Revamped Upland Refuse Handling Franchise Extension Lacks Bid Provision

(February 6)  Four months after the Upland City Council balked at locking in Burrtec Waste Industries’ trash hauling franchise contract for 15 more years, the concept has been resurrected for the city council’s reconsideration, as early as next week.
In October, the city council deadlocked 2-2 on granting the franchise extension, which would have lengthened Burrtec’s trash hauling franchise with the city of Upland from its current seven-year rollover term to 15 years.
Currently, under the so-called evergreen clause instilled into the contract by former Upland Mayor John Pomierski, the city is committed to keep Burrtec as its trash hauler at least until 2020. If it does not give notice to Burrtec that it wishes to rebid the contract by March of each successive year, the franchise is renewed again, i.e., kept green, for at least seven more years.
In May, in a letter to Upland Public Works Director Rosemary Horning, Burrtec proposed the city and Burrtec make adjustments to the  franchise contract. Those changes would have included rate increases to be borne by the city’s residents and businesses, allowing the city to lay claim to a larger portion of the trash hauling revenue, Burrtec paying the city a $200,000-per-year street impact fee to offset the damage the company’s trucks do to the city’s roads and alleyways, incorporating household hazardous waste and medical waste disposal as services rendered to customers, and extending the evergreen clause by another eight years, such that the earliest Upland could have gotten out of the contract with Burrtec would have been 2028.
Councilman Brendan Brandt abstained from voting on the matter because the law firm in which he is a partner has done work for another trash hauling firm that would potentially be in competition with Burrtec for the contract if bidding on the franchise were to take place.
While council members Gino Filippi and Debra Stone supported the extension of the Burrtec franchise contract, councilman Glen Bozar proclaimed opposition to the extension without an accompanying bidding process. He pointed out that Burrtec has held the city trash hauling franchise since 2001, subsequent to the last open bidding on the franchise in 2000. He reasoned that the city should give notice to Burrtec at once so that bidding on the franchise contract can be conducted at the earliest possible date, i.e., in 2020. His adamant opposition to extending Burrtec’s hold on the franchise until 2028, which would be more than a quarter of a century after the last bid competition, persuaded Mayor Ray Musser to reject the extension as proposed by Burrtec.
Subsequently, the city formed a ten-member committee to look at ways the city could redress its deteriorating financial condition. At city manager Stephen Dunn’s suggestion, the committee considered as a revenue enhancement strategy having the city council once again consider an adjustment of Burrtec’s trash hauling franchise. Among the options the committee recommended was that the city council take that matter up as part of a multi-pronged approach in generating new revenue and reducing operational expenses.
Accordingly, the council directed city staff to prepare an item relating to the Burrtec franchise contract adjustment/extension. On January 27 Dunn indicated the item would be ready for council consideration and a vote by the February 10 council meeting. At press time, the agenda for the February 10 meeting was not publicly available, however. Indications were that the newest franchise extension proposal will be substantially the same as that considered in October, with some unspecified revisions.
Unchanged in the proposal is that Burrtec would not need to subject itself to a competitive bid process to obtain the extension.
Burrtec fared rather poorly in one of the last major bid competitions it had engaged in.  Since 2001, Burrtec had held a $17 million-per-year contract for operating the county of San Bernardino’s landfill system. Last April, following a bidding competition, Burrtec lost that contract to Los Angeles County-based Athens Services.
The loss of that contract chastened Burrtec, which currently holds trash hauling franchises with 16 of San Bernardino County’s 24 incorporated cities and 34 of its unincorporated communities.  With Athens and other trash haulers nipping at its heels, Burrtec is militating to maintain its position at the top of the trash hauling heap in the county by solidifying its hold on those 58 trash hauling franchises.  In this way, the effort Burrtec initiated in Upland in May, which proposed adding street sweeping and household hazardous waste and medical waste disposal to the services it already offered the city as an inducement to the council for its consent  to lengthen the “evergreen” clause, has been seen as a test case.
Meanwhile, other refuse handlers appear ready to compete for the Upland franchise contract, if given a chance.  A spokesman with Waste Management, Inc. which held the Upland franchise prior to Burrtec, said his company would participate in the bid process if Upland makes a request for proposals. Similarly, Athens Services, which has a heavy presence in neighboring Los Angeles County and recently established a toehold in San Bernardino County when it outbid Burrtec and Waste Management for the county landfill system operation contract, would be a potential applicant for the franchise.
Free market advocates assert that the city and its ratepayers will benefit by a bidding competition, which would force Burrtec and its rivals to submit proposals that would offer lower consumer rates, enhanced services and more generous give-back arrangements with the city than are likely to be derived from the continuation of the terms in the existing contract.

