Anson Van Leuven

By Mark Gutglueck
In its first ten years, from 1853 to 1863, San Bernardino County had ten sheriffs. The sixth of these was Anson Van Leuven.
Anson B. Van Leuven was born on October 16, 1829 at Camden, Canada. He came with his brother to San Bernardino in 1854 from Utah. In coming to California Mr. Van Leuven crossed the plains with an ox team, and a somewhat attenuated heifer, which he purchased, was hauled on a wagon the entire distance from Bitter Springs. This animal played well its part in the family entourage and lived to the age of thirty-four years.
His tenure as San Bernardino county sheriff came relatively early in his life, from the time he was 31 to 33 years old. Van Leuven was the third sheriff to serve during the 1860 calendar year. His time as sheriff corresponded with the run-up to and the first two years of the Civil War, a turbulent time when secessionist sentiment was running high.
San Bernardino and its surrounding areas were valuable to the Union, in some large measure because of the gold fields contained therein. During Van Leuven’s second year in office, expensive gold smelting and stamping machinery was transported down the Atlantic Coast to the Panama Isthmus, across the isthmus by train and by ship to Los Angeles, from whence it was loaded upon wagons and transported out to the San Bernardino Mountain community of Holcomb Valley.
Maintaining the security of Union gold was one of Van Leuven’s priorities that came on top of maintaining the peace in the San Bernardino Mountains. In Holcomb Valley, the gold strikes had attracted a cast of rough characters and ruffians whose character flaws and intensity rendered the boomtown into a dangerous place.
In 1861, Van Leuven led a posse of 17 men into the High Desert seeking to apprehend two fugitive horse thieves, Lot Huntington and William Alma (Al) Williams, who had been stealing livestock and making threats of vengeance against citizens who had resisted the gang of rustlers they rode with. While en route to Huntington and Williams’ desert camp, verbal hostilities broke out among the posse members themselves, culminating in a gunfight. Four posse members were shot, with two sustaining wounds so serious Van Leuven was obliged to call off the manhunt and return to San Bernardino to have the wounded tended to.
Indeed running horse and cattle thieves to ground took up much of Van Leuven’s time as sheriff, as horse thieves and cattle rustlers were extremely active and made use of the numerous hidden rincons, hideouts and escondidos the terrain offered. Many of those thieves preyed upon the San Jose Ranch in what today is Pomona, running the stolen horses and cattle out to the Mojave River. On one such occasion, thieves had made off with a number of horses, and were trailed after by the horses’ owner, who followed them in their progress up the Cajon Pass.
Van Leuven was notified and he took up the pursuit. The sheriff traced the men by the track of the defective hoof of a horse ridden by one of the thieves, which Van Leuven recognized as a peculiar deformity besetting that of a horse stolen from the San Jose Ranch. He succeeded in recovering all of the horses, and capturing four of the six thieves. After their conviction, Van Leuven took charge of them on the trip to state prison. The ranch owner, anticipating an attempt to liberate the prisoners, brought sixteen men to guard them on the trip to Los Angeles. Sheriff Van Leuven declined this offer of assistance and on his own escorted the prisoners to San Pedro on horseback and from there up the coast by steamer.
According to historian John Brown, Jr., writing in 1922, Van Leuven was of such competence, “His vigorous administration rid the district and county of many lawless and desperate characters, for rarely did a guilty man escape him.”
Also during the Civil War, Van Leuven served as a deputy United States Marshall. On January 14, 1863, as one of the most prominent and influential men of his county, Van Leuven married Elizabeth Robinson.
Anson and Elizabeth took up residence on an 80-acre spread purchased by his father, Benjamin Van Leuven, within the Mormon Settlement in San Bernardino in 1854.
That property is today situated on Mountain View Avenue in the Mission District in Loma Linda. His father had done much to improve the property, and it was there that the Van Leuvens became the parents of five children, Myron Franklin, born November 25, 1863; Sarah, born June 8, 1865; Byron, born April 2, 1869; Henry, born April 21, 1871; and Maude, born March 2, 1883.
It was on this property that Anson Van Leuven planted his first orange grove in the year 1862, such that he was responsible for the first trees to bear oranges within the borders of San Bernardino County, this having occurred in 1867. Apples and peaches were also raised on the Van Leuven ranch and were dried, and grapes were processed into wine. These products were sold and shipped out by wagon freight, as was also the grain raised for market.
Mrs. Van Leuven fashioned hand made calico dresses without the use of a sewing machine.
Also in 1863 he was elected to represent San Bernardino County in the California Legislature, and as a member of the Lower House provided a record of service in the General Assembly of 1864. He was a stalwart Republican, loyal to the Union.
According to Brown, Van Leuven was “a man of inviolable integrity, marked loyalty and much progressiveness and public spirit.”
Brown reported that “Long before the close of his life he and his
wife had severed their allegiance to the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Honest and upright in all of the relations of life, Mr. Van Leuven left a benignant and enduring impress upon the community in which he lived and wrought, and he was one of the honored pioneer citizens of San Bernardino County at the time of his death, in 1896.”

