By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the October 21 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the October 21 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By Mark Gutglueck
Rancho Cucamonga Police Chief Danielle Boldt’s steady slide toward alcoholism has reached the point that she is putting not only her own career, but that of her husband, who is also a high-ranking member of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, in jeopardy, current and former sheriff’s officers have told the Sentinel.
Boldt’s risky behavior has included incidents of driving her department command vehicle, issued to her as police chief, while intoxicated, reliable sources have told the Sentinel.
Repeated efforts by the Sentinel to obtain Boldt’s version of events were met with no official response from her, the department, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon or Rancho Cucamonga City Manager John Gillison.
For years, Boldt has made a steady rise up the sheriff’s department chain of command, bolstered over the last four years by the ascendancy of John McMahon to the position of sheriff. Especial favor that was heretofore bestowed upon Boldt because of her connection to the current sheriff seemingly insulated her from being held accountable for a series of alcohol-related faux pas over a relatively short period of time in the last year. Paradoxically, that seeming invulnerability to the consequences of her action created a degree of hubris in Boldt that has led to the current crisis besetting her.
A series of events late last year and earlier this year brought Boldt’s losing battle with intoxicating liquors, long recognized among a widening circle of department members, to the attention of a more substantial cross section of high ranking governmental and law enforcement officials outside the department. Those events, described to the Sentinel as three “serious” episodes in which her affinity for alcohol compromised her judgment and created potential liability for the department, the county and the City of Rancho Cucamonga, illustrate the degree to which Boldt has avoided being held to answer for her actions, a member of the department told the Sentinel. Virtually any other member of the department caught up in simply one such lapse would have been subjected to serious discipline if not outright termination, the Sentinel is informed. Yet Boldt was able to brass out all three major bumps unscathed.
Events are moving to overtake Boldt, and the aura of untouchability she wants exuded now seems to have evaporated.
Boldt has led something of a charmed professional existence, based in large measure on her husband’s close personal relationship with McMahon. Leland Boldt, who is also a captain with the department, has been variously described as “the sheriff’s best friend” and “a member of McMahon’s inner circle.” McMahon and Leland Boldt have known each other for years, virtually since they joined the department within one year of each other in the 1980s. They are both avid horsemen, what some refer to as “modern cowboys.” They own adjoining properties in Idaho, where they have vacationed together. They are known to spend much of their off-duty time together.
Perhaps on his own merit, perhaps based upon his friendship with McMahon, Leland Boldt has landed one of the most prestigious positions in the department, as the head of the specialized investigations division. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s specialized investigations division has as its subunits the homicide detail, crimes against children detail and the polygraphing detail. Directly answerable to Lelandt Boldt is the lion’s share of what are considered the department’s top flight investigators. The cases his division handles are among the most high profiled, among the most demanding and intensive, and when resolved properly, the most rewarding personally and professionally of all of the work carried out by the sheriff’s department.
What is more, Leland Boldt’s wife, whose maiden name was Danielle French, has acceded to another of the more highly prized postings in the department, that overseeing the department’s operation in Rancho Cucamonga. Fourteen of San Bernardino County’s 24 cities do not have their own municipal police department but rather contract with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement service. Of those 14 contract cities, Rancho Cucamonga, with 175,000 residents the third largest of the county’s incorporated communities population-wise behind San Bernardino and Fontana, is the largest of the cities employing the sheriff’s office.
In January 2015, Danielle Boldt made Rancho Cucamonga history when she replaced Tony Onodera as captain of the Rancho Cucamonga sheriff’s station, a billet which carried with it the title of Rancho Cucamonga police chief. This made her the first woman to hold that title.
She joined the department in 1988 and had been rotated into various assignments around the county in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She made her most indelible mark working in the crimes against children unit. In 2012, she was moved from the department’s headquarters in San Bernardino, to become a lieutenant in Rancho Cucamonga. It was at the end of a two-year tour there that she was promoted to captain and reassigned to the High Desert Detention Facility in Adelanto. Less than six months later she was entrusted with the lead assignment in Rancho Cucamonga.
If the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department ever had a power couple, in 2015 Mr. and Mrs. Boldt – captain and captain Boldt – were indisputably it. Both were seemingly at the top – or near the top – of their profession and it was not unthinkable that at some point in the not too distant future one of them might be sheriff. At some point in late 2015, however, just as everything seemed to be going her way, Danielle Boldt appears to have gotten off track.
The Sentinel is told that on one occasion Danielle Boldt, driving the Rancho Cucamonga sheriff’s station’s command vehicle, was pulled over by a Highway Patrol officer as she was headed up the Cajon Pass from Rancho Cucamonga to the Boldts’ home in Hesperia. When she identified herself as a sheriff’s department captain, the Sentinel is told, she was not arrested, although she appeared to be driving under the influence. The Sentinel was unable to confirm this account independently through the Highway Patrol and was unable to locate any Highway Patrol incident logs or records that could be conclusively tied to Danielle Boldt.
Danielle Boldt became the object of a San Bernardino County Grand Jury investigation following a report that in the aftermath of a city event at which a crew of trustees from the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga were on hand as a custodial clean-up team, she allowed them to consume a quantity of alcohol that was left over after the festivities had concluded.
The grand jury investigation was proceeding, the Sentinel is informed, to the point where confirmation of some of the particulars had been made. At that point, it is reported sheriff McMahon became aware of the investigation and, at his behest, district attorney Mike Ramos prevailed upon deputy district attorney Michael Dauber, who serves as the grand jury advisor, to quash the investigation.
One report was that when one of the grand jurors objected to the termination of the investigation, Dauber threatened her with prosecution for violating grand jury confidentiality if she were to make any form of disclosure about what she knew. When the grand jury report was delivered at the end of the grand jury’s term in June, there was no reference to the furnishing of alcohol to inmates. Repeated efforts by the Sentinel to obtain a statement from Dauber were unsuccessful.
Boldt was apparently involved in a second traffic stop while she was commuting up the 15 Freeway from Rancho Cucamonga to Hesperia over the Cajon Pass, again in which she was suspected of driving while intoxicated, sources have told the Sentinel. In that case, it is reported, she was once more provided with what was termed “professional courtesy” when the Highway Patrol officer who stopped her allowed her to summon the watch commander then on duty at the Rancho Cucamonga station. She was remanded to the custody of the watch commander, who drove her to her Hesperia residence while her vehicle was driven by another deputy from the Rancho station, department sources say. She was not arrested, nor is there any record to indicate she was subjected to sobriety testing.
