Mulvihill Wants Four More Years In Fight Against SB’s Homelessness, Crime & Red Ink

Seventh Ward San Bernardino Councilman Jim Mulvihill, who was first elected to the council on November 5, 2013 as a consequence of the recall of his predecessor Wendy McCammack, is now standing for reelection in the municipal contest corresponding to the March 3 California Primary Election. Mulvihill was reelected in 2016, after he was the top vote-getter with 501 votes or 28.11 percent in November 2015 in a five-way race against Scott Beard, Kim Robel, Damon Alexander and Leticia Garcia, and then outdistanced Beard in the February 2016 run-off with 874 votes or 52.86 percent.
Mulvihill said he is running for a third term “because the city is in a state of turmoil caused by the present administration. I have a background in urban planning, so I have a good understanding of how a city is supposed to operate. I have background and experience. I can’t imagine any of my opponents doing the same kind of job I am capable of.”
In this year’s race, Mulvihill is opposed by Esmeralda Negrete, John Abad, David Mlynarski and Damon Alexander.
Mulvihill said the “major issue that affects residents is homelessness.”
He said over the time he has been in office, the city has come up with “a number of programs to aid the homeless and rehouse the homeless.”
Mulvihill said the problem is an essentially challenging one which defies straightforward and comprehensive solutions. He said the rationale approach is to take a realistic tack to make inroads against the condition, and get as many people off the streets as possible in conjunction with the homeless populations’ willingness to cooperate in the efforts of those willing to show it compassion.
“There are two major groups of homeless,” Mulvihill said. “One will be receptive to our efforts and can be rapidly rehoused. These are people who are experiencing problems because of foreclosure, or divorce, loss of employment and those sorts of things, ones who will accept help. Then there is the second group, who don’t want help and won’t accept it, who are addicted to drugs or are mentally ill, who don’t want to get off the street.  Those are people who have problems that are a little more difficult to address.”
The city has made some marginal progress on the homeless front, Mulvihill said.
“We have been able to get grants, several hundred thousand dollars for emergency shelters, housing vouchers to ‘the Rapid Rehousing Program’ in order to get people over rough spots and keep them off the streets until they can get back on their feet and regain employment and fend for themselves,” he said. “We have tried to take a ‘Housing First’ approach. With the second group, we haven’t given up. With the second group our first goal is to get them off the streets, provide them with some unconditional help, give them a little space with the hope that if they are not taking their medication we can get them back on medication or if they are taking [illicit] drugs we can eventually get them off of drugs. We try to look toward the long run. We want to get them a case worker, bring in the county work force development department to apply solutions to not only get them off the street but into employment.
“The city is working with Catholic Charities. It is working with Mary’s Village, which already has shelters for women and is now establishing a housing and job training facility for 115 homeless men,” Mulvihill continued. “The city is working with Kim Carter with Time For Change, the Salvation Army and the Lutheran Mission, who are working to provide housing for those who are out on the streets. We are trying find homes for them.”
The city is constrained by law in what it can do to overcome the homeless problem, Mulvihill said. The law will not allow the city to use its authority to simply force the dispossessed to leave, he said.
“In the Boise Decision, the Supreme Court ruled that if you can’t find homes for the homeless, they they can sleep on the sidewalk. Governor Newsom ratified that for California.”
Those who want to simply run the homeless out of town will need to go to Plan B, Mulvihill said.
He offered a suggestion.
“In the military we had tents large enough to house a platoon,” he said. “I propose that as a way to get the homeless off of our streets. We have space at the sheriff’s academy where we can pitch those tents and put in facilities. We need case managers for groups of individuals so we can reach them, provide them with health care, get them services and other forms of assistance. We may not be able to fix the problem in its entirety, but we can start to help those who will accept our help turn their lives around. The reality is that having them on the streets presents not only them, but all of us, with health issues. People defecating on the streets – that is a violation of public health regulations.”
Of the homeless, Mulvihill said, “We need to house them immediately and place them into facilities, even if that is only an immediate and short term solution. We need to get them off the streets.”
Mulvihill continue, “A big problem is the state is not really helping. Fifty years ago, when Ronald Reagan was governor, they closed down our mental health hospitals.  That has created a whole subset of homeless who are most resistant to help. The state needs to step in and provide programs and make policy changes right now. When they say to us ‘It is your problem,’ that is baloney.”
