Greene Running As Family Values Candidate In Victorville Council Race

(August 25) Chrisopher Greene said he was motivated to run for the Victorville City Council largely because he believes Victorville does not offer sufficient amenities for faimiles.
“I want to improve the city and make it more family oriented,” Greene told the Sentinel. “I don’t see a whole lot going on in that way. My wife and I are teachers and we have the summer off, so we have travelled around the country. We saw lots of things other cities were doing which are more family oriented. I am running for city council to see if there is something I can do along those lines.”
A father of two, Greene said he was naturally interested in doing things around town with his children, but had not found much to engage them.  “We have the San Bernardino County Fair and the Slice of Life Festival and that’s about it.  We want to do things as a family, but family things just aren’t happening here.“
The solution, he said, is for the city to encourage and facilitate “cultural things, like theater arts. We have Old Victorville down on Seventh Street where we could put that sort of thing in there.”
Greene said he was not personally animated about much else, but that he had been listening to those around him since declaring his intention to run and that he had picked up some level of concern about other issues from others.
One of those did not fall too far from his theme of family values and orientation that was at the heart of his political impetus. “Some people have told me they are not happy with the planned parenthood clinic,” he said. “They are pro-life and from what I heard from them, I did not like it much that we have an abortion place there. I haven’t looked into the whole issue. I don’t know who would resolve the complaints at the moment. Obviously, the planned parenthood establishment is already theres. I’m not looking to take people’s jobs away, but that is one of the complaints I have heard.”
Greene said other issues mentioned and concerns expressed relate to “the water department and what is being done while we are in this drought.” Moreover, he said, he has Heard “complaints about various city departments.
“I attended meetings previously,” he said. “I really didn’t like what I heard and was seeing. About two years ago I decided I would do something. I wanted to run for council then but it didn’t work out at the time. Now running for me is a little more feasible.”
Greene said he sees the city as “unorganized” and that city officials are not doing things as they have promised. “I think one of the things they lack is straightforwardness,” he said. “If you look at politics in general that seems to be the case. One of the things I pride myself on is being upfront and honest. I don’t think anything should be hidden from the people who are trusting you to take care of things. If there’s something someone does not understand, I think those things should be clarified. If something needs to be said, someone should say it. If something needs to be done, someone should do it. I think I am open to receiving questions. I do not mind at all being called on the phone or meeting with people.”
Green attended and graduated from Hesperia High School. He and his wife are teachers at Silver Valley High in Yermo.

