363 in total compensation. Economic development director Steven Lantsberger receives $206,205 in total compensation each year. City engineer John R. Leveillee pulls down $190,825 per year. Deputy finance director Anne M. Duke makes $169,462 per year. Principal planner Dave Reno makes $164,444 per year. Public works director Benny D Burke makes $158,002 per year. City clerk Melinda L. Sayre receives $144,428 in total annual compensation. Project construction manager David Burkett makes $151,405 per year. Senior management analyst Juli Lynne Rull receives $136,003 per year. Senior financial analyst Casey Williams Brooksher get $134,781 per year. Senior financial analyst George R. Pirsko makes $134,097 per year. Assistant engineer Mark W. McKinley receives $131,456 per year. Geographical information systems manager Eric Greene receives $131,389 per year. Building inspection supervisor Michael D. Hearn makes $130,644 per year. Senior planner Daniel Alcayaga receives $129,666 per year. Emergency services coordinator Brigit Bennington makes $121,112 per year. Senior accountant Virginia Villasenor is paid $120,058 in salaries and benefits per year. Senior planner Stanley D. Liudahl receives $119,603 per year. Building and safety manager Tracy Wrigley makes $119,228 per year. Code enforcement supervisor Antonio Genovesi makes $117,432 per year. Construction inspection supervisor Dwaine Ellis Latimer gets $117,357 per year. Public works supervisor Mark Ronald Faherty receives $115,181 per year. Senior human resources analyst Rita Perez gets $114,689 per year. Information Services Specialist officer Steven Vannorman is provided with salary and benefits of $113,736 per year. Senior code enforcement officer Ernesto Montes makes $112,894 per year. Management analyst Lisa K. Lamere receives $112,090 per year.
Maintenance crew supervisor Jeffrey W Ozanne gets $111,322 per year. Management analyst Holly E. Effiom makes $108,936 per year. Customer service supervisor Jill Wyman brings in $108,641 per year. Plans examiner Larry Bachmann gets $108,180 per year.
Facilities supervisor Scott B Saude receives $107,582 per year. Plans examiner Keith Otjen takes in $106,830 per year. Information systems specialist Rolando Quinonez makes $106,706 per year. Julia A. Ryan, a management analyst, makes $105,468 per year. Roderic R Yahnke, another management analyst, gets $106,367 per year. Keith Cheong, a financial analyst, receives $105,430 per year. Scott Smith, a maintenance crew supervisor, brings in $105,049 per year.
Theresa Gayle Mauger, a senior code enforcement officer, makes $104,321 per year. Administrative analyst Andrea Lynn Wagner gets $103,738 per year. Community relations & media coordinator Rachel C Molina makes $103,499 per year. Joni L. Latimer, a maintenance crew supervisor, receives $103,378 per year. Financial analyst Jose Mendoza makes $101,452 per year. Tina M. Souza, another management analyst, receives $101,260 per year.
Some residents grumbled that the council was being far too generous to what one resident referred to as the “prima donnas” working for the city. Others said the money would have been better spent on infrastructure in the city of 90,173, where many roads are unpaved.
Councilman Paul Russ said that it is “only fair” that city employees be well compensated and that they should be “given credit for what they do. They deserve these raises,” he said.
A Yucca Valley woman has filed a federal lawsuit naming San Bernardino County and a sheriff’s deputy over what officials now acknowledge was her false arrest. Her arrest and incarceration occurred during the Christmas holidays in 2014 after her amended tax filing the previous year created potential legal difficulties for her former business partner who had connections to the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office.
Attorney Keith Bardellini in February filed the lawsuit in federal court in Riverside on behalf of Lucinda Cox, alleging Cox had been arrested without probable cause on charges that were neither thoroughly nor competently investigated and that she was subjected to abuse and mistreatment for seven days while jailed at West Valley Detention Center, where her bail had been improperly set at a quarter of a million dollars.
Subsequently, a court ruled that, indeed, there was no basis for Cox’s arrest and all charges against her were dismissed.
The lawsuit alleges that Cox’s former business partner, Holly Griffin, deliberately and maliciously launched, and a sheriff’s deputy, Heidi Hague, with whom Griffin had close personal ties, either deliberately and maliciously or incompetently carried out, a criminal investigation that erroneously and falsely concluded Cox had engaged in forgery.
