By Mark Gutglueck
Federal prosecutors are seeking to utilize former Fontana Assistant Police Chief Alan Hostetter’s own words both before and during the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection and his statements in defending himself at trial against charges that he played a major role in leading the thwarted effort to prevent Joseph Biden from assuming the presidency in 2021 to convince the judge who convicted him of four felonies relating to that massive show of unrest to sentence him to 12 years and seven months in prison.
Hostetter served in the Army, went to work for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in the mid-1980s, transferred to the Fontana Police Department in 1989, worked his way up the ranks to become the Fontana Unified School District’s police chief, then a captain with Fontana PD and then assistant Fontana Popolice chief before capping his law enforcment career as La Habra’s police chief. While in retirement, with the advent of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, Hostetter took an active role in protesting first California’s masking and social distancing mandates, then alleged a vast governmental conspiracy relating to the vaccine developed in response to the disease’s onset before becoming convinced that Donald Trump’s victory in 2020 represented the United States’ and mankind’s last hope to stave off a national and worldwide plunge into the domination of communism. When Trump was defeated at the polls in Novermber 2020, Hostetter grew into a key co-progenitor of the movement that alleged the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Trump by communists and traitors he insisted were aligned with the Democrats.
Having co-founded with wealthy Orange County businessman Russell Taylor the American Phoenix Project as a bulwark against what he characterized as California Governor Gavin Newsom’s fascistic efforts to arrest the spread of COVID-19, he formed an alliance with another wealthy Orange County figure, Morton Irvine Smith, and a support network consisting of Erik Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, Derek Kinnison, and Ronald Mele to resist those state mandates throughout California but primarily in Orange County in early and mid-2020. Initially, Hostetter organized rallies at various locations throughout the Southland, often serving as a mouthpiece for the movement. On May 21, 2020, Hostetter was arrested along with seven others for leading a protest against the closure of the parking lot at the public beach in San Clemente when he chained himself to a barrier fence erected by government officials. As the 2020 election season progressed closer and closer to the November 3 Election, Hostetter became progressively more fixated on reelecting Trump, whom he described as “the greatest president this country ever had.” Hostetter participated as a speaker at multiple Trump rallies in the months and weeks before the election. Continue reading
Former Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales will seek election as county assessor in the special election to be held in November 2024.
Gonzales vied unsuccessfully against four others in the summer and fall of 2022 for appointment as assessor/recorder/county clerk, shortly after the death of Assessor Bob Dutton.
Dutton, despite recognizing that he was deathbound as a consequence of the end-stage prostate cancer he was suffering from, had filed for reelection as assessor/clerk/recorder in the 2022 election cycle, warding off all competitors by virtue of his incumbency and sizable political war chest. He was thus reelected without opposition in the June 2022 Primary election, but died seven weeks later, more than five months before he was due to be sworn in for the term he was elected to serve running from January 2023 until January 2027.
The board of supervisors, despite having just enough time to solicit candidates to run for the post in the November 2022 election and hold another elective contest at that time to fill the position, elected not to do so and instead sought applications for appointment to the position, which summoned bids from Dutton’s widow, Andrea Dutton, former County Supervisor and County Treasurer/Tax Collector/Auditor/Controller Larry Walker, Assessor’s Appeals Division Supervisor Bradley Snowball, Assistant Assessor Chris Wilhite and Gonzales. Ultimately, the board settled on promoting Wilhite into the post, which currently pays $277,557.08 in salary, 17,000.10 in perquisites and add-ons and $101,211.42 in benefits for $395,768.60 in total annual compensation. Continue reading
The Chino City Council on November 21 voted to place a one cent per dollar sales tax increase on the March 5, 2024 ballot.
The initiative will correspond with the 2024 California Primary.
According to City Manager Linda Reich, if passed, the tax will generate a projected $28 million per year.
According to Reich, the city is running a $5.7 million deficit this year and without any revenue enhancement will average a $15 million per year deficit over the next decade. With $73 million in reserves, the city will burn through that money at some point in the 2028-29 fiscal year.
According to the city’s finance director, Rob Burns, the city’s financial picture has deteriorated substantially in the last five months. It thus appears the deficit will escalate in a geometric progression rather than a simple mathematical one going forward. The current $5.7 million deficit will hit $7.1 million in fiscal year 2024-2025, Burns said. A numbers analysis shows the deficit reaching $11.7 million annually in 2026-27, then $17.4 million in 2027-28 and something close to $29 million by 2028-29. Burns concurred with Reich, predicting the general reserve fund will be empty at some point in fiscal year 2028-2029.
