Ban On Suction Dredge Mining Out Of California Rivers Extended

SAN BERNARDINO—(June 25) San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Ochoa on Wednesday, June 24 ruled against an attempt by the mining community to start suction dredge mining in California waterways this summer. Suction dredge miners had asked the court to prevent the California Department of Fish and Wildlife from enforcing the current moratorium, which has been in place since 2009, on what it alleged to be a highly destructive practice. The moratorium is designed to prevent mercury pollution and damage to wildlife, waterways and cultural resources caused by suction dredge mining until safer rules are adopted.
“Californians can breathe a sigh of relief that our rivers and wildlife will be protected this summer from the toxic plumes of mercury that suction dredge mining releases,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In this time of devastating drought, our water supplies are crucial to California’s well-being. I really hope the legislature steps in to clarify the need to protect our dwindling water supplies from mining pollution.”
Suction dredge mining uses machines to vacuum up gravel and sand from streams and river bottoms in search of gold. California law prohibits in-stream suction dredge mining until the state develops regulations that pay for the program and protect water quality, wildlife and cultural resources. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has not completed those regulations.
“In light of our crashing fish populations, to allow the vacuuming up of our streambeds to search for gold defies common sense as well as being a war on fish,” said Robert Wright, senior counsel for Friends of the River. “Happily, it now looks like sanity will prevail this summer.”
A current bill in the California legislature — Senate Bill 637 (Allen) — would establish water-quality regulations to limit suction dredge mining pollution. S.B. 637 entails language of definitude intended to minimize the legal uncertainty regarding in-stream river mining, which is also being reviewed by the California Supreme Court in the People v. Rinehart case. The bill has passed the California Senate and is now with the state assembly.
According to the Center For Biological Diversity, “The harm done by suction dredging is well documented by scientists and government agencies. It harms state water supplies by suspending toxic mercury, sediment and heavy metals. The Environmental Protection Agency and State Water Resources Control Board urged a complete ban on suction dredge mining because of its significant impacts on water quality and wildlife from mercury pollution.”
“Suction dredging is a continuation of the genocidal legacy of gold miners that started over 150 years ago,” said the Karuk tribe’s director of natural resources, Leaf Hillman. “We will continue the fight to protect our cultural and natural resources from this reckless form of river mining.”
Because its members believe suction dredge mining threatens important cultural resources and sensitive wildlife species, the California Native American Heritage Commission has condemned its impacts on priceless tribal and archeological resources. “It destroys sensitive habitat for important and imperiled wildlife, including salmon and steelhead trout, California red-legged frogs and sensitive migratory songbirds,” according to the commission.
A coalition of tribal, conservation and fisheries groups have been seeking to uphold California’s laws regulating suction dredge mining. This coalition includes the Center for Biological Diversity, the Karuk tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Friends of the River, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Foothills Anglers Association, North Fork American River Alliance, Upper American River Foundation, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, Environmental Law Foundation and Klamath Riverkeeper. The coalition is represented by Lynne Saxton of Saxton & Associates, a water-quality and toxics-enforcement law firm.
James L. Buchal, a Portland, Oregon-based attorney who represents a group of miners known as “The New 49ers,” told the Sentinel, “I anticipate this order will be appealed. Congress has declared that with regard to federal land, it is to be open to development of minerals and it has granted miners the right to develop their claims on that land. States do not have plenary authority over federal land What the judge has done is flatly unreasonable in denying the issuance of permits under any and all circumstances. The states do not have the authority to withhold those permits. It is worth noting that as California is experiencing very severe resource problems, the state is spending a considerable amount of money harassing these people who are causing no actual environmental harm.”

Governor Considering SBC Presiding Judge Slough For Appellate Court Berth

By Mark Gutglueck
(June 25) Marsha Slough, the Presiding Judge of the San Bernardino Superior Court, is being considered by Governor Jerry Brown for appointment to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, the Sentinel has learned.
Slough, a Democrat, submitted an application for the appointment.
Brown, a Democrat, after a cursory examination of her application found Slough’s potential candidacy for an appellate court judgeship viable and has passed her application along to the Judicial Nomination Evaluation Committee.
That committee has until July 2 to make its evaluation of Slough, and will in turn make a recommendation as to whether she merits appointment by the governor.
Though the governor’s judicial appointments to the state’s Superior Courts are made without public hearing, hearings are held for potential appointments to the appellate court.
Slough received an undergraduate degree in liberal studies from Ottawa University in Kansas, where she attended on a basketball scholarship. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School.
Early in her career she practiced primarily in the arenas of automobile insurance and product liability defense. She formed a partnership with Jeffrey Raynes. She subsequently was an associate with the firm Welebir & McCune where she represented personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiffs.
She was appointed to the bench by Governor Gray Davis in August 2003 to fill the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Jeffrey King to the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Division Two. A member of the American Board of Trial Advocates since 1998, she readily transitioned to the posture of a neutral trier of facts and law.
After seven years as a judge, she stepped into the position of assistant presiding judge in 2010.
Slough ran for re-election to the Superior Court in 2012. As an unopposed incumbent, her name did not appear on the ballot. After the primary election, Slough was automatically re-elected.
Also in 2012, on September 1 of that year, she assumed the office of the presiding judge of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County.
In 2013, Slough was appointed chair of the Judicial Council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee.
It would be Slough’s particular misfortune that in her slightly less than three years as presiding judge, and the two previous years when she was assistant presiding judge, the court system in general, and in San Bernardino especially, has been faced with extraordinary financial challenges. And though the local bar has expressed overwhelming disapproval at the way in which she met those challenges, she has grounds to believe Brown may reward her with elevation to the appellate court precisely because of the near-draconian remedies she applied to the court system to overcome those challenges. In 2008-09, the court system in San Bernardino County had a budget of $110 million, with most of that funding coming directly from the state, such that the county courts spent $1.1 out of its reserves that fiscal year. In 2009-10, the state began cutting the amount of money the county court system had to work with, resulting in a $99.2 million budget, with $6.3 million of that coming from the system’s reserves. In 2010-11, the court system in San Bernardino County saw a respite in the funding reductions, based upon the state providing an infusion of funds consisting of one-time transfers of funds from other state accounts that pushed the San Bernardino County court system budget back up to $108 million, with $1.8 million coming from reserves. But that did not last. The following year, 2011-12, the state was again reducing funding to the courts, with the budget being reduced to $103 million, requiring the expenditure of $4.7 million from the county system’s reserves. In 2012-13, the money supplied by the state to the county court system dropped precipitously to $84 million. The county system dug into its reserves that year to come up with $15.4 million.
