By clicking on the portal below, you can download a PDF of the October 24 edition of the San Bernardino County
Monthly Archives: October 2014
Scray-Brown Gives Surveillance Firm $340 K Not Due It Under Contract
(October 23) The county this week agreed to pay Sentinel Offender Services, LLC another $340,000 as an add-on to its ongoing three-year, $1 million contract for probationer/parolee monitoring.
According to San Bernardino County Chief Probation Officer Michelle Scray-Brown, “on June 26, 2012 the board of supervisors approved a three year agreement with Sentinel Offender Services, LLC for global position system tracking services. This contract, which took effect July 1, 2012, is currently approved in the amount of $1,000,000. The probation department’s use of global positioning system tracking services as a supervision tool for a variety of offenders, as well as a form of house arrest for high-risk juvenile offenders, is a means of enhancing public safety while reducing costs of the juvenile detention system.”
Curiously, Scray- Brown indicated that Sentinel Offender Services, LLC knew the parameters of the deal it was entering into when it accepted the terms of the 2012 contract.
“On April 5, 2011, the Governor of California signed Assembly Bill 109,” Scray-Brown said. “This legislation shifted responsibility for supervision of low level offenders and the adult parole population from the state to local jurisdictions. Because of this ‘realignment,’ the department’s need for additional services, including global positioning system tracking, increased significantly.” Indeed, Scray-Brown said, it was “as a result” of the realignment that the county entered into the contract with Sentinel Offender Services.
At this point, Scray- Brown said, it has become apparent that Sentinel Offender Services bit off more than it could chew when it agreed almost two-and-a-half-years ago to complete three years worth of probation tracking for a mere $1 million.
“As of August 2014, 8,316 post release community supervision offenders have been released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the county.
This number is approximately 35% higher than was previously projected,” Scray-Brown said. “In addition, cases have also been received from the court and other counties (573 cases), bringing the total number of cases to 8,889.”
For that reason, Scray-Brown said, the county should cut Sentinel some slack and not hold it to the terms of its 2012 contract. “Due to the increased number of post release community supervision offenders, the department now requires a related increase in the contract with Sentinel,” Scray-Brown wrote. The additional $340,000 would be sufficient for the increased contract monitoring services needed through June 30, 2015, the agreement’s scheduled expiration date.”
This clashes with what Scray-Brown said in 2012 when she recommended that the county, which had entered into a probationer monitoring contract with Sentinel in 2005, intensify its arrangement with Sentinel based upon the realignment. As a consequence of Scray-Brown’s recommendation, the county in the summer of 2012 entered into a three-year contract with Sentinel. At the June 26, 2012 board of supervisors meeting, Scray-Brown, who at that time went by the name Michelle Scray, insisted that Irvine-based Sentinel Offender Services had successfully outcompeted CMG Safeguard Electronic Monitoring, Inc. of Fullerton and Rocky Mountain Offender Manage-
ment Services of Westminster, Colorado for the contract. At that time Scray indicated one of the criteria in the competition was “cost. Contract services, in the maximum amount of $1,000,000 over the three year term of the agreement, will be fully funded from either AB 109 revenues or fees collected from referred offenders who pay for monitoring services on a sliding fee scale based on their ability to pay,” Scray said more than two years ago.
This week, Scray-Brown cited no provision in the original contract for realignment prisoner releasee monitoring that specified limits on the numbers of prisoners Sentinel would be responsible for tracking. No such limitation was specified in the public documents related to the 2012 contract.
Deputy chief probation officer Dan Bautista acknowledged that Sentinel had committed to provide global positioning tracking of prisoners released under the realignment through June 30, 2015 and that based on the prisoner releases that occurred under the realignment beginning in 2011, both Sentinel and the county had not entered into a blind arrangement in 2012. Nevertheless, Bautista said, the numbers of releases anticipated under the project at that time “were just projections.” Bautista said Scray Brown had sought greater remuneration for Sentinel “basically because of the increased usage.”
As to whether allowing Sentinel out of the terms of its original contract and conferring upon it a $340,000 increase constituted a gift of public funds, Bautista declined comment.
“Any statement will have to come from our media relations division,” he said.
Chris Condon, the media relations specialist for the probation department said “Basically, what happened was Sentinel was given the contract to monitor as many released prisoners as we needed to have monitored. It could be two. It could be a thousand. The problem is with AB 109 [i.e., realignment legislation], we didn’t know how many more. The Department of Corrections did not give us that information. What ended up happening was we gave Sentinel a three-year contract for a million dollars. In fiscal year 2012-13 we paid them $429,831. In 2013-14 we paid them a total of $422,314. For the first two years we paid a total of $852,145. That left us with a remaining $147,855 for the final year. We are only three months into the third year and we are now nearly out of money and we have to continue to fund the monitoring program. The board agenda item was to increase the amount of the contract by $340,000. We arrived at $350,000 because the cost of the monitoring is 34 percent higher than we anticipated in 2012. The million dollar figure in the original contract was just a projection. If we had known what the actual costs are, the contract would have been $340,000 higher.”
