County Nurses Set To Strike Over Stalled Contract Starting December 9

The California Nurses Association has given San Bernardino County notice that roughly 1,200 nurses employed by the county will initiate a work stoppage on December 9.
The strike is intended to last two days, concluding on December 10. The strike is intnded as a show of strength. The county’s contract with its nurses expired in June. Since last year the county and the nurses association have been engaged in an effort to negotiate terms of a new contract, but have failed to reach a resolution.
Nurses have staged three demonstrations since the expiration of the contract, but this is the first effort at an actual work stoppage.
In their protests and statements, the nurses and their union have insisted that the county has engaged in policies that have endangered patients and been financially damaging to the nurses and their families.
Nurses claim they are paid roughly $17 an hour less than nurses in many of the region’s competing hospitals. The county is now functioning with a budget surplus and should be able to provide pay increases and hire more qualified nurses. Because of the countyiInsteadny dget surpuls whichthey say should allow ARMC toprovde pay increast and attract more qalified nurses.
The county employs somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 nurses at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, the county’s main hospital campus, and more than 320 other nurses in public health capacities such as within the jails, juvenile halls and various clinics.
A sore point with the nurses is what they maintain is a high turnover rate among the ranks of the county’s nurses. This is exacerbated by the county’s employment of registry nurses.
Nurses have complained about understaffing, which has required that they work under conditions in which they were not permitted to take breaks or eat lnnch while they fill in for other nurses that have been dispatched to life threatening situations.
The county maintains that it has never exceeded the state’s minimum nurse-patient ratios.
The county has earmarked $15 million to employ registry nurses over the next three years.
The county disputes charges of a high turnover rate among its nurses, asserting that on average its nurses remain employed there for nine years.
That assertion is belied, nurses say, by the consideration that more than 70 registered nurses have departed from the county’s employ since 2013.
Nurses say the county is losing competent and experienced nurses at an astounding rate as it serves as a training ground for new nurses, who routinely leave upon gaining expertise, rather than remaining, because of the dearth of advancement. The county exacerbated this circumsance, nurses say, when it recenly devoted a $226,150 grant from the California Workforce Investment Board to assist residents who have recently graduated from college or training programs with degrees or certifications in healthcare secure positions traditionally offered to candidtes with more work experience. That grant is expected to boost employment opportunities from anywhere from 40 to 50 healthcare graduates from Chaffey College, College of the Desert and Copper Mountain College.
The county dismisses objections the nurses have made to its effort to facilitate the education of health care professions, maintaining the significant number of newly graduated and certifiied nurses has given it the opportunity to have its pick of new personnel.
Total costs of bringing a just licensed nurse up to speed is estimated at $50,000.
Nurses have countered that this empasis on bringing neophytes into the workforce is counterporductive because of the cost associated with training new employees insead of keeping experienced healthcare workers employed.
Additionally, the nurses assert, patientshave beenendangeredbecause of the county’s reliance on registry nurses instead of more experienced staff nurses.
The two-day strike is necessitated by the lack of progress achieved during the previous 14 months of stalled negotiations, the nurses insist. The work stoppage was supported by more than 99 percent of the union’s emembers.
The county will be able to withstand any work stoppage by nurses without any interruption in service.

Contractor On St. Mary’s Adjunct Hospital Project Goes Out Of Business

(November 26)

VICTORVILLE— The contractor to whom the St. Joseph Health System intended to entrust the building of its planned satellite hospital on Amargosa Road has gone out of business.
The $261-million, 128-bed Oasis Campus is to include a Level III trauma center and serve as an adjunct to the existing 202-bed St. Mary’s Hospital in Apple Valley, which is part of the St. Joseph Health System.
St. Louis, Missouri-based HBE Corp., the contractor on the project, announced it would cease operations six weeks ago, triggering inexact rumors about the future of the Oasis Campus undertaking.
According to Randy Bevilacqua, St. Joseph Health, St. Mary’s vice president of strategic services, the failure of HBE represents a bump in the road for the project, but it will continue under a new builder.
St. Joseph will award a dry utilities contract to another company next month and further foundational work to be followed by actual structural work will come later next year.
The hospital annex is being built because the High Desert suffers from a lack of doctors and hospital beds due to rapid population growth. The area has an average of 1.1 hospital beds per 1,000 population compared to 1.9 in California and 2.7 nationwide, according to St. Joseph Health.
Though it was touted as “the nation’s leading design-build firm of hospital expansions,” HBE faltered as a consequence of a downturn in the health care industry as a result of the recession. In 2013, HBE reported revenue declines of 14.7 percent, which followed a 4.9 percent reduction in 2012.

