Endorsement In Board Race Gets Coduto Removed As ASB President

(October 24)  His endorsement of a non-incumbent in this year’s Chaffey College Governing Board race appears to have gotten Chaffey College Student Body President Kevin Coduto bounced off the Chaffey Campus Student Council.
Incumbent Kathleen Brugger of Rancho Cucamonga, a now-retired social worker who has served on the Chaffey board since 1993 and is currently board president, and incumbent Katie Roberts of Upland, a retired police captain who has been on the Chaffey board since 2001, are standing for reelection in the November 5 balloting. They have a sole challenger in the person of Zafar S. Inam of Ontario.
Coduto endorsed Inam, a civil engineer, who is also a science, engineering and math instructor at Westwood College as well as a field representative for Congresswoman Gloria Negrete-McLeod. Coduto had recorded robo-calls promoting Inam’s candidacy which were placed to voters in the district and he also made video statements supporting Inam and consented to his name being used in press releases sent out by the Inam campaign.
Coduto’s political activity was upsetting to the college administration. There is something of a clubby atmosphere on the college’s governing board, where the vast majority of issues that have come before it over the last several years have been decided on 5-0 votes.
As student body president, Coduto fulfilled the dual role of a student trustee with full voting rights on the student council as well as being a liaison between the college’s governing board and the student population. He was the student representative at the college board meetings. As such, he was permitted to participate in the board discussions but did not have voting authority on that body.
At the October 7 meeting of the Associated Students of Chaffey College, Chaffey College President/Superintendent Dr. Henry Shannon made a rare showing before that panel, and was critical of Coduto’s endorsement of Inam, which he said represented an ethical misstep on the ASB president’s part. Shannon said having a student body president who was campaigning against two of his five bosses was making things difficult for him as the head of the institution.
“I got calls from my governing board members,” Shannon told the campus council. “It’s making it very awkward for me.”
The college president said the role of student body president put restrictions on Coduto’s free speech rights. “Kevin cannot just be Kevin if he’s elected by the student government society here at Chaffey College,” Shannon said.
On October 21, the Campus Council adjourned into an equally rare closed executive session, citing disciplinary procedures. The council was accompanied into the closed session by two faculty members, ASB advisor John Machado and director of student activities Susan Stewart. The public was entirely excluded from the council’s deliberations during that session, as was Coduto, who was refused admittance to the discussion. Those partaking in the closed session included campus council members Carlotta Bohon, Jane-Frances A. Okere, Antoinette Duke, Victor Bocanegra, Manuel Elguera, Christian Garcia, Mia Henderson, Salvadore Espinoza Losa, Daisy Serrato and Corey Stevens. One member of the campus council, Chelshy Garcia, was not present at the meeting.
Upon the body’s return to open session, it was announced that Coduto had been removed by a two-thirds vote of his council colleagues and had been replaced by Bohon.
Bohon cited Coduto’s violation of Article III of the Associated Students of Chaffey College by-laws as the basis for her predecessor’s removal. Article III pertains to the need for student representatives to maintain “decorum” and avoid statements that would confuse their own personal views with that of the college or the student body as a whole.
After Shannon’s appearance at the student council meeting on October 7, Coduto, who was elected to the ASB president post in April, made statements to the Chaffey College newspaper, The Breeze, in which he stated that Shannon’s criticism of him before his council colleagues for having endorsed Inam was “unprofessional and disrespectful.”
It was this statement that was utilized to make the case that Coduto had violated Article III.
Despite suggestions that Shannon had induced the campus council to take the action to depose Coduto, the president/superintendent denied that was the case.
“That was a student issue and you need to talk to the student adviser,” Shannon told the Sentinel on October 23, indicating he would make no further comment on the matter.
Inam told the Sentinel that he was “not sure what happened during the student body forum. My feeling is what happened to Kevin was a reaction to him not following along with what the administration wanted to hear.” He said he considered Coduto’s removal to have been both ill-advised and outside the scope of the college’s and the campus council’s authority. “All students have freedom of speech. That applies to whether they are a student government member or not. There should not be restrictions on what they can say.”
Coduto said he believes he was within his rights to support the college board candidate of his choice publicly. He acknowledged that traditionally student body presidents have not endorsed college board candidates and that he noted his ASB president title in making the endorsements, but said he did not believe he was bound by tradition and that he made clear he was speaking for himself when endorsing Inam.
“I have never spoken on behalf of the entire student body saying that the whole student body thinks this, or even that the whole student government thinks this,” he said. “The endorsement is what spurred the entire situation, but technically not the reason I was removed from office. It caused a stir-up with the board, who put pressure on the president of the college, who put pressure on the student government advisors, who put pressure on the student government members to remove me from office on grounds such as being ‘unethical.’”
Coduto said it was hypocritical of Shannon to attack him for having engaged in political activity when Shannon has himself made political contributions to the college board members, at whose pleasure he serves as president/superintendent. “I question the ethics of that,” Coduto said.
Coduto said he now recognizes that he had to pay a steep price – being removed as student body president – for exercising his freedom of speech. Nevertheless, he said, he would “absolutely do so again.”