DA Clears Sheriff’s Deputy Ismael Diaz In Third Officer-Related Civilian Death

By Mark Gutglueck
(August 28) The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office will not file criminal charges against San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ismael Diaz and his partner, Joseph Perea, following a more than year-long review of the fatal shooting of Merlin Factor, 26, in Yucaipa on June 29, 2013.
Factor’s death was the third in which Diaz had a hand in a 26-month period beginning in May 2011.
Factor was shot nine times while he was inside a car driven to the scene of the shooting by a woman identified only as Erin H.
According to deputy district attorney Simon Umschied, Factor and Erin H. had been in a short-lived dating relationship that had soured after Factor’s amphetamine use had led to radical mood swings in which she alleged he had physically abused her, had stolen from her and perpetrated vandalism to the mobile home coach in which she resided.
On June 29, 2013 according to Umschied, Erin H. purposefully had driven to meet Factor as part of an effort to have Factor arrested. On June 29, according to Umschied, Factor  confronted Erin H. at the mobile home coach she lived in at a trailer park on Second Street and claimed that she owed him money, and then threw  a rock through her coach’s window as he was leaving.
A short time later, Factor called Erin H., denied throwing the rock through her window and asked her for a ride to Calimesa. She agreed to do so, but before heading off to meet him at a location on Third Street,  she instructed her on-again off-again live-in boyfriend, identified only as Ben D., to phone the police and notify them of where she would be with Factor in an effort to have Factor, whom she knew to have outstanding warrants against him, arrested.
“Erin H. had come up with the plan in hopes of getting Factor into custody so he would stop harassing her,” according to Umschied.
Erin H. picked Factor up at Fourth Street and Wildwood Canyon Road. Meanwhile,  Ben D. contacted the sheriff’s office and, after reporting the rock throwing incident, told Diaz, the responding officer about Erin H.’s ongoing effort to attract the attention of law enforcement with Factor in her company as a way to have Factor arrested.  Both Diaz and Perea, driving different patrol cars, were now on the lookout for Factor and Erin H., driving in a green Chevrolet Malibu. The green Malibu was spotted at Der Wienerschnitzel by Diaz, but before he could maneuver his car to effectuate a confrontation there, Erin H. pulled out onto Yucaipa Blvd going in the opposite direction. Diaz radioed Perea and turned around to follow the Malibu, which Erin H. pulled into a church parking lot. Both Diaz and Perea  followed the Malibu into the parking lot, stopping on either side of the car.
When Diaz made contact with Factor, according to Umschied, Factor identified himself as John Harper. Believing Diaz to be the suspect described to him by Ben D., Diaz attempted to arrest and handcuff him. Factor pulled away and fell back into the car, according to Umschied, and when Diaz approached the car,   Factor grabbed Diaz’s shirt.
The district attorney’s office report maintains that Factor tore Diaz’ shirt and Diaz, ordering Factor to stop resisting, pushed Factor back into the car.
In his statement to investigators, Diaz claimed Factor grabbed him around the waist and put his hand on Diaz’s holster. Simultaneously, according to the district attorney’s office report, Perea  yelled “gun, gun, gun” and attempted to deployed his taser. It is not clear whether Perea was referring to his belief that Factor had possession of Diaz’s gun, or whether he was signaling to Diaz to stand clear to avoid being jolted by the electric shock to be inflicted on Factor. The taser, however, did not seem to be effective. When Factor appeared to be reaching deep into his pants, Perea deployed the taser again, to no apparent effect.  Diaz ordered Factor to show his hands several times.
“Diaz believed that Factor was attempting to reach something, perhaps a gun, that was deep inside his pants,” according to Umschied .“Diaz kept ordering Factor to show him his hands or he was going to have to  shoot him.”
According to Umschied, “Diaz was concerned that he would have no route of escape if Factor produced a gun and started firing. Because of the position of the confrontation in the car and the placing of the police unit he feared he would not be able to get out of harm’s way.”
Factor continued to disregard Diaz’s order to stop reaching in his waistband and show his hands. As Factor continued to disregard Diaz’s commands, Deputy Perea opened fire on factor with his weapon, according to Umschied.
Diaz told investigators Factor continued to reach into his waistband as the shots were being fired. According to Umschied, “Diaz stated that he thought he heard 4-5 shots. Diaz did not unholster or fire his weapon at Factor. After Factor stopped moving, Diaz pulled him from the car and called for an ambulance. Perea started CPR on Factor. Diaz indicated that he also located a knife in Factor’s left front pocket.”
Factor was declared dead at Redlands Community Hospital and the autopsy report revealed he had been shot a total of nine times down the right side of his torso. The autopsy also reported that Factor had alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabinoids in his system at the time of his death.
According to Umschied, who submitted his report on behalf of district attorney Mike Ramos, “Based on the reasonable fear created by Factor grabbing the deputy around the waist, and continuing to grab in his own waistband, ignoring commands to stop, deputy Perea was legally justified, under the laws of self-defense and defense of others, in using lethal force to defend himself and deputy Diaz. As a result, no criminal liability exists on the part of deputy Perea or deputy Diaz.”
Diaz was involved in the officer-involved death of Allen Kephart which took place on May 10, 2011 in the San Bernardino Mountains when Diaz, deputy Michael Gardea and sergeant Bryan Lane unleashed their tasers on him a total of 16 times.
On October 26, 2011 Diaz and Perea were involved, along with sergeant Michael O’Brien in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Munoz Jr. after sheriff’s deputies  had been summoned to the 35200 block of Avenue B in Yucaipa by Kenneth Paul Munoz Sr., who reported that his son was refusing to return to him his truck, which they used in common as a work vehicle in their family run business. After the younger Munoz fled, the officers gave chase, utilizing a taser, and a bean-bag shotgun on him. After Munoz was lying face down on the ground and Perea was kneeling upon Munoz’s back in an effort to handcuff him, Munoz reacted and Perea’s gun, a 45-caliber Glock 21 pistol, fell out of its holster. A scuffle between Perea and Munoz ensued and when Perea separated from Munoz, O’Brien opened fire, striking Munoz twice. Diaz then shot Munoz ten times as he lay on the ground. Munoz died at the scene.