Dipodomys Deserti -The Kangaroo Rat

Agile and diminutive, the kangaroo rat, Dipodomys agilis, along with the desert kangaroo rat, Dipodomys deserti, are small rodents native to San Bernardino County. The kangaroo rat’s common name derives from its bipedal form and the consideration that it hops in a manner similar to the much larger kangaroo, although the two are not related.
Four-toed heteromyid rodents with big hind legs, kangaroo rats have small front legs and relatively large heads. Adults typically weigh between 70 and 170 g. The tails of kangaroo rats are longer than both their bodies and their heads
Kangaroo rats are drawn to arid and semi-arid areas, particularly on sandy or soft soils, which are suitable for burrowing. Kangaroo rats live in complex burrow systems, with separate chambers for specific proposes like sleeping, living and food storage. Colonies of kangaroo rats can vary from as few as a half dozen to several hundred dens. The burrows are spaced depending on the number of kangaroo rats and the abundance of food. The burrows allow kangaroo rats to maintain a constant temperature and relative humidity in their living environment. Sensitive to extreme temperatures, kangaroo rats plug their burrow entrances with soil during the day, allowing them to remain in a cool, humid area when the outside temperature is too hot. During heat waves, a kangaroo rat leaves its burrow only at night. To minimize body moisture loss from respiration while sleeping, a kangaroo rat buries its nose in its fur to accumulate a small pocket of moist air
Primarily seed eaters, kangaroo rats will occasionally eat vegetation and some insects. They are known to store the seeds of mesquite, creosote, bush, and grama grass in their cheek pouches. Kangaroo rats are generally solitary animals with little social organization. They do cluster together in some feeding situations. They generally go out on foraging trips alone, hoarding the seeds they find in seed caches. While caching, kangaroo rates are vulnerable to predators. Kangaroo rats are preyed on by coyotes, foxes, owls, and snakes.
Kangaroo rats inhabit home ranges, which tend to be small, with most of their activities taking place with within 200–300 ft of their burrows. Recently weaned kangaroo rats move into new areas not occupied by adults. Within its home range, a kangaroo rat has a defended territory consisting of its burrowing system.
Kangaroo rats live in aggregations and colonies. There is a dominance hierarchy among male kangaroo rats in competition for access to females. Sexual dimorphism exists in kangaroo rats, with males being larger than females. Male kangaroo rats are generally more aggressive than females and are more dominant over them. Males that are victorious in their encounters with other males are more sexually active. Kangaroo rats have a promiscuous mating system. Their reproductive output is highest in summer following high rainfalls. During droughts and food shortages, only a few females will breed. Kangaroo rats can assess weather conditions and adjust their reproductive efforts accordingly. Female kangaroo rats will mate with multiple males to ensure greater chances of producing offspring. The gestation period of kangaroo rats lasts 22-27 days. The young are born in a fur-lined nest in the burrows. They are born blind and hairless. Offspring are weaned between roughly one month and six weeks after birth, but will remain in the birth mound for up to a few weeks before departing.

