By clicking on the portal below, you can access a PDF of the August 29 San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By clicking on the portal below, you can access a PDF of the August 29 San Bernardino County Sentinel.
(August 28) SAN BERNARDINO—Appeals of Judge Michael A Smith’s recent rulings in the Colonies Lawsuit Settlement Public Corruption Prosecution that would delay the matter from going before a jury for as long as another 16 months appear likely to be forthcoming, based on updated online court minute orders.
Smith held seven days of hearings between July 23 and August 6 on motions filed by the defense to dismiss the counts in the indictment upon which the prosecution is based. Those motions cited several grounds, including the statute of limitations, misinstruction of the grand jury that indicted the defendants, lack of probable cause, prosecutorial misconduct in having raided the defense camp and seizing privileged materials crucial to the defense, along with prosecutorial and investigator misconduct in having made misrepresentations to obtain search warrants and hiding information about a witness and exculpatory evidence from the grand jury.
In the indictment, Rancho Cucamonga-based developer Jeff Burum is charged with having threatened and coerced former supervisors Bill Postmus and Paul Biane to settle a lawsuit brought against the county and its flood control district over drainage issues at the Colonies at San Antonio residential and Colonies Crossroads commercial subdivisions in northeast Upland and then rewarding them with $100,000 donations to political action committees they controlled after they voted, with supervisor Gary Ovitt to confer a $102 million settlement on the Colonies Partners in November 2006.
The Colonies Partners was a consortium of 21 investors, headed by co-managing principals Burum and Dan Richards. In May 2011, Burum, Biane, former sheriff’s deputies’ union president Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, who had been Ovitt’s chief of staff, were named in a 29-count indictment alleging conspiracy, fraud, conflict of interest, misappropriation of public funds, bribery, perjury and tax evasion. In the indictment Erwin, who had worked as a consultant to the Colonies Partners, was charged with assisting Burum in facilitating Postmus and Biane’s reception of bribes. Kirk was charged with using his influence with Ovitt to convince him to support the $102 million settlement that was approved by the board on a 3-2 vote.
The May 2011 indictment superseded a February 2010 indictment in which Postmus and Erwin had been named. Postmus and Erwin had pleaded not guilty to the charges in the original indictment, but in March 2011, Postmus entered guilty pleas to 14 felony charges against him in the first indictment and turned state’s evidence, testifying as the star witness before the second grand jury impaneled in April 2011 that indicted Burum, Biane, Erwin and Kirk.
In July and August, Smith threw out the conspiracy charge against all four defendants that was central to the indictment. Smith also dismissed perjury and tax fraud charges against Erwin, Biane and Kirk and he further dismissed conflict-of-interest charges against Burum and Erwin, reasoning that Burum was never a public official and Erwin was not a public official at the time of the alleged crimes. Smith nevertheless sustained 18 of the 29 counts in the original indictment, including bribery charges as well as charges of misappropriation of public funds against all four defendants, which he had previously given indication, following defense arguments, he was leaning toward dropping.
Smith gave the prosecution leave to amend the indictment with regard to 12 of the charges contained in the superseding May 2011indictment to clarify that the statute of limitations would not exclude those charges. The prosecution indeed filed an amended indictment on August 8. Notably, however, the prosecution did not excise the conspiracy counts from the amended indictment, which was widely interpreted by legal experts as a signal that the prosecution, consisting of lawyers from both the California Attorney General’s Office and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, intends to appeal Smith’s ruling with regard to the dismissal of the conspiracy counts. To date, however, the prosecution has not filed that appeal.
The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the amended indictment on August 25. On that date, however, Smith delayed the arraignment of the defendants. That delay came about at least in part because the attorneys representing Biane and Kirk, David Goldstein and Paul Grech, respectively, are purposed to file motions requesting that their clients be tried separately from Burum and Erwin.
The revelation of the pending motions for separate trials triggered a rash of speculation, ranging from assertions that the move was a meticulously coordinated action involving all of the defense attorneys to complicate the prosecution of the case to a signal that Biane was contemplating entering a negotiated plea. Legal analysts say that separate trials would conceivably benefit all of the defendants, preventing the prosecution from cross-tainting the defendants with testimony and the presentation of evidence about their codefendants, and allowing the defense for Burum and Erwin to vector the jury’s attention to information considered to be exculpatory to their clients exclusively. Conversely, some legal analysts have suggested the separation of the cases could redound to the benefit of the prosecution by allowing them to put on a less convoluted and more concentrated showing of facts that would be less likely to confuse jurors or leave them lost in a sea of minutiae.