Wright Says He Will Offer Adelanto More Aggressive Representation

(September 14)  Jermaine Wright is seeking to elevate himself from his current post as Adelanto city councilman to mayor in this year’s election. He is doing so, Wright said, because “because of the current lack of leadership and the lack of vision” in the incumbent. “We have not been hard working enough. We have not been aggressive enough in going out to get businesses to build in Adelanto. We have to convince developers that we offer opportunity and that if they build it, customers will come. We have to let them know we are here. Stater Bros. built here and it is one of their best stores. Everyone in Adelanto shops there. People are coming from outside the city to shop there. We need to recreate that with other retailers. We have to let them know we are here and that if they come here, they will be profitable because the people in Adelanto will support their business.”

Wright is challenging Mayor Cari Thomas, the incumbent, as are Rich Kerr and Ronald Beard.
In his two years on the council, Wright said his major accomplishment has been opening government to scrutiny and making it more accountable to residents.
“In my time on the council, I believe I have made what the city does more transparent,” he said. “I have been trying to get information out to the residents so they can actually see what their local government is doing on their behalf, both for them and to them.”
The major issue facing Adelanto, Wright said, “is the lack of an adequate tax base. We need to get revenue into the city. The first thing is to jumpstart things by bringing in businesses. At this point, we just don’t have enough money to offer services to our residents, build infrastructure or offer businesses incentives. What we can do is streamline the process and cut fees up front and amortize their payment over time so those who might build here do not have to pay everything up front. No one can come up with the $400,000 or $500,000 to start a project. We can hold off on the collection of fees for a time. Once a project is in place and money is being made, we can be paid back over time.”
He said the city needs an engaged mayor who will devote as much time as it takes to promoting Adelanto and will not indulge in defeatist hesitation.
“There is no place for the excuse that ‘no one wants to come to Adelanto,’” he said. “I find it funny that Family Dollar and Dollar General were here seeking information and they decided to go elsewhere. They could have built here. If someone shows interest, we have to get the information for them. Even if they don’t show interest, we should be giving them information. Maybe then they will get interested.”
Wright continued, “We have to build up the community. We have to promote the community. We have to create the opportunity for others to bring small businesses to Adelanto. There has been little or no growth here for over six years. I am running because we need a change at the top. The current mayor only set 20 days aside in the last year to go out and represent the city and promote it. We need someone working on that all the time. We have to strive hard to get business into the community. We need someone who cares 100 percent about the city.”
Wright said, “I am the best candidate because I am here and willing to do whatever it takes to get it done and going on. I am going to be in the office when there needs to be someone in the office to answer the questions and I will be out and around meeting people or showing them around when that will do some good. I am not just going to be some bobblehead doing just what staff says. People can pick up the phone and call me. I shop in town. I will fight 100 percent for the residents. I am committed to staying in town. Residents know that I will be here for years to come. I am trying to build something for myself and for my family and for future generations for Adelanto.”
Wright grew up in Monrovia and attended Emory University. He owns two businesses, an armored car company and related transportation services agency and a property maintenance and rental company. Married, he has two biological children and four adopted/foster children.

