“Believe in yourself and live with honor. Hold your head high while remaining humble, and receptive to others needs.” Barb Stanton 2009

Recognized as a Victor Valley Most Inspiring Woman

SOC Meeting

I have come to a decision regarding the Save Our Country (SOC) Meeting. I have decided to cancel any further meetings. There are too many conflicts with schedules etc. and my hearts in a different place right now, representing my community, in a different way, since my election to council in the Town of Apple Valley.
Thank you to all that made this so successful and the many guest speakers who caused us to join together.

I will be returning to the air soon. Check back for update.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Just click the radio above to join the show



Monday, February 25, 2008

Urgently Needed - Campaign Finance Reform

By Barb Stanton

San Bernardino County recently released reports indicating just how much local politicians have collected in their quest to garner an office. Political Action Committees play an important role in garnering and dispersing funds for politicians.

San Bernardino County does not limit political contributions to its elected leaders' campaigns.
Elected officials gather hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations while most other local politicians - and all federal lawmakers, are working with mandatory contribution limits.

Appointed 1st District Supervisor, Brad Mitzelfelt has raised an astounding $850,000. His filing forms indicate he has approximately $700,000 and has raised 380,000 in this filing period. Spending $129,000 in the past six months of 2007. Mitzelfelt is making his first run for office representing the High Desert 1st District. He was appointed in January 2007 to fill the remainder of former Supervisor Bill Postmus' term. Mitzelfelt served as chief of staff to Postmus, who was elected county assessor in November 2006.

Mitzelfelt says, “I’m really happy with the results of our fundraising effort, particularly when the economy isn’t doing as strong as we’d like.” He went on to say, “I’m pretty confident with the amount that we have raised, and will communicate with the voters effectively.”

The Inland Empire Political Action Committee or PAC gave him an astounding $100,000. When asked about this large donation to his campaign he indicated he didn’t know where the funds came from! A woman who’s name is very well known in political circles, Betty Presley, is listed on the forms as the contact for this PAC, Presley is Mitzelfelt's treasurer. The PAC, which has traditionally funded development-friendly politicians, receives heavy funding from Jeffrey Burum of the Colonies development project in Upland. (The Colonies sued San Bernardino County successfully over a flood control issue and won an astounding $102,000,000 - that’s from you and I the tax payers!) Colonies donated $93,445 to the group last year.

In November 2006, the county PAID the Colonies the $102 million to settle the developer's lawsuit over a 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.

Mitzelfelt, this week, explained that another organization has the same name and he wasn’t sure which one had given him the $100,000 donation. Mitzelfelt tried to explain that, "I have small donors who have given, and I have those who have given large amounts,"The amounts have nothing to do with how I treat any person or issue. Every issue is decided on the merits and the people I represent."

Presley has also been treasurer for Assessor Bill Postmus for years. Strange that Mitzelfelt fails to recall where a $100,000 donation comes from....just one of many lapses in his memory...it’s called selective memory!

Presley gets around she also was treasure of the Irvine City, School Neighborhood Leaders Committee in 2007. Also Carlos Bustamante Candidacy for Orange County Supervisor, 1st District in 2006 . Presley acted as treasurer for Anthony Adams campaign for Assembly. In 2001 Presley represented Darrel Issa as his treasurer. Presley has also represented Women’s Alliance for Israel, a pro-Israel group. Presley represents, again as the treasure, the Irvine City, School Neighborhood Leaders Committee. Also Carlos Bustamante Candidacy for Orange County Supervisor, 1st District in 2006 .

Presley from Rancho Santa Margarita also acts as a Financial Analyst and charges for her services with fees from varying ranging . Recently the Lincoln Club of Orange County showed expenditures for Presley from Feb -April - July-November and December of 2007 at a cost of $5,000.

Presley acted as treasurer for Anthony Adams campaign for Assembly. While investigating information for this story I looked up Assemblyman Anthony Adams current campaign contributions disclosure and discovered: Gary Ovitt San Bernardino County Supervisor gave Adams $3,300. And surprise, Committee to Elect Brad Mitzelfelt donated $6,300 in July of 2007 - long after Adams was elected as Assemblyman for the 59th District. Paula Nowicki gave $150 in June 2007 Joseph Brady, aka Bradco gave $250 in June too. And another surprise the Inland Empire PAC (Rancho Santa Margarita-Presley) gave $3,000 in March of 2007. Gas and Pharmaceutical research company's and Glaxosmithkline also favor Adams. Michelle Steel gave $6,600 in July. Adams continues to raise monies.

Presley also has acted as treasurer for years for Assessor Bill Postmus. Then -Supervisor Bill Postmus received an unprecedented $240,000 from Young Homes, one of San Bernardino County’s largest developers, in his bid for assessor. Many citizens are questioning the a developer giving so much to elect Postmus when the assessors office will make the determination on the value of their various properties..

Presley’s name popped up in a few compliance cases. To name one: In 2000 Presley was fined $7,000 for Failure to Timely File Late Contribution Reports. In the matter of Jim Morrissey, Morrissey for Assembly, FPPC No. 2000/63. A Franchise Tax board audit found that Jim Morrissey, his controlled committee, and committee treasurer (Presley) failed to report, within 24 hours of receipt, five late contributions, in violation of Government Code section 84203 (5 counts). Presley has been named in similar suits in the past also. So much for Mitzelfelt's failure to recall just who gave him $100,000.