Despite other indications that Sentinel had taken on the project to provide full monitoring across the board for three years and that under the contract Sentinel agreed, in Condon’s words, “they will provide as much monitoring as was needed for a cost,” Condon said “We can’t enter into a contract in which it would be for an unlimited amount of electronic monitoring… The company would go bankrupt.” Condon said he did not have immediate access to the contract but that a commitment by Sentinel to monitor an unspecified number of released prisoners at a fixed total cost “would not have been included in the contract.”
The county, Condon said, is “billed by them monthly, and we only pay for what we use.”
At present, Condon said 230 to 280 released prisoners are monitored on a daily basis, 90 to 120 of whom are homeless.
According to Condon, 10,982 inmates formerly housed in the state prison system have been released into county custody and of that number, 3,606 are currently out of custody and under the supervision of the probation department. Among those 3,606 are the 230 to 280 being monitored electronically. The cost of monitoring each of those individuals costs between $109 and $110 per month, according to Condon’s calculations.
CUP Converts Déjà Vu Into Sports Bar
(October 21) The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week approved a conditional use permit that brings down a permanent curtain on the topless performances at the Déjà Vu theater in the unincorporated county area between Montclair and Chino.
The Déjà Vu, which was established as a club featuring topless dancing in the 1980s, became the object of dispute with the county’s planning division more than two decades ago over activity in and around the club as well as its location at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Mission Boulevard. In 2002, after legal sparring between the county and the club’s ownership, Michigan-based Tollis, Inc., a legal settlement was arrived at by which Tollis agreed to raze the adjoining motel which rented rooms by the hour and make changes to the landscaping, lighting and maintenance and security of the property in exchange for being able to continue to operate as a strip club for ten years.
In 2012, the county moved to enforce the provision forcing its cessation as a strip club and Tollis reluctantly acceded to transforming the club into a non-adult entertainment venue or sports bar, while maintaining its liquor license.
The conditional use permit for the sports bar or comedy club called for further changes with regard to the property, in particular the demolition of the large billboard sign at the front of the property and a change in the external lighting, which entailed a rotating projector which transformed the color of the building from red to pink to purple to blue to green at night.
Tollis appealed the planning commission’s action to the board of supervisors in October 2012. The public noticing of the appeal did not specify the grounds for Tollis’ request, leading to some speculation that an effort was underway to reestablish the 7,048 square foot nightclub building at the 1.22-acre site as a strip club. In effect, Tollis was seeking to transition it to a topless/bottomless dance review that would not feature the availability of alcohol on the premises.
This week, the county and a lawyer for Tolliss gave indication that the issues in the appeal had been amicably resolved, with the county making concessions with regard to the outward appearance of the structure as well as signage, but that the night club will no longer be a venue for adult entertainment.
As a consequence of this week’s public hearing, Tollis was given a conditional use permit calling for the change of use from a nightclub with adult entertainment to a nightclub and tavern with on-site sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages and non-adult entertainment, including a sports bar, comedy club.
In her staff report on the matter, county planning director Terri Rahhal wrote, “The Applicant, Tollis Inc., submitted an application for the change of use of the existing 7,048 square foot, two-story building from a totally nude adult entertainment facility, without alcohol, to a nightclub and tavern with on-site sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages and non-adult entertainment, including a sports bar, comedy club and live music. The application proposes interior remodeling of the building, adding booths and open seating on the first floor and a sports bar and lounge, dance floor and open seating on the second floor. The project plans do not include removal of the existing performance stage and dance pole on the first floor.”
At the hearing on Tuesday of this week, however, it was reported that Tollis has now agreed to remove the dance poles, which are associated with nude or semi-nude dancing from the premises as well as the pre-existing booths, which were associated with “lap dances.”
Rahal’s report also stated that “the applicant/appellant now also objects to 14 other conditions of approval, as detailed in the appeal.”
At the hearing this week, it was revealed that the county had come to an accommodation on those objections, the most significant of which related to the color of the building, currently pink; and colored projection lighting that at night is capable of shifting the color of the building from pink to red, to green, to purple to blue; as well as the sign in front of the building, which exceeds the county’s size and height standards. As a consequence of the compromise, the building will be painted in “neutral tones” and the “light reflected on the building will be restricted to white light, with color permitted for some holidays, such as green and red on Christmas and red, with and blue on July 4.” The sign is to remain in place for five years, after which time it must be replaced with one that conforms with size and height restrictions.
Tollis’s attorney, Alice Wong, was present at the hearing and indicated the company was amenable to the newly arrived-at terms specified by Rahal.
Conaway Campaign Hugely Reliant On Making Contrasts With Cook & GOP
(October 22) Bob Conaway is bearing the Blue Democrat Standard in this year’s election in California’s 8th Congressional District against the incumbent member of the House of Representatives, one-term Republican Congressman Paul Cook.
Conaway insisted he is the superior choice, and sought to make a case that his adherence to the principles of the Democratic Party will better serve not only the constituents in the 8th Congressional District but citizens throughout San Bernardino County, California and all of the United States.
Conaway agreed to outline for the Sentinel the issues he believes are of the most importance to the district and its voters.
“Our county should avoid needless conflict and not start or maintain conflicts overseas without making the commitment to take care of the returning servicemen, their families and veterans,” Conaway said.