Montgomery Calling For Reevaluation Of Redlands Business Regulations

(September 15)  John Harrison Montgomery is testing the political waters for the first time, vying for city council in Redlands.
It is a “complete coincidence” said Montgomery, that his first and middle name correspond to that of an incumbent on the Redlands Council, Jon Harrison, who is also vying for reelection.
Montgomery said his experience as an entrepreneur were the impetus for his political ambition.
“I have always been interested in politics, especially local politics where the impact is the most direct and important on our lives on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “In opening and running my businesses in Redlands, I ran into my fair share of challenges along the way. The area zoned for my business has a lot of crime and homelessness and blight. Just complaining about it and wasting my breath wasn’t going to do any good. I decided I should do something. The council seats are open, so I said, ‘Why not?’ Now is the time to make a change. I want to see if I can get the city going down the right track and see if it can stay there.”
Montgomery, a member and officer of the Redlands Masonic Lodge, imparted some of the Masonic spirit into the name of one of his businesses, “The Grand Tattoo Lodge.” His other business is Alla Prima Ink, which provides supplies to the tattoo industry.
“The major challenge facing Redlands as I see it is the business climate,” Montgomery said. “I would like to see the city restructure its restrictions and permitting and everything that gets in the way of letting business flourish. There are zoning restrictions. In the area where I am allowed to set up my particular business, I have encountered on a day to day basis crime and homelessness. This has made it difficult.”
Montgomery also said he would, if elected, target municipal “fiscal responsibility. The city keeps coming to us taxpayers asking for money for projects that should already have been funded. They come to the residents for fees, businesses for fees and taxes and they issue bonds. The city needs to reevaluate its whole licensing and permitting processes. They need to streamline that instead of setting up something that is adversarial against businesses and contractors. They need to reevaluate their zoning plan. I think Redlands’ zoning is a little restrictive, especially for a small city that relies on small local businesses. It is encumbering. The city does not make it easy for businesses to get where they need to be to flourish and develop. The city needs to be a little more open-minded.”
Montgomery said he is qualified to serve on the council because “I am a citizen who owns two businesses in the city, I have children in the school district. I openly participate in civic groups and I shop locally. I make the perfect candidate for city council. I am not a politician. I just want to maintain and improve the quality of life in Redlands. Someone can say I am doing this because I am selfish and am a member of the middle class who wants to do well for myself and my family and I want my businesses to flourish. But if I can make it so my type of businesses thrive, then everybody in the city can do just as well. I am running a simple campaign. I am not taking money. I am not spending money. I am knocking on doors and running a small town city council campaign.”
Montgomery grew up in Orange County and attended Troy High School in Fullerton. He is married with four children.

Stanckiewitz Unwilling To Surrender Mayoral Scepter In Grand Terrace

(September 16)

