Split Upland Council Votes To Give Burrtec ‘Perpetual’ Trash Franchise

(May 29) A divided Upland City Council this week extended the terms of the trash hauling franchise the city has with Burrtec Waste Industries to ensure that company will have an exclusive contract to handle refuse in the City of Gracious Living at least until 2026.
Burrtec has had the trash hauling franchise since 2001, following the city’s last competitive bidding process  for trash hauling services the previous year. While the original franchise contract ran for a period of three years, at the direction of previous mayor John Pomierski then-city manager Robb Quincy retrofitted it with a seven-year “evergreen” clause, which extends the contract every year by one year if notice is not given by June 30. Upon notice, the franchise is to remain in place for seven further years. Before this week’s meeting, which was held on Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday, the franchise was guaranteed to last until July 30, 2021. The action of the council this week conferred the franchise on Burrtec until July 1, 2026.
In return for the contract extension, Burrtec will provide street sweeping services and medical waste pick-up. The language of the contract amendment approved Tuesday night states, “The term shall be for twelve years commencing on the execution of the third amendment. On July 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the initial term will be automatically extended for one year so the remaining term of the agreement shall always be seven years, unless either party notifies the other in writing (the “wind down notice”) before June 30 in any year that it does not wish the term to automatically extend, in which case the agreement shall terminate at the end of the term, or seven years from the date of the last extension pursuant hereto, whichever is later (the wind down period).”
The contract amendment further states that once notice is given and the wind down period is initiated, Burrtec will no longer be obligated to provide the enhanced service, i.e., street sweeping service and  medical waste disposal.
The contract amendment was worth over  $60 million to Burrtec. The city, which handles the billing for trash service, currently bills the city’s residential and business trash customers roughly $10.13 million, $5.25 million of which is paid to Burrtec, $2.22 million of which is paid in tipping fees at landfills and $2.66 million of which the city categorizes as “city program expenses.”
Members of the public  expressed doubt about the wisdom of approving the franchise contract amendment. Jack Pieri, a 40-year Upland resident who has worked in the refuse industry, on Tuesday night before the vote told the council that extending the evergreen clause to 12 years will essentially bind the city to Burrtec indefinitely. “The extension of the evergreen clause will make it difficult to interest another company to seriously consider bidding on a new contract,” Pieri said.
Councilman Glenn Bozar, who opposed the franchise contract amendment, said, “The previous city manager got us into this perpetual contract, which in the private sector world you do not do. Things like this should be put out to bid regularly. The last time this went out to bid was 14 years ago. I think this should go out to bid and we should give notice now. This is a violation of our fiduciary and financial responsibility. I cannot support this. I have no problem with Burrtec or the quality of service it provides but this needs to go out to bid for the residents to really know what is out in the market right now.”
Councilman Brendan Brandt abstained and  the contract amendment passed on a 3-1 vote with Mayor Ray Musser and council members Gino Filippi and Debby Stone in support.

