Two Marine Pilots Killed In Helicopter Crash at MCAGCC 29 Palms

(January 28) Two Marine Corps helicopter pilots lost their lives last week when the UH-1Y Huey they were in crashed during a training drill near Twentynine Palms.
Captain Elizabeth Kealey, 32, and 1st Lt. Adam Satterfield, 25 were the sole crew members aboard the  3rd Marine Aircraft Wing helicopter when it crashed at 4:40 p.m. on Friday, January 23, according to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar officials.
Kealey and Satterfield were assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif. The aircraft was conducting routine flight operations at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC).
Kealey, a native of Indiana, Pa., commissioned in the Marine Corps May 27, 2005. She served within Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 as a UH-1Y Huey helicopter pilot and weapons training instructor. Kealey deployed twice with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Her personal awards included the Air Medal with three Strike/Flight awards and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of second award.
Satterfield, 25, a native of Oldham, Ky., commissioned in the Marine Corps June 20, 2011. He served within Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 as a UH-1Y helicopter pilot and supported Marine Air-Ground Task Force training operations in the Southern California area.
“Capt. Kealey and 1st Lt. Satterfield were both outstanding Marine Corps officers and talented helicopter pilots,” said Lt. Col. James M. Isaacs, their commanding officer. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of our fallen Vipers, and we stand poised to support them in this tragedy.”

Deadline For Needles Med Center Ground Sale Nearing

NEEDLES— (January 29) The city and National Healthcare Partners, Incorporated are facing a February 22 deadline for the final closing of escrow on the purchase of the Colorado River Medical Center.
The agreed-upon sale has been beset with complications, which included the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the appraisal and purchase of the property. The Bureau of Land Management is involved because a portion of the property upon which the hospital was originally built was federal land and covenants on the use of the property contained restrictions if the hospital is to function in any other role than a community non-profit medical center.
The Bureau of Land Management signing off on the deal in a timely fashion is of critical importance because the sale agreement stipulated that if the closing deadline of February 22, 2015 is not met, the sale of the property will not be effectuated and what will exist in its place is a long term lease.
While it now appears that the local office of the Bureau of Land Management has accepted an appraisal of the property and is amenable to National Healthcare Partners, Incorporated’s purchase, the local office’s recommendation must be passed along to the state Bureau of Land Management office, which must confirm the local recommendation before forwarding its recommendation to the national office, which must ultimately okay the sale. Already more than 22 months have passed as the local office has carried out its due diligence with regard to the matter. It was originally anticipated that the Bureau of Land Management would grant its approval of the pro forma for National Healthcare Partners’ takeover of the hospital by March 26 2013 and in no case later than June 30, 2013. The interminable delay and the fast approaching deadline has many observers believing that it is unlikely National Healthcare Partners will be able to take on ownership of the hospital without some amendment to the sales agreement.