Walt Stanckiewitz was elected to the Grand Terrace City Council in 2008. Shortly thereafter, the city descended into controversy and scandal, as longtime city manager Tom Schwab was felled by cranial subdermal hematoma. During Schwab’s medical leave his protégé, Steve Berry, was elevated to acting city manager. When Schwab sought to return as city manager, an unseemly political battle broke out, pitting those who favored Schwab against those who favored Berry. Stanckiewitz initially sided with Berry, but before it was over, accusations were flying in all directions. A resultant revelation was that Berry had become involved in an alleged embezzlement at City Hall. Berry militated with former councilwoman and district attorney Mike Ramos’s paramour Bea Cortes to have criminal charges lodged against councilman Jim Miller. Miller was eventually driven from office, a development that stood as a short-lived tactical victory for Berry, but which ultimately redounded to his discredit as the community reacted to the procedural, political and prosecutorial overkill that had evolved out of Berry’s power play. Ultimately, after Berry lost the crucial swing vote of support from Stanckiewitz, he was fired, but Schwab was never returned to his city manager’s post. The tawdriness of it all convinced then-mayor Maryetta Ferré to not seek reelection.
Stanckiewitz leapt into the breach and was elected mayor in 2010. But the string of bad luck in Grand Terrace did not relent with the 2010 election, in which Cortes was soundly defeated. While the city is an enviable residential area because of its tranquil isolation atop a majestic terrace that rises above the Santa River, as well as its geographical placement between uninhabited and impassible Blue Mountain and the nearly uninhabited Riverside County frontier south of it, Grand Terrace has little commercial traffic traversing through it because of that splendid isolation. With little influx retail activity, the city receives but a pittance in the way of sales tax revenue, given its 12,040 population, which makes it San Bernardino County’s third smallest municipality population-wise. The city’s financial decline hastened with the stagnating economy that persisted after the 2007 housing meltdown and ensuing stock market panic. The situation worsened when the state of California in 2011 shuttered redevelopment agencies up and down the state. Grand Terrace was particularly hard hit because for years Schwab had utilized redevelopment spending authority to shore up city operations, borrowing redevelopment money for use in the city’s general fund and then forgiving the loans. The council Stanckiewitz headed was faced with making hard choices, which entailed reducing city operations, cutting back on services, layoffs, position eliminations and further economies that reduced Grand Terrace to a shell of its former self. Whispers loudened into open talk about the disincorporation of the city. In what seemed to be a last ditch effort to salvage what was left of the city in 2013, city officials, led by Stanckiewitz, sought to convince the city’s residents to impose upon themselves a utility tax. The measure was defeated at the polls.
Another politician might read the writing on the wall, the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup and the bottom line on the city’s financial statement and bug out. Stanckiewitz is either too stubborn, too insensate, or too determined to quit. He is seeking reelection.
The owner and operator of La Pasta Italia in Grand Terrace since 1989, Stanckiewitz is a relative newcomer to the city as a resident. He moved there in 2007, after his home in the San Bernardino Mountains was destroyed in a fire.
“When I first ran for city council, it was as a ‘thank you’ to the citizens of Grand Terrace,” Stanckiewitz said. “It was this community who came to aid my family in our time of need and it was this community that gave us the strength when we needed it most. The love and support given to us by the residents gave us something to be thankful for that first Thanksgiving, only one month after our home burned down. It was this community that gave us joy that first Christmas. I did not believe that just saying ‘thank you’ was adequate. Words are never as effective as action. As my time on the council passed, signs of financial instability were becoming obvious. I felt that my previous management and command experience with Johnson & Johnson, Honeywell, TDK, and the US Army could help us face these problems.”
Stanckiewitz said the accelerated tribulations of the last four years have not been enough to dim his enthusiasm for governing.
“Shortly after being elected mayor, more of the previous financial mishandlings came to light and the governor cut funding for redevelopment,” he said. “Because of these unforeseen events, it became clear that four years in office was not going to be enough time to get the job done. Transparency became the norm for council actions; budgets have been balanced all four years; City staff was reduced from 36 employees to less than ten; the city’s retirement benefits program was reduced before the state mandated it; reduced work weeks were instituted; cuts to law enforcement services were reluctantly implemented; and financial reporting systems were vastly improved. We have been able to successfully get the ball rolling in the right direction as we unanimously adopted and are implementing the 2030 Vision and 2014-2020 Strategic Plan.”