99 Cent Store A Welcome Addition To Needles

(August 28)  NEEDLES—The May departure of Bashas’, Needles last remaining grocery store, has been counterbalanced by the arrival of a 99 Cents Only Store in the county’s easternmost city.
Needles held a “soft opening” for the store on August 21, a harbinger of the grand opening set for Thursday September 11.
The new store is filling the actual vacancy left when Basha’s closed, filling the gap in the Needles Towne Center, at1010 East Broadway, near the confluence of  East Broadway and Interstate 40. The regular hours, once officially open, will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The store is to feature a wide variety of food products, most for 99 cents or less. It will offer some grocery items at higher prices, such as milk and eggs.
Needles, the county’s smallest city population-wise at 4,700 residents, is in an unmistakable financial decline. Bashas’ Grocery Store employed 43 full and part time workers.
For several years, the city had provided a subsidy to Bashas’ to keep it from leaving. That subsidy, which consisted of payments of $150,000 annually in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 and $200,000 in 2012-13 and 2013-14, was set to expire in June.
Another factor driving the closure was the expiration of the Bashas’ lease with Reliable Properties.
Needles, located in the far northeast end of San Bernardino County and just across the Colorado River from Arizona, for years has been at a disadvantage in terms of sales tax revenue based upon not only its limited population and the lack of surrounding population but higher California sales taxes and gasoline tax as compared to those levied in Arizona or the slightly more distant state of Nevada. Residents routinely cross the river to purchase gasoline in Arizona, at a cost savings of as much as thirty cents a gallon. The price disadvantage on other consumer goods in California, while less pronounced than on gasoline, nevertheless has translated into sluggish sales west of the Colorado River.
The closure of the town’s only grocery store just before the onset of the summer tourist season further eroded Needles’ overall economy as fishermen, boaters and other river enthusiasts elected in some cases to camp or stay on the Arizona shore, nearer to existing and surviving retail establishments there.
Last year, city manager Rick Daniels prevailed upon the city council to hire economic development consultant Michael Bracken in an effort to find ways to jumpstart the local economy.
One ploy that did not pay off was allowing marijuana clinics to proliferate. Just when those establishments seemed to be gaining traction, they were raided by law enforcement authorities and many shut down.

