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.”