Those plans, Stanckiewitz said, are intended to “ensure our fiscal viability; maintain adequate public safety, and promote economic development in our city. It is great to have goals, but more importantly, we have plans that are already in motion to get them going. We will concurrently work on developing and implementing successful partnerships between the city and civic and business organizations as well as developing proactive communication strategies, some of which will be launched before year end.”
Stanckiewitz said now is not the time to alter the city’s leadership.
“Right now, Grand Terrace is at a critical stage,” he said. “We have put plans into motion that will not only benefit our generation, but the generations to come. The council has functioned as a well run team during my tenure even with changing members over the last four years. This positive synergy will continue if I am reelected. It is my desire to continue my actions of saying ‘thank you’ to Grand Terrace by turning the dream of stability and growth into a reality for all of us.”
Stanckiewitz said it was not all doom and gloom in the Blue Mountain City.
“We have accomplished the opening of Grand Terrace High School; the opening of a new Stater Bros, Walgreens, Auto Zone, and recently Chillz Frozen Yogurt,” he said. “Soon a new McDonald’s will call Grand Terrace home. We recently reached agreement with the city of Colton, settling costly litigation and getting us out of the sewer business. We have completed the environmental document for the Barton Road Interchange with construction scheduled to begin in 2015; the Newport Bridge widening is scheduled for completion late this year.”

Bogh Says His Independence Has Earned Him Another Term In Yucaipa

(August 14)

After four years on the city council in Yucaipa, Greg Bogh said he is ready to serve another term. Hence, he is running for office against incumbent Tom Masner and challengers David Avila and Tom Powell.
“I think I accomplished quite a few things,” Bogh said. “The number one thing is we have more business prospects in Yucaipa. You can see that the vacancy rate in our business district has gone down. People are spending money. People are locating businesses here and more people want to locate businesses here.”
He continued, “One of the things we accomplished was the agreement with the chicken ranches and with [city franchise trash hauler] Burrtech to regularly collect their manure. That has definitely helped in that area. We brought back the Fourth of July event. We restarted the farmers market and the arts festival. We will be starting a winter arts festival. We worked with the school district in putting a track in at the high school. We have continued the trend of Yucaipa becoming a better place. I would hate to see it go back in the wrong direction. There are still some economically depressed areas. We have a few mobile home parks that need help. We need to focus our energy in helping them improve or rezoning them into something different. I’m not sure of the exact solutions but we can come up with something. We are continuing to work on the uptown area and we need to improve the Dunlop area.”
The formula for dealing with the city’s major challenges, Bogh said, is pursuing prosperity.
“The number one way to fix most issues is economics,” he said. “We need to bring in jobs and create a good business environment. Money has to keep moving. Commerce is what truly brings people out of their economic problems. We need to keep building an economic base for the community. We have the money to make improvements. In some of our mobile home parks we need to go through and clean them up, get the police department [i.e., the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which provides contract law enforcement service to Yucaipa] to come in, since some of the mobile home parks have crime problems. I think rezoning the parks will give some of the owners an opportunity to convert them into something different, commercial areas and so forth.”
Bogh said he merits reelection and is distinguishable from the competition he faces.
“Look at my record,” he said. “Over the past four years, things have changed tremendously. Speak to anyone and ask if they like the direction Yucaipa is going in and if they think it is better off now than four years ago. There has been a lot of change. Yucaipa has been dominated by specific individuals. I think I am an independent voice. I did not take money from anyone other than my family. When I vote on issues, my vote is not connected to anybody. It doesn’t really require that much money to run for office in Yucaipa, but if you are taking money from special interests that can make a difference in the way you vote. When I was running for years ago, I told everyone, ‘My kids go to Yucaipa schools. I want to do a good job so when they get out of school, they will want to stay in Yucaipa.’ The test of whether I have been a good councilman will come down to whether the decisions I am making are creating huge problems for my city to the point that my kids don’t want to be here or do they want to stay. I try to make my votes and decisions as to what this will do twenty years into the future.”
Bogh attended San Bernardino High School and Cal State San Bernardino, where he majored in business. He is part owner of his family’s construction business. He is married with three children.

