By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the August 31 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
By clicking on the blue portal below, you can download a PDF of the August 31 edition of the San Bernardino County Sentinel.
Time is running out for a coalition of environmentalists who had hoped the California legislature would pass a bill subjecting the plan to withdraw millions of gallons of water from the water table below the East Mojave Desert and convey it by pipeline for use elsewhere in California to exacting scrutiny as to its impact before those water extractions can be made.
Senate Bill 120, written by California State Senator Senator Richard Roth, would not allow the transfer of groundwater out of the desert unless the State Lands Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife conclude the water removal “will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources” of nearby state or federal lands. According to Roth, the bill would not prohibit the use of desert water outside of the desert, but it will prevent water removal if such pumping has the effect of removing more water from the desert on an annual basis or within any given time frame if the recharge of water into the desert during the time period considered does not equal or exceed the amount of water taken out.
Senate Bill 120 was introduced at a very late stage in the legislative process, greatly complicating its prospect for passage. The bill was presented to Roth’s fellow and sister legislators on Friday, August 24, one week prior to the August 31 end of the 2018 legislative session. Thus, from the outset, its passage was going to require nearly Herculean expediting across a normally grueling and methodical process that typically requires months. Remarkably, Senate Bill 120 was ratified by California Lower House in just five days, as the Assembly voted 45-20 Wednesday night to accept it. But that left just a little over two days – until midnight tonight, Friday August 31, for the Senate to consider it and vote upon it. That will take some doing, as Cadiz, Inc. has over the last two years cultivated a number of powerful California state senators as allies.
Seizing that strategic high ground has been no mean feat for Cadiz, Inc., as its corporate participants and its allies have historically been closely affiliated with the Republican Party, and the California legislature – both the State Senate and the Assembly – are dominated by Democrats. Moreover, the Democrats are philosophically, conceptually and politically more in tune with the environmentalists who have emerged as the most effective opponents to the desert water extraction project than they are with Cadiz, Inc. and its aggressive corporate objective of exploiting the natural resources of one of the state’s more remote and economically challenged locations to profit by marketing that resource to well-heeled consumers in a densely populated and urbanized area. Through the application of a generous amount of money, vectored to Democratic politicians and in particular young, up-and-coming and ambitious Democratic politicians, just as the Democratic Party’s Young Turks are militating to wrest control of the party from California’s established but now rapidly-aging Democratic Old Guard, Cadiz, Inc. appears to be on the brink of placing its controversial project beyond the reach of the politicians capable of untracking it.
Beginning in the late 1980s, what was then known as the Cadiz Land Company, which had been created by Ted Dutton, a heavy-hitting Republican Party campaign donor, and Keith Brackpool, a British entrepreneur who had set his sights upon generating a fortune in the former Colonies, sunk a single well in the Cadiz Valley in the Eastern Mojave Desert and initiated an organic farming operation there growing tomatoes, peppers, melons, grapes and citrus. Though at no time throughout its existence did the Cadiz farming operation operate at a profit, it was able to make an assertion, based upon the irrigation of the crops at the Cadiz farm, to water rights from the Cadiz/Fenner aquifer.
The Cadiz Land Company in the late 1990s sought to interest the Metropolitan Water District in a proposal to convey up to 1.5 million acre-feet of what was referenced as “surplus” Colorado River water to the Cadiz Valley and “store” that water by pumping it into the water table and then extracting the water and conveying it to Greater Los Angeles during “dry years.” Ultimately, however, the Metropolitan Water District rejected that proposal. Litigation ensued, in which the Cadiz Land Company alleged the Metropolitan Water District had backed out of the deal.
In 2012, the Cadiz Land Company, which had been renamed Cadiz, Inc., provided then-San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt with $48,100 in political donations to finesse him and his board colleagues into allowing the board of directors of the Santa Margarita Water District in Orange County, located 217 miles away from the Cadiz Valley, to carry out the environmental certification and approval of the controversial water extraction project in the East Mojave. Cadiz, Inc. contrived to have the Santa Margarita Water District, which serves the affluent Orange County communities of Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch and Talega, oversee the environmental impact report for the project, despite the consideration that the water district was to be the largest consumer of the 75,000 acre feet of water the company was proposing to draft annually from the project’s 34 wells which were to be sunk in the Cadiz and Fenner valleys.
The unorthodox approval process for the plan to draft billions of gallons of water from the East Mojave Desert’s pristine aquifer for use in Los Angeles and Orange counties, utilizing a governmental entity more than 200 miles removed from the property to be impacted which simultaneously had a financial and operational interest in the project, fueled questions about the integrity and legitimacy of the environmental certification of the project. Ultimately, those questions formed the basis of several of eleven lawsuits which kept Cadiz, Inc. tied up in court for years. Though the company was able to prevail in most of those suits, which it succeeded in having removed to Orange County Superior Court, appeals on some of those suits are yet proceeding, even as Cadiz, Inc. is hoping to at last put those challenges behind it and get on with the project. The company, in both its Cadiz Land Company and Cadiz, Inc. manifestations, has never operated at a profit in its 31 years of existence. It has sustained itself with capital provided by wave after wave of investors. With each successive infusion of capital, the company has intensified its promotion of the project, accompanied by an immediate or gradual rise in stock price. But as the project would continue to languish, the stock price would fall, only to be revived by further rounds of investment. This perpetual rise and fall of the company’s stock price has sparked comparisons to a Ponzi scheme. With investors becoming increasingly nervous, the company has embarked on an ambitious effort to clear the way for the project to proceed once all of the legal and procedural issues are resolved, and has striven to line up purchasers for the water so it can begin generating revenue to satisfy its stockholders at the earliest opportunity.
With Donald Trump serving as president, the company has caught a break in that his administration has moved to arrest practically all of the federal government’s foot-dragging with regard to the project, as when in March 2017 Timothy Spisak, the acting assistant director for the Bureau of Land Management’s Division of Energy, Minerals, and Realty Management, in the form of a blanket memo revoked the Bureau of Land Management’s 2015 decision to disallow the use the existing federal railroad right-of-way for the water pipeline Cadiz, Inc. intends to construct to convey water drawn from the Cadiz aquifer to the Colorado River Aqueduct which brings water into the greater Los Angleles area. At issue was the degree to which railroads are at liberty to allow their rights-of-way to be used for non-railroad purposes. A railroad right-of-way can accommodate a water pipeline if the water is to be used by the railroad, but the use of steam engines went out of vogue last century. In 1989, an Interior Department solicitor concluded that an 1875 railroad law allowed railroads to authorize other uses for that right-of-way without Department of the Interior approval. A subsequent solicitor’s opinion altered that conclusion to state other uses had to “derive from or further” a railroad purpose. The Bureau of Land Management office for California later found that “conveyance of water for public consumption is not a railroad purpose.” Anticipating such a contretemps over the right-of-way use issue, Cadiz, Inc. had previously proposed operating an “historic” locomotive on the railroad line along the water conveyance route for its entertainment and historically-informative value as an amenity to the project. Both federal and state government officials during the Obama era saw this as a gimmick and illegitimate ploy by Cadiz to game federal regulations and stood firm against using the railroad right-of-way for the pipeline. The Donald Trump Administration, for its part, saw the effort to prohibit the use of the span of land paralleling the railroad line for the aqueduct as a gaming of the system by the environmentalists, which led to Spisak’s blanket memo.
Cadiz, Inc. has sought to move the project forward on the basis of that momentum, and the company has staked much upon the political careers of three rising rising stars in the Democratic Party in California, State Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; Kevin de León D-Los Angeles, who was from 2014 until March of this year the California Senate President Pro Tem; and current California Senate Leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
De León in whose district the Cadiz corporate headquarters is located, had received $9,100 in political contributions from Cadiz, Inc. as of last year. Since then Cadiz, Inc. has been a major contributor to his campaign for the U.S. Senate against Dianne Feinstein this year.