Moment Of Truth Fast Approaching For sbX Line

(February 5)  In April, the much ballyhooed and equally maligned sbX line will debut, giving its champions and critics alike the opportunity to determine if the $191.7 million gamble to establish a rapid-transit bus line through San Bernardino is the economic and transportational boon that has been promised or the squandering of local and federal money that could have been better used otherwise.
Running 15.7 miles from near the Veterans Administration Hospital in Loma Linda to just north of Cal State San Bernardino, the sbX line will feature 60-foot long articulated buses that use clean-burning compressed natural gas as fuel. From three to six busses will cover the route each hour during daylight.
Like the unconventional capitalization and spelling used in its acronym – sbX stands for San Bernardino Express – the route will embody unusual features such as a dedicated lane for more than a third of the route that has been fashioned from what were once street medians. And each sbX bus driver will be given virtual command of the traffic lights encountered along the route so that the busses will never encounter a red light.
Indeed, from its inception, the sbX concept was sold on the speed of travel it would offer. Initially, planners said, the busses would make the entire trip from Loma Linda to San Bernardino State University or vice versa with five stops in between in just under 25 minutes, rivaling or actually bettering what a commuter utilizing a car might encounter over the same span utilizing the freeway during morning or evening rush hour.
In 2012, however, the city of San Bernardino  approved a transit overlay district entailing 13 stations/bus stops. And while Omnitrans officials represented to Federal Transit Administration officials that dedicated center lanes for the busses would run for nearly the entirety of the route, only about six miles of the stretch, along Hospitality Lane and in the downtown area, have been established. Those dedicated lanes were intended to speed the busses along the route by eliminating interaction and merging with traffic.
Planners concede that a terminus-to-terminus trip will now last 39 minutes. That still compares favorably with the 65 minutes it currently takes to cover the same 15.7 mile stretch using available public transportation. Nevertheless, questions remain as to whether the system will be used at anywhere near the levels that would justify its expense and imposition on the community.
The bus route entails a departure from a station near the Veterans Hospital and other medical facilities just off Barton Road in Loma Linda, a turn north on Anderson/Tippecanoe Street, a turn left on Hospitality Lane and then a right turn  north on E Street before terminating at San Bernardino State College. The return route covers the same span in reverse. Critics point out that a similar bus route already exists.
In 2011, a group of business owners and other citizens concerned about the project banded together under the sobriquet Taxpayers Against Wasteful Government Spending. They were joined in their protest the following year by newly-elected city councilman John Valdivia, who said San Bernardino was not an intensive enough urban environment to support the sbX  rapid-transit system, which he said was a “boondoggle” diverting funds from other worthy civic undertakings.
Taxpayers Against Wasteful Government Spending was led by Jim Ott, a former Colton planning commissioner.
Ott said he drove the route the bus will take on the existing streets between the VA Hospital and San Bernardino State University, and timed the trip. “All the way up, it took 27 minutes and four seconds. I saw three busses on that same route. This is proposing to put three more busses on the same route.”
Ott said current or projected ridership of the bus system in no way justifies the $192 million outlay.  He said he counted the number of passengers in the busses operating on the current routes. “The first had four, the second had three and the last had two. Why do we want to put three more busses on that same route?” he asked. “We are throwing $192 million to this project. They talk about wasteful government spending. What is a more wasteful government spending than this project, which is supposed to connect with the California High Speed Rail and tram in Redlands when they are built? Then build it when they are built. $192 million dollars is a stack of one dollar bills thirteen miles high. That is a lot of money for a project that doesn’t have a need. Transportation funds are precious and should get spent cautiously. I don’t see a need for a bus project going down E Street.”
Another issue is the impact the dedicated route is having on businesses along the streets it traces. Merchants along the route have told the Sentinel they are concerned that the elimination of the center lane on the streets along the route for the creation of the dedicated lanes for the buses are preventing  drivers from being able to make left turns. Many motorists, these business owners fear, will not go to the bother of continuing further down the street to make a U-turn where that is possible and then retrack back to their businesses.