Smith gave defense attorneys a September 12 deadline by which to file their motions, and is allowing prosecutors to respond to those motions as late as September 25. He said he will hear oral arguments on those motions on October 1.
The more telling issue in the case, however, is whether the defense or prosecution or both will appeal Smith’s July and August rulings.
Of moment with Supervising Deputy California Attorney General Melissa Mandel and deputy district attorney Michael Abney is the consideration that Smith’s ruling dismissing the conspiracy charges severely complicates their efforts in that those dismissals erase a multitude of overt acts from the indictment upon which much of the case is based. Simultaneously, there could exist what are referred to in legal parlance as “writable” issues with regard to Smith’s sustaining of some of the other charges.
It appears that a delicate stand-off between the prosecution and defense may have ensued. Mandel and Abney would prefer that the defense not appeal any of Smith’s rulings favorable to the prosecution, particularly with regard to the misappropriation of public funds, the most important charge remaining in the case. Of relevance here is that the very same appellate court previously ruled on Judge Brian McCarville’s findings on the defense’s demurer motions related to the case, finding on balance in the defense’s favor.
At the same time, prosecutors are acutely aware that Smith’s ruling throwing out the conspiracy charges removes from the indictment language related to all 43 alleged overt acts, upon which the strongest portion of their case hinges. By leaving the conspiracy charges intact in the amended indictment, prosecutors have not surrendered the option of making their own appeal.
It thus appears that the prosecution may be tacitly offering up the defense a deal, by which it will not pursue an appeal in return for the defense not appealing any of Smith’s rulings, and having the matter proceed toward trial.
The fact that no appeals as of yet have been filed is, in and of itself, telling.
On August 25, Smith affirmed his dismissal of the conspiracy charges against all four defendants on statute limitations grounds. This portends in the defense’s favor, giving grounds for confidence that Smith’s finding that a three-year statute of limitations applies to the conspiracy charges alleged in the indictment and that his dismissal of the conspiracy charges will withstand a prosecution appeal on those grounds. Nevertheless, the defense may have grounds and the support of case law to support carrying a writ to the Fourth Court of Appeals in Riverside on any errors of law.
If the defense camp pushes through with a challenge to Smith’s rulings, the prosecution will almost certainly file its own appeal.
Based upon the time the Fourth District Court of Appeals spent analyzing the prior appeals related to McCarville’s demurrer rulings in 2011 and 2012, a ruling on further appeals would likely take 12 to 14 months.
Smith set a September 4 status conference for attorneys to spell out their intentions with regard to making an appeal, which must be filed by September 15.
(August 27) Former Chino Hills Councilwoman Rossana Mitchell is seeking to return to the position she once held, vying against three incumbents and two others in the upcoming November council race. Peter Rogers, Ed Graham and Ray Marquez are seeking reelection and must face three challengers, Lou Alfonso, Debra Hernandez and Mitchell.
Mitchell told the Sentinel that she is running “because I think I can contribute to the decision-making process for our city. I have experience and I have an understanding of the issues. I’d like to have the opportunity to serve again.”
Mitchell, a practicing attorney based in Chino Hills, has remained abreast of the challenges facing the city and has strong feelings about them she is not afraid to express. Her tenure on the council a decade ago came about when she was elected, in 2003, in a special election to replace James Thalman after his death. The following year, she lost to Kurt Hagman. Mitchell has also served four years on the Chino Valley Unified School Board.
“One of the main concerns I have is that it seems that the city in the past six months has rezoned several developments from single family to multiple family units, which is completely contrary to the general plan,” Mitchell said. “When Chino Hills incorporated, we adopted zoning for residential in certain areas, higher density residential in other areas and commercial in others. It seems to me the city council is now going around the general plan by using state housing mandates as a loophole to make these changes.”
Mitchell’s reference is to state requirements that dictate a minimum amount of “affordable” housing must be included among each municipality’s housing stock. But the city has used sleight of hand in applying the state rules in a ruse to allow selected developers to build at a density that is not provided for in the city code, she said. “They are not providing affordable housing to anyone,” she said. “By using the exception for state’s housing mandates, they don’t have to go to the public to change the general plan. They are giving certain developers the ability to build something they should not be entitled to. They are changing our low and medium density to multiple family and higher density. I want to see that stopped. They are not complying with the general plan or the wishes of the public in making these zoning changes. The increased density creates more traffic congestion and takes away from the rural way of life we all came to Chino Hills for.”