Feinstein has proven to be the most prolific and effective opponent to Cadiz, Inc.’s designs on the East Mojave’s water supply. She was the lead sponsor of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton and the sponsor of the California Desert Protection Act of 2011, both of which feature provisions that have been wielded against the Cadiz Water Project. She was the author and sponsor of the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015 and the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2017. In 2017, Feinstein consulted with Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who in July 2017 altered the language of pending legislation, AB 1000, which originally pertained to water meter standards, to halt significant desert water pumping until state land and wildlife officials review the proposed groundwater extractions to first certify they would not harm the desert’s ecology.
Though the Cadiz Project was not mentioned specifically in the legislation, Friedman acknowledged the alteration of AB 1000 came in response to the Trump Administration’s prioritization of the Cadiz Water Project. “When the federal government refuses to undertake these environmental reviews, the state must step up and make sure they are done,” said Friedman.
Friedman’s move triggered objections and a counteraction from Cadiz, Inc. and its corporate officers, who characterized what she was engaged in as “flawed legislation.” They rallied two of their two allies in the California Senate, Lara and de León, to their cause to block the bill’s release and keep it from making it past the California Senate Appropriations Committee, where it lay dormant at the end of the 2017 legislative session.
This week’s last minute push by environmentalists to pass Senate Bill 120 comes during the build up toward the internecine political war between Feinstein and de León, as de León is challenging Feinstein for U.S. Senatorial position she has held for more than a quarter of a century.
Environmentalists are dismayed by de León’s action, in that he had previously touted his legislative accomplishments on a number of climate change-related, clean energy, energy efficiency, environmental and anti-pollution bills. But de León appears intent on siding with Cadiz, Inc. in the current battle, in which environmental groups are seeking action from the legislature that will prevent Cadiz, Inc. from pumping up to 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater per year from the desert. The environmentalists believe the Trump administration has gutted environmental safeguards, pointing out that an earlier anticipated environmental analysis of the project sponsored by the federal government has been canceled. They want the State of California to take up that slack and carry out an exacting review using independent standards, given that the 2012 environmental impact report for the project was certified by an entity, the Santa Margarita Water District, which has an economic stake in the project and which lies more than 200 miles away from where those impacts will resound.
The opponents of the Cadiz Project and the supporters of Senate Bill 120 include some formidable members of the California political establishment, including the Old Guard and elements that have future viability. Among those are Feinstein, Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor and the leading current candidate for governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Opposition to the project has fared well in Assembly, with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon militating against the project.
Cadiz, Inc. has been extremely energetic with regard to preventing the California legislature from interfering with the project, and has spared no expense in the seeking to block the efforts of environmentalists and their political allies to use the legislature as a cudgel against the water conveyance scheme. In this way, the company has vectored its monetary forces on the California Senate. In addition to cultivating de León and Lara, the company in June retained Greg Campbell’s lobbying firm, a calculated move in that Campbell is the former chief of staff to California Senate Leader Toni Atkins, who has the authority on her own to kill bill even before it is voted upon in the Senate. Doubling down, Cadiz on Monday retained another lobbying firm headed by Justin Fanslau, who was Atkins’ former legislative director. That is a repeat of the strategy used last year in blocking Friedman’s rewritten version of AB 1000, when Cadiz hired Mercury Public Affairs, which employs former Assembly Speaker Fabián Nuñez, who was instrumental in promoting the political career of de León. Cadiz, Inc. had already put itself in position to receive favorable treatment from Atkins, having contributed $15,550 to her either directly as a corporate contribution or from employees and those of its law firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, which also employs Cadiz, Inc.’s president, Scott Slater.
The lobbyists working on behalf of Cadiz, Inc. have pushed the narrative that the project has already been subject to a California Environmental Quality Act review and that the project’s opponents have unfairly loaded the dice against the project with Senate Bill 120, in that the legislation is tailor-drafted for application against the Cadiz water project. They are further marshaling endorsement of the project by construction worker unions, as those union members stand to obtain employment in the construction of the pipeline.
Despite what environmentalists consider to be a valiant effort in pushing Senate Bill 120, project opponents stand little chance of succeeding, as Friday’s midnight end of this year’s legislative session is fast approaching and if the measure has not been voted upon and passed by then, it will have no prospect for becoming law.
The FBI has lost track of some individuals of interest in its ongoing probe of graft and bribery relating to the frenzy of activity in Adelanto that ensued upon that city’s move to adopt a cannabis-based economy more than two years ago.
Led by Mayor Rich Kerr, who was elected in 2014, and then-Councilman Jermaine Wright, the City of Adelanto undertook to rejuvenate itself financially in 2015 by revamping its city code to allow the cultivation of marijuana within indoor greenhouses located in the city’s industrial park. Subsequently, the council consented to expand liberalizing its policy further by permitting the establishment of clinics and dispensaries where medical marijuana could be retailed, along with pot shops, akin to liquor stores, where the drug could be marketed to adults wishing to smoke the plant for its intoxicative effect, after the passage of 2016’s Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use.
The city’s action resulted in a mad crush of would-be marijuana entrepreneurs flooding City Hall in an effort to obtain licensing and permits, many of whom bore briefcases full of cash intended to to be used as permit fees or bribes to city officials intended to facilitate the granting of those permits. To accommodate the overwhelming influx of applicants, the city undertook to expand the area within the city where commercial cannabis activity was permitted. It was at this point that federal authorities interested themselves in the situation in Adelanto, as it appeared inside information with regard to zone changes was being provided to some land speculators or business applicants, such that they were able to purchase property at very low cost and then see its price triple or quadruple overnight and then escalate further to as much as ten times its original cost when the zoning on it made it eligible to host cannabis-involved businesses. A primary target in the early stages of that investigation was Councilman John Woodard, who had also been first elected to the city council in 2014. Woodard as a licensed real estate agent was involved in the sale of property that subsequently was rezoned for commercial cannabis-related use. As the broker on such transactions, Woodard received a commission. Given his profiting by such sale activity and his role in making the concomitant zone changes, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI were drawn into an examination of the goings-on in Adelanto.
Eventually, federal officials took action as a consequence of those inquiries. Woodard, however, was not the subject of that indictment. Rather, it was Councilman Wright who was arrested by the FBI and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with accepting a $10,000 bribe in exchange for committing to use his position on the council to shield an undercover FBI agent posing as an applicant to operate a marijuana distribution concern in Adelanto from the city’s regulatory efforts.
The FBI has made notation of similar efforts to suspend the city’s regulatory authority when it comes to cannabis operations set up in Adelanto. One of those was Lifestyle Delivery Systems Inc., which had applied with the city for a permit to operate a THC extraction lab at 9501 Commerce Way. THC is the major active ingredient in marijuana. Construction of the building at 9501 Commerce Way was yet ongoing without a final occupation permit having been issued by the city and without the operation permit for the extraction lab having been signed off on when the lab began operations last year. Those operations consisted of the production of CannaStrips, a sublingually-delivered medication, under a joint venture involving Lifestyle Delivery Systems in partnership with CSPA Group. Brad Eckenweiler was the CEO of Lifestyle Deliver System, and Jerry Davis was the president of CSPA Group. Both Eckenweiler and Davis were publicly involved in encouraging the Adelanto City Council to move forward with its permitting of cannabis-related businesses. As was the case with several other marijuana-related operations, including cultivation and manufacturing concerns, city code enforcement personnel had been instructed to stand down and allow Lifestyle Delivery Systems to operate. On November 30, 2017, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators served a search warrant at Lifestyle Delivery Systems Inc.’s 9501 Commerce Way facility. In so doing, the sheriff’s department documented that the two companies – Lifestyle Delivery Systems and CSPA Group – had jumped the gun and were operating an extraction lab without the required permits.