After a competitive process, the city in 2012 agreed to Community Healthcare Partners, Incorporated buying the hospital for a total of $2.577 million.  Under that agreement, Community Healthcare Partners, Incorporated was to pay $2.2 million at a so-called first closing to cover the value of the hospital itself and $377,000 at a second closing to cover the cost of the real property.
The initial $2.2 million payment was made in June 2012 and there was progress toward making the second payment to the city, which owns the totality of the property the hospital is situated on. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Land Management held reversionary rights, which created the need for the two-step closing process, as it was anticipated there would be a slight delay in the clearance for the sale being gotten.
The two-part closing was undertaken because the city was running up considerable expense as a consequence of its ownership and continuing management responsibility at the medical center and there was a priority on stanching the hemorrhaging of red ink as soon as was practical.
The city took on ownership of the Colorado River Medical Center in April 2008 after Brentwood, Tennessee-based Lifepoint Hospitals, a for-profit corporation, embarked on an effort to move the institution’s equipment and personnel to another hospital it owned in Arizona, roughly 12 miles from Needles.
Because of long-running inadequate billing practices, including failures to invoice Medicare and Medi-Cal as well as insurance companies and patients in a timely fashion, the hospital under the city’s guidance had lost money, representing a financial liability to the city. The city created a  board of trustees to oversee the hospital, and that panel, together with the city council, came to a consensus that spinning the facility off to an independent operator was the best solution for ensuring that the community has adequate medical care without soaking the taxpayers.
In June 2010, Needles voters passed Measure Q, which called for keeping the hospital open and absolving the city of the financial burden of subsidizing the facility by having a non-profit entity selected to run the hospital.
In 2011, a nonprofit group, Needles Hospital, Inc., led by former Needles councilwoman Rebecca Valentine formed. Needles Hospital, Inc. offered to purchase the Colorado River Medical Center and the 5.71 acres it sits upon for $3,587,002. For that amount, Needles Hospital Inc. was to take possession of most assets and liabilities of the hospital, including accounts receivable, operating inventory in place, outstanding bills and unemployment obligations. Unassumed debts were to  be deducted from the purchase price, but the city was to keep any cash in the hospital’s coffers at the time of sale.
Needles Hospital, Inc. lost its opportunity after it failed to meet an April 26, 2012 deadline to prove it had the funding to make the purchase.  AM Pharmacy, headed by Bing Lum, had put together a competing proposal to purchase the hospital and run it as a for-profit entity.  The city council turned down that proposal in January 2012 in favor of Needles Hospital, Inc.’s offer. After the Needles Hospital, Inc. bid fell through, however, the city council agreed to accept a revamped proposal by Lum which entailed AM Pharmacy creating a non-profit wing, National Healthcare Partners, Incorporated, to run the hospital.
Multiple efforts by the Sentinel to reach Lum this week were unsuccessful.
While AM Pharmacy/National Healthcare Partners, Incorporated were fully amenable to paying the $377,000 for the real property, an element of the second closing entailed an appraisal of the land. The city and National Healthcare Partners, Incorporated split the cost of doing that appraisal.  The appraisal stated the fair market value of the property is $155,000.
Other costs related to the property have been bundled into the sum Community Healthcare Partners, Incorporated will put to complete the second closing. That figure is now calculated at $287,000.