Mitchell continued, “We have also seen an increase in fees. The city council hired a consultant to address the issue of city fees. From there, they increased permit costs 30 to 40 percent. That is essentially a tax. If they need more in taxes they should generate more in sales tax, and not increase fees. If you buy a new water heater, it costs you $200 in fees to install it. Some people cannot afford that.”
A roiling local issue over the last two years has been the proliferation of maternity hotels, also known as Chinese birthing homes, in Chino Hills. In 2012 it was learned that Chino Hills was host to several such operations, at which wealthy pregnant women from China would stay during the final stages of their pregnancies and would then give birth at local hospitals so that, under the 14th Amendment, their children could claim U.S. citizenship.
In all of the cases, the homes were not licensed and alterations in their configurations had been made, including the addition of ten toilets at one such house, which overloaded the abode’s septic system. In one case, there was evidence to indicate as many as 30 women were being housed there at one time.
Mitchell was at the forefront of a group calling for action that resulted in the city’s code enforcement division citing the owner of one of the homes with numerous city code violations. Follow-up action involving the city attorney led to that specific home’s closure and some order of commitment that the home would not be put to that purpose again.
“I would like to comprehensively address the issue of maternity hotels,” Mitchell said. “We have identified nine alleged maternity hotels. You have women housed in those homes turned in and out of there in 30 days. I have personally made a complaint on three homes several months ago. Nothing seems to be being done. We have to keep this maternity hotel issue from getting out of control.”
Mitchell also said the city should rethink the tentative location it has settled upon for its dog park since its completion there is likely to be delayed for an unacceptable amount of time.
Mitchell said her commitment to the community recommends her as a candidate.
“I believe what distinguishes me from other candidates is I get behind what I believe,” she said. “I am someone who gets involved and makes things move forward. Anything I set my mind to I make happen. Actions speak louder than words. Most people talk the talk. I am a person who walks the talk. If I am elected people will see real positive change. I will make Chino Hills better, actually greater than it is now.”
(August 19) In what is one of the more closely watched San Bernardino County races in the upcoming November election, state senator Curt Hagman is expressing confidence in his chances against Congresswoman Gloria Negret-McLeod as they vie to descend from their lofty state and federal elected positions to assume the post of Fourth District San Bernardino County Supervisor.
More often, it is county office holders who seek to ascend to Sacramento or Washington, D.C., rather than the other way around.
Hagman, a Republican and former Chino Hills mayor, is nearing the end of his third term in the Assembly. California’s term limits prevent him from returning to the state’s lower house. Negrete-McLeod is nearing the end of her first term in Congress, having previously served as the president of the Chaffey College Board of Trustees, in the Assembly and the California Senate. She vaulted into the Congressional seat she now holds in 2012, defeating incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Baca with the assistance of more than $3 million provided to her by former Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee.
Many political observers find Negrete-McLeod’s readiness to voluntarily give up her role in Congress remarkable, given that the strength of her incumbency and the favorable Democratic registration numbers in California’s 35th Congressional District make her virtually unassailable there.
Rather, Negrete-McLeod has said she longs to return to local politics, where she says she believes she can have a greater impact on the constituents she represents.
The match-up is an interesting one. 64,446 or 40.9% of the Fourth District’s 157,503 voters are registered as Democrats. 50,519 or 32.1% of the Fourth District’s voters are registered as Republicans. This would appear to give Negrete-McLoed an advantage. Nevertheless, for the past sixteen years, the Fourth District position has been held by Republicans – Fred Aguiar, his wife Patty, who succeeded him when he departed to Sacramento serve in the administration of then-Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar and since 2004, Gary Ovitt. Republicans in California in general and San Berardino County in particular evince greater voter turnout than do Democrats on a percentage-wise basis in terms of their registration numbers. And in this year’s June primary in which Negret-McLeod and Hagman captured the top two spots to qualify for the November run-off against each other, Negrete-McLeod eked out a razor-thin victory over Hagman. With 24,276 votes cast district-wide, Negrete-McLeod claimed 10,180 or 41.93 percent. Hagman trailed her by 198 votes, polling 9,982, or 41.12 percent. But the other Democrat in the race, Paul Vincent Avila, pulled down just 1,801 votes or 7.42 percent. The other Republican, James Na, received 2,313 votes, or 9.53 percent. Thus, the Republicans in the race edged out the Democrats 50.65 percent to 49.35 percent.