At that point, new legislation went into effect that called upon all court systems to maintain a reserve of no more than one percent of their annual budgets.
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the court system for San Bernardino County functioned on a budget of $98 million. In 2014-15, which is to end next week, the court system for San Bernardino County’s budget was $98 million again.
Through all of this, Slough’s predecessor, Judge Ronald M. Christianson, and then Slough, as well as the court’s chief executive officers, Stephen H. Nash and Christina Volkers, responded by contracting and consolidating the system. This represented an extraordinary hardship on San Bernardino County’s citizens and lawyers. At 20,105 square miles, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the lower 48 states, with a land mass greater than the states of Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.
A first, second and then third wave of closures of the far-flung county’s courthouses were instituted, entailing the shuttering of the Needles courthouse at the county’s northeast end, the closure of the Chino courthouse at the county’s southwest end, the closure of courthouses in the San Bernardino Mountain communities and the removal of civil cases from the Victorville and Joshua Tree courthouses and the closure of the county’s northernmost courthouse, the one in Barstow. Under pressure, Slough consented to reopening the Barstow courthouse three days a week for traffic cases.
But the decimation of the court system up to that point was hardly half of it. The coup-de-grace came when Slough instituted her court realignment in 2014. Under the terms of that realignment, all civil cases countywide were transferred to the newly-constructed San Bernardino Justice Center, an eleven story edifice with 40 courtrooms in downtown San Bernardino. In addition, San Bernardino district criminal cases, which had formerly been heard in the San Bernardino Central Courthouse built in 1927, were routed to the new San Bernardino Justice Center.
West Valley Superior Courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga, which had been a venue for both civil and criminal cases originating on the west end of the county, was devoted primarily to criminal cases, including those arising on the county’s west end and other felony and misdemeanor cases from the county’s central district which had been heard at the Fontana Courthouse. A small portion of the criminal cases formerly heard in Fontana were also re-venued to San Bernardino. Rancho Cucamonga’s West Valley Courthouse also became the forum for hearings on both civil and domestic violence restraining orders. The historic San Bernardino Courthouse was kept in service as the forum for the family law cases it had traditionally hosted along with the family law cases previously heard in Rancho Cucamonga.
The Fontana Courthouse became the stage for all small claims, landlord tenant disputes and traffic/non-traffic infractions from the San Bernardino, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga districts.
Even before the realignment went into effect, a large and significant segment of the legal community assailed it, and leveled withering criticism at Slough for having conceived it. Those critics included Dennis Stout, who was formerly the county district attorney and mayor of Rancho Cucamonga; Gus Skropos, a former judge and former mayor of Ontario; William Pitt Hyde, who was the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association president in 1960-61 and later a Superior Court judge; Don Maroney, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1964-65 and Upland’s city attorney for more than two decades; Kenneth Ziebarth, who was the mayor of Montclair, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1968-69 and later a Superior Court judge; Bruce Lance, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1971-72; Sidney Jones, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1972-73; Bob Dougherty, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1974-75 and later the city attorney in Rancho Cucamonga; Barry Brandt, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1977-78; Ken Glube, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1978-79; Tracy L. Tibbals, the president of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association in 1985-86; Joseph E. Johnston, a former Superior Court judge; Ben Kayashima, who was presiding judge in 1990 and 1991; Richard Anderson, who has been practicing law since 1968 and was formerly Upland mayor; as well as James Banks and David Ricks, a past president and the current president-elect of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association, respectively. They assailed the realignment as an ill-conceived move that would produce only marginal cost savings for the court system itself while transferring the financial burden to the county’s residents and other public agencies, together with simultaneously legally disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of the county’s residents.
Numerous problems with the realignment were cited, including:
• The sheer distance large numbers of county residents need to travel to have their cases heard;
• The disadvantage that poorer defendants and litigants suffer vis-a-vis contesting charges against them or responding to or pressing forward with lawsuits filed by or against well-heeled adversaries;
• The concentration of criminal defendants into Rancho Cucamonga’s downtown district;
• The lack of adequate parking in downtown San Bernardino to accommodate the influx of litigants, lawyers, witnesses and jurors; and
• The perception that transferring all of the county’s civil cases to San Bernardino was being done not to conserve finances or improve the provision of justice but to assist with the urban renewal of San Bernardino, which as the county seat and the largest of the county’s 24 cities, suffered the ignominy of having filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Close to fourteen months after the realignment went into effect, and with Slough’s candidacy for elevation to the appellate court now being contemplated in Sacramento, it is all but certain that at least some, if not a wide cross section of San Bernardino County’s legal luminaries will turn out at the hearing for her nomination to register protests at her contemplated appointment.
Despite whatever opposition to her placement on the appeals court manifests, Slough has a powerful card to play: She has lived within the financial parameters imposed on her by Sacramento and has faithfully executed the governor’s operational plan, which involved the reductions on the courts, which are state, not county, institutions.
According to California’s Judicial Needs Assessment, San Bernardino County should have 156 judges. At the same time, the state has authorized 91 judges to serve on the courts located in San Bernardino County but has provided funding for only 86.
“We have more than fifty percent fewer employees – judges and staff – than we need,” Slough said. “This is a horrific situation. It is remarkable, to be honest with you, that we are still functioning and meeting our statutory requirements. With the budget cuts we have made layoffs to our staff. When the employees you had go away, that workload stacks on top of the employees that remain. Our courts are still running and I cannot say enough about how much our staff does, year after year, by the month, the week, every day, every hour.”
Referring to court staff as those serving “on the front line,” Slough said they were carrying out their duty despite having been undercut by budgetary decisions made in Sacramento.
“For every dollar that comes out of the state general fund, the courts get 1.2 cents,” she said.
In Slough’s mind, at least, she has been a good soldier, and she deserves a promotion to general officer rank.