He Will Break Current Ruling Group’s Hold On Yucaipa, Powell Says

(September 16)

Tom Powell, a retired Caltrans project manager who has lived in Yucaipa for ten years, said he is running for the Yucaipa City Council in November because he wants “to bring a fresh perspective to City Hall and new voice to Yucaipa residents who have not been represented fully. It’s time all the residents of Yucaipa, in all our neighborhoods [to be] represented and treated equally with the same opportunity, not just the same few entrenched people over and over again.”
While he served as the project manager on multiple million dollar projects in the region while working with Caltrans, Powell maintains he is nonetheless committed to keeping the scale and pace of development in Yucaipa at a modest level. “It’s important,” he said, “that our beautiful community, nestled in our snowcapped foothills maintains the great small town atmosphere and charm it always has.” Powell pledged to “support main street businesses over huge parking lots with rows of glaring white lights.”
He acknowledged that some progress must take place because “Yucaipa needs necessary services, conveniences and entertainment for its residents who are already here.”
Powell enunciated a clear difference between himself and several of the council incumbents with regard to the issue of maintaining Yucaipa’s several aging mobile home parks as a feature of the city.
“As your next city council member I will vote to support and protect our mobile home park residents in Yucaipa. I will support mobile home rent control and affordable housing. Mobile home rent control is important! I understand the investment and security our mobile home park residents have in their homes. I will work to protect our residents from unfair and unreasonable rent hikes that could mean that they lose their homes. I will work to be firm in maintaining fair and reasonable rent controls that are already in place. The mobile home residents and seniors of Yucaipa will always have a friend, and a voice in me.”
He elaborated, “While there are some park owners who are reasonable and fair, I also know that there are plenty of owners who would not hesitate to prosper and profit from unfair rate hikes and the resale of homes gained from out of control rents. Out of town corporations will never profit at the peril of Yucaipa’s residents.”
Powell said, “Working for the best city services is my top priority. I have the experience to bring great solutions to our challenges. We live in a great town, and maintaining it’s natural beauty, small town atmosphere, and clean, safe streets will be my job #1! I will work and welcome and recruit small businesses that bring in real, sustainable jobs that pay decent wages and benefits. Good jobs will keep our best young talent at home.”
Powell said he is not in league with the status quo and the long-serving current ruling coalition on the city council, and said he represents the political opposition.
“I looked at the pictures in the lobby of City Hall, and it’s the same faces for years and years,” he said. He is in favor of changes in the city’s current political processes that will bring about change and break the hold the political establishment has over the city.
“Electing our city council by districts instead of at large from the whole city will make our city council more responsive and answerable to everyone, not just the privileged few,” Powell said. “This will help guard our city from special interests who do not have the best intentions of our city in mind, other than profit.”
Powell has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly.
He and his wife are the parents of six grown adults.

After 23 Years On Council In Chino Hills, Graham Asking For Four More

(September 14) Ed Graham, the only member of original Chino Hills City Council remaining in office, said he is seeking reelection to the council “because I think I’ve been a pretty effective leader. I love what I do. I love my community. When we started in 1991, we were looking to form a family-oriented community, not a city that had a lot of major industry. We wanted to develop a tight-knit family community. Since then, we’ve grown to a population of 75,000 but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels much smaller.”