He was critical of legislation supported by Cook that was ostensibly aimed at reforming the much maligned Veterans Administration but which in effect, Conaway said, sold veterans short.
“Paul Cook voted for HR 4810, which creates a budget to build more buildings and to provide assistance with appointments to outside vendors for veterans,” Conaway said. “What was missing in HR 4810 was a budget for the Veterans Administration hiring the additional doctors and medical support staff needed, like what is proposed in the McCain-Sanders bill. I would not have voted for HR 4810, but would have insisted that an up-or-down vote be done in the House on the McCain-Sanders bill, which has passed the Senate, and that the money used for building more brick-and-mortar facilities and outsourcing care be put into hiring more professional staff, which will also add jobs at the VA facilities locally.
Without passing judgment on the Affordable Care Act, which has been subject to withering criticism by Republicans and lampooned by those critics as “Obamacare,” Conaway asserted that the concept of providing universal health coverage to all Americans is a worthy goal and that efforts to work toward that ideal must be maintained.
“For the sake of discussion, if the Affordable Care Act got repealed, we would still need to make sure that insurance carriers don’t discriminate based on a citizen’s gender and whether they have pre-existing conditions,” Conaway said. “Paul Cook voted for HR 3522, which allows insurers to discriminate based on gender and pre-existing conditions. I would vote to keep those protections, whether or not the Affordable Care Act remains in place.”
Conaway told the Sentinel that it is his position that “working moms still need access to child care tax credits. We all know the economy is in flux. More women are the bread winners in families and need to pitch in to make ends meet even with the significant other working. We need to not discriminate against entry level women employees. Paul Cook voted for HR 4935, which would eliminate $1,725.00 dollars in child care tax credits for five million single parents with two children to care for, reduce it for six million other working moms, while increasing the child care tax credit for those earning $150,000 by an additional $2,200. I would have voted against HR 4935 to make it possible for women with families to afford entry level minimum wages. The savings of not putting HR 4935 into effect, is saving $100 billion over ten years per the Congressional Budget office.”
Conaway said he stood for “not increasing taxes for the working poor. HR 4935, by eliminating the child care tax credit, increases a single mom’s tax bill by up to $150 per month or a week of food and household supplies for most working families. I would have voted against HR 4935 and saved $100 billion over 10 years.”
Conaway said he is in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $10.16 by 2016.”
He said, “No matter how you calculate it, minimum wage has flat-lined over the past 50 years. A 2012 study from the Center for Economic Policy Research reads, ‘By all of the most commonly used benchmarks – If wages had kept up with productivity gains since 1968, it would be nearly $22 dollars an hour.’ Paul Cook voted against increasing the minimum wage to $10.16 in 2016. I would have voted to increase the minimum wage to $10.16 by 2016.”
He would, Conaway said, work to “help our college students get the education they need. Paul Cook voted for passage of HR 3393, which eliminated some tax credits and deductions for education expenses and took benefits away from graduate students. In addition to this, Paul Cook voted to increase the student loan interest rates to 3.4%, even though passbook rates are at a record low. I would vote to reduce the interest rate and create realistic payment plans that do not discriminate on prior credit history and which can be adjusted based on changing conditions like job loss or income reduction.”
On one issue, at least, Conaway said he was on the conservative side of the divide, while Cook was, by contrast, a liberal. Specifically, Conaway said, he was a states’ rights advocate, while his opponent was a creature of the federal government establishment.
“We need to control our state’s water resources and protect California jobs,” Conaway said. “Paul Cook voted for HR 3964, which will preempt state water law and state court decisions, eliminate protection needed to California’s salmon industry and other commercially valuable species. HR 3964 will federally take over our water and cost us thousands of jobs. I would have voted against HR 3964 as a federal grab of in state water resources.”
Old Guard Seeing Challenge From Young Turks In YV
(October 23) Of the nine candidates vying in the race for the three positions up for grabs in this year’s Yucca Valley Town Council race, four appear to have secured the inside track, that is, the greatest degree of viability when measured by the criteria traditionally applied in determining frontrunner status. By virtue of high name recognition and proven records of impacting the political direction of this physically isolated patch of humanity in the vast Mojave Desert, incumbents Merl Abel and Bob Leone along with challengers Ron Cohen and Lori Herbel appear to have advanced to the front of the pack.
Given the matrix of the nine candidates vying for the three seats, a real horserace is in play, complete with its intrinsic septic challenges, that is ones that are literally septic as the major issue facing the 20,700 person community is a projected bill of over $135,000,000 for only the first phase of sewage treatment facilities needed to keep the California Water Quality Control Board from taking drastic action against the city in May 2016.
In a town long heavily dominated politically by the Gemini Star personality machines of Pastor Jerel Hagerman and Congressman Paul Cook and their tight knit affiliates such as the father and son politicians, of Pastor Roger Dean Mayes and his son, Chad, only one of the four frontrunners bubbles automatically to the top of that largest chamber of voters: incumbent Merl Abel.
The others seemingly holding strong in the race so far, incumbent Bob Leone, past Councilwoman Lori Herbel, and the freshman politician Ron Cohen, have all built their voting blocks from a more diverse crowd influenced less by star personalities and more by issues. Not surprisingly, all three of these have criticized major decisions by Merle Abel such as the payment of over $120,000 to disgraced ex-town manager Mark Nuaimi, and a failed ballot initiative to impose an additional one percent sales tax for the town council to spend at its discretion.