By April, a report of what had occurred reached the California Highway Patrol in Sacramento and lieutenant Jeff Loftin of the CHP’s San Bernardino office was detailed to carry out an investigation, aimed less at Danielle Boldt but rather at the action of the officer or officers who had stopped her. While there were indications earlier this year that the results of that investigation might become publicly available at some point, as of this week no report had been released.
In the months following the second moving vehicle incident, the Sentinel is informed, Danielle Boldt was far more discreet in her comportment. More recently, however, those within her professional orbit have detected signs which to them indicate she is again using alcohol, perhaps to excess.
Repeated efforts by the Sentinel, including phone calls to her office and home, a letter hand delivered to her office at the Rancho Cucamonga sheriff’s station, an email and an attempt to interview her directly failed to elicit a response from Danielle Boldt with regard to the above-referenced reports.
A phone call to sheriff McMahon’s office at sheriff’s department headquarters was met with no response.
Of issue in the matter, beyond the safety risk to Boldt and others if the reports of her driving while intoxicated are accurate, are issues of liability relating to the sheriff’s department, the sheriff himself if his knowledge of the circumstances can be established, the county, the City of Rancho Cucamonga, and the county and city’s taxpayers.
Moreover, the potential for the exposure of the extent to which the department and its highest ranking members have actively militated to leave the situation unaddressed is such that it could damage McMahon politically. It would most certainly have an impact on Danelle Boldt’s promotional prospects and could have an impact, if it has not already had, on her husband’s promotional hopes. And widespread exposure of what has already occurred, if verified in its entirely, might put McMahon in a position in which he will have no choice but to remove her from the Rancho Cucamonga station command post, and most likely demote her if he doesn’t separate her from the department altogether.
The issue of liability is a complex one. At stake is whether any potential liability is confined to the sheriff’s department, the county and Boldt, or whether the City of Rancho Cucamonga would share in that liability. There are differences between the contract terms in some of the sheriff’s department contracts with the 14 contract cities, extending to both the provision of vehicles and general liability issues. In some cases involving the county’s lower population cities, the sheriff’s department vehicles are supplied by the department out of the department’s 1,600-unit fleet. In other cases including the larger cities, the Sentinel is informed, the vehicles are stationed, fueled and maintained out of that city’s motor pool or corporate and equipment yards. In this way, it can be construed that the liability for any mishap with those vehicles accrues at least partially to the city.
Lieutenant Brett Williams, the head of the sheriff’s department’s civil liabilities division, told the Sentinel that in initially processing claims, “We don’t decipher between department vehicles and those owned by the contract cities. The cars get repaired and we turn it over to the insurance carriers.”
As to what happens in those situations where there are circumstances in which liability might be shared or merged, Williams said, “How we would work that out with the cities is beyond my knowledge. I would refer you to the bureau of administration. That would all depend on the individual contracts with the cities and you would have to check with them for that.”
The Sentinel was unsuccessful in achieving an interview with sheriff McMahon.
Rancho Cucamonga officials were equally reticent. Phone calls to city manager John Gillison were diverted to the city’s public information officer, Francie Palmer. Palmer said she had no information with regard to the specific situation involving Danielle Boldt and no information general or specific relating to the liability issue or the terms of the city’s contract. She said the Sentinel would need to make an official request for the information and copies of the contract under the California Public Records Act.
Palmer did not dispute that Gillison had immediate access to the information the Sentinel was requesting but said “Mr. Gillison is not available.”
Gillison’s unwillingness to field questions on the record with regard to the Danielle Boldt matter reflects directly on the city’s liability vulnerability. Indications are that after learning of the contretemps involving the police chief, he did not pass that information along to his political masters, the Rancho Cucamonga City Council.
Mayor Dennis Michael was on vacation this week and had not returned phone calls by press time.
Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Bill Alexander, who previously served as mayor, said of the issues attending Danielle Boldt, “I haven’t heard anything about it,” adding, “I usually don’t get consulted on those sorts of things. I’m pretty much out of the loop nowadays and because this involves a county agency and contracted-for services, things like that will often be passed straight through to the county.”
With regard to potential city liability and the ultimate ownership of the vehicles driven by the sheriff’s department personnel assigned to Rancho Cucamonga, Alexander said, “I believe those are technically city vehicles, if I am not mistaken. I know they are fueled and maintained at the city’s corporate yard. So if something were to happen with one of those cars, it could turn into the responsibility of the city.”
As to what is in the city or city council’s purview with regard to the police chief, Alexander said, “We have no real say as a contract city in the assignments of the captains who are selected to serve as the chiefs of police. The sheriff makes that determination and the city has no say about it.”
Though Alexander said he thinks the city has a “clear interest” in being informed about any issues involving the performance of the city’s police chief, he said the ins and outs of state law pertaining to public employees limit the reach of the council.
“They consider these things personnel issues,” Alexander said. “That means a very involved process where the employee’s rights have to be considered. You cannot simply take immediate action, even if the situation would seem to warrant that.”
Alexander said it is inconceivable that Gillison is not on top of what is going on. “If it occurred, I am absolutely sure he knows all about it,” Alexander said.
Alexander said he personally saw no outward signs of a problem with the police chief.
“I’ve met her at Kiwanis meetings,” he said. “She seemed like a nice enough lady. I’m hoping that if, in fact, she has a problem she can get it corrected.”
Caught in the middle of this is the police chief’s husband, Captain Leland Boldt. It has recently been hinted that, despite his close personal relationship with sheriff McMahon and the high regard both men have for each other, Lelandt Boldt’s career progress may have suffered a recent setback.
Among department observers and some insiders, it was anticipated that Leland Boldt was next in line to be promoted to one of the department’s two deputy chief slots. Sheriff McMahon, however, selected captain Steve Dorsey to fill a vacated deputy chief post in his most recent senior echelon promotion. While Dorsey’s advancement was not a shock exactly, it was something of a surprise, thwarting Leland Boldt’s presumed ascendancy when Dorsey unexpectedly stepped over him.