Two other candidates have pulled papers for the 1st District County Supervisor according to reports. From Hinkley, Attorney Bob Conaway; and Victor Valley resident and Retired Systems Analyst, Bob Nelson. Joe Gomez, a Barstow councilman, has expressed interest in running but has not raised any funds nor pulled papers.

Robert Conaway, says he will run without doing much fundraising.. "It's always about grassroots," Conaway said. "What gets votes out is the person-to-person contact." Bob Nelson is a well know activist who has addressed the supervisor’s regularly at their weekly meetings.

Many high desert residents are not happy with the developments and the amount of monies the Mitzelfelt has garnered.

Hesperia Planning Commissioner, Paul Bosacki - on his web site - Pave Roads First tells citizens, “On June 3rd - please vote for anyone but the Bill Postmus and Building Industry Association controlled candidate- Brad- Bought and Paid For- Mitzelfelt. They don't give him $850,000.00 without expecting a return on their investment. They gave Postmus $2.4 million to get him in as assessor-he has returned their investment with $28 MILLION in property tax reductions for hand picked parcels.”

Bosacki goes on to say citizens should vote for anyone but NOT FOR BRAD MITZELFELT.
He hopes to see more candidates enter the 1st District race. Despite the good old boys network spin machine on high over Mitzelfelt's million dollars worth of special interests donations, Bosacki thinks any candidate who makes this race about the needs of the voters in the 1st district can beat him. “It's the votes- stupid- not how much money you spend that win elections. Postmus and his boy Mitzelfelt have generated a lot of negative feelings about them once people find out that they always put the developers or campaign contributors before the citizens while spending our tax dollars. The sludge plant in Hinkley over the local residents protests for one example, “ Bosacki says.

San Bernardino County must set campaign contribution limits and put an end to a corrupt system. Lax rules allow huge donations and a contribution of that size carries a message because no matter what anyone claims, it's given for a reason..

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said that use of independent expenditures - campaign spending that supposedly isn't coordinated with a candidate - has jumped more than 6,000 percent in legislative races and more than 5,000 percent in campaigns for governor and other statewide offices since Proposition 34's limits on donations to candidates began.

That's resulted in more than $88 million in television and radio ads, brochures and other campaign spending paid for by a variety of interest groups.

All races should be cut to the same level as federal contribution limits - $2,300 per donor per election, period.

The astronomical donation to Postmus from Young Homes is on of the single largest contributions ever made in the nation according to some analysts who believe that a contribution of that size carries a message because no matter what anyone claims, it's given for a reason.

Being granted access to the assessor and influencing his decisions seem probable. Young Homes may like Postmus but $240,000 was given as a business decision and it seems business may be very, very good for Young Homes.

San Bernardino County has two other supervisors up for election in June who are sitting on sizable campaign funds as they gear up for their races, recently filed finance statements show.

Dennis Hansberger, Third District Supervisor is running for his fourth term representing the East Valley, raised $320,551 last year and started 2008 with $493,305 in cash on hand. His biggest contribution was $25,000 from Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, a Memphis, Tennessee pharmaceutical company.

San Bernardino City Councilman Neil Derry, Hansberger's only announced opponent, has raised $131,336 last year and had $103,325 on hand. Derry’s largest donor was the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, who gave him $35,774, the union representing county law-enforcement employees,

Josie Gonzales, Fifth District Supervisor, is thus far running unopposed, raised $422,415 last year. Gonzales represents Rialto, Colton and San Bernardino. She had $351,594 on hand. Young Homes of Rancho Cucamonga has given her the largest donation of $38,000. Another huge donation from this developer.

San Bernardino County urgently needs to cap donations to all candidates to a reasonable amount and level the playing field. Until we make changes in our election process the ‘anointed’ ones will gather the hundreds of thousands of dollars and leave any other qualified citizen far behind.Think about it...why would any person or company give a hundred thousand dollars to a campaign unless...yes - they expected a return on their investment. And for the APPOINTED Supervisor to state that he didn’t know who had given him $100,000 - well - it is absurd.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

High Desert Corridor/Toll Roads Draw International Interest

By Barb Stanton

On February 11, 2008 The High Desert Joint Powers Authority met in San Bernardino at APPOINTED Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt’s office along with representatives from around the globe to discuss the privatization of approximately 50 miles of tax payers roadways which stretch from - Hwy 395 -Victorville to Palmdale.

Officials from engineering and financial firms from as far away as Australia, Spain, Canada, England and oh yes, America were in attendance, many were standing - according to a press release from Mitzelfelt’s office - to hear how they could participate in building a major new expressway across the High Desert in a public-private (PPP) effort.

Mitzelfelt is chairman of the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority. The authority stretches across two county lines Los Angeles and San Bernardino. The members read like a who’s - who in local government: Michael Antonovich, Vice-Chairman; Board Members: Jim Nehmans - Mayor of Adelanto; Tim Jasper, Mayor, Town of Apple Valley; Henry Hearns, Mayor of Lancaster; James Ledford, Mayor of Palmdale, Norm Hickling, Deputy, Los Angeles County Fifth District; Mike Rothschild, Councilman, City of Victorville

Apparently the County of San Bernardino, County of Los Angeles, and the Cities of Adelanto, Victorville, Apple Valley, Lancaster, and Palmdale have formed the Joint Power Authority (JPA) to develop a new freeway/expressway/ toll road from 50th Street East and Avenue P-8 in the Antelope Valley (SR14) east to U.S. 395 to I-15 then curve south to SR 18. The City of Victorville has received federal funds to develop a portion of this corridor from US395 t0 I-15 and through to SR18 - engineering and environmental studies are underway.

