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SAN BERNARDINO–In a development involving what was, depending on your perspective, perfect or disastrous timing, San Bernardino has made a bid to transform its dormant aerodrome into the county’s second true international airport.
San Bernardino International Airport officials have begun serious discussions with Mexican consular officials and have effectuated indirect contact with seven Mexican airlines or their corporate affiliates with regard to establishing regular flights between 29 Mexican destinations and the county seat.
San Bernardino International Airport is international in name only. In the strictest sense, it is, at present and much to the chagrin of city and county officials, an airport virtually in name only, as well.
San Bernardino International Airport is located on the grounds of what was formerly Norton Air Force Base, which was originally constructed as the U.S. Army Air Corps San Bernardino Air Depot in 1942. The Department of Defense decommissioned Norton in 1994. Subsequently,
two joint powers authorities relating to the former airbase, SBIAA and IVDA, were created involving San Bernardino County and the cities of Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Loma Linda, Redlands and San Bernardino. SBIAA, an acronym for the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, was devoted to the civilian conversion of the airport property into a public airport. IVDA, an acronym for the Inland Valley Development Authority, was intended to oversee the development of the property around the former air base. In time, Redlands and Grand Terrace would opt out of both joint powers authorities and Highland would leave IVDA while remaining a participant in SBIAA.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the San Bernardino International Airport Authority undertook what appeared to be an earnest effort to transform the airbase into a fully functional airport, while encountering a number of practical obstructions to that agenda. Nevertheless, the SBIAA board, consisting of a single representative from the cities of Loma Linda. Highland, Colton and the county and two representatives from the City of San Bernardino, seriously committed to that goal and in 2007 undertook what was initially slated to be a $38 million renovation of the airport’s passenger terminal and a $7 million development of its concourse.
SBIAA hired Scot Spencer, an aircraft industry executive with a checkered track record, to serve as the airport’s developer. Under Spencer’s direction, the terminal/concourse project progressed and expanded, and the total cost of those renovations/transformations rose to $142 million. The scope of this effort was justified on the assumption that the airport would be able to attract as many as a half dozen commercial passenger carriers.
Though the final product of that undertaking – the concourse and the terminal project – proved indeed impressive, Spencer involved himself in a number of enterprises at the airport, including San Bernardino Airport Management, SBD Properties LLC, KCP Leasing and Services, SBD Aircraft Services, Norton Aviation Maintenance Services and Unique Aviation, all of which were companies he owned or controlled, which undercut the effectiveness of his development of the airport and the fledgling civilian operations there. On more than one occasion Spencer used his status as the airport developer and his access to the authority’s administration and board to personally profit to the detriment of the airport’s operations and the taxpayers who were underwriting them. Ultimately, in 2013, Spencer was charged with engaging in a conspiracy to steal $1.75 million in public funds, a gambit which ultimately, prosecutors said, netted him $1.03 million.
The closest the airport ever came to having significant air carrier operations consisted of the Million Air operation established there, for which Spencer was the franchisee, beginning in 2010. Million Air operates fixed-base operators throughout the United States. As a fixed base operator, Million Air provides fueling services, aircraft charter, aircraft sales, aircraft management, and general aviation maintenance services. At San Bernardino International, Million Air essentially provided landing and take-off services for operators of private and corporate jets. Virtually the only use of the terminal at San Bernardino International was made by Million Air’s customers.
Ultimately, however, Spencer’s relationship with Million Air Interlink, the Texas-based parent company of Million Air, soured. Spencer through one of his own companies, SBD Properties, operated the airport’s fuel farm, consisting of tanks from which the private jets that fly out of San Bernardino International Airport were fueled. Under the San Bernardino International Airport Authority’s contract with SBD, a minimum of 20,000 gallons of aviation fuel were to be maintained in the fueling system at all times. But Spencer and SBD had allowed fuel in the tanks, which have a capacity of 150,000 gallons, to dwindle to 1,100 gallons on occasion. This interfered with Million Air’s operations into and out of San Bernardino, and the company, which by 2012 had already sued Spencer for $837,290 in long-past-due franchise fees, revoked Spencer’s franchise in 2013, prior to Spencer being indicted. Since Million Air’s departure from San Bernardino in 2013, the airport, its concourse and its state-of-the-art terminal have gone unused.
This week five consuls representing Mexican nationals residing in San Bernardino County and other parts of Southern California came to San Bernardino International Airport to take up the prospect of scheduling regular flights between San Bernardino International and various Mexican airports.
At this point the contemplated flights are still speculative, and there are no commitments with regard to either airlines or destinations.
Leading the discussion was Carlos Garcia de Alba, the consul general of Los Angeles and former Mexican ambassador to Ireland. Joining him were consular officials from San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Oxnard and Fresno. The San Diego consulate was not represented in the discussions. Taking part was Mark Gibbs, San Bernardino International Airport’s director of aviation,
At issue was the burgeoning travel market between the United States and Mexico in general and Mexico and Southern California in particular.
While no airline officials were present during the discussions, the Sentinel has learned that the arilines mentioned as potential users at San Bernardino International included Aeromar, Viva Aerobus, Aeroméxico, Aeroméxico Connect, Interjet and Volaris.
The Mexican airports that would potentially be involved in direct connections to San Bernardino International Airport, either as destinations or points of origin are Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco; Mar de Cortés International Airport, also known as Puerto Peñasco International Airport in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora; Piedras Negras International Airport in Piedras Negras, Coahuila; Quetzalcóatl International Airport in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; Nogales International Airport in Nogales Sonora; Del Norte International Airport in General Escobedo, Nuevo León, near Monterrey; Venustiano Carranza International Airport in Monclova Coahuila; Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez, known as Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City; General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada International Airport outside Mexicali, Baja California; General Rafael Buelna International Airport, also known as Mazatlán International Airport, in Mazatlán, Sinaloa; General Servando Canales International Airport in Matamoros, Tamaulipas; Valle del Fuerte Federal International Airport, known as Los Mochis International Airport near Los Mochis, Sinaloa; Los Cabos International Airport, the sixth-busiest airport in Mexico, located at San José del Cabo in Los Cabos Municipality, Baja California Sur; Loreto International Airport, in Loreto Municipality of Baja California Sur; Del Bajío International Airport, officially known as Aeropuerto Internacional de Guanajuato in Silao, Guanajuato; Acapulco International Airport, also called General Juan N. Álvarez International Airport, the main airport of Acapulco, Guerrero; Cabo San Lucas International Airport, located northwest of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur, Mexico; Ciudad Acuña International Airport, near Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila; Abraham González International Airport, in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; Ciudad Obregón International Airport, in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora; Francisco Sarabia International Airport in Torreón, Coahuila; General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport, otherwise known as Tijuana International Airport in Baja California; San Felipe International Airport in San Felipe, Baja California; General Lucio Blanco International Airport in Reynosa, Tamaulipas; Querétaro Intercontinental Airport in Querétaro; Culiacán International Airport near Culiacán, Sinaloa; Guadalupe Victoria Durango International Airport or Durango International Airport, northeast of Durango; and Guadalajara International Airport, known as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport, the main airport of Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, in Jalisco.
The discussion came at an inauspicious time for the City of Ontario, that city’s officials, Ontario International Airport and the director of Ontario International, Airport Kelly Fredericks, and the Ontario International Airport Authority Board.
On Tuesday, November 1, Ontario/the Ontario International Airport Authority is set to take on ownership and management of Ontario International Airport. Ontario relinquished ownership of the airport to the City of Los Angeles in 1985. Eighteen years before that, in 1967, as part of a joint operating authority agreement, Ontario turned management and operation of the airport over to Los Angeles. Under Los Angeles’ guidance, ridership at Ontario Airport grew exponentially, from fewer than 200,000 passengers in 1967 to 7.2 million in 2007. But passenger traffic at the airport dropped off sharply in the years after that, as the lingering economic recession and contractions in the airline industry resulted in flight reductions into and out of Ontario. At the prompting of Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner, Ontario initiated a campaign to take back both ownership and operational authority at the airport from Los Angeles. That increasingly acrimonious confrontation escalated, with the City of Ontario filing a lawsuit against the megalopolis to the west over the matter in 2013. Prior to the case going to trial last year, an agreement to have the aerodrome returned to Ontario was made, involving Ontario forking over to Los Angeles $150 million for the airport itself, $60 million to purchase assets technically belonging to Los Angeles World Airports that are in place at Ontario Airport and which are crucial or indispensable to its operations and Ontario taking on bonded indebtedness of roughly $60 million related to the financing for the provision of airport infrastructure that has become Ontario’s responsibility to service.