In February of this year, Lifestyle Deliver Systems reassigned its rights to purchase CSPA Group Inc. and another company involved in marijuana product manufacturing in Adelanto, NHMC Inc., to Ms. Kelly Christopherson for $1.25 million and three million shares of Lifestyle Delivery System common stock. The sale was made on the representation that the THC extraction operation was functional.
One week ago, on August 24, former Adelanto City Manager Gabriel Elliott, through his attorney Tristan Pelayes, filed a claim for damages against the City of Adelanto. That claim laid out further detail with regard to the allegations of corruption and graft involving Adelanto officials growing out of the city’s policy of allowing cannabis-related businesses to flourish in the city. According to that claim, “On September 28, 2017, Jessie Flores, Mayor Richard Kerr’s assistant, and Mayor Kerr himself asked Elliott to accompany them to the city’s corporation yard located in the city’s industrial area, to meet with the potential buyers of this city facility that included the city’s public works yard. Upon arriving and meeting all the parties, Flores asked Elliott to sign the agreement to sell the property to Mr. C.B. Nanda, who is a marijuana cultivator. The scheme was for C.B. Nanda to then sell the property to a group of marijuana cultivators. Elliott refused to allow the sale to go forward because, after surveying the property, he realized the property included the city’s emergency operations center, which was part of a federal grant. Elliott also refused to allow the sale to go forward because he learned that Kerr and Flores had orchestrated the sale of the property below market value to benefit C.B. Nanda. As a result, Flores and Kerr were set to receive financial kickbacks from the sale of the property. When Elliott challenged Kerr as to why he wanted to sell the property, Kerr gave conflicting reasons as to why the property was being sold. At first, Kerr stated the sale of the property was to an agent of U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who would in exchange for the sale provide protection to Adelanto from any federal raids of the marijuana cultivation and consumption industry within Adelanto.”
Elsewhere in the claim, Pelayes wrote, “Kerr on numerous occasions instructed Elliott to terminate certain employees within the city that were not allied with him, including former City Clerk Cindy Herrera. When Elliott refused to terminate these employees because he perceived such action to be in violation of the city charter, Kerr became enraged and threatened Elliott with termination. Because Kerr stooped to receive bribes from the growing marijuana industry in the city, Kerr directed code enforcement officers to ‘stand down’ and prevent them from enforcing code violations by numerous marijuana businesses in the city.”
Further, according to Pelayes in the claim, “On October 27, 2017, Elliott went to the FBI to report Kerr’s and Flores’ illicit deal regarding the city’s public works yard. After the meeting, he disclosed to employees with the City of Adelanto and members of the city council that he had met with the FBI regarding Kerr’s and Flores’ illegal activities. On November 15, 2017, Elliott again met with the FBI and was accompanied by City Attorney Ruben Duran. At the meeting, Elliott reported that he had learned Mayor Kerr had received a $200,000 bribe for the sale of the city’s corporation yard. Elliott also reported this to the city council. After this meeting and after Elliott disclosed to the city council his meeting with the FBI, Kerr’s attacks [on Elliott] escalated.”
In December, Elliott was placed on administrative leave. In July, he was terminated. Since that time, Flores has been elevated to the city manager’s position. On Monday, August 20, 2018, Flores terminated Cindy Herrera as city clerk. Three days later, Ruben Duran resigned as city attorney. Shortly thereafter, Herrera retained Pelayes, who in the early 2000s served as Adelanto mayor, to represent her in possible litigation against the city.
Previously, the FBI was able to function within Adelanto behind a fig leaf of modesty, as the targets of its investigation had an interest in downplaying the specter of a criminal investigation while they yet had hope that the investigation would stall out and criminal charges in the matter would go no further than those that have already been lodged against Wright.
But with the FBI’s serving of a search warrant on May 8 at City Hall, at Kerr’s home and on the premises of the Jet Room, a marijuana dispensary in Adelanto, as well as at the corporate headquarters for the Jet Room in the City of San Bernardino, it is now widely recognized that the FBI’s investigation has not ended and is intensifying. Taken together with the public disclosures in Elliott’s claim, many of the figures in the cannabis industry who set up operations in Adelanto or those land speculators who reaped a profit by using inside information to purchase land that was then rezoned and converted to cannabis-related commercial use have now come to the sobering realization that the FBI has held off on further indictments beyond that of Wright because it is pursuing a grander plan of accumulating evidence and documentation of a wide sweep of graft in Adelanto, so that it can roll up not just the public officials who have been taking bribes and engaging in graft but those who have been providing the public officials with illicit inducements to allow them and their companies to operate in Adelanto. Some have sold their operations and left town. At least two have simply shuttered their operations and made a speedy exit. Reportedly, one of those suspected of bribing Adelanto officials has moved to the Bay Area, attempting to get lost within the social circles of San Franciso and by functioning under an alias. Another has reportedly departed the country, to Canada.
By Mark Gutglueck
The Fontana City Council Tuesday night on a split vote with one of its member abstaining turned down the effort by a 17-year police department member to have his 2017 firing rescinded.
Officer David Moore, a 22-year law enforcement veteran, went to work for the Fontana Police Department in 2000 after he took a lateral transfer from the Los Angeles Police Department. With Fontana, Moore achieved the rank of corporal. He was terminated on March 27, 2017 following the conclusion of an internal affairs investigation and an arbitrator’s ruling against him.
The investigation arose out of what department higher-ups maintain was Moore’s falsification of paperwork he filed in late 2016 relating to the provision of medical insurance coverage he and his family members were entitled to as part of the benefit package provided to department employees. In filling out that paperwork, Moore had indicated that his ex-wife, Rosita Moore, from whom he had been divorced in 2016, was eligible for that coverage.
In actuality, as a consequence of the divorce, Rosita Moore fell outside the City of Fontana’s standard of coverage.
Upon the discovery of the discrepancy between Moore’s marital status and the representations on the document in question, known as the 2017 officer’s insurance plan update, the department opened an internal affairs investigation. Moore, an African-American who had been outspoken with regard to what he considered to be a culture within the department in which a clique of white males dominated the department’s hiring and promotional structure, did not fare well under the department’s inquiry. The upshot of the internal affairs division’s finding was that the falsification justified termination. Then-Police Chief Robert Ramsey acted in accordance with that recommendation and cashiered Moore. Moore appealed that firing, and by stipulation, the matter was heard by an arbitrator, Douglas Collins. Upon examining the record and hearing testimony from the department and Moore, Collins upheld the termination.
The city’s firing of Moore had played out against the backdrop of a suit Moore and another officer who had also transferred to Fontana from the Los Angeles Police Department, Andrew Anderson, had filed against the department. That suit pertained to a November 2015 off-duty incident Moore and Anderson, who lived proximate to one another in Hesperia, had become involved in.
Moore and Anderson had made the acquaintance of an elderly man, Steve Olsen, who lived in their Hesperia neighborhood. Upon learning that two squatters had moved into Olsen’s house and, without paying rent, forced Olsen to take up lodging in his garage, Moore and Anderson intervened. Reconnoitering the situation at Olsen’s house, they made a report of what they had observed to the Fontana Police Department, requesting that their superiors make an agency-to-agency referral to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which provides contract law enforcement service to the City of Hesperia, regarding Olsen’s circumstance. The Fontana Police Department did not make that referral. One night in November 2015, upon hearing sounds of distress coming from Olsen’s garage, Moore and Anderson, both police department supervisors at the time, did a welfare check on their neighbor. Once Moore and Anderson came onto Olsen’s property, one of the male squatters attempted to access a knife. Moore and Anderson restrained him. Olsen was found unconscious inside his garage, slumped over the steering wheel of his car. The sheriff’s department was called. The responding officers addressed the matter. Olsen survived, but would not be so fortunate in the months to come.