The matter grew out of the business relationship Cox once had with Holly Griffin, with whom she co-owned Elite Cosmetology, a cosmetology school, licensed by the state of California, to teach cosmetology. In February 2012 Cox and Griffin sold Elite Cosmetology School to M.N.R.J.M., LLC, a Florida limited liability corporation and during the last week of March 2012 the escrow closed and ownership of the school was transferred to MM.N.R.J.M., LLC . Thereafter, Plaintiff and Griffin commenced the process of winding down their operation of Elite and completing their obligations regarding the payment of all outstanding debts, the collection of all remaining tuitions and the filing of the appropriate state and federal tax returns for 2011 in 2012. Cox, on behalf of Elite, hired accountants and attorneys to assist in completing the winding up of Elite, reviewing the accounting, and preparing the necessary tax returns.
According to the lawsuit, “The accountants retained by plaintiff reported to her that the tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 appeared to be inaccurate and inconsistent with the accounting records that they had reviewed. As a result they advised that amended returns needed to be prepared for all three tax years. In an attempt to prevent Plaintiff from filing amended returns, in October 2013, Ms. Griffin filed a report with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department alleging that plaintiff had forged a check from a joint signature account. Plaintiff is informed and believes that prior to the police report being filed by Ms. Griffin, Heidi Hague was employed by the sheriff; was a personal friend of Ms. Griffin; was a personal friend of Ms. Griffin’s husband, Robert Griffin, who was employed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office as an investigator; and [that Heidi Hague] was the sheriff’s detective in charge of the investigation of plaintiff.”
The lawsuit continues, “Hague received and reviewed the report filed by Ms. Griffin. She then subpoenaed selective records from Pacific Western Bank and selective records from Wells Fargo Bank. Hague attempted to talk to plaintiff who declined to talk to her outside the presence of an attorney. By her own admission and sworn testimony, she did no other investigation. Hague made no attempt to investigate any of the accusations made in Ms. Griffin’s police report. Had she done so she would have learned that almost all of the relevant facts alleged in that report were false. Had she asked for the complete records at the relevant banks she were to have immediately become aware that all of the relevant and important dates contained in the report were false including but not limited to the source of funds in each of the accounts, the dates that the accounts were opened, the dates that the accounts were closed, the amount of money in the accounts, the ownership of the funds in the accounts, and most importantly the timing of when she became aware that the money had been transferred to pay creditors of Elite. When Hague received a copy of the alleged forged check she made no attempt to have the check examined to determine if it was in fact a forgery. When the check was finally sent to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department document examiner, it was determined that the check was not a forgery and that Ms. Griffin’s signature was authentic. Sometime after October 2013 Hague, without any further investigation, forwarded the report and the selective documents to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Hague recommended the filing of a complaint against plaintiff, knowing that she had ignored evidence, intentionally evaded collecting relevant evidence and that there was no probable cause for a complaint to issue. On May 9, 2014, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed a felony complaint alleging grand theft of personal property in the amount of $52,335 (Penal Code section 487 (a), forgery (Penal Code section 479(a) and embezzlement. On May 13, 2014, the district attorney sought and received an ex parte order under Penal Code section 1275.1, preventing Plaintiff from posting bail without a hearing on the source of funds used for the bail and persuaded the court to set bail in the amount of $250,000, $225,000 in excess of the bail schedule set by the court. The court file contains no declaration supporting either the excessive bail or the Penal Code Section 1275.1 ex parte motion.”
A bail schedule from 2013 for San Bernardino County shows bail for a charge of grand theft was set at $50,000, forgery was $25,000 and embezzlement was $25,000. Any single one of those could have been set against Cox. Had they been combined, they would have been no more than $100,000.
Inexplicably, no effort to arrest Cox was made for more than seven months after the criminal complaint against her was issued. On December 23, 2014, two days before Christmas, sheriff’s deputies arrested her while she was at the home of two of her cosmetology clients, a man and wife.