After Hesitation, Adelanto Drifts Toward Embracing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Driven more by economic necessity than a belief that marijuana qualifies as legitimate medicine, Adelanto city officials are again contemplating allowing cannabis dispensaries to set up shop in this High Desert municipality of 33,084.
As a municipal entity, Adelanto has been in serious decline for a decade or more, with dwindling revenues having created a situation in which the cost of delivering services to residents has consistently outrun the city’s income for the last several budgetary cycles.
In 2013, the city council as it was then composed, at the urging of then-city manager Jim Hart, declared the city was in a state of fiscal emergency. The city’s residents, however, refused to consent to impose on themselves a tax that city officials insisted was needed to stave off bankruptcy. Hart’s only other alternative was to seek out development projects that offered the prospect of fee or tax generation, but his performance in that regard was lackluster at best. In February, he resigned as city manager and the city continues to teeter on a precipice overlooking an abyss of bankruptcy.
Earlier this year, Johnny Salazar, the owner of the Green Tree Health Healing Clinic, a medical marijuana dispensary, began promoting the idea of having the city sanction such operations, which would be regulated and taxed. Salazar encountered rough sledding at first, as the council in general, and council member Charley Glasper in particular, were adamantly opposed to the concept of allowing Adelanto to be put on the map as one of the few San Bernardino County cities embracing marijuana sales, even if it offered a means of providing needed revenue. But as Salazar dialogued with city officials, discussing the possibility of putting a dispensary-permitting initiative on the ballot, Glasper, who remained in opposition to the whole idea of permitting marijuana sales in the city, softened. He appeared to be willing to have the city council use its authority to schedule such a vote, if, he reasoned, the city could piggyback another vote on a city-sponsored initiative to impose a sales tax or utility tax on its residents and if Salazar would pay for the costs of the special election for those initiatives. Glasper hopefully calculated that the city’s voters just might pass the tax measure and reject the marijuana clinic proposal and for that reason was on the verge of voting to put the measure on the ballot. Salazar, however, was unwilling to bankroll the special election, angling instead to have the council simply adopt an ordinance establishing dispensaries meeting certain criteria in return for permission to operate. For Glasper and the remainder of the council at that time, that was a deal-breaker, and the concept was abandoned, or so it seemed.
It now appears that Adelanto officials are again entertaining the notion of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city. Simultaneously, there is a parallel proposal that goes the dispensary concept one better, one that would have the city serve as host to cannabis cultivation and research facilities as well.
In the course of two meetings held last month, the terms for the dispensary and cultivation/research facility proposals were hammered out. Those concepts have been committed to paper and the drafts were presented to the city council this week. While Glasper again enunciated his misgivings about Adelanto garnering a reputation as a destination for drug users, the council consented to having the planning commission look over the plans. If the concept passes muster with the planning commission, it will ultimately come back to the city council for final approval. Topics hashed out at the May meetings were whether the sale of medical marijuana should be permitted, what limitations on the sale should be imposed, where and how many such clinics would be permissible, the hours they would be allowed to operate, licensing and fees. The turning point came, it seemed, when Glasper, who had been the city official most adamantly opposed to the legalization/conventionalization of cannabis clinics, pointedly stated the city’s financial challenges had pushed it to the point where the city has “to try to find out every way to get out of the rut.” Tacitly, Glasper admitted the city should look at permitting marijuana to be sold and taxed.
Councilman Jermaine Wright said he was squeamish and bearish on the dispensaries but bullish on the research and cultivation options. Councilman Ed Camargo, who had previously backed Glasper in his effort to keep the city’s door shut on dispensaries, indicated he believed the city should take a hard look at dispensaries and then continue to ban them.
Councilman John “Bug” Woodard said the compassionate availability of marijuana would be a plus on the health care side and a double plus in terms of the revenue they might provide the city.
The dispensary ordinance, as currently drafted, calls for permitting up to three to operate in the city. Their hours of business would be limited to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the city’s industrial park and they could be no closer than 500 feet away from schools, parks or residences. Nor could the dispensaries be clustered, and would not be permitted within 1,000 feet from one another. The ordinance also specifies a six-month test period, giving the city the opportunity shut the dispensaries down if the problems they introduce prove intractable. The research and cultivation ordinance as proposed would permit five such facilities to be in operation simultaneously, with no curtailment on operating hours, and provides that they be located in the city’s industrial park. They too would function on a six-month trial basis.
To facilitate and regulate the dispensaries and research/cultivation operations, an oversight board would be formed, consisting of two law enforcement officers, a planning commissioner and another citizen appointed at the discretion of the city council. The dispensaries would have to be low profiled and non-descript or benignly-descript.
The council said it will earmark any and all revenue from the cannabis operations for park and recreation programs, freeing up money already committed to the recreation division to other uses.
The council is simultaneously seriously considering other means of generating revenue. Glasper is pushing a one percent tax on all city-based businesses that transact business outside city limits. And the council in May adopted a fee schedule for the owners of rental properties, ostensibly calling it an inspection fee. This month, there were proposals by Glasper and Wright to significantly up those fees.

Columnist & Her Husband Force Delay In Needles’ Eminent Domain Plans

(June 24) A former Needles city councilwoman and her husband have forced a significant delay in the city of Needles’ current plans to undertake a more-than-one-mile-long road realignment project through the county’s smallest city.
The delay was brought about when Bob Lopez and Ruth Musser-Lopez convinced a judge to continue a hearing on the city of Needles’ request to obtain “prejudgment possession” of two sides of frontage the city is seeking to obtain through the eminent domain process. The couple was able to convince Judge David Cohn that the city had not proven that it needed all of the land it was attempting to acquire for the purposes it had stated, and had suggested to the court that the city was using the eminent domain process to land bank property for an undeclared future use.
On the morning of June 24, Cohn continued a prejudgement possession hearing to July 16, combining it with trial date setting for an evidentiary hearing for the city’s “right to take” claim on the property.
The Needles I-40 Interconnect Project was conceived of as a way to quiet the complaints of the state of Arizona, which is contemplating the construction of its own new highway on the east side of the Colorado River and threatening to bypass Needles entirely if California didn’t connect I-40 with AZ Highway 95.