Attorneys For Upland And Marijuana Coalition Spar Over Election Timing

(January 27) As was perhaps inevitable, differences between Upland city officials and the proponents of a ballot initiative to establish a protocol allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to be established in that city of 73,073 have emerged.
Specifically, the initiative proponents are seeking to have the city council simply adopt the language of the initiative with no further ado or otherwise call a special election at the earliest opportunity to have a city voter referendum on the initiative. Most city officials would prefer to hold off on the vote until the next regular municipal election is held in November 2016. They had already raised and abandoned one theory with regard to the initiative proponents’ filing that would have put the election off to next year. But city attorney Richard Adams this week cited a second theory relating to a specific element contained in the initiative itself and a provision in state law relating to the imposition of taxes to posit the grounds by which the election would need to take place during a regularly scheduled election rather than an impromptu one.
In October, a group of Upland residents, nominally headed by Nicole DeLaRosa and James Velez  sponsored by the California Cannabis Coalition, Craig Beresh and Randy Welty, undertook a petition drive to qualify for the ballot in Upland an initiative aimed at overturning the Upland’s ban on marijuana dispensaries.  Beresh is the California Cannabis Coalition’s president.  Welty, a coalition board member, has an ownership interest in 53 medical marijuana clinics throughout the state and owns Upland’s Tropical Lei nightclub, Upland’s Toybox adult bookstore, other adult bookstores located elsewhere, and at least four other strip clubs.
On January 14, Beresh and Welty on behalf of the California Cannabis Coalition and those involved in the signature-gathering effort came to Upland City Hall and handed over to Upland administrative services director/city clerk Stephanie Mendenahll  the initiative petition endorsed with 6,865 signatures gathered in Upland. Welty, Beresh and another member of the California Cannabis Coalition, Michael Cindrich,  who is also an attorney, said were sufficient to require the city to hold a special election to overturn Upland’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Welty, Beresh and Cindrich were met with Mendenhall’s assertion, based on information provided to her by city attorney Adams, that the coalition did not file the proper notice that a special election was being sought at the time the petition drive was initiated in October. She informed them that the ballot measure would come before the city’s voters at the next general election in 2016.
In speaking for the city, Mendenhall maintained that the initiative advocates had not requested a special election when they filed the ballot and summary in October and that such notification and request had to be clearly enunciated at the outset of the petition drive and be officially disclosed in the required advertising for the drive that was published at the time. Moreover, according to the city, each page of the petition endorsed by those signing the petition did not state that a special election was being called for.
This rebuff was taken seriously by the initiative advocates, who consulted with their attorney, Roger Diamond, a top constitution issue lawyer whose reputation as a tenacious legal representative of advocates for controversial but constitutionally protected activities and enterprises, such as adult entertainment and medical marijuana dispensaries, proceeds him.
The Upland City Council this week, at its January 26 meeting, adjourned into a closed session to engage in, according to the meeting agenda a ”conference with legal counsel” relating to the “initiation of litigation.” It was widely believed that litigation was going to be directed at the initiative proponents.
Upon emerging from that closed session meeting, however, the council sat in rapt silence as Adams informed the near capacity crowd assembled in the city council meeting chambers that “no reportable action was taken,” meaning no direction to initiate a lawsuit against the initiative proponents or anyone else had been taken.
Adams then embarked on a narrative in which he reported that the initiative advocates had succeeded in gathering  6,865 signatures and that the petitions and signatures had been turned over to the county registrar of voters to verify the validity of the signatures, i.e., determine how many of those signatures had been provided by Upland residents registered to vote within the city. Adams said the number of registered voters in Upland totaled 36,949. If ten percent of those endorsed the petition, Adams said, the city council would have to present the initiative to the voters at least by the next regularly scheduled municipal election or otherwise utilize its own authority to adopt the language of the initiative. Under normal circumstances, Adams said, If 15 percent of the city’s voters endorsed the initiative, the city council would have to accede to carrying out a special election. Though he indicated the registrar of voters had yet to ascertain how many of the 6,865 signatures were indeed valid, the tenor of Adams’ remarks was such that he seemed to believe the initiative advocates had met the burden required to trigger the special election. In this regard, he backed off of Mendenhall’s earlier suggestion that the documentation submitted in October was insufficient to require the city to hold the special election. “As it happened, neither the title page nor the summary nor the notice of publication mentioned they wanted a special election. When we received the petitions’ main page, it does say they were asking for a special election,” Adams said. Based on that and the likelihood that the petitions were signed by 15 percent of the city’s registered voters, Adams said it would probably be his recommendation that the city go ahead and schedule the special election.
But there is one other criterion that could save the city the expense of holding the election, Adams suggested.