“Due to the excessive bail and the ex parte order under Penal Code section 1275.1 plaintiff was held in custody in general population at the West Valley Detention Center for seven days,” according to the suit. “During that time, she was in constant fear for her life, was unable to eat, was threatened by other inmates, was unable to sleep, witnessed violence between other inmates and as a result has suffered and continues to suffer from severe post traumatic stress syndrome. On July 10, 2015 the case was dismissed for lack of probable cause, lack of evidence and failure to investigate. After the hearing on July 10, 2015 the San Bernardino County District Attorney provided plaintiff with the results of the handwriting analysis establishing her innocence. This document was withheld until after the court had dismissed the case.”
Cox is pursuing a separate civil case against Holly Griffin.
Bardellini told the Sentinel, “This is a dramatic case of overreach. You have a 61-year-old grandmother who did absolutely nothing wrong, who was then subjected to this unbelievable nightmare.”
In the suit, Bardellini maintains that “At the time of plaintiff’s arrest and detention, defendants had no probable cause to believe the plaintiff had committed a crime or that in fact that a crime had even been committed. Defendants, acting under color of state law, statutes, ordinances, regulations, customs and usage under their authority as deputy sheriffs of the County of San Bernardino falsely arrested plaintiff without probable cause. Defendants, separately and in concert, engaged in the illegal conduct to the injury of the plaintiff and deprived plaintiff of the rights, privileges and immunities secured to plaintiff by the fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the United States including but not limited to 42 U.S.C.S 1983.”
The Sentinel’s efforts to obtain a response from the sheriff’s department and county officials regarding Cox’s lawsuit did not achieve any results.
Cox told the Sentinel, “After nine court visits and thousands of dollars later, all the charges are dismissed. There was no apology, just a simple dismissal of charges. This experience has left me with no savings and in debt. It has stripped me of my dignity and reputation. It almost cost me my sanity. I am blessed that I stayed physically healthy through all of this. I know someone was watching out for me. It has taught me many lessons. I learned about kindness and sharing and I have learned about the plight of the poor and social injustices. I learned how cronyism is prevalent in the criminal justice system and how it has changed my life forever. This is not the end of the story.”
Sports Chalet, a sporting goods chain with 55 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, including three in San Bernardino County and a distribution center in Ontario, is shutting all of its stores as of April 29.
A sporting and recreational specialty store that had blazed an enviable trail for over five decades, the chain was undone by it inability to attract disposable income in an increasingly competitive market that must appeal to a shrinking middle class. Founded on April 1, 1959 by Norbert Olberz and his wife Irene, who took out a $5,000 loan from a lending institution and more from relatives and prospective employees, the couple established what was originally a ski and tennis shop in La Cañada Flintridge near the mouth of the Angeles Crest Highway.
Within a few years, Sport Chalet expanded its stock lines to cater to other higher end sporting pursuits, and the Olberzes offered scuba, mountain-climbing and spelunking gear. With the surfing craze of the early 1960s, the store sold longboards and wetsuits.
The Olberzes expanded the Sport Chalet in La Cañada at its original Foothill Boulevard location in stages, converting a former grocery store into a full-line sporting goods store, then transforming a one-time furniture store into a ski shop. Norbert Olberz located a ski rental shop into a former filling station and then opened a separate golf store down the street.
Twenty-two years after opening their first store, the Olberzes established the second Sport Chalet in Huntington Beach. Over the next six years, the chain grew rapidly, with branches throughout Southern California. In 1992, Sport Chalet went public, being traded on the NASDAQ exchange. In 2011, Norbert Olberz died. In 2014, the company, which was burdened by $52.4 million in debt, was purchased by Connecticut-based Vestis Retail Group, a division of the private equity firm Versa Capital Management. Sport Chalet continued to lose money and Vestis on April 16 pulled the plug, announcing the company had discontinued on-line sales and would close all stores by today, April 29, 2016.
James Banks, a Rancho Cucamonga resident who has had a legal practice in the city for more than 35 years, wrote the following letter to the Rancho Cucamonga City Council on April 2:
Mayor and Council,
The imposition of districting on Rancho Cucamonga city government is a disaster greater than any faced by this City in the past 35 years, rivaled only by its beginning tax base and the development of the unincorporated area north of the city. While districting may have the benefit of giving minority groups a seat at the table and may allow council members to have a more in depth understanding of their section of the city, these probable benefits are small compared to the certain detriments. The tragic consequences of a ward system will be a guaranteed future of graft, corruption and narrow self-interest in Rancho Cucamonga. We have spectacular examples of these disastrous consequences to the east at the County of San Bernardino and to the west in the City of Los Angeles.