Ron Cohen quite visibly became the lead spokesman for an initiative to recall present councilmen Huntington and Lombardo. He and his wrestling cohorts were seen defending the impromptu free speech encampment created by Ed Montgomery at the intersection of 247 and Highway 62 against a hammer-wielding thug. Fellow recall organizer Lori Herbel likewise walked door to door and others manned tables at the local Stater Brothers to collect over 2,700 signatures of town citizens who were “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” about numerous policy blunders made by Abel and three of his council colleagues. Incumbent Bob Leone’s support for the recall was much more circumspect but he made clear his sustained disagreements with all the other members of the council at the time. Leone served on the council in previous years but left the council dais two election cycles ago, only to return in a special election held last year. During his most recent tenure on the council, Leone was the lone negative vote on several decisions of the council firmly aligning Leone, whether he wants to publicize it or not, with the new powerful voting block that Herbel and Cohen congregated against the established old guard block steered by Hagerman/Cook.
The calculations of the vote include a total registration pool of about 10,000 registered. Significantly, Herbel and Cohen and their fellows added about 500 votes to the rolls during the recall campaign. Presumptively, a large percent of those voters remain interested in changing Town Hall. In a presidential year, the total number of voters is near 4,000 votes, of which the “Pastor Block” is about 2,500 votes depending on the threat level of the non-block candidates.
With a candidate pool of nine candidates, many of whom are themselves Pastor Block candidates but with low name recognition outside the block, the potential for dilution and softening of the block is high despite the weighty opposition such as Cohen and Herbel.
New candidates Rick Dennison, Jeff Drozd, Charles McHenry, Susan Simmons, and to a much lesser extent the “I did and do inhale marijuana” Brian Watson, all will draw some votes from the Pastor Block if for no other reason than a vote for “someone like me” identity politics. Dennison: local firemen, Drozd: special education teachers, McHenry: friends of the Library and National Parks, Simmons: small business owners.
So with three lead and powerful dissenters in the race for three seats, the probability appears that at least two of the counter-reactionaries will progress to the dais, perhaps all three.
Random fortune placed past-councilmember Lori Herbel’s name at the top of the list on the ballot and political mavens say that alone will produce a few percentage points of advantage. Bob Leone has already served on the council four separate times and while he makes his own decisions, he has not raised so much of the ire of the establishment to anger too many people. So the likely wildcards for the third seat appears to include Abel whose normal voting block is diluted, and Cohen whose voting block is new and untested.
And between Abel and Cohen are some intense contrasts of attributes which some voters use to make their selection to represent them: soft-spoken/outspoken, Christian faith/Jewish faith, public employee/corporate employee, “people skills”/“systems skills,” political conservative/political liberal.
–Sentinel Morongo Basin Correspondent
Hesperia School Bond Committee Files Inaccurate Campaign Finance Statements
By Gail Fry
(October 21) In the upcoming November 4 general election, the voters located within the boundaries of the Hesperia Unified School District are being asked by the district’s leadership to approve a $207 million bond measure to improve local schools.
At its August 4, 2014, regular board meeting the Hesperia Unified School District governing board approved a resolution ordering a school bond election for Measure M and authorizing necessary actions connected to the bond election. School district governing board members Hardy Black, Niccole Childs, Ella “Lee” Rogers and Eric Swanson voted in favor of the resolution with Cody Gregg dissenting.
The proponents of the bond measure, Measure M, have formed a recipient committee entitled “Committee For Yes On M 4 Hesperia” for the purposes of collecting contributions to pay for campaign expenses.
The committee supporting Measure M consists of its member Lori Mente, who holds the title executive assistant to the superintendent at the district, and its treasurer Gina Turner. According to documents obtained from the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, the committee has collected $55,500 from its contributors and expended $9,389 for signs, voter slates, electricity, government filings and miscellaneous office supplies.
In an October 16 email to the Sentinel, Mente refers to herself as a “volunteer” and not “representing” the committee Yes on Measure M.
Documents filed with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Office show the committee supporting Measure M were ten days late in filing its 460 pre-election statement and inaccurately reported its contributions received as being $13,500 when in fact they were $55,500 based on six 497 contribution reports filed with the registrar of voters in September and early October.
Five 497 contribution reports filed by the committee Yes on Measure M indicate that on September 18, Erickson Hall Construction Co. contributed $10,000, on September 26, Holman Capital Corporation contributed $2,500, on October 2, Frick, Frick & Jette contributed $2,500, on October 6, Copier Source Inc. contributed $5,000, on October 8, LPA, Inc. contributed $10,000, on October 2, Amber Mooney contributed $2,500 and on October 8, Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Ruud & Romo contributed $5,000. The total of the contributions shown on the five 497 contribution reports equals $37,000.
One 497 contribution report filed by the Hesperia Teachers’ Association PAC and filed with the registrar of voters indicates that on October 9, it gave a $5,000 campaign contribution to the Committee for Yes on M Hesperia.