The initiative imposes a set of limitations on the dispensaries and a protocol for their application and licensing. Under the terms of the initiative, the number of dispensaries in the city would be limited to three and they would have to be located within the relatively confined area north of Foothill Boulevard, south of Cable Airport, and between Airport Drive to the east and Monte Vista to the west. Each of the applicants for the three dispensaries would have to pay a $75,000 nonrefundable licensing fee to cover the city’s costs in carrying out background checks and making other inquiries and efforts to process the applications.
It was with regard to this point that Adams said the city might yet have what he called a “profound”  basis for holding off until a regular election to let the city’s voters consider the initiative.
“This particular measure calls for only three medical marijuana dispensaries to be established in the city,” Adams said. “A special $75,000 licensing fees is to be paid annually for each dispensary. The State Constitution indicates that if the fee exceeds the cost of providing the services, licensing and inspection, it is not a fee. It is a tax. “
Adams said the city is now looking into how much it will cost the city to carry out the inspections and licensing procedure to determine if the city’s costs in that regard will be less than $75,000. “If this is not a fee but a tax, then it cannot be approved at a special election,” Adams said.
In his comments to the council, Diamond said “We do not agree with the city attorney that one of your options is a general election.” Intimating that the Cannabis Coalition will file litigation to force the city to abide by the law relating to the initiative process, Diamond advised the city to “Adopt the measure. It is a well written measure. It is very responsible. Imposing the $75,000 is one of the reasons it is responsible.”
After his public comments, Diamond spoke with the Sentinel. He said, “What determines whether this goes to a general election or a special election is the number of valid signatures on the petition, ten percent or 15 percent. The city attorney was already proven wrong on his first major reason for stating that this did not require a special election. The reason the petition and the printed notice did not specify a special election was we could not predict how many signatures we would get ahead of time. We did not know for sure we would get the full fifteen percent. But we did get them. Now he is saying this is a tax proposal and it must be held during a general election.” Diamond opened a volume of the California Election Code and pointed to it. “Tell me where that is in the code. I don’t see anything that says that. He was wrong on the first reason he gave. You just heard him admit that. And he is wrong on this.”
Beresh told the council in his public comments, “This community wants to work with the city council. We don’t want to see the wasting of funds and money.”
He suggested the  city could reap a financial benefit by embracing cannabis dispensaries instead of banning them. “Utilize the revenue available. Your people want it.”
Welty told the council, “This is a citizens’ initiative.” He said “a plethora” of illicit “brick and mortar and  mobile delivery systems” are “moving into our residential zones. You have been a witness to this. Set aside this black market. What this initiative does is alleviate a tremendous liability.”
Former Upland City Manager Steve Dunn said “Upland has had marijuana dispensaries since 1996 operating illegally,” and he bemoaned the fact that the city had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a failed legal effort to keep such operations out of the city. “We should have done a better job of taxing and regulating medical marijuana,” he said. “We may have closed a dispensary, but it is really a shame the city council as of this moment doesn’t have a policy.” He said the city’s futile and less-than-fully-thought-through, knee jerk reaction against marijuana clinics in general had kept it from formulating an even better set of restrictions than is contained in the initiative, which he said could have been framed better.
“We could have done something a lot more favorable to the city than what is being proposed,” Dunn said.
He said the prohibition mindset with regard to marijuana is hopelessly out of date.
“We spend a lot more money on alcohol related crimes,” Dunn said. “We need to look at why marijuana has been decriminalized in 27 states and legalized in four. Stop wasting time and money and adopt the ordinance as it is or let the people of the city decide once and for all.”
Antidrug activist Paul Chabot, however, encouraged the city to draw the line against the initiative and resist the effort to make marijuana easily available at city-sanctioned clinics. Cabot said the city was being “bullied” by the likes of Diamond, Welty and Beresh. “Sixty-three percent of your citizens don’t want these marijuana dispensaries in your city,” he said. “Over 200 cities have banned them. Less than ten percent have allowed them. In the four cases where initiatives to allow clinics to set up within a particular city’s city limits have gone to a vote, Chabot said, “all four were defeated.” He said “It’s all about money. It was big tobacco in the 1990s. Big marijuana is a multi-million dollar business and it is soon to be a multibillion dollar business.” Paradoxically echoing Welty, he said that marijuana dispensaries “bring in a black market.”
Three members of the council – Mayor Ray Musser, councilwoman Carol Timm and councilman Glenn Bozar – appear resistant to the concept of allowing medical marijuana clinics to operate in town. They believe a majority of the city’s residents are of a like mind. Among dispensary opponents, there is a belief that the initiative will fail if it is voted upon during a regular election. At the same time, they believe chances for the passage of the initiative will be enhanced if it is voted upon during a special election when many voters will not participate and its supporters have the opportunity to network with members of the drug subculture to convince them to make a strong showing at the polls.
The cost of holding a special election in Upland will run to at least $80,000 and could cost as much as $110,000, city officials said.