Despite the confident predictions of Wapner and other Ontario officials to the effect that Ontario would be able to reinvigorate the airport and reestablish the dynamic passenger numbers of a decade ago, Ontario officials have been met with the sobering realization that the rhetoric bordering on propaganda they propounded during the campaign to wrest control of the airport back from Los Angeles was without basis and that Los Angelses, as one of the world’s primary cities running one of the world’s largest airports, Los Angeles International, had leverage with airlines Ontario simply does not possess. While they are loathe to acknowledge so publicly, Ontario officials realize in a very tangible way that under their management, operations at Ontario International Airport, for the foreseeable future, are as likely to contract further than to expand.
At present, Ontario International Airport has two airline carriers offering flights to Guadalajara, Volaris and AeroMexico. The addition of those flights came in 2014, while the airport was being managed by Los Angeles World Airports, the corporate arm of the Los Angeles Department of Airports.
The powwow of Mexican consular officials at San Bernardino International Airport with Mark Gibbs, San Bernardino International Airport’s director of aviation, carrying with it the possibility San Bernardino will offer an alternate destination for flights from Mexico to the Inland Empire that will directly interfere with Ontario’s hopes for the expansion of its aviation facility, was unsettling to Ontario and its officials. Those officials at once began looking at their options. One of those was to see if Greg Devereaux, the chief executive officer of San Bernardino County, might intercede with SBIAA officials. Devereaux is a board member on the Ontario International Airport Authority, which also counts Ontario councilmen Wapner and Jim Bowman as members. Before he was county CEO, Devereaux was Ontario city manager.
Unfortunately for Ontario, it cannot rely on Los Angles at this point to go to bat for Ontario International Airport in its competition with San Bernardino International Airport to attract Mexican airlines. Ontario’s vituperation toward Los Angeles and its officials during the tussle over Ontario Airport has not left Los Angeles officials favorably inclined to doing any favors for Ontario, particularly with regard to the airport.
Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said he was not particularly concerned that San Bernardino International will shift Mexican airlines away from Ontario.
“I don’t know how likely they are to achieve success in getting any of the Mexican airlines to agree to use that facility,” Leon said.
Leon said neither he nor Ontario’s other officials feel threatened by the dialogue that began between San Bernardino International Airport representatives and the Mexican consuls, saying he encouraged discussion with regard to strengthening air transportation options from Mexico into Southern California generally. Leon said he did not believe San Bernardino International was in any sort of position to eat into Ontario International’s passenger traffic.
“I do not believe the conversation will hurt anybody,” Leon said. “Until there are connecting flights out of San Bernardino, San Bernardino is a dead end destination. Where do you go from there? You have to take a bus or a taxi or get picked up by a friend. That is the thing that is important, the ability to catch connecting flights. Our airport has a head start with connecting flights. We are not starting from scratch. With the City of Ontario now getting control of the airport, we have control of the airport’s destiny and Ontario is not now nor will it be a dead end destination. People may fly into San Bernardino, but that doesn’t accomplish much other than getting from point a to point b. For many people, especially in the business world, there is a need to move on to points c, d, e and f. Once Ontario gets control of the airport, we will quickly upgrade so many things and we will enter into business agreements with so many entities, airlines and businesses, so that we will be able to lower rates and attract more and more passengers.”
Leon said San Bernardino is covering ground Ontario covered long ago.
“I welcome San Bernardino Internationas’s efforts,” he said. “If they are, in fact, able to attract airlines and get them to consider San Bernardino as a destination, those airlines will at some point have to look at Ontario as a better place to be. That’s just the way it goes. When I went to China and spoke to the Chinese airline executives, they indicated they wanted to come to Ontario because we are so close to Disneyland, the hot springs, the desert, the mountains. But they said they were concerned about their passengers once they got here and where they could fly to from here. That being said, the point is what went on in San Bernardino this week is a nice conversation to have but in the final analysis, that conversation is going to have to turn on and be about where the passengers will go after they arrive in San Bernardino. I say that if San Bernardino can get this started, all the more power to them. Our interests intersect and we congratulate one another whenever someting good happens, becauase it is good for the entire region. Ultimately, I think a conversation about building up San Bernardino International Airport is fine and dandy, but for the businessminded folks, which is where all the money is, the key question they will be asking is where do they want to go after they arrive and how are they going to get there.”
After nearly two years on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, Lynne Kennedy says she hopes her accomplishments, in that relatively compact time span, will convince the residents in the county’s third largest municipality to retain her in office.
Two years ago, Kennedy was one of four challengers in the 2014 Rancho Cucamonga City Council race, confronting the incumbency of longtime members Diane Williams and Bill Alexander. Kennedy captured 19.99 percent of the vote, which was insufficient to dislodge either Williams, who garnered 27.32 percent, or Alexander, who polled 22.8 percent. Kennedy comfortably outdistanced the other three competing in the race – Bill Hanlon, Erick Jiminez and Victor Muniz. That same day, November 4, 2014, another incumbent Rancho Cucamonga City Councilman, Marc Steinorth, was elected to the California Assembly. Fifteen days later the council chose Kennedy to replace Steinorth, upon his resignation to take up his new post in Sacramento.
Kennedy threw herself into the assignment and said she now has a track record she thinks Rancho Cucamonga’s voters can respect.
“What distinguishes me and sets me apart from the other candidates is my professional experience and my city council experience,” Kennedy said. “I think we have put and are now putting in place strong infrastructure to support community safety. In addition to the traditional equipment, we have branched out into the use of technology and automated systems such as license plate readers and use of a Geographic Information System and locating devices to assist our police in crime response and crime prevention. We are looking at providing them with all of the resources they need to keep our law enforcement officers safe and to keep our community safe.”
Kennedy further pointed with pride to “the sustainability projects we have taken up in our city. Utilities are a big expense, both for city operations and the residents. We have traditionally had no control over those costs or their increases. We are now doing everything we can to mitigate those costs. We are undertaking and encouraging solar projects and purchasing many of our street lights so we have more control over their maintenance and costs.”
And under her council watch, Kennedy said, the city is working toward improvements at the community’s major cultural amenity.
“We are putting a second story on the Biane library in Victoria Gardens,” Kennedy said. “We are very proud of that. We are bringing in new resources, interactive learning exhibits, Three-D printers, robotic programs and developmental programs for children from birth through to high school.”
Two other tangible improvements launched or progressing toward completion during her tenure on the council, Kennedy said, involved keeping abreast of the city’s recreational needs. “We have the new Los Amigos Park and will be getting the new family sports center across from Quake Stadium,” she said.
Professionally, Kennedy worked as an educator for 37 years, as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in the Rialto Unified School District, the Rancho Cucamonga School District and Baldwin Park and the Banning Unified School Districts. She said the range of demands under which she has functioned in all of those capacities fall within the rubric of similar demands placed on publicly-funded institutions and have given her a command of what is needed to guide the policy decisions of municipal government.
“I was a math major in college and that helped me develop basic analytical skills,” she said. “As a teacher and then as an administrator, I acquired strategic leadership abilities. Combining my analytical skills with my leadership experience, I have the ability to gather information independently but am also able to inform my thinking process with input from others, primarily staff. I can analyze what is there, even contradictory information, look at the variables and potential impacts to find the most effective solution. My positions, as a district administrator, required long-term planning and vision for each kindergarten class that entered school. I was called upon as a principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent to constitute the educational process for the next generation of school children and incorporate new technology into the classroom for teaching and learning. In the area of budgets, I was a chief negotiator on labor contracts on both sides, labor and management. I represented the teachers when I was in the union and as an administrator I was a chief negotiator, representing the district, during a recession. In the face of that recession and the demands from the teachers’ union, I was able to see where to make cuts and keep them away from the classrooms, keeping teachers in front of students so as to not disrupt or compromise their education. I am also able to analyze a budget. I cannot say for sure, but I do not believe most or any of my opponents have had to oversee a multimillion dollar budget, hire staff, be in charge of the evaluation of hundreds of employees, provide on-going professional development, ensure all teachers are fully licensed by the State, ensure cafeteria workers have health licensing and that custodians, bus drivers and volunteers are cleared by background checks. I am able to look at every aspect of a very large organization and develop strategies for working together toward a set of goals. I know what it is like to run an organization and handle situations in which there are competing issues and needs and limited funds. Resources are limited but human needs are unlimited. You have to understand what needs to be done to meet the demands of an organization. I believe I have the skill to navigate through those competing interests on a cooperative rather than an adversarial basis.”