County Lists Measure I Expenditure Schedules

(October 24)  The county public works department has identified its Measure I expenditure strategy for the next five years. Measure I is the one-half of one percent sales tax local street program capital improvement plan that has been in place since Measure I was initially approved by county voters in 1989.
A 30-year extension to Measure I was passed by county voters on November 2, 2004. The extension began funding projects on April 1, 2010.
According to county director of public works Gerry Newcombe, “The expenditure plans of Measure I Ordinance 89-1 and Ordinance 04-01 require each local jurisdiction receiving local street projects program revenue from sales tax to expend those funds pursuant to a five-year capital improvement plan adopted by resolution of the local jurisdiction and updated annually.  Revenues from the sales tax must be used for transportation improvement and traffic management programs, which may include, but is not limited to, administration, construction, maintenance, improvements and operations of local streets, roads, and highways, state highways, and freeways and other related purposes. These purposes include expenditures for planning, environmental reviews, engineering, right-of-way and design. The total estimated cost of the transportation projects listed in the proposed five-year plan is $54,872,705.”
Measure I projects completed or projects for which a share of Measure I funding has been provided for 2012-13 are Amboy Road and Morongo Road surface treatments in and near Twentynine Palms; the rehabilitation of Live Oak Drive in Running Springs; various road surface treatments in Trona; various road surface treatments in Barstow; and routine  maintenance and snow removal countywide.
New projects for 2013-14 include the Helendale Road rehabilitation in Silver Lakes; the Vista Road rehabilitation in Silver Lakes; the Shadow Mountain Road scrub/overlay in Helendale; the Seventh Street rehabilitation in Bloomington; the San Bernardino Avenue rehabilitation in Fontana; and various scrub/slurry/overlay efforts in Spring Valley Lake.
Under the Measure I Valley Major Street and Freeway Interchange Program five-year capital project needs analysis list covering 2014/15 through 2018/19, which is separate from the local street program,  the county has set aside Measure I money in the amounts of $2,013,024 for the I-10 @ Pepper Avenue Interchange and Pepper at Valley realignment;  $1,608,048 for the widening of Slover Avenue from Alder Avenue to Linden Avenue from two to four lanes along with the widening of  Slover Avenue, from Tamarind to Cactus;  $1,184,073 for the widening of Slover Avenue from Tamarind Avenue to Alder Avenue and from Linden Ave to Cedar Avenue from two to four  lanes; $1,184,073 for phase one of the widening of the north side of San Bernardino Avenue from Cherry Avenue to the Fontana city limit from one to two lanes; $1, 593,760 for the widening of the Cherry Avenue Bridge from Merrill Avenue to Whittram Avenue; and  $139,861 for the widening of a portion of Reche Canyon Road from Westwood Drive to Placid Lane, 1.2 miles south  of Barton Road and north .78 mile from two to four lanes.

Upland Assistant Public Works Director’s Conflict-Of-Interest Puts City In A Bind

