CNC Motors Closure & Controversy Update

This is an updated version, including notations of several fast-breaking events, in the article that ran in the Sentinel on Friday, April 16.

Upland Car Dealer Withholding $7.25M In Consignment Proceeds From Sellers

By Mark Gutglueck

An Upland-based high-end vehicle dealer has defrauded more than three dozen individuals on both ends of the transactions his company has been involved in over the last 12 months, diverting an estimated $7.25 million in the process from the sellers and title owners of the cars in question to accounts unknown.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the Upland Police Department have been inundated with complaints relating to how Clay Thom, the owner/operator of CNC Motors, transacts business. According to those who have dealt with Thom personally, he agrees to sell exotic vehicles, generally ones valued at in excess of $100,000, on consignment, rakes in the money from the sale and delivers the vehicle without the title to the purchaser. Thereafter, Thom pockets the money from the sale, allowing the seller to retain title to the vehicle in the form of possession of the car’s pink slip. When pressed, according to those who have dealt with him, he will make unkept promises to both the seller and the purchaser.

According to statements obtained by both NormalGuySupercar.com and the Sentinel, Thom uses his impressive showroom located just north of the 210 Freeway near the Campus Avenue exit in Upland, which at any given time features a fair number of highly impressive used and factory new vehicles, including late model Maseratis, Ferraris, Jaguars, Porsches, Lotuses, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, McLarens, Mercedes Benzes, less expensive mid-range vehicles as well as restored vintage 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s cars to gain the confidence of owners of pricey vehicles looking to sell them. NormalGuySupercar.com is a website devoted to high-end vehicles. Making confident representations that he can sell the vehicles in relatively short order, Thom takes possession of the cars from the would-be sellers, committing to obtaining for the seller a price generally considered to be above the listed value of the cars, providing both himself and the seller a tidy profit.

In most cases, Thom then sells the vehicles, obtaining payment either in cash from the buyer or payment in full from the buyer’s lender. Thom invariably permits the purchaser to take immediate possession of the vehicle itself upon the cash sale or the signing of documents, offering assurance that the title documentation to the car will be soon forthcoming.

When the seller seeks payment, Thom uses a variety of assertions to defer passing the money received in the sale through to the title owner, including that payment will be made later that day, the next day, or within a few days. Upon coming to the dealership, either by invitation or unexpectedly, the seller will be told that the dealership does not at that juncture have sufficient funds in its accounts to make payment or that the company controller who has possession of the company’s checkbook is not there. On occasion, Thom will arrange for a check to be cut to the car seller, but payment on the check will be canceled or it will be returned for insufficient funds.

In some cases, Thom has sold the cars directly to a buyer. In other cases, he has unloaded the cars to a dealership. In virtually every case, Thom makes those sales without himself being in possession, even as an intermediary, of the title, such that the purchaser never receives title.

Multiple sellers have reported that they were not notified of the sales until they made an inquiry. In this way, the seller was not asked to hand off title nor provided with the opportunity to sign a release of liability. On at least three occasions known to the Sentinel, an owner, having logically bur erroneously assumed on the basis of a misrepresentation by Thom or another CNC salesperson the individual or entity in possession of the car had secured insurance for it, canceled his insurance coverage for the vehicle.

There is evidence to indicate that Thom has on some occasions taken cars on consignment and has then provided those cars to individuals or dealerships to whom he had previously owed money. Unverified by the Sentinel is a report that CNC is in arrears to Lotus well over $2.5 million, and as a result, those who have purchased brand new Lotus Evoara GTs have not been given title to the cars and therefore have not been able to register them.

Multiple narratives from Thom’s victims demonstrate he has, as a middleman, perfected the means of taking the money involved in the transactions he is involved in for himself and leaving ownership up in the air between the sellers and buyers, most often with the seller still in possession of the title and the buyer in possession of the car.

An element of Thom’s formula is keeping the seller in the dark as to who the purchaser is.

A significant number of the sellers financed the purchase of the vehicles in question and yet owe money on the cars. Thus, the sellers are often counting on the sale of the vehicles to pay off the debt relating to the original purchase of the vehicles. By getting involved with Thom and CNC, the would-be sellers end up in a position where they are still paying the liens on cars they don’t have. In such cases, the original owner has title to the vehicle and legal liability for it. The individual in possession of the car does not have title, which renders problematic the securing of registration and insurance for the vehicle in question. So, in addition to the owner yet making payments on a car he no longer possesses, he finds himself in the position of having to pay for insurance on the vehicle as well.

In one case, the owner of a car was stiffed by Thom after he dropped the car off with CNC as part of a consignment arrangement. The car then was transferred to a dealership to which Thom reportedly owed money as part of a trade to pay down on that debt. The owner of the car, unable to induce Thom to make good on the money owed from the consignment sale, without Thom’s cooperation, initiated a search for his car. He succeeded in locating the vehicle in the showroom of another dealer. After first feigning interest in purchasing the vehicle, the owner was able to obtain particulars with regard to what had occurred, at which time he produced his title to the car and informed the dealership that the car was his. The dealership’s owner, recognizing that the dealership could not claim legal ownership of the car, while acknowledging that the owner indeed appeared to have the right to take possession of the car, prevailed upon the owner to permit the dealership to make contact with Thom to get things squared up before that occurred. After several days, nothing was resolved and Thom was not forthcoming with any money. At that point, the owner returned to the dealership with his title document and members of the police department in the city where the dealership was located, and was able to recover his car.

Outcomes for most of those who have recently sought to have Thom and CNC Motors sell their vehicles have not been as satisfactory.

One factor is that the Upland Police Department has been reluctant to get involved in the matters involving CNC.

Thom’s mode of operation until recently consisted of impressing potential sellers with a showroom filled with well upwards of $30 million worth of impressive vehicles, and inducing the car owner into voluntarily turning the vehicle over to CNC by personally driving the vehicle into the CNC showroom and handing over the keys to Thom or one of CNC’s employees. This turns any dispute over CNC’s possession of a vehicle it does not have title to and any subsequent disposition of the car into a civil rather than a criminal matter. When those who have lost a vehicle or money to Thom’s tactics have approached the Upland Police Department, its officers have routinely referred them to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and its criminal/civil investigative arm.

In some instances, where Thom’s victims have proven a bit more determined and have insisted on remaining on the CNC premises to await the return of CNC personnel who were supposed to provide them with a check or cashiers check to make good on a past due payment or promised payment in full for a vehicle that had been sold, CNC employees have threatened to call, and on occasion have called, the Upland Police to effectuate the disaffected parties’ removal from the showroom or the premises.