However, when the committee supporting Measure M filed its late 460 pre-election statement, it indicated that its total campaign contributions were $13,500 for the period of July 1 through September 30, 2014 with its 460 form showing a total of $13,500 in campaign contributions from Erickson Hall Construction Co. in the amount of $10,000, Holman Capital Corporation in the amount of $2,500, Certified Air Conditioning in the amount of $500 and Thomas R. Dorow Inspectors in the amount of $500.
Erickson Hall Construction Co., headquartered in Escondido appears from its website to specialize in school construction projects. Holman Capital Corporation is a California corporation located in Rancho Santa Margarita and according to its website provides “value added taxable and tax-exempt financing solutions to federal, state, and local governments.” Certified Air Conditioning, Inc., is a California corporation located in San Diego, according to records with the California Secretary of State. Thomas R. Dorow Inspectors is a property inspection company located in the city of Hesperia, according to numerous references found on the internet.
Frick, Frick & Jette is an architectural and engineering firm located in the city of Temecula and according to its website, “we specialize in educational construction.” Copier Source, Inc., is a California corporation located on Hospitality Lane in the city of San Bernardino. Entries of the business name, location and phone number are found on the internet, but no website for the company was found. LPA, Inc. is a California corporation located in Irvine that specializes in “integrated collaboration” and “sustainable services” according to its website. Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Ruud & Romo is the Hesperia Unified School District’s attorney firm.
The contribution reports and pre-election statements filed with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters by The Committee For Yes On M 4 Hesperia and by the Hesperia Teachers’ Association PAC can be viewed at the registrar of voters website: http://ssl.netfile.com/Pub2/AllFilingsByFiler.aspx?id=152573692.
In an interview with the Sentinel regarding the late filing of the committee’s 460 pre-election statement, San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Mike Scarpello acknowledged that Committee For Yes On M 4 Hesperia’s 460 forms were “filed late” as they were due on October 6 and when they “turned it in on October 10 they filed it without a signature.” Scarpello explained his office contacted the committee, which then filed its signed 460 forms on October 16, according to information on the registrar of voters’ website.
“Filing a few days late is not uncommon,” Scarpello acknowledged, explaining that the registrar of voters maintains a list of those that have campaign filings due and its staff calls to “remind them” that there is a filing due.
The statement by proponents/authors of arguments submitted to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters and signed by Jessica VanOverbeke, Percy L. Bakker, Amanda Macias, Thomas J. Kerman and Edward Valenzuela claims, Measure M will “improve classroom education, test scores, and help attract/retain quality classroom teachers” and the upgrades will expand “career and vocational education programs that train students for jobs in automotive, agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and technology.”
Specifically, the Argument in Favor of Measure M claims funds from Measure M will upgrade “classrooms, science and engineering labs, computers and libraries” and “insufficient security features including security fencing, cameras, lighting, and security systems to keep students safe and prevent destruction of school property.”
“Fiscally Accountable!” the argument in favor proclaims of the measure, claiming that required “independent financial audits” and a citizens’ oversight committee will “ensure funds are spent as promised.”
The Argument in Favor of Measure M submitted by its proponents claim, “Every penny is required by law to be spent locally on upgrading our schools.”
However, in an email response to questions by the Sentinel, Committee for Yes On Measure M 4 Hesperia admitted, “As discussed in open session with the governing board and presented to the school facilities committee, a portion of the general obligation bonds authorized by Measure M may be used to pay-off a lease obligation of HUSD.”
The email response sent by Lori Mente assured, “The use of general obligation bonds to pay-off a lease obligation will require future approval of HUSD’s governing board and will he dependent on future economic conditions of HUSD.”
Information provided on Measure M included on the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters’ website in an “impartial” analysis provided by San Bernardino County Counsel’s Office states, “Issuance of all of the authorized bonds might require the outstanding debt of the district to exceed its statutory bonding limit of 2.50 percent of the total assessed valuation of taxable property in the district.”
San Bernardino County Counsel’s impartial analysis explains, “Principal and interest on the bonds will be payable from the proceeds of tax levies upon the taxable property in the district, which is estimated at 5.858 cents per $100 (58.58 per $100,000) of the assessed valuation.” To view these documents visit the registrar of voter’s website: http://www.sbcountyelections.com/Elections/PastElections/20141104/Measures.aspx
In other words, if the voters within the Hesperia Unified School District vote in favor of Measure M at the November 4 general election, the school district would be authorized to annually assess each property owner within the district $58.58 per $100,000 of property value.
As an example, if your house was valued at $300,000 the school district could assess your property at $175.74 a year until those bonds have been paid off with the loan term going as long as 25 years, the statutory limit. Additionally, the bonds can be refinanced extending their payoff even further.
The resolution passed by Hesperia Unified School District at its August 4, 2014 meeting indicates that the district, in issuing these bonds, may require the outstanding debt to exceed the legal limit of two and a half percent of its net valuation of the value of the property located within the district.
According to records obtained from the San Bernardino County Assessor’s Office currently, the value of the property located within the boundaries of the Hesperia Unified School District is $5,248,752,411 net for fiscal year 2013/14.