McMahon, as an autonomous, elected official, is in no way obliged to publicly explain the rationale for his staffing decisions and the Sentinel was unable to get from him a voluntary explanation as to his choice of Dorsey.
The Sentinel’s efforts to reach Leland Boldt, by both email and telephone, did not trigger a response.
Driving under the influence by department members or their family members, the decision by officers in the field to make arrests under those circumstances and the career-complicating, career-damaging or career-ending implications of doings so is not a new issue within the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Sergeant Steve Moran appeared to be on the fast track for advancement with the department until he arrested former undersheriff Gary Huff’s son near Big Bear two-and-a-half decades ago. Moran was pressured to “eighty-six” the record of the arrest, that is, to in some fashion “bury” or prevent the matter from being forwarded to the district attorney’s office. When he refused to do so, Moran was deemed persona non grata among his colleagues and was eventually hounded out of the department. He filed suit over what had occurred, and after a more than four-year-long wending of his case through the courts, he was vindicated, receiving a $1.2 million settlement, which included back pay.
Other department deputies insisting on upholding the law when their colleagues were caught intoxicated at the wheel of a car did not fare as well as Moran.
Former deputy Ken Holtz saw his 20-year career essentially destroyed after he arrested one of his colleagues, Rick Runstrom, for driving under the influence close to a decade ago.
Holtz said from the time he first became a deputy with San Bernardino County, the extension of what he called “professional courtesy” to members of the department who had one or two drinks too many and got behind the wheel was an unwritten but almost universally honored policy. “What would happen is they would get a ride home and not get arrested,” Holtz said.
Holtz acknowledged that “during the first few years” he was a deputy, he had let some department members, including at least one high-ranking one, off the hook. At some point relatively early on, Holtz said, he became bothered by “the hypocrisy. It just isn’t right arresting someone when you are letting someone who is equally guilty go. And it is contrary to what you are there for, which is public safety. It shouldn’t matter who you are.”
Holtz said the department’s tradition of providing “professional courtesy” went beyond members of the department or law enforcement officers in general and at least sometimes included other powerful public officials, including elected ones.
Holtz made it a personal policy of refusing to participate in the provision of professional courtesy, which in some fashion complicated things for him, he said. Most famously, Holtz arrested Bob Dutton, a mover and shaker in the Rancho Cucamonga community and later a Rancho Cucamonga councilman, then a California Assemblyman, later a state senator, and today San Bernardino County’s assessor and recorder. Holtz said that over the course of his career, he arrested or issued citations to a few politically connected people within the communities he served along with law enforcement officers from outside the department who were off duty, including ones for impaired driving. This enforcement action created concern among the command staff, Holtz said.
Adhering to that principle carried with it its own risk, Holtz acknowledged, and he said he found himself at odds with not only the department brass but many of the department’s lower ranking members when he arrested Runstrom. Ultimately, Holtz said, he was terminated from the department when he got into a confrontation with two lower-ranking members over the Runstrom arrest. It was that confrontation that the department used as the pretext to fire him, Holtz said. Holtz has in his possession information and documentation to demonstrate his firing was in retaliation for the Runstrom arrest.
Holtz offered his perspective on Danielle Boldt.
“We came into the department at nearly the same time,” Holtz said. “She was, I think, a year ahead of me. She was a good officer. She was accepted. She was a party girl. She would have a few, after hours, just like a lot of people were, but I never saw her drinking as being out of control.”
Holtz said Boldt hit her stride and began to excel when she went into the department’s crimes against children unit. “She was very good at it,” he said. At some point, Holtz noted, Boldt came into conflict with some other deputies, some of whom she felt were not being aggressive enough in pursuing crimes against children. The department pursued a complaint Boldt lodged against a detective working out of the Victorville station over that contention, Holtz said, but ultimately the department’s professional standards division reached a conclusion that the detective had followed procedure and was diligent in handling his assignments. However, a sergeant supervising the detective received a 15-day suspension for failure to properly supervise that detective. The complaint made by Danielle Boldt was overseen by Leland Boldt, both of whom at that time were sergeants. The sergeant supervising the detective who was the subject of Danielle Boldt’s complaint felt he was not accorded fair treatment, but was unable to resolve the matter through an appeal to the civil service commission When the sergeant was unable to resolve the matter to his satisfaction he took early retirement. The detective who had been exonerated in the investigation launched by Danielle Boldt retired as well. That episode created a good deal of resentment among a considerable number of department members.
Boldt was subsequently transferred out of the crimes against children unit, promoted to lieutenant and then landed in Rancho Cucamonga for a two year tour there earlier this decade. Without saying so directly, Holtz hinted that taking Danielle Boldt out of the crimes against children unit may have removed her from the role within the department where she was best suited.
Whatever emotions might be playing out in Danielle Boldt with regard to the opportunity for her professional fulfillment as a law enforcement officer are internal ones, not publicly known. What is now known is she has become embroiled in a circumstance that brings into question whether the sheriff’s department has enforced and will continue to enforce the law fairly, evenly and without regard to status, connection and rank, and which has created doubt that the department is truly committed to the safety of Rancho Cucamonga’s, and the county’s, residents.
The current race for two positions on Rancho Cucamonga’s Central School District Board of Trustees involves a rare if not unique situation in which a significant number of the district’s teachers are supporting a candidate who was not endorsed by the union representing them.
Vying in the race to oversee the district, which entails five elementary and two middle schools, are incumbents Kathy Thompson and Joan Weiss, as well as challenger Robert Moya.
One major issue is the physical deterioration of the 100-year-old district’s capital assets. Some of the schools have been in place for 80 years and major improvements have not been done to some for nearly 70 years.
One of the district’s schools, legend has it, bears a curse. In April 1988, 19-year-old Leonard Falcone, who just a decade before had been a student in the district and at that time was working at a nearby Taco Bell and attending Chaffey College full time, was gunned down by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan’ielle Durrant as Falcone and three of his friends were playing laser tag that evening at Central Elementary School, located less than a quarter of a mile north of Foothill Blvd on Archibald.
Teachers in the district say the school has claimed or is endangering far more lives, with an alarming number of former teachers having contracted cancer and, at least one expiring from an advanced carcinoma.
Officially, the district has acknowledged that the sewer pipes and the roof at Central Elementary are in need of repair, and that the fire safety system is both antiquated and of dubious functionality.