Some of those who have experienced Thom absconding with their money feel the Upland Police Department has gone beyond passively ignoring the problem to running interference for CNC, which was given favored status by the City of Upland when it relocated to the 20th Street address in the form of sales tax springback incentives for a period of five years.

According to a man who has set up a website devoted to documenting his experience at CNC, he consigned two of his vehicles, a 2020 McLaren 720S Spider and 2017 Mercedes 4 X 4 Squared FG550, which he said were in “pristine” condition, to CNC through its sales representative, Joey Indrieri, in November 2020. He only received sporadic responses when he sought updates on the status of the vehicles in December. This continued into January, and on February 17, he went to the CNC showroom, where his vehicles were no longer on display. His inquiries were met with claims that Indrieri was not present. He persisted in waiting, at which point Indrieri emerged from his office to speak with him.

Indrieri told him the vehicles were sold, and produced a release of liability form for him to sign. With loans on the cars still outstanding, the seller was anxious to get the proceeds from the sales at once, a total of $500,000. Indrieri told him the funds would be wired to him by February 20. The funds were not transferred and the seller told CNC on March 2, 2021 that he would initiate legal action if the money was not forthcoming by March 6. At that point Clay Thom intervened, who offered his assurance that the seller would be paid by March 6. Thom asked for his wire transfer information, which had long before been provided.
On March 12 the McLaren 720S Spider and Mercedes FG550 owner again came to the CNC showroom, assuming that Thom would have already made good on his assurance that the liens on both cars would be paid off, and that two cashiers checks for the balance of equity he was owned on the cars would be provided to him. Inside the dealership, the receptionist informed him that Thom was not there. When he insisted on waiting for Thom to show, a CNC employee called the Upland Police Department to remove him from the dealership.

The responding officer told him that Thom would pay him by March 19, telling him Thom was taking on a new partner and investor who was going to buy out the business and provide an infusion of cash. March 19 came and went, and CNC has yet to provide the equity checks to the seller and the liens on the McLaren 720S Spider and Mercedes FG550 are not paid.

Upland Police Sergeant Rob Steenerson, the department’s weekday day shift watch commander, told the Sentinel, “We get several calls a week about CNC. Most of those involve a consignment issue, so we’re not the agency best suited to deal with those sorts of things, since they are not strict law enforcement matters. So, we’ve handed that over to the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] investigators.”

Thom’s methodology of victimizing buyers is a mirror image of his victimization of sellers.

Purchasers, basically, are divided into three categories: Ones who purchased the cars, took physical possession of them but have never actually taken legal possession of them by gaining title; those who have purchased the cars, took possession of the cars but then lost them when the actual owner succeeded in retaking possession; and those who purchased the cars and never gained physical possession of the vehicles at all.

Those who have purchased the cars and were able to drive them out of the showroom did so with an assurance by Thom or one of his salespeople that they would soon be provided with title to the vehicle. That title is rarely forthcoming. This has created difficulty, as the buyers have been unable to register their ownership and in many cases must endure resistance in seeking to get the vehicles insured.

In at least a few cases, buyers paid for their vehicles, took possession of them and then were confronted weeks or months later by the individual who yet had title to the vehicle. After considerable back and forth in those cases, involving ultimately futile contact with Thom and CNC to ascertain what can be done to ensure that the owner is either paid in full by CNC or that the purchase price is refunded to the buyer, the vehicles are sometimes repossessed by the original owner, in which cases the buyer is out the cash he put up to make the purchase or is yet responsible for loan payments for a car he no longer has.

Moreover, a fair number of the cars CNC sold, while appearing to be in top notch condition, were not mechanically sound.

One buyer’s horror story of dealing with Thom, yet ongoing as of this writing, entailed making a $16,000 deposit on one vehicle before he even saw it, then making an even larger cash payment augmented by a loan to cover the entirety of the cost. Upon driving the car out of the showroom and before getting home, the buyer learned that the transmission was faulty. He took it to a reliable mechanic who informed him the transmission was shot, and that his only option was to replace it entirely.

When the buyer informed CNC, the salesman insisted that installation of a new transmission was not necessary, and had the buyer return the car to CNC for servicing. The buyer did so, entrusting the vehicle to CNC to carry out the required repairs. More than two months elapsed, at which time the buyer learned that no progress toward repairing the transmission had been made or yet undertaken. Thereafter, CNC’s staff ignored the buyer’s calls. Meanwhile, the buyer’s bank informed him that CNC had yet to release the title on the vehicle.

At that point, it became clear that CNC was in such an atrocious financial circumstance that it was taking in money on car sales and using that capital to service long due arrearages without making payment to the owners of the vehicles most recently sold – an indication of a classic Ponzi scheme.

When the buyer returned to CNC to get the car earlier this month, no work on the transmission had been carried out. At present, neither he nor the bank have title, and the bank has raised his interest rate on a loan for a car he cannot drive.

CNC has been in existence for 15 years, and was founded by Craig Thom and his sons Fraser and Clay. After functioning out of three other locations, the company, now controlled by Clay Thom, moved to 1018 East 20th Street in Upland in 2018.

On March 28, NormalGuySupercar.com spoke with Clay Thom in a videorecorded interview.

Asked what had happened, Thom said he was “not exactly sure. Was it a case of too big, too fast? We went from a smaller location where we were selling 30 cars a month [to] 35 cars a month. It was easier then. Everyone was happy. We didn’t need to work as hard. It was more about the cars and the people. When you come over here and now you’re expected to sell anywhere from 80 to 100 cars a month, it’s a lot more to do, it’s a lot more to manage, it’s a lot more drama. You need the right accounting people. You need the right people managing your credit lines. We went from having a six million dollar credit line to having a 30 million dollar credit line. When March [2020] came around, we closed the store for 110 days, we laid off probably 30 of our 40 employees. I don’t know the answer. I’ve just been kind of rolling with it the whole time, but somewhere along the lines when the key people went away, I think it just got a little blurry for us on what order things needed to be done and how fast they needed to be done.”

At various times during the interview, Thom insisted that the COVID-19 pandemic had nothing to do with the major cash flow program CNC is experiencing, but at other times contradicted that, blaming what had occurred on the international, national, state and local health crisis brought on by the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID isn’t my excuse,” Thom said relatively early in the interview. “COVID didn’t cause my problems. My problems were not being prepared for something like that and not being able to maneuver around an obstacle. At the end of the day, it’s trial and error. If I could go back to March [2020] again and do it again, I wouldn’t be in this position, but I did the best I could during that time.”