The owners of several businesses located along the route, including Ammons Diamond & Coin Gallery, Burger Mania, Pride Envelopes and Barber Shop 215, claim that their operations have already been negatively impacted by the street alterations though the busses have not started to run yet.
Property owners and business operators along the bus route in San Bernardino cited four issues in their opposition – impact on existing business, low demand for the service, expense, and the use of eminent domain as a property acquisition tool for portions of the route’s right of way.
There were 99 protests lodged against specific features of the project by land and business owners along the route. All were overridden in the SANBAG board’s vote on March 2, 2011 to approve the project. Part of the rationale given for approving the project was that the transportation agency had to make a commitment to move ahead with the project by July 1, 2011 or lose $75 million in federal funding.
While SANBAG – an acronym for San Bernardino Associated Governments – is the lead agency on the project, it is Omnitrans – the bus system for south-central San Bernardino County – that will operate the line.  SANBAG is the county transportation agency and the SANBAG board is composed of mayors or city council members from the county’s 24 cities and all five of the members of the county board of supervisors.
SANBAG used its authority of eminent domain to carry out condemnations of properties to move forward with the project. SANBAG needed to secure 151 properties, some of which SANBAG staff and board members referred to as “slivers,” to make way for the bus route. Of those 151 properties, four were entire parcels.
SANBAG and Omnitrans were encouraged to pursue the project by Loma Linda, San Bernardino and Colton municipal officials as well as Cal State San Bernardino and Loma Linda University Medical Center administrators. In 2011, SANBAG and Omnitrans said they wanted to seize the opportunity to proceed with the project while construction prices were down and many businesses along the route were closed, allowing the construction to proceed with less relative disruption to nearby entities. Those agencies insisted rapid transit bus systems, such as those in Los Angeles and Cleveland, improve rather than harm local business conditions.
The Metro Orange Line in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley was originally slated to cover 14 miles. By 2006, a year after it first began operation, the line was expanded to 18 miles and was being used by three times as many weekday passengers as had been projected for it. It now routinely transports 30,000 passengers daily.
In Cleveland, which had traditionally operated a public transportation system,  a bus-based rapid-transit system was inaugurated in 2008, triggering what officials there say was  $5.8 billion in economic investment in the once-thriving industrial powerhouse that had been stagnating for decades.
According to the Rand Corporation, rapid transit can spur development because it provides a way for residents near stations to quickly travel to work, retail shops, restaurants and cultural amenities.
San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, who will leave office next month after eight years in office, was one of the prime movers in the effort to get sbX established. He said the project will serve as an incentive for people to bypass the use of their cars and bring more and more people into the heart of the city and its marketplaces. He said he does not expect the busses to be packed to capacity initially, but that he believes their use will grow with time and as other rapid transit projects intended to coordinate with it come on line, such as the extension of Metrolink service eastward in San Bernardino to an sbX station at Rialto Avenue and E Street and the eventual completion of a 9-mile rail line east from the new San Bernardino transit center to the University of Redlands.
Omnitrans projects an sbX ridership of 5,600 in the first year. Planners say the real test of the routes success will come in twenty to thirty years, at which time it will have grown into an intrinsic element of San Bernardino inner city life.
In an effort to attract ridership, wi-fi will be available on the busses.
The transit overlay approved by the San Bernardino City Council calls for residential and retail development along the route but prohibits car washes, auto sales, service stations and other uses that would encourage car use. Four of the 16 stations will have free park-and-ride spaces. Parking at Cal State San Bernardino is expensive, with annual parking passes for students costing $306. Students will be able to ride sbX for free.