(October 24)  The Upland City Council’s consideration of a fifteen year extension of its city’s trash hauling franchise contract with Burrtec Waste Industries is fraught with legal complications stemming from the city’s assistant public works director having received substantial monetary sums from that refuse handling company.
Acquanetta Warren, in addition to holding the assistant public works director position in Upland, is also the mayor of Fontana. A combination of factors relating to Warren has raised the issue of a conflict of interest in the City of Gracious living. Those factors include her political status and Burrtec’s role as a primary donor to her political campaign committees; Burrtec’s holding of the trash hauling franchises in both Fontana and Upland; and  Warren’s recommendation, while serving in the role of the second-ranking member of Upland’s public works division, that the city council approve the contract extension with Burrtec.
Specifically, Warren appears to have brushed up against  three sections of the California Government Code that are outgrowths of the Political Reform Act of 1974, sections 87100, 87103 and 84308, all of which pertain to conflicts of interest, as well as Government Code Section 1090, which prohibits a public official from having a personal financial interest in any matter he or she acts upon as a public official. Within the last several weeks, city officials have sought to downplay the significance of Warren’s comments, made on the record before three Upland City Council members at the September 30 Upland Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting, in which she praised Burrtec for the level of service it has provided in the past and recommended that the city council approve Burrtec’s proposed revision of the contract without seeking new bids. The terms Burrtec proposed would extend the franchise from its current minimum seven year continuation to a minimum 15 year continuation, representing a guaranteed increase in revenue to Burrtec of at least $68 million and ensuring that Burrtec remain as the city’s trash hauler at least until 2028.
Legal authorities and the California Fair Political Practices Commission aver that Warren’s statements seeking to advance the Burrtec proposal constituted a conflict of interest.
Government Code Section 1090 states, “Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members. Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees be purchasers at any sale or vendors at any purchase made by them in their official capacity.”
According to California Government Code Section 87100, “No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his/her official position to influence a governmental decision in which (s)he knows or has reason to know (s)he has a financial interest.”
Gov. Code Section  87103 (e) states “A public official has a financial interest in a decision within the meaning of Section 87100 if it is reasonably foreseeable that the decision will have a material financial effect, distinguishable from its effect on the public generally, on the official, a member of his or her immediate family, or… any donor of, or any intermediary or agent for a donor of, a gift or gifts aggregating two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or more in value provided to, received by, or promised to the public official within 12 months prior to the time when the decision is made.”
As a successful candidate for the Fontana city council, successful candidate for Fontana mayor and as an unsuccessful candidate for state assemblywoman, Warren has been a recipient of at least $11,578 in campaign contributions from Burrtec or its principals over the years, according to campaign finance reporting documents, known as Form 460s, that are currently available through the Fontana city clerk’s office, the county registrar of voters or the California secretary of state’s office. Burrtec was also a “major sponsor” of the Fontana Mayor’s Ball, which was held on October 5, six days after the September 30 Upland Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting. The Form 460 which will catalog the amount of Burrtec’s donation to Warren via that event is not due until after December 31.
Warren’s potential violation of California Government Code Section 84308 pertains to both her advocacy for Burrtec and her failure to disclose to Upland city officials and the public the conflict she had vis-à-vis Burrtec before acting as a city official with regard to a matter that has a potential financial impact upon Burrtec. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission’s web site, “Section 84308 prohibits solicitation or receipt of campaign contributions from parties, participants, or their agents, in proceedings involving licenses, permits, or other entitlements for use. The law also requires an official’s disqualification in those proceedings if the official has received campaign contributions of more than $250 from a party or participant within the 12 months preceding the decision. Finally, Section 84308 requires disclosure of such campaign contributions.”
According to Upland City Clerk Stephanie Mendenhall, Warren’s current statement of economic interests, known as a California Form 700, which she filed with Mendenhall’s office earlier this year and certified as being true under penalty of perjury, states she has “no reportable interests.”
Warren’s action has created considerable complication and potential peril for the city of Upland. If the city council approves the franchise revision and extension contract as proposed by Burrtec and recommended by Warren, that action could subject the city to costly legal challenge.
According to Ronald D. Wenkart, the general counsel for the Orange County Department of Education who oversees in that role governmental agency contracts with vendors worth hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis, “Government Code Section 1092 provides that every contract made in violation of Section 1090 may be avoided by any party except the official with the conflict of interest. Despite the wording ‘may be avoided,’ the case law holds that any contract made in violation of Section 1090 is void, not merely voidable.”
In this way, according to Wenkart, an adjunct professor of law at several colleges and universities, the Upland franchise contract with Burrtec would be subject to legal challenge even if all other city officials other than Warren have no conflict.
Wenkart said any party with standing, such as a city resident or a competing trash hauler, could initiate such a lawsuit. The city would have the option of contesting the suit or acknowledging the contract was tainted by the conflict, terminating it and rebidding it.
Wenkart said the circumstance is fraught with hazard for Warren as well, if an enforcement agency becomes involved.
“A public officer who is found guilty of willfully violating any of the provisions of Sections 1090, et sequitur, is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment in state prison. Additionally, such an individual is forever disqualified from holding any office in this state,” he stated.
It appears that Upland city officials have grown aware of the issue Warren’s dual role as mayor in Fontana and assistant public works director in their city has presented them. When the Sentinel first contacted Upland City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow with questions relating to the matter on Monday, Barlow said, “At present, I do not have authority to speak to anyone about this. I have to talk to my city manager.” The following day she told the Sentinel, “I will have no comment.“
Ironically, two of Upland’s city council members have recused themselves from participating in the Burrtec franchise contract revision and extension vote. Councilman Gino Filippi, who received a $1,000 contribution from Burrtec owner Cole Burr for his mayoral run last year, is not voting in accordance with the city’s political finance restriction ordinance, which prohibits voting on any matter impacting a donor within one year of receipt of that donation. Councilman Brendan Brandt is not voting because his law firm represented one of Burrtec’s competitors, Athens Services.
Among the remaining council members eligible to vote, attitude toward the Burrtec proposal is mixed.
Councilman Glenn Bozar has indicated he is opposed to the extension of the automatic yearly contract continuation clause to 15 years and he is calling for notice to be given to Burrtec so bidding on the trash hauling franchise can be undertaken at the earliest possible date. Councilwoman Debra Stone is supportive of Burrtec, saying she is persuaded by the reliable service Burrtec has rendered the city over the years and the recommendations made by Warren and other staff members. Mayor Ray Musser appears to be the crucial swing vote on the issue. He has expressed the opinion that Burrtec’s performance under its contract with Upland has been very good, but he said he has hesitancy about making a fifteen-year franchise commitment to the company.
When contacted this week, Warren was unwilling to enter into any substantive discussion with regard to the franchise contract revision proposal and any conflict that may exist as a consequence of her role as assistant public works director and her financial relationship to Burrtec as a politician.
“I’m at work right now and your article is purely political and way off, so I’m not talking to you,” she told the Sentinel. “Thank you.”