Districting inevitably produces mini-kingdoms. Council members become the equivalent of feudal lords. As a simple illustration, if a proposal is of advantage to District 1 and not a disadvantage to Districts 2, 3, 4, and 5, the other council members will defer to the wishes of the representative in District 1. Each district develops its own power broker structure that protects and promotes itself independently of the entire city. The petty power brokers operate free from checks and balances that would have come from other council members. The County of San Bernardino is a prime example. Petty larceny by government officials surfaces from time to time and major scandals seem to erupt about every 10 years. Illicit deals can be made because nobody is looking and because the people who might stop them won’t because they don’t want interference in their distinct. Larry Walker was an honest Supervisor. Jon Mikels was an honest supervisor. Neither of them could halt county graft and corruption. Indeed, the argument can be made that standing up to it cost Jon Mikels his political career.
Council members in the City of Los Angeles are always identified by their district. They are primarily interested in what happens in their district.
They promote the interests of their Distinct, seeking special projects and favors with minimal regard for the general welfare of the entire city. In fact, they are measured, judged and re-elected or not re-elected by the level of special benefits they carve out for their district. The needs of the city as a whole are subservient at best. It is an inevitable attribute of the district system.
For these and other reasons, if Rancho Cucamonga must comply, I urge you to consider the following:
1 Any ordinance we adopt pursuant to the mandatory state law should, by its own language, sunset whenever there is a substantive change in the state law that requires districting.
2 Great deference should be accorded to our historic communities Alta Loma, Cucamonga and Etiwanda. Any districting of the city should adhere as closely as possible to the historic boundaries.
3 Historically the boundary between Alta Loma and Cucamonga has been Baseline Street. This boundary line could be moved up to the 210 Freeway if necessary to offset excess population growth in the north part of the city.
Historically the west boundary of Etiwanda has been considered to be near Rochester Avenue. This boundary could be moved east or west as far as necessary to allow Etiwanda to be an equal district.
4 Exert as much pressure as possible through the League of California Cities to reverse this disastrous state legislation. It should not be necessary to sacrifice the well being of the entire community to draw minority groups into the electoral process
5 Consider the following new proposal:
A. Three (3) districts, Alta Loma, Cucamonga and Etiwanda with boundaries shifted between them to achieve equality.
B. Three (3) council persons elected by district in the normal way.
C. The 4th council seat would rotate each election; one term it would be in Alta Loma, then next term in Cucamonga, the 3rd in Etiwanda and then start over.
D. The mayor would be elected at large.
E. Terms would be two (2) years with a four (4) term limit.
This system would comply with the Act. It would have the benefit of having a 2nd council person in each district on a rotating basis. This would be a 2nd pair of eyes and ears in that district and have the effect of diminishing the power broker tendency in a single representative district.
The three (3) term limit would reduce entrenchment that so often leads to corruption. Finally, for us sentimental “old timers” it recognizes our three (3) community history.
6 Alternatively, consider 3 (historic) districts with one Council member elected from each district and the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Mayor elected at-large. This would leave 2 members watching the welfare of the entire city.
Please do all you can to minimize the negative effects of districting.
James Banks, Jr.
The county’s public works department is going to sell off equipment it purchased through a federal government grant seven years ago for use in a pioneering groundwater treatment effort to redress the North Rialto source of perchlorate contamination that has infested the aquifers beneath Rialto and Colton.
In the late 1990s, a plume of contaminants containing perchlorate was found to be migrating through the water table underlying Rialto. At or surrounding the contaminated area the county operated the Mid-Valley Landfill, Broco, Inc. maintained a hazardous waste disposal facility and Pyro Spectaculars, Ken Thompson Inc., Chung Ming Wong, BF Goodrich and Emhart Industries had operations that were ongoing in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. After public health officials identified that area as the origin of the plume of perchlorate, the city of Rialto sued BF Goodrich over the contamination issue. Rialto dropped that lawsuit after the company agreed to undertake a remediation effort. BF Goodrich did pay a total of $4 million – $1 million each to the cities of Fontana, Rialto and Colton as well as to the West Valley Water District. Other lawsuits against all of the companies that operated there or their corporate successors ensued as did action undertaken by several regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
In very minute quantities perchlorate can wreak havoc on the thyroid gland.