Deadline Fast Approaching In Yucca Valley Water Quality Crisis

(May 27) YUCCA VALLEY—The clock is ticking toward a deadline, less than two years away, by which this desert town of 20,700 must complete the first phase of a large scale wastewater treatment system.
The imposition of that deadline three years ago was intended to avert a growing water quality crisis that will, if it is not redressed, severely impact all of the area’s residents.
If the town, its residents and the local water board do not collectively act to fund and begin building the sewer system that will eliminate Yucca Valley’s reliance upon septic systems that are now overwhelming the area’s water table, the state is threatening action that could reduce Yucca Valley to a ghost town by 2022.
Yucca Valley, which became the last of San Bernardino County’s 24 municipalities to incorporate in 1991, is likewise the last remaining city to function without a sewer system.
Long a remote and rustic desert area that attracted those wishing to remain well off the beaten track, Yucca Valley made its first lurch toward urbanization in the 1950s when Norman J. Essig promoted it as both a getaway to and private residency for entertainment celebrities. He ventured capital toward that end, acquiring hundreds of acres, which he improved with roads around the region’s major arterial, Highway 62, also known as Twentynine Palms Highway.
While attracting movie stars as well as recording and visual artists was only marginally successful, the improvements did succeed in luring others by virtue of the relatively inexpensive land prices, and Yucca Valley grew sporadically over the years, appealing to the independent minded and lovers of the remote desert beauty. As early as 1973, when the area’s population was hovering below 5,000, there was a push to outfit the core of Yucca Valley with a rudimentary sewer system, one that would extend only to the town’s modest commercial area and the relatively sparse residential neighborhoods that surrounded it. But a water treatment facility and skeleton sewer system to which future developments could connect carried a price tag of roughly $10 million, well beyond the tiny community’s fiscal means at that time.
After the town’s November 1991 incorporation, civic officials continued to reflect and embody the values of their constituents, who eschewed big government and excessive regulation and put a premium on maintaining the town’s rural character. There was little collective will to pave any roads other than the town’s main thoroughfares and many town streets remain dusty trails to this day. A modern, urban sewer system has been an imperative to few locals. At the same time, the town council has been accommodating of most developers who expressed an interest in Yucca Valley, and over the first 20 years of the town’s history as an incorporated entity, gave builders what has essentially been carte blanche to build aggressively without incorporating urban land use standards.
Thus, the septic systems that had proliferated in Yucca Valley for three-quarters of a century remained the accoutrement of homes and businesses built within the 40 square mile city limits.
Ten years after incorporation Yucca Valley’s officials were notified by the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Board that the lack of a sewage treatment system had resulted in nitrates accumulating in the water table. Simultaneously, the Hi-Desert Water District, which serves the Yucca Valley community, experienced nitrate traces in district wells.
Local officialdom did not respond with alacrity. Rather, some feigned outrage that the state felt it necessary to involve itself in what many perceived as a local issue. As a good number of those who had moved to Yucca Valley were senior citizens and retirees living on fixed incomes who had been attracted to the area by cheap land, they were alarmed by the concept of having to defray the cost for the installation of a sewer system. They were heartened and to a certain extent lulled into a state of complacency by their political leadership, which asserted the town would not fall victim to overreaching regulation imposed on it by Sacramento. Thus, the water table contamination issue was kicked down the road.
In the early 2000s, monitoring carried out by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the United States Geological Survey demonstrated that residues left in the ground that seep into the aquifer had increased to levels that presaged health threats if the matter was not addressed. Those contaminants included nitrates and other pollutants including pharmaceuticals and salts.
Historic pumping increases from the 1940s to 1995 resulted in the water levels dropping faster than the nitrates from septic systems seeped downward. Thus, for years Yucca Valley was able to avoid the consequences of the contamination accumulating in the local soil. Eventually, however, as the water table dropped lower and lower as a result of greater utilization combined with limited recharge from rainfall, the water district began importation of state aqueduct water into Yucca Valley. Completion of the Morongo Basin Pipeline project and the accompanying completion and activation of recharge basins in Yucca Valley allowed the Hi-Desert Water District to begin percolating water into the aquifer and the water table began to rise. That water came in contact with the high levels of nitrates left over from decades of septic discharge and the nitrates found their way into some of the Hi-Desert Water District’s wells. Notice of the contamination triggered a scaling back of the Hi-Desert Water District’s recharge efforts, and the goal of reestablishing the Yucca Valley water table to the natural level present in the 1940s has not been achieved.
The imported water has actually diluted the nitrates so water tests now show nitrate levels below the maximum contaminant level allowed by the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In the meantime, the discharge of septic waste continues and the United States Geological Survey determined that nitrates accumulating beneath Yucca Valley are present in ever increasing concentrations and at depths that pose a threat to the groundwater, including a calculation that 880 acre-feet of septic discharge currently reaches the groundwater every year.
In 2007, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state agency responsible for protecting water quality, adopted a resolution identifying the town of Yucca Valley as one of 66 communities throughout the state with groundwater threatened by the continuing overuse of septic systems. The board further declared Yucca Valley as a top priority for eliminating the use of septic systems, meaning Yucca Valley’s is one of the five most seriously threatened significantly-sized water supplies in the state.
Nevertheless, local officials resisted taking immediate action, as they lacked the financial wherewithal to undertake the construction of a sewer system. Nor did the city have the will to impose any kind of building or development moratorium that would stabilize the problem.
For a while, town and the water district officials were able to delay the imposition of state mandates by forging a memorandum of agreement with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Hi-Desert Water District to allow interim permits for new septic systems while planning for a wastewater system proceeded. But they could not suspend the consequences indefinitely.
By 2010, Yucca Valley’s population had zoomed to 20,700, an increase of 3,835 or 22.7 percent over the 16,865 town residents counted in the 2000 Census.
In 2011, the town was firmly informed that it had only five years to take a definitive step toward water quality compliance.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board has imposed three progressive phases of septic discharge prohibitions on Yucca Valley. Under the state mandate, phase 1 of a wastewater system must be completed or significantly on its way to completion by May 19, 2016 or enforcement action will be initiated. The first phase of the project is to cover the downtown area of Yucca Valley, the area most proximate to the heart of the groundwater basin.  Similarly, phase 2 must be completed or nearly completed by May 19, 2019 and phase 3 must be completed by May 19, 2022. The last two phases lie further out where future concentrated development is most likely to occur.
Eleven months ago, the State Water Resources Control Board’s sub-executive director, Jose Angel, told those gathered at the community center the state will be methodical and thorough in enforcing the prohibition, holding the town to account to complete each phase of the project by the succeeding deadlines and taking steps to ensure that each residential and commercial property within each phase’s geographical boundaries ties into the sewer system once it is in place.
In the last eleven months. the High Desert Water District, which is to be the lead agency on the project, has not completed anywhere near one third of the work needed to meet the first deadline on May 19, 2016. The tangible progress it can point to consists, basically, in having undertaken an effort to inform local residents of the problem and having completed cost comparisons on paper. The primary cost projection identifies the difference between having a contractor undertake building the system and having the water district manage the project – between $133,248,401 and $140,651,089 for the design and construction work to be performed by Atkins North America and somewhere between  $111.539.901 and $117,736,562 for the district to construct the project using Atkins North America’s proposed design. The system would consist of a water treatment plant and a collection system entailing over 400,000 linear feet of pipe.
The district has made some tentative projections with regard to obtaining grant funding, but has made no substantive progress toward actually receiving such grants, other than obtaining a $20 million authorization from the Bureau of Reclamation. It has also applied for a low to no-interest loan through a state revolving fund. Ultimately, there will yet need to be significant financial participation by the town’s residents. A dated calculation, using the assumption that the overall cost of the project will amount to no more than $125 million, is that each parcel in Yucca Valley will be counted upon to provide $16,700 toward the system construction debt burden.  If the cost of the project can be defrayed over 30 years, water district officials calculate the project can be financed through homeowner assessments of $20 to $40 per month to cover just the construction costs of the system.
Costs could rise due to unforeseen circumstances or complications with regard to easements, particularly on the north end of town, where the proposed trunk line will be laid alongside a steel natural gas line accompanied by electrical pumps. The cost of upgrading the trunk line to one consisting of steel seamless pipe could raise the cost.
Of tremendous moment is the community’s ability to pay for the system, which includes town residents’ willingness to embrace a debt servicing mechanism to cover the financing arrangement on its construction costs. One such effort was Measure U, sponsored by the town in 2012  and which appeared on the November ballot. If passed, Measure U would have imposed a one-cent sales tax within Yucca Valley. Town officials said the lion’s share of those proceeds would go toward building the sewer system. Measure U was defeated, however.
If the multiple issues with regard to the sewer system are not resolved, and resolved soon, Yucca Valley will have no conceivable prospect of meeting the May 18, 2016 deadline.
And the state has utilized draconian measures in the past against other communities that failed to come into compliance, such as in Los Osos, which was under a similar order from the California Water Resources Board and failed to heed it. The entire community of Los Osos became subject to an enforcement action, which was done in a lottery fashion, in which random property owners were selected to receive cease and desist orders with the potential of daily fines for non-compliance. They were ordered to discontinue the discharge from their septic systems, seal them off and pump them at regular intervals. If they did not, they were subjected to fines of up to $5,000 per day.