Investigators Put Kibosh On Jenkins’ Defense Theory

(October 25) The defense being constructed by San Bernardino City Councilman Robert Jenkins’ legal team in answer to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office’s filing of 30 criminal charges against him relating to identity theft, forgery, stalking, and unlawful electronic distribution of private information does not square with evidence already accumulated by the investigators that have worked the case, according to the district attorney’s office.
On October 17, Jenkins was charged with 18 felonies and 12 misdemeanors pertaining to his use of the internet to place several personal advertisements on Craigslist seeking sex liaisons and then diverting responses to those ads to his former partner or the man whom Jenkins believed his former partner to be involved with, as well as with forging a San Bernardino Police Department internal memorandum. Jenkins is represented by attorney Virginia Blumenthal, who proclaimed her client’s innocence and arranged for a bondsman to post $25,000 bail on Jenkin’s behalf through the court on October 17 so Jenkins avoided both arrest and being taken into custody.
Jenkins must stand for reelection on November 5 and face down an electoral challenge in San Bernardino’s Second Ward from Benito Barrios. Blumenthal questioned the timing of the filing of charges against Jenkins, saying it was being used as a political ploy to unseat him in the upcoming election. She said he will not resign from office as he is being called upon to do from multiple quarters and that she will enter a not guilty plea on Jenkins’ behalf at his scheduled arraignment on December 17. She said Jenkins will fight the charges and, if after the airing of evidence indicating her client’s innocence and motions to have the charges dropped are not granted by the court, she will see the matter through to trial.
The defense she intends to mount hinges largely on the contention that it was Jenkins who was victimized by the Craig’s List postings.  Blumenthal suggested Jenkins, who previously hid but now openly acknowledges his homosexuality, was set up by his former lover, who had a key to his home and access to his computer.
But the Riverside District Attorney’s Office says  evidence churned up during the course of its investigation contradicts that version of events. Investigators traced the online ads to Jenkins directly at locations beyond his home, linking the postings, through IP, or Internet protocol, addresses at his workplace at the Riverside Office of Education and the home of his relatives, where his former boyfriend had no access.
Moreover, the forged San Bernardino Police Department memorandum was conclusively shown to be the handiwork of Jenkins, investigators insist. Jenkins is said to have relied upon his access, as a city councilman, to materials unavailable to the two alleged victims in the case. The forged memorandum utilized the names of two department employees, Sgt. Tom Bielaszka and Lt. Dario Robinson, along with police department seals. The memorandum was intended  to make it appear that Jenkins had also been a victim of online harassment.