Suspended Litigation Between LA And Ontario Over Airport To Resume

(February 5)  A two-month respite in the legal wrangling between Ontario and Los Angeles over Ontario International Airport has concluded without any resolution of the issues which divide the two cities.
On June 3, 2013 Ontario filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles claiming the larger city, which has held title to the airport since 1985, has been purposefully mismanaging the facility. The lawsuit seeks the return of the airport to Ontario’s possession.
In August, Ontario overcame a motion by Los Angeles to have the suit dismissed, but had made little progress legally since that point.
With the prospect of years and perhaps decades of protracted and expensive litigation over the issue, with no guarantee that it will prevail, Ontario in November sought to work out a solution outside the legal forum.
On December 5, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gloria Connor Trask consented to allowing both parties to put further legal action on hold at least until January 31 while they looked into crafting an accommodation. Los Angeles, represented by attorney Steven S. Rosenthal, and Ontario, represented by the law firm Sheppard Mullen Richter and Hampton, indicated their legal teams would take a hiatus while officials from both cities attempted to hammer out a solution.
No progress has been reported, and with the January 31 deadline elapsed, it appears both sides will be headed into court once again. Beyond the assertions contained in the original complaint, however, the suit is amorphous. Ontario maintains Los Angeles has favored Los Angeles International Airport over Ontario International in its management practices, but has yet to establish that the smaller city has any proprietary right to the aerodrome, despite the consideration that it exists within its city limits.
Ontario and Los Angeles have not always been at loggerheads over the airport.
In 1967, when Ontario Airport had a gravel parking lot and was servicing fewer than 200,000 passengers per year, Ontario and Los Angeles entered into a joint powers agreement to allow Los Angeles to use its clout with airlines to increase flights into and out of Ontario. Under Los Angeles’ guidance, the airport grew, more airlines began flying out of the facility and improvements were made to its runways and terminals. In 1985, after all of the conditions set down in the 1967 joint powers agreement had been met, Ontario deeded the airport to Los Angeles for no consideration.
In 2007, the airport achieved its high mark in terms of passenger traffic, when 7.2 million passengers enplaned there. But since that time, passenger traffic through Ontario Airport has diminished to 3.9 million per year and Ontario officials maintain that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the corporate entity that Los Angeles utilizes to run Los Angeles International, Van Nuys Airport and Ontario Airport, has stifled Ontario International in a deliberate effort to benefit Los Angeles International, where improvements have been made and passenger traffic has continued to rise for the past seven years. In their now-four-year-long campaign to have Los Angeles deed the airport back to Ontario, Ontario officials have publicly insisted that LA should relinquish the airport for no consideration because the airport is considered a public benefit property which has no sale value. Privately, however, Ontario offered Los Angeles $246 million for the airport. Simultaneously, Los Angeles has sought potential private and public buyers for the aerodrome at reported prices ranging from $225 million to $650 million. Last year Los Angeles revealed the existence of Ontario’s $246 million offer, embarrassing Ontario officials with an exposé of the discrepancy between their public and private statements. In 2012, Ontario, with the county of San Bernardino, formed the Ontario International Airport Authority, an entity intended to take over ownership and operation of the airport once Los Angeles relinquishes it.
Los Angeles officials attribute the decline in passenger traffic through Ontario to the recession that has persisted since 2008 as well as widespread changes in the airline industry in which air carriers have reduced flights to outlying airports or non-centralized hubs. They say the airlines have proven resistant to LAWA’s earnest efforts to lure the airlines back to Ontario.  The terms of the 1967 agreement remain in place and Los Angeles maintains it has consistently lived up to that agreement.
In January 2013, Los Angeles offered to sell the airport to Ontario for $475 million. Three months later, Ontario rejected that offer.
Los Angeles World Airports last week released a report indicating that passenger traffic in 2013 dipped to the level near or below that the airport had when Los Angeles assumed ownership. 1985 had been the last time the airport had experienced ridership of less than 4 million annual passengers. According to LAWA, in 2013 a total of 3.9 million passengers landed or departed from Ontario, a drop of  8 percent from 2012.
Ontario officials will be able to use that figure to bolster their contention that Los Angeles is either irresponsibly neglecting operations in Ontario or maliciously acting to hurt Ontario’s operations to boost passenger traffic into and out of Los Angeles International. Indeed, Los Angeles World Airports imposes on the airlines flying out of Ontario Airport one of the highest per enplaned-passenger charges in the nation –  $12.68. This has driven down the profitability of the airlines and upped the cost passengers must pay for tickets in Ontario, driving them to utilize other venues, such as John Wayne Airport in Orange County or Los Angeles International.
In the nearly eight months that have elapsed since the filing of the lawsuit, Ontario has made no progress in turning a corner on the problem. Ontario officials took a calculated risk in filing the suit, believing that incoming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti would be far more amenable than previous Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa to having Los Angeles let the airport go back to Ontario. They were chastened to learn that Garcetti was made even more upset by the filing of the lawsuit than his predecessor.