Ten Candidates In Crowded Mountain-Desert 33rd Assembly District Race

(May 29) In the 33rd Assembly District, which covers a wide swath of San Bernardino County’s desert and mountain regions, nine Republicans are vying against a single Democrat to succeed Assembly two-termer Tim Donnelly. Donnelly, who would have been eligible to run once more for the Assembly under California’s term limit law, opted to instead run for governor this year.
While the district’s voter registration numbers heavily favor the GOP, given the sheer number of Republicans in the race, it appears likely that the Democrat, John Coffey, will pull in enough votes in the primary to gain a berth in the November election against the top Republican vote-getter. Under California’s open primary arrangement, the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, qualify for a head-to-head contest in November.
One of the earliest of the candidates to declare in the race was Scott Markovich, a self-described fiscal conservative and social progressive who offers what he says is a formula that will restore the Republican Party’s competitive edge.
A lifelong resident of the San Bernardino Mountains, Markovich has a general contractor’s license and owns and operates two companies, Empire Home Builders, a sole proprietorship, and Red Rooster Development, a corporation that specializes in building spec homes. He is a member of the Rim of the World School Board.
Markovich said a primary impetus in his candidacy is his desire to limit the influence of special interests.
“Because of my contracting background,” he said, “I understand what it is like to be taken advantage of by local or state or federal mandates. Government has infringed upon our ability to live freely as we choose, and government too often interferes with our ability to enjoy our lives. The United States came about to establish and protect our sovereign rights as citizens and individuals. Somehow our political leaders and rulers have lost focus on that. Most of the elected leadership in Sacramento are serving special interests and corporations rather than working at enhancing our freedoms and building the infrastructure of a society in which we can have businesses that succeed so we can have nice homes and the freedom to travel and do things that better our lives and the lives of our families and everyone around us. We have lost focus on the real reasons we elect officials to represent us.”
Government, which should facilitate providing resources to its people, Markovich said, is perversely serving to obstruct citizens from obtaining the resources they need.
“As a contractor, I have always known how to go to get a permit, pass the inspections, do a project on a budget, complete the project, achieve the goal. I know what mandates are and how they hurt us,” he said.
Markovich said he is not blindly opposed to regulation. He said he understands the necessity for order and the imposition of standards.
“There are things we do need to regulate,” he said. “I believe there has to be balance so we don’t overregulate. There has to be more pragmatic thinking about laws.”
He cited AB32, which is aimed at regulating exhaust emissions on commercial equipment, as an example of counterproductive regulation.
“My perspective is based upon my interaction with the truck drivers I deal with who deliver rock, gravel, and sand to the construction sites I work,” he said. “The law was supposedly aimed at huge operations, cement factories, other factories with smokestacks. Now those mandates are being applied to small vehicles and it is costing small operators upwards of $25,000 to comply with regulations and with superficial standards that have no helpful effect in terms of the environment or controlling pollution or any of the good things that were intended in the legislation. The trucks and the truck drivers were not the problem. Regulations have their role, but when all parties are not represented then they become mandates that inhibit the economy. The proper balance on this can only come from candidates who have been part of the middle class that have been subject to these misguided laws. We should not be throwing everyone into the same category.”
Markovich cited Thomas Jefferson as the ideal politician who was able to adhere to his principles while compromising with philosophical adversaries to permit progress. “Thomas Jefferson’s contemporaries said that he was the most pragmatic politician of his time,” Markovich said. “There are politicians and there are statesmen. Statesmen go beyond entrenched partisanship and work for the common good and promote people rather than ideology. My goal is to not become a politician and instead try to be a statesman.”
An example of regulation that is proper, Markovich said, is the modulation of land use policy. “I am a contractor, so most people think I am pro-development,” he said. Nevertheless, he said, “When your development has significant impact on the environment and sanitation and the health and wellbeing of the community, these things have to be thought through to see if they are fundamentally environmentally and economically sound. [A development project] might be good for the proponents and have some short term economic good for the community, but …we could all end up paying a huge price if we just let the developers have their way.”
Markovich said he believes he is distinguished from the other eight candidates by his “conservatism on fiscal policy and opposition to things that are regressive and do not expand the economy, and by my acceptance of freedom of choice on social issues. I am not against gay rights and I do not oppose a woman’s right to choose. I have personal values and ethics that I hold dear and there are things other people do that I would never engage in, but I do not feel it is my place or the place of government to infringe on people’s civil liberties and rights. In my life, early in our marriage when my wife became pregnant and then pregnant again, we were concerned about our careers and the burden of having children at that age. The right choice, we felt, was to choose life. We made the choice to have children. That was our decision. It was not dictated to us. There are things about other people’s lifestyles that I do not understand. But it is their right to choose for themselves. By putting restrictions on freedom into the law, it is counterproductive. I believe you should give people the freedom to make their own decisions.”
Markovich said his attitude extends to all Constitutional Rights, including those guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
“Instead of going after guns and ammunition and the people who have them, I think the government should work to ensure that there is responsible gun ownership,” he said. “If gun owners are reasonable and responsible citizens, they should have the right to possess guns. There is a responsibility that goes with that. We need laws to keep us all accountable with respect to the exercising of those rights and gun use. Guns allow us to protect ourselves until the government comes. Gun rights should stay as part of our lives and our country.”
The lone Democrat in the race, John Coffey, was his party’s standard bearer in 2012. He is again seeking election to California’s lower legislative house representing the 33rd Assembly District because, he said, “this area has been without legitimate representation since 2010.”
Coffey asserted his belief that the Republican domination of the district has done it no good, given the near supermajority the Democrats have had in the legislature over the last several years.
At 68 years old, Coffey said his life experience dwarfs that of most of the other candidates. He said he will “make sure that school districts stay on top of the entitlement of free and reduced lunches and I will expedite food stamp applications for households with minor children.”
Coffey said he more than any of the other candidates in the race is committed to maintaining the district’s ecological integrity.
“After 28 years of do-nothing hearings, it is time for the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to declare Hinkley a Superfund site.  Barstow must also begin to deal with its perchlorate issues more effectively with the state’s help to avoid another water shutdown. In Cadiz the aquifer should only be used as an asset to protect and support environmentally sensible development and endangered species habitat conservation.”
He continued, “The Bureau of Land Management is in the middle of a land grab for private developers in the Silurian Valley. They must cease. The Silurian Valley is a national park quality park wilderness area that bridges the transition from Death Valley to the Mojave preserve.”
Big Bear Mayor Jay Obernolte is the most economically enabled of the candidates in the 33rd District race, having received $229,919.15 in donations alone from Charles Munger, Jr.’s Spirit of Democracy political action committee.
Obernolte’s primary message is that the state of California is staggering under the overregulation of business and he is determined to right the state’s overregulated business climate.
“If we solve the economic problems, a lot of the other difficulties will be eliminated,” he said.
Turning to the challenges to the state beyond the limited confines of the 33rd District, Obernolte said the major focus, “on the state level, should be preserving Proposition 13. I am appalled there have been recent attempts to chip away at the taxpayer protection provisions of Proposition 13. I find particularly galling the way we are attempting to modify Proposition 13 to increase the tax on business property. We are sending a message to businesses that they are no longer welcome in California. What I would like us to do is stand firm and protect Proposition 13.”