At another point in the interview, Thom said, “If somebody told you, somebody came to you and said, ‘There’s a flu that’s going to come out and it’s going to shut the world down for a year,’ what would you have said? Come on, man. If anybody’s owned a business through this, they’ve seen the effects of it.”

Thom said CNC was initially thrown for a loop in the three-month March-to-May 2020 downturn in the economy that came with the advent of the COVID-19 crisis. Then, he said, “I think it was June, it started to pick back up and we were doing great sales again. We were still understaffed. We still didn’t have the right amount of people, but we continued to push through. We started experiencing a little bit of slowdown right around Thanksgiving.”

Things have been bad since then, he said, but vowed, “If we’ve made some wrongs, we’ll right them, and at the end of the day, everything in our world will go forward and we will make sure everybody on both ends of the stick, whether you’re owed a title or a car or money, all the rights will be wronged (sic) and there won’t be anybody standing there saying, ‘What happened?’”

Thom lamented that everyone is coming down on him now.

As tough as it is to get though a hard time, it’s even harder to do it when you have the amount of people that don’t know us at all that are 100 percent out there for hate. They’re only here to see the crash. They’re not here to see anything other than a negative, and then they move right on to the next guy who’s in the limelight.

We’re going to see this thing through,” Thom continued. “There’s nothing that we won’t do to get through this.”

Thom sought to deflect the most pointed criticism and concern about the way CNC is doing business, selling owners’ vehicles, taking in the money from the buyers and then not passing the money CNC has taken in through to the sellers, all the while avoiding those who are inquiring about where the money is, where their cars are and when the titles will be transferred. He admitted ignoring his disgruntled clients and customers.

I try to refrain once in a while from looking at the comments that people send via text message to me,” Thom said. “I just try not to read them. I’m not one of those guys who likes to be in the limelight. The comments that people are making out there are just… not accurate. I was told not to engage with them, to not fight that fight. There’s people out there saying, ‘Oh, you have a half-million or a million dollar Rolex collection.’ I don’t own a watch. I literally don’t own a watch. I don’t have a vacation house. I don’t even actually own a house. I’m a renter now, which is okay with me and my family. We’re happy wherever we’re together. We don’t have a beach house. We don’t have a lake house. We don’t have a plane. I don’t have a drug problem. I don’t even drink, never mind do drugs. You have a guy out there who’s saying you should drug test me before this interview. I don’t have much money right now, but if you want to put that guy on a three-way interview right now and ask him how much he is willing to put up, I’ll take a drug test if he’s willing to put some money up against it. I don’t have these problems because I spent somebody’s money taking care of myself or on myself or my family or on a vice.”

Rather, he insisted, “This is because of business decisions that I’ve made because of the crisis in the world. I’ve got some things coming down the pipe that’s going to change everything for me.”

Thom said he empathized with those whose cars he has sold and who have yet to be paid or those to whom CNC had sold those cars without their getting legal title to them.

These are actual human beings that work hard for their money,” he said. “We’ve got to make our wrongs right. Was I late? Yeah. I was. I’m sorry about that. If I need to compensate you for that, I will. I’ve made lots of wrong decisions. I’ve made a lot of right ones, too. And when I make a wrong one, I always go back and fix it. I hope that I’m given the opportunity, and I hope that once all the wrongs are turned right, I’m hoping that people are compassionate to take two minutes and not just grab their money or their car or title and run, but to actually listen to me and just say. ‘What went wrong? We’ve done business here for ten years. What happened?’”

Thom lamented, “I’m fighting the people that don’t want to see me make it.”

In addition to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, Thom attributed what was happening to CNC to bad publicity on the internet and people, “automatically… judging the situation without the facts.” He did not explain, however, why he was withholding the money achieved from the sale of the cars from those who owned them and had commissioned him to sell them.

He reiterated during the interview what many of his clients and customers have said was one of his standard prevarications, which is that things are looking up, and the money everyone is owed will be forthcoming in a very short while if everyone remains patient.

We have large amounts of money that are coming to us that is our money,” he said. “We paid out, I think, a little over $800,000 on Friday [March 26, 2021],” he said.

An investigator with the California Department of Motor Vehicles told the Sentinel that his agency has opened a dual criminal and civil investigation into more than 40 complaints against CNC.

Thom and CNC Motors are defendants in at least two breach of contract lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court and a contract violation suit brought in federal court in Tampa, Florida.

A tally by NormalGuySupercar.com and the Sentinel of the value of the vehicles sold on consignment by CNC for which the sellers have not yet been paid exceeds $7 million.

Despite Thom’s claim that he is now a renter, documents at the county recorder’s office indicate he or his wife and the Thom Family Trust own, live at or otherwise have control of two homes in San Antonio Heights in the 2500 block of Euclid Crescent West, one valued at approximately $1.5 million and the other at roughly $1.4 million.

There is concern that Thom is on the verge of flying the coop.

Early last year, the CNC showroom and outside lot was filled with exceedingly expensive vehicles with a total value estimated at between $40 million and $50 million. Most of those have been sold and replaced with what is now a lesser number of vehicles contained entirely within the showroom, which, while impressive by average standards, are valued at, in total less than one quarter of what the vehicles present in the showroom and lot 15 months ago were worth. Neither Thom nor CNC holds title to most of those vehicles. Clay Thom is the owner of Craig Thom Properties, LLC., according to documents on file with the California Secretary of State. Craig Thom Properties, LLC., is shown in documents on file with the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office as the owner of the CNC Motors property and the showroom/dealership building.

Craig Thom, who was Clay and Frazer’s father, died nine years ago.

Frazier Thom, Clay Thom’s brother, was previously heavily involved in CNC Motors, but has recently distanced himself his brother and the company. Frazer Thom is shown in documents on file with the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office as the owner of a house at 2580 W Euclid Crest in San Antonio Heights just north of the Upland City Limits, a six bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom, 5,025-square foot home on a 0.42-acre lot. The house at 2588 W Euclid Crest, a five-bedroom, four-bathroom 5,100-square foot home on a 0.38-acre lot, is owned by the Thom Family Trust. Documentation indicates that Clay Thom and his wife, Amy, live, or lived at that address.

Previously, both houses on Euclid Crescent West were up for sale. As of April 12, 2021, the six-bedroom home had been listed at $1,398,888 on Realtor.com for 341 days, with an indication that a sale is pending. A Zillow link showed the sale had been pending since January 27, 2021. As of April 12, 2021, the five-bedroom home had been listed at $1,524,651 on Realtor.com for 336 days, with an indication that its sale was pending. That listing was removed from Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, on January 15, 2021. According to Zillow, the property at the 2580 W Euclid Crest address owned by Frazer Thom and his wife Michelle sold on April 14, 2021 for $1.35 million. That transfer has not yet been updated on the San Bernardino County tax assessor’s website. The same day, April 14, 2021, Realtor,com shows the home owned by the Thom Family Trust at 2588 W Euclid Crest, where Clay Thom and his wife Amy resided, sold for $1,4 million. Transfer of the property has not yet been updated on the San Bernardino County tax assessor’s website.