Ontario Pig Farm Closure Latest Sign Of Ag Decline

(February 4) ONTARIO–The continuing decline of the region’s agricultural base is being given emphasis this month with the shuttering of what was once a thriving pig farm on the southeast side of Ontario.
The farm, which began operation in 1938, and boasted 14,000 animals in its heyday, since 1988 has been operated as a joint farm/food waste and resource recovery station under the name Standard Feeding Company.
Owner Arie De Jong combined the business in which he had previously functioned – refuse disposal and waste recycling – into a business model that involved accepting uneaten food from restaurants and other establishments and combining that with the hog farming operation at 13751 S. Haven Ave. De Jong’s Standard Feeding Company, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health “provides collection services of grain-based products, including bread, tortillas, pasta, noodles, and other foods such as potatoes, onions etc.”  DeJong had developed a method of collecting those products, storing them in containers and bins that would retard their spoilage, and transporting them to the hog farm which he had purchased from its owner upon his retirement in the late 1980s.
The farm dealt mostly in piglets, allowing them to roam freely in a non-cage environment where they were nourished after they had been weaned. They would eventually be sold to other farmers or go directly to the slaughterhouse. With the breakup of the Chino Agricultural Preserve and the annexation of the property on which the farm is located by the city of Ontario, the operation was essentially zoned out of compliance with the newly extant land use standards.
In 2005 the property was included as part of the Rich Haven Specific Plan. In 2007, the specific plan was given full approval by the Ontario City Council, slating the land on which the farm sits to become part of a development that would entail 4,000 residential units, a junior high school and 886,000 square feet of commercial buildings.
When the original project proponent went bankrupt following the financial crash of 2007, the project was postponed. Now, however, Brookfield Homes is moving ahead full speed on the project and Standard Feeding Company and its pigs are to be gone by February 28.

Abrupt Changes At The Top Of Two Of San Bernardino County Desert Hospitals

(February5)  Two of the hospitals serving San Bernardino County’s vast desert area recently experienced departures of key members of their leadership teams.
In Joshua Tree, the vice president of the Hi-Desert Medical Center’s board of directors, Paul Hoffman resigned.
Eighty-five miles away, in Barstow, the chief executive officer of Barstow Community Hospital, Sean Fowler, has departed.
Hoffman, who had served on the hospital board since 2000, announced his resignation on January 28. Fowler, who had been chief executive officer at Barstow Community Hospital since July 2011, left to head another California hospital in Southern California.
Both Hi-Desert Medical Center and Barstow Community are in a state of flux.
The Hi-Desert Medical Center’s governing board, including Hoffman, on December 11 voted unanimously to promote Robert Tyk, the hospital’s chief financial officer,  to the position of chief executive officer less than two months after what was termed a mutually agreed-upon  decision  for the hospital’s previous chief executive officer, Lionel “Chad” Chadwick, to depart at the end of 2013. Tyk took over officially on January 1.
The Hi-Desert Medical Center and its board of directors are facing a series of financial challenges to the institution, including burgeoning patient care costs and dwindling revenue from solvent patients, insurance carriers and governmental programs set up to cover the medical costs of indigent patients or those otherwise eligible for subsidized medical assistance, most notably 25 percent cuts from the Medicare and MediCal programs, entailing an annual loss of revenue to the institution exceeding $500,000.
Moreover, many of the services rendered at the hospital by doctors are not billed for by the hospital but by the physicians themselves, who are not employees of the hospital, by law.  The hospital does not now have clearly delineated revenue sharing agreements with local healthcare providers such as Oasis Healthcare and the county of San Bernardino.
The Hi-Desert Medical Center is mandated by federal law to deliver emergency care whether or not patents have medical coverage or the ability to pay for that treatment.
The situation in Barstow is less dire.
Barstow Community Hospital relocated to a newly constructed facility in October and on January 7 the parent company of the hospital,  North Naples, Florida-based Community Health Systems, announce it would subsume its major competitor, Health Management Associates Inc.
Community Health Systems is the largest for-profit hospital system in the United States. It utilized its own capital as well as borrowed money to take on ownership of Health Management Associates in a $7 billion transaction. The takeover was completed last week. Simultaneously, Fowler departed.
John Rader, the spokesman for Barstow Community Hospital, told the Sentinel, “Sean has departed for a hospital in the South Bay Area that is not affiliated with Community Health Systems. Because his transfer there has not been announced internally at that institution, we are not at liberty to disclose which hospital that is.”
Community Health Systems transferred Steven Foster, who had been the CEO of Community Health Systems’ Oklahoma City-based Deaconess Hospital, to  serve as interim CEO in Barstow.
Barstow Community Hospital is conducting a national search for a new CEO. The selection committee is to consist of the hospital board, medical staff and hospital management.