The city is attempting to move the compromise project forward with supplemental federal assistance. It would connect the I-40 at the downtown J Street exit and direct traffic through three intersections of the town, create new traffic signals, and ostensibly fast track vehicular traffic to the Colorado River bridge connecting Needles to AZ 95.
According to city officials, the interconnect project is “consistent with state, regional, and local plans and programs… [including] the Southern California Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan 2012-2035, which is part of its sustainable communities strategy” and one that “places more emphasis than ever before on the relationship between sustainability, integrated planning and mobility… guided by a series of goals and objectives aimed at the need to balance the many priorities in the most cost-effective manner.”
The city purchased property in the path of the construction, while other targeted property that was not sold to them was condemned and slated to be taken by eminent domain. Nineteen property owners including the county of San Bernardino and 100 “Does” were named in the condemnation case filed by Best, Best and Krieger, the law firm representing the city of Needles on the complaint filed on January 14, 2015.
Defendants could not all be served at once, but each had 30 days after service to file an answer in the San Bernardino Justice Center, 3.5 hours away from Needles. During the course of the month that followed, the first party named, Robert J. Lopez and Ruth Musser-Lopez, trustees of a family trust land, answered the complaint. Their property is located on a rare landmark corner of Route 66, which is scheduled to be demolished as a part of the project. Ruth, a professional archeologist, is a former member of the Needles City Council, who ran for State Senate last year. She has been a contributing author on occasion to the Sentinel’s Glimpse of SBC’s Past column.
In contesting the city’s eminent domain action, the Lopezes questioned whether the property the city was seeking to seize was necessary to complete the project. Moreover, they raised issues about the approval of the project and technical and procedural clearances the city had obtained for it that have now opened up a can of worms. The most significant of these appears to be the “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act the city conferred upon the project. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that an environmental impact report or assessment for federal projects that would adversely impact the environment or cultural resources be completed. And while categorical exceptions can be applied to projects which simply repave existing roads or make relatively minor adjustments to them, there is grave doubt that the city would be able to withstand a challenge of its exemption of a widening project that entails other significant changes to the roadway. This alone is threatening to complicate, delay and render more expensive the undertaking.
The city’s effort to have the prejudgment possession issue adjudicated before July 1 suggested that it was striving to get all of the property needed for the project under its control prior to the commencement of the 2015-16 fiscal year, perhaps to qualify for potentially available funding. The delay of the possession hearing until July 16 may have effectively nullified any such contemplated applications on the city’s part.
Mr. and Mrs. Lopez have also objected to the intended demolition of what Ruth Musser-Lopez called an “entire Route 66 historic landscaped median. The cultural resources and the historic district were totally ignored by the city. The curve and median are on the oldest maps that the city has and definitely were part of Route 66, and perhaps part of the older National Trails Highway. The only public hearing took place in 2007 when we thought the interconnect was going to be a direct route with an entirely different footprint that would skirt the edge of the golf course. Now that millions have been spent without one thing being built, the city is making an attempt to justify the same old confusing, roundabout truck route being used as the ‘interconnect. They threw a few traffic signals in to make it look legit.”
The Best, Best & Krieger attorney who has been representing the city in the eminent domain process, Kevin James Abbott, told Judge Cohn that he has a new position and would be leaving the firm and the case. Efforts by the Sentinel to reach him after the hearing were unsuccessful.
The Lopezes maintain that much of their property the city is seeking to obtain through the condemnation process is not needed for the project. Rather, they have suggested the city has future designs on the property it is attempting to acquire from them which have not been disclosed. She intimated she believed the city intends to erect signage along the I-40 route as some form of enterprise. The couple asserts that property seized through eminent domain must be used for a precise and pre-specified purpose.
Ruth Musser-Lopez said “It appears that the judge is going to look at whether or not the city has an emergency or immediate need to take our property. ‘Prejudgment possession’ means that the city would take our property before there is an evidentiary hearing.”
She said she had sought to lay before Judge Cohn what she believes are discrepancies in the city’s presentation and she is looking forward to the opportunity to make a fuller case on July 16.
“We get to argue law and the motion and the city’s so-called claimed ‘harm’ if they cannot immediately possess our property to build an unnecessary extra-wide sidewalk,” Musser-Lopez said. “We know that the sidewalk is an excuse and an afterthought to take the frontage property that they have not identified a plan for except ‘future uses.’
“We exposed the fact that their so called taking for a handicap ramp was bogus, since the ramp has already been installed on their land next to our property,” Musser-Lopez continued. “ As far as the traffic signal they want to install, there is plenty of room for it on their land abutting the highway, property that they took from us years ago.”

Nearly Eight Years On, California Charter Academy Case Yet Languishing

(June 22) In less than a week there may be indication that the long-delayed criminal case against two of the principals with the California Charter Academy indicted in 2007 on a combined total of 117 felony charges of misappropriation of public funds, grand theft, tax evasion and filing a false tax returns will go to trial sometime later this year.
On July 2, Charles Steven Cox and Tad Honeycutt are to again appear before Judge Jon Ferguson for a pre-trial hearing. There is no guarantee, however, that the case will come before a jury anytime soon.
The delay in the case so far has been an extraordinary one. Cox, a former insurance executive and the founder of the California Charter Academy, used the faith many parents had in the charter school system to create and quickly expand the academy into the largest charter school operation in California, with multiple campuses located throughout the state. Cox chartered the first academy under the auspices of the Snowline-Joint Unified School District, which exists in the High Desert communities of Phelan and Pinon Hills. He then utilized the enthusiasm garnered from that formation to get Snowline to charter another academy. Cox also obtained two more charter sponsorships, one from the Orange School District in Orange County, and one from the Oro Grande School District, located in San Bernardino County’s High Desert.
The California Education Code provides for the formation of charter schools under the aegis of a sponsoring local school district. Charter schools function outside the normal parameters of normal schools and can offer a curriculum and educational smorgasbord unavailable in traditional public schools while meeting the requirements of both special needs students and accelerated scholars.
Simultaneous to his founding of the non-profit California Charter Academy, Cox created Educational Administrative Services Corporation, a for-profit company which was then hired by all four charter schools to manage the day-to-day operations of the charter schools and provide academic supplies such as books, paper, pens, pencils, desks, chairs, projectors, computers, etc. The rates charged by Educational Administrative Services Corporation reflected in the billings were inflated. In some cases, educational materials that were paid for by the charter schools were never delivered.
