Aguilar Captures Third Most Powerful Spot Among Democrats In The House Of Representatives

Congressman Pete Aguilar this week continued his meteoric political rise, achieving what is widely considered to be the third highest-ranking position among Democrats in the House of Representatives.
For Aguilar, the accomplishment was welcome but somewhat bittersweet, as it comes within two weeks after late returns in a handful of close congressional races confirm that Republicans will hold a majority of the House seats during the 118th Congress that is to convene on January 3, 2023 and last until January 3, 2025, a change from the current 117th Congress, wherein the Democrats had a House majority.
On Wednesday, November 30, House Democrats selected Aguilar as House Democratic Caucus chairman. His advancement was part of a complete makeover of the Democratic leadership in the House, as he is replacing Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who was the majority leader during the 117th Congress; Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York is to replace Nancy Pelosi, who was Speaker of the House, as the Democratic Party leader; and Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts is to replace James Clyburn of South Carolina as Democratic Whip on January 3. Continue reading

Armendarez Starting With 4 Experienced Figures As He Fleshes Out Second District Supervisorial Office Team

Less than a month after Jesse Armendarez’s November 8 electoral victory over Luis Cetina in the race to fill the Second District supervisorial position for the coming four years, a few details have emerged about how he will staff his office.
Of major note is that reports are Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren is to have a prominent staff position in the Second District once Armendarez is sworn into office in January.
In addition, Neil Derry, who served as Third District supervisor for four years until he left office a decade ago, is to come in and guide, for six months or thereabouts, Armendarez’s assumption of the Second District reins from outgoing Supervisor Janice Rutherford.
Armendarez appears determined, at least initially, to rely upon old hands in taking on the supervisor’s role, ones who have considerable governmental experience, notably in elected roles. Continue reading

Congresswoman’s Office Asserts She Was “Hoodwinked” Into Getting Fontana Federal Grant

By Mark Gutglueck
Congresswoman Norma Torres was hoodwinked into arranging a federal clean energy grant for the City of Fontana that elected city officials there intend to use to defray the partial cost of a no-bid energy efficientization contract intended as a payoff to an entity who has committed to bankroll their political campaigns and retire their electioneering debts, Torres’ staff has acknowledged.
Torres did not know, the Sentinel was assured, about Fontana’s previous history in opting out of the open bidding process so that contracts for three clean energy projects were given to a developer favored by the city council majority. Continue reading

Austin Edwards’ Death Was By Suicide

Austin Edwards, the deranged sociopath who traveled across the county on a hellbent drive to California to abduct a teenage girl, leading to his killing three of her family members, died at his own hand during a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies.
Edwards was previously erroneously reported to have come
to his grim end as a result of gunfire from sheriff’s deputies. While it is accurate that Edwards was engaged for a time in a running gun battle with some members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, a coroner’s report shows he himself fire the shot that ended his life.

Harriman’s Victory Over Angulo Appears Certain

Bob Harriman’s victory over Lizet Angulo in November 8’s Victorville District 4 race, conducted as part of the first by-district election in the city’s 60-year history, now appears assured.
According to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, as of 4 p.m. today, December 2, Harriman’s lead stands at 2,095 votes or 51.97 percent to Angulo’s 1,936 votes or 48.03 percent of the total 4,031 votes tallied so far. Harriman’s was a come-from-behind victory, as Angulo was ahead in the tallying on election night and on November 9.
Prior to this year’s race, all five of the council’s members were women, four of whom were minorities. Northern California Attorney Scott Rafferty forced the city into district elections, a ploy he said would ensure minority representation on the Victorville City Council.
Rafferty’s ploy appears to have failed, as Harriman, a white man, is to take the place on the council formerly held by Rita Ramirez-Dean, who was one of the three-Latina, one African American woman, single White woman council that was in place in Victorville following the 2020 Victorville Municipal Election.
Rafferty maintained the March 2021 vote by a Black, a Latina and a White member of the council to remove Ramirez-Dean from the council on non-residency grounds was an act of racism.
– Mark Gutglueck

Upland Man Murders His Wife Near Mountain Pass

An Upland woman was found dead in the remote desert area of northeast San Bernardino County not too distant from the Nevada California border on November 26 after a bizarre set of events that and the previous day.