NormalGuySupercar.com’s interview with Clay Thom can be viewed at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuqbKW6OPIQ

Upland Car Dealer Withholding $7.5 M In Consignment Proceeds From Sellers

By Mark Gutglueck
An Upland-based high-end vehicle dealer has defrauded more than three dozen individuals on both ends of the transactions his company has been involved in over the last 12 months, diverting an estimated $7.25 million in the process from the sellers and title owners of the cars in question to accounts unknown.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the Upland Police Department have been inundated with complaints relating to how Clay Thom, the owner/operator of CNC Motors, transacts business. According to those who have dealt with Thom personally, he agrees to sell exotic vehicles, generally ones valued at in excess of $100,000, on consignment, rakes in the money from the sale and delivers the vehicle without the title to the purchaser. Thereafter, Thom pockets the money from the sale, allowing the seller to retain title to the vehicle in the form of possession of the car’s pink slip. When pressed, according to those who have dealt with him, he will make unkept promises to both the seller and the purchaser.
According to statements obtained by both NormalGuySupercar.com and the Sentinel, Thom uses his impressive showroom located just north of the 210 Freeway near the Campus Avenue exit in Upland, which at any given time features a fair number of highly impressive used and factory new vehicles, including late model Maseratis, Ferraris, Jaguars, Porsches, Lotuses, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, McLarens, Mercedes Benzes, less expensive mid-range vehicles as well as restored vintage 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s cars to gain the confidence of owners of pricey vehicles looking to sell them. NormalGuySupercar.com is a website devoted to high-end vehicles. Making confident representations that he can sell the vehicles in relatively short order, Thom takes possession of the cars from the would-be sellers, committing to obtaining for the seller a price generally considered to be above the listed value of the cars, providing both himself and the seller a tidy profit.
In most cases, Thom then sells the vehicles, obtaining payment either in cash from the buyer or payment in full from the buyer’s lender. Thom invariably permits the purchaser to take immediate possession of the vehicle itself upon the cash sale or the signing of documents, offering assurance that the title documentation to the car will be soon forthcoming.
When the seller seeks payment, Thom uses a variety of assertions to defer passing the money received in the sale through to the title owner, including that payment will be made later that day, the next day, or within a few days. Upon coming to the dealership, either by invitation or unexpectedly, the seller will be told that the dealership does not at that juncture have sufficient funds in its accounts to make payment or that the company controller who has possession of the company’s checkbook is not there. On occasion, Thom will arrange for a check to be cut to the car seller, but payment on the check will be canceled or it will be returned for insufficient funds.
In some cases, Thom has sold the cars directly to a buyer. In other cases, he has unloaded the cars to a dealership. In virtually every case, Thom makes those sales without himself being in possession, even as an intermediary, of the title, such that the purchaser never receives title.
Multiple sellers have reported that they were not notified of the sales until they made an inquiry. In this way, the seller was not asked to hand off title nor provided with the opportunity to sign a release of liability. On at least three occasions known to the Sentinel, an owner, having logically bur erroneously assumed on the basis of a misrepresentation by Thom or another CNC salesperson the individual or entity in possession of the car had secured insurance for it, canceled his insurance coverage for the vehicle.
There is evidence to indicate that Thom has on some occasions taken cars on consignment and has then provided those cars to individuals or dealerships to whom he had previously owed money. Unverified by the Sentinel is a report that CNC is in arrears to Lotus well over $2.5 million, and as a result, those who have purchased brand new Lotus Evoara GTs have not been given title to the cars and therefore have not been able to register them.
Multiple narratives from Thom’s victims demonstrate he has, as a middleman, perfected the means of taking the money involved in the transactions he is involved in for himself and leaving ownership up in the air between the sellers and buyers, most often with the seller still in possession of the title and the buyer in possession of the car.
An element of Thom’s formula is keeping the seller in the dark as to who the purchaser is.
A significant number of the sellers financed the purchase of the vehicles in question and yet owe money on the cars. Thus, the sellers are often counting on the sale of the vehicles to pay off the debt relating to the original purchase of the vehicles. By getting involved with Thom and CNC, the would-be sellers end up in a position where they are still paying the liens on cars they don’t have. In such cases, the original owner has title to the vehicle and legal liability for it. The individual in possession of the car does not have title, which renders problematic the securing of registration and insurance for the vehicle in question. So, in addition to the owner yet making payments on a car he no longer possesses, he finds himself in the position of having to pay for insurance on the vehicle as well.
In one case, the owner of a car was stiffed by Thom after he dropped the car off with CNC as part of a consignment arrangement. The car then was transferred to a dealership to which Thom reportedly owed money as part of a trade to pay down on that debt. The owner of the car, unable to induce Thom to make good on the money owed from the consignment sale, without Thom’s cooperation, initiated a search for his car. He succeeded in locating the vehicle in the showroom of another dealer. After first feigning interest in purchasing the vehicle, the owner was able to obtain particulars with regard to what had occurred, at which time he produced his title to the car and informed the dealership that the car was his. The dealership’s owner, recognizing that the dealership could not claim legal ownership of the car, while acknowledging that the owner indeed appeared to have the right to take possession of the car, prevailed upon the owner to permit the dealership to make contact with Thom to get things squared up before that occurred. After several days, nothing was resolved and Thom was not forthcoming with any money. At that point, the owner returned to the dealership with his title document and members of the police department in the city where the dealership was located, and was able to recover his car.
Outcomes for most of those who have recently sought to have Thom and CNC Motors sell their vehicles have not been as satisfactory.
One factor is that the Upland Police Department has been reluctant to get involved in the matters involving CNC.
Thom’s mode of operation until recently consisted of impressing potential sellers with a showroom filled with well upwards of $30 million worth of impressive vehicles, and inducing the car owner into voluntarily turning the vehicle over to CNC by personally driving the vehicle into the CNC showroom and handing over the keys to Thom or one of CNC’s employees. This turns any dispute over CNC’s possession of a vehicle it does not have title to and any subsequent disposition of the car into a civil rather than a criminal matter. When those who have lost a vehicle or money to Thom’s tactics have approached the Upland Police Department, its officers have routinely referred them to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and its criminal/civil investigative arm.
In some instances, where Thom’s victims have proven a bit more determined and have insisted on remaining on the CNC premises to await the return of CNC personnel who were supposed to provide them with a check or cashiers check to make good on a past due payment or promised payment in full for a vehicle that had been sold, CNC employees have threatened to call, and on occasion have called, the Upland Police to effectuate the disaffected parties’ removal from the showroom or the premises.
Upland Police Sergeant Rob Steenerson, the department’s weekday day shift watch commander, told the Sentinel, “We get several calls a week about CNC. Most of those involve a consignment issue, so we’re not the agency best suited to deal with those sorts of things, since they are not strict law enforcement matters. So, we’ve handed that over to the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] investigators.”
Thom’s methodology of victimizing buyers is a mirror image of his victimization of sellers.
Purchasers, basically, are divided into three categories: Ones who purchased the cars, took physical possession of them but have never actually taken legal possession of them by gaining title; those who have purchased the cars, took possession of the cars but then lost them when the actual owner succeeded in retaking possession; and those who purchased the cars and never gained physical possession of the vehicles at all.
Those who have purchased the cars and were able to drive them out of the showroom did so with an assurance by Thom or one of his salespeople that they would soon be provided with title to the vehicle. That title is rarely forthcoming. This has created difficulty, as the buyers have been unable to register their ownership and in many cases must endure resistance in seeking to get the vehicles insured.
In at least a few cases, buyers paid for their vehicles, took possession of them and then were confronted weeks or months later by the individual who yet had title to the vehicle. After considerable back and forth in those cases, involving ultimately futile contact with Thom and CNC to ascertain what can be done to ensure that the owner is either paid in full by CNC or that the purchase price is refunded to the buyer, the vehicles are sometimes repossessed by the original owner, in which cases the buyer is out the cash he put up to make the purchase or is yet responsible for loan payments for a car he no longer has.
Moreover, a fair number of the cars CNC sold, while appearing to be in top notch condition, were not mechanically sound.
One buyer’s horror story of dealing with Thom, yet ongoing as of this writing, entailed making a $16,000 deposit on one vehicle before he even saw it, then making an even larger cash payment augmented by a loan to cover the entirety of the cost. Upon driving the car out of the showroom and before getting home, the buyer learned that the transmission was faulty. He took it to a reliable mechanic who informed him the transmission was shot, and that his only option was to replace it entirely.