Without faulting any of those seeking to address the bane of homelessness, Mulvihill said that what is needed is a far more coordinated and universal approach, and that real and meaningful progress won’t occur until all of the horses are hitched up to the same side of the wagon.
“Right now every jurisdiction is developing its own approach to this problem,” he said. “What we have done in the City of San Bernardino in conjunction with San Bernardino County is try to apply a ‘Housing First’ solution by providing housing vouchers to those who want them and will accept them. Other jurisdictions are approaching this in their own way. The state needs to develop laws and guidance and establish a statewide policy.”
Beyond  homelessness, Mulvihill, said, the city is saddled with the scourge of crime.
“The best best policy to deal with crime is to hire more police officers,” he said. “In 2010-11, we had 349 sworn police officers on the street fighting crime. Right now, under the [John] Valdivia administration, we have 249. We are down 100 officers. The mayor’s approach is to hire more clerical staff and lobbyists. In terms of rational fiscal management, the direction of His Honor and his council majority is wrong. We need more police officers. We only have four code enforcement officers. We need 20 or 30. His answer is to hire more administrative staff and lobbyists.”
Mulvihill said, “I support Operation Ceasefire,  the violence intervention program. It intentionally goes out and does data analysis to identify individuals who have a higher probability of committing violent crime. We are finding that 15 to 20 percent of the people who have criminal records between the ages of 18 to 24 have such potential. For them, living in the environment they do, joining a gang is a rational decision. So, under this program – Operation Ceasefire – what occurs is probation officers, in conjunction with people who have been released from prison, will search these at-risk individuals out and tell them ‘This is the direction your life is going in, and you can see where you are going to end up. This is your opportunity to develop job skills with Operation Ceasefire.’ People going into gangs, given the environment they are in, are making a rational decision. Here is a path to give them a better option. This violence intervention approach has had a high success rate in Boston, Chicago, North Carolina. Oakland and Stockton.”
Mulvihill said that “According to [Police] Chief [Eric] McBride, “The crime rate has dropped a little bit between 2018 and 2019. Homicides are down 6 percent, rapes are down 9 percent. Burglaries are down 9 percent. Whereas in 2015 we had 218 sworn officers, we now have 249. We are going in the right direction. That is still inadequate.”
Mulvihill said the third major issue the city has been struggling with and which he is anxious to continue to work on is economic development.
“I have kept in close touch with business people, people in the building industry, associates within the chamber of commerce, the League of California Cities,” he said. “There are some business people who are interested in doing things in our city. I was contacted most recently by someone about the Arrowhead Country Club. He had asked me about developing it for housing. I had to tell him I can’t support that, but I use that to illustrate that there is interest in development within our city. There are some proposals. One was at the northwest corner of Valencia and Highland where there is a Chinese Smorgasbord, and they are interested in putting in a Starbucks and a 7-Eleven. I think we would be interested in that. I am in close touch with the business community. I think we need to hold something like an opportunity fair, just like the retail industry holds conventions, just as the shopping center developers hold shopping center conventions in Las Vegas on an annual basis. We should hold a community opportunity fair to promote our work force, where we talk about our labor pool, and show potential employers from across the country what we have to offer. I can see us having an opportunity fair at the Orange Show and bringing in employers from all over, retailers nationally to see what we have here. Corporations from all over the country should see San Bernardino, and the opportunity waiting for them here.  If they look at our transportation system and see the airport, we may get retailers and manufacturers interested in coming here.”
Mulvihill said, “I would like to see more quality housing in San Bernardino.  We really need to seek to attract that. Dignity Health, which owns Saint Bernardine’s Hospital and owns 39 hospitals across the country has a group of investors looking to build 800 homes, in conjunction with National Core and the county housing authority and mortgage financing firms. We have the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looking to make grants to support major housing projects. We have already gotten a small grant for planning. We are looking for securing the Robert Wood Foundation grant for our community. We should be facilitating those efforts and I will lead that.”
Despite the consideration that he is the oldest member of the city council, Mulvihill said he is perhaps the member of the panel most sensitive to the vulnerabilities of those who are four and five decades his junior.
