San Bernardino Has Burned Through $1M & Counting On Valdivia Defense

Nearly six months after John Valdivia’s departure as San Bernardino Mayor, the city he formerly headed is yet seeking to defend more than a half dozen lawsuits brought against it over his actions while in office.
With the cost of defending those lawsuits now having grown toward or exceeding the million-dollar mark, a former member of the city council is calling upon his one-time colleagues and successors to stanch the hemorrhaging of red ink and settle the cases to close the chapter on that phase of the city’s history.
Valdivia, who was first elected to the city council to represent the Third Ward in 2011 and was seated on the council in 2012, was reelected in 2015 without opposition and then ran successfully for Mayor in 2018 when the city had transitioned to even-numbered year elections, defeating the incumbent, Carey Davis.
In the initial stages of his mayoralty, Valdivia had cultivated a five-member ruling coalition on the council, consisting of his presumed allies, First Ward Councilman Ted Sanchez, Second Ward Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra, Fifth Ward Councilman Henry Nickel, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Bessine Richard and in May 2019 following a special election to fill the gap on the council that came about because of Valdivia’s resignation to move into the mayoral post, Third Ward Councilman Juan Figueroa. At that point, Valdivia’s rivals on the council, Fourth Ward Councilman Fred Shorett and Seventh Ward Councilman Jim Mulvihill, were unable to effectively oppose his aggressive agenda, much of which was intended to solidify his political and administrative hold on the city and reward his political backers with project, contract and franchise approvals. By the end of summer/early fall of 2019, however, Valdivia had alienated Nickel, Ibarra and Sanchez, such that his control over the city slipped from his grasp. Coupled with the August 2019 resignation of his chief of staff, Bill Essayli, Valdivia began pressuring his staff members to help him reestablish his position of preeminence in the city, often in ways many felt improper. Continue reading

Mojave Desert Land Trust Gets $3.19M Grant To Enlarge Native Seed Bank

A $3.19 million state grant awarded to a San Bernardino County-based environmental group will be used to expand the warehouse of seeds it is safeguarding to head off the extinction of plants native to Southern California’s deserts.
On May 25, the California Wildlife Conservation Board set aside $3.19 million as part of California’s 30 X 30 Initiative to fund the expansion of the Mojave Desert Seed Bank.
The grant will be put to use, a spokeswoman for the Mojave Desert Land Trust said, “to help conservationists tackle the urgent need for native seed to conserve the California deserts’ unique biodiversity.”
Desert ecosystems make up approximately one quarter of the state. Those ecosystems are threatened by significant drought, severe weather, and precipitous loss of habitat and wildlife. Biologists and botanists have identified seed banking as crucial to ensuring the survival of California’s ecosystems by making seed available for the restoration and enhancement of rare, threatened and culturally important species and those species’ habitats. Seed banking also plays an important role in long-term conservation as the state aims to protect 30 percent of California’s land and water by 2030.
Environmentalists say the region needs more resources to build capacity and collaboration among those with ecological preservation priorities. Continue reading

Redlands Hires Woman Chief As Antidote To Police Command Staff’s Chauvinism

Amid publicly unresolved questions relating to improper and what some have referred to as “sexually coercive” activity involving the department’s former deputy chief and following the abrupt resignation of Police Chief Christopher Catren earlier this year, Redlands has promoted Commander Rachel Tolber to serve as the Redlands Police Department’s chief of police.
Tolbert has been serving as acting police chief during the three months following the not-fully-explained departure of Catren in March.
Catren had risen rapidly in the department, virtually from the time he was hired as a sworn officer in 1996. Catren began with the department as its first crime analyst, a nonsworn position, in 1994, while he was yet a student at San Bernardino State University pursuing a degree in business administration.
After an obligatory stint as a patrol officer, he worked his way quickly up the ranks as an investigator, training officer, field supervisor, detective and sergeant. His supervisory positions included investigations, patrol, field training coordinator and reserve police officer coordinator.
In 2007, Catren was promoted to lieutenant and managed the investigative services bureau, the patrol services bureau and the special operations bureau while at that rank.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree in business administration, Catren obtained a master’s in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino. He graduated from the California Police Officers Standards and Training Command College in 2012. Continue reading

A Year After His First Go-Round Over Commission Appointments, Marquez Again Raises Concerns


For the second time in less than a year, Chino Community Services Commissioner Greg Marquez has brought his city’s municipal board appointment process into question.
In this go-round, he is pressing the city to make explicit the criteria used in making the appointments, while simultaneously seeking to impose term limits on those who volunteer for and are appointed to commission and committee posts, with a possible carryover to who is elected to the city council.
Some question whether his suggestions are earnestly and sincerely made or whether they are intended to advance his own ambition.
On May 16, Marquez called upon the city council to give close scrutiny to the ordinance relating to service on city panels.
Marquez’s request came during an item which dealt with extending the terms of the city’s commissioners and boosting the stipend of the commission on which Marquez is a member. Marquez used the opportunity to suggest that holding commissioners to a certain number of terms might have the effect of getting more civic-minded residents involved with City Hall. Continue reading

Ramos’s Warehouse Bill On Hold Until Next Year & Perhaps Forever

It has turned out that the competing warehouse construction regulation bills brought forth by two of San Bernardino County’s legislators will be placed on hold at least until next year.
While both of the bills Assembly Bill 1748 introduced by Assemblyman James Ramos and Assembly Bill 1000, sponsored by Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes were ostensibly aimed at the same goal, they were different in tenor and in much of their substance. While each was represented as imposing heretofore nonexistent regulations on warehouse development, reform advocates considered Gómez Reyes’s version to be sincerely aimed at creating a meaningful buffer between warehouses and residents and characterized Ramos’s bill as one intended to enable developers in creating more warehouses.
Gómez Reyes’ Assembly Bill 1000 would have required 1,000 feet be maintained between new warehouses of 100,000 square feet or more and homes, apartments and other places where people congregate and spend a lot of time, such as day care centers and schools. It would have been applicable statewide.
Ramos’s AB 1748 deals with the same topic as AB 1000, that being the proximity of warehouses to living quarters, educational facilities and the like. Ramos’s version would impose a substantially less exacting limitation, however, specifically a 300-foot buffer between dwelling units or quarters or sites where large numbers of people spend hours on a daily or semi-daily basis and warehouses of 400,000 square feet or more in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Continue reading

Ontario Chaffey Community Show Band June 2023 Concert Will Commemorate Mercer

The musicians of the Ontario Chaffey Community Show Band and Gary & Miriam Keith are proud to present the “Centennial Tribute to Jack Mercer” on Monday June 19, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. in Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium located on the campus of Chaffey High School, 1250 N. Euclid Ave. in Ontario. Early concert goers are invited to arrive at 7:00 p.m. to be entertained by the “Woodwind Celebration” ensemble in the lobby while enjoying complimentary coffee and cookies. The performance is FREE to the public.
R. Jack Mercer came to Ontario, California in 1957 to work as the director of bands and instrumental music at Chaffey High School. He was a pioneer in hosting an annual parade and field tournament in Ontario, the first of its kind in the Inland Valley. In 1966, his band was selected to perform at the Coliseum for the halftime show at the Pro Bowl. Since his arrival to Ontario, Jack had an influence on nearly every band director in the Inland Valley. Also, he authored several books designed to help directors become successful in building and maintaining effective band programs. Continue reading