Having Jettisoned Montoya, SB Council Now Mulling Proceeding With Calvin Censure

By Mark Gutglueck
The sharp division on the San Bernardino City Council has not abated despite the temporary consensus that manifested on May 22 with unanimous eight vote decision to terminated City Manager Charles Montoya. Up in the air is whether the council will proceed with its ruling majority’s earlier-stated intention of censuring Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin before she leaves office later this year.
The poisonous political atmosphere which has been brewing for more than 18 months has created tensions which now extend to questions over the continuing tenure of the city attorney and whether the elected leadership will be able to resolve its differences in a way that will allow the city to find an administrator to plan, organize, direct and control municipal operations in the county seat for a duration which will allow for stability in the 170-year-old city.
Shortly after Helen Tran’s electoral victory in the 2022 mayoral election which saw then-Mayor John Valdivia – a highly polarizing figure – defeated and due to leave office, then-City Manager Robert Field resigned over concerns that his ties to Valdivia would leave him at odds with the incoming Tran regime. The city council then turned to former City Manager Charles McNeely to serve as interim city manager while a recruitment for Field’s replacement was carried out by the Berkeley-based Koff & Associates/Arthur J. Gallagher & Company headhunting firm. In bringing in McNeely, the council made a fateful commitment that at least some would come to regret. They declared that whoever was to serve in the interim management capacity would not be eligible for consideration in the recruitment of a long-term city manager. Within a few months, McNeely, who had provisionally come out of retirement to take on the temporary assignment, began to warm toward the idea of reassuming the post of city manager on a full-fledged basis. This sparked a division within the city council, with some members wanting to rescind the prohibition against the interim city manager being considered as a candidate for the top city administrative post and other insisting that the city stand by the rules it had set up. Meanwhile, some 69 individuals with varying levels of municipal management experience applied for the San Bernardino City Manager’s post. After Koff & Associates/Arthur J. Gallagher & Company eliminated 44 of those and winnowed the field to 25, the city council carried out remote interviews with those candidates using the Zoom real time video/audio platform. Continue reading

Sheriff’s Deputies Doing A First Class Job Persuading The Homeless To Leave

With the arrival of summer nearing, lower downs in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are complying with orders from higher ups to get aggressive with the county’s homeless population in an effort to induce them to leave for places elsewhere.
Around the county, the destitute tend to congregate and set up living quarters on sidewalks, in parks, alleyways, in the Mojave River, Santa Ana River or Lytle Creek riverbeds or around them, under railroad trestles or freeway overpasses, hidden in the spreads of chaparral that are a feature of much of the undeveloped land locally or within the landscaping along freeways or state highways.
Since late May, the sheriff’s department, which serves as the contract police department in Rancho Cucamonga, has vectored its deputies, working in conjunction with the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans, to remove homeless individuals subsisting in encampments Over the past several weeks, the department received information regarding the encampments located near the Interstate 15 Freeway’s intersection with Foothill Boulevard and Arrow Route. Continue reading

Spurning Lowering Staff Salaries, Yuciapa Passes 2024-25 Budget With $7.3M Deficit

On June 12, the Yucaipa City Council signed off on its 57,766-population city’s 2024-25 spending plan, which is to entail $7.3 million less in revenue than expenditures in its three operating budgets.
This is the second year in a row that the city is engaging in deficit spending. The revenue shortfall is to be made up by drawing funds out of the city’s reserves.
According to Phil White, Yucaipa’s director of finance, it is anticipated that approximately $35.7 million will flow into the city’s general fund from all external sources in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2024 and ending June 30, 2025. Over the same 12 months, there will be $40.1 million in expenditures from the general fund. “The net of these budgetary flows is general fund deficit of $4.4 million,” White stated.
The other category contained in Yucaipa’s operations budget is its public safety fund. This coming year, the public safety fund is projected to make total outlays of $23.5 million. Of that, $13.6 million is to be consumed by making good on the city’s contract with San Bernardino County for the law enforcement services of the sheriff’s department, which serves as the city police department in Yucaipa, as is the case with 13 other county municipalities, those being Adelanto, Apple Valley, Big Bear Lake, Chino Hills, Grand Terrace, Hesperia, Highland, Loma Linda, Needles, Rancho Cucamonga, Twentynine Palms, Victorville and Yucca Valley. The city contracts with the California Division of Forestry and Fire Protection, known by its acronym, CalFire, for both fire protection and paramedic services. Yucaipa is due to pay CalFire $5.3 million for fire protection services and $2.1 million for paramedic services. Included in the inflows to the public safety fund is a transfer from the city’s fire fund. While by set arrangment, the public safety fund is balance by the same amount of money being put into it on a yearly basis as it taken out, to do that this year requires a transfer of $2.9 million from the city’s fire fund. That $2.9 transfer is logged as an unfunded payment. Continue reading