Negrete-McLeod possesses considerable financial resources in her electioneering war chest, but there are federal and state regulations that make transferring money from an account to fund a federal election campaign to an account for a local political campaign difficult. Hagman has the advantage of being the current chairman of the San Bernardino County Central Committee, which gives him influence if not outright control over how Republican Party money will be spend in local races.
Two months after the primary, Hagman sounded confident.
“The registration numbers do favor the Democrats, yes,” Hagman told the Sentinel.”But this is supposed to be a non-partisan race. We may pull more Democratic votes than people think. There should be a few surprise endorsements for me in the next week or two. We have bipartisan support. I feel we have a strong message that is not aimed just at Republicans but will appeal to all. All the handicapping I have seen says this is going to be extremely close. We did very well in the primary. We started out ten percentage points below Gloria. She outspent us four to one. But we beat her on the issues. I expect her to spend over $1 million [dollars] but we should win in November.”
Hagman continued, “I believe that on public safety she has a horrible track record that is not going to help her. She voted for AB 109.”
Assembly Bill 109 was legislation passed in 2011 that was authored after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to redress its overcrowded prison problem, citing constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. That court order required that the state cut its then-current inmate population in its 33 prisons to 137.5% of capacity by May 2013. To achieve that end, Assembly Bill 109 mandated that 30,000 state prison inmates convicted of non-violent crimes be transferred to county jails over a three-year period.
Hagman further maintained, “She voted to raise taxes. That hurt the local economy. I am supporting local business and the Ontario Airport being returned to local control.”
Hagman, 48, referenced his age differential with the 73-year-old Negrete-McLeod. “I bring an energy to the campaign and to the board of supervisors she cannot provide.”
Hagman elaborated, “The Fourth District in San Bernardino County represents a different approach. This is a place where people work hard to make their own way and grow the economy. What I have to say represents the core message of the Republican Party, which is consistent with the way people approach life here in the Fourth District, Republican or Democrat. Her message for the county is to grow government instead of the economy and she is absolutely pro union. I hope to be able to debate her before this campaign is over so people can see the differences between us. She is working for bigger government. I believe that if we make the private sector stronger, that shores up the public sector. We have to think outside of the box. We need to invite investment from outside the county. She has been against small business and big business and has been pro union all her life. I want people to compare our voting records.”
Negrete-McLeod said she would encourage the district’s voters to consider the votes she has cast throughout her career, in both houses of the state legislature and in Congress and compare them with Hagman’s performance in the Assembly.
“If you examine them closely, and compare and contrast, you will see who is the real people’s candidate,” she said.
She dismissed Hagman’s criticisms of her prison realignment votes as overblown political rhetoric. “He was in the assembly during that time,” Negrete-McLeod said. “Did he not realize that our state and our governor had to let those prisoners go? Did he not realize we were under an order from the court and that a three-judge panel said we had to release those prisoners to relieve overcrowding? What does he not understand about that? Hasn’t he read in the newspapers and seen the statistics that crime has gone down or is that something I have to call him to tell him? Those were hard choices but in the legislature you have to make hard votes. Sometimes those votes are not popular but they are part of the job.”
(August 26) Passenger numbers at Ontario International Airport (ONT) rose 2.7 percent from January 2014 through July 2014, compared to the same period last year. ONT airlines served 2,366,198 passengers compared to 2,303,947 travelers during the same period in 2013.
International traffic continues its upward climb compared to last year. This year’s activity from January through July reflects a 68.7 percent increase over the same period in 2013. ONT is currently served by two Mexico-based carriers, Volaris, and AeroMexico. Both provide nonstop service between ONT and Guadalajara, Mexico. Volaris plans to add a third flight on September 1st.
“ONT’s numbers continue to be encouraging, and as we’ve said before we’ll keep a close watch on passenger volume for the remaining five months of the year. The improving economy appears to be encouraging an increase in air travel,” said ONT airport manager, Jess Romo. “July 2014 reflected an increase of over 7.5 percent compared to July 2013. Carriers continue to monitor performance of their routes and no doubt work to maximize profitability at ONT.”