In 2014, voters in the district overwhelmingly approved by 4,141 votes or 67.1 percent in favor and 2,030 votes or 32.9 percent opposed Measure N, a $35 million bond to repair and update facilities.
Despite that, some teachers have suggested, the district has continued to neglect far more serious problems at Central School, including the serious health hazards posed by lead and asbestos and other toxic materials that remain in place. In particular, teachers point to a high incidence of breast and liver cancers, melanoma and immune system failures of teachers or faculty working in rooms 1, 2, 24, 25, 26 and 34 at the school, in addition to within the school’s primary hall. Some teachers have theorized that the several-decades-long exposure to those conditions long term teachers at the school injured their health, and that students, many of whom have or will spend seven years on the campus, are likewise running a risk.
There has been no empirical survey of the classrooms to verify these suspicions.
One undeniable risk to children attending Central Elementary, however, is the traffic situation there. Built in the 1950s when Archibald Avenue was a rustic two-lane street and Cucamonga was a hamlet of less than 7,000, Central Elementary is now located on an extremely heavily traveled four-lane street that is a major north south artery in a city that now encompasses adjoining Alta Loma and Etiwanda and boasts a current population of 175,000 and growing.
Measure N has done nothing to redress the asbestos and lead threats to those who attend or work at the school.
A new parking lot is currently being constructed at Central Elementary, but it is taking longer than expected and both parents and teachers maintain it is more dangerous during the construction phase than before.
Insensitivity to these issues as well as others throughout the district which a cross section of the district’s teachers take very seriously has led a collection of teachers, working outside the aegis of the teachers union, to use the forum of the election to make clear their differences with district management in the personage of superintendent Donna Libutti.
The teachers make no bones about not seeing eye-to-eye with the board. In a circular that is being handed around the community, it is stated “The incumbents supported the recent school bond, Measure N in the Central School District, with the promise from superintendent Libutti that safety issues would be addressed. One safety issue specifically cited during the Measure N campaign was the fact that classroom teachers must exit the classroom to lock the classroom doors from the outside. Imagine a shooter coming onto a local campus and the teacher must exit the classroom to lock the door. This unsafe situation was promised to be remedied with Measure N funds and now all monies have been spent with this problem still existing.”
A group of parents maintains the funding obtained from Measure N was diverted to increasing administrative salaries, in particular that of Libutti. According to the circular, after the passage of Measure N, the “incumbents, free from the financial burden … find that they have other financial resources to increase the salary of the superintendent of their 7-school district from $125K a decade ago to currently over $205K in total compensation, while concurrently denying classroom teachers a raise and instead forcing them to take furlough days without pay to balance the budget.”
Parents in the district assert “Incumbent Joan Weiss presents multiple conflicts of interest,” a primary one consisting of her “being a Central School District board trustee in addition to working for the West End Special Education Local Planning Area, a local education agency, which provides direct instruction to students in the school district.”
According to several teachers, the teachers union, the Central Teachers Organization, was on track to endorse Robert Moya, a retired railroad executive who has a grandchild attending school in the Central School District.
Teachers report that Joanna Ambrozich, the union president, intervened when it became clear the union was not going to endorse the incumbents in this year’s race. Teachers allege that since Ambrozich took office the union has been less than vigorous in its representation of the teachers and their interests and that Ambrozich has been co-opted by the district administration. Ambrozich was appointed union president without an election after the previous president stepped down in the Spring of 2016. Ambrozich acceded to the position per the union’s bylaws in which the vice president succeeds a resigning president.
Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Ambrozich yielded no response.
The Central Teachers Organization did support Mr. Stacy Henry two years ago, when Stacy was the only newcomer in the county to win a school board election. Henry has questioned Libutti’s intentions and adherence to promises she made in seeking voter support for Measure N.
Henry supports and endorses Robert Moya in his current campaign.
Rancho Cucamonga presents a study in contrasts with regard to its public school organizations. The city features five separate school districts – the Alta Loma School District, the Central School District, the Chaffey Union High School District, the Cucamonga School District, and the Etiwanda School District. There is a disparity between what teachers are paid in the Central School District and the other districts in the City of Rancho Cucamonga. This is an issue of some sensitivity, in part because Rancho Cucamonga is considered the second most affluent city in San Bernardino County measured by the common standards of average household income and median income.
To drive home how it is that they believe they are being given short shrift, a group of the district’s teachers outside the context of the union have begun to distribute a document titled 2016-17 Salary Comps, which purports to show the salaries provided to a beginning teacher, with the qualifications of a bachelor’s degree plus 30 units in education and the holding of a teachers credential, in 35 Southern California school districts. Central ranked at number 33 of the 35, with its beginning teachers being provided $45,956 per year. Only the Charter Oak district near Covina, at $44,768, and Mt. Baldy, at $42,193, paid beginning teachers less. This contrasted with Alta Loma at number 30, Etiwanda, at number 24, and Cucamonga, at number 12, which respectively paid beginning teachers, $48,129 and $49,647 and $51,575; with Ontario-Montclair, at number 22, which paid $55,256; with Upland, at number 29, which paid beginning teachers $48,244; Chaffey, at number five, which paid beginning teachers $54,364; Pomona, at number 4, which paid beginning teachers $54,552 and Arcadia, at number one, which paid its beginning teachers $57,301 per year.
Some parents in the district take issue with the assertion that the district has “21st Century classrooms,” which the parents say “only amounts to smart boards in the classroom that malfunction and are not used to their potential.”
In their circular, the collection of teachers says they have “refused to endorse incumbents and instead are canvassing the district for their opponent, Robert Edward Moya.” Some district parents have accused Libutti of “bullying” and of perpetrating “failed policies and practices in the district, leaving Central School District schools at the bottom of the barrel in Rancho Cucamonga. Incumbents rubber stamp these failed policies and procedures and fail to hold the superintendent accountable.”
Moya in his campaign has charged that the district administration has diverted the Measure N funds to academically unproductive projects as well as away from the district’s legitimate capital improvements needs. The district, Moya charged, is top heavy in administration, with money going to unnecessary administrative costs. Moya questioned Libutti’s stated intention of utilizing the Measure N bond money to build a new administration building.