Therefore, two and a half percent of the value would have equaled $131,218,810 in fiscal year 2013/14. In order to exceed the statutory limit, the school district would need to obtain a waiver from the State Board of Education, which according to records shown on its website have a tendency to approve the requests for waivers with conditions.
In her email to the Sentinel, Mente explained, “HUSD does not believe the total amount of general obligation bonds issued under Measure M will exceed 2.50% of the total assessed valuation (this test occurs each time bonds are sold). This is due to bonds being sold in multiple issues as opposed to a single issuance. As total assessed valuation grows within HUSD, additional series of general obligation bonds authorized under Measure M will be sold.”
The 2.50 percent limit, i.e., “the value of taxable property in the district” on the amount a unified school district can borrow, is set by California Education Code Section 15106.
Other restrictions were placed on school bond financing when California Governor Jerry Brown, in response to concerns about creative financing being conducted by school districts, signed legislation (Assembly Bill 182) on October 2, 2013, requiring the ratio of total debt service to principal for each bond series to not exceed 4 to one among other legal requirements and restrictions included in the bill.
In other words, if 55 percent of the voters within the boundaries of Hesperia Unified School District approve Measure M at the November 4, general election and the district issues $207,000,000 in bonds, it can legally indebt the district up to $828,000,000 in debt service requirements.
Keeping within these statutory restrictions will be challenging for the Hesperia Unified School District and that is when school districts have been getting creative in how they structure their financing and how they project to payoff the debt.
For instance, when Mente explained the district’s decision to pay off a lease obligation “will be dependent on future economic conditions of HUSD” it suggests the district may be projecting rising property values in their calculations on how to pay off the school district’s debt.
There is a variety of bonds from which the district would choose from if Measure M passes in order to structure its financing to keep within these legal restrictions, such Build America Bonds or BABs, current interest bonds or CIBs, capital appreciation bonds or CABs, convertible capital appreciation bonds or CCABs.
According to Mente’s email, “HUSD anticipates using both current interest bonds and capital appreciation bonds when issuing general obligation bonds under the authorization of Measure M” and “current interest bonds will be issued to the fullest extent possible.”
“The use of capital appreciation bonds will be only to maximize the efficiency of the tax revenues,” Mente explained adding that the school district would “adhere to all legal requirements.”
Capital appreciate bonds are known to have extended maturities now up to 25 years, included compounded interest, which is interest on top of interest and have been known to have no payments due until maturity date resulting in exorbitant payoff amounts.
“The use of bond anticipation notes is not expected at this time and not needed to accomplish the goals of HUSD’s Governing Board and the School Facilities Committee,” Mente concluded.
Mente in her email to the Sentinel explained, “HUSD will adhere to all parameters and requirements set both in AB 182 or any other legal requirements in place at the time of each bond issuance when issuing general obligation bonds authorized under Measure “M.”
“If the district receives voter approval, the district will analyze the issuance of each bonds based on the planned facilities improvements, the requirements of the law, and the economic conditions at the time,” Mente asserted, explaining, “There is, therefore: no way to know today, all details of bond issuances five to 10 years into the future.”
As far as the existing debt of Hesperia Unified School District, Mente responded “HUSD does not have any outstanding general obligation bonds.”
However, Mente revealed, “HUSD has entered into two (2) lease arrangements which are making lease payments on certificates of participation.” Certificates of participation are another type of debt instrument which is sold on Wall Street to investors without voter approval.
“In addition, HUSD has formed a number of community facilities districts,” Mente said, adding that “Two (2) of the five community facilities districts have issued special tax bonds.”
When the Sentinel asked for the names of the community facilities districts and details on the special tax bonds, Mente explained “our consultant cannot meet your deadline.”
San Bernardino County Embracing, Indeed Facilitating Food Truck Culture
(October 21) One illustration of the contrast between metropolitan Los Angeles/surrounding Los Angeles County and its little brother to the east, San Bernardino/surrounding San Bernardino County, played out this week at the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meeting when the board took up the issue of food truck regulation.
Food trucks, it seems, are a quintessentially Southern California phenomenon. While lunch trucks have existed for over a half century, the concept was reinvented and enlarged upon in a major way just a decade ago, when the idea of vending cuisine from a truck took hold.