Needles Remains As One Of The Last U.S. Bastions Of Over-The-Air TV

NEEDLES (February 5)—While traditional broadcast television on the VHF [very high frequency] and UHF [ultra high frequency] bands has died out across most of the United States, the phenomenon remains alive at the extreme east end of San Bernardino County.
Ironically, traditional television remains a staple in one of the county’s most remote areas because initially television broadcasts did not reach there. The U.S. Federal  Communciations Commision  designated a portion of the VHF band for television in 1941 on channels one through six. During World War II, channel one was removed and used only for war purposes.  In 1945, channels seven through thirteen were added. Subsequently, a portion of the UHF bandwidth was allotted to television stations to meet  the demand for additional over-the-air television channels in urban areas.  In 1983, UHF channels 70–83 were taken away from TV broadcast services. As cable and satellite television service saturated most of the country, the use of the portions of the VHF and UHF spectrums reserved for television broadcasting throughout most of the country ended and those bandwidths became available for relicensing or sale after a transition period, which ended June 12, 2009 in the United States.
More than a half century prior to that, however, The Needles Community Television Club was founded in 1958.  Because surrounding mountains blocked VHF and UHF line-of-sight signals, Needles and the Mohave Valley across the river in Arizona were unable to tune in television stations. Local officials on both sides of the Arizona/California border enlisted technicians from Kingman, Arizona to conduct tests from around the region to set up “translators,” i.e., signal repeaters that allowed locals armed with a UHF antenna to get television broadcasts on their TV sets.
After experimentation, trial and error led technicians to determine that the ideal spot for the translator was atop the Black Mountains near Oatman, Arizona. The club in partnership with Mohave County operated – and continues to operate – ten channels that are received over the air by means of a simple antenna.
Even with the advent of cable television and satellite TV service, the club and its service persisted because of the expense of such in-home services and the consideration that cable service is not available in many outlying areas.
The Needles Community TV Club remains a going entity, committed to ensuring low cost over-the-air television is available in the region, having made an adaption from analog to digital mode, broadcasting in high definition nine network channels. A digital tuner is required to lock onto the broadcasts. Those with a high definition digital tuner can receive the signals for all stations in high definition and view them in high definition as well, depending on the screening capability of their sets. Vintage televisions must be augmented with an external converter box to change the digital signal to analog. Converter boxes are available for roughly $60.
The translator facility is maintained through voluntary donation dues of $10 per year, precisely the same cost as was instituted in 1958. Donation dues can be sent to Needles TV Club, 1101 W. Broadway, Needles, CA 92363.
The club is overseen by a board of directors elected by dues-paying members at an annual meeting. Rolland Hartwick is currently serving as president of the board.
Dues paying members of the club are provided with instructions on setting up a reception antenna. Club brochures are available at the Big O Tires/NAPA Auto Parts in Needles as well as the Needles Point Pharmacy. The Big O Tires/Napa Auto Parts Store features a demonstration television in its waiting area to allow potential club members to  experience the quality of over-the-air all digital and high definition broadcasts.

Martin, Commander At Fort Irwin, Promoted To Major General

FORT IRWIN—Ted Martin, the commander of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin since February 2013 and one of the U.S. Military’s leading experts on countermeasures to the improvised explosive devices used with such devastating effect against American soldiers in Iraq, has been promoted to major general.
Martin, who was a brigadier general when he arrived at Fort Irwin last year, received his second star on January 24.
The promotion ceremony was officiated over by General Daniel Ally, the commanding general of the United States Army Forces Command, who had travelled from his headquarters at Fort Bragg to confer the honor on Martin.
Martin serves as the training lead for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, maintaining and managing a counter-improvised explosive device training unit. He is also responsible for enabling the development and propagation of new operational techniques and tactical procedures and provides a venue for training and support for the experimentation and testing of emerging counter–improvised explosive device equipment and concepts.
He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1979 to 1983, was commissioned an armor officer upon graduation and in 1987 completed the Infantry Officer Advance Course after serving his initial company grade assignments at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was then stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany, where he was the commander of Charlie Company, and later, assistant S3 (Air), 2d Battalion, 64th Armor, 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized).
Martin later served three years as a staff officer in the U.S. Army Combined Arms Command, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He then spent two years as a senior military advisor for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program, Saudi Arabia.
He has served in a number of other command assignments, including commander of 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Hood, Texas, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq; commander, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq; commander, Operations Group, National Training Center, Fort Irwin; Commandant and 45th Chief of Armor, U.S. Army Armor School, Fort Benning, Georgia. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the 73rd Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy.
His other assignments include serving as the G3 for the 4th Infantry Division and Task Force IRONHORSE in Iraq; the Iraq field team leader for the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in Baghdad, Iraq, and as the chief of the Armor Branch Division, and later, as chief of the Combat Arms Division, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Arlington, Virginia.
Martin has a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College, a master’s degree in business from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy.
His awards, decorations and badges include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two oak leaf clusters), Bronze Star Medal (with ‘V’ device), Bronze Star Medal (oak leaf cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (six oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (oak leaf cluster), Army Achievement Medal (five oak leaf clusters), the Combat Action Badge and Parachutist Badge.
All three of Martin’s brothers are graduates of West Point. His father served in the Navy and Army and served in Korea and Vietnam before medically retiring in 1969. Martin and his brothers are the tenth generation of his family to serve in the U.S Military, spanning back to the Revolutionary War, when Pvt. Daniel Martin fought against the British as an enlisted member of the 1st New Jersey Infantry Regiment, including participating in the storied encampment at Valley Forge.