Moya, unlike any of the current members of the board other than Stacy Henry, has shown he is at odds with Libutti and her approach. Libutti, who lives in Upland, is the wife of former deputy district attorney/Upland councilman Michael Libutti, who is now a Superior Court judge. Mrs. Libutti is making a salary that approaches that of her husband, while serving in a local and geographically compact district that does not have anywhere near the same economic support base as the statewide court system. For many, including Moya, Donna Libutti has an inflated sense of her value based upon her and her husband’s social, legal and societal standing that is not matched by her performance and abilities.
Moya cited Libutti’s superintendent’s $177,000 per year salary, which does not include benefits and deferred compensation, pointing out the superintendent in the Fontana Unified School District is paid $6,798 per school while Libutti receives $26,509 per school.
In seeming reaction to the negative publicity this election season is generating, the district, at taxpayer expense, but out a mailer that touts the outstanding job the district is doing.
That mailer, described as a “community update,” began landing in the mailboxes of district residents on October 12, the same day absentee ballots were being delivered within the district.
Under the category of “balanced budgeting” the mailer states, “The board of trustees approved a 44 million dollar balanced budget for 2016-17, just four years after the biggest spending cuts California has ever seen in Kindergarten through 12th grade education.”
Furthermore, the mailer states. “The district’s budget includes funds set aside for the following: textbook adoptions; 21st Century technology; full-time counselors; physical education teachers at every site; after-school sports at all schools; intervention programs; staff development; afterschool enrichment and activities at all schools; parent education.”
The mailer asserts, “The district maintains high levels of accountability and transparency to ensure all funds received are used to meet the needs of all students through: regular public budget reviews at board meetings; annual compliance and financial audits; additional financial and performance audits for bond funds; and a citizen’s [sic] bond oversite [sic] committee.”
Under the heading “Health/safety measures,” the mailer states that “Safety plans [have been] developed for all seven schools” and references “Ongoing collaboration with local police, fire, and first responders to continually assess immediate and long-term threat assessments [sic]” as well as “Ongoing training for all staff on how to respond to emergency situations involving weapons on campus.”
In addition to the mailer, the district employs “Seven full-time health clerks, two mental health clinicians, and three full time nurses serving families district-wide.”
The district spent $7,500 on the mailer. Board member Stacy Henry said he had not known about the mailer until he received it in his mail. He questioned its intent, noting his name and the names of the other board members were prominently featured on it, suggesting it was intended as a promotion of Thompson and Weiss’s candidacies.
Tressy Capps, who has already established a distinct political profile as an advocate against the addition of toll lanes on San Bernardino County’s freeways, is making her third and most energetic effort for elected office in this year’s Fontana City Council Race.
“I am running because I see the people on the council, including our mayor, who are not representing the people but rather developers and regional governmental agencies they are members of, such as SCAG and SanBAG.”
SCAG is Southern California Associated Governments, a confabulation of Southern California’s counties and cities. SanBAG is San Bernardino Associated Governments, which is San Bernardino County’s transportation agency involving all 24 of the county’s municipalities.
“They are taking money from developers like Lewis Homes and then they rubber stamp whatever they want,” Capps said of the incumbents on the Fontana City Council. “I am running so I can be in on the conversation and hopefully get two other council members to represent the people.”
Capps said she is experiencing disappointment and frustration with the political process. She lamented that most of the candidates are divided into two groups: well meaning but unsophisticated newcomers and well-established and cynical insiders who are in politics to benefit themselves and the powerful interests that have put them in office in the past and are spending large sums of money to keep them there.
“It is disheartening,” she said. “So many of the candidates have no clue. They don’t know what they are talking about. The others are puppets. Politics is really something. I want to be an office holder but I don’t want to be like the ones who are in office now. I don’t want to be like our mayor [Acquanetta Warren]. She is a rubber stamp for the ones she is taking her marching orders from.”
Capps offered an illustration of the dictates from on high that Warren and the rest, or most of the rest, of the political establishment are carrying out. “I recently heard her say how we need to get away from cars and get on our bicycles for this sustainability business. That is not how the real world works.”
Capps said she perceived the residents of Fontana as caught between these unrealistic dictates of ivory tower social engineers and the greed and self-serving economic interests seeking to exploit the community. The confluence of these forces is destroying the local quality of life, Capps said.
“The biggest issue we face is explosive growth,” she asserted. “Density contributes to crime. That is not the only reason for the rise. With Assembly Bill 109 and Senate Bill 47, we are not keeping people in jail very long. Those are factors. But the sheer growth we are experiencing is turning us into Los Angeles. Fontana’s population is up to 206,000 and city officials are saying they want to add 55,000 people in the next ten years. They want to turn Fontnaa into Los Angeles. I am sorry, but that is not why I moved here. Some of the development they are supporting and which we so far have been successful in opposing would bring those population numbers up even higher. With the Westgate development, they tried to get up to 5,500 units. That’s a lot of people in the north end of Fontana. We pushed back. At the halfway point they have dropped it to 3,300 units. When I take my niece to high school, it’s like an episode of “The Urban Survivor.” There is so much traffic already and they want to put 3,300 more units in. And they are now talking about putting people on bicycles and cramming more and more people into the area. People are not going to ride bicycles. They will all want to drive cars and they will keep driving cars and we will have even more traffic. This is not what I want. I want to have reasonable growth, not pack and stack development. The city has spent $1.7 million on the general plan. They have paid a company, Stantac, $1.7 million for its employee’s vision.”
Capps continued, “Stantac is a firm from Boston and they are doing much of the planning for Fontana in Boston. One of their planners, Larissa Brown, talks about Fontana becoming the most sustainable city in the Inland Empire. That means rationing. So this is the struggle for what Fontana is going to become. She flies in from Boston. She comes here and talks about Fontana being a net zero energy community and that she wants Fontana to exceed California’s standards, which are already very strict. It is upsetting to sit in on these meetings and see what they are trying to do to our city. Stantac’s vision is not the vision of the residents of Fontana. I can guarantee you it is is not my vision of the future of Fontana. I have followed the general plan process from day one. I applied to get on the general plan advisory committee. I was never contacted. I did not get an email back. I did not get a phone call in return. They put their cronies on the committee. I am still studying what they are trying to institute in Fontana, and the vast majority of the people in Fontana are absolutely clueless as to what is being done in their name.“
Capps said she believes she offers the voters in Fontana a meaningful and viable alternative to the political leadership it is now under.