Adelanto Council Gives Tentative Approval To 4th & 5th Prison Projects

(November 20)  ADELANTO — The Adelanto City Council gave approval to two separate prison building proposals in this cash-strapped city during a marathon meeting that began on November 19 and lasted until the wee hours of November 20.
The council chambers were packed to capacity as the city council, three of whose members were voted out of office on November 4 and were thus attending their last full council meeting in their elected capacity, considered a proposal by Geo Group Inc. to establish a privately-run prison to hold 1,050 inmates from the California Department of Corrections and a separate proposal by LCS Holdings, LLC to construct a 3,254-bed detention facility to hold overflow Los Angeles County jail inmates.
Adelanto is host to three existing detention facilities: The Adelanto Detention Facility, a 1,950 capacity prison owned and operated by Geo Group; the High Desert Detention Facility, a 2,098-bed facility operated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff, which was converted from a smaller private prison formerly run by the Moreland Family Trust and Maranatha Prison Systems; and the federal correctional complex located on the Adelanto-Victorville border.
The council twice voted, the first time by a 3-2 margin with Wright and councilman Steve Baisden in opposition and the second time by a 4-1 margin with councilman Jermaine Wright dissenting, to approve the development agreements to construct both the Geo Group  and the LCS Holdings projects.
The question now is whether those votes will hold up for a required second vote of the council, which is to come after the three new members of the council are sworn in.
On December 10, Mayor Cari Thomas is to be replaced by Rich Kerr and incumbent councilmen Baisden and Charles Valvo are to be displaced by Charley Glasper, a former councilman, and John Woodard.
During the election and immediately thereafter, Kerr gave indication he was opposed to the LCS Holdings proposal. He has since softened in that regard, indicating he will entertain arguments that the project would provide economic benefit to the community.
LCS’s proposal had been endorsed by the planning commission prior to the council vote this week. The planning commission, however, had rejected the Geo Group proposal.
Because the planning commission’s approval of the LCS project rendered it the one most likely to garner approval at the council level, over the last two weeks it had become the focus of a not insubstantial protest against the construction of more prison facilities in general and in Adelanto in particular. A group calling itself Defund Detention has been very active in the last fortnight, seeking to convince Adelanto city officials that  constructing more detention facilities in a city that already has three is not in the city’s long term interest, no matter what economic benefits might be derived from hosting such facilities. In addition to arguing that the proliferation of prisons in Adelanto is harming the city’s image, Defund Detention asserts that public sentiment and rehabilitative theory is moving away from incarceration as a cure for social ills. One of those involved in Defend Detention, Victoria Mena, maintains that California residents on general principle are opposed to the construction of more jails and are against the proliferation of privately-run detention facilities. Adelanto residents want no more jails, prisons or detention facilities built in their community, she insisted.  She asserts that California residents, in passing Proposition 47, which is aimed at reducing property and drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor status in order to reduce jail crowding, have initiated a trend against detention facility construction. Warehousing large numbers of criminals in the community will compromise public safety, Mena asserts.
Another anti-prison activist, Sarai Herrera, said that detention facilities are little more than “cages” for human beings and that the city has grown to be part of a “Prison Industrial Complex.”
The vote in favor of the Geo Group project, overriding the planning commission and staff recommendation against it, came after Geo CEO George Foley made his appeal to the council while a cadre of current Geo employees dressed in khaki prison guard uniforms and company executives were present to support him. “We are trying to bring economic benefits to this city,” Zoley said. “We bought your former empty facility for $28 million, and I think those proceeds have been used over the last several years to this community’s benefit.” Zoley called the proposal for a second facility to be owned and operated by his company “a continuation” of the previously established relationship between Geo and Adelanto.
Wright and Baisden sought to delay a vote on the proposal until next month, but the remainder of the council chose to vote on the project immediately.
The vote in favor of LCS Holdings’ proposal represented an important element needed to bring the Los Angeles County inmate overflow holding facility project to fruition.
In May, the two principals behind LCS, Newport Beach-based developer Buck Johns and Corrections Corporation of America Founder Doctor Crants of Nashville, Tennessee, presented the plan to alleviate crowding in Los Angeles County’s detention facilities to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Johns and Crants told the board the project would save Los Angeles County $674 million in capital costs and could be in place to receive inmates in two years. Johns and Crants are asking Los Angeles County for no capital contributions toward the project, but want a commitment from the county that it will house its overflow inmates there for 20 years at a cost of $88 per inmate per day, or roughly $104 million per year.
Los Angeles County, the largest county population-wise in California, has been hit particularly hard by the mandates in Assembly Bill 109, legislation aimed at closing California’s so-called “revolving door” of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons. Assembly Bill 109 was drafted in an effort to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons to 137.5 percent of original design capacity. The law sent inmates deemed low risk – those who were convicted of non-violent offenses – back to the county where they were convicted for incarceration.
Adelanto, which is San Bernardino County’s sixth smallest city population-wise at 31,765 residents, is teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy, with little in the way of sales tax revenue-generating commercial development. Last year the city council declared the city was in a state of fiscal emergency, but its residents have refused to consent to impose on themselves a tax that city officials say is needed to stave off bankruptcy.
Johns and Crants are proposing that the $332 million cost of constructing the jail, which is to be located on 160 acres on Adelanto’s eastern boundary, be defrayed with bonds issued by a public finance authority or other agency. The city of Adelanto would own it. Once operating, Johns and Crants say, it would generate enough revenue to debt service the bonds and would provide the city with water and sewer connection fees of  $11,317,482, development impact fees of $3,713,750, public schools impact fees of $215,220, and engineering department fees of $91,046. In addition, Johns and Crants maintain the project would involve off-site infrastructure installation expenditures of $5,734,000 that would be of tremendous future benefit to the city and would create an estimated 3,769 construction jobs and an estimated 1.250 permanent jobs once the facility is in place.
But Johns and Crants had faced something of a Catch-22 that held up progress toward the closing of a deal to get the project under way during the summer. The city of Adelanto wanted Los Angeles County to make a two decade-long commitment to housing its inmates at the facility before proceeding. Los Angeles County wanted Adelanto to commit to building, owning and running the jail before it gave its commitment.
Johns and Crants made a major stride in their effort when the Adelanto Planning Commission on November 4 endorsed the project and gave its recommendation to the city council that it approve the development agreement.  The council furthered their progress toward the goal with its November 19 vote.
“We are very pleased with the vote and are looking forward to address the new council,” Johns told the Sentinel on November 20. “We are hopeful of doing spectacular things in the High Desert and especially in Adelanto. We are most appreciative of the efforts put in by city staff and the council members. We are delighted with the 4-1 vote so we can now move the project forward.”
Despite the council’s endorsement, Johns said the project is not a done deal yet. “We need a second vote with the new council,” Johns said. “We need to confirm last night’s vote because there is a zone change that is part of the project. Zone changes require two votes. We are scheduled to come back before the council on December 10. At that point, there will have been a change of three of the members of the council. We have high hopes the incoming council members will reflect the wishes of the current council and agree that our project represents a positive impact on the economic development and the creation of job opportunities in the city of Adelanto.”