ONT is located approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California. It is a medium-hub, full-service airport with direct commercial jet service to 14 major U.S. cities and connecting service to many domestic and international destinations. There are approximately 60 daily flights offered by 8 air carriers. For more information about ONT, visit www.flyOntario.com. You can like the airport on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ONTAirport, and follow it on Twitter at www.twitter.com/flyONTAirport.
(August 25) Former Ontario Councilman Rudy Favilla is campaigning hard to regain a position on the Ontario City Council, this time as mayor.
Favilla has been out of the political fray for 18 years. From 1992 until 1996 he served on the council. He cited his experience during that term, when he said the city had made major strides in its development, as well as his life and career experience in asserting he is qualified to replace current mayor Paul Leon. Leon is also being challenged by councilman Paul Vincent Avila.
Favilla made no bones about his political affiliation – he is a Democrat – and he asserted that was one reason to usher Leon – a Republican – out the door.
The mayor of Los Angeles is a Democrat. The city council in Los Angles is primarily composed of Democrats. Los Angeles is a Democratic city. So is Ontario, but four of the members of the city council are Republicans. We are trying to get local control over Ontario Airport, which is now owned and run by Los Angeles. I am all for expanding our airport and improving our downtown. Ontario has over a hundred empty offices or businesses in our downtown. In the eighteen years I have been gone the mayor and council have not been able to come up with any solutions. Not one member of the council has business experience, or has owned or run a successful business. I own a business that is thriving. I am a Democrat who can meet with and dialogue with the mayor of Los Angeles. I have experience as a peace officer and as a business owner. I bring that to the table. I am aligning myself with two very intelligent ladies who are running for city council – Yolanda Garcia and Reyna Machado. We need a new team and a new way of thinking that will be supportive of small businesses that will redress our unemployment situation, which in Ontario is higher than it is in most of the rest of the state.”
Favilla was employed for 28 years as a state peace officer with the California Youth Authority. After his retirement, he teamed with his father in law to initiate a business producing mezcal from the agave plants grown at his family’s 150-acre ranch in Oaxaca, Mexico. An aspect of his business is imports into the United States. “We produce a product utilizing the same artisanship that has been in place for 500 years,” Favilla said. “We upgraded the factory and it is quite successful.”
His first priority upon being elected mayor, Favilla said, will be to “work with the mayor of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports [the division of the city of Los Angeles Department of Airports that manages Los Angeles International Airport and Ontario Airport] to reestablish local control of Ontario Airport. That would open the door to economic development not only for Ontario but the Inland Empire. My second priority would be to announce that the city of Ontario is open for business and we are going to streamline and reduce the red tape and requirements to open businesses in Ontario. I will make it so that those businesses which want to do business in Ontario can submit a one-page concept paper and the city can select from them the type of downtown it wants to build. We will partner with them to make their businesses successful so they can hire people and improve the local economy. I would have an open arms approach and would reach out to small businesses and not just sit back but work with them to bring unemployment down and prosperity up. I have personally looked at a lot of different downtowns – Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver. There are a variety of approaches that communities take to save what they have and to develop or redevelop those areas. The efforts that Ontario has made have not worked. I will work toward bringing Ontario’s downtown into the 21st century.”
Favilla said elements of his personal life give him sensitivity to issues the other candidates do not possess. “I have two daughters, aged 42 and 40. The youngest has developmental disabilities, so I have worked with her community to ensure mainstream housing and educational opportunities for the handicapped.”
Favilla said he is the most qualified of the three candidates running for mayor.
“I have five simple reasons,” he said when asked why Ontario voters should select him as their to political leader. “I am a retired peace officer with 28 years’ experience. To become a peace officer I had to have an AA degree. I understand community policing concepts and can improve police community relations. Neither Mr. Leon nor Mr. Avila have a business background or have any idea what it takes to do business in Ontario. I have been married to the same woman for 45 years. She has been my constant partner and understands and supports me in running our business, raising a family and holding office. I have had four years experience in attracting business on city council. I was the swing vote to make the Ontario Convention Center happen. While I was on the city council, we added 13 square miles of dairy land to Ontario, which is now 50 square mile large. Mr. Leon has not created any new projects for Ontario, nor has Mr. Avila. Everything that Mr. Leon takes credit for was here when he got on the council and they were projects that were approved or put in place while I was in office – the Ontario Mills, the conventions center, the expansion of Ontario Airport. I have the ability to speak Spanish. Neither the mayor nor Mr. Avila can speak Spanish. I am uniquely qualified to bring Ontario into an era of prosperity.”