Cox hired Tad Honeycutt, who later successfully ran for a position on the Hesperia City Council, to work with the California Charter Academy. In turn, Honeycutt created his own set of companies, Maniaque Enterprises and Everything For Schools, which like Educational Administrative Services Corporation delivered educational materials and services to the non-profit charter schools at a profit.
By 2003, teachers at several of the schools were going public with accounts of how students’ educations were being neglected and books and other educational materials were not being provided. In 2004, the superintendent of the California Department of Education, Jack O’Connell, suspecting financial irregularities, launched an investigative audit into California Charter Academy. In August 2004, four years after California Charter Academy’s creation, it ceased operations abruptly, throwing teachers out of work and forcing students to hurriedly matriculate back into public schools, which were overburdened by the influx of unexpected numbers of students. The California Charter Academy’s records and books were in utter chaos. Student transcripts requested by the sponsoring districts were found to be incomplete or entirely unavailable. The California Charter Academy’s creditors and landlords in many cases made off with the academy’s assets.
On April 14, 2005, MGT of America, an auditing firm hired by the California Department of Education, and the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Team released their joint financial audit of California Charter Academy, showing $23 million in taxpayer money paid to the private management companies Educational Administrative Services Corporation, Maniaque Enterprises and Everything For Schools was misappropriated. Among the findings were that Cox had hired several of his family members into what were essentially do-nothing clerical and non-productive administrative positions, that Cox, his family members, other Educational Administrative Services Corporation and Charter Academy employees, and Honeycutt were provided with luxury automobiles, and that among the expenses accumulated by the Charter Academy were accommodations in Las Vegas, at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel, studio musical recording equipment, spa visits, fishing trips and jet skis.
The audit alleged multiple conflict-of-interest violations, the improper conversion of private schools to public charter schools, and the falsification of documents and claims to receive public funds
“The magnitude of waste of precious education funds outlined in the audit was appalling,” said O’Connell.
In late July 2007, a grand jury was impaneled and began inquiries into the California Charter Academy’s operations. On September 4, 2007, Honeycutt and Cox were arrested after being indicted by that special grand jury for their alleged roles in the collapse of the California Charter Academy. Cox and Honeycutt were indicted on a total of 117 counts, including fraud, misappropriation of public funds and grand theft. Cox’s bail was set at $1 million dollars, while Honeycutt’s was logged at $500,000. Both were able to post bail. Law enforcement officials froze their assets, but little of the missing money that officials thought might be recovered was present in their accounts in local banking institutions. It is known that Honeycutt had made multiple trips to Vanuatu, Spain and Argentina in the early and mid-2000s. Some of the taxpayer money provided to the California Charter Academy was used to fund lawsuits brought by Cox and Educational Administrative Services Corporation against public entities. In one case, Cox and Educational Administrative Services Corporation filed suit against the California Department of Education, contending the state had illegally withheld funding from the California Charter Academy. Cox and Educational Administrative Services Corporation did not prevail in that suit. Cox brought another unsuccessful lawsuit alleging impropriety and political motivation on the part of public officials whose actions led to the closure of the California Charter Academy.
According to Christopher Casey, who had been hired by Cox to run one of the academy’s vocational schools, “Steven Cox started out as if he was interested in improving education. Tad talked up the charter school idea to get more students and more schools, telling everyone charter schools were dedicated to better education. “But when it turned into just a money-making venture, Tad didn’t have the personality or character to handle it and he just went along with everything Cox was doing.”
The California Charter Academy fell crucially short in the provision of key educational materials, Casey said.
Casey said, “With my own money – my credit card – I set up a home builders school in San Bernardino. I had thirty or forty students signed up. We had the class schedule set and I couldn’t get books. I was working with Jim Melton. I asked. We never got one book. I pleaded for the books. I didn’t see any results. I couldn’t get books. They weren’t focused on that. I said to them, ‘These are the texts I need.’ I asked them to provide resources. They never did. They just prolonged it and prolonged it and put it off. I started the school hoping they would be seriously focused on education, but when I found out what they were really doing I lost heart and got out of it.”
It was dishonest and reprehensible, Casey said. “A lot of money went into it,” he said. “They had a tremendous opportunity and instead they just used it to take money out of it. They had some outstanding people who wanted to do the job but their hands were tied.” Part of Cox’s formula, Casey said, was to “get heavy into politics. [Former California Assemblyman] Keith Olberg went to work for the California Charter Academy. [Former San Bernardino County Supervisor] Bill Postmus was their major political asset.”
A series of miscues, procedural and judicial, prevented the criminal case against Cox and Honeycutt from being fast tracked from the start. Cox and Honeycutt came before Judge Margaret Powers for arraignment. The case was then handed over to Judge Eric Nakata. An effort to recuse Nakata ensued, however, and at the intervention of then-presiding judge Larry Allen, the case was transferred back to Powers. Subsequently the case was heard by judges Miriam Morton, John Tomberlin, Jules Fleuret and Arthur Harrison. Eventually the case went to Judge Jon Ferguson in Rancho Cucamonga, before whom the case is now scheduled to go to trial, if indeed it makes it to trial.
The trial timetable suffered a setback in November 2010, when Cox’s attorney, Earl Wade Shinder, committed suicide. That was more than four years ago, however. Attorney Grover Porter, who has represented Honeycutt for more than seven years, and Geoff Newman, who now represents Cox, are sufficiently up to speed on the case to proceed to trial. On April 17, the prospect for the case moving to trial any time soon was threatened when Porter made a motion to withdraw as Honeycutt’s attorney of record. Ferguson, citing no legal basis for the withdrawal, denied Porter’s motion to substitute out as Honeycutt’s attorney.
The case against Cox and Honeycutt is a strong one, with bank records, receipts, hotel and resort registrations, airline ticket records, vehicle registration and multiple witness statements demonstrating that millions of dollars in funding intended for educational purposes was diverted to pay for vacations, vehicles, recording and video equipment, jet skis, lease or pay for real estate acquisitions or cover political campaign expenses.