Though she spent all of her professional life working in what is essentially the public sector, Kennedy said that through her businessman husband she is sensitized to the needs of the private sector and has an appreciation for the challenges entrepreneurs face in seeking to make a go of it.
“My husband has been employed in the private sector for 30 of the 39 years he has been working,” Kennedy said. “I understand what it takes to be in business. I can see what the city can do to help and how to invest in the community’s economic growth.”
Kennedy was raised in San Bernardino and is a graduate of San Bernardino High School. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Redlands, a Master’s Degree in school administration from Cal-State, San Bernardino, and a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University upon completing her dissertation, “Selection Criteria and Student Access to Algebra I.”
She has been a Rancho Cucamonga resident for 36 years. Her husband, Michael Kennedy, is an attorney and senior partner at Estelle & Kennedy, A Professional Law Corporation.
YUCCA VALLEY — The Town of Yucca Valley was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century last week, less than a decade after its political leadership had defiantly dared the State of California to transform the community into a ghost town over water table pollution issues and the town’s ingrained right wing and religious aversion to government regulation.
The town’s intransigence in refusing to come to terms with the water contamination issue set it on a collision course with state regulators that has now been narrowly avoided but will likely result in higher financing costs to be borne by the community’s residents than if the government leadership, which is spread across a myriad of agencies of which Town Hall is just one, had early on dealt with the issue resolutely and expeditiously.
In the end, both the State of California and the local political establishment backed down from a confrontation that would have had dire consequences. On October 20, the Hi-Desert Water District broke ground for Yucca Valley’s long-delayed wastewater treatment plant.
A remote and rustic desert area that attracted those wishing to remain well off the beaten track and free of the strictures of urbanization, Yucca Valley made its first lurch toward modernity in the 1950s when Norman J. Essig promoted it as both a getaway to and private residency for entertainment celebrities. He ventured capital toward that end, acquiring hundreds of acres, which he improved with roads around the region’s ma-jor arterial, Highway 62, also known as Twentynine Palms Highway.
While attracting movie stars as well as recording and visual artists was only marginally successful, the improvements did succeed in luring others by virtue of the relatively inexpensive land prices, and Yucca Valley grew sporadically over the years, appealing to the independent minded and lovers of its remote desert beauty. As early as 1973, when the area’s population was hovering below 5,000, there was a push to outfit the core of Yucca Valley with a rudimentary sewer system, one that would extend only to the town’s modest commercial area and the relatively sparse residential neighborhoods that surrounded it. But a water treatment facility and skeleton sewer system to which future developments could connect carried a price tag of roughly $10 million, well beyond the tiny community’s fiscal means at that time.
Yucca Valley would prove to be a town of paradox. Those Essig had hoped to attract and for a time did attract were Hollywood types – actors, directors, camera operators, musicians, orchestrators, set designers and the like – individuals with an artistic bent, bohemians, progressives and liberals. But ultimately, the town would bring in a far different crowd – others who wanted to get away from urbanization and what it represented. But the lion’s share of those seeking to get away from the citified areas of Southern California were those fleeing the expense of life in the region, the high cost of virtually everything, of escalating property values. Many who came were retirees living on fixed incomes. Others were families where the breadwinner or breadwinners brought in only a marginal income. Simply put, Yucca Valley was affordable. It is a peculiarity of Yucca Valley that many of those who came to live there, while subsisting at or very near poverty level, eschewed Democratic politics and hewed closer to the Republican Party line. At present the town and its 20,700 citizens are the second most impoverished among San Bernardino County’s 24 municipalities, as measured by median income per capita or per household. Nevertheless, the Republican Party dominates Yucca Valley politically. Among the town of Yucca Valley’s 10,296 registered voters as of this week, 4,336 or 42.1 percent were Republicans and 2,810 or 27.3 percent were Democrats. Within the slightly larger confines of the Hi-Desert Water District, which includes the entirety of Yucca Valley and some outlying area, there are 11,836 voters, of whom 4,937 or 41.7 percent are registered Republicans and 3,241 or 27.4 percent are Democrats. The town’s residents are predominantly of a minimal-governmental-interference philosophy and that has traditionally been the platform of its elected leadership.
In addition, Yucca Valley’s religious community has had tremendous, perhaps even overriding, influence in shaping Yucca Valley’s approach to governance, and by extension, its indolence in addressing the wastewater contamination crisis.
Though there are a number of churches in the community, two churches and their pastors have had particular sway over the political affairs of Yucca Valley. The entities exercising the strongest pull in this regard are Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel, where the Reverend Jerel Hagerman is the pastor, and Grace Community Church, where Roger Mayes is the pastor. Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel boasts a membership approaching 3,000 and Hagerman can deliver somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 votes for a candidate or for or against any measure that appears on the town ballot.
Both Hagerman and Mayes are credited with being the actual co-regents behind the throne in Yucca Valley. Their sermons set not only the spiritual and moral tone of the town, but appear to define its political tenor as well. Both pastors share a born-again zealotry and conservative political ethos that carries itself beyond the two or so hours they have the attention of their parish-ioners on Sunday, and into everyday life and into the halls of power down at Yucca Valley’s civic center. Indeed, both Hagerman and Mayes were instrumental in launching the political careers of their sons, both of whom served on the Yucca Valley City Council.
Isaac Hagerman, Jerel’s son, was a member of the town council that effectively ignored or resisted for so long the state’s dire warnings with regard to the deterioration in the quality of the town’s water supply and championed the further growth of Yucca Valley by providing developers with carte blanche to build aggres-sively without incorporating urban land use standards.
Chad Mayes, the youthful mayor of Yucca Valley who captured his position on the city council in some measure because of the advantage conferred upon him by his father’s position as a leading religious figure in the community, promoted limited government throughout his tenure in office before he resigned to become chief of staff to San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford in 2010. Chad Mayes was similarly opposed to imposing the intrusion and expense of creating a sewer system on the town’s residents, businesses and landowners. In 2014, young Mayes was elected to serve in the California Assembly.
In addition, the Reverend Roger Mayes has been directly involved in the water quality issue, having himself served several terms and continuing to serve as a board member of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors, where he has proven himself to be a longtime advocate of limited government.
A mandate calling for the construction of a sewer system in Yucca Valley was levied against the town in 2011, after years of neglect on the part of the town’s officials.
Following the town’s incorporation in November 1991, civic officials continued to reflect and embody the values of their constituents, who eschewed big government and excessive regulation and put a premium on maintaining the town’s rural character. There was little collective will to pave any roads other than the town’s main thoroughfares and many town streets remain dusty trails to this day. A modern, urban sewer system was an imperative to few, if any, locals.
Paradoxically, however, those officials were in no hurry, particularly, to limit the ability of the development community to ply its trade. The town council proved consistently accommodating of most developers who expressed an interest in Yucca Valley, and over the first 23 years of the town’s history as an incorporated entity, gave builders what was essentially carte blanche to build aggressively without incorporating urban land use standards.
Thus, the septic systems that had proliferated in Yucca Valley for three-quarters of a century remained the ac-coutrement of homes and businesses built within the 40 square mile city limits.
Ten years after incorporation, Yucca Valley’s officials were notified by the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Board that the lack of a sewage treatment sys-tem had resulted in nitrates accumulating in the water table. Simultaneously, the Hi-Desert Water District, which serves the Yucca Valley community, experienced nitrate traces in district wells.