(August 26) Luis Vaquera said he does not consider his candidacy for Fontana mayor to be a challenge of the incumbent, Acquanetta Warren.
“The mayor is doing a great job,” Vaquera said. “But there is always room for improvement. I want to go through the political process and earn the opportunity to do more than I am already doing.”
A native of Durango, Mexico, Vaquera has lived in Fontana for 17 years, and has served as PTA president, on the Measure C Oversight Committee and on the Parks and Recreation commission.
“I have lived here 17 years,” he said. “Hopefully, I am going to be here for the rest of my life. My children may continue to live here. I love Fontana. I want to make sure it continues to go the same way. I have said I know I am running for political office but I do not consider myself to be a politician. I consider myself foremost to be a citizen of Fontana. I am not guided by special party interests or doing what a company or corporation or a political party wants. I look at the job as service for the community. You see politicians at the national level or the local level looking after the interests of the party or their supporters. That is not why I am running.”
He referenced his commission appointment and efforts with regard to Measure C and his chairmanship of the PTA. “I didn’t just move here and decide to run even though I don’t know anything about the city. I am a simple man, who is proud of Fontana. If I did not live here or if my kids were not here, maybe I would not care about it, but now my foremost interest is to benefit the city.”
Vaquera said the major issue/challenge facing Fontana at present is “We are divided either by partisanship or racism. A lot of people are divided by race. It is often Latinos vs. Americans in any position you run for, school board or city council or whatever. If you are elected it has to be a whole array of people, not just your group, you have to represent. But with the way it is there are a lot of people who are not represented. I want to change that.”
He took aim at another candidate in the race, former Congressman Joe Baca, who is challenging Warren. “He just moved here, having moved on from his position in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t want anyone here like that guiding our city.”
Married with three children, Vaquera manages the truck maintenance division for a transportation company.
By Mark Gutglueck
One of the more quarrelsome figures in San Bernardino County history was Captain David Seely, a founder of the county who was also its first treasurer and later a member of and chairman of the board of supervisors..
David Seely was born October 12, 1819 in Whitby Township, Ontario, Canada, one mile from Fort Whitby.
Up to the age of 18, he was raised on a farm, occasionally traveling with his father, who owned three sailing vessels.
In 1837, at the start of the Canadian Patriot War, in which thousands of Canadians sought to gain independence from Great Britain, the Canadian authorities demolished one of the ships he and his father owned to prevent hostile action. Both father and son were suspected of being sympathizers to the rebel cause.
As a consequence, David fled Canada. He next surfaced near Burlington in the territory of Iowa. Shortly thereafter he relocated to Nashville in the Iowa territory, a place that has since been renamed. This was south of Burlington on the Mississippi River. Seely constructed two 100-ton barges to be used in transferring freight from river steamers over the Des Moines Rapids. He worked as a pilot for three years.
In February 1846, Seely married Mary Pettit of Hempstead, Long Island.
In July 1846 he set off for California and wintered at Council Bluffs at a place now called Seely’s Grove. He attached himself to a large party of Mormons, arriving in Salt Lake City in September. He stayed in Salt Lake City for 14 months, departing in November 1849, travelling with Pomercy’s train via the southern route to the gold fields of California. He was thus one of the last arriving true 49ers who migrated to the Golden State before it was a state in an effort to enrich himself by mining for treasure. On the way the party picked up nine survivors, disoriented travelers found bare footed and near starvation in Death Valley.
Seely reached San Bernardino in February 1850, remaining there for two months. He moved on to Los Angeles, where he sold what possessions he had and booked passage on a brig found for San Francisco. Once in the Bay Area, he headed out to Coloma, arriving there on April 6. He hooked up with his brother and brother-in-law in a gold mining operation in which they were, historians tell us “reasonably successful.”
On August 14, 1850 he returned to Salt Lake City by way of Humbolt. He wintered in Salt Lake City and then embarked for Southern California again, this time as the captain of a train of fifty wagons.
