Latest Ramos Legislative Success Raises Further Ethical & Legal Questions

For at least the third time, official action engaged in by Assembly James Ramos in his role as a legislator has raised moral and legal questions that have yet to be resolved.
Those questions are an outgrowth of his ability and apparent willingness to use his legislative authority to enhance his already considerable financial advantage as a prominent member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which is now officially known as the Yuhaaviatam Nation.
This week, legislation introduced by Ramos, Assembly Bill 341, was passed by an overwhelming margin of the California Legislature with bipartisan support and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.
Assembly Bill 341 reinstates provisions sponsored by the cardroom industry in the 1997 Gambling Control Act, which prohibited California from issuing new cardroom licenses. That moratorium was periodically extended by the legislature for 25 years before it expired on January 1, 2023 due to timing constraints.
Under AB 341, no new cardrooms can open before January 1, 2043, but existing cardrooms with fewer than 20 gambling tables can add up to 10 new tables over the next 20 years. Cardrooms operating 20 tables or more at present are allowed to continue to operate, adding up to two tables in the first year after the law takes effect, and up to two more tables every four years thereafter.
Assemblyman Ramos is a member of the Yuhaaviatam Nation, which while previously known as the San Manuel Tribe of Mission Indians first established a high stakes Indian Bingo Parlor in the 1980s, which was transformed in the 1990s into what is now a highly lucrative casino on the tribe’s reservation near the City of Highland. This was achieved as a consequence of federal law which allows Native American tribes to operate gaming establishments upon meeting certain conditions. More recently, the Yuhaaviatam Nation has established next to the casino a 432-room resort hotel, which has made the casino operation even more financially successful. The hotel, at 17 floors, is the tallest building in San Bernardino County.
Assemblyman Ramos was, formerly, the San Manuel tribal chairman and as such had tremendous sway over the distribution of the revenue the tribe realizes from the operation of the casino. Some members of the tribe make more money than other members of the tribe. Ramos is among the highest remunerated Yuhaaviatam Nation members, and is reportedly paid roughly $18,000 per day taken from the tribe’s gambling and resort revenues. He parlayed his wealth into a successful run for the San Bernardino Community College Board in 2005, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 2012 and, in 2018, the California Assembly. Continue reading

Elimination Of Pay-To-Play Dealing Strips SBC Politicians Of Their 1st Class Tickets Aboard The Gravy Train

A ruling by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge upholding Senate Bill 1439 and its anti-pay-to-play provisions is likely to be as or more impactful in San Bernardino County than anywhere else in the Golden State.
Yesterday, May 25, Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi held that the law, which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in November and went into effect in January but was challenged by a series of plaintiffs in February, does not run afoul of either the U.S. or the California constitutions.
Senate Bill 1439 amended the Political Reform Act of 1974, which prohibits an elected official with or officer of an agency from accepting, soliciting, or directing a contribution of more than $250 from any party while a proceeding involving a license, permit, or other entitlement for use is pending before the agency. Previously, the Political Reform Act restricted appointed officials, such as members of a planning commission, from receiving the $250 threshold amount or more in the form of a political contribution and then voting on any item or issue impacting that donor. Senate Bill 1439 broadens that provision of the Political Reform Act to cover local elected officials.
In the past, a member of a city council could take $250 or any amount of money from a donor and vote on approving that donor’s project or contract. With the advent of Senate Bill 1439, that is no longer the case if the donation to the office holder exceeds $249.99. In such a circumstance, the officeholder will have the option of returning the money to the donor and voting on the project in question or keeping the money and being unable to vote on any issue impacting that donor for a full year from the time of receiving the donation. Continue reading

City Manager Firing Has Transformed Traditionally Stable Yucaipa Into Factional Bedlam

In the normally staid hamlet of Yucaipa, where for the better part of a century life has progressed at a steady pace and the intensive political bickering that has from time to time surfaced in many of San Bernardino County’s other municipalities even as creeping urbanization has made its presence felt, the veneer of civility has been vitiated.
While there is little dispute over what the ingredients of the social and institutional donnybrook that has beset the city are, both sides are intensely contesting – some say manufacturing – a narrative of what it was precisely that triggered the now deeply apparent cultural divide.
The fight, essentially, is over which side represents the establishment – the true establishment – and which constitutes the outsiders. Continue reading