The High Desert Corridor has a couple of names...let us not be confused - also called the -E220.
Deemed a high priority corridor on the National Highway System from Los Angeles to Los Vegas via Palmdale and Victorville.

The most confusing part of this project is that moving people - commuters - is not specifically mentioned in these meetings. The agenda states: Mult i County Goods Movement Plan or Tolling and Public/Private Partnerships...things like that. At the next meeting which is scheduled for February 21st Mitzelfelt will make a special presentation on Tolling and Public/ Private Partnerships...

The city of Victorville has promised another $150 million to $200 million to construct a section of this highway. Southern California Logistics Airport which is really the reality of all the movement of goods is expected to be the real benefactor of the Victorville funds. The section of highway is about four miles long - moving goods via trains, planes and trucks!

Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) has a customs office which will accommodate the foreign cargo coming to the area. When the expressway is completed trucks- trains and those planes will bring the imports from the ports of Los Angeles/San Pedro. Some coming through the Los Angeles and Palmdale Regional Airport to SCLA - which serves as an inland port.

Request for proposals has been released and the Authority is expected to continue to develop the financial plan and coordinate funding for building the mulit-lane expressway connecting the Antelope Valley Freeway in Palmdale to Interstate 15 in Victorville on an accelerated timetable. The proposals asking engineering and financial firms to submit strategies for financing and building the High Desert Corridor are due March 12, 2008.

A shortlist and Notification to Consultants or PTAC will be created on April 30, 2008. Then a Selection Committee interviews and ranks the finalists by June 30, 2008 and makes a PTAC recommendation by July 7, 2008. The Joint Powers Authority Board will select a consultant and authorize negotiation on July 17, 2008 - and expected to complete negotiations by August 22, 2008. And finally a notice to proceed is expected to be declared on September 11, 2008.

The initial proposal will include preliminary designs, cost estimates and a financing plan that will include the private funding through tolls - or other sources! The project will move much quicker if private investors decide to actually invest in the project, according to officials.

San Bernardino County Assistant Director of Planning, Mazin Kasey stated in December, “the project will link Palmdale on CA-14 to Victorville on I-15. It is pretty empty country in between, though suburbs are springing up on the edges. There are airfields, otherwise it is mostly wide open desert.” Kasey also said, “The project is mostly a freight route.”

The High Desert Corridor would be a 2+2 lane expressway or freeway designed to take heavy trucks and long distance traffic at high speeds. Officials say the country is flat and there are no major watercourses so construction costs should be low.

Congressman Jerry Lewis says, “The highways of the Inland Empire are the crossroads for commerce traveling from the nations largest ports through one of the nation’s fastest growing areas to destinations throughout the West and beyond.” Lewis goes on to state, “It is clear my colleagues understand how vital it is to reduce congestion and provide the most efficient transportation system possible to facilitate the movement of these goods.” Lewis has appropriated $5 million for the new Interstate 15/Highway 18 interchange in Apple Valley that is part of the High Desert Corridor to improve transportation throughout the Victor Valley and Antelope Valley. This is a major link in the planned Corridor which will ultimately provide a freeway link between the Victor Valley and the Antelope Valley. Lewis also appropriated $25 million for the Inland Empire Goods Movement Gateway in and around the former Norton Air Force Base, San Bernardino.

A CalTrans study indicates that the High Desert Corridor is needed to accommodate growth in the area that has created an “alarming disparity” between road capacity and demand. The study states - Lured by inexpensive housing and wide open spaces, population growth in some High Desert communities has grown by more than 300 percent in the past two decades.

Nevada also figures in this stretch of roadways!

Mazin Kasey representative from San Bernardino County indicated that people driving from anywhere west of downtown Los Angeles to Las Vegas could find it an attractive alternative to go up the CA-14 then take the High desert Corridor over to I-15 to avoid the heavily trafficked freeways like the CA-60, the I-10 and the I-210.

Tom Skancke, a transportation consultant and the Las Vegas convention and Visitors Authority lobbyist on the High Desert corridor project stated, “If I’m in Los Angeles I just don’t want to go on the I-15.” Skancke says, “We have to give Southern Californians two options to get to Las Vegas. We have to get another north-south and east-west arterial.” Finally commuters are mentioned!

Nevada transportation officials have monitored California’s plans for major routes to the state and lobbied for what they believed were needed improvements. Kent Cooper, the Nevada Department of Transportation’s Assistant Director of Planning has stated, “In the past California officials viewed I-15 congestion largely as a Nevada problem.” Cooper went on to say, “The prevailing attitude in California was, “Why spend money to build a road so our citizens can go to Las Vegas and spend hard-earned dollars in the casinos?”