Hagman Taps Spence As Chief of Staff

(November 18) Mike Spence, who has served as Curt Hagman’s chief of staff during all six years he has served in the State Assembly, will serve as Hagman’s chief of staff in his new role as Fourth District San Bernardino County supervisor.
Spence, a councilman in West Covina who has a quarter of a century experience in various political roles in the state capital, including serving as the chief of staff for then-assemblyman Joel Anderson (R- El Cajon), will follow Hagman from Sacramento to San Bernardino.
Spence and Hagman share a hard-edged Republican streak, which was evident in the bare knuckled campaign waged against Gloria Negrete-McLeod for supervisor. McLeod, an incumbent Democratic congresswoman, was portrayed as soft on crime and an advocate of policies that are unfavorable to business interests in hit pieces originating with the Hagman campaign. Spence served as the chief strategist for Hagman in the campaign.
Spence is an anti-tax advocate who has long crusaded for paring back the bureaucracy of government and alleviating the financial burden on taxpayers.
In 1998, the city of West Covina unsuccessfully sued Spence over his opposition to a multi-million tax increase that would have imposed several hundred dollar-per year assessments on homeowners.  Spence prevailed in the lawsuit and the tax proposal failed.
Born and raised in West Covina, Spence was student body president at Edgewood High School  and he then attended and graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science. He was elected six times to the West Covina Unified School District Board of Education, was a founding board member of the California Virtual Academy-L.A. High School, and is a past-president of the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program/Technical College where he served 18 years as a board member.
From 1996 to 2000, Spence served a full term on the Library of California Board. He received the Samuel Adams Leadership Award from the Washington, D.C.-based Local Government Council in 1997. Spence was for four years the taxpayer representative on the Mount San Antonio Community College Bond Oversight Committee. He is a board member of the local Meals on Wheels program.
While he will now be taking on a key San Bernardino County assignment, he remains a creature of Los Angeles County, and good naturedly jabs at San Bernardino County news reporters who confuse the smaller 7.041-square mile neighboring city of Covina, population 47,796, with 16.09 square mile, 106,098 population West Covina.
This week, the current board of supervisors, including Supervisor Gary Ovitt, whom Hagman will replace next month, approved an employment contract between the county and Spence to
provide support services to Hagman as the incoming Fourth District supervisor as a chief of staff, effective in the current pay period in which he will be paid at a rate reflecting an annual salary  of $98,094 and benefits of $85,726 for a full annual cost of $183,820.
County spokesman David Wert  told the Sentinel that “the county is providing Mr. Spence in his role as chief of the transition staff less than he will be paid as chief of staff.”
The salary range for a chief of staff for a member of the board of supervisors is $8,978.67 to $11,498.93 per month or $107,744.04 to $137,987.16 in annual salary plus roughly 90,000 to $95,000 in yearly benefits.
Given the close relationship between Spence and Hagman, it appears that Spence will be given the maximum salary permissible.
“What Mr. Spence is paid as chief of staff is something Mr. Hagman will take up once he becomes supervisor and he is briefed on how much money is available to him in his office budget.”
According to county chief executive officer Greg Devereaux, the contract with Spence “will allow the hiring of a chief of staff to support the incoming county supervisor for the Fourth District. Pursuant to Policy 02-03 an incoming county supervisor is allowed to select a chief of staff and executive secretary in order to transition into office and to facilitate district relevant documents and data gathering. This contract shall become effective in Pay Period No. 25-2014. Consistent with Policy 02-03, this contract approval has an effective date of no more than forty-five days prior to the newly elected supervisor officially taking office. Transitional staff hired under this policy automatically become regular staff when the newly
elected supervisor takes office unless the contracts are terminated by action of the incoming supervisor. All other terms of the transition employment contract will remain unchanged. During this transitional period, duties of transitional staff are limited to acquainting themselves with San
Bernardino County government and data gathering. Transitional staff may coordinate with the incumbent supervisor’s office to familiarize themselves with active projects as well as constituent concerns. Transitional staff shall not begin work on projects specifically related to the newly elected supervisor’s district or with San Bernardino County in general. Additionally, transitional staff may interview potential regular staff; however, further employment contracts may not be approved by the Board of Supervisors until the new supervisor assumes office.”
Hagman said,  “Mike Spence has an outstanding record in public policy, management and political activity. He’s been a chief of staff, an elected official, taxpayer advocate and governmental relations consultant.”