When the buyer informed CNC, the salesman insisted that installation of a new transmission was not necessary, and had the buyer return the car to CNC for servicing. The buyer did so, entrusting the vehicle to CNC to carry out the required repairs. More than two months elapsed, at which time the buyer learned that no progress toward repairing the transmission had been made or yet undertaken. Thereafter, CNC’s staff ignored the buyer’s calls. Meanwhile, the buyer’s bank informed him that CNC had yet to release the title on the vehicle.
At that point, it became clear that CNC was in such an atrocious financial circumstance that it was taking in money on car sales and using that capital to service long due arrearages without making payment to the owners of the vehicles most recently sold – an indication of a classic Ponzi scheme.
When the buyer returned to CNC to get the car earlier this month, no work on the transmission had been carried out. At present, neither he nor the bank have title, and the bank has raised his interest rate on a loan for a car he cannot drive.
CNC has been in existence for 15 years, and was founded by Craig Thom and his sons Fraser and Clay. After functioning out of three other locations, the company, now controlled by Clay Thom, moved to 1018 East 20th Street in Upland in 2018.
On March 28, NormalGuySupercar.com spoke with Clay Thom in a videorecorded interview.
Asked what had happened, Thom said he was “not exactly sure. Was it a case of too big, too fast? We went from a smaller location where we were selling 30 cars a month [to] 35 cars a month. It was easier then. Everyone was happy. We didn’t need to work as hard. It was more about the cars and the people. When you come over here and now you’re expected to sell anywhere from 80 to 100 cars a month, it’s a lot more to do, it’s a lot more to manage, it’s a lot more drama. You need the right accounting people. You need the right people managing your credit lines. We went from having a six million dollar credit line to having a 30 million dollar credit line. When March [2020] came around, we closed the store for 110 days, we laid off probably 30 of our 40 employees. I don’t know the answer. I’ve just been kind of rolling with it the whole time, but somewhere along the lines when the key people went away, I think it just got a little blurry for us on what order things needed to be done and how fast they needed to be done.”
At various times during the interview, Thom insisted that the COVID-19 pandemic had nothing to do with the major cash flow program CNC is experiencing, but at other times contradicted that, blaming what had occurred on the international, national, state and local health crisis brought on by the spread of the coronavirus.
“COVID isn’t my excuse,” Thom said relatively early in the interview. “COVID didn’t cause my problems. My problems were not being prepared for something like that and not being able to maneuver around an obstacle. At the end of the day, it’s trial and error. If I could go back to March [2020] again and do it again, I wouldn’t be in this position, but I did the best I could during that time.”
At another point in the interview, Thom said, “If somebody told you, somebody came to you and said, ‘There’s a flu that’s going to come out and it’s going to shut the world down for a year,’ what would you have said? Come on, man. If anybody’s owned a business through this, they’ve seen the effects of it.”
Thom said CNC was initially thrown for a loop in the three-month March-to-May 2020 downturn in the economy that came with the advent of the COVID-19 crisis. Then, he said, “I think it was June, it started to pick back up and we were doing great sales again. We were still understaffed. We still didn’t have the right amount of people, but we continued to push through. We started experiencing a little bit of slowdown right around Thanksgiving.”
Things have been bad since then, he said, but vowed, “If we’ve made some wrongs, we’ll right them, and at the end of the day, everything in our world will go forward and we will make sure everybody on both ends of the stick, whether you’re owed a title or a car or money, all the rights will be wronged (sic) and there won’t be anybody standing there saying, ‘What happened?’”
Thom lamented that everyone is coming down on him now.
“As tough as it is to get though a hard time, it’s even harder to do it when you have the amount of people that don’t know us at all that are 100 percent out there for hate. They’re only here to see the crash. They’re not here to see anything other than a negative, and then they move right on to the next guy who’s in the limelight.
“We’re going to see this thing through,” Thom continued. “There’s nothing that we won’t do to get through this.”
Thom sought to deflect the most pointed criticism and concern about the way CNC is doing business, selling owners’ vehicles, taking in the money from the buyers and then not passing the money CNC has taken in through to the sellers, all the while avoiding those who are inquiring about where the money is, where their cars are and when the titles will be transferred. He admitted ignoring his disgruntled clients and customers.
“I try to refrain once in a while from looking at the comments that people send via text message to me,” Thom said. “I just try not to read them. I’m not one of those guys who likes to be in the limelight. The comments that people are making out there are just… not accurate. I was told not to engage with them, to not fight that fight. There’s people out there saying, ‘Oh, you have a half-million or a million dollar Rolex collection.’ I don’t own a watch. I literally don’t own a watch. I don’t have a vacation house. I don’t even actually own a house. I’m a renter now, which is okay with me and my family. We’re happy wherever we’re together. We don’t have a beach house. We don’t have a lake house. We don’t have a plane. I don’t have a drug problem. I don’t even drink, never mind do drugs. You have a guy out there who’s saying you should drug test me before this interview. I don’t have much money right now, but if you want to put that guy on a three-way interview right now and ask him how much he is willing to put up, I’ll take a drug test if he’s willing to put some money up against it. I don’t have these problems because I spent somebody’s money taking care of myself or on myself or my family or on a vice.”
Rather, he insisted, “This is because of business decisions that I’ve made because of the crisis in the world. I’ve got some things coming down the pipe that’s going to change everything for me.”
Thom said he empathized with those whose cars he has sold and who have yet to be paid or those to whom CNC had sold those cars without their getting legal title to them.
“These are actual human beings that work hard for their money,” he said. “We’ve got to make our wrongs right. Was I late? Yeah. I was. I’m sorry about that. If I need to compensate you for that, I will. I’ve made lots of wrong decisions. I’ve made a lot of right ones, too. And when I make a wrong one, I always go back and fix it. I hope that I’m given the opportunity, and I hope that once all the wrongs are turned right, I’m hoping that people are compassionate to take two minutes and not just grab their money or their car or title and run, but to actually listen to me and just say. ‘What went wrong? We’ve done business here for ten years. What happened?’”
Thom lamented, “I’m fighting the people that don’t want to see me make it.”
In addition to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, Thom attributed what was happening to CNC to bad publicity on the internet and people, “automatically… judging the situation without the facts.” He did not explain, however, why he was withholding the money achieved from the sale of the cars from those who owned them and had commissioned him to sell them.
He reiterated during the interview what many of his clients and customers have said was one of his standard prevarications, which is that things are looking up, and the money everyone is owed will be forthcoming in a very short while if everyone remains patient.
“We have large amounts of money that are coming to us that is our money,” he said. “We paid out, I think, a little over $800,000 on Friday [March 26, 2021],” he said.
An investigator with the California Department of Motor Vehicles told the Sentinel that his agency has opened a dual criminal and civil investigation into more than 40 complaints against CNC.
Thom and CNC Motors are defendants in at least two breach of contract lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court and a contract violation suit brought in federal court in Tampa, Florida.
A tally by NormalGuySupercar.com and the Sentinel of the value of the vehicles sold on consignment by CNC for which the sellers have not yet been paid exceeds $7 million.
Despite Thom’s claim that he is now a renter, documents at the county recorder’s office indicate he or his wife and the Thom Family Trust own, live at or otherwise have control of two homes in San Antonio Heights in the 2500 block of Euclid Crescent West, one valued at approximately $1.5 million and the other at roughly $1.4 million.
There is concern that Thom is on the verge of flying the coop.
Early last year, the CNC showroom and outside lot was filled with exceedingly expensive vehicles with a total value estimated at between $40 million and $50 million. Most of those have been sold and replaced with what is now a lesser number of vehicles contained entirely within the showroom, which, while impressive by average standards, are valued at, in total less than one quarter of what the vehicles present in the showroom and lot 15 months ago were worth. Neither Thom nor CNC holds title to most of those vehicles. Clay Thom is the managing member of Craig Properties, LLC., which owns the CNC Motors property and building.
Frazier Thom, Clay Tom’s brother, was previously heavily involved in CNC Motors, but has recently distanced himself his brother and the company. Frazer Thom owns the house at 2588 Euclid Crest in San Antonio Heights just north of the Upland City Limits, a five-bedroom, four-bathroom 5,100-square foot home on a 0.38-acre lot. The house at 2580 Euclid Crest, a six bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom, 5,025-square foot home on a 0.42-acre lot, is owned by the Thom Family Trust. Documentation shows Clay Thom’s wife, Amy, as living at the 2588 Euclid Crest address. Craig Thom, who was Clay and Frazer’s father, died 12 years ago.
Previously, both houses on Euclid Crescent West were up for sale. As of this week, the five-bedroom home had been listed at $1,524,651 on Realtor.com for 336 days, with an indication that its sale was pending. That listing was removed from Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, on January 15, 2021, but no title transfer has yet been recorded relating to it at the San Bernardino County Hall of Records. As of this week, the six-bedroom home has been listed at $1,398,888 on Realtor.com for 341 days, with an indication that a sale is pending. A Zillow link shows the sale has been pending since January 27, 2021, but no transfer relating to the home and property has been recorded at the San Bernardino County Hall of Records.
NormalGuySupercar.com’s interview with Clay Thom can be viewed at EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CNC MOTORS – Nothing was off limits – YouTube.