Guest Commentary: A Rare Moment for the State Budget

By State Assemblyman Curt Hagman
Governor Jerry Brown recently introduced his budget plan for the 2014-15 fiscal year, setting off a six month debate over how best to use our state tax dollars. If nothing else, this year’s conversion will be different in tone from previous years as the state is projecting an unexpected surplus.
I welcome the discussion on how to use this potential surplus. However, we should treat such news with caution because this surplus is dependent on personal income taxes, California’s most volatile revenue stream. During the “dot-com” bubble of 2000, personal income taxes made up 60 percent of state revenues. With the passage of the Governor’s Proposition 30 in 2012, personal income taxes now make up 75 percent of General Fund revenues – the highest level in state history. We see a surplus because the state raised taxes and Wall Street is doing well. These funds will immediately disappear if businesses, job creators, and our highest contributing taxpayers continue to abandon California.
Despite the lessons of history, legislative Democrats want to spend any surplus on expanding government programs. They want to commit the state to massive ongoing spending increases that taxpayers cannot afford, thereby setting the stage for even higher taxes and more severe cuts in the future. It is naïve to think that we can pop the champagne and spend away money that may never materialize.
That is why I agree with the Governor’s call for spending restraint. He was correct in saying that we are not out of the “wilderness” and “we must be very prudent in the way we spend public funds.” I support efforts to deposit any real surplus into a strong rainy day fund that can only be tapped in true emergencies such as earthquakes and wildfires. Having such a fund will protect schools and other vital programs from drastic budget cuts in the future.
I also support the Governor’s call to reduce the state’s “Wall of Debt” that is taking precious dollars away from needed services. The state faces a combined $350 billion debt in unfunded state retiree health care and pension obligations along with owing $10 billion to Washington to repay a loan for unemployment insurance increases during the recession. The quicker we can pay off these debts, the better off we will be for future pressing needs.
Additionally, any final budget that the Legislature approves should invest in infrastructure projects that create and promote jobs which are essential to the state’s economic health instead of spending money on social programs. By tending to long-neglected infrastructure needs, we can help create jobs, improve the movement of goods, ensure a better-trained workforce and generate more tax revenue for education.
From now until sometime in June when the Governor signs a budget into law, lawmakers need to be open and transparent when crafting a final draft. I will continue to fight to protect funding for priorities such as education and public safety, and to end wasteful spending on projects such as the high-speed train to nowhere.
We may have a unique and rare moment to pay off past debts and invest in the future this year – if the legislature should seize it. Doing so will ensure we will be better prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Like that of your home budget, the legislature should plan for the future.

Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, is the Assistant Republican Floor Leader and represents the 55h Assembly District in the California Legislature.

Countywide Flu Death Total This Season Reaches Seventeen

(February 6) At least seventeen deaths in San Bernardino County in the last six weeks have been attributed to the flu.
According to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, those 17 deaths have been confirmed as flu-related, the worst flu season since 2009-10.  Most of those fatalities occurred in individuals 40-59 years of age.
“The number of confirmed flu-related deaths within San Bernardino County has increased from 2 to 16 since January 10, 2014,” a health department bulletin put out on January 31 stated. “The confirmed deaths are scattered throughout the county with no specific regional trend.”
Thirteen of the flu- related deaths proceeded from cases of the 2009 H1N1 strain that caused the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic. During the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic, the county reported 45 flu-related deaths. The total number of deaths reported for the entire 2012-13 influenza season in the county of San Bernardino was five.
“This flu season is severe and may be peaking earlier in comparison to previous seasons,” said Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, health officer of county of San Bernardino Department of Public Health “Everyone who has not yet had a flu vaccination is encouraged to do so immediately. The influenza vaccine remains the most effective way to protect oneself from the flu.”