The prosecutor on the case is Michael Fermin, who was a deputy district attorney when he was assigned to carry it forward in 2007. After the retirements of former assistant district attorneys Dennis Christy and James Hackleman, Fermin was elevated to the position of assistant district attorney overseeing, as the office’s second-in-command, a major portion of the office’s administrative duties, including the budget and human resources. Today, Fermin has only one remaining prosecutorial assignment: the California Charter Academy Case against Cox and Honeycutt. Indeed, the the California Charter Academy case, involving allegations of $23 million intended for educational purposes being diverted to unauthorized, improper or illegal use, is one of the most important cases, if not the most important one, in Fermin’s career as a prosecutor. Nevertheless, of late the district attorney’s office has been represented at court hearings for Cox and Honeycutt by deputy district attorney John Thomas.
For reasons the district attorney’s office has chosen not to clarify, it has delayed again and again and again and again in moving the case to trial, despite its potential for boosting Fermin into the legal stratosphere. Though a pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 2, that is no indication the trial is about to begin, as there have already been 31 pretrial hearings held. At the last two pretrial hearings, time was waived until September 10, meaning trial will not commence at least until that time. At that point, eight years will have passed since the indictments were handed down.
The case originated at a time when there was a much different political lay of the land than exists now. The shift in the political pecking order, and the degree to which the district attorney’s office shielded the now-defunct political dynasty that ruled the roost in 2007 when the case was filed, explicates at least in part the cause for the delay.
By 2004, Bill Postmus had acceded to the position of chairman of the San Bernardino county Board of Supervisors. Almost simultaneously, he had become the chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, exercising control over Republican Party endorsements and the delivery of GOP money to local Republican candidates for political campaigning purposes. In 2006, with two years left on his second term as supervisor, Postmus ran successfully for county assessor against the incumbent, Donald Williamson.
In 2007, while Postmus was yet one of the most powerful political figures in the county, Fermin made a politically driven decision to leave Postmus out of the indictment. Since that time, information implicating Postmus that was then available to the district attorney’s office has become widely known to the public, information which shows Postmus was embroiled in the California Charter Academy Scandal at multiple levels.
Cox emerged as one of Postmus’ major early political supporters, having contributed $25,450 to his political war chest when Postmus was running for supervisor in 2000, utilizing California Charter Academy money to make those donations.
Postmus was appointed by Cox to serve as a member of two of the boards of the charter schools functioning under the aegis of the California Charter Academy. Postmus then used his status as a charter school board member as a feature in his resumé when he first ran for supervisor.
Action Postmus took, based upon his actual authority as a board member or carry-over authority as a former board member and close affiliate of Cox, became the focus of the grand jury that was impaneled in 2007 and which indicted Cox and Honeycutt. Irrefutable evidence emerged to show Postmus made efforts to ensure that members of his family as well as his political supporters were rewarded with jobs or contracts at or with the California Charter Academy.
Evidence was produced to show that Postmus directed Cox or otherwise arranged, both while he was a charter academy board member and afterward, for money to be diverted to Brad Mitzelfelt, who was Postmus’ chief of staff when he was supervisor, and Keith Olberg, a former state assemblyman who was a key Postmus political ally, in the form of questionable or illegal payments. Postmus worked as district director in Assemblyman Keith Olberg’s High Desert office from 1995 until 1999.
In 2002, Postmus was provided with an all-expenses paid trip to Florida by Cox, who used California Charter School funds to pay for the trip, accommodations and spending cash, which totaled more than $17,000. No explanation of what the trip was for was ever provided.
In 2001, Bill Postmus Sr., the father of Bill Postmus the supervisor, went to work for Cox as the director of/lead instructor in the academy’s criminal justice and leadership program. While Bill Postmus Jr., had assiduously abstained from voting as a member of the board of supervisors on matters impacting the California Charter Academy, he broke from that pattern in June of 2004 as the state was withdrawing funding from the California Charter Academy and his father was in danger of being thrown out of work. At that point, Bill Postmus, Jr. voted to have the county forward a $77,000 Workforce Investment Grant to the California Charter Academy in an effort to keep the school where Bill Postmus Sr. was the principal in session.
At supervisor Bill Postmus’ insistence, Cox hired former California Assemblyman Keith Olberg and had the Charter Academy and Educational Administrative Services Corporation pay him more than $375,000 over three years, ostensibly to develop an “Honors Program” for the academy’s schools. Olberg, according to the audit, did virtually nothing on that project and the so-called honors program was never instituted.
Postmus similarly insisted that Cox endow political action committees he and Mitzelfelt controlled with money to support Mitzelfelt’s future political candidacies as well as those of another Postmus ally, Anthony Adams.
Five years ago, Postmus fell from grace, having been downed by drug use, extortion and bribery scandals. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to 13 felony corruption in public office charges unrelated to the California Charter School case, along with a single misdemeanor narcotics violation.
The district attorney’s office has declined to comment on reports that it is delaying the prosecution of Cox and Honeycutt because of emerging questions about Postmus’s involvement in that scandal and indications that political considerations rather than a cold hard analysis of guilt or innocence entered into the prosecutor’s office’s decision about who would be charged in the California Charter Academy matter.