Autumn Adaptations For Animals

By Diane Dragotto Williams
Bears are ravenous; woodpeckers and chipmunks are storing acorns; female deer are eating for two; even bats are on the move!  Everyone is hungry, storing up for winter.  Animal from birds, to squirrels, to mice to raccoons, to foxes, to black bears are looking for supplies to bank up, store up, and add fat to their bodies!
Fall is the time of year for animals to prepare for the next difficult season, sometimes with meager food ahead, and with severe temperature changes.  And some even are preparing for a long winter’s sleep.  So what should we, as humans, be diligent about, or take special precautions to help with their transition?
First of all, they are all looking for a place to stay in winter.  So make sure your home, or boat is in good repair, so that wild animals don’t take up residence in your build-up, garage, attic or water vehicle. It’s extremely difficult to remove them after they move in, and horror stories have been told about bears and other mammals being trapped, and killed, inhumanely, while denning.
Deer eat acorns and brown oak leaves to strengthen their process of keeping their body temperatures warmer than normal.  They sleep on piles of leaves, and shed their summer fur, and develop fall fur, preparing for winter. So caring for your oak trees in your yard can be a true food and shelter source for these animals. Deer are beautiful, but this time of year, because of rutting, when male deer lose their antlers, they can be dangerous, so stay away from them.
Coyotes will be hungry, living in packs and raising their young. Keep small pets inside, and don’t even feed your dogs and cats outside. Coyotes can climb trees, and jump fences easily.  Do not leave domestic birds, or other small animals outside in a cage, with no escape, as they may be dinner for a hungry hawk, or a raccoon that can get into anything with their clever hands.
Birds instinctively begin to migrate to warmer climates, so leaving your hummingbird feeder out too long in the fall, can end up compromising their lives, even keeping them from moving to a warmer climate.   Many animals nibble and nap, preparing for winter. They begin training their bodies to lower their heart rates, and drop their body temperatures, finding warm places to live. So only cut down trees if they are dead to the roots, otherwise their hollow cavities will provide good homes for many forest animals.
Our Southern California Black bears are not true hibernators, but go into winter lethargy, or denning. Factors like their reproductive status, food availability, the amount of daylight and temperature changes can thrust them into aggressively searching for food sources.  So do not leave your trash cans out with tempting leftovers, or containers smelling of your last pizza, or ice cream party.  If they become dumpster divers, they become nuisance bears, and their lives can be taken by trappers, or those people who acquire a depredation permit to kill a bear, just because it frequents their home or pond.  Most of all, don’t give any animal an attractive reason to become a problem in your neighborhood.  It goes without saying, that it is illegal to feed wild animals.
Let’s live in harmony with our forest friends.  We would have a sad world without them.  Preserving wildlife does heal the human spirit!

Republican Voter Celebration In Upland On Sunday To Feature Kashkari

(August 29) The San Bernardino County Republican Party will host an event in Upland on Sunday, August 31, at which several national, state and local GOP candidates will be in attendance.
Among those will be gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari. Kashkari, an engineer for TRW Inc and a Wharton School graduate, worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and as assistant Secretary of the Treeasury. He played a major role in drafting the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a $700 billion bailout fund for financial institutions threatened with collapse.
Billed as a “Republican Voter Celebration,” it will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 222 N. Mountain Avenue.
31st Congressional District candidate Paul Chabot will be in attendance; as will Jack Orswell, who is running for Congress in District 27; current assemblyman Curt Hagman, now running for San Bernardino County supervisor in the Fourth District,;  55th Assembly District candidate Ling Ling Chang; Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Marc Steinorth, now running for Assembly in District 40; and 40th State Senate District candidate Matt Munson.
The event will feature speeches, game and prize booths, along with food.
For more information, call (909) 920-6035.