State Water Board To Confirm BlueTriton Has No H2O Rights In Forest

BlueTriton Has No Forest H2O
Rights Cal Water Board To Confirm

The State Water Resources Control Board and the California Environmental Protection Agency have given a penultimate indication that the Arrowhead brand spring water bottling operation will no longer be able to draft water from ten of its thirteen spring water sources in Strawberry Canyon at the roughly 4,200-foot-to-5,400-foot elevation in the San Bernardino National Forest. The order left open the possibility that the three remaining sources of water in Strawberry Canyon from which BlueTriton Brands draws the water it bottles as Arrowhead Spring Water, consisting of three boreholes, could also be shut off if the company’s water rights at those facilities is challenged.
For more than 80 years, several companies bottling water under brands incorporating the Arrowhead name, including Arrowhead, Puritas, Arrowhead and Puritas, Arrowhead Puritas, Arrowhead Spring Water and Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water among them, all under the aegises of the Arrowhead Hot Springs Company, Arrowhead Springs Corporation, Arrowhead Water Corp, Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water Company, Coca-Cola Bottling of Los Angeles, Rheem, and California Consolidated Water Company, took water out of Strawberry Canyon without any validly established rights to that water. Continue reading

56-Year-Old Inmate Slain By 26-Year-Old Cellmate With A Head Slam To Their Cell’s Concrete Floor

A tough-talking 56-year-old man from Upland ended up dead on Sunday after he was put in a jail cell with a man 30 years his junior.
Adam Preston Adams and Marco Antonio Lopez-Hernandez were both Upland residents. It is not clear whether they were acquainted through the street culture both took part in while living in the 79,838-population city. Adams is now dead at Lopez-Hernandez’s hands, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Lopez-Hernandez, 26, had been in sheriff’s department custody since his March 29 arrest by the Upland Police Department on Penal Code 484(A) petty theft charges. In the course of his arrest, according to the Upland Police Department, he grew combative and attempted to take the arresting police officer’s gun away from him. As a consequence of the two additional charges – Penal Code 69 obstructing a police officer/resisting arrest and Penal Code 148(D) attempting to remove a firearm from a police officer – Lopez was not granted release on his own recognizance, as might otherwise have occurred. Rather, he was held in lieu of $80,000 bond, an amount neither he nor his family was able to arrange.
On May 11, Adams was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats of inflicting great bodily injury and resisting arrest, based on a March 16 incident. Continue reading

Homeless Man In Victorvile Torched & Killed By Another Homeless Man

A homeless denizen of Victorville has been arrested in the aftermath of an incident a week ago in which he is believed to have killed another homeless man by setting him on fire.
On May 19 at around 5:30 a.m., Victorville Sheriff’s Station deputies were summoned to the parking lot of a vacant building in the 16700 block of D Street by the report of a man on fire.
When deputies arrived, they found Christopher U. Fields dead. He had been lit on fire and succumbed to his injury.
Fields was described as a 54-year-old negro whose last known actual established residence was in Carson.
Based on information provided and a speedy preliminary investigation by deputies who within a half hour coordinated with sheriff’s specialized investigations division detectives who were shortly thereafter accompanied by members of both the department’s homicide and arson details, Robert Doyle Patty, a 53-year-old transient, was identified as the suspected killer.
Patty was located at 16797 D Street in Victorville at 4:28 p.m and taken into custody on suspicion of violating Penal Code 187(A) murder and violating Penal Code 69 obstructing/resisting an executive officer on May 19 of this year, Penal Code 647.6(A)(1) annoying or molesting a victim under the age of 18 and Penal Code 314(1) indecent exposure that allegedly occurred on Halloween 2020. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office charged him with murder on May 23, at which time he waived arraignment.
He is due to appear in Department V-1 at the Victorville Courthouse to answer the murder charge on May 30 at 9:30 a.m.
Previously, on May 24, 2021, Patty denied and pleaded not guilty to felony use of a deadly weapon and engaging in felony criminal threats that would potentially result in great bodily injury or death stemming from the same incident that occurred on May 20, 2021. Both charges were dismissed in the interest of justice on May 20, 2022.
On September 30, 2009, Patty pleaded no contest to reckless driving, stemming from an incident on November 11, 2007 for which he had been charged with driving under the influence, being in possession of a controlled substance and reckless driving in an unincorporated county area. The possession and being under the influence charges were dropped.
On September 20, 2012, charges against Patty of being under the influence of a controlled substance and being under the influence while driving in an unincorporated county area, stemming from a June 10, 2012 incident, were dropped.
On July 1, 2016 charges of theft of personal property and burglary against Patty based on his action on April 24, 2015 in Barstow were dismissed.
On July 1, 2016, he entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence in the unincorporated area of the county on May 29, 2014, another charge of driving under the influence in Victorville on October 27, 2014, and a third charge of driving under the influence on Christmas Day 2015. On July 1, 2016, a charge against Patty of being drunk in public in Barstow on July 4, 2016 was dismissed in the interest of justice. On November 3, 2016, a charge of being drunk in public that stemmed from an incident on June 1, 2016 was dismissed in the interest of justice.
-Mark Gutglueck