Officials with the Rialto-based West Valley Water District and their lawyers have alleged that San Bernardino County, which runs the Mid-Valley Landfill in north Rialto, razed and buried the hazardous waste-disposal facility Broco ran near the site from the mid-1960s until the late 1980s, which worsened the contamination of the groundwater below Rialto.
According to attorney Barry Groveman, who represents the West Valley Water District, it appears the county simply knocked the hazardous waste facility down and spread the debris around before burying it.
The site has been designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of its Superfund sites, which makes federal funding for the remediation available but also carries with it a requirement that the parties responsible for the contamination assist in the effort. For that reason, some of the entities deemed active at the site prior to the detection of the contamination, including the county, are involved in a remediation effort.
According to Jerry Newcombe, the county’s director of public works, in 2009, the solid waste management district was given the opportunity by Applied Research Associates, a consultant working on the contamination remediation issue, to demonstrate an alternative technology for groundwater treatment as part of the county’s groundwater treatment system associated with perchlorate and volatile organic compound impacted groundwater.
“On behalf of the United States Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, Applied Research Associates constructed and operated a pilot demonstration weak-base anion treatment system at Well No. 3 in the city of Rialto to supplement removal of perchlorate and volatile organic compounds from groundwater pumped by the county’s groundwater treatment system,” Newcombe said. “The solid waste management division has been working with the City of Rialto at Well No. 3 since 2006 to mitigate perchlorate and volatile organic compound impacts to groundwater in this area.”
On February 3, 2009, the board of supervisors approved Agreement No. 09-83 between Applied Research Associates and solid waste management division, to demonstrate an alternative technology for groundwater treatment. The agreement stipulated that the county would become the owner of Applied Research Associates’ weak-base anion treatment system equipment upon completion of Applied Research Associates’ pilot study.
“The pilot study was completed in December 2012,” said Newcombe. “The pilot study concluded that the cost of the continued operations and maintenance of the weak-base anion technology was considerably higher than the currently used standard ion exchange equipment for the low to intermediate level of perchlorate detected at the Rialto well. Therefore, the weak-base anion equipment is no longer needed.”
From March 2013 to late May 2015, equipment and media vendors were contacted to identify potential buyers. An inventory of the treatment plant equipment, including an estimate of current value, was completed for the County by R.C. in June 2013. Collectively, the equipment is valued at an estimated $191,000. Some of the pieces, for example, include two ion exchange holding
tanks valued at $42,500 each, which fall within the fixed asset category. Miscellaneous equipment that was deemed to have no significant future worth, such as used PVC piping, was not included in the inventory.
The county purchasing department will solicit bids. Upon determination of the highest bid, the purchasing agent will be authorized to execute any and all documents for the sale of the equipment, with proceeds being retained by solid waste management division.
By Count Friedrich von Olsen
The first week of May is approaching, which means, of course, the Running of the Roses is on tap, the 142nd Kentucky Derby. No, I am not a betting man, except when I get in proximity to a baccarat table. But I love to watch those colts run. When I was a young man, I would find myself at Ascot. Next week, about midweek, I will check into the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Louisville so I can spend two days touring various horse farms and be in place in the stands near the clubhouse turn when the crowd breaks into its rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home…”
Here is my estimation of the field…
It is hard to dislike Doug O’Neill’s Nyquist, which won all five races as a 2-year-old including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. At the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park he won convincingly, beating the best horse in the east, undefeated Mohaymen, going away. But there are questions. Mr. O’Neill has emphasized long gallops over speed bursts in training. This might be a sound strategy, if it works, since there are doubts Nyquist can sustain himself the full 1¼ mile distance…
Outwork and Danzing Candy represent the closest thing to blazing speed in this year’s race. Danzing won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and Danzing Candy, won the San Felipe at Santa Anita. If one or the other of them went full bore from the gate while the other hung back, and if the rest of the field tried to keep up with the rabbit, then the more patient jockey might guide his mount to victory with a blinding close. This is not likely to happen…
Mohaymen, which this winter was imagined by everyone to be the best horse in the race, can run hard early and cruise through the mid-race and close fast, which could prove a winning strategy. Does Jockey Junior Alvarado have the discipline to execute that race plan with all of the jockeying that will be going on around him? Maybe.But Mohaymen lost – lost convincingly – to Nyquist at Gulfstream and that is hard to forget…
Gun Runner is a solid horse, with good speed that is probably sustainable over the full 1¼ miles. Can Jockey Florent Geroux position him so he doesn’t get hemmed in early and so Gun Runner doesn’t breathe in too much dust during the first part of the race? That is a major consideration…
Exaggerator, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, should not be counted out. This horse has demonstrated in several races that it has an impressive mid-race move that could leave it out front at the mile mark. If there are no strong closers within striking distance, Desormeaux might be able to hold all challengers for the lead off…
One strong closer is Creator, who astounded everyone by going from dead last to first at the Arkansas Derby. If this horse is not hemmed in and less than two lengths back at the 1 mile and one eighth mark, watch out…
Suddenbreakingnews, which was second at the Arkansas Derby, was closing just as hard as Creator…
A third fast closer is Brody’s Cause, which passed three-fourths of the field to win the Blue Grass Stakes. Trojan Nation, as a maiden made a strong move and finished second in the Wood.