Nevada sent a portion of its federal road funds to California at the urging of the tourism industry - becoming the first state to do so - about $26 million was deposited for improvement to Interstate 15 near Barstow. The route to Laughlin has also gotten some help from Nevada. The Needles Highway, the major arterial to the gambling community located on the Colorado River received approximately $7 million. Needles is in California and Laughlin is across the river in Nevada - with the Needles Highway being the major road to the resort traveling through Needles and Bullhead City

Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Manny Cortez says, “In the last several years, they’ve (California) grown to realize the I-15 is more than the highway to Las Vegas, but is also important to their ability to survive. As congestion increases they need to make sure those roads are passable. That’s why they’re cooperating.”

I must mention two other player in the toll road mix: Senator George Runner and Assessor Bill Postmus, (then Supervisor District 1.) In January 2005 Senator George Runner, R-Lancaster mentions the High Desert Corridor in his weekly news letter and called the corridor, “Innovative solutions with experts on how to build without solely relying on waning federal and state funds.”

Runner, co-founder of the High Desert Corridor Coalition with then San Bernardino Supervisor Bill Postmus, (now Assessor for San Bernardino County) - held a collaborative meeting to address creative avenues to build this corridor that would connect the Victor Valley cities to the Antelope Valley, according to Runner’s news letter. In 2005 Runner mentions the PPP’s - remember the same Public/Private Partnerships that Mitzelfelt is touting! “Thinking outside the box to find solutions that do not solely rely on the slow and sometimes unreliable process of public financing,” Runner says. Calling the PPP’s and innovative solution!

Public/Private Partenerships = Toll Roads folks.

Just this week it has been discovered by the Associated Press that during his campaign for Assessor, Bill Postmus took more than $240,000 from Young Homes, one of the area’s biggest developers, in his bid for assessor. His former chief of staff, Mitzelfelt became our Appointed Supervisor, District 1 and appears to continue in the same vein as Postmus. Mitzelfelt has more than $850,000 in his war chest for his first election and plays the dumb game when questioned about some of his donors. The Inland Empire PAC gave his campaign, last year, $100,000. Mitzelfelt claims he doesn’t know anything about this ‘Political Action Committee’ or PAC - funny cause his treasurer is the contact person for the PAC...seems Mitzelfelt not only is going to spoon feed us toll roads but he plays the same games as Postmus...these huge donations are questionable and not normal and we all should be very concerned.

The ASSessor Postmus takes tremendous amounts of monies from one of the largest developers in the county and he will ultimately be evaluating their parcels...humm

The APPOINTED Supervisor Mitzelfelt can’t recall just who is contributing $100,000 to support his campaign...come on.

If we the voters continue to believe this swill...then we are much like the frog in boiling water.
If you place a frog in boiling water it will jump out...If you place a frog in cool water and let in warm to boiling it will sit there - do nothing - and boil to death!

Wake up San Bernardino County - those that support Mitzelfelt are those who he has carefully selected to benefit from our tax dollars - those who have reaped a benefit of our monies - let’s not be frogs!

Monday, February 11, 2008

U. S. Forest Service Firefighter Shortage

By Barb Stanton

President George W. Bush recently directed the U.S. Forest Service to examine pay and personnel policies and come up with a plan to increase recruitment and retention for Southern California forests by February1....a date that has come and gone - with no new plan unveiled to San Bernardino County residents.

The U.S. Forest Service must boost hiring and retention of federal firefighters in this state due to the exodus of experienced personnel and Congress has indicated they want action and quickly.

California federal firefighters have been leaving the forest service to work for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection because the state pays more and has a better retirement package. California has a much higher cost of living index which also has been cited as an affect for the retreat of the fire workers.

This past summer an exodus of more than 13 percent of the service’s 3,600 full-time positions in California were vacant. Some areas of the state are at half of what they should have been during this past fire season.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. authored a spending bill that stated in part, “The U.S. Forest Service is losing firefighters to other agencies in California. This is a serious problem that must be addressed, and we are working closely with the Forest Service on a long-term solution.”

After the numerous fires in California last year Feinstein stated, “California faces a real and growing threat from wildfires, and we must have a strong firefighting capability at all levels of government.”

U.S. Forest Service communicators say they are analyzing the reason for the mass departure and mentioned CalFire as a possibility and went on to say they were not in competition with CalFire. The agency is developing an action plan on the issue that should be ready soon. The goal is to recruit and maintain a continuum of skills in the firefighting ranks so that the state has new firefighters coming in and the state can invest in training them, all the way up to senior-level personnel.

A U.S. Forest firefighter at a seasonal entry-level earns approximately $2,166 a month with no benefits. A CalFire firefighter at a seasonal entry-level earns a minimum of $2,338 a month with overtime pay and a benefit package. CalFire is also know for promising the possibility of a professional career. Training more extensively is also another benefit working for CalFire. The agency trains their crews in structure protection. U.S. forest Service firefighter help out under mutual aid agreements even when the fire is not on national forest land.

San Bernardino County has the nation’s heaviest populated forests with The San Bernardino National Forest stretching into Riverside County from Wrightwood to Idyllwild .

The fires in Southern California in October, 2007 destroyed more than 2,000 homes and blackened more than 800 square miles from Los Angeles County to the Mexican border. These fires were mostly on state, county and private lands, though flames scorched the mountain communities of Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs in our beloved San Bernardino National Forest, being named the Slide Fire and the Grass Valley Fire.