Local officialdom did not respond with alacrity. Rather, some feigned outrage that the state felt it necessary to involve itself in what many perceived as a local issue. Residents were alarmed by the concept of having to defray the cost for the installation of a sewer system. They were heartened and to a certain extent lulled into a state of complacency by their political leadership, which asserted the town would not fall victim to overreaching regulation imposed on it by Sacramento. Thus, the water table contamination issue was kicked down the road.
In the early 2000s, monitoring carried out by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the United States Geological Survey demonstrated that residues left in the ground that seep into the aquifer had increased to levels that presaged health threats if the mat-ter was not addressed. Those contaminants included nitrates and other pollutants including pharmaceuticals and salts.
Historic pumping increases from the 1940s to 1995 resulted in the water levels dropping faster than the nitrates from septic systems seeped downward. Thus, for years Yucca Valley was able to avoid the consequences of the contamination accumulating in the local soil. Eventually, however, as the water table dropped lower and lower as a result of greater utilization combined with limited recharge from rainfall, the water district began importation of state aqueduct water into Yucca Valley. Completion of the Morongo Basin Pipeline project and the accompanying completion and activation of recharge basins in Yucca Valley allowed the Hi-Desert Water District to begin percolating water into the aquifer, and the water table began to rise. That water came in contact with the high levels of nitrates left over from decades of septic discharge and the nitrates found their way into some of the Hi-Desert Water District’s wells. Notice of the contamination triggered a scaling back of the Hi-Desert Water District’s recharge efforts, and the goal of reestablishing the Yucca Valley water table to the natural level present in the 1940s has not been achieved.
For a time, at least, the imported water actually diluted the nitrates so water tests showed nitrate levels below the maximum contaminant level allowed by the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In the meantime, the discharge of septic waste continues and the United States Geological Survey determined that nitrates accumulating beneath Yucca Valley are present in ever increasing concentrations and at depths that pose a threat to the groundwater, including a calculation that 880 acre-feet of septic discharge currently reaches the groundwater every year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, that translates into nearly 287 million gallons of untreated wastewater from septic tanks washing into the water table beneath Yucca Valley every 12 months.
In 2007, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state agency responsible for protecting water quality, adopted a resolution identifying the town of Yucca Valley as one of 66 communities throughout the state with groundwater threatened by the continuing overuse of septic systems. The board further declared Yucca Valley as a top priority for eliminating the use of septic systems, meaning Yucca Valley’s is one of the five most seriously threatened significantly-sized water supplies in the state.
Nevertheless, local officials resisted taking immediate action, as they lacked the financial wherewithal to un-dertake the construction of a sewer system. Nor did the city have the will to impose any kind of building or development moratorium that would stabilize the problem.
For a while, town and the water district officials were able to delay the imposition of state mandates by forging a memorandum of agreement with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Hi-Desert Water District to allow interim permits for new septic systems while planning for a wastewater system proceeded. But they could not suspend the consequences indefinitely.
By 2010, Yucca Valley’s population had zoomed to 20,700, an increase of 3,835 or 22.7 percent over the 16,865 town residents counted in the 2000 Census.
In 2011, the town was firmly informed it had only five years to take a definitive step toward water quality compliance.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board at that point imposed three progressive phases of septic discharge prohibitions on Yucca Valley. Under the state mandate, phase 1 of a waste water system was to be completed or significantly on its way to completion by May 19, 2016 or enforcement action was to be initiated. The first phase of the project is to cover the downtown area of Yucca Valley, the area most proximate to the heart of the groundwater basin. Similarly, phase 2 must be completed or nearly completed by May 19, 2019 and phase 3 must be completed by May 19, 2022. The last two phases lie further out where future concentrated development is most likely to occur.
Though the imposition of that deadline more than five years ago was intended as a wake-up call to local officials to undertake an effort to avert the growing water quality crisis, woefully little progress toward the goal of planning and funding the system was made. Instead, Yucca Valley governmental officials postured.
Paul Cook, a colonel in the Marine Corps who was once stationed at the 29 Palms Marine Corps Base, initiated his political career upon retirement from the military, running for the town council in Yucca Valley and acceding to the position of mayor. From there he moved on to the California Assembly in 2006. And in 2012, he ran, successfully, for Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District.
In the face of the state’s mandate, Cook, a rock-ribbed Republican, pushed back, overlooking the implication the groundwater pollution imposed on the town. At that point, abstract ideological principle had ran head on into practical reality.
As the region’s representative in Sacramento earlier this decade, Cook effectively undercut the project’s proponents, referring to the demand that Yucca Valley transition from septic systems to a sewer system as “just another unfunded state mandate.” He dwelled at length upon the cost of the project and what he considered his constituents’ inability to bear that cost.
“We have to look at this from some perspective of a cost analysis,” Cook, while still serving in Sacramento, said. “This is never going to happen. We have to re-member what type of community this is. We got to be very, very careful when we start talking $125 million to people who cannot afford it because we do not have the businesses and the state’s not going to give you the money. I’m not afraid to talk to Governor [Jerry] Brown. I work for you and we’re not afraid to get a bloody nose.” Cook bragged he would tell Brown, “In Yucca Valley, we want you to declare Yucca Valley a historical site because we’re going to be a ghost town!”
Just prior to leaving the Assembly, Cook acknowledged that building the sewer system was a desirable goal, but maintained the state was overstepping its authority by requiring that it be built on the local dime.
“When a state bureaucracy imposes a septic tank prohibition, sets a 2016 deadline, and doesn’t offer funding to deliver the project, it is without question an unfunded mandate,” Cook said. “It is imperative that the California Water Resources Control Board provide Yucca Valley residents and businesses access to extended term, reduced interest rate loans along with debt forgiveness. Additionally, every Proposition 84 dollar appropriated to our region needs to be made available to the Hi-Desert Water District to help deliver the lowest cost sewer system to our community. While protecting water quality is a laudable goal, the costs associated with con-structing a sewer and wastewater treatment plant could have a potentially devastating impact on Yucca Valley without these resources.”
While Cook struck out in attempting to get help from Sacramento to undertake the sewer system project when he was in the California Legislature, as a member of Congress, through some effort, he was able to obtain a $4.5 million federal grant for the project.
Chad Mayes, who had been Cook’s political protegé on the town council and would later take up a position in the California Assembly, was similarly resistant to the concept of a mandated water treatment system in Yucca Valley. His father, the Reverend Roger Mayes, whose religious tenets equate Godliness with goodliness and virtue with conservatism and conservatism with Republicanism, was philosophically averse to big government imposing its “liberal” will on the individual or smaller government. The edict on high from Sacramento, was, in this view, a manifestation of big government in the form of an “unfunded state mandate.” Over the years, Roger Mayes has been both a board member and board chairman of the Hi-Desert Water District. Ultimately, the Hi-Desert Water District would become the lead agency on the construction of Yucca Valley’s wastewater treatment system. It took years for the political resolve to form to move ahead, and move ahead decisively, with the project. A major issue with the project was funding.
In 2012, faced with the prospect of the State Water Resources Board coming into town and imposing fines – of as much as $5,000 per day – on all septic system owners, the town’s officials reluctantly put Measure U on that year’s November ballot. If passed, Measure U would have imposed a one-cent sales tax within Yucca Valley. Town officials said the lion’s share of those proceeds would go toward building the sewer system. Though Roger Mayes and his counterpart, Jerel Hagerman, most likely had it within their power to deliver enough votes to make Measure U pass, Measure U failed at the polls.
Community officials continued to dither, but with the May 2016 deadline approaching and the prospect of the town being forced by state action into oblivion, the Hi-Desert Water District in February 2015 awarded a $2.8 million contract to Riverside-based Carollo Engineers to manage the construction of Yucca Valley’s wastewater collection system and treatment facility and in March 2015 acted to secure from the he California Water Re-sources Control Board a $142,349,314 one percent interest loan to help in the financing of the construction of the sewer system in Yucca Valley.
Roughly $31 million will be used to construct the central treatment facility into which wastewater pumped in from pipes from throughout the town will be subjected to ultraviolet light and then forced through a series of membranes and filters. The water thus treated will then be put into aerating and settling ponds, and the water will be filtered one last time through the ground on its way down to recharge the aquifer. Roughly $104 million will be used to construct the pipe system through-out the town.