Mor Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert, has been making steady and impressive improvement. Add to that the advantage of being ridden by Gary Stevens, and this could be a horse that gets into, and stays, in the thick of it..
Mo Tom? From the same sire as Nyquist, but the best this nag could do was fourth at the Louisiana Derby. If they change the rules so that the pony going backwards fastest wins, Mo Tom might be the best one in the field…
Whitmore finished third at the Arkansas Derby against some stiff competion. Nothing spectacular about this horse. Yet, if Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. pushes him to run his race, you could see this horse finishing third or maybe second…
Lani bears watching. First at the UAE Derby, though far out of it at the Hyacinth Stakes…
Destin, ridden by Javier Castellano, was first at the Sam F. Davis Stakes and first at the Tampa Bay Derby. and first at
Shagaf finished first at Gotham…
Tom’s Ready was second in the Louisiana Derby and second at Pinnacle Peak.
Majesto was second at the Florida Derby at 149.11
Adventist was third at Gotham, third at Wood Memorial and third at Withers Stakes. I somehow like the name…
My prediction: There will not be a triple crown winner this year…
By Mark Gutglueck
Raymond Earl Hodge was one of the leading attorneys in San Bernardino County during the first half of the Twentieth Century.
He was born on May 18, 1884 in Denver, Colorado, the son of Morgan Cooper and Emma J. (Wood) Hodge.
Morgan Hodge was a native of Ohio born in 1854, and Emma Wood Hodge, was a native of New York born in 1856. Morgan Hodge was a traveling salesman until he came out to California in the 1880s and located in Rialto as part of a Methodist group that planned to start a college in Rialto. Though the college was never built, Morgan Hodge did enter the scholastic field, becoming a teacher in the public schools of San Bernardino and Rialto, teaching for over a decade.
Raymond and his two brothers, Victor and Harry, were educated in the public schools serving Rialto. Raymond graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1903 and attended Stanford University in Palo Alto and was there during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He graduated from Stanford in 1908, having earned a Bachelor’s degree. Having taken what were termed “pre-legal courses,” he became an employee of the law offices of W. J. and J. W. Curtis and passed his state bar examination in July 1908 and was admitted to the bar. He remained with the Curtis Law Firm nearly a year, when he was appointed deputy district attorney under Rex Goodcell. He remained in the office of the district attorney until January, 1915, and then formed a general law partnership with Samuel Brown Wylie McNabb, which continued successfully for many years.
In the meantime, in 1910, Hodge married, and in 1911, he became the first Rialto city attorney.
In June 1910, Hodge was betrothed to Bernice Anna Knoll, a daughter of Edward and Clara Knoll, of Riverside. Mrs. Hodge was born in Illinois, came to Riverside, California, as a child with her parents, and was educated in the public and high schools of Riverside. She was one of the first school teachers in Rialto and later became the first woman elected to the Rialto School Board. She was also a charter member of the Woman’s Club of Rialto.
Raymond and Bernice Hodge became the parents of two children, Robert E. and Geraldine E.
In 1911, when the City of Rialto incorporated, Raymond Hodge became that city’s first city attorney. He remained in that position for 41 years.