SB County Department Of Health Ceases Use Of Johnson & Johnson Brand Vaccine

San Bernardino County and its Department of Health on Tuesday April 13 suspended use of Johnson & Johnson’s version of the COVID-19 vaccine following reports of what were said to be six “rare cases” of blood clotting in those inoculated with the prophylactic.
The discontinuation of the vaccine’s use is temporary, county officials said, and was being done in compliance with recommendations made by state and federal health agencies.
Health professionals downplayed the seriousness of the clotting reaction, pointing out that the six known manifestations of the problem were among more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine administered in the U.S.
The pause was issued in response to six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. None of the six cases were in California.
Physicians with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have just begun to analyze the incidence of clotting, and have not yet moved to the conclusion that the vaccine is flawed. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was given emergency FDA approval in February as part of a push to speed up vaccination efforts to arrest the progression of the year-long pandemic.
The clots that have been tracked are serious, occurring in places they are not known to lodge, in veins that drain blood from the brain, and in people with abnormally low levels of clot-forming platelets. The six cases created alarm among medical professionals in that six was at least three times the number of brain-drainage clots that would have been statistically likely to occur, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Dr. Tom Shimabukuro.
“What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets,” Shimabukuro said. “This usually doesn’t happen.”
Of the six people inoculated who suffered the blood clots, one died and another is in serious condition.
The government said there are no signs of similar clots after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna shots that are the most plentiful vaccines available in the United States.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine accounts for 48,600, or 6.6 percent, of the 738,225 vaccine doses received in San Bernardino County. Pfizer accounts for 49.5 percent and Moderna 43.9 percent.
The county has 8,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine on hand. Those doses will be kept in storage pending further direction from the state and federal governments.
County-run vaccination clinics have primarily used the Pfizer vaccine. County-operated special vaccination events that had been scheduled to utilize the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine have been switched to Pfizer. Second-dose appointments will be made when first doses are administered. Those who have appointments for those events are being notified. There are no plans to cancel events at this time.
“The county has no higher priority than the health and safety of our residents,” said Dr. Michael A. Sequeira, San Bernardino County Health Officer. “Although this condition is extremely rare among Johnson & Johnson recipients – much more rare than serious blood clots among those who contract COVID-19 – this pause is prudent pending further federal review.”
Anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine and who develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath should contact his or her health care provider, Sequeira said.
“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines remain widely available in our county and have proven to be safe and effective,” Sequeira said. “The public should remain confident in the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.”