Region 5 - California, is the center point that Congress has addressed in the legislative language which reads in part: “The Appropriations Committees are aware that the Forest Service is facing challenges to recruit and retain wildland firefighters in Region 5 (California), particularly on Southern California forests, due to the agency’s vastly different pay scales and personnel policies and the high cost of living n the region.”

The mass exodus has caused the state to rely on a variety of firefighters from prisoners to private contractors. Federal officials had turned to contractors to help combat the massive blazes.

On some front lines more than a third of the firefighters were from private companies and many lacked the proper certification to even be there! Contractors have said that the federal agencies that hire them have done little to scrutinize the performance of the firefighters and their history before dispatching them to a fire.

The most recent audit showed that a number of failings on the Forest Services’s part included:

A lack of proper background checks into the training and experience of contract crews.
Inadequate English-language proficiency among contract crews
The hiring of undocumented workers.
Conflicts of interest among contractors who both trained crews and cleared them to fight fires.
Improperly certifying firefighters.
Being promoted to supervisory roles too quickly

Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression Inc., a contract company has indicated that an “imaginary wall” has existed between Northern and Southern California, and the southern part of the state has an old perception that private crews are bad. Jim Wills, the owner of Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression says, “Southern California is the fire regime. They’re the fire lords, and we train our guys to know that. Everyone else is second-class. It’s a pride deal. We train our guys that we are the outsiders. We let them know from the very beginning that we will have to take the leftovers.”

Southern California fire bosses have been called twice in the past five years - in 2003 and again this fall. The combined effects of sustained drought, last winter’s freeze and a searing heat wave had dramatically raised fire danger levels. The massive fire storms burning throughout Southern California brought these crews in - happily.

Prisoner’s also have been used. A way out for some California offenders - firefighting. 4,000 of the front line firefighters in October, 2007 were convicted felons. Inmate firefighters were used by the California Department of Corrections which partnered with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention and the Los Angeles county Fire Department. These men fought wildfires in 10 counties. These felons worked side-by side on the front lines with municipal, state and federal fire personnel. Most hoping that their efforts will lead to a brighter future and possibly even an early release.

Last year California’s inmate firefighters worked more than 1 million hours fighting over 200 major fires. In California only minimum custody inmates may participate in the program. They must be physically fit and have no history of violent crime including kidnaping, sex offenses, arson or escape to qualify. They receive an intensive 4 week training course in firefighting and safety techniques.

Whether it’s due to a shortage of California firefighters or motivation thank goodness that these inmates give of themselves and there seems to be some rehabilitative qualities to this also.

Some released inmates do make the transition to full-time firefighters, according to the California Department of Forestry and CalFire. One Captain has been fighting fires for sixteen years as a civilian and is leading a thirteen man inmate team.

So, due to the decline in public funding for firefighting services - the explosive growth in California - the world’s largest insurance company - American Insurance Group, now has “Wildfire Protection Units” in 150 US zip codes. During the 2007 wildfires, AIG’s firefighters saved homes in wealthy areas, while less fortunate neighbors were left with rubble. A trade group for private firefighters founded in 2000 now represents 10,000 private firemen. AIG has sent private firefighting teams to other richer areas in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Colorado resort communities.

Senator Dianne Feinstein stated recently, “People have to understand that there will eventually be loss of life on a massive scale if nothing happens.” Feinstein toured the devastation and noted seeing “pockmarked” areas where “obviously the fire wasn’t fought,” yet a few houses remained oddly unscathed amid the rubble.

Some private firefighting firms or their owners have made hefty donations to the Republican Party and prominent elected officials. In Oregon the Republican National Congressional Committee was given $25,000 as well as large donations to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as well as other prominent GOP leaders. In the past a media strategist for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told campaign donors of a plan to promote a ‘phenomenon of anger’ aimed at turning California voters against firefighters and other public employee union members to help pass ballot initiatives aimed at breaking up public unions and, perhaps, support privatization of firefighting and other public services...remember those PPP’s - P3's - Public Private Partnerships...

In San Bernardino National Forest, firefighter vacancies have already caused one station to close and put some engines out of commission. The Forest Service is focused on hiring and filling positions every day, region officials say. Firefighters are working overtime to cover gaps, and others firefighting agencies are ready to assist. In San Bernardino Nations Forest several year-round positions are open according to the Forest Service. Since October, 770 candidates have been offered positions...it is unclear how many have been filled.

Turning to private contractors has helped combat massive blazes like the Slide and Grass Valley Fires. Federal Officials have hired private crews and reports now indicate that as many as a third of the private firefighters sent onto the fire lines lacked the proper certification to be there. Private contractors themselves say that the federal agencies that hire them could do more to be sure they are fully qualified to preform the very jobs they have been hired to do.

This growing army of private firefighters, with no benefits and many earning only $10 to $11 an hour has many sceptics and concerns. I say thank God they are willing to put themselves in harms way to save our lives, our homes, our forests and wildlife.

Firefighting is a hazardous job - at any level - these jobs should pay fair and reasonable wages and benefits to those who are willing to risk their very lives...let’s train them...thank you all...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Is There Hope for the Homeless in the High Desert?

By Barb Stanton

Are the homeless invisible...have they disappeared...have they left the high desert for warmer turf?
Where have all the unfortunate humans who find themselves without a roof over their heads gone?