CVUSD Will Trust In God In Fighting Anti-Prayer Lawsuit

(January 25) The Chino Valley Unified School District having been drawn into a lawsuit by what the plaintiffs consider to be overly aggressive religious references during school board meetings that verge on blatant proselytizing, a majority of the school board has voted to trust in God and hope a lawyer the district in the legal challenge it is facing.
The Chino Valley Unified School District was sued by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, two identified local plaintiffs and more than 20 unnamed local plaintiffs over the district’s practice of engaging in Christian prayer and Bible readings at school board meetings.
The suit seeks the discontinuation of prayer and religious references during the conducting of official district business.
Referenced specifically in the suit were board president James Na and trustee Andrew Cruz, who are said to pepper their discussions of issues at board meetings with Christian homilies and scripture readings.
The suit was filed by Andrew Seidel, an attorney for Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of Larry Maldonado and Mike Anderson and several other unnamed local plaintiffs, most of whom are believed to be parents of children in the district.
Seidel said he wants the district to discontinue preaching by the board’s members and their promotion of religion.
According to Seidel, the religious references went well beyond invocations, which have been deemed acceptable by the courts, to create an atmosphere in which individuals who do not profess the Christian faith felt uncomfortable.
At the January 15 school board meeting, the entire panel adjourned into a closed session to discuss out of the view of the public what sort of response the district would make to the lawsuit. Such closed door meetings are permitted under the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open public meeting law. During that discussion, the details of which have not been publicly disclosed, trustees Irene Hernandez-Blair and Pamela Feix apparently argued in favor of utilizing the school district’s legal counsel to prepare an answer or alternatively against fighting the lawsuit altogether.  Hernadez-Blair and Pamela Feix were outvoted, however, by  Na, Cruz and board member Sylvia Orozco, who voted to utilize the services of a pro bono attorney.
Without being specific, Na indicated there are numerous attorneys both inside and outside California willing to take the case on for no charge.
For some time, some members of the public who attend board meetings and other district events have remarked upon the degree to which religious references were becoming a part of official proceedings. Some meeting attendees said they felt they were ostracized if they did not profess Christian beliefs. Maldonado, who is a Christian himself, said he consented to being a plaintiff because he believed the religious references were likely to dissuade non-Christians from participating in district events or providing their input to the board.
Former Chino Police Chief Miles Pruitt said he believed those of faith had a right to express their beliefs in public and that those rights were in danger of being abridged by those who would prevent him and others from engaging in prayer at school functions.
Pastor Jack Hibbs of the Calvary Chapel of Chino Hills, which has both junior high and high school ministries,  suggested the lawsuit was the work of the Devil and his agents seeking to remove God from the public education process.

Geo Group Throws In Towel On Proposal For Its Third For-Profit Prison In Adelanto

ADELANTO—(January 28) Florida-based Geo Group Inc. has withdrawn its plans to construct that company’s third for-profit prison facility in Adelanto, a 1,050-bed facility in the city that was to be be constructed at the northeast corner of Holly and Koala roads.
Geo Group, Inc. is already the largest employer in the city of Adelanto, where it operates for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency a detention facility that is currently undergoing expansion to a 1,940 inmate capacity. Geo Group, which started as a corporate offshoot of the private prison facility Wackenhut Corporation, also operates the 700-inmate Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility on behalf of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
On January 15, Donovan Collier, an attorney representing Geo Group Inc. sent a letter to the city informing officials the company was withdrawing its longstanding plan to build the facility at the present time but was nevertheless reserving its  “right to resubmit this request in the future.”
Geo Group’s action appears to be base in at least some measure on the hostile reception given to the company’s founder and president, Greek-born George Zoley, who attended the Adelanto City Council meeting on November 19, at which the approval of Geo Group’s facility and another for-profit prison proposed by Doctor Crants and Buck Johns was on the agenda. Present at that meeting were scores of opponents of both prison projects, who attacked the plans to build more prisons in a 31,765 population city that already hosts four prisons or detention facilities as contrary to the residents’ best interests, while asserting that the trend of expanding incarceration of a large percentage of the state’s population as behind the times and socially retarded.
Zoley, who is listed among the 1,500 wealthiest individuals in the world, had been encouraged in undertaking the project because the city of Adelanto is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and city officials had represented to Geo Group’s corporate officers that the city would expedite the approval of the project. Zoley took it as a grave personal insult that he was heckled by members of the audience as he gave his presentation to the city council that evening. He was further taken aback by the council voting by a bare 3 to 2 margin to approve the project. Two weeks previously, the Adelanto Planning Commission on November 4 had voted 4-0 o deny a renewal of the company’s  conditional use permit and development agreement, expressing concerns with prisoners being released directly outside the facility.
At the November 19 meeting, Zoley had come face-to-face with banner carrying protestors   who derided detention facilities as little more than “cages” for human beings and said that the city has grown to be part of a “Prison Industrial Complex” as the proliferation of prisons in Adelanto is harming the city’s image and harming public safety. Rather than receiving him as an agent of improvement in the community, the protestors derided Zoley as a predator who was trying to profit from it.
In the face of this, Foley gamely attempted to make 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. The presence of uniformed prison guards surrounding him in that context, however, created a spectacle that made it appear as if Zoley and the city council were under siege.  “We are trying to bring economic benefits to this city,” Zoley said, amid catcalls. “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.
While facility opponents released a statement of appreciation that Geo Group had retracted its application, the development appeared to have caught Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart flatfooted. Word of Collier’s letter did not reach the public until January 27, some twelve days after it was written and eleven days after the city had received it.  Hart has been seeking ways of shoring up the cash-strapped city, which in 2013, declared it was in a state of fiscal emergency. The city’s residents have refused to consent to impose on themselves a tax that city officials say is needed to stave off bankruptcy and Hart’s only other alternatives have been to seek out development projects that offer the prospect of fee or tax generation.