County Issuing Mello-Roos Bonds To Pay For Infrastructure At Lytle Creek Project

(October 25) The county this week arranged to issue $9,250,000 worth of bonds to provide financing for infrastructure to facilitate residential development in the Lytle Creek area.
The bonds are to be issued in two separate allotments, one of $6.5 million and the other of $2.75 million. Despite the bonds being intended for utilization in the same Lytle Creek North development project being undertaken by Lennar Homes, the involved infrastructure will be placed into separate improvement areas mapped out within the project.
The bonded indebtedness is to be retired by Mello-Roos fees to be borne by the eventual occupants of the homes to be built. The Mello-Roos fees will be levied upon those homeowners’ tax bills separate from the mortgages for the homes.
As a consequence of the separate bond issuances, the county is paying replicative issuing fees to the bond underwriters and attorneys involved in the bond sales.
In March 2007, the county board of supervisors approved the establishment of Community Facilities District 2006-1, which was intended to, according to the county, “provide a portion of funds needed to address specific public facilities and services that are required of the developer in the development of the Lytle Creek North Community, a 2,086 residential subdivision located west of Interstate 15.” That same month it designated Improvement Areas No. 1 within the district, pursuant to the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982, under which bonds sold to cover the cost of infrastructure in each particular improvement area are debt serviced by a special tax levied on all improved parcels of land within the improvement area.
In October 2010 the board of supervisors approved the issuance of Special Tax Bonds Series 2010, for CFD 2006-1 Improvement Area No. 1, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $8,000,000.
In March  2011 the board of supervisors approved the formation of CFD Improvement Area No. 2 along with other items, pursuant to the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982. To date, $57,685,700 in public infrastructure has been completed and it is expected that over the next few years up to $84 million of the cost of the infrastructure at Lytle Creek North will be defrayed through bond financing.
This week the second bond issuance, designating $6.5 million for Improvement Area No. 2 was issued. In connection with that issuance, the board approved agreements with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as bond counsel in an amount not to exceed $81,000; Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth as disclosure counsel in an amount not to exceed $35,000; CSG Advisors, Inc. as financial advisor in an amount not to exceed $25,000; and David Taussig & Associates as special tax consultant for the completion of the bond sale and issuance and continuing services for the community facilities district  in an amount not to exceed $15,000.
In a separate but very similarly worded action, the board also approved a third bond issuance, designating $2.75 million for use in Improvement Area No. 1 along with agreements with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as bond counsel in an amount not to exceed $66,000; Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth as disclosure counsel in an amount not to exceed $30,000; CSG Advisors, Inc. as financial advisor in an amount not to exceed $25,000; and David Taussig & Associates as special tax consultant for the completion of the bond sale and issuance and continuing services for district in an amount not to exceed $15,000.
When he was queried by the Sentinel as to why the county had not consolidated the $6.5 million and $2.75 million bond issuances to eliminate the redundancies in the bond counsel, disclosure counsel, financial advisor and tax consultant charges, county director of special districts Jeff Rigney said, “In 2006 Communities Facilities District 2006-1 was formed in conjunction with the Joanna Ranch Lennair Homes Development Project so that bonds could be sold to fund needed infrastructure, including waste water treatment facilities, roads, traffic signals, flood control levees, water lines and parks. This is our second and third issuance in that area to provide infrastructure for that development and the surrounding area. It is projected to include 2,086 homes and a community facilities district was formed to cover the entire area. But the development is proceeding in stages and that is why we formed different improvement areas. It is required that every time bonding is done for one particular area that we come back to the board of supervisors for approval. Before the developer moves ahead with each phase, both the developer and the county want to make sure the housing market is appropriate for the time we are in. That holds true especially during the economic downturn and bleak times like this. It always behooves us to develop prudently and to watch the market rather than doing one blanket issuance to make sure that only a certain number of homes are developed to meet the current and immediate forthcoming need. That is why we broke it down. The number of homes determines what the bond issuance is going to be. In this case we had two different areas and two different issuances that read virtually identically but they could not be combined. There were two different issuances, each with costs for consultants. We were able to achieve some economy of scale because we are doing them at the same time. Most likely, the $2.75 million issuance would not have been done by itself. By doing them together there were just enough economies of scale to make it work by doing the consultant fee pricing together.”