In obtaining the loan from the California Water Resources Control Board, the Hi-Desert Water District agreed to repay the state about $5.5 million each year with the revenue from assessments to be imposed on Yucca Valley property owners. The water board and the water district gambled by entering into the tentative arrangement for the loan, in that Yucca Valley’s property owners had not at that point agreed to the formation of an assessment district. The water district in the Spring of 2015 prepared mail ballots that were then sent to the town’s property owners. In this way, the district met the legal requirement that the tax not be imposed without the consent of those to be taxed. Under California law, the district was free to count any ballots not returned as having been cast in favor of the assessment district’s formation. When, by the deadline, the district received back fewer than fifty percent of the ballots designated with votes against the formation of the assessment district, the district was free to proceed.
While technically, the district had not completed the first phase of the project by the May 2016 deadline imposed by the state in 2011, the town was given a pass. The district’s plan is to proceed with the project in three phases. Single-family homes in phase one, which extends to the central core of the town, will pay an esti-mated $100 per month, consisting of a $62 to $64 assessment and a $36 per month wastewater treatment fee. Homes in phases two and three will pay only the assessment charge, but will need to start paying the sewer treatment fee once they are connected to the system.
The commercial property assessment is similar to that leveled upon residential properties but is to be adjusted upwards on heavier users of the system.
Groundbreaking for the facility, located on land south of Twentynine Palms Highway and west of La Contenta Road, was held last week.
On hand at the groundbreaking was California State Senator Jean Fuller. Fuller, a Republican who has tapped into the same anti-big government sentiment to stay in office that was used by Cook and Chad Mayes in their successful campaigns for state and federal office. Chad Mayes and Cook were also present at the ground-breaking, perhaps the most significant event relating to the community where their political careers began.
Without saying so in so many words, Fuller said the people of Yucca Valley should congratualte themselves for setting aside their anti-government and anti-tax philosophies to embrace the project.
“Thank you for doing this,” she said. “You are leading the path for the future and you are truly saving your children.” Fuller called the project Yucca Valley’s “legacy for the future.”
All of the current members of the Hi Desert Water District’s board, including Roger Mayes, Dan Munsey, Sheldon Hough, Sarann Graham and Bob Stadum, were lauded for their “vision, community-mindedness and teamwork.”
If things go according to schedule, the treatment facility will be finished within the next 21 months. The first phase of the system will tie into it shortly thereafter.
Jack Chick, whose insular and idiosyncratic brand of personal Christian belief hit a resounding chord with a cross section of the American public likewise enthralled with his sanctimonious Christian orientation while putting him at odds with a number of Christian denominations and casting him as the laughingstock of a significant portion of those among the younger generations who rejected his revival of the fire-and-brimstone scare tactics that emanated from the pulpit for centuries, has died.
Chick, who died at his San Dimas home on October 23, had a perhaps legitimate but nonetheless dubitable claim to being the world’s most published author. His publications consisted of what were essentially religious tracts in a miniaturized comic book format, slightly less than three inches high by five inches wide in dimension, and approximately twenty pages in length.
Chick was born in the Boyle Heights district of Los Angeles on April 13, 1924 and later moved with his family to Alhambra. According to Chick, he was not religious in high school, but was active in his high school drama club. Indeed, his future work would take on a melodramatic tone.
In February of 1943, Chick was drafted as a private into the U.S. Army. He served for three years in the Pacific Theater of World War II, serving in New Guinea, Australia, the Philippines, and Japan. After he was discharged, he abided by his interest in drama, and pursued the dramatic arts on an academic basis at the Pasadena Playhouse School of Theater on a two-year scholarship.
At the Pasadena Playhouse, Chick met his wife while working on a production there. This was instrumental in his future commitment to Christian evangelism. Lola Lynn Priddle, who was born in 1926 and would die in 1998, was from Canada, the product of a very religious family. Priddle and her parents introduced Chick to the Charles E. Fuller radio show, the Old-Fashioned Revival Hour. It was while he was listening to an episode of this show that he converted to Christianity. Chick and Priddle married in 1948 and had one child, Carol, who died in 2001.
Predating his religious tract work, Chick found employment as a cartoonist. From 1953 to 1955, Chick drew a single-panel cartoon titled “Times Have Changed?,” the text for which was written by P. S. Clayton, Times Have Changed?, syndicated by the Mirror Enterprises Co. in Los Angeles area newspapers, resembled, and may have been a forerunner to both the B.C. comic strip and The Flintstones animated cartoon.
After converting to Christianity, Chick was looking for a way to fulfill his newfound messianic zeal when he learned from missionary Bob Hammond, who had broadcast in Asia on the Voice of America, that the Communist Party of China had propagandized to its country’s citizenry via small comic books. Chick was simultaneously working as part of a prison ministry and he created a flip chart of illustrations to use with his presentation. He formulated from this series of ideas comic-style witnessing tracts.
While working for the tape recording equipment and avionics manufacturing concern, AstroScience Corporation in El Monte, he self-published his first tract, Why No Revival?, with a loan from his credit union in 1960. He published his second tract, A Demon’s Nightmare, in 1962. He created and published a number of other tracts over the next several years, seeking to distribute them from Christian bookstores, with mixed success, and to recoup the cost of printing by selling them to missionaries and churches, with slightly more success. In 1970, he established Chick Publications on Archibald Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga.
The upshot of Chick’s message: Abandon your earthly vanities, repent of your sinful nature and wicked ways and do it now, before you die and are whisked away into everlasting and interminably excruciating damnation, far from the sight of the Lord you are presently displeasing.
Over the course of his publishing career, lasted 56 years, Chick printed an astonishing 900 million “books” in an equally astonishing 102 languages, including Blue Hmong, Huichol, Ngiemboon, and Tshiluba,
His quintessential tract was the 1964 endeavor “This Was Your Life,” which was loosely based on the contemporaneous television show of that era. Chick would spend the rest of his life attempting to recreate the impact – some would say highly positive others would say appalling – of that stab at proselytizing.
In “This Was Your Life,” a typical Everyman, one who is steeped in the sinfulness of the world, dies. He is buried and eulogized as a “good man.” As he lies entombed, he is awoken by an escorting angel who ushers him toward the Golden Gates of Heaven, but before he is allowed to pass through, the escorting angel informs him that “Everything has been recorded.” God, sitting on high on his celestial thrown, then gives the command “Review his life!” The recently departed is then obliged to sit through a video encapsulation of his life, which dwells in particular upon every selfish, insensitive, uncaring, self-indulgent and sinful act he has ever engaged in, including one of him as an adolescent telling his chums “Hey Guys! This is the dirtiest story I’ve ever heard. It goes like this…” He is then depicted, as a young man, lustily leering at a young woman. A panorama of his life follows, showing him as a “whisperer, hater of God, backbiter, and false accuser” and engaging in “deceit, lies, being disobedient to his parents, theft, envy, hypocrisy, pride” and being “unmerciful.”
He is depicted in church as the Gospel is being preached, including Romans 10-9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” He is seen impatiently looking at his watch and thinking to himself: “I couldn’t care less. What time is it?”
With the video concluded, God commands the escorting angel to “Open the book of life!” The escorting angel does so and reports back “His name does not appear, Lord!”
God then thunders: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The damned soul is then seen being cast into the lake of fire by the escorting angel.
While Chick did not use a strict template, per se, for most of his work, there was an undeniable commonality to his themes and storylines. A common thread running through Chick’s cosmology was that of universal spiritual warfare. Most of his books revolve around the concept of good vs. evil, as illustrated by at least a single Christian character (sometimes human, sometimes in the form of an angel or perhaps God, himself) and one or more “non-Christians,” i.e., unrepentant sinners. In nearly all storylines the “non-Christian” was a classically bad, evil or wicked character or a dupe, that is, a member of a “false religion.” In a lesser number of tracts, the “non-Christian” would be depicted as a good or moral character who might even engage in admirable, virtuous or good works but who was fated, nevertheless, to eternal damnation for not having accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. In these stories, the Christian would invariably seek to convert the non-Christian and, in most cases, fail. Ultimately, after the non-Christian would decline to repent, Chick would depict him falling victim to a merciless and everlasting punishment. This punishment would befall even those who were virtuous if they had not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, reinforcing Chick’s belief that one could not depend merely on personal morality or good works to gain eventual entrance to Heaven, but could only achieve salvation through Jesus Christ and the remission from sin He offers.