Forum… Or Against ‘em

By Count Friedrich von Olsen
Having been born on the Continent and raised there and in Great Britain, I am not by birth, neither by experience nor inclination steeped in baseball as many natural born Americans. Upon coming to the United States many decades ago, I was told by someone I esteemed to be knowledgeable and honest that to really understand America and Americans, one had to understand baseball. Accordingly, I made a study of the game. This was in the day of those such as Ted Williams, Whitey Ford, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and, later, a young kid named Pete Rose. I grew to have an affection for the game, even if aspects of it are excruciatingly slow sometimes, and I did, in fact, learn something about America and Americans in general from seeing how the sport is played…
Pete Rose, for those of you old enough now to remember him, embodied a certain element of Americanism, the hard charging, can-do attitude, going all out with intensity, nerve and verve. He was fun to watch and he was always going, running as fast as he could down to first base, even when the routine grounder he had put into play was going to result in a sure out. Sometimes, not very often, but sometimes, the fielder would misplay the ball or bobble it or make an errant throw and Pete Rose would be rewarded with being declared safe at first. He had so much worked this into his play that he became know as “Charlie Hustle,” which always bothered me a little, because it seemed more logical for people to call him “Pete Hustle,” but the point is, he did not dally about…
Sometimes, he took chances, trying to stretch what for anyone else would be a single into a double, or a double into a triple. Sometimes he failed. Usually when he gambled like that, though, he would win. Along the way, he had a fabulous career. He was a key member of several World Series teams, including three that won the World Championship. He got closer to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak than anyone ever did. He won three batting average titles. And he broke Ty Cobb’s record for the most hits by any major league baseball player, ever…
The same intensity that drove him to play so hard and take chances on the base paths and his wanting to continuously feel the thrill of winning resulted in him gambling, betting. It’s hard to say exactly what the truth is, but the story is that at first he made wagers on simple games of chance, card games and then the outcomes of college and professional sporting events. One of the stories that went around back in the 1980s was that he had bet on basketball games. As soon as the baseball commissioner caught wind of all of that, he stepped in and Pete Rose, who was still managing the Cincinnati Reds, was suspended in 1989. It was, and has continued to be, a drawn out and ugly affair. Pete’s story has changed. He initially denied betting at all. Then he admitted to gambling, but absolutely denied ever having bet on baseball games. Later still, he admitted to betting on baseball, but said he had never bet on games in which the Reds played…
In short order, he was banned from baseball for life after an investigation by John Dowd, a lawyer retained by Major League Baseball, found Pete Rose had bet on the Reds to win from 1985-87 while he was a player and manager. Dowd made his finding without actually marshalling the evidence that had led him to that conclusion…
Finally, in 2004, Pete Rose himself admitted in his autobiography he had bet on Reds games, but had always betted upon them to win…
This all comes up now because, after decades of debate about whether Pete Rose should be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame, there is a report going around that a notebook has been placed under seal in the Office of National Archives in New York which sheds light on this matter and whether Pete Rose’s still pending application for reinstatement with Major League Baseball will ever be granted. The notebook in question is one that was in the possession of Pete Rose’s close associate, Michael Bertolini, which was seized by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in October 1989. The notebook is said to contain betting records from March to July 1986…
On one level, it is hard to be judgmental about gambling, even though, I think, the Bible counsels against it. I, and most of my readers live in a state where the state itself sells lottery tickets, which is a version of the numbers racket that was formerly run by the mob, to benefit public schools. There are casinos run by Indian Tribes and privateers, in many places in California. I myself cannot resist the challenge of the baccarat table, and I say without any degree of shame, that I am an excellent player. So, I cannot condemn Pete Rose for gambling…
On yet another level, I wonder what all the fuss is about. People gamble for different reasons, I suppose, but the two main ones are for the thrill and to make money. I would draw an analogy to playing the stock market, which is very much like gambling, in fact, is gambling. People who are involved in corporate America, ones who are employed by major corporations, themselves play the stock market. Pete Rose, we now know, bet on the Reds to win. I am assuming, given his competitive nature, that he did not and never would have bet on the Reds to lose, at least while he was playing for them and managing them. Would the Ford Motor Company suspend one of its executives or one of its engineers or designers for buying Ford stock? Wouldn’t that be like betting on Ford to win? And wouldn’t ownership of that stock give the executive or the designer or the engineer an incentive to do a really good job? So, what’s wrong with that? Now, if the Ford employee was buying stock in General Motors or Toyota or Chrysler, that would have been like Pete Rose betting on the Dodgers or the Braves or the Cubs when they were playing the Reds…
On the level that counted, however, I understand that professional athletes cannot engage in gambling or cavort with gamblers or bookies or anyone of that sort. The issue is less that an athlete or manager would put themselves in the position of placing a bet on their opponents but more about the concern that after a string of losses by which the athlete ends up owing more money than he might reasonably pay, he would then be put in the position of having to throw a game or otherwise underperform to satisfy the holder of his losing betting slips. Never mind that an athlete performing at the level of a Pete Rose would be paid so much money he would be immune to that kind of pressure. The line must be drawn somewhere, and to prevent the possibility that some mob goons might break the leg or bust the kneecap of some quarterback or power forward or shortstop or goalie, there can be no fraternization, no sharing a cab, no sharing a table at the bistro, no making bets and no frequenting gaming houses, at all between professional athletes and anyone in the gaming industry…
This is a shame, because it is undeniable, statistically and competitively, that Pete Rose was one of the greatest baseball players ever…
While we are on the subject of people throwing a game, it appears that California prison and law enforcement officials are finally coming to the point where they a will have to recognize what everyone has known for decades – the jailors and prison guards we taxpayers in California have paid billions of dollars to over the years have been double dealing by smuggling drugs into our prisons…
In recent months the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has laid out $8 million on drug-detecting scanners and new breeds of drug-sniffing dogs to target people visiting prisoners. And they have stepped up strip searches on visitors suspected of carrying drugs. But that is just window dressing…
Relatively early in his tenure as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger sought to institute reforms in California’s prison system, which included reducing crowding and improving conditions that might lead toward rehabilitation and a reduction in recidivism, greater accountability on the part of the state employees running the prisons, introducing result-oriented criteria into the corrections system, along with reducing personnel costs so that money could be diverted to programs aimed at reducing crime. The 30,000-strong California Correctional Peace Officers Association would have none of that. They saw such reforms as a threat to their way of life. That way of life could be defined in this way: California prison guards are easily the best-paid guards in the nation. While the median salary of prison guards nationwide is in the high $30,000 to low $40,000 range, the base pay for a prison guard in California is $73,728. With the addition of overtime, a significant number of California prison guards earn in excess of $100,000 annually. Beyond their generous salaries and benefits, prison guards in California are eligible to retire at the age of 50 and receive a very comfortable pension…