Moore and Anderson reported the incident as proscribed by their department policy, indicating in doing so that if someone did not take action with regard to the odd living arrangements at Olsen’s home, he would very likely soon be dead. Anderson and Moore’s assessment of the situation was again disregarded by their supervisors with the Fontana Police Department. Eleven months later, Steve Olsen died in the company of the two squatters.
In the meantime, the male squatter who was detained by Anderson and Moore complained to the Fontana Police Department, which thereupon initiated an internal affairs investigation of their action. The Fontana Police Department relieved Anderson and Moore of duty and declared their conduct unbecoming to the department, based upon a Fontana police lieutenant’s memorandum forwarded up the chain of command, the upshot of which was that Moore and Anderson were not truthful and honest in their reporting. The memorandum did not include a recording of Moore’s actual verbal report of the incident, which the department claimed had been lost. Under the direction of former Chief Rod Jones, Moore and Anderson were accused of false and misleading statements, as alleged in the lieutenant’s memorandum. They were terminated and compelled to participate in an administrative hearing to keep from having their careers ruined.
During the hearing Moore and Anderson produced their own audio recording of Moore’s report of the incident to the lieutenant, the contents of which contradicted what was in the memo and established that their statements in fact were accurate. The audio recording and other evidence marshaled by them cleared them of lying. This brought into question the integrity of the internal investigation process and the action of the chief.
As a result of this investigation, the officers were reinstated to full duty. In a face-saving gesture for the department, Fontana City Manager Ken Hunt gave them 30-day suspensions without pay. Moore and Anderson would not accept that punishment, asserting they had done nothing wrong in looking after their elderly neighbor and that there was no proof they had physically harmed the complainant. Anderson and Moore appealed the 30-day suspensions through an arbitration hearing.
During that hearing the city attorney accused Moore and Anderson of conduct unbecoming. After a short opening statement by Moore’s attorney, the city attorney asked for a brief intermission. The city attorney approached Moore with a settlement offer. The offer was to reimburse Moore for his lost wages from the 30-day suspension and have him accept a letter of reprimand, which would be eliminated within one year’s time. Moore rejected the offer and decided to file a civil suit to clear his name and reputation.
In early 2016, Moore and Anderson fought back, filing suit against the department. While the lawsuit was moving forward, Moore was still working at the department as a police corporal.
Moore’s marriage had begun to unravel in 2012. Throughout this time frame, Moore’s marriage was proceeding toward dissolution in fits and starts, with several on-again, off-again efforts at reconciliation. His termination by the department proved a major impediment to the reconciliation effort, and on June 15, 2016 in a court proceeding at which Moore did not make an appearance, a “status only” judgment was rendered, finalizing the divorce.
It was based on that June 15 judgment and Moore’s handwritten filing of the 2017 officer’s insurance plan update that the city’s second termination of Moore was based.
In a rare proceeding before the Fontana City Council beginning at the hour of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28 sandwiched between an hour of a closed meeting of the council that began at 5 p.m. and the public meeting that began at 7 p.m., members of the public were allowed into the executive conference room in one of the back chambers at City Hall. A standing room only crowd was there to hear presentations by an attorney with the firm Best Best & Krieger specializing in labor law, Joseph Ortiz, who is a colleague of Fontana City Attorney Jeff Ballinger. According to Ortiz, Douglas Collins, the arbitrator, had upheld the city’s determination that Moore should be fired because he had made a material misrepresentation on his 2017 officer’s insurance plan update. Moore had been directly informed and knew, Ortiz said, that his wife was not eligible for insurance coverage supplied as a consequence of his employment with the department and had been told “If you are divorced, your spouse is not allowed to remain on your insurance policy.” Ortiz said Collins had “weighed all evidence and weighed each argument,” and found that “the preponderance of evidence set forth against the appellant” prevailed. The determination of “dishonesty” on Moore’s part with regard to this issue, Ortiz said, “justified” his firing.
In his statement to the city council, Moore noted his 22 years in law enforcement, clean background and professional decorations, including officer of the month and officer of the year recognitions previously made by the department, and awards for solving robbery homicide cases and ones pertaining to auto theft.
Acknowledging that he made an error in submitting the document in question, Moore said the punishment meted out was out of proportion to the seriousness of that transgression. “Other more egregious offenses have been committed within the department and officers were retained,” Moore said. “I ask you, why am I being punished so harshly?”
Moore said, “I had a lengthy complicated divorce which tired me and wore me down. My divorce is still not fully resolved. I suffered from various medical problems and I was recovering from a recent discipline of 30 days, all of which was a great distraction on my life. This was only an oversight, not an intentional act of dishonesty.”
His superiors in the department were using the mistake he had made as a pretext to fire him, Moore asserted. “The record shows the way the IA [internal affairs] investigation was initiated was questionable and did not follow normal protocol. It was clearly retaliatory in nature. It is very suspicious that a chief, a captain and a sergeant would look into the divorce status of an officer. This has never been done before. This shows conspiracy and premeditation. These are the same administrators who attempted to get me and a fellow officer terminated, just a year before this incident. Even before the IA investigation, I was singled out. HR [human resources] had me sign a letter requiring me to verify my marital status. This was never done before. Why would I intentionally attempt to defraud the city when I knew I was being watched by HR? No one discussed the matter with me before initiating the IA. They never asked me to simply remove my wife from my insurance. They immediately initiated an IA investigation. They never even offered me an opportunity to pay back any lost funds, because there were no lost funds. No extra expenses were paid by the city. The city did not lose any money, period. I could have opted out of the city benefits and paid for my own benefits.”
Furthermore, according to Moore, “During my interview there was no attempt to clarify what my state of mind was at the time I filled out my insurance forms and listed Rosita as my wife.”
Moore said that at the time he filled out the paperwork “I was not certain of what a status only judgment was.” He said that at the time of the arbitration of his case he understood that the status only judgment freed him to remarry. He did not know that to be case when he filled out the paperwork, Moore maintained. The arbitrator, Douglas Collins, misconstrued that as an admission that he had knowingly falsified the 2017 officer’s insurance plan update, Moore said. “The comment the arbitrator chose to focus on was, that ‘I thought I could get married again.’ That was my assertion during the investigation, after I had been placed on administrative leave and had the ability to do research. I explained this during the arbitration hearing. However, Mr. Collins chose to interpret this as me admitting that I knew I could get married again when I left Rosita on my insurance.”
Moore insisted, “I did not know my divorce was final. My acts were totally innocent and naïve. As I indicated, I was still of the impression that the unresolved issues were separate and different from my marital status. Had I been completely divorced without the obscure title of ‘status only,’ I would have removed her from my insurance. Again, my life insurance, medical, dental, pension, deferred comp, child support, personal property and alimony were not settled. Obtaining the status only judgment was my attorney’s idea, of which I had no legal understanding.”
Moore took further issue with one of Collins’ determinations which held, essentially, that Moore had insulted one of the deputies that responded to the incident in Hesperia relating to the mistreatment of Olsen by the squatters who had taken over his home. “Mr. Collins paid little attention to my testimony,” Moore said. “He indicates that I was disciplined after local law enforcement responded and I participated in an argument with a deputy, where I used ‘disparaging remarks.’ This is nonsense and it never happened. The deputies always stated that we did nothing wrong during that incident. Also, it should be noted that we contested the 30 day suspension, since the ‘conduct unbecoming’ charge was baseless. They never elaborated as to how our conduct was unbecoming, especially since the man we were checking on eventually died, as I warned them would happen.”