Chick categorized some of what at this point are considered as relatively mainstream religions – Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses and even Catholicism, the first incarnation of Christianity – as false religions. He was unkind to Jews, implying they “murdered our savior.” The Catholic Church, in particular, was demonized by Chick, and was the subject of at least 20 of his tracts, none of which was complementary toward the world’s largest Christian sect. In one of those tracts, titled Are Roman Catholics Christians?, Chick draws the conclusion that Catholics are not true Christians as he defines them. The Catholics are, he promulgated, engaged in a grand conspiracy to deliver mankind into the hands of Satan, and along the way that false church actively created other Satanic entities such as Islam, Communism, Nazism, and Freemasonry.
It is unknown how many souls were saved by Chick’s approach and how many people who were on the road to perdition he managed to pluck from the grasp of the devil. He appears to have been earnest in his intent to spread the word of the Lord rather than making money. At the time of his death, his comic books could be purchased in lots of 25 for 17 cents apiece. Though most of his older tracts were out-of-print, Chick Publications would upon request of 10,000 copies or more perform a special printing run of most of the out-of-print tracts.
Canada has banned the distribution of his books outright. The magazine Christianity Today denounced Chick as a “nonlearned evangelical” engaged in “atavistic anti-Catholicism.” The Catholic Church has engaged in extensive polemics to refute his claims.
Initially, Chick wrote and illustrated all of the comics himself, but in 1972 he hired another artist, Fred Carter, to illustrate many of the tracts.
In failing health for the last several years, Chick chose David Daniels, the company’s author and researcher since 2000, as his successor.
Chick and his comics – with their simplistic emphasis on right and wrong, smug assumption of moral superiority, illustration of the certainty of damnation and reliance on fear as a psychological cudgel to effectuate conversion – have become a comic foil and an object of derision for many in popular culture and the atheists Chick targeted.
What used to be referred to as the county’s welfare department is transitioning to a futuristic voice recognition program to allow one set of the county’s public assistance recipients access certain programs.
San Bernardino County’s welfare department is now referred to as the human services division. The human services division features a panoply of services, including adult and aging services, behavioral health, the Children’s Fund, the children’s network, children and family services, the office of homeless services, preschool services, public health, transitional assistance services and veterans affairs.
Gilbert Ramos is the director of the county transitional assistance department.
Last week Ramos asked the county board of supervisors to fork out $277,454 to purchase a voice authentication program manufactured by Accenture, LLP and all the attendant software, licensing and support for it to keep it running for the period of February 1, 2017 through October 31, 2019. That voice authentication system is known as the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV Voice Authentication System.
According to Ramos, “The transitional assistance department customer service center is a centralized call center and assists the county’s efficient delivery of public assistance programs. The voice authentication system enhances the current California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV interactive voice response system.”
Ramos said the county’s acquisition of the software and the program will provide “transitional assistance department customers with the ability to authenticate their identity into the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV interactive voice response by stating a specific passphrase, then to be granted access to their case information. The voice authentication system is integrated with the transitional assistance department’s existing customer service center interactive voice response technology. The recommended purchase for voice authentication services will allow the transitional assistance department to continue operational efficiencies by reducing staff time and monthly service charges associated with the customer service center’s toll-free telephone line.”
The transitional assistance department is responsible for administering public assistance programs for eligible county residents in need of financial, nutritional and/or medical assistance, as well as providing foster care, child care and welfare-to-work services. The transitional assistance department utilizes the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV statewide automated welfare system to administer the county’s public assistance programs.
Ramos said, “Since 1998, the county has been a member of C-IV, which is a consortium of 39 counties operating under a joint powers authority and is responsible for creating and maintaining the statewide automated welfare system that supports the business requirements for the administration of public assistance programs in accordance with state requirements. In 1998, Accenture, LLP was selected by C-IV to be the vendor responsible for equipment, software, and services for initial and ongoing development and maintenance of the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV system.”
On August 25, 2015, the transitional assistance department received approval by the Board of Supervisors to design, develop, test and implement voice authentication as an enhancement to the transitional assistance department’s interactive voice response system.
“Voice authentication went live January 29, 2016,” Ramos said. “Voice authentication allows customers with current cases to use their voice via voice biometrics to authenticate their identity for the customer service center agent before the call is connected to the agent. A voice biometric (or voice print) is a numerical representation of the sound, pattern, and rhythm of an individual’s voice, which is as unique as a palm or fingerprint. Customer service center staff then review customer changes and confirm that the appropriate changes have been recorded in the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV system.”
During January 2016 through August 2016, more than 50,100 Voice Authentication registrations were received from customers thereby reducing the call time necessary to verbally authenticate the identity of the caller with a customer service center agent. Ramos said, “This functionality supports The transitional assistance department’s “One and Done” philosophy by efficiently completing a case action at the first contact.”
As a member of the consortium, San Bernardino County does not separately solicit for these services and is bound to utilize the software system and vendor selected by the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV.
Slightly more than half way into the second decade of the third millennium a zombie apocalypse is upon us. At the far eastern extreme of San Bernardino County within eyeshot of California’s east coast along the banks of the Colorado River lies the Needles cemetery, which has been in existence since the late 1800s.
Now a proposal to standardize the practice of disintering the remains of souls that have been resting there for decades or even for a century or more has been made.
According to Cheryl Sallis, cemetery operator and secretary to the Needles city manager, a half dozen or more of these disinterments have been executed to date. Typically, the disinterments are said to be requested by family members for the purpose of having the remains relocated to a family plot that may be in the same cemetery or another part of the country. A request has been made to allow two disinterments in the cemetery this week. Left unstated was who requested the action and what would be the intended purpose.
“The City’s cemetery rules and regulations do not address disinterments” Needles City Manager Rick Daniels said. “In checking with the State of California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, state law does not address who must be present during a disinterment as that is an agreement between the cemetery and family of the deceased.”
Sallis, who operates the cemetery, has had a past policy and practice of requiring a California licensed funeral director to be present during the disinterment to execute a witness statement. This is not a rule or regulation that has been adopted by the cemetery board or the Needles
City Council. The party of interest in the disinterments requested that a California
licensed embalmer be used instead.
After a year or more of postponements, a cemetery board meeting was finally held. Sallis urged the board to approve a new provision in the Needles Riverview Cemetery rules and regulations which would allow for disinterments and require the physical presence of a California licensed funeral director. An “advisor” to the cemetery board, Laura Schubert Darrow, who is known to have been employed in the funeral industry, was supportive.
Having been appointed almost a year earlier and objecting to the fact that no meetings were being held, newly sitting board member Ruth Musser-Lopez was among the two out of three board members present, the other being Wilma Baldwin. The third member was absent.
Expressing her concern that “state law, California Code Section 7502 requires that the board of health or a health officer of the city or the city and county in which the cemetery lands are situated be responsible for promulgating such rules and not a cemetery board,” Musser-Lopez objected to the new rules and the action failed. Musser-Lopez also stated that the presence of a funeral director was an added expense that did nothing to protect the health and safety of the employees doing the exhumation. The discussion was entirely upsetting for Sallis who asked that the meeting be adjourned but first wanted the board to vote on the next item which was to increase the board to five members. When Musser-Lopez seconded the motion and then voted against it, causing it to fail, ghoulish spirits flared with Sallis stating that she would ask the city council to dissolve the cemetery board entirely and again asked the meeting to be adjourned. Baldwin adjourned the meeting before the cemetery budget and expenditures, on the agenda next, could be reviewed. According to the staff report for that item, under the new rate structure implemented by the city council incumbents, the cemetery’s water bill has increased substantially from an average of $2,500 a year to an estimated $49,500 in the current fiscal year, leaving a remaining balance of $170, all while no cemetery board meetings were being conducted. Apparently, the city needs the income from the disinterments to pay the water bill.