When Arnold Schwarzenegger sought to reform this broken system, he was met with the opposition of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which at one point credibly threatened to gather signatures of more than 1 million registered voters needed to qualify a measure to recall Schwarzenegger from office. Ultimately, the Governator backed down…
In recent days, it has been reported that drugs – illicit drugs – are rampant in our prison system. This has been an open secret for years, of course. What was striking about these recent press reports was that they laid out the problem in the starkest of terms and in a way that will not allow the California Department of Corrections – or the current governor or the legislature – to ignore it. Since 2006, more than 150 California inmates have died of drug overdoses behind prison walls. Add to that the rather gruesome statistic that 69 inmates in California prisons in 2013 alone died from hepatitis infections brought on by the use of shared syringes. Contrast this with other states: In the last decade California has averaged over eight drug- or alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 inmates each year. Only Maryland has a higher rate, at 17 drug or alcohol related deaths per 100,000 inmates per year. The states of Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Texas each averaged one death a year per 100,000 inmates from 2001-2012, according to available national figures…
Stepping up the searches and technical means of monitoring the visitors at our state prisons is a nice gesture, but, seriously, does anyone truly believe this will make a significant dent in the problem? We are talking about massive quantities of drugs available on the inside. I am told it is as easy, or easier, to get heroin inside the prison system than it is to find it on the streets outside. The injection of heroin requires syringes and needles. These are widely available in our prisons as is heroin, methamphetamine, to a lesser extent cocaine, illicit pharmaceutical drugs and opiate derivatives and marijuana. These substances are available for just about any prisoner who wants to avail himself of them and in sufficient quantity and with such consistency for those addicted to them to ward off the symptoms of withdrawal. Are we to believe this quantity of contraband has come into, and is still coming into, the prisons by means of visitors? The only way that could be is if the visitors were permitted to openly deliver it. That does not appear to be the case. Marijuana is pungent to high heaven. How does it make its way through the prison gauntlet without detection? If visitors are sneaking it into the prisons past the guards in the quantities reported, that is an indication that the guards are not corrupt but incompetent…
Well, let us have the Department of Corrections employ these new fangled devices such as ion scanners and imagers and let them bring in even more drug-sniffing canines. Let us give it a decent trial period – six months or a year or 18 months or two years – and let us see how much of the drug flow we cut off. But if – or rather when – subjecting visitors to stepped up searches fails to decrease to any significant degree the prison drug problem, let us move on to draw the next logical inference: Many prison guards are very similar to Pete Rose. Just as he was not content to be a major leaguer and play in a stadium with 40,000 or 50,000 adoring fans at his elbow but had to jazz his life up by betting on the very game he was playing in or managing, a significant number of our prison guards are not satisfied with their $73,728 per year minimum salary and having been entrusted with the important job of overseeing society’s miscreants in a compassionate way that might rehabilitate them but feel they must augment their take-home pay and alter the rehabilitation system by smuggling drugs in to the inmates. I am not saying that all prison guards engage in this activity. Clearly, however, some do and they are doing so in sufficient numbers that it is a terrible social problem that is taking its toll on our state and the humanity of our prison system. And, it would seem, many of those guards not engaged, or directly engaged, in this smuggling activity, have to know what is happening and are somehow just looking the other way when it occurs…
This problem will not cure itself and it will not go away until we as a statewide community are willing to stand up to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, and deal with the drug smuggling criminals among its ranks at least as harshly as Major League Baseball has dealt with Pete Rose…

Milton Pierce Cheney – Railroad Foreman & County Supervisor

By Mark Gutglueck
Born on August 5, 1867 in Hyde Park, Vermont, Milton Pierce Cheney was the son of Lorenzo D. and Delia (Keetch) Cheney. A foreman of engines for the Santa Fe Railroad, he came to San Bernardino County in 1907.
He made a number of acquaintances and friendships in this capacity, several of which would play a key part in the political life into which he was unexpectedly thrust a few years later. His next assignment was in Needles, an important railroad town that at that time was one of the most significant cities in San Bernardino County. Needles acceded to a position of distinction because it was where railroad executives had settled upon constructing the bridge that would bring the railroad across the Colorado River into California from the Arizona Territory.
In Needles, Cheney was the master mechanic of the Arizona Division of the Santa Fe Railroad. He retired from active railroad service and moved, either by design or coincidence, to one of the other major railroad towns in San Bernardino County, Colton.
From a life of retirement he was called into public service as a member of the city trustees and became active in the public affairs of his community. When Ray L. Riley resigned as a member of the board of supervisors to devote himself to the dual posts of state water commissioner and state real estate commissioner, Governor William D. Stephens appointed Cheney to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on March 15, 1920 to fill Mr. Riley’s unexpired post as Fourth District supervisor. Mr. Cheney won the election in 1922 to succeed himself and was reelected in 1926 and 1930.
As supervisor, Cheney evinced a particular interest in the county hospital and he served as chairman of the hospital committee for several years. He became a champion of the cause of efficient and compassionate hospital services to those in unfortunate circumstances.
While making an inspection of the hospital, Cheney found himself in need of its services, as he was coincidentally felled by his first light stoke. His physical condition continued to deteriorate during the next few months as he suffered further strokes. His fellow board members importuned him to withdraw, seeking to prevail upon him to resign for the sake of his health. He did not, however, heed the advice of friends, and, on May 17, 1933, at the age of 66 suffered a fatal stoke at his home in Colton.
Cheney was survived by his wife, Gertrude B. Cheney; they had no children. He was a member of the Masonic organization and an honorary member of the Colton Rotary Club. Frank H. Mogle of Chino was appointed to the board of supervisors to fill Mr. Cheney’s unexpired term.

The False Wooly Daisy Syntrichopappus Fremontii

A member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower Family, the false wooly daisy bears the scientific name Syntrichopappus fremontii. This annual herb is also known as Yellowray Fremont’s Gold. It grows to a mature height of one to four inches. Stems are covered with short hairs and are many branched. Leaves are spoon-shaped, linear, about a half inch long, and have three teeth near the tip. Flower heads have five yellow ray flowers surrounding several disk flowers and five hardened, boat-shaped phyllaries with dry, thin margins that partly enclose the ray akenes. The ray flowers have three lobes or teeth at their tips.
The fruit is a more or less pubescent, narrowly club-shaped achene with a pappus of 6-10 chaff-like scales.
False Woolly Daisy grows throughout the southwestern states often in association with Creosote Bush and/or Joshua Tree in sandy or gravelly soil at elevations ranging from 2000 to 7500 feet. It is also found in western Mexico.
It flowers form from May to June.
This plant is often confused with Wallace’s Woolly Daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei). The key difference is that this plant has only five ray flowers, whereas E. wallacei has eight to ten ray flowers.