Circumstances suggest the woman, 31-year-old Sonia Flores, was beaten to death by her husband, 37-year-old Jesus Jaimes-Rosas, the day before she was found.

Authorities have been guided in their thus-far determination of what apparently occurred by an account provided by the couple’s 12-year-old daughter who witnessed her father’s fatal assault and abandonment of her mother.

On Friday, November 25, 2022, at about 11:45 p.m., deputies from the Barstow Sheriff’s Station responded to the Shell Gas Station on Cima Road following a report that a 12-year-old female child walked into the station’s retail store and requested help. A California Highway Patrol Officer was the first authority to arrive at the location. Later, when sheriff’s deputies arrived, the child related that her father had beaten her mother and left her on the side of the road.

The child’s father was later identified as Jesus Jaimes-Rosas, who had dropped the child off at the gas station and left.
Less than two hours later, on Saturday, November 26, 2022 at about 1:23 a.m., deputies located Jaimes-Rosas’ abandoned vehicle on a dirt road. A Sheriff’s K9 Unit was dispatched to the scene and located Jaimes-Rosas with self-inflicted injuries. He was transported to a hospital and later released.

At 11:43 a.m. on November 26, Sonia Flores, the girl’s deceased mother, was located by authorities near Powerline and Kingston roads in Mountain Pass. The Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division – Homicide Detail responded and assumed the investigation.
Jaimes-Rosas was arrested for murder and booked at the High Desert Detention Center where he is being held without bail.

Letter To Congresswoman Torres’ Spokesman Justin Krakoff

Mr. Krakoff…
 
       This is Mark Gutglueck with the San Bernardino County Sentinel.

       I am writing to you with regard to the clean energy grant that Congresswoman Torres was instrumental in obtaining for the City of Fontana.

      Elements within Fontana City Hall have informed the Sentinel that in the past, Mayor Acquanetta Warren and her ruling coalition on the council have steered previous energy efficiency project contracts to Alliance Building Solutions, using a loophole in California law that suspends the requirement that public agencies and governmental entities use an open bidding process on contracts for capital projects if the project pertains either to increasing energy efficiency or can be demonstrated to have saved the agency/governmental entity on energy costs. According to those within Fontana’s governmental structure, Mayor Warren and her allies on the council expressly used this loophole so that Alliance Building Solutions could be awarded the contracts in question despite the consideration that there were other companies offering the same energy efficiency upgrades at a lower cost than Alliance Building Solutions. This bypassing of the open bidding requirement was orchestrated, the Sentinel was told, by former San Bernardino County Supervisor Bill Postmus, who has reinvented himself as a lobbyist and political fixer and is acting as what was variously described as a “cut-out” or go-between to convey money from Alliance Building Solutions principal Brad Chapman to Mayor Warren and the other decision-makers on the Fontana City Council, money intended to “grease” the mayor and council and thus facilitate the provision of the no-bid contract to Alliance Building Solutions. In essence, the Sentinel is told, the monetary installments originating with Mr. Chapman being delivered to the mayor and council members through the laundering process involving Mr. Postmus are quid pro quos, bribes paid in return for the approval of the energy efficientization projects.

      It would not seem that that Congresswoman Torres would have been knowingly or actively involved in this questionable routing of federal money to Alliance Building Solutions through the municipal government in Fontana for multiple reasons. First, I have long observed Congresswoman Torres in her public comportment, and this is not something she would go for. Second, try as I might, I cannot see how there is anything in this for her. Third, generally, the graft-encrusted arrangements such as this that Bill Postmus has masterminded in the past, including those benefiting Alliance Building Solutions, have involved Republican officeholders. I was told by someone in a position to know about these things that Congressman Torres had been “hoodwinked” into getting the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant for Fontana.

      I am writing to you, Mr. Krakoff, to see if you would 1) put in some form of words a disavowal that Congresswoman Torres had any foreknowledge about the way in which she was being importuned or manipulated in the effort to get Fontana this grant, particularly that it was intended to go, exclusively to Alliance Building Solutions; 2) say whether there was any requirement put into the grant award that the contracts to paid for by the grant must be ones that use an open-bid process; 3) state, if there was no requirement put into the grant award that the contracts to paid for by the grant must be ones that use an open-bid process, that upon scrutiny of the situation, the Congresswoman is now intent to add a condition to the award by which any contracts to paid for by the grant must be ones that use an open-bid process.