“I understand how things work,” Capps said. “My impression is the kingmakers don’t want the public to really understand what is happening at every level of government. I have spent time at school board meetings and at SanBAG meetings and I have seen how everything is about money. I have worked with some activists and we have managed to stop some development in Fontana. It is not fair to say we stopped it. We just put it off. We won a battle or two, but we did not necessarily win the war. I think it would be good for me to get into office because I am not being paid by anyone to do their bidding. The Fontana Water Company gave the members of the city council money for their election campaigns. When rate increases came down, the council did not speak out because they took money from Fontana Water. Burrtec gave them money. When Burrtec asked for rate increases, they were granted the increases, because the council took their money. The developers have given them money and the council has given, and are ready to give them more, high density because they took their money. I probably don’t have a chance of winning because I haven’t taken their money and I don’t have money to pay for signs and mailers. That’s how it works.”
While she is on the campaign trail, Capps took the opportunity to deviate from her own campaign and to politic on behalf of two of her favorite issues.
“I am against toll lanes on our freeways,” she said. “We have paid for those roads through taxes. We should not have to pay a private company to use our own roads.”
And she inveighed against Measure I on the ballot, which would authorize the issuance of school bonds and levy further property tax on the homeowners withing the Etiwanda School District, which extends into the western side of Fontana. “The district already has 35 percent of its budget in reserves,” she said. “The last thing they need is $137 million more in reserves. When you look at how much money the district spent to craft that bond measure it is incredible. They spent $200,000 of our tax money against us to get more taxes. If it passes, we are moving. I told my husband to get ready. I am not going to have another tax assessment on my bill.”
Capps was born in Pisa, Italy, where her father was stationed on an army base. She attended and graduated from Chino High School and studied accounting at Chaffey College. She was self employed for a quarter century with her own legal services firm. She now has a real estate license. With her husband she has two grown children. She previously lived in Fontana in the 1980s for two years, and subsequently located to Rancho Cucamonga. She relocated to Fontana 13 years ago.
Eight months after a federal court ruling that rebuked the Chino Valley Unified School District’s practice of permitting and even promoting Christian proselytizing, the school board is reluctantly inching toward adopting a policy that will reduce, at least somewhat, the overtly religious character of the board’s proceedings.
Members of the school board, in particular James Na, Andrw Cruz and Sylvia Orozco, have made no secret of their deeply-held Christian beliefs and have not been shy about making overt public expressions of their faith, opening meetings with religious invocations, breaking into spontaneous religious homilies, reciting biblical verses, and telling those in attendance that they need to “find Jesus” if
they have not already.
Na, Cruz and Orozco are members of the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, where the Reverend Jack Hibbs is the pastor. Hibbs evinces a denominationalist attitude, which holds that Christians have a duty to take over public office and promote their religious beliefs from the bully pulpit they occupy.
Hibbs calls upon his congregants to be “political activist soldiers in the service of the Lord” and “prayer warriors.”
Hibbs has asserted “No law is going to stop people from praying.” A handbill he authored states, “It has long been the tradition of our nation to open federal, state, and local legislative sessions, as well as town and school board meetings, with an invocation asking God for divine guidance and blessing. People of faith must unite to encourage the school district and its board members to continue their support of this time honored tradition.”
In November 2014, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, on behalf of two named plaintiffs, Larry Maldonado and Mike Anderson, and 21 unnamed plaintiffs filed suit against the district, asserting they were alienated or intimidated at school board meetings because of overt and constant references to Christianity, including “prayers, Bible readings and proselytizing.” In the suit, the plaintiffs sought the cessation of religiosity as an element in the district’s conducting of business.
The district was defended by attorneys from the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit conservative legal defense organization that specializes in religious freedom, and subsequently by the Murrieta-based law firm Tyler & Bursch.
In February of this year, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal told the board to refrain forthwith from inserting religion into official proceedings and ordered the Chino Unified School District Board to discontinue its overt and constant references to Christianity during its public meetings. Bernal rejected the defendants’ claims that the board majority’s celebration of its beliefs did not violate the plaintiffs’ rights to attend district board meetings and participate in other district and school functions without being subjected to an intensive round of religious advocacy.
“The court finds… permitting religious prayer in board meetings, and the policy and custom of reciting prayers, Bible readings, and proselytizing at board meetings, constitute unconstitutional government endorsements of religion in violation of plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights,” Bernal wrote. “Defendant board members are enjoined from conducting, permitting or otherwise endorsing school-sponsored prayer in board meetings.”
The court ordered the school board to pay court costs and plaintiff fees, which were subsequently determined to be $202,971.70.
“The legislative exception does not apply to prayer at school board meetings,” Bernal stated, reasoning that the nature of the school board made it even more imperative that it not break down the Constitutional wall between state and church.
“The risk that a student will feel coerced by the board’s policy and practice of religious prayer is even higher here than at football games or graduations,” Bernal stated. “The school board possesses an inherently authoritarian position with respect to the students. The board metes out discipline and awards at these meetings, and sets school policies that directly and immediately affect the students’ lives.”
Bernal added, “Regardless of the stated purpose of the [prayer] resolution, it is clear that the board uses it to bring sectarian prayer and proselytization into public schools through the backdoor.”
At this week’s board meeting, the board made a gesture toward coming into permanent compliance with Bernal’s order, although many believe district officials are not going far enough in separating God from government. Indeed, elements of the policy the board took up has language of an unmistakable face-saving nature that seems to miss the concept Bernal propounded.
The board considered, but did not adopt, the proposed board policy.
According to a staff report, a policy relating to “Public Statements Regarding Religion or Non-Religion” is to have this preamble: “As the elected legislative body of the Chino Valley Unified School District, the board of education recognizes that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees each person’s individual right to free exercise of religion or non-religion, and prevents the government and other public officials from establishing a religion or non-religion.”
In getting down to brass tacks, the proposed policy says, “During the public portion of the board meeting, board members may discuss religion or religious perspectives to the extent that they are germane to agenda items or public comments,” without clarifying how a religious topic might be germane to the operation of Chino Valley’s schools. The language does, nonetheless envision a change from the atmosphere that previously attended board meetings. “When acting in their official capacities and when speaking on behalf of the district, board members shall not proselytize, and shall be neutral toward religion and/or non-religion,” the policy states.