It seems that Victorville and many high desert leaders have provided no shelter during the freezing weather for these soles to warm themselves and have systematically, since 2005, begun closing shelters that provided aid.

In Victorville the revitalization of Old Town, which the city has poured millions into, has been determined to shed the criminal image which it has worn much as a badge of poverty, prostitution, petty crime and drug sales for many years.

Old Town encompasses 7th Street from Forest to D Street, and west to the freeway. From 11 Street to the East. Which includes Forrest Park at 7th and D.

In 2005 Victorville hired a firm, Moore, Lacofano and Goltsman to begin the revitalization process. The city paid the firm approximately $130,000 along with an additional $1,200,000 in design, lighting, park improvements and demolition of buildings along with code enforcement crews. The firm quickly asked the city’s redevelopment agency to form a steering committee which would set the footprint for the new image of Old Town. The polishing of Old Town began with a stealth move and a vengeance.

Being poor is no crime...but being homeless seems to carry a stigma that city leaders felt they must eradicate from the area for Old Town to slowly become the thriving business area that the steering committee envisioned and I dare say most citizens.

What strikes me as strange...the bars stayed open! Antique shops moved in and many have moved on. Finding they could not entice shoppers to Old Town...not yet! The homeless who enjoyed Forrest Park at the end of 7th Street where the train station is where and have been an annoyance to city leaders and the steering committee.
Finding a solution to the issue of the homeless and the park has been found apparently....Victorville council has voted unanimously to tear down the park.

Forrest Park is being torn down because it is a haven for the homeless...and yes....drug users...prostitutes and other unseemly activities.

What responsibilities do we have to help the homeless? Tear down on of the few respites they have? Run them underground or at least under the bridges and roads? Where is the humanity and understanding that we all should have for those less fortunate...whether by choice or by life’s misfortunes.

Money to tear it down, about $50,000 - and more money to rebuild and in the end money for the city of Victorville in tax revenue when they turn it into a strip mall...maybe a restaurant next to the train tracks for travelers or another fast food stop off...what ever the end result it will be a result of erasure - out of sight out of mind...where have all the homeless gone?

The Economic Development Department will market the former park with other properties in the area once the demolition is complete. Some feel that the improvements at Southern California Logistics Airport or SCLA will benefit the area due to the close proximately and the jobs that are expected to be created.

Jon Gargan, Director of Community Services recently stated that he had not heard any opposition to the park’s demolition, but that the city of Victorville has a voice of support from the Old Town Property Owner’s Association.

Residents are losing their homes and tent cities are cropping up in the state....will the high desert provide a place of refuge for these urchins without means?

The San Bernardino County Fair Grounds would be perfect refuge during the freezing nights...easy to understand...when the temperatures reach a certain low - the doors open for the evening. Offering coffee or maybe soup would be nice and a warm spot on the floor for the night..in the morning everyone is asked to leave. Not to many questions asked...if you come in and behave peacefully you are welcome. Seems the human and christian thing to do. But instead we, in the last three years have closed shops that fed or helped the homeless, turn our back on them and offer no respite from the weather.

A logical mind says that we should know where our homeless are have a sense of control over their surroundings, such as ‘Tent Cities’. Ontario is a wonderful example of such a Tent City. They provide fencing and toilets with trash pickup and even some counciling for those who want it. Citizens drop off donations regularly - blankets, toiletries and clothing etc. to ease the pain...everyone feels better....crime is down. These homeless who have pets have even been treated to spay and neuter for their pets - another smart move.

Many homeless are veterans of this wonderful country, about 4% according to Isaac Jackson, San Bernardino County Homeless Coordinator. Jackson said, “San Bernardino County has more than 7,331 homeless individuals at last count and it is rising.” Jackson said that the county has begun a partnership with includes the high desert to address the homeless issue and he agreed that the Tent City in Ontario was working well.

In a recent letter former Mayor of Apple Valley, Mark Shoup said he took the time to visit Forrest Park and observe those ‘hanging’ out at the park. Most, according to Shoup seemed poor and some homeless as he described a woman with a shopping cart and men who were speaking in very vulgar terms discussing their lives. Most telling was Shoups’ conclusion, “I hope they never tear it down so they can build a strip mall.”
He mentioned the old trees and stated that he didn’t fault the city for their decision but it saddened him.

Most don’t fault the city, but agree with Shoup and have a sense of sadness to see the park turned under. Now is the time to step up and tell the community where the homeless are going to go. The high desert has a homeless shelter with about 50 beds...a wonderful place...but with many restrictions and conditions. Many homeless people are homeless because they want to be left alone..to wander...to drink...to answer to no one. They are not all criminals. Yes, they are dirty and not the kind of people we would take home for dinner but they have a right to live their lives as they see fit as long as they don’t break the law. So we may not like what we see but we must, we are bound by an honor of what’s right to see that they are safe and don’t freeze in the winter and die of heat stroke in the summer.

If Victorville spent the same energy helping the homeless instead of trying to run them out of town things would be better. The homeless have no transportation - where do they receive medical treatment? With no address a job is about as happening as a homeless person winning the Nobel prize.

There is some good news. San Bernardino County has formed a coalition to end homelessness with their partnership with the high desert and other communities. Jackson and other county services have begun holding meetings to determine the need. The San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership has begun developing ideas to address the issue. With a 33 percent increase in our homeless population and rising daily we have seen tremendous need in the unincorporated areas also.