Sound Wall Will Allow Drag Races In Raceway Parking Lot To Resume

(October 25) The imminent construction of a sound wall at the Auto Club Speedway’s north end will clear the way for parking lot drag races to resume there by next year. The erection of the sound wall is a key part of the settlement to a long simmering dispute at the racing venue.
The raceway opened in 1997 and hosts a variety of racing events, including NASCAR sanctioned races. Starting in 2006, what were at first unsanctioned drag races were initiated in the raceway’s parking lot, creating sound levels reaching and exceeding 100 decibels as measured on nearby residential properties.
Complaints to county authorities about the unsanctioned drag races did not result in their cessation, however, as county officials were persuaded by participants and others that some off-road venue was needed for drag racing activity so as to limit illegal racing on public streets. In 2007, the county began granting permits to the organizers of the events under the aegis of the Pacific Street Car Association. Initial restrictions placed on the speedway’s operators prohibited sound emanations of more than 75 decibels reaching the near-lying residential neighborhoods east and north of the racetrack. The drag strip’s sound levels routinely exceeded the standards, but no enforcement action against the facility or its management was taken by the county.
Unable to convince county officials to disallow the races, which because of the intensity of speed and acceleration of the competing vehicles were a third again louder than the race track engines, nearby residents formed an action committee, CCOMPRESS (Concerned Community Members and Parents of Redwood Elementary School Students) and intensified its protests with county leaders. When that did not convince the county to end the events or enforce the state’s noise standards, CCOMPRESS  hired the law firm of Chatten-Brown and Carstens to represent them.
CCOMPRESS, represented by Chatten-Brown and Carstens sued and achieved a ruling in 2009 that an environmental impact report be completed before any permanent permit for a drag strip could be granted. In response, the county approved a supplemental environmental impact report in November 2010. CCOMPRESS  cried foul, asserting that the drag strip’s proponents had misled the county over the intensity of the impact on the neighboring properties.
In September 2010 the county planning commission voted to recommend to the board of supervisors that it certify the environmental impact study. On November 2, 2010 the supervisors certified the environmental impact study and on November 5, 2010, the Auto Club Speedway continued with the Pacific Street Car World Finals events.
In certifying the supplemental environmental impact report and giving go-ahead for further drag races, the county gave permission for the speedway to hold louder events, raising the noise standards from 75 to 85 decibels to as high as 100 decibels for some events while requiring the construction of a quarter-mile, 20-foot-high sound wall.
While the sound wall was never completed, the races went on, with races taking place three weekends a month.
Chatten-Brown and Carstens did not desist in its efforts to have the county seriously consider the plight of those in the area. The law firm continued to challenge the adequacy of the supplemental environmental impact report and in court filings emphasized that the sound wall had not been completed and that the sound level reached an intensity greater than 120 decibels as measured on nearby residential properties, exceeding the state of California’s industrial sound limit.
On February 23, 2012 Judge Barry Plotkin made a finding that the environmental impact report for the drag strip was fatally flawed and he ordered the county’s approval of the drag strip be set aside and that the races be suspended at least until an adequate environmental impact report is completed and the sound wall, which was stipulated as a condition of the November 2010 approval, be put in place.
In July, 2012, a settlement with CCOMPRESS was reached by the sponsors of the drag race evemts, but it was only within the last few weeks that a move toward building the sound wall, which is estimated to cost about $1 million and be roughly a half-mile in length, has been made. It will be placed between the drag strip and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Auto Club Speedway President Gillan Zucker said financial commitments by Auto Club of Southern California, NHRA, SEMA and K&N Filters are scheduled to cover the cost of the wall’s construction.
Sal Lopez, who since 1991 has lived with his family in a home in a residential area adjacent to the drag strip and was a founding member of CCOMPRESS and the most vociferous of protesters against the drag strip, this week told the Sentinel, “The Auto Club Speedway has reached a settlement with CCOMPRESS, represented by Chatten-Brown & Carstens, related to the operation of the Auto Club Dragway. As a result, the Auto Club Speedway may resume operations at the Auto Club Dragway if it first complies with a series of requirements intended to mitigate the environmental impacts to the surrounding community, including construction of a soundwall.”
Beyond that, Lopez said, “We have no further comment.