Moore said he believed that Collins failed to maintain the proper degree of distance and independence from one of the parties in the matter, thus compromising his impartiality and ability to act as an honest broker in his capacity as an arbitrator. “I find it extremely difficult to believe the arbitrator, Mr. Collins, could remain unbiased, when he was heard openly discussing dinner arrangements with the police department’s attorney, Paul Coble,” Moore said.
He added, “It should be pointed out that they had to hire a legal expert to clarify what a status only judgment was. The city manager and the chief both stated they lacked knowledge of the status only judgment and found it to be complicated. Yet, they held me to a higher standard. I consulted my attorney before leaving Rosita on my insurance and I was also given a court order to continue to provide insurance, until the pending issues were resolved. Furthermore, no one ordered me to obtain medical insurance on my own, the courts never advised me to do so, my attorney never advised me to do so and my wife’s attorney never instructed me that I needed to obtain a separate policy. There is absolutely no wording in the department policy pertaining to status only judgments. According to most attorneys, this is an area of the law which has been found to be obscure and misused. I was terminated for a family law matter that I misunderstood and the administrators found complicated as well. I was never intentionally dishonest. I have suffered now for almost two years without the income, which I worked so hard to acquire.”
Moore asked the council to “Please prevent them from terminating me. Termination is not a just penalty for my naïve conduct. Please reinstate me to my rightful position as a Fontana police corporal.”
Advocating on Moore’s behalf was Russell Anderson, a now-retired 28-year veteran with the California Highway Patrol who served in the capacity of a drug interdiction officer with the California Highway Patrol who had attended Moore’s arbitration hearings.
“I have known Dave about seven years,” Anderson said. “The arbitration was a circus. The department heads were unprepared to testify against Dave. They repeated the same answer over and over: ‘It was a long time ago. I don’t remember.’ It was the same with Chief Ramsey: ‘I don’t know.’ Dave is an honest and good man.”
Moore’s firing was a set-up, Anderson suggested “Something is wrong with this city. Something has to be corrected. Dave never should have lost that arbitration. The city officials were unprepared because they already knew what the outcome was going to be.”
Lorena Corona, a city resident involved in efforts to shelter the homeless in Fontana, said Moore had assisted in her group’s effort “to take care of the most vulnerable families in our community. How can you fire this man, who has a proven record of doing right for the community? We need him to continue to be the role model our children will see. Look at the record of what he has done. This is our hope. Our police department has responsibility for what is happening to him. We need people like him. We hope you will make the right decision.”
Moore’s attorney, Brandi Lynne Harper, said Moore “is a good officer. He made a mistake on his [insurance benefit] application. He failed to understand the process in family law court. There had been multiple [family law] court orders between 2012 and 2015. When the status only judgment was entered, he did not know what that meant. He did not understand his divorce was final. The judgment was entered at a hearing on June 15, 2016. He made no appearance on that date. He did not recall seeing the one-page judicial form. A layperson does not understand what that means. He did put his ex-wife on his insurance form. He advised the city his son should be removed because he had gone to work as a law enforcement officer himself. This was a glitch that caused him to be terminated. He filled out the form incorrectly. No one from the city came and talked to him. Instead, an IA investigation was initiated and he was terminated. This case should not have ended with a termination. It should have ended with a conversation.”
The hearing ended just before the beginning of the 7 p.m. start of the public portion of the council meeting. The council adjourned out of the hearing and left the executive conference room for the council chambers without having resolved the pending issue. After the end of the public portion of the council meeting, the council returned to the executive conference room to deliberate on the matter, this time behind closed doors and without the public present.
Ultimately, the council voted 2-2 to uphold the decision to terminate Moore, with Mayor Aquanetta Warren and Councilman John Roberts confirming the firing and councilmen Jesse Sandoval and Michael Tahan voting to reinstate Moore. Councilman Jesse Amendarez recused himself in the vote. Based on the deadlock, the arbitrator’s ruling remains in effect.
Eric Whedbee said he is “running for city council to help create a more equitable and just Redlands. I want to enact policy that positively affects the poor and working class of Redlands, the people who often get forgotten in discussions over land use or business development. We demand the right to affordable housing, clean air, clean water. We imagine a community that houses the vulnerable, our seniors, our veterans, and that cares for the sick and disabled.” Whedbee said he envisions “a Redlands for the many, not the few.”
Whedbee is running in the city’s newly formed District 1 in what will be Redlands’ first election under its just adopted ward electoral system after 130 years of holding at-large city council elections from the city’s outset in 1888. District 1 generally covers the city’s northwestern end. There are five candidates in District 1, none of whom are incumbents.
Whedbee celebrated his status as a political outsider. “I have not held or run for public office before now but I was born in Redlands and have lived here many years,” he said. “In another sense, I bring an outside perspective after living in some innovative cities over the years.”
In his campaign, Whedbee said he would be “doing my best to lay out very specific ideas that I feel Redlands could benefit from. I don’t see most of my opponents speaking about how exactly they would help solve the homeless issue we have in town, for example. But I hope that it is clear that the issues I am campaigning on are all interrelated and compose a larger vision for the city, one where we ground our policy in love for our neighbors. That means we put people before profits and we enact policy that benefits everyday people in our town and not just business owners or out-of-town business interests and corporations. This also means that we ensure that policy has a positive effect on the environment and the well-being of all our residents.”
The major issues facing the city at present, Whedbee said are “affordable housing, homelessness, social well-being and living wages.”
With regard to those, Whedbee said, “I am proposing that as a city we address affordable housing with municipal housing models, ideally models that are cooperatively owned by the tenants. I would also encourage tenants unions and rent control, if Proposition 10 passes.” Proposition 10 calls for allowing local government to control rent.
Whedbee continued, “I believe in the housing first approach to homelessness. It only makes sense to me that people struggling on the streets should be provided shelter without meeting a criteria. Social well-being is a purposely vague term that can also be termed social capital. We can encourage growth in this area by providing stability through things like rent control to our residents and continuing to host events and causes that build our community. We can achieve living wages by encouraging unions and by incentivizing worker cooperatives. We could also look at expediting the $15 per hour minimum wage.
To finance his proposals for local government, Whedbee said, “We would have to re-allocate funds a little – as some of these ideas could potentially save money budgeted for other areas such as our police force. We would also look toward federal grants, mostly in the areas of addressing homelessness and housing first.”
Whedbee said, “I have been involved In political organizing for the past couple years.”
Whedbee was born in Redlands, and lived in Loma Linda for a few years when he was in high school. He was out of the community while he was a university student in Oregon and in Canada. “I have lived in Redlands cumulatively over half my life,” he said.
He attended Loma Linda Academy. He obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in film studies from Portland State University and Université Concordia, Montreal, Quebec, respectively.
Whedbee is employed by REVShare, a division of Cannella Media, where he works as a video production manager.
He has not yet married and has no children.
Whedbee said he is concerned about “issues like the destruction of our town’s agricultural heritage. I want to discourage new development and instead encourage redevelopment of dilapidated business parks and strip malls. I want to preserve the heritage of Redlands and redefine the role of residents in the community.” He said he placed a high value on “freedom, freedom from government that intrudes into our daily lives. I also believe that we could scale back some of the city’s expenditures and direct funds to the things that matter for the average worker. By helping all residents find stability and the means to live a decent life, by empowering the workers of our town, we gain back our freedom and autonomy.”
Tyra Weis is seeking a berth on the Chino City Council in the November election, she said, “because I believe that it is our responsibility as citizens to step up and serve our community. Chino is a community that I have grown to love and I want to help make decisions to keep us vibrant, growing and to ensure that we remain a place where everyone has opportunities.”
This is the second election in which Chino has held elections using the ward electoral system adopted in 2016. Weis is competing in the city’s District 1, the northernmost quadrant on the city’s four-district electoral map, where Paul Rodriguez is the appointed incumbent. Weis is Rodriguez’s only opponent in the race.