Scuderia Backing Away From $1.5B Barstow Aluminum Plant Commitment

BARSTOW (August 22) —Because of escalating electricity costs, it now appears Scuderia Development is abandoning the $1.5 billion aluminum plant it had earlier contemplated building in Lenwood.
In November, Newport Beach-based  Scuderia Development filed a letter of intent with the city of Barstow to build a 2.95 million-square-foot facility for China Zhongwang Holdings Limited on 964 acres just south of the defunct Sun & Sky Country Club and Golf Course in Lenwood.
In March, the framework for undertaking the $1.5 billion aluminum production facility project that would provide as many as 2,000 high-skilled manufacturing jobs to the Barstow area was set with the signing of an exclusive negotiating agreement between Scuderia and the city.
According to city officials and Scuderia, what was to be one of the largest secondary aluminum production factories in the world would be constructed in multiple phases over several years, with the first phase of the project likely to become operational within three years..
Liaoning Province, China-based China Zhongwang Holdings Limited, founded in 1993 and now the world’s second largest manufacturer of industrial aluminum profiles, chose Scuderia to handle the project because Scuderia already owns more than 258 acres of land at the proposed facility site.
Based upon the prospect of the plant locating in Lenwodd, Barstow Community College Superintendent/President Dr. Debbie DiThomas was endeavoring to adapt her institution’s curriculum and career technical education program to train local residents to make a seamless transition in their skill set to qualify for jobs at the plant, which were expected to pay in the $40,000 to $50,000 per year range.
Barstow obtained purchase options on more than 500 acres surrounding the 258 acres already owned by Scuderia in Lenwood to facilitate the progression of the project. The city further was prepared to utilize up to $1.5 million of its own reserves toward securing entitlements for the project, pursuant to arrangements that would see the city reimbursed once the project was completed. City officials had also made arrangements to sojourn to China to tour aluminum plants and obtain further information relating to the project. That trip did not come off, however and since May there was little information forthcoming relating to the project.
The production of aluminum is an electricity-intensive process. As China Zhongwang examined the situation more closely, the relatively high cost of electricity in California made locating what was to be one of the largest secondary aluminum production factories in the world prohibitively expensive.
The electricity to be utilized at the plant would be provided by the state power grid. Any electricity conveyed over the state power grid is automatically subject to the imposition of a ten percent “wheeling” fee. Other surcharges apply to electricity delivered in that manner as well.
This week, on Monday August 18, Barstow City Manager Curt Mitchell was the bearer of bad tidings when he publicly announced at the regularly scheduled city council meeting that Scuderia has informed the city it is unlikely to pursue the project.
The reason for the change in enthusiasm toward locating in Barstow, Mitchell said, was directly tied to the high cost of electricity in California.
Mitchell said he held out hope that Scuderia may yet have energetic designs for the 258 acres it owns in Lenwood, though that project will be far less grand than that one which was contemplated by China Zhongwang. Mitchell indicated China Zhongwang quite likely will not be involved in the eventual utilization of the property.