The ‘not in my back yard’ or NIMBI-ism is alive and well in the high desert. San Bernardino County has funded a 24 hour mental health facility for those in need. The homeless partnership led by Jackson plans on opening a site in Barstow also which will be tied to services from housing to health care and hopefully end the homeless cycle for some.

Housing a homeless person in prison cost up to $49,000 a year...to do nothing will result in fiscal chaos.
We must be leaders in the fight against homelessness particularly now with foreclosures rising in an alarming fashion. Untreated, those who find them selves homeless now, may find themselves permanently homeless.
Uninsured and eventually or possibly arrested for misdemeanors or other more serious crimes...after all a bed in jail and three squares may be better then being on the street.

While San Bernardino County is drafting a 10 - year plan to end homelessness we must move forward and find solutions now to fend off the inevitable outcome...full emergency rooms...citizens with depression needing help and medical services.

The first meeting with San Bernardino County Homeless Coalition was in 2007 at one of these meetings David Zook, attended for 1st District Supervisor and mentioned that the attendees could look at the First District Website to see what they can offer. Zook stated that the Supervisor is particularly interested in after school programs, gang intervention, and programs for at-risk youth.

At a task force meeting in February 2007, Victorville was represented by Francine Millender and the Town of Apple Valley sent, Tamara Torres. At this meeting it was stated that there was training conducted at Desert Manna in Barstow and at High desert Homeless Shelter in the City of Victorville and other locations, to count the homeless and on February 27, 2007 the homeless guides and volunteers were scheduled to deploy and begin to count the homeless throughout San Bernardino County.

That was a year ago and I dare say the figures I have quoted in this article have increased dramatically.
We are beginning to address the issue with a 24 hour clinic but I also believe that we have done more to hurt the homeless like forcing the then named, Victor Valley Rescue Mission to stop serving meals in 2006, which was a great comfort to the homeless. They could wash up and eat maybe get some clean clothing...this was part of the plan by the Old Town Property Owners who felt the homeless would congregate and continue to dim hopes of cleaning up Old Town.

Well lets give the homeless a place to go and they will....problem solved...for Old Town. Let’s provide - on a temporary basis a ‘Tent Town’ and actually help those who want it and give them a place to use the bathroom and throw their trash and maybe even give them hope for a better tomorrow.


We're taking Back America - Notice is served

The Mojave Cross has been torn down again!

As expected, the Mojave National Preserve employees removed the cross erected the day prior. The seven foot cross made of PVC pipe was erected as a War Memorial on Monday, May 31, 2010 during a celebration of Memorial Day and the Mojave Cross. At noon today a call came from the site that the cross has been removed again!

Most of the small wooden crosses inscribed with the name of a fallen American hero were wedged into crevices of the rock and are still there today.


Taliban Video of Captive Soldier Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl - Family Pleads for His Release

The family of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl speaks out. Bergdahl was captured in eastern Afghanistan in June and his location is undetermined. The family is pleading for the release of their son, and urging him to "stay strong." Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. airborne infantryman who was taken by the Afghan Taliban in Paktika province. In their statement, the family is urging the captors "to let our only son come home." And to their son, the family says, "We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong." Bergdahl, is the only known American serviceman in captivity. Marsano met with the family Friday morning at their home outside Hailey, Idaho.

U.S. Soldier Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl

U.S. Soldier Pfc. Bowe  Bergdahl
Bergdahl captured by the Taliban and held hostage since June




The Nevada Development Authority released this flier today as part of a campaign to attract California businesses to Las Vegas.




Governor makes 'Stand For California' pitch - says "No Tax Hikes"




Newspapers, public must take more responsibility for election of public officials

By Charles Roberts, Editor, Highland Community News

“They didn’t become scalawags the day they were elected,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales as she addressed the Democratic Luncheon Club Friday.

Speaking of elected officials, she advised, “Look at how they treat their families, their neighbors.”

She said questionable candidates should be culled out well before the election, and blamed the electorate for putting crooks into office.

“You are the beneficiaries of bad government,” she said. “And you are the beneficiaries of good government.”

She also took a swipe at County Supervisor Neil Derry for his choice of staff members, but added that supervisors have control over staff member choices, and her job is to work with everyone to get things done for the good of her constituents.

“I will work with anyone to deliver the services you need,” she said.

It’s worked well for her. She is now in the sixth month of her second term, and “so far, everything I put forward has been accepted.”

Noting that District Attorney Michael Ramos has not completed the investigation of former Assessor Bill Postmus, Gonzales said she asked Ramos point blank if he (Ramos) had been involved in anything illegal or extramarital, and he assured her he had not.

She urged him not to defraud and “do not bend to pressure.

She said she has continued to support Ramos, and still does until she is proved wrong in her trust.

She had high praise for County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer (“a good man, says it like it is”) and economic consultant John Husing (“honest, straight shooter”).

On the subject of the Grand Jury, she said one year is too short a term for members, and they should be given more power.

On campaign contributions, she said she works to be transparent, and criticized shadow committees that operate just inside the boundaries of the law and take little or no responsibility for questionable mailers and other mudslinging activities, and urged better investigation of political activities.

“There was a time when newspapers did that, but they have fallen by the wayside,” she observed. “Where are the reporters who have the tools and the right (to investigate)?”