Proposition 13 was an amendment of the Constitution of California passed by voters and enacted in  1978 that  decreased property taxes by assessing property values at their 1975 value and restricting annual increases of assessed value of real property to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2 percent per year.
“I have by far the most business experience,” Obernolte, who owns a computer game manufacturing concern, said. “I am in the best position to fight against the overregulation of business that is stifling the economy of our state. We need people in Sacramento who know what it is like to shepherd a business thorough upturns and downturns. We need them to understand how stifling the business climate is in California. We need lawmakers who understand that businesses face a lot of issues.”
Michelle Ambrozic is a Republican health insurance broker who has railed against President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, maintaining hospitals are going bankrupt because, “Seven out of ten people are unable to pay for health care insurance or are now losing the health care insurance they had before Obamacare was put into place.”
Ambrozic said that “Doctors are increasingly reluctant to accept new Medicare patients at the same time that thousands and thousands of low income Medicare patients are coming along. They are not willing to accept new Medicare and Medi-Cal patients because they are not being paid adequately. It is not financially feasible for them to accept these new patients. We need to get money to expand Medicare and Medi-Cal. We need to make sure our state medical reimbursement rates are what they should be. We need to set up a program so that if after graduating from medical school and being licensed, primary care physicians can commit to a rural area for up to six years and have their medical school debt forgiven. This is already being done in several other states.”
Ambrozic said she wants to divert money that has been appropriated to the California Dream Act, which she said “is utilizing taxpayer money to further the education of illegal aliens and people who are not citizens of our state” and use it to fund medical student education.
Her campaign is being spearheaded by Donnelly’s former chief of staff, Gregg Imus, who has represented Ambrozic as a “gun-toting mother of three.”
Robert Larivee is running, he said. because “I feel our government has separated itself from the people. It is time to rebuild our nation from the ground up.”
Identifying a major issue facing both the 33rd District and the southern portion of the state as ensuring the availability of water, Larivee said, “My solution for the sustainability of the water supply is to first deal with the drought and educate the public in more detail on how to conserve water. We have been depleting our aquifers since the 1960s.” Beyond conservation and the installation of water saving devices, Larivee said the state water authority needs “to figure out a comprehensive plan to deal with water issues across the state. We basically need to open up the pump at the delta.”
Larivee said the state can protect the delta by augmenting its water with resources drawn from elsewhere.
“I think there are less expensive options to get water to where we need it,” he said. “We could bring water from various places and release it into aqueducts. We should have pipelines not built by a single contractor but multiple contractors that would be competitively bid, all the way down from Canada or Alaska. If we can build an oil pipeline be can build one for water. If it is a pipeline there will be no evaporation since it is a closed system. We should start the pipeline in spots where there is a major surplus of water. We should reach outside the state to Oregon or Washington or wherever we have water north of us and can bring it down. It is less expensive to maintain a pipe system than an aqueduct.”
Larivee identified “safety and education” as two other major issues facing the district and the state.
“I know a little bit about all of the issues and a lot about some of them,” Larivee said. “I know where to find the answers.”
Retired San Bernardino County fire captain Bob Buhrle said he is running for assemblyman in the 33rd Assembly District because “I believe I can use my more than 20 years’ experience in various elected positions to be of benefit in helping straighten up California.”
Buhrle has been on the board of directors at the Big Bear Municipal Water District, a board member of the High Desert Medical Center,  a board member of the Lake Gregory/Crest Forest County Water District, a member of the Arrowhead Lake Association Board of Directors, a board member of the Big Bear City Community Service District, which oversaw the budget and management of municipal sanitation, water, fire safety and  refuse disposal services, a member of the board of trustees for the Rim of the World Unified School District, and a member of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks Advisory Board.
Buhrle said “We need solutions” and that part of the cure is “having small businesses create new jobs. This can be done if we work together at all levels of government in cooperation with the private sector.”
75-year-old retired truck driver and former Marine Jerry Laws said “I’d like to see a flat tax rate in California. We can’t get the feds to do it.  I want the federal land in California turned back to the state. Right now the federal government will not let states drill or put pipelines in or anything along that line. The federal government should return most of what it took over back to the states.”
Laws said the county should be allowed to revive its mining industry. “Inyo County  was using its gold mines to pay their bills,” he said. “My main goals are to protect the Constitution and the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.”
Art Bishop, a retired Fire Chief with the Apple Valley Fire Protection District and current member of the Apple Valley Town Council, said he is running because “in order to change what is happening in Sacramento, we need to take a stand against politics as usual. Businesses, jobs and good people like you are leaving our great state every day. Burdensome laws, excessive government regulations and unnecessary taxation are damaging the great state that we love.”
Bishop said, “My experience and leadership skills will bring a common sense approach to our legislature. California was once a great place to live and raise our families.  I know, because I have lived here most of my life.  My wife of 43 years and I raised our two children here, and my grandchildren are growing up here. Our schools were among the best in the nation, and we welcomed businesses that provided quality jobs for our families.  It is my goal to bring stability, leadership, and experience to the legislature in its decision-making process. I am a firm advocate of local control and cooperative governance without sacrificing principles.”
Brett Savage, the youngest candidate in the race, said, “We need to support small businesses, reduce regulation, and support law enforcement. To save California we need to invest in the industriousness of its people, not big government. The High Desert needs a representative that is willing to fight for it.”
Savage said, “The growth of the High Desert economy depends on free enterprise.  We need to ease the burden on our communities’ small businesses.  We must lower the cost of starting and running a business.  We must reduce regulation and promote industry.”
According to Savage, “Our right to bear arms is under constant attack.  In Sacramento I will not only fight to protect the Second Amendment from further assault, but work to restore those rights that have already been taken away from us.”
Touting himself as a “staunch supporter of law enforcement, Savage said, “Serious crimes warrant serious penalties.  We need to protect those that protect us and support law enforcement and their families for the remarkable sacrifices they make every day.  I was born and raised in a law enforcement family and I personally know the sacrifices made both those in uniform and the families that love them.”
Rick Roelle, a sheriff’s lieutenant, said, ““I see our state dealing with the same issues that are big in this district – taxation, overregulation and public safety,” he said. “The reason we have overtaxation is because the voters keep voting tax hikes on themselves. Sixty percent of the people in surveys say they believe we are overtaxed but the voters still keep voting for tax increases. The solution is if they are going to keep shoving tax increases down our throats, we have to have more people on the payroll, with decent paying jobs paying into it. If there is going to be tax creation there first has to be job creation.
Roelle said he is distinguished from the other candidates , “obviously my 32 years in law enforcemen. I had eight years as an elected official on the Apple Valley Town Council. I am chomping at the bit to get involved with the Republican Party in California. I represent a lot more than just taking a stand against illegal immigration and gun rights.  I think I can assist my constituents by assuring that they are not gouged by the cuts government has to make.”