SB, Forsaking Luring County Into Carousel Mall, Seeks Private Developers

(January 26) The city of San Bernardino has apparently given up on attempting to interest the county of San Bernardino in becoming a major tenant at the 43-acre Carousel Mall.
Construction on the downtown landmark began in 1971. at a location that had been the site of the old Harris Store since 1927. In 1972, it opened as the Central City Mall, anchored by Harris, J.C. Penney, and Montgomery Wards, and including 49 other stores. Today it is located within walking distance of both San Bernardino City Hall and the San Bernardino County Administration Building.
It was for a time a grand shopping location, temporarily besting its major rival in town, the Inland Center, which opened in 1966.  At its peak in the mid 1980s it boasted more than 100 tenants. In the late 1980s it was renovated, and a carousel was installed in the bottom floor, at which point it was rechristened the Carousel Mall. But its fortunes waned with those of the rest of San Bernardino over the years, and by the late 1990s, it began to decline. The first major blow came when Gottschalks, which had bought out Harris, elected to close at that location in 1998 and relocated in the Inland Center. Three years later, in 2001, Montgomery Ward went out of business. At that point, J.C. Penney was the sole anchor. In 2003, J.C. Penney closed. The mall was sold in 2006. Two years later, in 2008, Lynwood-based developer Placo San Bernardino LLC, purchased  a major portion of the mall in 2008 for $23.5 million, with serious designs on reinvigorating it and obtaining short term financing to undertake improvements, signaling it was on a crash schedule to do just that.  But that same year, CinemaStar shuttered its theater on the mall’s grounds.
Placo remained committed, however, refinancing its early short-term financing, with a $16.5 million loan from Center Bank.
In May 2010,  with its plan stalled, Placo was failing to make its payments to Center Bank. The  city of San Bernardino’s economic development agency swooped in and bought the property’s note and deed trust from Center Bank for slightly over $13.1 million.  At that point, the city, based on backroom discussions with county officials, had visions of filling large portions of the mall with county offices.
Relations between Placo and the city had entirely broken down by that point. Placo, which claimed it was still intent on making a go of revitalizing the mall, said it was being undercut by the city which was militating to tenantize it with county government offices. The city pressed Placo to pay it the $5 million difference between the amount it had paid for the mall and the amount of money loaned it by Center Bank with interest.
In 2011, there were 33 shops in the mall. At present, there are only 17 businesses there, including four restaurants. Whatever prospect the city once felt it had of luring the county into locating its offices there have long since faded. In fact, last April, the only county office there, county of San Bernardino’s Children and Family Services Division, which had entered into a ten year lease for 28,892 square feet of office space at 128 Carousel Mall, Building G, pulled up its stakes and departed.
Bowing to the obvious, San Bernardino has given up on the prospect of becoming the county’s landlord at the mall. San Bernardino  Mayor Mayor Carey Davis and San Bernardino City Manager Allen Parker in November sent a letter to what has been described as “numerous development concerns” soliciting return letters of interest to the city relating to the mall. Davis and Parker, perhaps somewhat unrealistically, imposed a deadline of December 19 for replies. More recently the city has had communication with some of those development concerns which indicated they would like more time to put together responses and proposals.
According to the city, the city is only seeking “informal” letters of response, and more detailed proposals can be provided further down the line.
Clearly, the city’s intent is to stir up interest and create the perception that there is a depth of competition for locating in the mall.
The city is seeking qualified entities with the means and expertise to transform the mall, which is among the largest and most involved of the nearly 300 properties owned by the city/now defunct economic development agency. Davis and Parker said they want a profile of each company, its financing capability and experience, together with an explanation of the potential the company sees in the mall site.
The city is prepared to provide the company that offers the most alluring proposal an inducement in the form of a developer dispensation agreement, conditional upon a demonstration that the company in fact has the financial horsepower to achieve its stated goals.
The letter touts the advantages the mall property possesses, including its placement in the downtown area and proximity to San Bernardino International Airport, the availability of water and other infrastructure, the presence of nearby national companies such as Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Michelin, Kohl’s, Pep Boys, Mattel and Stater Bros. Markets, and its easy accessibility from the 10 Freeway and the recently improved 215 Freeway.
The letter hinted that the city could facilitate the sale of that portion of the mall not owned by its economic development agency’s successor, those being the Harris/Gottschalks building, owned by El Corte Inges, a Spanish department store broker, and the J.C. Penney’s store, now owned by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The letter said the solicitation of interest was “coordinated” with those two parties.