The board is to consider the policy for adoption next month.
The California Supreme Court last week denied a petition from the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance asking for a reconsideration of its earlier rejected appeal of the county’s approval of a plan to build a Dollar General store in that rustic community.
The Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance filed a lawsuit against San Bernardino County and store developer Dynamic Development in San Bernardino County Superior Court, obtaining a favorable ruling that stymied the project. Dynamic Development filed an appeal to the Fourth Appellate District, which ruled against the alliance by reversing
the initial injunction.
The Fourth Appellate District in June found that the alliance did not provide enough information nor an adequate rationale to consider the negative economic impact of the store, proposed at Twentynine Palms Highway and Sunburst Street.
David Fick of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance lamented the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the matter up on appeal, saying it now appeared “All legal avenues of resisting Dollar General’s damaging plan appear to be exhausted.”
For four years, members of the Joshua Tree community have been opposing the proposed construction of a Dollar Genera. They say the store will ruin the downtown area’s unique character.
The San Bernardino County Public Works Department will defray 88.5 percent of the cost of replacing the Lanzit Ditch Bridge on old Route 66 in the Amboy area with federal funds.
This week, the county board of supervisors complied with county public works director Gerry Newcombe’s recommendation that the county apply $1,663,645 in federal Highway Bridge Program funds administered through the State of California Department of Transportation and then utilize local matching funds, in this case $215,544 in gasoline taxes, for the construction phase of the National Trails Highway renovation project at Lanzit Ditch near Amboy where a long-existing bridge is on the brink of failure.
This defined project is one of several the county is undertaking along what was historically the primary roadway into California, U.S. Route 66, which in the 1920s was converted from the National Trails Highway. Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 but remains a far lesser used alternative route to Interstates 10 & 15 & 40.
According to Newcombe, “The Lanzit Ditch Bridge is located in San Bernardino County, approximately 2.77 miles east of Kelbaker Road near the unincorporated community of Amboy. This project is one of several ongoing efforts to replace bridges on National Trails Highway that have exceeded their design lifespan. This item meets the county and chief executive officer’s goals by working with Caltrans to ensure that the necessary agreements are processed in accordance with Caltrans guidelines in order to receive federal funds as reimbursement for project costs.”
Newcombe said “Discretionary general funding has been authorized to prepare plans to address all of the 127 bridges in priority groups as part of the county’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate or replace 1930s era timber trestle bridges on National Trails Highway. This project began prior to the discretionary general funding availability and the department has budgeted gasoline tax funds as the local match for this project, so no portion of the authorized discretionary general funding will be used at this time on the project. Those funds remain authorized to be used toward future costs associated with the 127 bridges along National Trails Highway. Receiving $1,663,645 of Highway Bridge Program funds will assist in funding the project’s construction costs.”
By Count Friedrich von Olsen
I’m having a pretty rough go of it lately. While I am not an American by birth, it is most likely accurate to say that I have been an American citizen for a longer period of time than most readers of this column. Somehow, for me, Americanism is greatly intertwined with Republicanism. So many great Americans were Republicans, indeed they seem to flood over the North American landscape, obscuring for the most part the Democrats. Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Earl Warren, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert Taft, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Herbert Hoover, Charles Evans Hughes, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, James Garfield, Abraham Lincoln. Why even Richard Nixon was a Republican, and despite a few personality flaws, people, by golly, are coming around to seeing him as having been a pretty good president. Why even Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were Democratic Republicans, and that’s only half bad…
But as I said, it has been pretty tough lately. What was instilled in me at a young age – oh, alright, at a middle age – was the Eleventh Commandment. For those of you who do not know it, it reads: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Just think about that! You can see what ails me…
Early on, in the primary season, we heard Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush saying some uncharitable things about Donald Trump. That didn’t get to me particularly, as it was the primary season and that sort of intra-party bashing is de rigueur. But it has gotten worse, much worse…
Senator Mitch McConnell; Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; John Negroponte, former director of national intelligence in the Bush Administration ; Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security director under George W. Bush as well as former governor of the battleground state of Pennsylvania; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – Republicans all – are bashing the GOP nominee for president…
Gary R. Herbert Utah’s Republican governor, and Jason Chaffetz, the Republican congressman from Utah are bashing Mr. Trump like there is no tomorrow. I’m the Count, and I can count. I count the votes in the Electoral College, or the likely votes in the Electoral College and my math tells me that it is going to be very hard for our man, Mr. Trump, to find his way to a home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without Utah remaining in the red column…
In recent months, weeks, and days, we have heard John McCain, the Arizona Republican Senator, a war hero and Republican Standard bearer in the 2008 election, say, again, and then again, and again, “There are no excuses for Donald Trump.” How can we win without Arizona?
Mitt Romney, our party’s nominee just four years ago, referred to Donald Trump as “vile and demeaning…”
Paul Ryan, the House Speaker and most senior elected Republican, called Mr. Trump’s comments “sickening” and banned him from a Republican campaign event in Wisconsin on last Saturday…
Even former president George Herbert Walker Bush has said he will vote for Hillary Clinton, the wife of the man who kept him from a second term…
Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is stomping on the Republican nominee for president…
I think I’m having a breakdown…
By Mark Gutglueck
Hal Reniff was a major league baseball pitcher from Ontario. He played professionally for 17 years, from 1956 until 1972. He spent seven years in the major leagues, and was a member of the final phase of the original New York Yankees Dynasty that endured from 1921 to 1964 before going dormant for 13 years. Reniff spent seven of those 17 years in the major leagues. His major league career, which lasted from 1961 to 1967, was sandwiched between his 1956 to 1962 and 1968 to 1972 stints in the minor leagues. During one of those years in the minors, 1959, he was arguably the best pitcher playing at that professional level.