“We need to engage our youth,” he said. “I am a member of the community college bond oversight committee. At the community college [San Bernardino Community College] we have a new technology building to train young people and anyone, actually, who wants to develop modern job skills. We have achieved a portion of a half of a billion grant and that has been used to buy the former San Manuel Administration building on Highland where the Building Industry Association has established a construction industry program to train construction workers. The building industry has lost a lot of construction workers who have moved out of state because housing is so expensive. If someone has been formerly incarcerated, the Building Industry Association will make that training free to those who need work to turn their lives around and keep from going back to prison. The school district is gearing itself to job training. We have steep unemployment rates. We need to fix that. We need to give people the opportunity to get skills.”
Mulvihill elaborated, “Among minorities in our city 18 to 24 years old, the unemployment rate is between 40 and 50 percent. We need to give those who want work the opportunity they need to work. College is not for everyone, but in today’s working world, you need something beyond high school. There is available now a training program, which runs 30 to 35 hours, which can be done in a couple of weeks, that will teach you how to operate a forklift truck. That will provide someone with what everyone needs, which is a solid first rung on the ladder. You can get training in welding, or in being an electrician. Valley College has the facilities for that.”
Mulvihill went on, “Allen Stanley bought the Heritage  Building, where he is now housing start-up businesses. I have maintained contact with Michael Gallo, whose company is involved in constructing the Phoenix space glider, and he has a technical education training program at Norton that uses modern metal lathes. I used lathes when I was in metal shop in high school, so I remember back in the day how we used a lathe to chisel off metal and shape things.  I toured the operation at Norton, and now lathes are computerized. People can train on lathes, and they are making tools and parts for all kinds of engines.”
The City of San Bernardino has to actuate upon the resources and tools it possesses now, rather than suspend its expectations until a later date when one prospect or another may or may not materialize, Mulvihill said.
“I’m not a gambler, and I don’t ever want to lose sight of what is possible, but I think we have to work on probability,” he said.
A case in point, he said, is that employment within the logistics industry is available to a significant segment of San Bernardino’s population.
“Obviously, the San Bernardino International Airport offers all kinds of opportunities in the realm of logistics, and that industry is booming,” Mulvihill said. “I realize there is some resistance against all forms of logistics operations because of the accompanying pollution and the lower wages, but these operations bring with them benefits. A third of the adult population in San Bernardino does not have a high school diploma and what kind of jobs can those who fall into that category compete for? Those logistics jobs are not super-high paying, but they come with health care, vision care and dental insurance. That is worth it just in itself. We have to understand that right now we don’t have the skill level in much of our population to attract high tech companies here.”
At the same time, he said, the population itself must be inspired to take it upon itself to obtain the training and education it needs to compete in the modern business world.
“We have so many universities and colleges here, the state university, Redlands University, Valley College, Crafton Hills,” he said. “San Bernardino has one of the best educational environments in the state. It is hard to attract technical industries when you have the kind of low skill levels in our population that we do. We need to move that part of our population that does not want to get that level of training into the jobs they can perform, and push those who want to go onto a higher level of education and training to do that so they can land those better paying and more demanding jobs.”
Success in life requires situational awareness, the agility to adapt and a willingness to work hard, Mulvihill said.
Mulvihill, with another member of the city council, Fred Shorett, stands as a counterweight to Mayor John Valdivia, whom he considers to be dishonest, self-interestedly misfocused and wrongheaded in his orientation with regard to governance and leadership.
“Investors in our community want to know that we offer them something that is predictable and stable,” he said. “The current mayor has made San Bernardino unpredictable and unstable. I fault him for that, and it is not getting better. The people who might invest in our city are looking at the council and the mayor. He has four people who are pretty much backing him and going along with what he wants to do. The investors want to see better decisions being made.”
Mulvihill said he offers the voters of the 7th Ward the best choice to represent them among the current crop of candidates.
“I’ve got the record,” he said. “I’ve got the experience inside and outside of government. There are people running against me who say they will end homelessness, but they are not specific about how they are going to do that. I think they are genuinely concerned, but they are not very realistic. I say to them, ‘You’re going to end homelessness? Really? How are you going to do that?’ I can list the programs I have helped implement. I am very concerned about getting things right and I’m not here to make promises I cannot fulfill. I am not on my own going to end homelessness. But I am going to get people off the street if they want to get off the street and I will try to create programs to help them enter back into society.”
Mulvihill said, “The theme of my campaign is ‘Performance. My past record. Performance, not promises.’”