Hodge was a Republican and in religion a Methodist.
Among his fraternal connections were those of San Bernardino Lodge No. 836, B. P. O. E., and the San Bernardino Lodge No. 348, A. F. and A. M. He was a member of the San Bernardino Bar Association, the
Delta Chi college fraternity and the Progressive Business Club, National. He was the first president of the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino when it was organized in 1922
John Brown, Jr. and James Boyd in their 1923 tome, The History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, said of Hodge, “One of the younger generation of attorneys in San Bernardino, Raymond E. Hodge has already established himself as second to none in legal acquirements and as a master of the law. He has created confidence in himself by his handling of cases given to him and his increasing patronage shows that the public recognizes his skill. His recreation seems to be hard work and research and, blessed with fine intellect, educational advantages and a determination to succeed, he is well known as a worthwhile man. His friends predict many honors in store for him in the not distant future.”
In 1925 he was handling divorce cases.
In 1930, Hodge represented Albert E. Cunningham, who had been charged with operating an illicit liquor plant on property adjacent to his Highland Avenue ranch near San Bernardino, approximately one mile west of Mt. Vernon Avenue. On the night of January 31, 1930, deputy sheriff J. A. Larson and other deputies went to Cunningham’s ranch located on the south side of Highland searching for a still. Aided by Cunningham, the deputies searched the ranch for about forty minutes, finding nothing. The next morning, Cunningham came to the sheriff’s office and told Larson, “I think I have found what you were looking for.” Cunningham led the deputies to small dwelling in an orange grove west of his property, where they found a 200-gallon still ready for operations. The following day Cunningham was arrested and charged with possession of the still. When the matter went to trial before Superior Judge Charles L. Allison and a jury consisting of Carlos A- Grimes, A P. Tillen, Thomas M. Hatchett, O. G. Maltsberger, Flores H. Barnum, Marion Jones, Winnie H. Duncan, E. M. Dodson, William C. Maguire, H. A Hickman, Kittie Cram and Khoda V. Williams, Cunningham testified that he had obtained consent to use the screen porch of the house where the still was located as a poultry brooding room. He said that he and his brother had boarded the screen porch up about the middle of January to keep the wind away from the incubators he planned to install. The incubators had not been installed at the time the still was confiscated. Cunningham insisted that he had heard automobiles leave the vicinity of the house at night and declared he had no knowledge of the location of the apparatus in the house. The prosecution contended that the still, because of its size, must have been in the house before the screen porch was boarded up, there being no other entrance large enough to get the still through. Cunningham was prosecuted by chef deputy district attorney C.O. Thompson. The jury deliberated for 26 hours before returning a verdict of guilty against Cunningham at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, 1930.
In 1931, Hodge represented P.M. Palmer, an associate of R. L. (Curly) Thompson, who on the night of November 11, 1931 was arrested at Palmer’s home along with Palmer and F.M. Hutchens. Thompson gained considerable notoriety in December 1929, when he was arrested as the suspected murderer of Bert A. Whipple, whose charred body was found late one night in his burned motor car in the San Antonio Wash to the west of Upland. When a coroner’s jury failed to find that Whipple had been murdered, Thompson was released. He was rearrested, however, when it was learned that he had furnished the liquor for a drinking bout in which he, Whipple and others had indulged shortly before Whipple’s death. He was convicted on the liquor charge at that time and sentenced to jail. On November 11, 1931, the long arm of the law descended on Palmer’s home and discovered Thompson, Palmer and Hutchens in the company of Maudle Scanlon, a 16-year-old girl. All three men ended up in the courtroom of Judge George R. Holbrook. Thompson had originally demanded a jury trial after entering a plea of not guilty. He withdrew that plea, however, and pleaded to liquor possession. He was given 180 days in jail. The district attorney’s office pressed forward with cases against Palmer and Hutchens. Hutchens was with the girl at the time of the raid on Palmer’s home. Hutchens waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Hodge insisted that Palmer be provided with a preliminary hearing, and he succeeded in extending the preliminary hearing against Palmer to December 1, 1931, when Miss Scanlon failed to appear at the preliminary hearing on the matter on November 25, 1931.