Hinkley Mojave Solar Project Now In Operation

The Mojave Solar Generating Station in Hinkley reached commercial operation in early December and was given its public inauguration last week.
Designed to have a 280-megawatt generating capacity, the facility is composed of  2,200 mirrored parabolic trough collectors spread across two square miles of desert in this community located 14 miles northwest of Barstow.
The computer controlled parabolic troughs represent an improvement on earlier thermal solar generating systems, which concentrate the suns rays on a water-filled edifice, which creates steam to drive a turbine.
At present, the facility is putting out less than half of its full megawatt capacity. Abengoa, a global technology company based in Seville, Spain with U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, says the Mojave Solar Plant will eventually deliver enough electricity to serve 91,000 California households, while preventing the emission of  223,500 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.
“We are proud to contribute to the effort to make this world a better place,” Abengoa CEO Armando Zuluaga Zilbermann said during the inauguration. “Climate change is clearly one of the most important challenges that humankind has ever had to face. Almost every day seems to bring news of more threats to life on Earth due to the growing climate-change related impacts. There is an urgency to take more serious steps to reduce CO2 emissions.”
California’s Mojave Desert provides an ideal showcase for renewable energy efforts, Zilbermann said. “I’ve been to many places in the world,” he said. “There’s no place like California for the number of renewable resources that we have. We have great wind sites. We have some of the best solar power. We have earthquakes giving us a lot of geothermal power and we have a vast amount of biomass. There’s is no place in the world with that combination of resources.”
The project was heavily subsidized by the federal government, which in 2011 provided Abengoa with a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for the Mojave project through the Department of Energy’s Federal Loan Guarantee Program.