In two follow-up letters to Daniels who was not present at the meeting, Musser-Lopez expounded upon the board meeting. “Since there were only two board members present at the Needles Cemetery Board meeting yesterday, my vote defeated an action that would potentially add what might be extraordinary and unnecessary cost for disinterment procedures at the Needles Cemetery by requiring permittees to hire a funeral director to be present at the disinterment, meanwhile failing to provide any health and safety protection to our city’s employees who would actually be engaged in the exhumation,” Musser-Lopez said. “There are no rules and regulations with regard to the treatment of the remains after they are exhumed and while still in the cemetery, or transportation out the gate and release of remains from the city and cemetery. My opinion is that city staff should be equipped with standardized written rules and procedures relating to what should be done upon presentation to the city staff of a court order or a county permit by a legally authorized individual. We should also have a fee structure to provide to the permittee or party bearing the court order. Those rules and procedures should be developed by the city based upon county health and safety regulations to protect employees physically engaged in the exhumation as well as professional standards for exhuming remains without impacting surrounding remains.
“Above all else, the health and safety of our city employees should be the city’s priority concern,” Musser-Lopez continued. “City employees involved in an exhumation should be provided with the necessary equipment and tools to comply with federal, state and county health and safety regulations, for example wearing respirators and protective outer garments. The release of mold, fungus, spores, bacteria, viruses etc., from exhuming remains is not uncommon and can be devastating to one’s health. Lung disease known as Valley Fever, which is also called Desert Fever, involving fungus coccidioides, is a known professional risk of archaeologists, particularly those who have worked on excavations involving human burials.”
Musser-Lopez told the Sentinel that “In retrospect, I am looking at the state law which requires a permit or a court order and prohibits any other permit other than that issued by the county health department. However, consent of a family member and the cemetery authority are also factors. Under California Health & Safety Code 7525, the remains of a deceased person may be removed from a plot in a cemetery with both the written consent of a family member and with the consent of the cemetery authority. The code lists the order of priority.”
Lopez went on, “The question now remains—who is the cemetery authority? Is it the city staff or is it the cemetery board? We were asked to approve generalized rules but we were not asked for our consent with regard to the actual disinterments. If asked, I would want to know who was making the request, the relation of that person to the deceased, whether there are any other family members who object and whether or not a permit or court order had been obtained. [City manager] Rick [Daniels] said he would likely have the city attorney review the rules, but intended to allow these disinterments this week despite the failure of the cemetery board vote.”
By Count Friedrich von Olsen
What! What, oh what! What has happened to Upland? It once was, with the possible exception of Redlands, the finest, that is to say, the most refined, city in San Bernardino County. In recent years – or decades – it has fallen into an appalling state. I know its former mayor and former city manager involved themselves in some rather nasty business and earned themselves a pair of extended vacations, courtesy of federal and state taxpayers. I have, and so have others, remarked that for a city of its caliber, or past caliber, the quality of its political leadership has long been very disappointing…
In years past, during the reign of the likes of John McCarthy as mayor and Frank Carpenter on the city council, I was always a bit suspicious that something untoward was already ongoing. Frank Carpenter was a little too accommodating of the aggressive development that was ongoing in that era, and he did not seem to mind that the character of the city – with its stately homes and immaculate citrus groves – was being compromised by the cookie cutter development the city was permitting to be constructed within the city limits on a wholesale basis. Had Frank and his colleagues been compromised themselves?
I drove through the city recently. Euclid Avenue, State Highway 83 which ascends toward San Antonio Heights and the eastern extension of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains as if it were the roadway to Heaven itself, was once one of the grandest such boulevards in the world. It has fallen into a deplorable state of dishabille. Near the corner of Euclid and Foothill I saw one character of such aspect and weak bearing – replete with tattered clothing and unshined shoes – that I could hear myself imagining that I would say to him, “My God, man, have you no respect for yourself any longer? Has your shabby life reduced you to this? Pull yourself together. Repent from your slovenliness!” Many of the houses are no longer being cared for. The lawns have grown brown or are now gone to weed…
And Upland’s outward appearance is a metaphor for what the city has become otherwise. Apparently, charlatans and blackguards of the most questionable type are muscling in on the city. A flesh peddler has commandeered the city’s prime commercial venue along historic Route 66, right at the gateway of the city to and from Los Angeles County and its easternmost community, the well respected Claremont. This huckster’s brand of establishments monopolize that district, including a peep show, rumored to be a house of ill repute, accompanied by a shop that sells cannabis, despite an ostensible city ordinance banning such. And while the police department has put out that it is waging warfare against these illicit marijuana sales operations, this one in particular, owned by the vice kingpin, remains operational. It is an open secret, I am told, that elements within the police department and at least a few city officials are being paid off. No one can explain how an illicit operation such as this, clearly out in the open, can remain intact…
The vice kingpen is, state campaign finance reporting documents show, bankrolling the campaigns of several of the candidates for mayor, city council and treasurer in Upland…
Three years ago, the Upland City Council adopted an administrative citation ordinance, giving the city authority to cite violators of the city’s codes and then administratively levy a graduated set of fines of up to $1,000 per day against the transgressors. When objections were raised with regard to the due process implications of this at that time, city officials offered assurances that this fining capability would be utilized judiciously, and was intended to put illicit operations such as marijuana selling clinics out of business…
I was shown a video of this week’s Upland City Council meeting. In it, city councilman and mayoral candidate Glenn Bozar, perhaps inadvertently or perhaps subliminally, obliquely referenced the way in which the police department and other city officials have allowed the vice kingpin’s marijuana distribution operation to remain in operation unchecked. Mr. Bozar requested that the statistics on the enforcement of the city’s administrative citation ordinance be made available, as was earlier intended. Interestingly, when Councilman Bozar made that request, the police chief engaged in a good bit of hemming and hawing. Providing those statistics would reveal whether the police department and its code enforcement division were enforcing the marijuana ban against the vice king and his operations. Researching those statistics, the chief said, would entail a time burden on his staff. He suggested adequate transparency might be had by a review of the appeals made by those cited…
Mr. Bozar, incidentally, is not being supported in his run for mayor by the vice kingpin…
Maxwell Lewis Rafferty, Jr. was a renowned California educator whose teaching/educational career was incubated in three of San Benardino County’s smallest, remote and most obscure communities.
Known as Max Rafferty, he was born in May 1917 in New Orleans to Maxwell Rafferty, Sr. (1886-1967), and the former DeEtta Frances Cox (c. 1892-1972). He was one of two children, his sister being the actress and pin-up girl Frances Rafferty, a co-star of the CBS television sitcom December Bride. Rafferty spent most of his childhood in Sioux City, Iowa, where his sister was born in 1922. The family relocated to California in 1931.
Rafferty graduated in 1933 from Beverly Hills High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1938.
Rafferty was not at home, exactly in the ivory towers of academia and on the campus at Westwood, which he considered to be a hotbed of radicalism. While an undergraduate at UCLA, Rafferty “took umbrage at many of the things” in the college newspaper, the Daily Bruin, “particularly the editorial page,” editor Stanley Rubin recalled in 1970, “to the point of charging into the office and physically attacking me.” In 1937 Rafferty wrote a letter to The Los Angeles Times in which he described The Bruin as “one of the most prejudiced newspapers on the Pacific Coast” and complained that the Bruin’s “radicalism is not so funny if it keeps you from getting a job.”
Rafferty’s first job, during World War II, was as a classroom teacher in the Trona Unified School District in the Mojave Desert at the extreme northwest tip of San Bernardino County near the gateway to Death Valley.
In 1944, he married the former Frances Longman, and the couple had three children, Kathleen, Dennis, and Eileen.
His detestation of UCLA did not prevent him from returning there to get his Master of Arts degree, which he achieved in 1949. While attending UCLA he was a member, and president, of the Sigma Pi fraternity chapter. A few years later he would switch to UCLA’s rival, the University of Southern California, to get his Ed.D. in 1955.
After World War II, Rafferty became vice-principal, principal, and school superintendent in various California school districts, including Big Bear High School in Big Bear Lake from 1948 to 1951. He was the superintendent at sparsely populated Saticoy in Ventura County from 1951 to 1955, Needles from 1955 to 1961, and moved on to upscale La Cañada in Los Angeles County in 1961 and 1962.