When asked what challenges Chino Hills faces, Graham said “We’re like every city in California. We are always worrying about money and the state taking away more of our tax base. That is always a challenge. Our other structural challenge is the Proposition 218 requirements. Our lighting and landscaping districts need funding We have been backfunding that with some of our federal funds and our reserves are drawn down.”
Graham said he merits reelection and he also plugged the two other incumbents in the race, Ray Marquez and Peter Rogers. “Anyone who looks around town can see our parks and that we are a family oriented community and knows we should stay the course with the people from the council who are running with me. People know I can work with them and we can make decisions and move the city along without problems. We have been able to do that over the years. I am one of the members of the original town council. I have been here since 1991. If people enjoy living in the city and raising a family, that speaks volumes. I have been leading this city for 23 years. This is a safe community. We have great shopping. We don’t have tension.”
Graham is a retired school administrator and basketball coach. He is married with three children.

Desert Woodrats

By Mark Gutglueck
Desert Woodrats that live in the Mojave Desert engage in a behavior that at first seems woefully dangerous and antithetical to their survival as a species. They eat deadly poison.
These rodents have an affinity for the creosote bush, a low-lying shrub whose leaves are rich in toxic resins, one of which is nordihydroguaiaretic acid or NDGA—a chemical that wrecks the liver and kidneys of lab mice. Strangely, the NDGA has no seeming effect on the woodrat. For months at a time, a woodrat will consume on a daily basis resin in quantities that would kill a normal mouse.
According to science writer Ed Yong, the reason woodrats are resistant to NDGA and other resins is because their guts are so filled with bacteria, they can digest the deadly chemicals in their diets with no problem.
According to Yong, the microbes in the intestines of the woodrat allow it to detoxify a whole host of chemicals. Researchers found that Mojave woodrats, which have been dining on creosote for something like 17,000 years, have different gut microbes than other desert mice.
In this way, according to Yong, the bacteria in the intestines of the Mojave woodrats have evolved as much or more than the woodratss themselves.
Desert woodrats are relatively small pack rats, measuring 11 to 15 inches in total length, including a 4.7 to 7.9 inch tail. They weigh from 4.3 to 12.3 ounces, with males being larger than females. Their coloring varies between individuals, and can be anything from pale gray to cinnamon to near-black. Regardless of the color on the rest of the body, however, the animal’s underparts and feet are always white, while the otherwise pale fur on the throat region is gray at its base. The tail is distinctly bicolored, and has more hair, and fewer visible scales, than the tails of brown rats. Desert woodrats have a narrow snout, long whiskers, and relatively long ears that are almost the length of the hind feet.
Desert woodrats proliferate in the Mojave Desert but also range as far north as southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho and as far south as Baja California and extreme northwestern Sonora in Mexico. They are present in Nevada and western Utah and elsewhere in California.
Desert woodrats generally inhabit sagebrush scrub areas, in chaparral, and in deserts and rocky slopes with scattered cactus, yucca, pine/juniper, and other low vegetation, at elevations up to 9,500 ft. They are most abundant in rocky areas with numerous crevices or rock piles in which they can seek shelter from predators.
Twenty three subspecies are recognized, many of them restricted to small islands in the Gulf of California.
They feed on beans and leaves of mesquite, on juniper, and on parts of available cacti, apparently without getting injured by the spines. They also eat creosote bushes, thistles, Ephedra, Mustard plants, sagebrush, and buckwheat. They will also eat other green vegetation, seeds, fruits, acorns, and pine nuts. In desert habitats, they are highly dependent upon prickly pear cacti for water balance, although they can be sustained on creosote year-round. Although they are capable of eating food containing high levels of resins and oxalic acid, such as the leaves of creosote bushes, these affect their water balance and limit their ability to eat other foods, limiting the growth of the woodrats’ population in areas where such plants are common.
Predators include snakes, owls, hawks, coyotes, and other carnivorous mammals. They are also commonly parasitized by bot fly larvae.
Desert woodrats breed in the spring and summer, and give birth to litters of up to five young after a gestation period of 30 to 36 days. The young weigh about 0.35 ounce at birth, and are blind, with only the tips of their hairs visible. Their eyes open after about ten days. The teeth of newborn desert woodrats are initially splayed apart, creating a hexagonal opening between them, with which they clamp themselves to their mother’s teats so firmly that they are difficult to separate. The teeth achieve their normal shape after about twelve days, but the young are not completely weaned until around four weeks of age. They live up to five years in captivity.
Desert woodrats are primarily nocturnal and are aggressively solitary. They may defend water sources, such as succulent plants, against other species, and perhaps prevent other species from obtaining water during droughts.
Desert woodrats sometimes appropriate the burrows of ground squirrels or kangaroo rats, and will fortify the entrance with several cubic yards of sticks and joints collected from jumping and teddy-bear chollas. This provides a formidable defense against predators. Living quarters are also often built against rock crevices, at the base of creosote or cactus plants, or in the lower branches of trees. Rock crevices appear preferred where available, but pack rats generally adapt to any situation.
Woodrats construct houses for nesting, food caching, and predator escape. These can have up to six entrances and eight internal chambers, including both nests and food caches. Houses 14 inches high and around 39 inches across at the base are not unusual. Nests are constructed of dried vegetation, usually fibrous grass parts or shredded stems.
Males mark their territory by rubbing themselves on the ground, depositing musky sebum secreted by large sebaceous glands on their abdomen. Females, however, scent mark by first digging, and then rubbing their flanks, legs or cheeks on the excavated soil. They are active year-round.