Important Race Is For Second Place in 40th Assembly Contest

(May 28) Given the party affiliations of the four candidates in next Tuesdays contest in the 40th Assembly District, the interesting competition appears to be that for second place
Three Democrats and a single Republican are vying against one another for the voters’ nod to represent the geographically dispersed 40th, which runs from Rancho Cucamonga, and then spans the narrow and virtually unpopulated swath across the I-15 Freeway into the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, then down into a portion of the city of San Bernardino, and then all or most of Redlands, Highland, Loma Linda and Grand Terrace. Squaring off in the contest are Democrats Art Bustamante, Kathleen Marie Henry, Melissa O’Donnell and Republican Marc Steinorth.
At this point it is a foregone conclusion that Steinorth will garner the most votes in next week’s primary. There is only nine-tenths of a percent difference in the number of registered Democrats versus Republicans in the district. It is a fair assumption that Steinorth will pull in most of the Republican votes and at least a portion of the votes of those who have declined to state a party affiliation. At the same time, most of the Democratic votes are expected to be divided among O’Donnell, Henry and Bustamonte. The winner among those three – i.e., the  second place finisher overall – will then face off against Steinorth in November.
Kathleen Henry, a current San  Bernardino Community College District Board Member, said she is seeking election to the Assembly to spur economic growth in her district and throughout the state by facilitating “the sustainable growth of small businesses” and to improve the quality of childhood education and ensure high school graduates have access to affordable quality instruction at public universities and colleges. Moreover, Henry said, she wants to dispense with divisiveness in politics and governance.
She said her work as an educator and her experience as a college board member gives her a leg up on the competition in seeing how education can be applied to boost the economy.
“Education flows into different things – economic growth, diversity of business, creating jobs,” she said. “Our work is not just about creating jobs. We need a diversity of business. We have to create a diversity of work opportunities for individuals who are getting educated.  We do not now necessarily educate our students into programs that offer them assurance of employment. There are only a certain number of jobs out there and only a certain number of types of jobs. We have jobs that are technology related. We have jobs that are not particularly technology-dependent. We have jobs in the hospitality field. There is land here that is under-utilized. We could interest corporations and employers to locate here if we had the infrastructure in place to support their business operations. Infrastructure could create opportunities for our educated students.  Economic growth is often about infrastructure: roads, public safety, sewer treatment systems. San Bernardino has an aging sewer system.”
There should be investment in infrastructure and she said citizens will support new taxing regimes if they understand that the taxes will result in a long term economic progress.
“If we impose taxes, we are imposing taxes upon the already taxed, but if that tax creates something that allows companies to set up here or flourish and make a profit off that, people will realize the benefits and accept the tax, even if they don’t see too much of a return on it right away. It just takes time,” she said.
Melissa O’Donnell carried the standard for the Democrats in 2012 when she ran against Bill Emmerson in California State Senate District 23, garnering 45 percent of the vote in that Republican-leaning district.
O’Donnell has worked as a teacher, has sold real estate and she now owns an education company, Time To Learn Fast.
O’Donnell characterizes the residents of the 40th District as “hardworking” and she said they deserve representation that will create opportunity and support for their efforts.
“I would concentrate on convincing corporations to take advantage of our trained and skilled workforce,” she said. “I would give those corporations incentives to come to the area and with that I think we can bring a lot of progress to the area.”
O’Donnell said she is acutely conscious of the range of diversity and different opinion within the sprawling 40th District and that she believes she can bridge the differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Art Bustamonte, a seventeen year member of the Chaffey Joint Unified High School District Board of Trustees, is a former police officer who is now working as an investigator for the public defender’s office.
“I want progressive policies to promote the  middle class because the middle class has been neglected,” he said. “I want to be able to bring jobs to the district, help single parents, especially single women who have children, with daycare so they can work, and I want to be able to provide jobs with higher wages.
Saying he sees the main issue in San Bernardino County as rejuvenating its economy, Bustmonte said, “We need to improve our schools. We need to have a more stable political arena. To stabilize our politics, we need to end corruption in government because companies will not come here or relocate here unless we have good schools and the politics are stable. No company is going to want to come into an area where we have unsafe streets and neighborhoods. We need good law enforcement and political stability and an educated workforce. The first thing companies look at is will they have employees who are trained or who they can easily train, and is there police protection and  political stability that allows government to function and be fair. We need to work on those things.”
Bustamonte said a more coordinated effort among the various political and governmental entities and jurisdictions is needed.
“The counties and cities have their own economic development departments to lure business into their respective cities or into the county,” he said. “We are not working together in unison. It is important that we get everyone working together to bring manufacturing jobs to the county. We have good infrastructure to make that possible. We are not working in unison.  We need to bring jobs to the county.”
Bustamonte said the district and San Bernardino County in general have to attract businesses that produce finished products, and an end needs to be brought to the local economy’s dependence on poorer paying jobs in the service industry.
“I believe I can help create a consensus and work with cities to lure more business to this area through tax incentives if those businesses commit to hiring a certain number of employees,” he said. “We’re losing manufacturing companies. More are going out to other states are than are coming in. California has twelve percent of the nation’s population. We should have twelve percent of the manufacturing activity. We need to stop the migration of jobs to other states and overseas.  The state needs to look at the reality that businesses are needed to create jobs. The most important challenge to the state is to stop businesses from leaving. By being a part of the majority party – because I am a Democrat – I should be able to do something about that. My goal as part of the majority is to have a voice in getting things done versus if I were in another party.”
Marc Steinorth, a member of the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, said he believes he can offer representation to the 40th Assembly District on the strength of his experience in both the public and private arenas.
“I have 20 years of private sector business experience,” said Steinorth, who runs an advertising and marketing firm in Rancho Cucamonga, Atlas Buying Group. “In addition to understanding the daily challenge of running a small business, I also have public sector experience on the city council. I have seen the impact of the state government’s action on the business community. I am equally aware of what many in the private sector and in the general public do not realize, which is the degree to which local governments are challenged by having to deal with mandates by the state, every bit as much as small businesses must deal with mandates by the state. I am convinced that the state government does not have enough private sector business representation. It is easy to say you want to go to Sacramento and create jobs. That is the mantra we have heard for the last four or five years from our politicians. What is different about my candidacy is I have actual experience in helping to create and grow businesses.”
Steinorth said that to be effective as an advocate for the private sector within the context of serving in government, one has to be prepared to tirelessly promote the application of common sense to the regulatory function of government. Steinorth addressed the impact of state mandates on local government.
“AB 109, the public safety realignment or prison realignment to reduce prison overcrowding was not intended to be a threat to my family’s safety but that is the end result,” Steinorth said. “The state has simply ignored the prison overcrowding problem for more than 20 years.  This most recent emergency is really nothing more than an example of poor planning by our legislative leaders.”
Steinorth, the best funded of all of the candidates in the race, said he saw the campaign as “one of multiplication and addition, not subtraction.”He said he is enjoying the exchange of ideas among those running for the office. “I don’t feel I am running against any opponent as much as I am running for opportunity. My key care-abouts are helping the businesses in the region navigate the state bureaucracy and directing the district office toward providing constituent services, including both businesses and residents. My second major goal is to restore funding to our local courts. I understand the challenges [San Bernardino County] Presiding Judge {Marsha] Slough is faced with, but our county is much too large to be undergoing a reduction in its judicial forums and our residents need to have access to the justice system.”