To stave off bankruptcy, Reich has formulated a plan, endorsed by the city council at the November 21 meeting, to ask the city’s voters to approve a one percent sales tax increase by means of a measure on the March 5, 2024 ballot. If approved, according to Reich, the tax would redress the city’s deficit circumstance and over the years would provide an additional quarter of a billion dollars or more of funding to create needed infrastructure in the 113-year-old city. Continue reading
A year-and-a-half after Twentynine Palms instituted regulations on short-term rentals in the 59.1-square mile, 27,491 population city, an effort has been mounted to revamp those rules. Some in the city feel that the restrictions put in place in May 2022 did not go far enough. Others, particularly those who have invested in residential real estate and have converted homes and apartments into vacation rentals and are turning a profit by having done so, see the city’s meddling as overregulation that has already gone too far. In recent weeks, this clash in attitude has prevented the city council from reaching a consensus on how to proceed with regard to the contentious issue.
The Twentynine Palms City Council after some degree of back-and-forth in May 2022 settled on an 8.525 percent cap on how many of the city’s housing units can be utilized as vacation rentals.
In Twentynine Palms, as in a handful of other communities throughout San Bernardino County such as Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, Needles and Yucca Valley – out-of-the way and what some might call exotic spots that can serve as a quick getaway for that portion of the Southern California populace seeking a respite from urban existence – large numbers of vacationers or those intent on a relaxing weekend have demonstrated themselves as willing to pay top dollar to lease a house, apartment, condominium, cabin or even a trailer for a month or two or a week or just two or three days.
On occasion, especially when alcohol or recreational drugs are involved, the civility of some vacationers leaves something to be desired, which can be onerous to their temporary neighbors. In some cases, quarters that are intended for a few people or a family or two is called upon to accommodate several dozen. That brings with it issues such as noise, overburdened parking space and compliance with rudimentary laws. On rare occasions, with no warning a rave-like event manifests in a place ill-suited for it, and things can quickly rage out of hand. Continue reading
The City of Fontana is going to convert one of its struggling motels into a homeless shelter for local residents.
Using American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds it received from the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and another $5 million allocated to it by the County of San Bernardino and another $4 million in funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city intends to purchase and renovate the Sure Stay Hotel, located at 17133 Valley Boulevard in Fontana. The hotel currently has 60 rooms.
Those rooms are to be outfitted with 120 beds, perhaps ones that are already in place, and the units are to provide what the city called “interim housing.”
There is to be 24-hour managed care for residents at the facility, including social rehabilitation, substance abuse services and job training, all of which is intended to return those housed and cared for to functionality and independence. Continue reading
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – commonly referred to as PFAS, have turned up in the Lake Arrowhead water supply.
Also known as perfluorochemicals or PCFs, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are compounds with water-repellent and oil-repellent properties. They are used in the production of both industrial and everyday household products such as stain-resistant carpets and furniture, waterproof clothing, shoes and outdoor gear, cosmetics and personal care products, food packaging, firefighting foam, cleaning products, industrial surfactants and non-stick cookware. They are commonly used in the aerospace, construction and electronics and in military and firefighting contexts.
Referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS chemicals don’t break down easily over time and are water soluble. Scientists, environmentalists and health professionals have concerns these chemicals could build to levels that could result in environmental and human health harm. Continue reading
A known gang member on a murderous rampage over the Thanksgiving weekend has been taken into custody after he allegedly shot and killed three people and injured another in two separate incidents.
Louis “Wicked” Peter Hernandez III, a known gang member, went into a two-story home in the 15500 block on Eastwind Avenue in northern Fontana around 5 a.m. on November 25, whereupon he shot and killed Romaldo De La Rosa, 54 of Colton, on the first floor. On the second floor he shot Angelina Urbano, 26, San Bernardino, before leaving the residence. Urbano was described as Hernandez’s girlfriend.
A 911 call summoning paramedics and Fontana police was made shortly thereafter. When officers with the Fontana Police Department arrived at around 5:30 a.m., they were met by two young, distraught and hysterical woman who came out of the house. Inside, the officers came across the deceased De La Rosa on the ground floor and the severely wounded Urbano upstairs. Urbano was transported to Kaiser Hospital, where she was placed into the intensive care unit.
The following morning, at 9:38 a.m. Sunday November 26, the California Highway Patrol received a report of a woman and a man in separate vehicles suffering from gunshot wounds at the Park and Ride lot near Etiwanda Avenue and Mission Boulevard off the 60 Freeway in Jurupa Valley. The woman, Dianna Couer, was found dead in a silver 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. Couer has since been identified as Hernandez’s former girlfriend. Continue reading
A 47-year-old Fontana man who has been a girls’ softball coach was arrested for allegedly having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Word reached the sheriff’s department that the coach had engaged in a molestation that included attempted forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object. In short order, the suspect was identified as Joel Sanchez Madrigal. On November 26, deputies from the Fontana Sheriff’s Station arrested Madrigal at 14462 Oak Knoll Court in Fontana and booked him on charges of unlawful contact with a minor to solicit sex, unlawful lewd acts with a child under 14 years old with force, and a sexual offense against a child under 14 years old.
The five-foot-six-inch, 300 pound, 47-year-old Madrigal was placed into protective custody at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He was initially held in lieu of $120,000 bail, and was released on November 27 with the posting of bond. Continue reading