Colton Cashiers Compton

COLTON (August 22)–After  more than two months of mystery, uncomfortable and contradictory revelations and further uncertainty, the Colton City Council last night fired city manager Stephen Compton, citing no cause.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               After repeatedly meeting in closed sessions in April, May and finally on June 3 to discuss and evaluate Compton’s performance, the Colton City Council made no indication of its determination with regard to the city manager’s continuing tenure  publicly. But toward the close of the business day on June 5, Compton was confronted in his office and told he was being put on administrative leave and was then ignominiously escorted out of City Hall by a plainclothes policeman.
The city council promoted police chief Steve Ward to acting city manager during Compton’s absence and initially remained mum on the reason for Compton’s suspension. Persistent citizen and press inquiries as to what was behind the move, however, prompted councilman Frank Gonzales to offer a somewhat cryptic explanation that Compton, whose assignment was to convey policy as dictated by the city council to city staff and officially oversee the function of the city’s various department heads of ensure that policy is being carried out, had overstepped his authority and was “micromanaging” the public works department.
Obliquely, the city council indicated that Compton had gone beyond authority as city manager  to spend up to  $25,000 without prior council. The city hired Kathy M. Gandara, an Ontario-based labor law attorney, to look into the matter.
While Compton continued to twist in the wind, revelations about mismanagement in the public works department began to surface when residents, puzzled by exactly what was going on behind the scenes at City Hall, used the California Public Records Act and other means to unearth documents and materials that showed $2.8 million had been diverted from the city’s general fund to pay for capital projects without the funding shift having been voted upon by the city council, that the city had neglected to collect  $2.8 million in water service charges, also known as fireflow charges, from commercial businesses in the city between 2009 and 2012,  that the city had overspent as much as $4.8 million  on capital improvements projects and had squandered somewhere in the neighborhood of  $265,000 over a period of fourteen years because of a failure to replace, repair or update its information processing systems. It also became know that Compton had been focusing on off-the-book projects carried out by the public works department at the behest of public works director Amer Jakher, some of which appeared to be what critics referred to as “gifts of public funds,” involving unauthorized work done that personally benefited members of the city council, including documented examples that benefited councilman Gonzales and councilwoman Susan Oliva.
As this scandal brewed, the filing period for the upcoming November city council race opened and then closed. Oliva decided against running for reelection. Gonzales, however, doubled down, throwing his hat in the ring for the mayoralty, which was left open by Sarah Zamora’s decision to not run.
With this highly charged political backdrop, the sharp differences on the city council were thrown into stark relief. Gonzales, Zamora and Oliva appeared intent on seeing Compton, who was hired as interim city manager in March 2013 and elevated to full city manager in October, sent packing. They had initially been joined by councilman Isaac Suchil, who publicly questioned many of Compton’s expenditures relating to the audit and investigation of the public works department. That faction gained some traction when on August 4 Gandara gave the city council an oral briefing of her findings, which showed that Compton had expended some $23,000 more than his $25,000 independent expenditure limit, and that he had made temporary employee hirings that were outside the city’s protocol
The council’s three other members, Frank Navarro, David Toro and Deirdre Bennett appeared to be unconvinced or at best skeptical about the reason and justification their colleagues’ rationale for jettisoning Compton.
With the progression of revelations about the questionable operation of the public works department and the growing perception in the community that Compton may indeed have had good reason for looking into Jakher’s management thereof, Suchil gave indication that he was wavering with regard to the resolve to fire Compton. A law enforcement professional employed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Suchil displayed a reluctance to hammer Compton for carrying out what might, in the end, be revealed as due diligence in getting to the bottom of profligate and perhaps even illegal spending of taxpayer money.
Indeed, from late July until earlier this month, it seemed possible that Compton might be vindicated and returned to his post as city manager after Ward, in one of his last acts as acting city manager, tasked the city attorney to undertake an investigation of the public works department based upon citizen complaints about off-the-books projects and overspending and other questionable activity therein that paralleled the ground Compton was covering in the audits and  investigation he had initiated. In his letter of resignation dated July 21 in which he informed the city council that he was anxious to get back to running the police department, Ward pointedly told the council, “there are directors, managers and council members that do not belong in our organization. I am not used to the childish, selfish, lie to my face drama and games I’ve witnessed… and it never stops!”
This week, however, the pendulum that had seemed to be swinging in Compton’s favor abruptly changed directions when the council on Tuesday voted unanimously to terminate him without citing cause. What was not publicly disclosed was what level of confidential discussion had taken place between Compton and/or his representatives and the council and/or its representatives. It is known that Compton had retained legal counsel.
Under the terms of his contract, had city council cited cause in firing him, it would have needed to provide Compton with any severance pay or consideration. However the contract did cover a circumstance in which he was terminated without cause, in which case he was to be due four month’s salary. Unknown is whether a separation agreement going beyond those terms was worked out. It appeared, because the vote was unanimous, that the council had been allayed over any concern that Compton might take legal action contesting his firing. Nevertheless, that issue was not specifically dealt with by the council.  Yesterday, Thursday August 21, the council met in a special session to finalize its action in terminating Compton and approving the terms of his exodus.  “The city council has concluded that it is in the city’s best interest to pursue a different direction with a new city manager,” Mayor Sarah Zamora said in reading from a prepared statement.
At press time, those terms were not available.
The council, by its August 21 action, has put the ball in Compton’s court. He appears to have three options. He can accept the terms of severance offered by the city council, which is very likely to adhere to its contractual obligation to provide him with four month’s severance pay. His second option would be to attempt to negotiate a more generous severance package. His third option would be to initiate legal action against the city.
Repeated efforts by the Sentinel to reach Compton were unsuccessful.