SEC Files To Revive Charges Metzler & City Profited By 2008 SCLA Bond Offerings

VICTORVILLE (May 28)—The Securities and Exchange Commission has reasserted accusations that the city of Victorville and its assistant city manager improperly benefited from the sale of   municipal bonds in 2008.
In April 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleged that fraud was committed by the city of Victorville, the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority and Keith Metzler, who fills the dual roles of assistant city manager and executive director of the airport authority, when misrepresentations were allegedly made to the purchasers of bonds, the proceeds from which were intended to assist in the development of Southern California Logistics Airport, specifically with regard to bonds issued in April 2008.
The airport authority was formed by the city of Victorville to facilitate the conversion of the former George Air Force Base, which was shuttered by the Department of Defense in 1992, into a civilian airport. The Southern California Logistics Airport Authority, which has as its board of directors all five members of the Victorville City Council, issued bonds which were sold to investors to generate revenue to be used in converting the base to civilian use.
Fundamental to the SEC complaint is the allegation that the defendants made misrepresentations with regard to the value of four airport hangars that Victorville referenced in its official statement for an April 2008 bond offering. The value of all four hangars was listed at $65 million. The county assessor later valued the hangars at $27.7 million. The SEC alleges that the authority used the inflated estimated values to mislead bond investors.
In August 2013, two separate responses to the SEC complaint were filed, one from attorneys with the law firm of Arent Fox, which represents Victorville and the airport authority and another from the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, representing Metzler.
U.S. District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt heard oral arguments on those motions last October, including assertions by defense attorneys that the SEC had not presented any evidence to show the city or Metzler had benefited from the sale. In November Kronstadt threw out the portion of the lawsuit alleging the city and Metzler improperly benefited from the bond sale. “Given that the SEC has engaged in a three-year investigation into this matter, its decision to present no allegations to support (the claims) is significant and telling,” Kronstadt wrote in his decision. Nevertheless, he granted the SEC an opportunity to amend complaint with proof, at which time the original charges could be reinstated.
On May 21, the SEC did just that, providing the court with an amended complaint containing 20  previously unpresented elements relating to what the SEC maintains was Metzler’s failure to disclose the hangars’ true value to investors on documents related to the bond sales. The complaint was further amended to state that the proceeds from the bond offering benefited the city.
A specific benefit of the bond sales, according to the SEC was that $50 million from the 2008 bond sale was pooled with money from a 2007 bond sale to make a down payment on an electrical plant turbine purchased from General Electric.
The original SEC complaint consists of nine claims for relief and one prayer for disgorgement. The authority is named in the first two claims for relief. Kinsell, Newcomb and DeDios [KND],  the underwriter for the bond offerings, is named in the third, fourth and eighth claims for relief. KND and Jeffrey Kinsell, KND’s owner, are named in the fifth and sixth claims for relief. Victorville, Jeffrey Kinsell, KND investment banker Janees Williams and Metzler are named in the seventh claim for relief.  Jeffrey Kinsell and Williams are named in the ninth claim for relief.
In the prayer for disgorgement, which is a request for restitution of ill-gotten profits from security law violators, all the parties are named. Establishing that the city or its employees benefitted from the bond sale is necessary to force disgorgement of the money.
Arent Fox maintains that even if the hangar valuations were overstated, they were not material misrepresentations by which the financing of the bonds in terms of the city’s and airport authority’s ability to continue to make payments to the bondholders was threatened.
“Unfortunately for the SEC, the conclusions in the complaint are inconsistent with the mathematical analysis that the SEC had to perform to bring the action in the first instance,” Arent Fox’s reply brief filed last year on behalf of the city and the airport authority states. “As a matter of mathematical fact, regardless of whether the alleged misstated hangar value is used ($65 million), or whether the alleged correct hangar value is used ($27.7 million), the debt service ratio remains above 1.25 in either case.”
Terree Bowers of Arent Fox, the former US Attorney for the Central District of California, is representing the city and the SCLA. This week he told the Sentinel, “We still contend that there is no basis for disgorgement.  Their figures are a gross exaggeration. We are determined to vigorously fight the case. We think it is entirely counterproductive to propose disgorgement in a case like this just when cities are starting to recover from the great recession.”
Bowers has until June 5 to answer the amended complaint and in doing so has the option of moving to strike it entirely.