Later, when he was a newspaper columnist, Rafferty noted with nostalgia how his first teaching jobs in California had been the most personally satisfying of his career.
In 1962, he was elected to the nonpartisan office of California education superintendent, defeating Los Angeles school board president Ralph Richardson. He held this office for two terms, from 1963 to 1971.
Rafferty established himself politically as a “far right” reactionary. He earned the moniker of “America’s outspoken antiprogressive educator.” His reputation grew beyond the Golden State, as he attacked busing, sex education and the “New Left.” He began writing and publishing books to propound his views. His books, Suffer, Little Children and What They Are Doing to Your Children, lambasted the dual concepts of liberalism and progressive education He urged a “return to the fundamentals” in education. Schools should, he insisted, focus on phonics, memorization and drill; utilize American history and children’s classics in teaching from the early grades forward; and drop psychology and “life adjustment” approaches from education. As California’s school superintendent he issued a dictum from on high that several contemporary books such as Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice and Leroi Jones’s Dutchman were obscene, and he sought to revoke the teaching certificate of any teacher who used such works. He sought to have the Dictionary of American Slang removed from school libraries.
Politically, he was known as an “articulate spokesman for the far right” who had a “nationwide reputation as a Fourth-of-July style orator and writer.”
In 1968 Rafferty challenged and defeated incumbent Republican Senator Thomas H. Kuchel, whom Rafferty branded as a “moderate,” in the Republican primary election. This has been described as “one of the biggest primary upsets in Senate history.” Rafferty ran as a conservative, overcoming Kuchel among “red meat” Republicans. He then had to face Alan Cranston, the former state controller in the general election. Cranston nearly thirty years before had published a verbatim translation of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in an effort toward cutting edge scholarship, which prompted a copyright infringement lawsuit from Hitler’s publisher, which was upheld by a New Jersey Court. Thus, the 1968 California Senatorial Election was seen as a referendum on intellectual honesty in scholarship.
In the 1968 campaign, Rafferty opined that those caught in the act of looting should be shot. He urged quick, stiff punishment for crimes, saying “Retribution is what I’m talking about, friends, and ever since we crawled out of caves, retribution has followed wrongdoing as the night does the day.” He promised never to vote for higher taxes or for foreign aid to “dictators who hate us,” and he criticized judges who “coddle criminals,” saying he could not have voted to confirm any of the then Supreme Court Justices.
Two years later, in 1970, Rafferty failed in his bid for a third term as superintendent of public instruction, losing to Wilson Riles, the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in California and a Democrat in the nonpartisan race.
Rafferty then moved to Alabama to serve on the faculty at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, serving as Dean of Education from 1971 to 1981. In Birmingham, they loved the governor, George Wallace, whose defection from the Democratic Party in 1968 diverted much of the Dixiecrat vote to himself, a major factor in Richard Nixon’s defeat of Democrat Hubert Humphrey.
Rafferty jumped right into Alabama politics and in 1972, he campaigned for and served as a stand-in speaker for Wallace after the latter had reinvented himself as a Democrat and was seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. President, until Wallace was felled by would-be assassin, Arthur Bremer in May of that year.
Rafferty was the author of several books on educational philosophy, including Practice and Trends in School Administration (1961), the previously-mentioned Suffer, Little Children (1962), What They Are Doing to Your Children (1964), and Max Rafferty on Education (1968). His newspaper column, “Dr. Max Rafferty”, was syndicated nationally. He was the recipient of the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation.
Rafferty was named the Sorrell Chairman of Education at Troy University in 1981. In 1982 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to a national advisory board on the financing of elementary and secondary education.
Rafferty was active in the Lions Club and Rotary International. He died on June 13, 1982, at age 65 when his car plunged off an earthen dam into a pond near Troy, Alabama.
The mountain yellow-legged frog is a species of frog living in the San Bernardino Mountains that is now endangered. Also known as the southern mountain yellow-legged frog and its scientific name Rana muscosa, the mountain yellow-legged frog is a species of true frog endemic to California. It occurs in the San Jacinto Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, and San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California and the Southern Sierra Nevada.
It is a federally listed endangered species.
Rana muscosa is 1.1 inch to to 3.5 inches long. Its color and patterning are variable. It is yellowish, brownish, or olive with black and brown markings. Its species name muscosa is from the Latin meaning “mossy” or “full of moss,” inspired by its coloration. It may have light orange or yellow thighs. When handled, the frog emits a defensive odor reminiscent of garlic.
The frog occurs in mountain creeks, lakes and lakeshores, streams, and pools, preferring sunny areas. It rarely strays far from water, and can remain underwater for a very long time, likely through cutaneous gas exchange. The tadpoles require a permanent water habitat for at least two years while they develop. The frog has been noted at elevations of between about 1,214 and 7,546 feet in Southern California.
The frog emerges from its wintering site soon after snowmelt. Its breeding season begins once the highest meltwater flow is over, around March through May in the southern part of its range, and up to July in higher mountains to the north. Fertilization is external, and the egg cluster is secured to vegetation in a current, or in still waters sometimes left floating free. The juvenile may be a tadpole for 3 to 4 years before undergoing metamorphosis.
The frog lacks a vocal sac. Its call is raspy, rising at the end. During the day, it calls underwater.
This species feeds on insects such as beetles, ants, bees, wasps, flies, and dragonflies. It is also known to eat tadpoles.
The frog is an endangered species under the US Endangered Species Act. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has also listed it as endangered. Its NatureServe conservation status is Imperiled.
Once a common species, Rana muscosa was absent from much of its native range by the 1970s. Over the course of the last hundred years, 90 percent of its populations have been eliminated. The frog was known from 166 locations in the Southern California mountains, and as of 2007, only seven or eight remained. The 2009 discovery of R. muscosa at two locations in the San Bernardino National Forest was newsworthy. The frog is represented in the Sierra Nevada by three or four populations. Its decline is attributed to many factors, including introduced species of fish such as trout, livestock grazing, chytrid fungus, and probably pesticides, drought, and ultraviolet radiation.
Trout were introduced to lakes and streams throughout the Sierra Nevada in the late 1800s to increase recreational fishing in the area. The fish feed on tadpoles, a main prey item. The introduced trout have changed the distribution of several native species in the local ecosystems. After the removal of fish from several lakes, the frog reappeared and its populations increased. It then began to disperse to other suitable habitats nearby.
The decline of the frog from its historic range has been associated with pesticide drift from agricultural areas. Frogs that have been reintroduced to water bodies cleared of fish have failed to survive, and analysis has isolated pesticides in their tissues. Pesticides are considered by some authorities to be a greater threat to the frog than the trout.
This species is one of many amphibians affected by the fungal disease chytridiomycosis.
The first successful captive breeding of the frog occurred in 2009 when three tadpoles were reared at the San Diego Zoo. Conservation workers at the zoo plan to release any more surviving captive-bred frogs in the San Jacinto Mountains, part of their native range.
In 2015 frogs and tadpoles of the species were reintroduced to Fuller Mill Creek in the San Bernardino Mountains and San Bernardino National Forest. They were bred and raised at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research in Escondido, one of the organizations that have partnered with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) to make an effort to preserve the species.
Recently more than 100 endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs were reintroduced into the San Bernardino Mountains by a team of scientists from San Diego Zoo Global and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The release, at an elevation of 1,500 feet, is in a location where only a few of the rare yellow-legged frogs have been seen since the heavy rains in the winter following the 2003 Old fire, according to Adam R. Backlin, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
It is believed that heavy rains on the slopes that were stripped of vegetation as a consequence of the fires near City Creek caused mudslides into the frog’s habitat, killing some of the population and leaving the survivors in peril because the erosion had destroyed the water refuge.
Because biologists anticipated significant habitat loss after that fire, they collected yellow-legged frogs before the rains came. The recently released frogs are descended from frogs that were genetically distinct from other mountain yellow-legged frog populations in Southern California.
The USGS intends to reintroduce more frogs at higher elevation points in the San Bernardino Mountains between April and June, 2017.