County Partners With SB, Others In Promise Zone Initiative For Urban Renewal

(November 18)  Acting as the governing body of the Housing Authority of the county of San Bernardino, the board of supervisors this week approved a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the city of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Loma Linda University, the Institute of Public Strategies and the National Community Renaissance of California to work toward preparing and submitting an application with the federal government for a significant portion of the city of San Bernardino to be designated as a so-called “Promise Zone,” making it eligible for subsidization funding for community improvement programs.
In 2013, the Promise Zone Initiative was introduced by the federal government to designate a number of high-poverty urban, rural and tribal communities as target areas where the federal government would partner and invest in communities to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime. In January 2014, the first five Promise Zones were selected by an interagency panel led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In September 2014, the second round of the Promise Zone initiative was announced.
Urban, rural, and tribal communities were invited to put forward a plan to partner with local businesses and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.
In exchange, those communities that receive the Promise Zone designation receive preferred access to certain competitive federal investments that further their strategic plans, get federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and obtain access to federal staff to recruit and manage volunteers to strengthen the capacity of Promise Zone partners.
Promise Zones focus on assisting community cooperation with the federal government to meet development and economic rejuvenation goals.
The board of supervisors endorsed the effort, brought forward by county executive officer Greg Devereaux at the November 18 board meeting, to allow the county to engage with the other participants to meet a November 21 filing deadline.
“A Promise Zone designation presents an invaluable and crucial opportunity to transform an area of extreme need in the city of San Bernardino into a healthy, sustainable, equitable and thriving place to work, live and play,” Devereaux wrote in a report/recommendation to the board of supervisors dated November 18. “The positive transformation of this community and its residents is dependent upon physical transformation of the area, linked to comprehensive and coordinated public-private Promise Zone strategies to access and create jobs, increase economic activity and security, improve educational opportunities, improve health and wellness, and reduce violent crime. The housing authority, the county of San Bernardino, the city of San Bernardino, the National Community Renaissance of California, San Bernardino City Unified School District, Loma Linda University, and the Institute of Public Strategies desire to form a collaborative through this memorandum of understanding and will submit the required Second Round Promise Zone Urban Application and if the area is designated as a Promise Zone, complete the work necessary to implement the Promise Zone Plan.”
When pressed by Supervisor Josie Gonzales to explain why the county was participating in the program, Devereaux said, “Promise Zone is a program that was initiated by the federal government i n 2013. The premise behind the program is that a number of high poverty areas throughout the United States would be designated as Promise Zones. Those Promise Zones don’t in and of themselves  bring any funding with them.  They do bring consultation and advice and counsel from members of  the United States  Government across a wide array of departments. If you receive a promise zone designation, you get priority for certain funding opportunities for certain areas such as education, wellness and job training. The city of San Bernardino applied in the initial round. They were not selected. There were only five jurisdictions across the country that were selected. As they prepared for round two, one of the  areas where the application was short was capacity. Given the issues that are occurring in San Bernardino right now, especially the financial issues, I think the federal government was concerned that they had sufficient capacity to really bring together a lot of stakeholders in the community, because this  whole approach of Promise Zone is bringing together a number of community partners that are vested and invested in that community that are supposed to work together, almost  in a collective impact environment, pooling resources, working across silos for the betterment of that community. So the city and mayor approached the county and asked whether the county would join in the effort as we had last time but this time, because of the federal government’s concerns about their capacity, would the county act as the lead agency. When we looked at it, we did not think it would take a lot of extra work because a lot of the approach for this Promise Zone application is concentrating the efforts of programs that are already in existence and already taking place and making sure that they are better coordinated and getting higher levels of participation. We already have a transitional assistance department center in the very focus area they are talking about, which is the area primarily around Waterman Gardens but also includes major portions of the city, so this application is based on an inner zone and an outer zone.  It’s not about instituting a new program, but trying to make sure we get more of the residents participating in that program and better coordinated with other programs  There are a lot of community partners coming to the table. What it does is it makes every one of them more eligible or given a higher priority for funding across a wide array of departments within the U.S. Government. Indeed to date, that has been the case. Every Choice Neighborhood grant that has been issued in the United States in this past year were with a group that had a Promise Zone. Choice Neighborhood grants can run from $30 to $50 million. Though the guidelines don’t say you have to be in a Promise Zone, it is telling that the only jurisdictions that got them were in Promise Zones. It just gives you a leg up.”
Supervisor Gonzales called the joint effort “a great new beginning for a multitude of positive reasons.” She reminded those present that “This county is the largest tenant in the city of San Bernardino. We have a real estate portfolio intrinsically tied to the city of San Bernardino. We have a whole hell of a lot of money invested in this city.” Gonzales said the county should strive to be “a good partner wherever it is possible. This goes a long way toward partnering with the city of San Bernardino.”
At the same time, she sounded a note of caution, saying, “Everything cannot fall on the county. Each city is responsible and held responsible unto itself. The city of San Bernardino has to step up and meet their obligation and help us to help them. If that does not happen then all of the best efforts will fail.”
Gonzales, asked what liability the county would have if the project fell apart and, in such a circumstance, if it would jeopardize “our high status with HUD at the federal level.”
Deveraux said, ”The county is held in good stead by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I do think that if we were fortunate enough to be awarded a Promise Zone designation and failed to come together as a community and work in a way that led to improvement, we would fall somewhat in the eyes of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Having said that, I can tell you that given the nature of the leadership at the table, I think there is a very high likelihood of success. With the level of commitment they have demonstrated and the initiative they have put forth, those problems are going to take place and, I think, will be able to succeed. If the funding that will be available if the Promise Zone comes through, it would only help all of them be able to succeed at a higher level.”
In a separate action pertaining to a cooperative endeavor involving the county’s housing authority and one of the entities involved in the Promise Zone application, National Community Renaissance, also known as National CORE, the board of supervisors approved a consent to joint representation and waiver of potential conflict of interest arising out of the representation of the county of San Bernardino by Goldfarb & Lipman LLP.
That item pertained to the approval of the Val 9 Apartments affordable
housing project in San Bernardino. The county’s Department of Community Development and Housing is partnering with Housing Partners I, Incorporated and National Community Renaissance on the project. Both of those entities are existing clients of the Goldfarb and Lipman firm as is the county’s housing authority.  The county intends to use Goldfarb & Lipman’s ’s services to negotiate and prepare documents relating to its participation, through the HOME Investment Partnership program, in the financing of the Val 9 Apartments affordable housing development. Accordingly, the board of supervisors consented to a waiver as to the potential conflict growing out of this triple representation.
Such a potential conflict, and a need for a waiver, will ensue if the Promise Zone status is granted to San Bernardino, and the county partners with National CORE in an endeavor growing out of that program.