Handy Departing As San Bernardino Police Chief

(October 25) Buffeted by the city of San Bernardino’s filing of bankruptcy last year together with a spike in crime that included 47 murders citywide in 2012 along with recent proposals from the city’s top elected officials to dissolve his department and contract with the county sheriff’s department for law enforcement service, San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy yesterday announced his resignation effective in December.
Handy, who has served as the police chief in the county seat since October 2011 after he was lured to San Bernardino from the Phoenix Police Department in Arizona where he had been a police officer for 21 years and had risen to the rank of commander, will become chief of Huntington Beach’s police force after his departure.
Handy indicated San Bernardino’s bankruptcy and burgeoning political travails, including an ongoing recall effort against city council members and the filing of criminal charges against two others, one of whom has now resigned, pushed him into leaving. “Considering the constantly changing environment at City Hall, I decided to seek the position to stabilize my career,” Handy wrote in an email to employees. “The election is unpredictable, I am now working with my third city manager, third finance director, and all new department heads. In that context, it is also important to consider I am (an) at-will employee and can be released at any time for no cause.”
Handy has been the latest in a string of relatively short-lived police chiefs. He replaced Keith Kilmer, who had succeeded Michael Billdt and Garrett Zimmon. All four averaged tenures of just a little over two-and-one-half years each.
During his time in office, the police department has downsized significantly as financial difficulties culminating in last year’s bankruptcy have rocked the city. When he started as police chief, the department had 350 sworn officers and 104 non-sworn personnel. At present, after sustaining a $6 million cut to the police department budget, it is down to 249 officers and 63 civilian employees.

Glimpse of SBC’s Past: SBC’s Haunted Historic Habitats

You can see Ruth’s column with all of its photos by downloading this week’s Sentinel. A Google Documents version of the Sentinel is available further up on this website.

By Ruth Musser-Lopez
Unremarkable was the painted structure on the downtown Upland corner of First Avenue and Ninth Street, until Attorney Marjorie Mikels stripped layers of paint off the firebrick, resurrecting the law office of Attorney Archie Mitchel and the old Draper Mortuary to its original stately appearance.   In this building Mitchel left the law practice to reside as Justice of the Peace, which also elevated the stature of the structure to Upland Justice Court; a dungeon like room off to the side served for a time as the city morgue.
While the court, the morgue and Mitchel have long since passed, the spirit of Judge Mitchel, who was an important historic figure in both Upland and Ontario, is said to linger there.  In the early 40s, as a young college student, the late Harvey Stump was hired for night shift to guard the bodies in the morgue, some of which were considered evidence in murder trial cases.  Allegedly, while on duty, he often heard strange sounds.
Archie Mitchel’s law office on the south side of the building was the same one that Attorney Mikels occupied for a few years.  Through the last twenty years, frequently she worked late at night on difficult cases there. Often the doors would “creek” she says, and she would “welcome the ghost of former Justice Court Judge Archie Mitchel to assist her in those weighty court briefs.”
Considered the “heart” of the Ontario Airport, Archie Delwood Mitchel along with Waldo Waterman, Hugh Wolfe, Allan Couch, and several others, figured largely in its founding in 1923, then called Latimer Field after the Orange Packing Company next to the landing field.  At that time the field was east of Central Avenue, 3 miles west of the current airport near the Union Pacific railroad track, where pilots gaged the direction and strength of the wind by observing the smoke from the steam locomotives passing below.  You can see Judge Archie Mitchel’s portrait next to another historic figure, Mayor John Latimer in the tiled mosaic rendered at the current Ontario International Airport.
Though not meant to be an exhaustive list, here are a few more notable historic haunted habitats maintained in San Bernardino County mentioned at www.hauntedplaces.org among others.
The Joshua Tree Inn at 61259 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.
Some people believe that ghost of the Gram Parsons, father of country rock, former Flying Burrito Brother and paramour/collaborator of Emmy Lou Harris, inhabits room 8, which is where Parsons died at age 26 of a morphine and alcohol overdose in 1973.  Joshua Tree was apparently Parson’s favorite haunt when he was alive, retreating there to drop acid and watch for UFOs. Now, his eidolon will allegedly move or relocate small items such as earrings and will move the mirror that hangs on the wall – which is reported to be the only piece of furniture that still remains from the furnishings that were in the room when he died. Joshua Tree Inn thrives from the reputation:  “[Room 8] is haunted – bring your guitar and write songs!”
Early Redlands citrus farmers, David and Sarah Morey built The Morey Mansion at 190 Terracina Boulevard in Redlands in 1890.  Some say that both of them remain in the house today.  Locally tales hold that Sarah died a tragic death in a bedroom referred to as the Blue Room and her husband committed suicide shortly thereafter, in 1901.  The “Blue Room” is now reported to be haunted; orbs and hot spots have also been alleged. The property has changed hands over the years, owned by various famous and wealthy people. In 2006 it was converted to use as a bed and breakfast inn.  In 2009, the year before it became a private residence, a ghost-hunting team inspected the place in an episode of The Outsiders.  They captured photographs and other evidence of the initials S.M. (Sarah Morey).
The Beverly Hotel at 112 S. Euclid Ave. in Ontario appears to be a circa 1920s era structure likely built about the same time as the nearby Granada theater.  It is now allegedly haunted by “cold spots” flickering lights, shadows seen in the southwest 2nd floor corner window, footsteps and random fire alarms sounding.  Sounds like Chaffey’s Class of ‘71 got loose.
In “parting,” please keep in mind that the value of maintaining historic structures using “in kind” parts and materials increases the worth of a property.  Regular maintenance will keep a place from getting creaky and creepy.  Replacing electrical fixtures and wiring on old places will not only enhance the value but is safer and keeps sirens, alarms and lights from flickering on and off from loose or dirty connections.  Happy Haunting and be safe this Halloween.