In April 1944, Hodge represented two African-American women, Helen Fox and her daughter, Gary Lee Fox, who were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The two women were being prosecuted by chief criminal deputy district attorney Theo G. Krumm. Despite Hodge’s best efforts, both women were convicted by Superior Judge Charles L. Allison on April 20, 1944 on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
In 1952, he retired from the post of Rialto city attorney. Failing health caused his retirement as an attorney in 1954. Death found him on December 19, 1957. His widow, Bernice Anna Knoll Hodge, lived until 1977.
On February 11, the Upland City Clerk approved the circulation of recall petitions by citizens intending to oust City Council Members Carol Timm, Gino Filippi and Debbie Stone. The proponents and their teams, in good faith, have been engaged in collecting signatures throughout the city.
Unbeknownst to the proponents, at the time their recall was approved, the City of Upland was already in secret negotiations with the law firm of Shenkman and Hughes to negotiate a settlement in lieu of their intended law suit to force Upland into voting districts, one having a majority of Hispanic residents. In a letter delivered in December, they claim Upland voters are racists and that too many white voters “dilute the vote” of the Hispanic residents in at-large elections. The unconstitutional concept is backed by the California Voters Rights Act of 2001.
The City Council never informed the residents for months nor did the City Clerk warn the proponents of the recall that this was taking place and would have a major impact on those coming forward to run for the possibly vacated seats. It is understandable during negotiations, public discussion of the settlement details is not advisable. But the inevitability of districts could have and should have been revealed much earlier. It appears to proponents that the decision to hide this information from the public, may have had the intended consequence of foiling the recall as the three recall targets make a majority in council decisions.
The proponents and residents at large first learned at the April 11 Upland City Council meeting that the negotiations were complete and a settlement reached to where at-large voting would be replaced by racially gerrymandered voting by districts.
As part of a recall, proponents support candidates to fill the vacated council seats. Candidates must file with the city soon after the recall petition period. Those hoping to win the vacated seats know they will only serve out the remainder of the terms to November of 2018 and plan to run for re-election. But now with gerrymandered districts coming, re-election is in question. There can be only one council member from each new district.
Because the boundaries of the new voting districts will not be decided before the end of the recall petition period, the proponents have decided to formally end this recall and begin again when the boundaries are legally approved. This could happen this November when residents will vote on the issue. If the residents reject district voting, which many feel is morally wrong and unconstitutional because the concept is based on race, the city council will put the districts in place themselves through a city ordinance very soon after the November election.
Not knowing the boundaries of the new districts before the recall election, puts the candidates at a great disadvantage. After spending a great deal of time and money to get elected as at-large council members, they could find themselves all running for re-election in the same district where only one could win.
Another complication considered is that the council seat held by Mr. Bozar, is up for election this November. The candidate that wins this seat, according to Jeannette Vagnozzi, Upland City Clerk, will serve their full four-year term as an at-large candidate. She says that it is possible that this council member may be living in a district scheduled for a 2018 council election once the boundaries are decided. Both council members would be in the same district but the at-large council member’s term would be up in 2020 and the district election would not be until 2022. If the first council member chooses to run for re-election, he or she will have to wait until the 2022 elections, now at a great disadvantage due to the two-year wait.
Proponents have considered the intended and possible unintended consequences including the looming possibility agreed to in the settlement that Shenkman and Hughes has reserved the right to sue the city if voters do not approve voting districts this November. The City of Highland voted down districts and was sued. They lost and were forced by the judge to put all council seats into districts for the next election.
Had Upland taken the path that Chino chose, that of immediately creating voting districts in time for the 2016 elections, they most likely would have avoided the $45,000 settlement plus the over $20,000 in additional costs. But all council seats would have been vacated for district representation including the three seats under recall. Mayor Musser revealed at the April 11 council meeting that he was not ready to disband this council so soon. It seems to residents that the settlement bought council members the time to serve out their terms at not only the actual cost of the settlement, but the 4 year wait to finally have this situation resolved and districts seats rightly filled.
The proponents have consulted with the California Secretary of State legal department and the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters both of which were surprised a recall was approved knowing districts were being implemented. They admitted that the change-over will have a direct effect and likely negative impact on replacement candidates.
The proponents and supporters of the recall are outraged that uncooperative staff and council members trying to save their seats through 2018 have derailed this legal recall, a right of citizens under the law.