A pioneer in this movement was Roy Choi, who immigrated to America from Korea with his parents at the age of two in 1972. After graduating from California State University at Fullerton with a degree in philosophy and attending Western State University School of Law for a semester, Choi abandoned all that book learning for something immediately practical: the art of food preparation. He started with watching chef Emeril Lagasse’s television show and then took a culinary class at a local night school. In 1996, Choi transferred to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and then served as an intern chef at Le Bernardin in New York City. A relatively few years later Choi had become the chef de cuisine at the Beverly Hilton. He would later hold similar posts with the Embassy Suites in Lake Tahoe and the Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen in Los Angeles. Growing bored with four and five star cooking that catered to the upper crust, Choi made a radical transition, preparing his particular brand of food, one that a style fuses Mexican and Korean flavors and dishes, and selling it from a food truck which he typically parked on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. In 2008 he took his show onto the road and began parking the truck outside nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard late at night, selling Mexican tacos stuffed with Korean-style meat. His approach was so successful it spawned literally hundreds and then thousands of imitators. The city and county of Los Angeles rushed to accommodate the new business phenomenon, and by 2010 there were 4,000 licensed catering trucks operating in Los Angeles County, including 200 “specialty” trucks which featured high end five star cuisine surpassing the typical fare in most restaurants and rivaling that available in the finest restaurants in the city. This created controversy, as the established “brick and mortar” restaurants saw first their profitability and eventually their survival as being threatened. The restaurant establishment and the politicians who were answerable to them began to pound back and soon a round of efforts to intensify the regulations on food trucks were served up. Many of those, as would be logically anticipated, were aimed at the health related issues pertaining to the trucks, sanitation, refrigeration, etc. In 2012, the Los Angeles City Council upped the effort to bring them to heel by using both land use and traffic considerations as operations restrictions. In one instance, the trucks, characterized as “over-sized” were restricted from parking on Wilshire Boulevard near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, one of the most popular venues for the trucks, ostensibly as a means of increasing visibility for drivers in the area. The ordinance banned food trucks from parking along Wilshire, between Fairfax and La Brea between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
In Los Angeles, city officials see further restrictions and regulations on food trucks as a blow for the public good.
Some 59.7 miles to the east, in San Bernardino, the flow is away from regulation. A case in point is this week the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors took a second look at the ordinance it passed in 2012 regulating food trucks.
According to Tom Hudson, the director of San Bernardino County’s Land Use Services Department, “Currently, Chapter 85.19 Food Truck Event Permits allows food trucks to operate only at designated, organized events at pre-approved fixed locations, subject to the operator obtaining an approved Food Truck Event Permits. The code definition of a food truck event in Chapter 810.01 includes any food truck service, regardless of the number of attendees or location of the event. Currently no provisions exist in the code for small, incidental food truck uses. Employers, contractors and persons hosting private parties with a small number of attendees have expressed a concern that the food truck event permits process is too restrictive and costly. The proposed amendment to the code re-defines the minor food truck event and adds exemptions to the food truck event permits in order to address these concerns.”
Hudson continued, “This amendment to the code proposes to modify the definitions of major and minor food truck events to specify that only food truck events which are open to the public require permits. Private parties and other uses that are not open to the public are excluded from food truck event permitting. In addition, staff is recommending a minimum threshold of 100 attendees to require a permit. Therefore, an amendment is proposed to define the minor food truck event as an event for 100 to 499 persons. The major food truck event is defined as an event for 500 or more
persons. Public events for fewer than 100 persons would be comparable to a private event and, therefore, would not require a permit. This modification of permitting requirements applies only to the food truck event permits issued by the county land use services department. All existing requirements of the San Bernardino County Environmental Health Services Department with respect to inspection and permitting of food trucks relative to public health requirements remain in effect and are not affected by the proposed ordinance.”
The policy change applies to the county’s unincorporated areas. The trucks are subject to any applicable municipal regulations in cities that have put them in place. Many San Bernardino County cities have yet to regulate them.
The board directed staff to go even further in the liberalization of the regulations by looking into the consolidation of the food truck inspection process so that if a truck is given certification by the health departments in either Riverside or Los Angeles counties it will be deemed licensed in San Bernardino County.
The Red Car Line In SBC County 1911-1950
San Bernardino County was a participant in Pacific Electric’s Red Car Line, the privately owned mass transit system in Southern California that emanated from Los Angeles consisting of electrically powered streetcars, light rail that existed between 1901 and 1961. Ultimately, organized around the city centers of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, by the 1920s it was the largest electric railway system in the world.
Electric trolleys first traveled in Los Angeles in 1887. In 1901, the Pacific Electric Railroad was by railroad executive Henry Huntington and banker Isaias W. Hellman after they had success developing a trolley system in San Francisco. Together, Huntington and Hellman purchased some existing rail lines in downtown Los Angeles, which they standardizes and organizes into one network called under the Los Angeles Railway.
They tasked engineer Epes Randolph to survey and lay out the company’s first lines which would be to Long Beach. The line to Long Beach opened for business in July 1902.
The enterprise involved not only passenger transportation but carrying of freight as well as supplying electric power to the communities along which the lines extended. Huntington and Hellman and their investors picked up large chunks of real estate along the way. A flling out between Huntington and Hellman occurred as the result of Huntington’s insistence on reinvesting profits into costly expansion rather than paying any stockholder dividends. Consequently, the Hellman investment group sold their share of the company to E.H. Harriman, essentially trading Harriman’s Wells Fargo Bank to Hellman for his railroad holdings.
As partners Huntington and Harrington cooperated with regard to the Red Car venture but were wary of one another because Harrington did not want the line to interfere with his Southern Pacific line operations. In 1906, Moses Sherman sold his Los Angeles Pacific Railroad and the Pacific Electric picked up lines to Pasadena, San Fernando Valley and West LA.
Huntington sold out all his Pacific Electric stock to Harriman and in 1911 what was called the “Great Merger” took place as the Southern Pacific and Pacific Electric became a single operation, with all electrical operations now under the Pacific Electric name.
Shortly thereafter the Red Car line expanded eastward to Monrovia, Azusa, Pomona, Cucamonga Etiwanda, Fontana, Colton and Redlands, making the Pacific Electric the largest operator of interurban electric railway passenger service in the world, with 2,160 daily trains over 1,000 miles of track.