Special Election Results Portend New Mayor And Three New SB Councilmembers

(February 5)  The city council in San Bernardino will undergo a significant change in compositi next month, following this week’s special election that saw a new mayor elected and the selection of a new 5th Ward councilman to replace the disgraced former holder of that post, who resigned last fall following his guilty plea to campaign fund misuse charges.
The lone official retained in Tuesday’s election was councilman Fred Shorett.
Of note was that former councilwoman Wendy McCammack, who was recalled from her 7th Ward office in November but was paradoxically the top vote getter in the same day’s 10-candidate race for mayor, lost this week, ensuring that three of the seven council members and the mayor who ruled the city last year will no longer be city office holders.
McCammack was defeated by Carey Davis, who was supported by soon outgoing mayor Patrick Morris, one of McCammack’s longstanding political rivals. McCammack, a 55-year-old Republican, had been in office 13 years. Morris, a former Superior Court judge and a Democrat, is now closing out eight years as mayor.
The city filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, a result, Morris contended, of years of excessive spending at City Hall, which he said was a direct outgrowth of too-generous salaries and benefits provided to municipal employees, in particular firefighters and police officers. McCammack had steadfastly supported those pay and benefit increases and was in turn strongly supported by the police and fire unions.
The 61-year-old Davis, like Morris, sounded the drumbeat of financial austerity as the formula for the city to get back on its feet. The theme of his campaign was “fiscal sanity.”
Early on, the contest appeared to be a dead heat between the two finalist mayoral candidates, with a near 50-50 split in the absentee ballot count. Early returns from the polls on election Tuesday favored Davis slightly, giving him a 51%-49% lead. As the city’s final precincts reported, Davis’s lead widened. By 10:30 p.m., with all votes counted, Davis bested McCammack 6,211 votes or 56 percent to 4,811 votes or 44 percent.
Shorett dodged a wave of voter resentment over the city’s decline and declaration of bankruptcy, largely because of a political faux-pas by his opponent, Anthony Jones.
Jones appeared to be poised to make a strong challenge of Shorett, a Republican whose fiscally conservative principles put him in alignment with Morris with regard to holding the line on municipal employee salaries and benefits. After the 23-year-old Jones entered the race, the police union endorsed his candidacy in a display of opposition to Shorett.  The police union endorsement had the effect of boosting Jones above another declared candidate in the race, Kathy Pinegar, but Jones’ candidacy imploded when a rap video he had recorded, one that was characterized as advocating criminality, violence and disrespect toward women, began making the rounds. Before Jones’ electoral debacle concluded, the police union withdrew its endorsement, Shorett polled 1,529 votes or 48.22 percent to Jones 985 votes or 31.06 percent and Pinegar’s 657 votes or 20.72 percent in the November 5 election. Jones thus limped into this week’s run-off election as damaged political goods, and lost to Shorett  1,913 votes or 66.21 percent to 972.33 votes or 69 percent.
In the city’s Fifth Ward, four candidates vied to replace Chas Kelley, whose guilty plea to misuse of campaign funds ended his political career. Henry Nickel, with 886 votes or 38.49 percent, outdistanced Randy Wilson, with 691 votes or 30.02 percent, Larry Lee, who pulled in 459 votes or 19.94 percent and Karmel Roe, with 266 votes or 11.56 percent.
Voter turnout in the election was anemic. With 209,924 residents, the county seat is also San Bernardino County’s largest city population-wise. 77,588 of those residents are registered to vote. Only 11,175 actually participated in the election, with 8,031 or 10.35 percent of the city’s registered voters voting by mail, and 3,144 or 4.05 percent casting ballots at the polls.
Next month, those victorious in Tuesday’s election will be sworn into office, along with incumbent Virginia Marquez, who defeated challenger Casey Dailey on November 5 and Benito Barrios, who defeated incumbent Robert Jenkins.
James Mulvihill, who was chosen to replace McCammack upon her recall, has been in office for three months.