Harold Eugene Reniff was born on July 2, 1938, in Warren, Ohio, the son of Harold G. Reniff, Sr. and Grace Eleanor Reniff. He was the great nephew of Joe “Moon” Harris, who played in the major leagues from 1914 to 1928. After playing baseball at Chaffey High School, from which he graduated at the age of 17 in 1956, he broke into organized baseball before eclipsing his 18th birthday with Kearney in the Nebraska State League. From 1957 to 1959 he played with Modesto in the California League, going to Salem in the Northwest League for a spell in 1958. In 1959, while playing for two different teams in two different leagues, Modesto in the California League and Greensboro in the Carolina League, he had a spectacular year, going 22-9 overall, that is 21-7 with Modesto and 1-2 with Greensboro, with 12 complete games out of 20 starts, 143 strikeouts, 94 walks and 2 shutouts in 186 innings pitched, with an ERA of 3.19. He played for Binghamton in the Eastern League and Amarillo in the Texas League in 1960, and Richmond in the International League in 1961.
A six foot tall 215 pound right-hander who was nicknamed “Porky,” Reniff was 22 years old when he made his big league debut on June 8, 1961, with the New York Yankees. In 1961 and 1962, he bounced back and forth between the Yankees, who were the World Series winners both of those years, and Richmond. He was in the bullpen during the Yankees’ World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds, but did not pitch in any of the games. In 1963, when the Yankees would again make it to the World Series, he became a mainstay with the team, leading the Yankee pitching staff that year with 18 saves and chalking up a win-loss record of 4-3.. The following year, the Yankees would again go to the Fall Classic. That year, Reniff saved nine games and won six.
Overall, he had a spotless record in the World Series record, pitching 3.1 innings in relief in four games in 1963 and 1964 without yielding a single earned run.
The Yankees went into eclipse after losing the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964. The team had been built around Mickey Mantle, who in 1952 inherited the role of star outfielder from Joe DiMaggio some 16 years after DiMaggio in 1936 had succeeded by two years Babe Ruth after Ruth left the Yankees in 1934. But by 1965, Mantle was growing ineffective because of his hobbling leg injuries and the Yankees lapsed into mediocrity.
On March 23, 1965, Reniff married Anne Noto.
Reniff had a sense of humor. According to sportswriter Vic Ziegel of the Daily News, on one occasion, after earlier games in the season had been rained out, the Yankees had to make up for one of those unplayed games on a previously scheduled off-day. There was little advance publicity for the game and the official attendance at the game was 413. As the game finished, Reniff asked the Yankees’ star pitcher, Jim Bouton if he brought his station wagon to the players’ parking lot. When Bouton said that he had, Reniff shot back, “Good, because the crowd needs a ride home.”
In the 1966 season, Reniff was the roommate of Yankees rookie pitcher Fritz Peterson.
In mid-season 1967, Reniff was 0-2 with the Yankees with no saves when he was traded to the Mets. With the Mets that year he recorded a record of 3-3 and had four saves.
He was sent down to the minors in 1968 with the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League and never made it back to the majors. He continued as a minor league pitcher from 1968 to 1972, and ended his baseball career at age 34.
Overall in the major leagues, he was 21-23 with 148 games finished, 45 saves, 314 strikeouts and 242 walks in 471.1 innings pitched, with an ERA of 3.27. Overall in the minors, he was 84-70 with 37 complete games out of 90 starts, 28 saves, 932 strikeouts, 687 walks and 5 shutouts in 1,205 innings pitched, with an ERA of 3.99. In 1959, he led the California League in wins with 21.
In addition to being the great nephew of Joe “Moon” Harris, Reniff was also related to several other professional baseball players: He was a great nephew of Dave Harris, a minor league pitcher in 1912; a great nephew of Jack Harris, another minor leaguer; a great nephew of Tom Harris, a minor leaguer in 1912; a great nephew of Ed Rodebaugh, a minor league pitcher from 1905-1909; and a cousin of Dick Clark, a minor league pitcher in 1948.
With his blond hair and blue eyes, after baseball, he was able to land a few acting jobs in Hollywood. He died at the age 66 in Ontario on September 7, 2004.
Encelia actoni, known by several names, including mountainbrush sunflower, Acton brittlebush and Acton encelia, is a multi−branched perennial shrub, reaching one to four feet in height. It is a flowering plant in the daisy family featuring yellow flowers.
It is sometimes misspelled E. actonii.
It grows in various types of open habitat, including deserts, chaparral, and grasslands. It is found in the Mojave Desert, Sonoran Deserts, Peninsular Ranges, Transverse Ranges, San Joaquin Valley, and southern Sierra Nevada. The species was named for the Southern California community of Acton, located not too far west across the San Bernardino County line in Los Angeles County, in an ecotone of the Mojave Desert ecoregion and of the montane chaparral and woodlands in the San Gabriel Mountains.
It is found in the Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, Peninsular Ranges, Transverse Ranges, San Joaquin Valley, and southern Sierra Nevada and is native to California and Nevada in the U.S. and Baja California in México. It grows in various types of open habitat, including deserts, chaparral, grasslands, among creosote bush scrub, in arroyos of Joshua tree woodlands, pinyon-juniper woodlands and shadscale scrub. The plant grows with atriplex canescens, chaenactis spp., haplopappus linearifolius, cucurbita foetidissima, forestiera neomexicana, and prunus andersoni, with and among ephedra californica, eriogonum fasciculatum polifolium, isomeris arborea, yucca whipplei, brickellia nevinii, and opuntia treleasei, as well as in the remnants of blue oak woodlands which were denuded of the oaks 150 years ago when miners of that era burned the trees to make detection of gold easier to achieve.
Encelia actoni’s foliage color is white. Its type is stressdeciduous. Encelia actoni’s flower color is yellow. The branches are lined with oval to roughly triangular leaves a few centimeters long, that are gray-green and woolly in texture. The inflorescence is a solitary daisylike flower head one to two inches in diameter, on a tall, erect peduncle. The head has a center of many yellow disc florets surrounded by up to 25 yellow ray florets. It blooms in the spring. It bears a seed-containing fruit known as an achene, about half a centimeter long, which does not open.
It is a honey plant, supporting diverse pollinators.
The plant reseeds well, and is cultivated as an ornamental plant for drought tolerant and wildlife gardens, natural landscaping design, and habitat restoration projects.
It needs sun, but very limited to no supplemental irrigation after the spring. It will grow in sand.
As a fast-growing compact shrub that tolerates sand and is tough, it is able to withstand hot sun, cold, and wind as long as it has welldraining soil. The plant has a low fuel load, and so has fire retardant qualities in wildfire zones.