Another fifty wagons were under the supervision of Charles Rich, Amasa Lyman and Andrew Lytle, who were all destined to be leading figures in the soon-to-be-founded San Bernardino community. The travelers were being guided by Captain Jefferson Hunt.
On the way across the desert, the wagon trains had to be divided into smaller groups on account of the scarcity of water and forage. Seely’s Party arrived at Sycamore Grove, now known as Glen Helen Ranch, at the base of the Cajon Pass on June 11, 1851. The other parties arrived a few days later and all remained on the banks of the creek that was subsequently named after Captain Lytle. After Lyman and Rich arranged to purchase the San Bernardino Rancho from the Lugo Family, the newly arrived Mormon pioneers departed from Sycamore Grove into San Bernardino Valley in September 1851. They began cultivating farms at once, raising wheat to obtain money to make good on their debt from the Rancho San Bernardino purchase.
Out of necessity, they constructed a fort to protect themselves from the native Paiutes, some of whom were inhospitable and others of whom were outright hostile. This group of settlers displayed a remarkable degree of industriousness, beginning construction of homes and buildings to house tradesmen and other professionals. To obtain lumber for construction, they cut a wagon trail to the top of the mountain, following West Twin Creek, down which could be hauled the lumber for the fort and the homes and other structures of early San Bernardino. Pine trees were dragged behind the wagons to serve as brakes down the steep descent and prevent the heavily loaded wagons from overtaking the oxen pulling them.
Together with his older brother Wellington, David Seely built a sawmill, with a waterwheel as the means of power, and furnished lumber to the new settlement. The place became known as “Seely Flat” and the stream “Seely Creek.”
The California Legislature on April 26, 1853 passed the act creating the county of San Bernardino from a portion of Los Angeles County. In the same act, David Seely, John Brown, Isaac Williams and H.G. Sherwood were designated as a board of commissioners to select precincts, appoint inspectors for elections, gather returns and issue certificates of election. The first election was held in compliance with this act and certificates of election were issued to Captain Jefferson Hunt for the legislature, D.N. Thomas for county judge, Ellis Ames for county attorney, Richard R. Hopkins for county clerk, Robert Clift for Sheriff, David Seely for treasurer, William Stout for county assessor, H.G. Sherwood for surveyor and John Brown and Andrew Lytle for justices of the peace. At the next election David Seely was returned to the office of treasurer, demonstrating the confidence accorded to him among his peers.
In June of 1855, Seely was severely censured and relieved as “stake president” for nearly killing a Jewish merchant with a heavy stick in an argument over conflicts with a Jewish-owned lumber mill just upstream from his mill on Seely Creek. In 1857, Seely answered Mormon Leader Brigham Young’s call to return to Salt Lake City to defend the center of Mormon Civilization from President James Buchanan’s threat of war against the Church, its members and its polygamist ways. Seely took his oldest son with him but left his wife and younger children behind in San Bernardino.
Seely made known his intention of returning to San Bernardino at the earliest opportunity, thereby incurring the wrath of Young and other Mormon leaders. He subsequently became embroiled in a dispute over non-payment for some merchandise he had brought from California for sale. He was accused of charging exorbitant prices and ordere to “clear out.” He returned to San Bernardino and resumed operation of his sawmill. He accumulated a considerable degree of wealth by 1860.
In 1869 he was elected to the first of two two-year terms on the board of supervisors, representing the Second District. In 1871, he was chosen as board chairman. He was a prime mover in the effort to build the San Bernardino Courthouse and Pavilion, as well as the construction of the free public road to the mountains.
He was active in the organization of the San Bernardino Society of California Pioneers.
Captain Seely died in San Bernardino on May 24, 1892, surrounded by his family at his home on 6th and C streets, leaving his widow, Mary Seely, and four daughters, Mrs. Abrilla Satterwhite, Mrs. Emma Baker, Mrs. Maria Isabella Corbett and Mrs. Caroline Barton, wife of John H. Barton; and two sons, David Randolph Seely and Walter Edwin Seely.
(August 26) Ruben Valencia is vying against two incumbents and two other challengers in this year’s Ontario City Council election. He is campaigning on a platform that includes greater openness in local government and facilitating business and development opportunities.