Asked about how the city is to finance itself going forward, Mulvihill said, “Well, that’s the sore point, isn’t it? The issue is we have stagnant revenue and rising costs. So, we need to be very adept in terms of fiscal management. In the short term, rational fiscal management of the funds we do have is critical. We have expenses and liabilities that are not well known. This year we spent $26 million on payments to the California Public Employee Retirement System. $5 million of that was for current pensions and the other $21 million to pay off some of our obligation. Right now we have a $420 million unfunded future obligation to the California Public Employees Retirement System. We have a $126 million general fund budget. The police and fire departments take up up $85 million of that. So, after police and fire and pensions, we have $15 million to pay for the rest of our employees, streets, sidewalks, lights and everything else. We’re paying twice as much for pensions –  to people who no longer work for the city – as we are for the people who are working for us right now. We are in dire circumstances, and need to recognize that and be cautious about the choices we make.”
Mulvihill said, “We need to renew Measure Z [the voter-approved quarter of a cent sales tax override passed in San Bernardino on November 7, 2006, which went into effect for a period of 15 years, beginning April 1, 2007] in the next election. That means we will continue to receive that quarter of a cent revenue directly. But I will not support it myself and will be against it unless we come up with a logical financial management strategy, so we don’t fritter it away on lobbyists and pensions.”
Mulvihill said the city needs to calibrate its policies so it reacts to immediate problems while husbanding its resources to deal with longer range issues.
“When you look at it in the short term, we need to coordinate applying for grants, such as the one available from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” Mulvihill said. “We can apply that to move ahead with the projects to rejuvenate the Arden Guthrie neighborhood, what we are now calling Arrowhead Vista, which National Core is working on. There are $20 million grants out there. We need to go after them. We have already succeeded in getting a $2.3 million grant to help support the police department  There are grants for sustainable communities, for safer schools. The Southern California Association of Governments offers operational grants. These aren’t enough to transform the entire city, but they will help us fix some of the marginal issues we have. After that, we need to think in the long term. We need to renew the general plan. We can’t let these day-to-day brush fires take up all of our attention. We need to think about what do we want to be in 15 years. We should do data analysis and determine the need for housing. The general plan is a road map for how we get to that point.”
His steady had on the tiller of government is needed, Mulvihill said.
“We’re in trouble,” he asserted. “We need to be aware of that. We need to be fiscally realistic and refine our fiscal management policy because we are on a very short rope, and we really need to think about what the long term is. We have people who are interested in bringing jobs into our community. We need to promote people like that.  The airbase is now an international airport. The reality is the logistics industry is the one advantage we have to use to our benefit right now.”
Mulivihill said there was a sense of déjà vu once removed to his perspective on San Bernardino’s circumstance and the generation that is on the brink of inheriting it from those who have preceded them.
“After I graduated from Amherst Central High School in Buffalo, New York,  I got a job at a company on the night shift loading trucks,” he related. “It was a good job for an 18 or 19-year old. I made enough money to buy a convertible.  But there were guys who were 28-years old I was working with who were making the same amount of money, ones who had little children or babies on the way. The ownership closed out that business and I was unemployed for several months. I managed to get a job with United Parcel Service in January 1965 on the day shift. Sometimes you stand on someone’s shoulders and things fall into place at the right time. At that point I started going to night school part time, got good grades. In 1968 I was drafted into the Army, was in Vietnam in the Central Highlands from July 1969 until August 1970, came home, got discharged and after that I had the GI Bill to finish my education. That wouldn’t have been my first choice on how I wanted to do things, but it worked out for me.
“I see a parallel from my life back in New York in the 1960s when I was a young man to what is here in San Bernardino for young people now,” Mulvihill said. “Look at what is available. That is logistics. That is assembly. Mike Gallo at the airport has an operation deconstructing parts and remaking them into aircraft components.   We have [San Bernardino International Airport Authority Executive Director] Mike Burrows, [ Kelly Space & Technology CEO] Mike Gallo, [property speculator and entrepreneur] Allen Stanley who are creating the means for young people who are just beginning to make their way in the work force, starting families or whatever to get started toward what the future holds for them.”
Mulivhill obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo, which transitioned into the State University of New York, at Buffalo. Subsequently, he obtained Ph.D. in urban policy and geography from Michigan State University in 1976. He taught urban and municipal planning at Maryland State University in Frostburg for three years before accepting a similar teaching assignment at California State University San Bernardino in 1981.
He has a daughter and two grandchildren.

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