Reps Aguilar & Torres Get Committee Assignments

(January 22) The newest members of the Inland House of Representatives delegation now have committee assignments.
Congressman Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, who has replaced Gary Miller as congressman in the 31st  District, was appointed to the House Armed Services and Agriculture committees.
“I look forward to serving the tens of thousands military personnel and veterans who call the Inland Empire home as a member of the Armed Services Committee,” said Aguilar. “These proud men and women need a voice in Congress who will fight for our military and work to create defense jobs and grow renewable energy and manufacturing in San Bernardino County.”
Aguilar said, “Agriculture has been a key part of our region’s economy for generations, and I will work to strengthen this industry and the jobs it supports on the Agriculture Committee.”
Congresswoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who replaced Gloria Negrete-McLeod as the representative in the 35th Congressional District earlier this month, was given an assignment on the Homeland Security committee.
“The issues that come before the Homeland Security Committee are of critical importance to my state and my district. The 35th district is home to Ontario International Airport and serves as an inland port through which goods from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are transported to the rest of the country. Protecting our nation’s infrastructure and ensuring the effective implementation of security regulations are vital to the region’s economy.”

Forum… Or Against ‘em

By Count Friedrich Von Olsen

I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had so many advantages, I can’t remember them all. By the time I was four years old, which is as far back as I can remember, I was a spoiled brat. I might have been a spoiled brat before that, but, as I just said, I can’t remember that far back…
Along about the time I was eight, I have a clear recollection of being taken aside by my father for a rather stern lecture. This occurred during Easter week, somewhere near the midway point of the Spring Hiatus, the two week break we were given from boarding school. It seems that upon arriving back at the manor, I had taken to ordering the domestic staff about.  I have blotted many of the particulars from my memory, although I have a somewhat dim recollection of dressing down the butler, who had had engaged in the unforgivable act of having presented me, during a mid-afternoon refreshment session in the midst of a round of croquet, with a plate of sweet pickles. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I expected him to remember that I preferred my gherkins sour and spicy, and the consideration that I had been away at school all those many months was hardly an excuse for his forgetfulness. I remember my father impressing on me that it was somewhat unseemly for someone of my tender years to be speaking to the domestic staff in such harsh tones and with such an air of superiority, especially given that those at whom I was hurling my invective were at least two, and probably more like three or four or even five, decades my senior. My father upbraided me for my imperious bearing, attitude of ascendancy and sense of entitlement, telling me that I had embarrassed him and disgraced our family…
It is interesting what made me summon that to mind. It seems in our High Desert, two of our younger set recently were even more disrespectful to one of their elders than I had been to my own in my youth.  Late in the morning on Sunday January 25, three teenagers boarded a bus on the Victor Valley Transit Authorities route in Victorville. When the driver had the temerity to question the bus pass presented by one of the youths, the juvenile responded by punching the bus driver in the face and, with the assistance of one of his companions, taking the bus driver’s backpack…
When the bus driver, who was at the rather distinct disadvantage of having to maintain control of the bus, pulled over to the side of the road near the intersection of El Evado and Palmdale roads to confront his attacker, the young man and his two cohorts fled…
Authorities were called and sheriff’s deputies were able to round up the trio within a short time. The onboard bus video was reviewed, other passengers on the bus were interviewed, and based on that the deputies concluded one of the three teenagers had not been involved in the mayhem and he was let go. The two others, a seventeen year old and a fifteen year old, however, were arrested and booked into Apple Valley Juvenile Hall, charged with assault and robbery…
I am now left to compare and contrast these indiscretions of youth, the recent ones of these three young men I thankfully do not personally know and my own from some eighty years ago. Mine was a trespass of attitude and hurtful words. Theirs was one of attitude and hurtful action. In the comparison, I am tempted toward the very element of my transgression, a feeling of superiority, a belief that what I did, the insults to my father’s estate’s hired help, was not as bad as the assaults two of these three youths visited upon the public servant in the form of the bus driver…
I fear for our community and the state of our shared humanity. If I, after this long while and the mortification of having disgraced my family, have not been rehabilitated from my bearing of haughty self assertion and feelings of smug superiority, what prospect is there that these young fellows, after embarrassing themselves and disgracing their families and suffering whatever punishment the juvenile judicial procedure has in store for them, will mend their ways and cease beating bus drivers whenever the compulsion to do so grips them?