        I am fighting an unforgiving deadline in pursuing this story. If you could get back to me at once, I would like to use your input, and the Congresswoman’s, in the final setting of pen to paper on this. As I stated, I have someone who will say the Congresswoman was hoodwinked when she went to the mat to get this grant for the people of Fontana and she was simply duped by some politically savvy manipulators into entrusting the federal grant money to the Fontana City Council. There may be a more artful way of explaining to the Sentinel’s readership how hard-earned taxpayer money and federal dollars are about to be used to enrich a business enterprise which captures its governmental contracts by kicking back to the elected officials who award public contracts to that enterprise.

       Thank you, Mr. Krakoff, for your rapid response.

                                      …Mark Gutglueck    (951) 567 1936

Letter To Fontana City Manager Matt Ballantyne

Mr. Ballantyne…
      This is Mark Gutglueck with the San Bernardino County Sentinel. 
      I am writing to you with regard to the clean energy grant that Congresswoman Norma Torres was instrumental in obtaining for the City of Fontana.
      Some individuals within your organization have informed the Sentinel that in the past, Mayor Acquanetta Warren and her ruling coalition on the council steered a previous energy efficiency project contract to Alliance Building Solutions, using a loophole in California law that suspends the requirement that public agencies and governmental entities use an open bidding process on contracts for capital projects if the project pertains either to increasing energy efficiency or can be demonstrated to have saved the agency/governmental entity on energy costs. According to those at Fontana City Hall, Mayor Warren and her allies on the council deliberately used this loophole so that Alliance Building Solutions could be awarded the contracts in question despite the consideration that there were other companies offering the same energy efficiency upgrades at a lower cost than Alliance Building Solutions. This bypassing of the open bidding requirement was orchestrated, the Sentinel was told, by former San Bernardino County Supervisor Bill Postmus, who has reinvented himself as a lobbyist and political fixer, who is acting as what was variously described as a “cut-out” or go-between to convey money from Alliance Building Solutions principal Brad Chapman to Mayor Warren and the other decision-makers on the Fontana City Council, money intended to “grease” the mayor and council and thus facilitate the provision of the no-bid contract to Alliance Building Solutions. In essence, the Sentinel is told, the monetary installments originating with Mr. Chapman being delivered to the mayor and council members through the laundering process involving Mr. Postmus are quid pro quos, bribes paid in return for the approval of the energy efficientization projects.
      The Sentinel is further told that though you are not overjoyed, exactly, at the prospect of having something like this perpetrated on your watch, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter, as you need to stay on the good side of Mayor Warren and you lack the courage and character to stand up to her as some people would prefer you would. 
      Thus, I am writing to you now.
       How does the city intend to use the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant?
       Will the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant be used to provide another contract to Alliance Building Solutions?
      Will you insist on an open bidding process for any energy efficientization projects that the City of Fontana initiates and which use the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant?
        Can you offer a succinct defense of not conducting an open bidding process for the project/projects that are to be undertaken using the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant?
       Have you already met with Brad Chapman? If so, who introduced you to him? Was Bill Postmus in attendance when you met Mr. Chapman? Was Mayor Warren there as well?
      Do you have any concerns about the city involving itself with Mr. Postmus? 
      Do you feel that the city should use an open bidding process on its project contracts? 
      Do you feel the city should use an open bidding process on its project contracts even in those cases where exemptions for energy efficiency and energy savings are involved? 
     Is there some justification, in your view, to utilizing Alliance Building Solutions for the city’s energy efficientization efforts, even if other companies can provide those services more economically? Can you explicate that justification?
If Congresswoman Torres or other federal officials stipulate a condition to the 
Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant award that the contracts to paid for by the grant must be ones that use an open-bid process, will the city accept this limitation and use an open-bid process?
      I am fighting an unforgiving deadline in pursuing this story. If you could get back to me at once, I would like to use your input in the final setting of pen to paper on this.
      Thank you, Mr. Ballantyne, for what I anticipate will be your rapid response.
                                                                      …Mark Gutglueck  (951) 567 1936