County To Return Child To Mother In Acapulco

(November 18)  The county this week facilitated the return of a child to his mother in Mexico.
On March 25, 2013, for the child’s safety, the San Bernardino County Department of Children and Family Services removed the child, then 11-years-old, from the father’s care. At that time, the child’s mother was residing in Mexico and unable to care for the child. With the assistance of the Mexican Consulate, the mother was located in Acapulco and engaged in family reunification services in order to be reunited with the child.
On March 14, 2014, the court gave CFS permission to reunite the child and mother in Acapulco, Mexico once the mother’s current residence was assessed and received approval.
The Department of Children and Family Services received the Desarrollo Integral de la Familiae llit (Mexican Social Services report) approving the mother’s residence and the report was submitted to the court. Since then, the Department of Children and Family Services has been working to acquire the appropriate documentation and travel arrangements for the child’s final placement into the mother’s home in Mexico.
A Mexican Consulate representative will accompany the child on the flight to Acapulco, Mexico in the interest of the child’s welfare. The travel costs for the Mexican Consulate representative will be covered by the Mexican Consulate. The board of supervisors this week approved the appropriation of $400 to cover the cost of the child’s airfare. It is anticipated that the travel for this reunification will be completed before the end of November 2014.

He Didn’t Get Away With It: Fontana Man In Inside Job Armored Car Heist Nabbed

 By Mark Gutglueck
(November 19)  A 37-year-old Fontana resident employed as a guard in an armored car partook in an inside job to heist over one million in cash, according to federal authorities.
While the two employees of the cash handling service company involved in the heist succeeded in dropping the money off and having it recovered by a third party and then secreting away some 90 percent of the ill-gained proceeds, ultimately they were caught.
Cesar Yanez, 37, of Fontana, and Aldo Esquivel Vega, 28, of Pomona, both of whom were employed as armored truck drivers for Loomis, were arrested on November 13 without incident by special agents with the FBI and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. In relation to search warrants executed the same day, agents found approximately $85,000 in cash at Yanez’s Fontana residence.
A third person involved in the scheme, Jovita Medina Guzman, 39, of San Bernardino, was also arrested on November 13. She is charged with helping her co-defendants hide and disperse the stolen funds and for being an accessory after the fact.
All three defendants were arraigned on a four-count indictment November 13 in United States District Court.
The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on November 7 and unsealed on November 13, alleges that Yanez and Vega, while employed by Loomis on June 27 were transporting a multimillion dollar shipment of cash for Bank of America when they stopped in a parking lot on West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. Vega electronically opened the rear doors of the armored car, which allowed Yanez to access the cash storage area of the vehicle.  Yanez removed $1,086,000 in cash from the armored car and placed it into a trash can that had been left in the parking lot by an as-yet-unidentified person, who later picked up the trash can and recovered the stolen money. Later, Guzman allegedly delivered some of the stolen money to Vega.
Yanez and Vega are each charged with conspiracy to commit bank larceny and bank larceny. Additionally, Yanez and Guzman are charged with possession of bank larceny proceeds, and Guzman is charged as an accessory after the fact to hinder and prevent her co-defendants’ apprehension, trial, and punishment.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Rhoades, who is prosecuting Yanez, Vega and Guzman, only $116,000 of the loot from the caper has been recovered so far. Some $25,000 of that money was retrieved by an informant working with the FBI on the case, Rhodes said. Roughly $91,000 was discovered to be in the possession of Yanez, Rhodes said.
“More than $900,000 is still missing,” Rhoades told the Sentinel.
Loomis discovered the money was missing shortly after the theft occurred, Rhoades said, but both Yanez and Vega remained at liberty for the more than four months following the disappearance of the money until their arrests.
If they are convicted of the offenses alleged in the indictment, Yanez would face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison; Vega would face up to 15 years; and Guzman could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in custody. Additionally, each of the defendants could be ordered to pay fines of as much as two times the loss suffered by Bank of America.
Rhoades told the Sentinel that Yanez faces a stiffer sentence because he is charged with having taken possession of the money and distributing it after the theft.
The investigation into the theft of bank funds was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Rhoades said an investigation into the whereabouts of the yet unrecovered money is ongoing.