Weis said, “I believe that I am qualified to serve on the Chino City Council because I have the energy, passion and skills needed to work collaboratively with others. I come from a teaching background where I have cultivated listening and coaching skills, patience, concern for others and a dedicated work ethic.”
In outlining the goals she has set for herself and the council should she be elected, Weis said, “I believe that Chino has many programs in place to address residents’ needs, and wish to encourage more partnerships among businesses, schools and the school district and other community organizations.”
She said, “A listening tour could be a great beginning to finding out what our community needs and wants. It is possible that revisions to the budget be proposed to address community needs and requests.”
According to Weis, “The City of Chino has experienced excellent financial management. We are well positioned to provide add-on services and programs at this time, and still maintain the high quality services Chino residents have come to expect.”
Weis is endorsed by and is a member of the organization Protect Chino which mounted a successful campaign last year against a 180-home development in north Chino. She would work to see that the city’s general plan is followed for future growth. She also is calling for Measure M, a growth control measure passed by the city’s voters in 1988 under which land in Chino cannot be rezoned to allow more homes than is specified in the city’s general plan or zoning maps without a vote of the city’s residents, to be revised to provide protections to all of Chino and its sphere of influence.
Weis is a teacher with the Pomona Unified School District. “In the school district where I work, I have served in various leadership roles, including serving as the full-time release president of the Associated Pomona Teachers from 2009 to 2013,” Weis said. “In those roles I learned about bargaining, budgeting, communication, advocacy and transparency. I have served on the state council, the policy-making body of the California Teachers Association, for six years and am about to begin a final three-year term on the School Safety and Management Committee. I am a long-time delegate to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly, a week-long teacher convention held annually each July. We make decisions to guide the National Education Association in its mission – supporting great public schools for everyone. I am a recent graduate of the National Education Association’s See Educators Run Academy, encouraging educators to run in political races from the schoolhouse to the statehouse.”
Weis is in her 25th year as a classroom teacher with the Pomona Unified School District. “I have taught at the same school, San Antonio Elementary, for the entire time with the exception of my service as the teacher union president for four years. I am currently teaching a kindergarten-first grade combination class and have taught grades K through 5 while employed in the district.”
Weis attended Mountain View High School in El Monte and subsequently earned an AA degree from Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. She then obtained a bachelor of science degree in communication arts from Cal Poly Pomona, followed by a masters degree in design based learning from Cal Poly Pomona. She also obtained a teaching credential from Cal Poly Pomona, where she participated in the Great Leaders for Great Schools Academy, a leadership development program between Cal Poly Pomona and the Pomona Unified School District.
Weis said, “I moved to Chino with my parents who required more care due to declining health issues.”
Weis is divorced with two grown children. “I am in a long-term relationship and have a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and five grandchildren from eight months old to eight years old,” she told the Sentinel. “They, along with my students, keep me young. My brother lives nearby as does my sister and her husband.”
Weis can be reached by email at email@example.com, through Facebook at Elect Tyra Weis to Chino City Council District 1 or on her campaign website at votetyra.com.
“I am speaking out about communication, advocacy and transparency as a candidate and would welcome input on issues such as affordable housing, programs for our homeless population, safety and partnerships with businesses, the school district and other community organizations,” she said.
Former Ontario City Councilman Rudy Favila is seeking readmittance to the local political stage, this time in an electoral bid for mayor.
“I am running now because I am frustrated at seeing more and more warehouses in Ontario, bringing with them more trucks, more pollution, more cancer-causing substances that are hurting our families who have to suffer with that,” he said.
A council member from 1992 until 1996, Favila proudly recollected his role in providing “swing votes on the council, with two members who wanted the city to grow and two who wanted to keep the city small and the same.” His votes were crucial to the approvals for “Ontario Mills and the Ontario Convention Center and major improvement to Ontario Airport,” he said. “We added thirteen square miles through the annexation of the Chino Agricultural Preserve when it dissolved. The city of Chino wanted to annex everything south of Riverside Drive. I was the only one who said we should discuss this. So we went to the dairymen and they were interested in coming to Ontario and then we went to LAFCO [San Bernardino County’s Local Agency Formation Commission, which hashes out jurisdictional disputes between local governmental entities] and they said you can get more of the agricultural preserve land if you want to fight for it. We brought the dairymen before LAFCO and the dairymen chose to go with Ontario. That’s how we annexed 13 square miles, so the city is now almost 50 square miles, one of the most beautiful and centrally located communities going.”
Favila said, “I want safe schools. We have five middle schools in this city with no police protection. I want the same police protection at each of those junior highs that the high schools get. I want a resource officer stationed on each campus to make the referrals that need to be made when they spot problem situations.”
He had a less than charitable view of the city’s current and longtime political leadership, Favila said. “For years, since I was last on the council, Mr. [Jim] Bowman and Mr. [Alan] Wapner have continued on the council for 24 years and they are asking for four more. I want term limits. There is only so much that one person can do until you get locked into the same pattern and same way of looking at things, lacking creativity and innovation. People talk about corruption and fraud. They have bought in as management consultants individuals who worked for the city before who are now maxed out in the retirement system and we are paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars for questionable and backward-looking direction as to how to run our city. People have gone to City Hall to try to find out what is going on and they are encountering roadblocks because the people in power don’t want that information publicly available. I am offering transparency. The way to do that is to add taxpayer/citizen advisory boards to each department so we have citizen participation in designing programs and serving the people, and ensure the delivery of what the residents want out of their government.”
A reorientation and reprioritization at City Hall is in order, Favila said. “We need economic inclusion,” he intoned. “A little more than 70 percent of Ontario’s population is Latino. Ontario City Hall does not reflect the community it serves. We want businesses that are supported and encouraged by city government. Look at our women’s population. Over half of the adult population in Ontario are women. That is not reflected in Ontario’s business community. We need to look at the stumbling blocks and deterrents keeping women from engaging in business in Ontario.”
He has his hand on the pulse of the community, Favila said. “I have been spending time with residents, meeting them and hearing their concerns. We have neighborhood deterioration. We have homelessness issues. How are these things being responded to? We have levels of service that are inadequate. People would like to see some improvement. Most people are getting along fine, but there are spurs of concern that with just a little help, our people would be living healthy and happier lives in Ontario. We could make simple changes so we enjoy a higher quality of life.”
The current council is a collection of culturally tone deaf and colorblind philistines, Favila said.
“Our surrounding cities have nice public art programs,” he said. “When I was on the council, we made a commitment that one percent of the building fees we collect would go to public art and beautifying our city. That has been ignored.”
The city needs to look after recreational amenities and its outdoor ambiance, Favila said. “You can’t have a great city without a great central park to enjoy the quality of life,” he said, referencing New York City and San Francsiso. He said something on the order of what exists there should be brought to Ontario. “I want to restore a vision of that and see that it is realized so future generations have a big park to enjoy that aspect of our public quality of life that we are missing.”
Favila reiterated the long term failure of the city’s political leadership, which he said is more interested in personal ambition and gain than staying in touch with its constituents. “Our power base is Wapner and Bowman. They have been at the trough for 24 years and they have lost the loving feeling of serving our citizens directly,” Favila said.
Reforming the city’s operations will not necessarily cost more money, Favila said.
“One way to fund new programs is through transparency,” he said. “That would require educating our citizenry and having the community interested and active so they know the difference between a general law city and a charter city, how we handle income, how we hire staff, how and why we are hiring consultants. We need to eliminate corruption and the loss of public money that involves, and bring in money for legitimate uses that we are wasting now.”