Nepotism Controversy Manifests With City Clerk & Police Chief In Upland

(September 9)  The long dormant conflict within the administrative level of Upland’s government has now manifested into an actual crisis that has impacted a significant number of employees in the police department and which threatens the continued tenure of either police chief Jeff Mendenhall or administrative services director/city clerk Stephanie Mendenhall, or both.
In 2010, Jeff Mendenhall, then a captain in the police department, was elevated to the position of acting police chief when then-police chief Steve Adams took what was expected to be a temporary stress leave. Adams’ stress leave continued well into 2011 and in September of that year, he retired. Shortly thereafter Jeff Mendenhall was elevated by then-city manager Stephen Dunn to the position of police chief, and that choice was approved by the city council.
Meanwhile, Jeff Mendenhall’s wife, Stephanie, who was Upland’s city clerk, had likewise advanced professionally, having been given the added assignment of administrative services director. Stephanie Mendenhall remained in the post of city clerk in the newly created assignment of administrative services director, which carried with its authority oversight of the city clerk’s office, human resources, information technology, and risk management, and provided her with  a base salary and add-ons of $175,606, plus benefits of  $55,624 for a total annual compensation package  of $231,230.
There was concern at the time that the promotion of Jeff Mendenhall to the position of police chief created a circumstance that was fraught with conflict and peril for the city and its taxpayers. Essentially, filling the administrative services/city clerk  and the police chief positions, which on occasion require some degree of articulation with one another and/or superintendence of or answerability to one another, with individuals who were married to one another raised the specter of favoritism or the possibility that standards that would otherwise be applied to conduct, actions and the review thereof might be compromised.
City officials, however, sought to downplay such concerns, indicating that arrangement would be permitted, since such conflicts were merely theoretical or potential. They suggested that if such a conflict were to manifest, it would be addressed at that time and Dunn, as city manager, would intervene to alleviate the conflict.
The city had no nepotism policy in place. Previously, the city had faced similar, though not identical circumstances. In the 1980s, while Frank Carpenter was a member of the city council, his wife Dee had been city clerk. In the 1990s, while Gail Horton was a member of the city council, her husband, John Scanlon, was fire chief.
Despite what government reform and open government activists decried as unhealthy arrangements, no scandal over these incestuous relationships in Upland has, until now, erupted.
Within the last two months events have manifested that are threatening to put the Mendenhalls and the concentration of authority over internal municipal administrative processes in their hands in sharp relief, to the embarrassment and potential legal detriment to the City of Gracious Living.
In recent years, the Upland Police Department, like nearly every other law enforcement agency in California, has outfitted its patrol cars with high powered shoulder fired weapons to augment the sidearms their officers carry. In the case of Upland, each patrol car carries an AR-15, a lightweight, intermediate cartridge magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation or long/short stroke piston operation.
The officers almost universally endorse the AR-15 as a highly practical back-up to their 9 millimeter or .45 handguns, which have proven, in some cases, to be inadequate in the face of the heavier weaponry often in the possession of criminals. The AR-15 provides officers with adequate response capability in those circumstances where they encounter armed and determined resistance.
Law enforcement agencies are required to keep their officers up to date in both training and certification for the equipment and weapons they utilize.  In California, the Commission on Police Officers Standards and Training is the state entity that provides the criteria and protocol by which law enforcement officers are given training and certified.
To remain employable in the field, officers must undergo periodic training and certification for the firearms they are issued and use in the course of their employment.
Because the city of Upland through its police department had obtained the AR-15s for its patrol cars, traditionally the department had paid for the periodic AR-15 use training the officers had to undergo, provided them with the means, i.e., the ammunition and shooting range availability, required to complete that training, paid its officers for the time they attended the range certification and the classes related to the AR-15 use, and  reimbursed them for whatever mileage costs they accrued in driving to the range and the class.
This summer, police chief Mendenhall, in keeping with budgetary restraints imposed on his department, informed the officers under his command that they would need to complete their retraining and recertification with regard to the AR-15 entirely at their own expense and on their own time, and that the department would not cover the cost of their ammunition used in the training and certification, that they would not be reimbursed for their mileage in achieving recertification and that they would not be paid for the time they spent attending AR-15 classes and the certification testing.
An individual officer’s failure to attend the training and obtain certification would result, without exception, in his/her disqualification for patrol duty in any department patrol car  outfitted with the AR-15s.
While the change in policy dictated by chief Mendenhall without conferring with the police union was not gladly received by the rank and file, the predominant attitude among officers was that they would comply with the new order of things and that the AR-15 is too important of a tool for them to function without. The officers  begrudgingly agreed to attend the classes at their own expense to obtain the necessary certification.
The officers learned, however, that the sergeant conducting the training for the department was, per chief Mendenhall’s orders, being paid for conducting the classes and was being reimbursed for all his incidental expenses.
The Sentinel has learned that several of the department’s officers, angered by the apparent favoritism shown toward the sergeant, consequently took exception to chief Mendenhall’s order, asserting that he had violated not only the employment contract the city has with its police officers through its union, the Upland Police Officers Association, but California labor law as well.
A law enforcement professional who was in contact with the Sentinel said that what he characterized as a “significant minority” of the department’s officers – as many as a dozen or more – expressed a belief that the filing of a grievance over the matter was called for.  No such grievance was filed, however, the Sentinel is told, because the individual with whom such grievances are lodged would be Stephanie Mendenhall, who in her capacity as administrative services director is the head of human resources, i.e., personnel.
“No one wants to go into her office and say, ‘Your husband just did this to us and we don’t think it’s right,’” a law enforcement officer told the Sentinel. “If it wasn’t his wife, people would go right down there and complain. But they can’t because of who she’s married to and the fear of retaliation and harassment. No one believes they could really get a fair hearing in that situation. People just have to accept it. In this case there really isn’t a grievance process.”
Stephanie Mendenhall declined the Sentinel’s invitation to discuss the matter.
“I don’t have a comment for you,” she said. “Sorry.”
As chance had it, however, at this week’s city council meeting, the council was poised to consider the proposed reorganization of the city’s executive staff, which included the elimination of an executive assistant in the city manager’s office, filling the vacant position of accounting supervisor in the finance department and arranging it so that the finance manager reports directly to the city manager.
When that item came up for a vote, councilwoman Debbie Stone made a motion to amend the reorganization proposal such that the city would eliminate the position of administrative services director altogether. Saying he believed elimination of the administrative services position would, ironically, help to meet chief Mendenhall’s call for the hiring of more police officers, Councilman Gino Filippi seconded Stone’s motion and supported it with his vote. The motion died, however, when Mayor Ray Musser and councilmen Glenn Bozar and Brendan Brandt voted against it. They approved the reorganization proposal, as originally put forth by interim city manager Martin Lomeli and incoming city manager Rod Butler.
Lomeli, who is vacationing in Hawaii, was not present at the meeting. Chief Mendenhall was filling in for him as stand-in city manager. Chief Mendenhall did not appear pleased at Stone’s motion to terminate his wife, nor at Filippi’s support of the gambit.
After the meeting, Stone told the Sentinel, “I want to make it clear on why I made the motion that I did tonight in regards to the administrative services director. The position of administrative services director was created in 2011 to justify the high compensation of the then city clerk, by creating a position.   Now that the finance manager directly reports to the city manager and is adding another employee in the form of an accounting supervisor to the tune of approximately $90,000, it seems that further reorganization is in order.  We are on this council to make the hard calls and this is one of them.”
When she was informed about the looming controversy in the police department relating to officers’ reluctance to utilize the grievance process because they must file those complaints with the police chief’s wife, Stone said she had not been aware of the matter.
“We are all professionals here and if there are emotions or personal relationships involved  then we should still expect that those people have to be able to look beyond that and do what their job requires,” Stone said. “If we have people who are not willing to file a grievance because of that relationship, then it is a problem and we are going to have to do something about it.”