Conflicting Micrographing Contract Recommendations Raise Questions

(November 18)  Eleven months after county assessor Dennis Draeger recommended that the board of supervisors approved a $5 million, three-year contract with a Sun Valley-based company to micrograph, index and redact documents filed with the assessor/recorder/county clerk’s office, the board this week entered into an alternative contract, this one for $600,000 with a Florida-based company, for redaction services.
On Tuesday, the board okayed the payment of $600,000 to Computing System Innovations of Apopka, Florida to provide daily and historic redaction services for the assessor-recorder-county clerk, for a contract term beginning December 1, 2014 and running through November 30, 2017, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract.
The board did so upon the recommendation of  Draeger, the county assessor-recorder/county clerk. In making his recommendation this time around, Draeger suggested that Computing System Innovations was better qualified than all of its competitors to carry out the redaction work.
Curiously, however, last year, at its final meeting in 2013, Draeger suggested something different when he recommended that the board of supervisors approve a $5,000,000 contract with PFA, Inc. of Sun Valley to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction services for the assessor-recorder-county clerk-recorder’s division from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract.
At that time,  Draeger said he intended the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office to “utilize the services of PFA, Inc. to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction work for a three-year term, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract. This contract includes four distinct types of work, all of which are vital to the daily operation of the recorder division. The first type of work, micrographics, involves converting scanned images to microfilm and vice versa. More than 550,000 documents were recorded by assessor-recorder-county clerk in calendar year 2012, and all of those documents were received in image form or were scanned in-house. Those documents are then converted to microfilm to preserve permanent county records as mandated by state law. The second type of work, film conversion, places digital, microfiche and film images of documents on silver or Diazo film for more durable preservation. The third type of work consists of indexing fields on recorded documents that can then be used to retrieve the document images within the recorder’s system. The fourth type of work, redaction, involves creating a public record version of each official record by redacting the first five digits of each social security number found in an official record, as mandated by Government Code Section 27301. All four types of work will involve current documents; in addition, documents dating back to January 1, 1980, will be redacted as mandated by Government Code Section 27301.”
Draeger recommended that PFA, which had the county contract for all of the microfilming,  conversion, indexing and redaction services since 2006, be given the three-year, $5 million contract after the county sought bids on the service in April 2013, obtaining bids from seven interested vendors, including HOV Services of  Carson; Extract Systems of Madison, Wisconsin; American Cadastre LLC of Herndon, Virginia; Xerox ACS Enterprise Solutions of San Ramon; PFA; and Midwest Micro Imaging of Golden Valley, Minnesota; as well as Computing System Innovations of Apopka, Florida.
Last December, Draeger told the board that “Staff from the  assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office and the purchasing department reviewed all of the proposals and independently evaluated each proposal’s merit based on technical ability, cost and references” and “the evaluators took care to note minimum vendor and proposal requirements and rated the vendors on understanding of the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s needs, accurate and complete description of technical processes, ability to handle sensitive data, ability to meet timelines, and experience. The vendors were asked to provide costs per unit of service instead of estimating an overall contract amount.  “The evaluation committee recommended PFA for a contract to provide micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction services to the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office based on the cumulative decision that their technical ability exceeded the ability of the other vendors and their references were superior. PFA was not consistently the lowest or highest bidder when comparing vendors’ costs. However, due to the technical nature of the work involved, accuracy was felt to be more critical than cost. PFA provides an accuracy rate of 99.95% with quality assurance controls at no additional charge. Due to a previous protest regarding redaction services, great effort was taken to assure uniformity and fairness during the evaluation process. Despite staff’s effort, an appeal to the decision to award the contract to PFA was received by the purchasing department. The purchasing agent communicated with the vendor and addressed the questions put forth in the protest.”