County Wildlife Corner Turkey Vultures: Gross But Beautiful

See Diane’s column with all of its photos by downloading a copy of this week’s Sentinel. A downloadable version of the Sentinel is available further up on the website.

By Diane Dragotto Williams
At Wildhaven Ranch, we have been amused by the gross and the ugly wild creatures, as well as the attractive.
Certainly, the Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, with its disgusting behaviors, and peculiar face qualifies! Getting its name from the red skin on its head and dark body feathers that resemble a turkey, this carrion feeder is common to the United States and seen in habitat from woodlands and farms to the desert. Gliding over open country, looking for food which it finds by its scent, it often roosts in flocks, and many birds will converge to feed at a carcass.  It prefers meat to be ripe, making it easier to strip off the bones, and for the bare head to be bacteria free after engorging on a bloody mess.
Soaring birds hold their wings above their back in a shallow V called a dihedral and rock side to side as if unsteady in the air. Circling above treetops and up to 200 feet high, they are a master at flying.  Turkey vultures frequently circle and gain altitude on pockets of rising warm air, or thermals. When they reach the top of the thermal, they glide across the sky at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, gradually losing altitude all the while. When they need to gain more altitude, they locate another thermal and so begins another sequences of circling, rising, and then gliding. Turkey vultures can cover many miles going from thermal to thermal without ever needing to flap.
Twenty-five to 32 inches long, with a wingspan around 6 feet a healthy adult turkey vulture can weigh approximately 5 to 6 pounds. Nesting on the bare ground, in caves, rock outcroppings, hollow trees and even empty buildings, these avians have few predators. Except man, golden eagles and large mamals that may take adavantage of their presence on the ground, their eggs or nestlings can be taken by bald eagles, great horned owls, raccoons, opposums and foxes. Turkey vultures have weak, chicken-like feet, which are suitable for running on the ground but not for grasping and cannot lift or carry food with their feet. They can only step on their food to hold it in place while eating. Without a voice box, turkey vultures either hiss or grunt, or sometimes growl around food, which gives them their only appearance of aggression.  Though the bulk of their food is carrion, they sometimes eat rotten fruit and vegetables, stranded mussels, shrimp and fish, and even coyotes and sea lion feces.
Standing in a spread wing pose, the turkey vulture warms and dries itself in the morning sun to rid itself of bacteria and bring its temperature up from its night time almost hypothermic degrees to save energy.  Efficiency a standard, and unable to sweat, on warm days, urinating on its legs cools the vulture as the urine evaporates.  In addition, this urine contains strong acids from the vulture’s digestive system, which may kill any bacteria that remain on the bird’s legs from stepping in its meal.
But their most disgusting behavior experienced by us at Wildhaven Ranch is vomiting at will.  Usually this is done as a means for vultures to off-load some weight as predators approach when the vulture has eaten too much to fly.  But they will also regurgitate under stress or to keep anything threatening at bay.  Also semi-digested food can be offered up to a predator as an easy meal instead of attacking the intended vulture!