Favila continued, saying “Ontario has a new city manager, the first Hispanic city manager since 1891, the very first Latino city manager in Ontario.” Favila’s reference was to Scott Ochoa, who was hired last October to replace former City Manager Al Boling. “We need to support him,” said Favila. “But we have hired a former city manager [Greg Devereaux] as a consultant to the city and the airport. He is maxed out on his benefits working with Ontario and Fontana and is now maxed out on his retirement benefits from working with the county and is making close to a million dollars a year in his pension alone, not to mention all of these other consulting positions he has. We have hired him back in a management consulting role with the city and the airport. We have also hired another past city manager [Chris Hughes] who is maxed out in the retirement system with the city, and he is now a management consultant with both the city and the airport. We already have an airport manager [Mark Thorpe], one who was with LAWA [Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees the operation of Los Angeles International Airport, Van Nuys Airport and Burbank Airport and formerly operated Ontario Airport when it was still being managed and overseen by Los Angeles pursuant to a no-longer-in-effect joint powers authority] and Dallas before that, who is very good in that role. Why are we employing Mr. Devereaux and Mr. Hughes, who are not working for $50 per hour, but are making hundreds of thousands of dollar a year for what? Five hours of work per week? They are making millions of dollars working other consulting jobs at that same time. What is going on here? They cannot be the only ones we can hire who know how to run a city. There is no place in the budget where you can see that posted, what these two are being paid, or what role, really, they are playing. They are absolutely maxed out on their benefits. If you don’t believe me, look at their retirement income reports. These are extremely well-heeled people pulling all kinds of money out of the city and out of airport operations. Instead of offering what is a minimal amount of time as a way of giving back to the city, they are charging us hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. There is a better way of managing our money and spending money, to my way of approaching things.”
Ontario’s governmental structure is encrusted with individuals who are profiting themselves and ensuring that their associates and cronies profit as well, Favila said. The residents and taxpayers are being exploited as a result, he said.
“Councilman Bowman was with the fire department, in the last phase of his career as fire chief,” Favila said. “From his position on the council he makes sure the fire department has everything it needs and then some. We are very generous to our firefighters and some of them are getting hundreds of hours of unnecessary overtime a year. We need to have a better balance in the way we are managing services in the city. We need cost effective measures and to transition into a common sense way of seeing what is going on by asking questions and eliminating the fraud and waste we have.
“In many areas we don’t need as many employees as we have,” Favila went on. “In other cases we need more. We can trim services that are not as important. We can step up services where they are needed. We should maintain a higher level of police officers patrolling around our schools in the morning when students are arriving and in the afternoon while they are leaving. For things like that we may need additional service levels. The answer is better management. I was with the California Youth Authority for 25 years and we employed those kinds of strategies to better manage our resources to accomplish our goals. You can reprioritize and change the delivery of services to maximize the outcome.”
Favila said he compares favorably to the three individuals he is running against.
“I’m more qualified,” he said. “I graduated from California State University Sacramento. Our present mayor [Paul Leon] does not have a high school diploma because he never graduated. He has a G.E.D. He hasn’t gone back to school because he feels he doesn’t need it. The same repetitive experience as mayor does not help him.”
With regard to Sam Crowe, another candidate challenging Leon, Favila said, “Sam Crowe is a lawyer. He served on the council in the 1960s. He was part of the forces that sold our airport to Los Angeles. He was part of a team that didn’t have a vision of how to build a terminal, so they handed it over to Los Angeles. If I had been on the council at that time, I would have advocated that we design our own destiny. When I was on the council, over the years we dealt with the airport problems. We did a noise study and put mitigation measures in place. We got grants for home [sound] insulation.”
Of the remaining candidate for Ontario mayor, Richard Thomas William Reyes Galvez, Favila said, “Mr. Galvez ran for city council two years ago. He has an interest in serving in government. At 27 years old, I don’t know if he is ready to be mayor.”
Favila said, “I am the past chairman of the Mental Health Advisory Board to the San Bernardino County Health Advisory Committee. I have a history of serving our community. Having served on the city council and seeing to the completion of the infrastructure that made the Ontario Mills possible, I can be relied upon to guide the city going forward. We still have plenty of land. If we have vision and innovation, we can make this the centerpoint of Southern California and the Inland Empire. I want to get elected while I still have good health and the capacity to serve the city I love. It is not that I know it all, but I am willing to listen and study. I am retired now and have time to focus my energy on reading and consulting. I have lived in Ontario since 1983. I raised children here. I know how to stay on point and encourage others to move toward a desired goal. I have what it takes. I ran five times before I was elected. I was the first Latino elected to the council since 1891. Sam Crowe managed to have Gustavo Ramos appointed to succeed him when he left as city councilman to become city attorney in 1972, but that was an appointment. I want to open the door to the next generation of innovations. I want to have us situated for the next generation of growth and innovation. I want to participate in the generation of large numbers of livable wage jobs locally that offer more than the low paying warehouse jobs that we are saturated with. We need jobs that will lift those workers and their families to a new way of life.”
The degree to which special interests have bankrolled longtime incumbent Ontario City Council members Alan Wapner and Jim Bowman has prompted Paul Mim Mack to challenge them in this year’s municipal election. Each of those incumbent councilmen have an amount approaching or exceeding $400,000 in their political campaign war chests.
“Primarily, I am running to bring attention to the staggering amount of money coming into the campaign coffers of Alan Wapner and others on the city council, and the corrosive and corrupting effect of that money,” Mim Mack said. “If you are ready for a change at City Hall and would you like to see power returned to the citizens of Ontario and away from big campaign donors, I am your candidate.”
Unhesitatingly, Mim Mack answered, “Corruption,” when asked what he considered the major issue facing the city. “Campaign cash leads to sweetheart deals for companies such as QVC, which received a 55-to-60 percent reduction in its city taxes for 30-to-40 years without requiring any real economic development or jobs. In fact, it appears the jobs promised have not come to fruition and those hired are mostly temporary workers making low wages with no benefits. If elected, I will work to enact reform measures, including campaign finance limits, holding elections by districts, adopting a conflict of interest code and increasing accountability of airport expenditures.”
Mim Mack elaborated. “Campaign contributions are presently allowed from virtually any source and in unlimited amounts,” he said. “Some campaigns raise $400,000-plus per election cycle – for a part time position with a monthly stipend of $1,800. We must restrict contributions to no more than $4,400 per source (and preferably lower), which matches those imposed on county supervisors.
“Presently, candidates must reach out to approximately 174,000 residents spread over almost 50 square miles, making the cost of running for office prohibitive to all but the very wealthy or those able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he continued. “We must reduce the cost of attaining office and return power to our neighborhoods. Citywide elections for council members has left parts of our city unattended and ignored.”
He said city officials are entangled in conflicts of interest in which the money they are making on the side results in them serving people with city contracts or those with applications for projects in the city, to the detriment of the city’s residents.
“Presently it is legal for council members to work as non-salaried consultants for companies that do business in and for the city,” Mim Mack said. “Council members can be paid unlimited sums of money with very little accountability to the public on the services they perform. This must end immediately. Council members must also be prohibited from voting on projects and contracts involving companies from which they have received contributions.”
With regard to the city’s major facility and the millions of dollars involved in running it, Mim Mack said, “It seems many of the promises made about the Ontario International Airport Authority have not been fulfilled, in particular reducing the cost of flying to and from our airport. Flying out of Ontario International Airport continues to be more expensive than traveling from Los Angeles International Airport and other competing airports. Furthermore, I will work to assure that all Ontario tax dollars spent on the airport are repaid in full, and that airport expenditures are not be made at the expense of city services.”
Mim Mack said, “Unless we enact measures such as these, nothing else can be meaningfully addressed; not serving our seniors, safe parks, public safety, roads, downtown, youth programs, nor schools. Ask yourself: how is it possible we own an arena worth 100 million dollars and don’t have a single skate park?“
He possesses the rudimentary qualifications to serve on the council, Mim Mack said.