Mining Slated To Begin At World’s Largest Known Borate Deposit At Fort Cady

American Pacific Borates and Lithium Limited is purposed to initiate operation of what is believed to be the third largest boric acid mining project in the world at Fort Cady in San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert.
The mine is located approximately 30 miles east of Barstow and two-and-four-tenths miles south of Interstate 40.
American Pacific Borates and Lithium Limited is working what is the world’s largest known borate deposit, with an estimated mineral resource of 120.4 million tons. In total, over $80 million has been spent on the Fort Cady project, including license acquisition, drilling and resource estimation, well testing, metallurgical testing, feasibility studies and pilot plant infrastructure. In addition, the project has previously obtained all operating and environmental permits required for commercial solution mining operations.
Duval Corporation evaluated the Fort Cady deposit in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, completing over 30 diamond drill holes upon which the maiden resource estimate was defined. An additional 17 production wells were completed in the following years which were used for injection testing and pilot-scale operations.
The project will be developed in three phases with an estimated investment of $526 million. Phase one is now approaching operational status, while phases two and three are expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2023 and the second quarter of 2025, respectively.
The mine site encompasses an area of a half square mile.
The Fort Cady deposit lies in the Hector Basin in the central Mojave region. The project area has uniform exposures of fine-grained lacustrine sediments and tuffs with younger alluvium occurring in washes and overlying the older lacustrine sediments.
The entire mineralized zone, irrespective of grade cut-off and minor barren interbeds, ranges up to 400 feet in thickness. The borate mineralization occurs in the form of colemanite and is found in thinly laminated silt, clay, and gypsum beds.
The Fort Cady project has proven reserves of 27 metric tons, grading 6.70 percent boron trioxide, B2O3, 11.91 percent boric acid, H3BO3, and 379 parts per million of lithium as of December 2018. The probable reserves are estimated at 13.8 metric tons grading 6.40% boron trioxide, B2O3, 11.36% boric acid, H3BO3, and 343 parts per million of lithium.
The project employs a solution mining method carried out at the site of the deposits intended to recover boric acid. A push and pull method is currently employed and will continue until the wells naturally connect, after which separate injection and recovery wells will be used.
A hydrochloric acid solution is injected into the ore body, 1,394 feet below the surface through the wells. The solution leaches the colemanite ore to form a pregnant leach solution, which is extracted through reverse pumping.
The pregnant leach solution is processed and filtered to remove insoluble impurities by passing it through a solvent extraction circuit, followed by washing and stripping circuit. The final stripped liquor is filtered and directed to the crystallization circuit.
The crystallizer produces slurry containing 28 percent liquid boric acid by weight, which is directed to the dewatering circuit. The boric acid liquor is filtered, concentrated, and crystallized by evaporation. The crystallized boric acid is dried and bagged as a final product.
The site is accessible from the I-40 Hector turn-off and Route 66. A pipeline has been constructed to connect the processing plant to the existing Pacific Gas and Electric Company mainline for supplying natural gas for the project.
Power is sourced from an eight megawatt steam turbine type generator. Water is supplied from two existing water wells in the area. Four new wells are proposed to supply 100 gallons per minute of process water required for the operations when it reaches full capacity.
Barr Engineering, an engineering and environmental consulting services company, was engaged to work on the mineral processing program. .
The geotechnical and water management consulting firm Piteau Associates was contracted to prepare a detailed mining plan for Fort Cady while RESPEC Consulting certified the identified mineral resource estimates into verified ore reserves.
Process solutions company Millcreek Engineering was engaged to conduct basic engineering for the Fort Cady project.
The combined environmental impact statement and environmental impact report for the plan of operations was issued by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and the mining conditional use permit and approved reclamation plan was issued jointly by the San Bernardino Land Use Services Department and the California Department of Conservation, Office of Mine Reclamation.
Ultimately, approximately 80 employees are to be involved on-site at the operation.
-Mark Gutglueck

Wildlands Conservancy Fetes Former Yucaipa Mayor Riddell

The Wildlands Conservancy has conferred upon former Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell its Lifetime Conservation Award.
The Wildland Conservancy Board and its executive director, David Myers, timed the presentation of the award to correspond with Riddell’s 96th birthday on April 8.
Riddell had served on the city council from 1994 until the end of last year, when he was defeated in the city’s first by-district election in District 5, in which he was outdistanced by Jon Thorp.
During his 26 year tenure, Riddell was elevated to the mayor’s position by his colleagues for a total of 15 one-year terms.
A member of the California Oak Foundation, Riddell was the progenitor of Yucaipa’s oak tree ordinance and as a member of both the city council and a member of the Crafton Hills Open Space Conservancy and Yucaipa Valley Conservancy, he had a hand in establishing a state park, a city wildlands park and regional trails.

In Wrightwood, Hungry Adolescent Mountain Lions Making Springtime Meals Of Family Pets

The incidence of mountain lions preying upon household pets in Wrightwood has increased significantly in recent weeks.
There have been repeated sightings of the cats – known by the scientific name puma concolo  – throughout Wrightwood on both sides of the east/west San Bernardino County/Los Angeles County boundary.
Mature males of the species generally weigh between 118 pounds and 220 pounds and mature females between 65 pounds and 141 pounds. In the California wild, they will aggressively prey on deer, sheep, goats, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons and gophers. Attacks on people are rare, but do take place. Preying on livestock and pets may occur when a mountain lion is in a condition of severe starvation.
Attacks are most frequent during late spring and summer, when juvenile cougars leave their mothers and search for new territory. That appears to be what is happening in Wrightwood at present.
Pet owners are advised to avoid interactions between their domesticated animals and mountain lions by keeping pets on a leash while they’re outdoors, bringing pets inside at night and enclosing them in a protected space if left unattended outside.