“Three is a lack a lack of transparency at City Hall,” Valencia asserted. He continued, “I recently read in the paper that Ontario was ranked as being 141st out of 150 in terms of being a friendly place to do business nationwide. There is a lack of transparency and too much red tape at City Hall. I have a good buddy, who has been a contractor for close to fifty years, named Ken. I asked him if it was true about our city being so difficult. He said, and I can just about quote him that whenever he does a project in Ontario, he says a prayer for God to give him patience to get through the project. That kind of reputation for our city is unacceptable. I will be a hands-on individual who will walk with a contractor through the procedure to see what roadblocks are so we can get rid of them and expedite getting projects approved and under way. This is the type of reputation Ontario has to change.”
Valencia hinted that elected city officials are exploiting their authority for their own benefit and working against the interests of the public at large.
“We have what seems to be a pay to play city council,” he said. “If you look at the incumbents, I am running against, one has received over $150,000 from questionable sources. By that I mean ones who have a direct interest in how he votes. Close to 90 percent of his donations came from developers, the fire department union, the police department union, tens of thousands of dollars over the years. As far as public trust goes, residents and voters see these large sums of money that the unions keep feeding the incumbents to get them elected.”
Valencia called for reform that would include having the campaign reporting documents , known in California as Form 460, immediately available to the public.
“I believe if we start having transparent government where, for instance, our 460 forms are posted online so the public has access to them and does not have to go to City Hall and pay to have them printed out, it would curb a large amount of money that is coming in,” he said. “Politicians would have to answer to the public if they are not able to hide where they are getting their money from. Most of the public does not know how to go about finding 460s and such. I also think we should have term limits. I think term limits would be a step in the right direction. I believe incumbents become comfortable and forget what their original game plan was when they got elected.”
Valencia took a shot at the city’s political establishment.
“In talking to the public right now, a hot topic in Ontario is that we in Ontario currently have the same law firm that the city of Bell had during the political scandal there,” Valencia said. “Our city attorney was a managing partner in the firm that was a central figure in one of the worst abuses of municipal authority in recent years. People are very sensitive to that. How can the people of this city trust its leaders to do what is right when they are getting their legal advice from the same law firm Bell had?”
Valencia said he believes he is qualified to serve on the city council because “ I am not part of the status quo. I am energetic. I can think outside the box. I can work well with different entities as far as connecting the dots between the federal, state and local levels in getting things done. I believe we need to change our image and I believe I can bring about that change in image. We have to reinvent our image. If you look at the surrounding cities, when you go to Upland or to Rancho Cucamonga, you see nice, artful signs telling you you are entering their city. In Ontario, we have a metal sign that is inadequate. Our presentation is not what it should be. We need to put our best foot forward. “Ruben Valencia is a two decade resident of Ontario, having been born in Pico Rivera. He graduated from Whittier High School and attended Rio Hondo College. He is employed as a deputy with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
(August 26) Adrian Felix Gonzalez is running for Fontana City Council, he says, “because I want to beautify the city. I want to bring in more development and I want bring in more business.”
The first order of business once he is elected, Gonzalez said, would be to “find out where the money is going and cut down on other programs that do not have a major impact in Fontana. I want to work with the mayor, the other council members, the city manager and the city engineer to find areas where there is wasteful spending.”
Gonzalez said, “Our number one challenge is redirecting city funds into the areas that haven’t been given the priorities other areas have been given. If you live in Fontana, you know that parts are beautiful and there are parts that are not. We need to connect the two. This has to be applied to everything, the streets, the lights, the sidewalks, the trees. We have to make sure that no parts get left behind in Fontana.
“I want to work on the beautification of Fontana,” Gonalez said. “I want it to look nice. I want everyone to have pride in the city like I do. I am a lifelong resident. I grew up here. I went to elementary school here. I graduated from A.B. Miller High School. “
Gonzalez said, “I want everyone who votes to know that I will be committed to all the parts of Fontana, the new and the old. I want to continue development. I want to ensure quality growth. But I will not forget about the older sections of town. “
Gonzalez said he is distinguished from the other candidates in the race by his youth and the approach to life his youth affords him.
“I have a young perspective,” he said. “A lot of the candidates don’t have that. I look at the city the way a young person does. Essentially, my adulthood has occurred while there has been major change in the city. I want to contiue that growth and encourage the beautification of Fontana. I am 31 years old and I bring a fresh perspective to this.”
The owner of a Fontana-based real estate company, Gonzalez is a licensed real estate broker.