“I am a reasonably intelligent, college educated, ethical, and responsible person committed to ethical and transparent government,” he said.
He is distinguished from his opponents in the race, Mim Mack said, in that “I support campaign finance limits, elections by district, and a conflict of interest code. My opponents do not believe in any of that.” He called for “a conflict of interest code that bars the mayor and council members working as non-salaried consultants for entities located in the city or with business before the city council, and bars voting on projects related to donors. Most of these measures can be adopted by ordinance at very little cost.”
He has experience that prepares him for the post of councilman, Mim Mack said.
“I am a student of government, have worked as a mayoral assistant, interned in Washington, D.C. for a congressman, and have previously run twice for the Ontario City Council,” he said. “I have been employed by the State of California for 13 years.”
In total, Mim Mack has lived in Ontario for 24 years. He attended St. George Parochial School from 1982 until 1991. He attended UCLA, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1999.
He is employed as an associate right of way agent with the California Department of Transportation.
Mim Mack said he was itching to appear at a candidates’ forum, but that he doubted the incumbents wanted to subject themselves and their records in office to that kind of scrutiny.
“As of today’s date, neither Alan Wapner nor Jim Bowman have committed to a candidate debate,” Mim Mack said yesterday, Thursday August 30.
Ryan Johnson is offering himself as an establishment candidate on the Redlands City Council in the race to represent the residents of newly drawn District 5 in the 72,000 population city.
In November, the first election using a ward system in Redlands will take place. Previously, members of the city council were elected at-large. In District 5, the geographically largest and southernmost of the city’s five districts, two candidates are vying this year: Johnson and the city’s current mayor, Paul Foster. In Redlands, the mayor is not directly elected by the city’s residents but elevated to that position from among the council by a majority vote of the council.
Despite his ambition, Johnson was in no way critical of the man he is seeking to unseat, Foster. Instead, he framed himself and his candidacy as a younger and more energetic continuation of Foster and what the mayor has already accomplished.
“My career as a public servant with the State of California and my experience in the private sector as a former business owner gives me the passion to give back to my community,” he said. “I am committed to protecting the history, beauty, and integrity of the City of Redlands. I believe that the City of Redlands is heading down the right path; I want to continue to build upon the positive direction that the City of Redlands is heading.”
Johnson pointed out that he has already proven himself as a creature of government.
“I currently serve on the City of Redlands Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission as vice chairman and as a board member for the Friends of Prospect Park, a non-profit organization which partners with the City of Redlands to maintain and improve the natural beauty of Historic Prospect Park. My experience gained from my tenure with three State of California agencies – the California State Teachers Retirement System, Franchise Tax Board, and Board of Equalization – and my private sector small business experience uniquely qualifies me to serve as a Redlands City Council Member for District 5.”
Johnson said he believes the major challenge facing Redlands at present to be “continuing infrastructure improvements. The following is my top list of current and proposed infrastructure projects for the City of Redlands: finishing the repaving and maintenance of roads throughout the city that were not included in the current phases of the pavement rehabilitation project, continuing the effort to replace outdated sewer pipes and water lines, and building a new safety mall for our valued police force, who have been without a permanent home since 2008.”
Johnson said, “In order to pay for the infrastructure improvements, I plan to empower members of the city council and city officials to think out of the box for funding solutions, such as increasing revenue generating events within Redlands, and increasing efforts to obtain grants, and working on small business development in order to increase sales tax revenue.”
In 2005, as he was leaving college to head out into the real world, Johnson obtained his contractor’s license and started a business, RJ Coatings, which remained active through 2011.
In 2012, Johnson began working for the State of California as a business taxes representative with the Board of Equalization. “During my tenure at the Board of Equalization, I further strengthened my communication, customer service, and public speaking skills through my daily communication and outreach events with California taxpayers, business owners and tax professionals,” Johnson said. “After a brief tenure with the Franchise Tax Board, I accepted a promotion with the California State Teachers Retirement System. As a benefits specialist with the California State Teachers Retirement System, my time is spent conducting individual and group retirement sessions with retiring California educators. What I enjoy most about my current position at the California State Teachers Retirement System is facilitating outreach events throughout the Inland Empire.” Johnson remains employed with the State of California as an analyst.
Johnson has lived in Redlands for 19 years and attended and graduated from Redlands East Valley High School as a member of the Class of 2000. He obtained an associate of arts degree from Crafton Hills College, a bachelor of arts degree in administration from California State University San Bernardino and a master of arts degree in management from the University Of Redlands School Of Business.
Johnson told the Sentinel he is “married to my loving and beautiful wife, Helen, who is an 8th grade history teacher. We currently have no children.”
Away from work, Johnson said, “My hobbies consist of boating, cycling, hiking, riding motorcycles, working on home improvement projects, and spending time with family and friends. On weekends, I enjoy a good cup of coffee from our downtown coffee shops, and can relax with a nice cigar or glass of whiskey from the local distillery and cigar lounge. My home is Redlands and I enjoy being here.”
Catherine Brown, an Upland resident, on Monday night took the Upland City Council to task over the city’s lack of action with regard to traffic and pedestrian hazards on Olive Street at the south end of the city.
Olive Street runs east/west and lies half way between 7th and 8th Streets. At the northeast corner of 8th and Campus Avenue is Olivedale Park. Brown said drivers operating at excessive speeds, line-of-sight limitations and the lack of stop signs at certain intersections is putting pedestrians, primarily children using the park, as well as motorists transiting the area into harm’s way.
“My concern is the speed and traffic on Olive, particularly the speed between Campus and Sultana,” Brown said.
Brown said that she had previously induced the police department to do a survey of the traffic along Olive. “They monitored in that time frame 1,600 cars,” Brown said. “Of those cars, half of them were going 26 miles per hour or more. It is a 25-miles-per-hour zone because it is in front of the park. I’ve got documentation showing that I have been communicating this same problem back to 2012.”
Brown said the data from the survey were alarming. “They found not only were the majority of the cars going over the limit, there were several in excess of 70 miles per hour. This is huge. This is in front of a park. Because of the data, the 85 percentile is now 33 [miles per hour]. It is said that gave legitimate reason to raise the speed limit.”
Increasing the speed limit under the circumstances is ill-conceived, Brown said. She opined that using the survey showing drivers are disregarding the current 25 miles per hour speed limit to raise the limit to 30 or 35 miles per hour would be irresponsible, given the lack of speed limit enforcement on Olive Street led to the current circumstance.
“There is nothing being done to lower people’s speed,” she said. “I’ve asked about speed bumps. I was told ‘no.’ I’ve asked about other things.They’re not even considering it. What is it going to take for our children to be safe at that park? I’m sorry. I cannot accept the fact that it’s not being handled more timely. As I said, it goes back to 2012. It’s 2018. Something needs to be done.”
The danger from excessive speed is exacerbated by further complicating factors, Brown said.
“Other things on Olive I’ve concerned myself with is the different intersections between Sultana and Euclid,” she said. “Between Euclid and First has improved, because the south side now has no parking. All the other intersections north and south do not have a stop sign, only east and west. I’ve provided pictures showing how bad the parking is, because they park right up to the stop sign, right up to the intersection. You literally cannot see between cars. You can’t see through the cars. You can’t see around the trees. You cannot see, period. So, in order for you to get through, you inch out and by the time you inch out enough to see, you’re hit and you’re at fault, because you’re the one that had the stop sign. I asked about stop signs. I was told, ‘No.’ They can’t do stop signs. They can’t restrict the parking in front of those houses because people need it. Those houses all have alley access or driveways or you can park on Olive. Something has to be done to make those intersections safer.”