The board, however, in December 2013 held off on approving the $5 million contract as recommended by Draeger, instead extending the contract with the company for another two months.
In February of this year, after originally scheduling a consideration of the extending the contract with PFA for five years for February 11 but continuing it until February 25, the board approved a reduced contract with PFA to provide micrographics, film conversion, and indexing services for the assessor-recorder-county clerk, in an amount not to exceed $1,600,000, beginning March 2, 2014 through February 28, 2017, with two one-year options to extend the term of the contract. It rejected all proposals for redaction services and terminated the scope of work for redaction services under the request for proposal and approved an amendment to the agreement with PFA to have it continue with current redaction services from March 2, 2014 through November 30, 2014,  increasing the not-to-exceed amount of its original 2006 contract with PFI by $35,000, from $7,207,517 to $7,242,517.
In a report/recommendation to the board of supervisors this week, Draeger wrote, “Redaction services are necessary for the recorder division to meet government mandates and to support the information management plans in the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office. The recommended contract with Computing System Innovations (CSI) is for redaction services, which is vital to daily operations. Redaction creates a public version of each official record by redacting the first five digits of any Social Security number as required by law. On January 31,2006,  the board approved Agreement No. 06-124 with PFA, Inc. to provide micrographics, film conversion, and indexing services. This contract has been amended six times to include redaction services, increase project cost, and extend the term, most recently on February 25, 2014 to extend the term for redaction services to November 30, 2014.
The chief executive officer approved the release of a request for proposal for micrographics, film conversion, indexing, and redaction services on April 18, 2013. The board approved Agreement No. 14-62 with PFA on February 25, 2014 to award the contract for three of the four services. The board determined that further clarification of the technical requirements was needed for daily and historic redaction services, and therefore a new request for proposal was released on May 14, 2014. The assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office  received proposals for redaction services from four interested vendors as follows: Computing System Innovations Apopka, FL $600,000; Extract Systems, LLC Madison, WI $495,750; Mentis Technology Solutions, LLC Centennial, CO $881,100; and Ricoh USA, Inc Malvern, PA $853,500.
An evaluation team consisting of staff from the assessor-recorder-county clerk’s office, finance and administration, purchasing, and the county of Riverside evaluated the proposals based on mandatory submittal requirements and minimum qualifications, technical review, cost, references, financial stability, and oral presentations from the top three vendors. CSI was the highest ranked proposer and the evaluation committee recommends that that contract be awarded to CSI. The fee charged by CSI to redact historic documents is higher than that proposed by one other vendor, Extract Systems, LLC. CSI, however, scored very well during the oral presentation by providing clear and distinct answers regarding critical technical aspects of this service such as document security measures, handling documents with challenges such as handwritten numbers and reversed polarity, and quality control. CSI provides four confidence levels in quality control and manually checks all redacted documents. They provided a well thought out plan for emergencies, and demonstrated the company’s customer service philosophy as their highest priority. As a result, CSI received the top overall score. In addition, CSI had the strongest financial stability of all proposers, and provided references demonstrating its project experience with other agencies having similar volume and time constraints for historic redaction (back files) as the county’s project.
Under the recommended contract, CSI will not charge the county for redaction of current filings of  up to 2.5 million pages per year for the initial term of the contract, which is anticipated to be sufficient to address the volume of recorded documents containing social security numbers, which is currently estimated at 2.0 million pages per year. In the event the daily redaction volume  exceeds 2.5 million pages per year, or if the one-year options are exercised at the end of the contract’s initial three year term, the cost per page will be $0.012. This rate was the lowest among all the proposers.”
Unexplained in Draeger’s report/recommendation was why his December 2013 glowing recommendation of PFA, including its ability to provide redaction services, was no longer operative. When pointed questions relating to that change were raised by the public at this week’s board meeting, Draeger did not provide a substantive response.
“We put our request for proposals for vendor response,” Draeger said. “We had a competitive process. The Florida company was the low bidder and best performer,” he said.