Long Knives Out And Slashing In 31st Congressional District Race

(May 27) The primary race in the 31st Congressional District has devolved into the most intensive exchange of personal attacks of any of the current political contests in San Bernardino County, with four of the seven candidates taking part in the mudfest.
Two years ago, the Republicans used the peculiar rules of California’s open primary, which had once again been reestablished in the Golden State, to capture the Congressional seat in the 31st District despite the Democrats eight percent registration advantage.
Of the district’s registered voters, 127,690 or 41 percent, are affiliated with the Democratic Party.  Registered Republicans in the district number 104,938, or 33.7 percent.
In 2012, two Republicans, Congresman Gary Miller and then-state senator Bob Dutton, ran, as did four Democrats, Pete Aguilar, Justin Kim, Renea Wickman and Rita Ramirez-Dean. Under California’s open primary arrangements, voters can cross party lines and vote for whichever candidate they choose and are no longer restricted to voting only for a candidate who identifies him or herself with that particular voter’s party of registration. The November election is then held between the two top vote-getters, regardless of political affiliation. In the June 2012 Primary, the first election held after the redistricting that followed the 2010 Census, the aforementioned four Democrats – Aguilar, Kim, Ramirez-Dean, and Wickman – sought election, as did incumbent 41st District Republican Congressman Gary Miller and another Republican, Bob Dutton. Despite the seven percent Democratic voter registration advantage in the 31st, simple mathematics hurt the Democrats as their vote was divided four ways, while the Republican vote was split two ways. Dutton and Miller proved to be the two top vote-getters and under California’s open primary arrangement, the Democrats who ran third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the June race were shut out and the November general election came down to a race between Republicans Miller and Dutton. Miller prevailed in that race.
Miller in February announced his decision to retire at the end of his current term, throwing this year’s race wide open. Again four Democrats came forward to run – Aguilar, who was the top vote-getter among Democrats in 2012 as well as former Congresman Joe Baca, Colton-based attorney and Democratic Party activist Eloise Gomez-Reyes and San Bernardino City Unified School District Board Member Danny Tillman. For a time it appeared that the Republicans might repeat the scenario they used in 2012 to capture the seat in the Democratic leaning district when two members of the GOP – Lesli Gooch, who had worked on Miller’s staff, and local anti-drug use crusader Paul Chabot qualified their candidacies. Subsequently, however, another Republican, Ryan Downing of Whittier, got in the race. Though Downing resides outside the 31st District, he is eligible to run there because under the rules of Congress, a member need not live within the district he or she represents and must merely reside within the state where the district is located.
Of the seven candidates in the race, Downing is the least well-funded and some members of the Party of Lincoln remain hopeful that Chabot and Gooch will lose only a minimal number of Republican votes to Downing and will still be able to outpoll all four Democrats to make the November race in the 31st an all Republican affair.
Remarkably, first Chabot and then Gooch, following Chabot’s lead, appeared committed to reducing that possibility.
Using emails early on, Chabot tore into Gooch, criticizing her as a carpetbagger in emails that accused her of being a resident of Alexandria, Virginia and reregistering in the 31st District just a day before she declared her candidacy.
Despite that complaint, the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee endorsed Gooch, which aggravated Chabot.  He and his strategist, John Thomas, sought to undercut Gooch where it would hurt her most, sending letters to her supporters and donors in an attempt to cut her off from the mother’s milk of all politics, funding to run her campaign. Chabot personally called upon Gooch to withdraw from the race and then attacked her on the basis that she is, or at least was, a lobbyist based in the nation’s capital whose first loyalty was to her clients and not the constituents in the 31st District.  Letters were then sent out to Gooch’s political donors, which celebrated that Gooch had as a client a non-profit low income housing foundation created by Jeff Burum, a Rancho Cucamonga-based developer who has been indicted in a case pertaining to alleged payoffs to county officials that resulted in the county making a $102 million settlement payout to end litigation brought against the county by another of Burum’s companies. Burum has not gone to trial on that matter and continues to assert his innocence.
“Voters should be appalled and disappointed to discover that Leslie (sic) Gooch has not only been dishonest about hiding her past as a lobbyist, but she has represented indicted individuals in our region’s biggest political corruption scandal,” Thomas said in the letter.
The Gooch campaign’s initial responses to Chabot’s attacks were relatively mild and low key, with Gooch campaign spokesman saying merely that Chabot had become “unhinged” over the central committee endorsement going to Gooch. Subsequently, however, the Gooch campaign sent out a mailer to high propensity Republican voters in which Chabot was lambasted as a “failed lobbyist” who was “a political bureaucrat for Bill Clinton.” The mailer went on to accuse Chabot of misrepresentations and misuse of governmental grant money utilized by his non-profit foundation “Partnership For A Drug Free California.”
“Paul Chabot pocketed nearly $1million of taxpayer money funneled through non-profits on failed government programs and government salaries. We can’t afford Paul Chabot’s costly decisions,” the mailer states, further tagging Chabot with “A history of reckless decisions costing taxpayers millions.”
On the Democratic side, the two most financially enabled candidates appeared, like their Republican counterparts, to be intent upon carrying the campaign against members of their own party.
In one of the first Democrat-trashing-Democrat mailers in this year’s 31st District race, Gomez Reyes took aim at Aguilar.  “Some career politicians always have their hand out for money and perks,” the front of the mailer states. “Pete Aguilar is one of them,” it states on the flip side. The mailer goes on to accuse Aguilar of “using his position to make personal profit,” of engaging in “pay-to-play schemes to raise campaign cash” and of “taking thousands [of dollars] in taxpayer-funded perks.”
Aguilar, who has been provided with over $1 million in donations coming largely from Democratic donors beyond San Bernardino County, fired his first salvo at Baca, excoriating him for what he claimed was Baca’s lack of  action in working to mitigate pollution while he was previously a member of Congress. “San Bernardino County has the worst smog pollution in the county,” the mailer targeting Baca from Aguilar stated. “So what did Joe Baca do?” the mailer asks, going on to answer, that he “opposed laws” that would have redressed the air and water pollution problem. “Joe Baca voted repeatedly against laws to protect our air and water.”
Baca also found himself as the focus of a mailer put out by Gomez Reyes, though he was lumped together with Aguilar, Gooch and Chabot in that piece of electioneering material. On the front page of the mailer, Chabot, Aguilera, Baca and Gooch are depicted in what appears to be a photoshopped image sitting at a table.  Bearing the header “Four lobbyists?” the mailer states, “They put themselves and their special interest friends first. Not you.”  At the bottom of the page, it reads, “You have a better choice,” accompanied by arrows to prompt the reader to open the mailer and view a photo of Gomez Reyes.
Not to be outdone, Aguilar hit back with an attack ad vectored at Gomez-Reyes, zeroing in on her tax delinquencies. The hit piece bears the Headline “Eloise Gomez Reyes Candidate For Congress Issued Three Tax Liens By The State.”
Charging Gomez Reyes with “a record of unpaid taxes and liens,” the mailer states, “Your tax dollars pay for essential services in San Bernardino County, like highway repair, health care for seniors and support for local schools and colleges. Despite this, Eloise Gomez Reyes has a record of not paying her taxes. In fact, the State of California has issued not just one, but three tax liens against her for failing to pay taxes. Her approach to taxes is not one San Bernardino County can rely on.”
Only Tillman and Downing, who are less well-funded than the others and  are not  considered viable candidates in the race, have escaped being the targets of the negative campaign materials.

Protest Scares Morongo School Board Out Of Giving Superintendent Anticipated Raise

JOSHUA TREE (May 27)—Concerted and vigorous opposition by members of the public and a group of teachers succeeded in convincing the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education to not confer a raise upon district superintendent Dr. Cecelia English last week.
English has been with the district for roughly a year. An agenda item at last week’s board meeting proposed that she and the district’s three assistant superintendents, Doug Weller, Tom Baumgarten and David Price, receive raises in pay.
The board, however, was greeted by speaker after speaker expressing opposition to the raise for English in particular, given her relatively short tenure in the post.
In March members of the Morongo Teachers’ Association express the opinion that English was not bargaining in good faith with them over salary issues.
A point of contention last week was a clause within the four proposed contracts that granted the superintendent and assistant superintendents raises that match in terms of percentage those  negotiated by the Morongo Teachers’ Association and the California School Employees Association.
The propriety of conferring upon the district’s administrators the same employment terms given to the district’s personnel when those administrators may be involved in negotiating the terms was called into question.
Moreover, board member Karalee Hargrove expressed the view that English had been provided with a substantial increase in pay over what she had been paid as the director of academics at the Newark School District in Northern California, where she was working before being hired by Morongo Valley Unified.  “We cannot afford to do any more raises at this point,” Hargrove said.
Board member Chris Proudfoot sought to avoid an immediate decision on the raises, saying the district needed to make “comparisons” with what other similarly sized districts are paying their personnel. The rest of the board, however, pressed forward, giving Weller, Baumgarten and Price 5.77 percent raises, raising Weller and Baumgarten to $132,109 per year and Price to $129,555 per year. Those were approved on a unanimous vote.
Only board member Donna Munoz supported giving English a raise, and the motion to approve English’s pay increase died on a 1-4 vote.