Jury Hangs & Mistrial Declared In Smith-Jones Assault Trial

Corie Smith, the former sheriff’s deputy who was presented with two lifesaving awards in 2020 but whose law enforcement career ended in ignominy the following year when he was caught on video kicking a prone and surrendering suspect in the head, this week successfully concluded his and his legal team’s three-year battle to keep him from being labeled a felon.
Smith’s trial on the charge begun on April 29 before Judge Ingrid Uhler with Deputy District Attorney Melissa Emperatriz-Rivera prosecuting the matter and Smith represented by attorneys Michael Selyem and Kasey Castillo. Evidence was presented and testimony heard on April 30, May 1, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 29, 30, with deliberations beginning on May 30 and continuing on June 3 and 4.
At three junctures the panel took a vote as to where it stood. The first time, jurors were evenly split, 6-to-6 for acquittal and conviction; the second time 7-to-5 for acquittal and, on June 4, 7-to-5 for conviction.
At that point, Judge Uhler declared a mistrial and scheduled a hearing on June 7 in order to begin preparations for a retrial.
During the trial, on May 14, Selyem and Castillo brought a PC1118.1 motion, based on the presentation of testimony and evidence to that point which they said clearly demonstrated there was insufficient evidence before the court to sustain a conviction, such that the case should not be submitted to the jury for a decision and an acquittal should be entered. Judge Uhler denied the motion. On June 7, Emperatriz-Rivera came to court, prepared to request the court’s permission to retry the case. At that point, however, Judge Uhler, apparently on the basis of the jury’s failure to reach a verdict and the May 14 PC1118.1 motion, over Emperatriz Rivera’s objection dismissed the case against Smith. Continue reading

FPPC Postpones Levying Near-Record Election Fund Reporting Fine On Adelanto Councilman Ramos

Less than a month after the California Political Fair Practices Commission put in place what it represented as final preparations to impose on Adelanto City Councilman Daniel Ramos one of the largest penalty assessments ever made against a local officeholder, the councilman has apparently begun negotiations with the state’s official political watchdog agency over how to cure the reporting violations he has amassed over the last six years.
According to the May 16, 2024 agenda for the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Ramos, who is currently Adelanto’s mayor pro tem, despite numerous notifications and posted requests that he do so, had not submitted campaign fund accounting paperwork for his unsuccessful 2018 campaign for the Victorville City Council and he had further repeatedly failed to provide an accounting of his victorious 2020 campaign for the Adelanto City Council.
All told, it is estimated that Ramos collected and then spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $57,000 on both of those electoral efforts. An exact figure is not available because he has not filed the State Form 460 documents used to itemized donations to, expenditures from, loans to and from and nonmonetary contribution or in-kind payments relating to, his electioneering efforts. Continue reading

Man Arrested for Placing an Explosive Device Near A Residence in Rancho Cucamonga

A Devore man has been arrested on suspicion of having planted a bomb in a Rancho Cucamonga residential neighborhood.
On June 3, 2024, at 4:36 PM, deputies from the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department responded the 9300 block of Lomita Drive regarding reports of a suspicious device near the roadway. Residents nearby were evacuated as a precaution. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s arson/bomb detail responded and the explosive device was disarmed and removed.
Residents in the evacuated area were allowed back into their homes at about 10:20 p.m.
Through investigation, Detective Derek Brandt identified the suspect responsible for having planted the device as Brian Carreon, a convicted felon, and believes Carreon is responsible for placing the explosive device at the location.
On June 7, 2024, Carreon, 52 of Devore, was arrested for Penal Code 18715, possession of explosives in public. A search warrant at Carreon’s residence in Devore revealed chemicals and materials consistent with making explosive devices. Chemicals known to manufacture methamphetamine, a stolen firearm, and ammunition were also found. Additional felony charges have been recommended to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.