45-Year-Old Succumbs To Severe Thrashing By Green Tree Inn Security Guard

A 45-year-old man who has yet to be identified by authorities was found dead in the parking lot of Victorville’s Green Tree Inn after creating a ruckus and getting his clock cleaned by a security guard early Thursday evening.
Just before 7:30 p.m., San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies summoned to the location found the man. One report had it that he was found on the ground after having stumbled following his fight with the security guard. Another said he had made it to a vehicle, believed to be his own, and was found there unresponsive and no longer breathing.
The sheriff’s dispatch center sent the deputies to the Green Tree Inn in response to a report of an assault having taken place there.
The deputies attempted to revive the man, performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation after checking for a puse and finding none. Paramedics responded and the man was transported to Victor Valley Global Medical Center in Victorville, where he waa pronounced dead.
It was the position of hotel staff that the man, who was not checked into the hotel, was causing a disturbance and was unwelcome at the hotel, and thus merited the thrashing he was given.
Homicide investigators in short order verified that he was not a guest at the Green Tree Inn. The detectives have not verified the claims by hotel personnel that the intruder provoked the beating he received by mouthing off to them and the security guard. Witnesses said the man clearly lost in the physical exchange with the guard, who sent him packing into the parking lot, where he was staggering and lost his footing more than once, falling to the pavement.
Public identification of the man will not come until notification of his next of kin is made.

The Sentinel Nothing More Than Horseshit And Fake News, Opines Parker

With the suspension of Rosemary Hoerning as city manager, Steven Parker is the new honcho in Upland, and he is not going to allow things to get away from him like she did. Indeed, if that happens, Parker is prepared to leave on his own terms rather than be forced out on the city council’s terms, as has happened with Hoerning.
Parker, who has been elevated to the position of acting city manager, is no pushover. He landed the assistant city manager position in Upland in April of last year on the strength of the four month’s experience he had as the accounting manager with the City of West Covina, the year and seven months he spent as the assistant city manager with the City of Stanton, where for four years and five months before that he was Stanton’s director of administrative services. Prior to that, he spent six months as a department manager on loan to the City of San Bernardino while working for the preeminent municipal government consulting firm in California, Urban Futures. For three-and-a-half years before that he was the finance director with the Yorba Linda Water District. In addition to that, Parker had more than ten-and-a-half years experience as supervisor, manager and senior manager with the accounting firms of Mayer Hoffman McCann and Conrad & Associates. That experience convinced Hoerning that Parker had what it takes to serve as her right-hand man.
Parker knows that Hoerning was doing a first class job running the City of Gracious Living. He had been right beside her in the trenches as a senior member of her management team. She was felled by small-minded people in the city who either did not have the sharps to recognize the exemplary way in which she and Parker were making the machinery at Upland City Hall hum or who were so envious of their achievements that they felt compelled to cheapen them imposing on Hoerning a humiliating suspension she does not deserve.
Hoerning had the good sense to right Upland’s listing financial ship, and Parker admires her for that. A numbers cruncher extraordinaire, Parker recognizes that Upland’s top-flight public employees deserve all they are getting and more in the way of salaries, benefits and future promised pensions. It is Upland’s tightfisted and ungrateful citizens who have historically turned down the option of imposing further taxes upon themselves to defray the cost of the top-drawer service all of Upland’s residents are benefiting from. It is those small-minded people who are preventing the city from being able to maintain its fiscal integrity, Parker implicitly understands. Hoerning, with Parker’s assistance, found the solution to Upland’s dilemma: pension obligation bonds. Together they have the city on a course to issue $130 million worth of those bonds, projecting that debt onto the backs of the current generation’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who will be better able to afford the opportunity to pay off the debt present-day Uplanders are accruing so they can benefit by the excellent service of the dedicated employees at City Hall.
Late last month, the Upland City Council in its questionable wisdom began the process of removing Hoerning as city manager, in so doing having Parker take on the duties she had formerly shouldered in overseeing city operations. Parker has gamely stepped into the role of acting city manager, yet he believes the council made a mistake in getting rid of someone as dedicated and competent as Hoerning. If the council is committed to that mistake and cannot be dissuaded from it, Parker would like to see Hoerning restored as city engineer, the position she was elevated from to take on the city manager’s post in 2019. That will be possible only if, after the insult that has been heaped upon her, Hoerning is yet willing to remain with the city.
As far as Parker is concerned, Hoerning and virtually everyone at City Hall have been the victims of a disinformation campaign perpetrated by wrongheaded city residents along with unscrupulous and unethical journalists. This agitation is aimed at tearing down the city and destroying the good names and reputations of the city’s municipal workforce. The Sentinel, Parker knows, has been a central element in this scurrilous promulgation of fake news.
A case in point is the Sentinel’s April 2 edition, which carried an article about Hoerning’s promotion of Community Development Director Robert Dalquest. The Sentinel erroneously reported that the community development director position in Upland had eight pay grades or steps. The Sentinel inaccurately reported that Hoerning’s action skipped Dalquest six of those steps to the seventh step. The Sentinel inaccurately reported that when Dalquest was hired by the city, he began, as do most city employees, at the lowest pay grade, or step, within the job category of community services director. The Sentinel, in error, reported that in conferring the raise upon Dalquest, Hoerning upped his pay by $32,876. All of that was a pack of insidious lies, according to Parker, designed to prejudice the city’s residents against Hoerning, the best city manager Upland ever had, and Dalquest, an urban planner universally recognized as someone at the very pinnacle of his profession.
Everyone in Upland knows, according to Parker, that there are thirteen steps, not eight, in the pay scale for Upland development services director, and that when Dalquest began with the city in December 2018, he was remunerated at a point on the pay scale midway between step four and step five. Thus, when Hoerning boosted Dalquest’s pay status, she did so only by two-and-one-half steps, a raise of $8,447.56, not the $32,876 reported in the Sentinel on April 2.
The way Parker sees it, the Sentinel is chock full of horseshit, which fortunately, is recognized by the majority of those who read it for what it is. Nevertheless, Parker, who is way smarter than all five of the members of the city council, recognizes that two of the council members are so stupid they actually take what appears in the Sentinel at face value. Saddled with this situation, Parker is facing an existential crisis and is not certain he wants to remain in the role of assistant city manager in Upland if and when the city council decides on who is to replace Hoerning, let alone subject himself to serving as acting city manager answerable to the full council until the arrival of a new city manager to relieve him of that burden.
If Parker cannot persuade the city council to keep Hoerning as city manager or as city engineer, he is ready to quit, which will leave Upland in a real fix.

The holder of this perspective refused to identify herself.