Burrtec’s Trash Hauling Stranglehold Erodes Further With Loss Of SB Franchise

(August 20)  SAN BERNARDINO—On its road to recovery from bankruptcy, the city of San Bernardino is shedding its two franchised trash haulers.
The city’s contractual arrangements with Burrtec Waste Industries and Cal Disposal have now expired per a decision made by the city council several years back.
The city, which declared bankruptcy in 2012, has been seeking new sources of revenue. It is calculated that by doing all of its waste-hauling in-house, it can generate up to $800,000 per year in revenue.
Despite the elapsing of its franchise contracts with both Burrtec and Cal Disposal, the city has not yet pulled the plug on Burrtec, which will continue to provide trash hauling service to the city on a month-to-month basis, largely because the city has not expanded its sanitation division to the point where it can take up the burden of the service Burrtec is now providing.
Cal Disposal, which had been a franchised trash hauler for the city of 211,000 since 1957, exited the city on August 5, the final day of its franchise contract.
Burrtec provides recycling service to the city in conjunction with its trash hauling efforts.  Upon the city’s acquisition of two more trash trucks, Burrtec’s trash hauling days in the county seat will be over. At present, the city anticipates having those trucks by late winter or early spring 2015.
At present, Burrtec’s trash hauling operation in San Bernardino has dwindled to the point where it is collecting less than five percent of that city’s refuse. Nevertheless, losing San Bernardino as a client will represent a further erosion of Burtecc’s once-vaunted position as the county’s preeminent trash hauler.
The first major indicator of Burrtec’s fall from the pinnacle of the San Bernardino County trash heap came in April of last year when the county of San Bernardino moved to end its $17 million per year contract with Burrtec to serve as the operator of its landfills, breaking the relationship it had with the Fontana-based company over the previous 12 years in favor of a ten-year arrangement with Arakelian Enterprises, Inc., which does business in San Bernardino County as Athens Services.
While Burrtec and its owner, Cole Burr, had developed a strong bond with county politicians over the years, becoming the fourth largest provider of political donations to elected officials throughout the county over the last decade, the cost differential on the combination of the bids and revenue the county is realizing from tipping fees on refuse brought in from outside the county substantially favored Arakelian.
Gerry Newcome, the county’s director of public works, recommended that the county switch to Arakelian. On April 23, 2013 the board of supervisors voted to enter into a contract with Arakelian running from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2023, at an initial base annual cost of $16,686,700 to be adjusted pursuant to the contract for additional services.
Three companies – Arakelian, Burrtec and Waste Management, Inc.  – made bids on the contract. At issue in those bids was more than the cost those companies would charge to operate, manage and maintain the county’s waste disposal system, consisting of five active landfills and nine transfer stations. Also considered under the county’s analysis was the amount of revenue each of those companies could generate into the county in the form of tipping fees at the landfills. All three are trash haulers and, as such, have a need to dispose of the refuse they collect.
While Burrtec was the lowest bidder in terms of the price it would charge to actually operate the landfills – it had bid $15.8 million to do the job, while Arakelian and Waste Management had bid $16.687 million and $17.2 million, respectively – the county gave the nod to Arakelian/Athens because that company was able to guarantee that it would import into the county’s landfills 800,000 tons of municipal solid waste and processed green material per year during the 10-year term of the contract, which will bring gross revenue to the county in the amount of approximately $22 million per year. Burrtec was able to guarantee solid waste importation that would provide the county with annual tipping fees at its landfills that were substantially less than that offered by Arakelian/Athens, at $6.3 million.
Arakelian/Athens is the largest trash hauler in Los Angeles County and has trash hauling franchises in Riverside and Orange counties as well.
Burrtec remains  San Bernardino County’s largest trash hauler, serving 16 of the county’s 24 incorporated cities – Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Highland, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Upland, Victorville, Yucca Valley and Yucaipa – as well as dozens of its unincorporated communities, including Amboy, Angeles Oaks, Baker, Barton Flats, Bloomington, Cima, Crestline, Daggett, Del Rosa, Devore, Dumont Dunes, East Highlands, El Rancho Verde, Forest Falls, Fort Irwin, Halloran, Helendale, Hinkley, Kelso, Lake Arrowhead, Landers, Lenwood, Lucerne Valley, Ludlow, Mentone, Mountain Pass, Mt. Baldy, Newberry Springs, Nipton, Oak Glen, Running Springs, San Antonio Heights, Silver Lakes and Yermo.
The number of incorporated county cities Burrtec serves will drop to 15 when it is replaced by the San Bernardino City Sanitation Division next year.