In the late 1930s that the influential Automobile Club of Southern California engineered an elaborate plan to create an elevated freeway-type “Motorway System,” a key aspect of which was the dismantling of the streetcar lines, replacing them with buses that could run on both local streets and on the new express roads.
When the freeway system was planned in the 1930s the city planners planned to include light rail tracks in the center margin of each freeway but the plan was never implemented.
The Whittier and Fullerton was cut in 1938, Redondo Beach, Newport Beach, Sawtelle via San Vicente, and Riverside in 1940. When the San Bernardino Freeway opened in 1941 but was not yet connected to the Hollywood Freeway, while the “Four Way” overpass was being constructed, westbound car traffic from the SB freeway poured onto downtown streets near the present Union Station. PE’s multiple car trains coming and going from Pasadena, Sierra Madre, and Monrovia/Glendora used those same streets the final few miles to the 6th and Main PE terminal and were totally bogged down within this jammed traffic. Schedules could not be met, plus former patrons were now driving. The San Bernardino line, Pomona branch, Temple City branch via Alhambra’s Main St., San Bernardino’s Mountain View local to 34th St., Santa Monica Blvd. via Beverly Hills, and all remaining Pasadena local service were all cut in 1941.
The last vestige of the Red Car system into San Bernardino County was the interurban Railroad post office service operated by Pacific Electric on its San Bernardino Line. This was inaugurated comparatively late, on September 2, 1947. It left LA’s Union Station interurban yard on the west side of the terminal turning north onto Alameda Street at 12:45 pm and San Bernardino at 4:40 pm, taking three hours for the trip. It did not operate on Sundays or holidays. This last Rrailroad post office was pulled off May 6, 1950.
Upland Council Race Devolving Into Sign Stealing, Vandalizing Frenzy
(October 23) Politics in the City of Gracious Living have proven less than gracious in the last fortnight. With eight candidates vying for three positions on the Upland City Council, determination, emotions, and tempers have run high, and the competition between the parties, seven of whom are running spirited campaigns, has been pitched.
As is typical in any electoral season, signs touting the various candidacies are visible all over the 15.6 square mile city of 73,732, having sprouted along the roadway vistas and intersections like toadstools at the base of a tree in a thick-growth forest after a spring rain.
A rash of vandalism to and theft of the signs has taken place over the last few weeks, with that activity intensifying in recent days.
At least three of incumbent councilman Gino Filippi’s signs, which were in prominent spots along Euclid Avenue last week, have gone missing.
Susan Berk, whose campaign has used a mix of four-foot by four-foot signs on heavy wood bases as well as smaller yard signs, was hit with the theft or destruction of ten of its signs around the city early this week.
Bill Schuessler told the Sentinel on Tuesday that nine or ten of his signs were removed, destroyed or taken early this week.
The candidate most heavily hectored by the sign thefts was Rod McAuliffe, who reported on Monday that nearly 50 of his signs had been removed or destroyed.
Reports of the thefts have been made to the police department in at least two of the cases, the Sentinel is informed.
Moreover, a private security camera in a residential neighborhood caught moving images of the removal of one of Schuessler’s signs.
Schuessler said that theft occurred sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. in the morning of October 20. The perpetrator appears to be a young male, Schuessler said. The video shows him taking the sign and placing it in a vehicle, Schuessler said. The video is clear enough for the make and model of the car to be discerned, Shuessler said.
Shuessler said the video has been provided to a forensic analyst capable of enhancing the images on the video even further.
VVUHSD To Pay County/Sheriff $1,000 Per Day For Resource Officer At Adelanto High
(October 22) The county and the sheriff’s department will charge the Victor Valley Union High School District over $130,000 for the services of a single school resource officer to work the Adelanto High School campus for the slightly more than six months of instructional time before the end of the current school year.
According to sheriff’s captain Shannon Dicus. “On September 18, 2014, the Victor Valley Union High
School District Board of Trustees approved the addition of a school resource officer to be assigned at Adelanto High School. School resource officers work closely with school administrators in an effort to create a safer environment for both students and staff. In addition to typical peace officer duties, School resource officers provide mentoring to students and conduct presentations on youth-related issues.”
The services provided by the resource officer will cost the taxpayers in the Victor Valley Union High School $968.94 per day.
The proposed contract provides revenue in the amount of $130,807 to provide a full-time deputy sheriff as a school resource officer for the balance of the school year. The rate charged provides full recovery of both the direct and indirect costs of this contract.
According to Dicus, “Services will be provided by existing staff; however, budget adjustments will be necessary cover anticipated overtime and equipment costs. The sheriff’s department will receive $130,807 for providing a school resource officer for the period of November 3, 2014 through May 29, 2015. The proposed contract provides for school resource officer services at Adelanto High School for the remainder of the 2014-15 school year. This contract benefits the district by having a dedicated law enforcement presence on campus and the department is benefited by freeing up patrol deputies from having to respond to numerous issues on campus.”
Dicus told the Sentinel the $130,807 cost of providing the deputy’s services to the district reflects the annual $ 224,240.57 annual cost to the department of employing a single deputy.