What The Rocks Memorialize: Bighorn Rock Art in the Mojave Desert

By Ruth Musser-Lopez
May 30, 2014.  Memories of loved ones who put their lives on the line or actually lost their lives in the cause of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness was my way of spending my Memorial Day…all while I was at work—pursuing my own happiness–doing the work I love: that is, recording Native American rock art.
I was working not exactly in San Bernardino County but near the “Point” where California (San Bernardino County), Nevada, and Arizona come together, particularly that area surrounding Needles, California; Bullhead City, Arizona; and Las Vegas/Laughlin, Nevada.  While everyone else was watching fire works explode from casinos, I spent my day in the hills with archaeologists of the Basin and Range Heritage Consultants on a mission to document ancient ruins that had been torn apart by pothunters.
So what we found on Memorial Day was nothing short of remarkable to me, better than fireworks–a previously unrecorded, intact, undisturbed rock art site.  And what was the art? What did we see?  A depiction of a flock of bighorn sheep pecked into a flat, vertical rhyolite cliff face, a art panel raised high above eye level, large enough for all to see—as if it were a celebration of the past, like fireworks.  And these were not just ordinary bighorn sheep images, but the type of stylistic line drawing incorporating a very distinguishable ovoid belly that represents an iconic motif indicative of very old northern Mojave Desert rock art.
So stylistic was this panel of big horn sheep art that I was tasked with the job of rechecking with the American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA) for updates on their categories of big horn sheep styles, how old each style is and if they could be linked to any particular culture. Kind of like a design on a dinner plate, archaeologists have found that big horn sheep image patterns on rock changed through time and depending upon the style pattern or a repeated iconic image perhaps are symbolic for and can be linked to a particular cultural group.
By the way, coincidentally, the ARARA will be meeting in Laughlin for their annual meeting on Memorial Day weekend next year, 2015 at which time they tentatively plan to visit San Bernardino County rock art sites.
Since I am a member of ARARA, I have been following some of the attempts to classify rock art styles by age and cultural affiliation.  There are actually several types of iconic stylistic big horn sheep motifs that can be found repeatedly in the Mojave Desert.
Just west of San Bernardino County, in Ridgecrest, Alexander K. “Sandy” Rogers of the Maturango Museum synthesized and integrated findings from various sites associated with Mojave Desert rock art to estimate the initial production ages of three bighorn sheep rock art style motifs.  The sheep rock art that he studied was found in the Coso Mountain Range, also bordering near San Bernardino County on the northwest.  He used obsidian hydration dates, xray florescence and cation ratio data to determine the ages.  He presented this taxonomic chronology to the ARARA in 2009.
Cation ratio dating is a technique for dating the natural patina or varnish that develops over petroglyphs after they are made.  One of the reasons why scientists ask people not to touch the rock art is because of the oily deposits on fingers that could leave deposits, causing  deterioration of the art and preventing the researcher from extracting reliable data from it.
The three different Mojave Desert bighorn sheep motifs that Rogers studied can be seen in his “Table 2” above “Taxonomy for bighorn sheep images.”  Strong evidence exists that these motifs are associated with ancient ancestral Puebloan, Fremont and related early Uto-Aztecan speaking people.  Note that the Type I style shown in the figure is the type that was found at our “Memorial Day” site.  The sheep is viewed in profile, a side view, and has excessively long horns in side view as well, as opposed to a front view as in the Type III sheep.  The body is oval shaped as opposed to rectangular as in the Type II sheep or the boat-shape, commonly called “jelly belly” of the Type III sheep.
Based mainly on archaeologist Amy Gilreath’s 1999 obsidian hydration data, Rogers found that the characteristics of our Type I sheep figures first appeared at the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago.
Obsidian obeys the property of mineral hydration, and absorbs water, when exposed to air, at a well-defined rate. When an unworked nodule of obsidian is initially fractured, there is typically less than 1% water present. Over time, water slowly diffuses into the artifact forming a narrow “band,” “rim,” or “rind” that can be seen and measured.
Analyzing artifacts associated with rock art, like prehistoric tools made of obsidian, is something that archaeologists do to determine the age of rock art and the culture associated with it.
Many rock art enthusiasts attempt to interpret rock art as if the images represent a language or  an attempt to communicate a message.  They treat rock art as if it is something that can be read like a book, like picture writing, similar to icons on the tee pees or blankets of plains Indians.
For example, LaVan Martineau wrote in his 1973 book “The Rocks Begin to Speak” that bighorn sheep images are a metaphor for travel, where the length of the legs indicates the length of the trip and the shape of the belly indicates the roughness of the terrain ahead.  This is an example of torturing meaning from images where there is no objective basis. He said, “Bighorn sheep petroglyphs with a deeply rounded belly show the contour of the country to consist of deep valleys, in other words rough country with plenty of mountains and valleys to cross.”
One can see how confusing that interpretation can be when you have a whole flock of petroglyphs clumped together as in our Memorial Day site.  How twisted would it be to have just crossed a rough mountain range only to find on the opposite side a petroglyph sign depicting a long legged bighorn sheep with an extended belly?  “So now you tell me ‘rough road’.” Now, that’s an understatement!
It is important that archaeologists have found that rock art styles changes through time and that they can perhaps use these style changes to make interpretations about how old an associated archaeological site nearby is and perhaps what culture lived there.
Boundary markers, maps, trails markers, water rights, territorial boundaries, place markers, clan or individual’s names, birthing places, puberty and fertility ritual and rites, rites for renewal of earth, commemoration of events, ceremonial or religious symbolism, counting, hunting magic, time keeping, marking solstice and other astronomical events and many more explanations are all potential reasons for rock art.
Undoubtedly, there is meaning associated with rock art motifs.  There are also many interpretations.   Often people assign their own meaning depending upon their own culture projecting their own experience into their interpretation. Ultimately though, most often individual interpretations can’t be proven. Nevertheless making interpretations is great fun and a memorial cultural experience in itself as people share their creativity and intuitiveness.

Syndicated 2014, Ruth Musser-Lopez— Permission to reprint this article may be obtained by contacting Ruth at the Archaeological Heritage Association (AHA) 760/885-9374 or via email at Ruth@RiverAHA.org.