County Provides Another $2M In Gasoline To Welfare Recipients

(August 19)  The county board of supervisors this week approved providing another $2 million in funding to provide county welfare recipients with gasoline purchasing cards.
What was formerly referred to as the county welfare department has been transformed into several different agencies, including county human services, the transitional assistance department, welfare-to-work services, children and family services and the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program. The transitional assistance department and the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) divisions  provide eligible clients  with transportation assistance by means of gas debit cards, which are  intended to enable recipients to attend school, obtain therapeutic counseling and medical care, seek employment or travel to work.
Since July 2002, child and family services and the transitional services department have been providing transportation assistance to eligible clients. Because the transitional assistance and child and family service departments receive federal funding, they are mandated to provide supportive service, including transportation assistance, that allow clients to participate in employment activities. The state and federal government also have accounting and auditing requirements relating to the use of such funding. As a consequence, the county in 2011 as part of a formal procurement process  entered into a $7.5 million arrangement with SVM, LP  for the provision of gas debit cards to qualified recipients for the period of December 1, 2011 through November 30, 2014. On November 5, 2013, the board of supervisors approved a first amendment to the contract with SVM, LP, increasing the total contract amount by $1,000,000 from $7,500,000 to $8,500,000.
On April 22, 2014, the board approved a second amendment to the contract, increasing the total contract amount by $1,500,000, from $8,500,000 to $10,000,000.
Of the 269,027 cards issued during fiscal year 2013-14, approximately 90 percent were issued by the transitional assistance department.
According to Linda Haugen, the assistant executive officer of county human services, “To maintain required internal controls, the transitional assistance and child and family services departments strictly follow established procedures, including, but not limited to, receipt and inventory control of gas debit cards, as mandated by the auditor controller and both departments are monitor human services auditing.”
Haugen said that “As a result of regulatory changes, the total amount of the contract has been increased twice since November 2013. Effective January 1, 2013, 4,500 transitional assistance department clients were required to become re-engaged in work activity agreements, thereby increasing program participation and increasing the demand for transportation assistance. At the time the first two amendments were presented, the recommended increases were based on growth projections relating to an estimated 15 percent increase in the caseload eligible for gas debit cards through the welfare-to-work program.”
Moreover, Haugen said, “Since April 2014, however, caseload and participant usage continues to increase beyond these projections. During this last quarter of fiscal year 2013-14, for example, the active welfare-to-work caseload increased approximately 8 percent while the number of cases receiving gas debit card assistance grew approximately 14 percent. In addition, gasoline prices climbed approximately 10 percent during the same period.”
This week, On August 19, the board of supervisors approved a third amendment to the SVM, LP contract, effective August 20, 2014, increasing the total contract amount by $2,000,000, from $10,000,000 to $12,000,000, for the total contract period of December 1, 2011 through November 30, 2014.
Cards are issued in $15 or $25 increments to eligible clients and can be used only for the purchase of gasoline. The cards register declining value with each use and are tracked to register specific card usage. Issuances are specialized to a client’s supportive services needs in order to attend school, obtain required therapeutic counseling and medical care, seek employment and/or report to work. The average number of cards issued to transitional assistance department clients is five per month, and eligible child and family services clients is three per month.