County CEO’s Management By Intimidation Spurs Department Head Exodus

By Mark Gutglueck
Leonard Hernandez, whose tenure as San Bernardino County’s chief executive officer started out with so much promise, at least for him, has lost considerable traction in recent months as he has fallen victim to his own vaunting ambition and the ruthless formula he had previously so successfully utilized in seeking to fulfill it.
As little as a year ago, the smart money was that Hernandez, who was selected in September 2020 and officially hired the following month to replace Gary McBride, his predecessor as the county’s chief executive officer, was on a trajectory to last another decade-and-a-half in the county’s top staff position.
In recent months, however, he and the county have encountered some rough sledding that is threatening to dislodge him from the pinnacle of government in the nation’s largest geographical county outside of Alaska.
San Bernardino County, more than most of its 57 counterparts throughout the Golden State, has had unfortunate experiences with several of its top administrators. Continue reading

Land Swap Between USFS & San Manuel Would Give Tribe Choke Point Control Of Region’s Water Supply

By Anthony Serrano & Mark Gutglueck
After discussions that have gone on for more than four years, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, now known as the Yuhaaviatam Nation, is on the brink of swapping seven parcels consisting of 1,533.92 acres it owns in the San Bernardino National Forest at various altitudes ranging from approximately 5,200 feet to 7,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains for two parcels of federal land consisting of 1,475.90 acres located near the Arrowhead Springs Hotel at the approximate 2,000 foot elevation in the San Bernardino Mountain foothills.
The land the tribe will acquire under the agreement lies at a crucial juncture above the San Bernardino and Highland city limits, from which it could divert to its own use much of the inland region’s water resources. Continue reading

IEUA Board Spurns Request To Hold The Line On Managerial Salary Increases

On a 4-to-1 vote February 15, the board of the embattled Inland Empire Utilities Agency gave its general manager a salary increase of more than 9 percent, raising the ire and concern of a large cross section of the community and public served by the regional service entity.
As a result of the action, Shivaji Deshmukh will see his salary jump from $311,428 to $340,000, and his total annual compensation, when his annual cost of living adjustment is factored in, go from $420,853.80 to $462,908.57.
At issue in the board’s favorable treatment of Deshmukh is not only pointed disagreements within the community about his performance and the direction of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, but growing public dismay over the reflexive granting of raises to public employees in general and the management echelon among public employees specifically, creating a widening gulf between the remuneration levels of public and private sector workers. Continue reading

Gomez Arrested Again After Another Victorville City Contretemps

Victorville Councilwoman Blanca Gomez is in the custody of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and it appears she will likely remain so until the resumption of her trial on public disturbance and related charges growing out of two 2021 incidents. Her current incarceration began with her arrest on Tuesday night over an event and circumstances not unlike those leading to one of her previous arrests.
As previously, the issues in which Gomez finds herself entangled straddle, or stand on, the border dividing free speech and political expression from what the San Bernardino County establishment considers a seditious violation of civil order. Continue reading

Wonder Valley Residents, Having Confirmed Resort With Homes Will Total 160 Acres, Press For Full-Blown EIR

The recent revelation that the proponents of the Wonder Valley Inn intend to augment that project slated for just over 21 acres at the corner of Amboy Road and Gammel Road with a residential component on the surrounding 138.78 acres has prompted an even greater degree of alarm among local residents than  they have evinced since they learned early last year about the prospective hotel development project.
In November 2021, Alan Greenberg and Jason Landver applied for a conditional use permit, including a rezoning request, for the majority of 21.22 acres on the corner lot site in the remote desert community which are currently zoned for low density housing.
The 3.18 acres closest to the confluence of paved Amboy Road and dirt-surfaced Gammel Road is already zoned for commercial service use, while the remaining 18.4 acres bear the county’s RL-5 zoning designation. Greenberg’s and Landver’s request of the San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department has been to designate all 21.22 acres as suitable for commercial service use, or CS in the county’s zoning parlance. The current RL-5 designation allows single family homes on lots no smaller than five acres. Greenberg and Landver have acquired 160 acres at the Amboy/Gammel corner location.
Last week, Landver in a statement to the Sentinel confirmed that he and Greenberg, who are being assisted by development consultant David Mlynarski, are purposed to see the entirety of the 160 acres built upon. Continue reading

Ontario Council Effort To Censure Valencia Runs Into A Buzzsaw Of Resident Resistance

In what was for a number of Ontario residents the seeming disintegration of the Ontario City Council played out right in front them Tuesday night as three-fifths of the panel’s members made an eleventh-hour effort to officially rebuke their colleague who has assumed the mantle of the community’s lead dissident.
The hurried nature of the effort, including the failure of the city clerk to provide timely public notice of the contemplated action and a corresponding failure of the city council, city staff and the city attorney to provide any text or written resolution of censure with attendant documentation resulted in the matter not being consummated, such that it was deferred to an unspecified date in the future.
What did emerge is a somewhat vague and inexact description of the transgression Ontario city officials are alleging Councilman Ruben Valencia had engaged in, relating to his recent sojourn to Mexico and social interaction with some politicians there.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, while Valencia did recuse himself from the discussion relating to his censure, his supporters made their presence known, presaging the likely response the council and city management will be subjected to if the effort to discipline Valencia for what they consider to be a non-issue persists. They hinted at a deeper motivation for tarring and discrediting Valencia than the Ontario political establishment is letting on, and insinuated that they will push for an open public discussion in which they will make the exposure of that motivation a part of the presentation of the evidence to support or oppose the resolution of censure and the deliberative procedure for its approval. Continue reading