Still, she sees no need for an ethics commission, calling it “baby sitting in disguise.”

While agreeing that ethics should be taught in school, she said adults should know what is right and wrong and do what is right.

From FlashReport


Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

June 15, 2009

[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Jon Coupal. Coupal is the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association - Flash]

If you are new to the FlashReport, please check out the main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.

A great line from Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain is “you probably think this song is about you.” Well, if you are reading this, Anthony Adams, rest assured that this column is not about you. It is about reasonable taxpayer expectations.

Some brief history: Anthony Adams is the Assemblyman who represents parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties who, along with two others in the Assembly, broke ranks with GOP colleagues to provide the votes needed to approve a $12 billion tax increase in February. That increase was part of a package that included putting Proposition 1A on the ballot which would have dealt taxpayers another $16 billion blow.

Since casting votes which inflicted irreparable harm to already overburdened taxpayers, Adams has taken the position that those votes were actually courageous because they prevented California from “going off a cliff.” For the record, there are those who describe Adam’s actions in more colorful and less flattering language.

Adams is a first term legislator who was elected to office by ordinary folks who work hard to look after their families, keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, while at the same time generously paying high taxes to support others who cannot, or will not, support themselves. In this economy, many of these same voters now have a new challenge – holding on to their jobs and homes. So, after Adams voted to increase taxes that were already the highest in the nation, it is no surprise that many of his constituents now support an effort to remove him via recall. They cannot, they say, afford to take the chance that Adams will remain in office long enough to cast any more of his “courageous” votes.

Now in survival mode, Adams has abandoned his base of working taxpayers and sought the protection of the governor and the financial support of the “tuxedo class” to preserve his office.

Some argue that any recall of legislators who violated their written pledges to voters is a waste of time and money. What’s the point anyway when Adams can be challenged in the primary election just 12 months away? Is the recall effort just an over the top response by reactionaries seeking revenge, or is there a legitimate basis for resort to this tool of direct democracy?

First, it would be difficult to argue that Adam’s own actions would not provide substantial grounds for immediate dismissal from a private sector job. His foremost transgressions would clearly constitute “job fraud,” which is described as “fraudulent or deceptive activity or representation on the part of an employee…toward an employer.” There can be little debate that Adams misrepresented his views to his employer – voters – prior to the election.

Want proof? A mailer Adams sent out asking for votes states “I will oppose any attempt to raise taxes.” Additionally, Adams signed the following, “I Anthony Adams, pledge to the taxpayers of the 59th Assembly District of the State of California and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

And there is absolutely no evidence that enhanced interrogation techniques were used to compel Adams to make these declarations. The principal of “no new taxes” was clearly represented by Adams as a core belief and commitment and was presented to the public as a reason to elect him to office.

And that is what distinguishes his situation from all the Democrats who voted for the tax increases. That is precisely the behavior we expect from the majority party. And we are aware of no Democrat legislator in California who has signed the no tax pledge.

Some argue that all Republicans who voted for the tax increases should be recalled. While there is some merit behind that position, the other Republicans who voted for the “grand deal” either did not sign the pledge or are termed out of office. Adams situation, when taken as a whole, is different: A first termer who is now equally strident about defending his anti-taxpayer vote as he was strident about being a defender of taxpayer interests before the election.

There is another reason why the current Adams recall is wholly justified: Those Californians who do not live off the public dime want to make sure that those legislators who claim to represent the interests of taxpayers will continue to do so. Every member of the California Legislature is now constantly being pressured to save this or that program by the conga line of special interests now testifying in budget committees. Quite frankly, those who pay the bills don’t have time to travel to Sacramento to engage in this mindless dance. Recalling a legislator who stabbed us in the back is a good way to remind other legislators that there are certain acts which are unforgivable and punishable by the political death penalty known as recall.

The mission statement of the
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assocation reads:

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers' rights including the right to limited taxation, the right to vote on tax increases and the right of economical, equitable and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Accomplished taxpayer advocate and prominent attorney Jon Coupal, as President of the HJTA, heads up an organization that plays a critical role here in the Golden State . Beginning with the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the HJTA has consistently been the lead organization looking out for the rights of California taxpayers. In literally EVERY major battle that occurs in Sacramento, where the forces of irresponsible government growth are trying to figure out another scheme to raise taxes or fees to redistribute taxpayer funds to the latest 'must fund' program, Jon and the HJTA are there to ask the tough questions, and to wave a big stick. You see, the HJTA doesn't just talk the talk. Whether leading efforts to get their many, many grassroots members to lobby their elected officials, going to court to fight illegal tax increases, or marshaling resources to take tax-protection measures to the electorate, HJTA has been there. But not just on a statewide level, but also at the local level -- fighting against local bond measures and fee-increase schemes that seek to unduly and unfairly burden taxpayers.

Traci Dean Rally


Thank you to Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt who clarified his association with Assemblyman Anthony Adams and Adams recent fundraiser which featured the Governor.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt clarified the information on a printed invitation which is shown below this article. The invitation stated that the supervisor was on the Host Committee and in support of Assemblyman Anthony Adams fund raising activities.

In a phone call today the Supervisor stated, “I did not agree to be on the Host Committee.”

Mitzelfelt went on to say that the original event he was involved in was a fundraiser in Victorville with Steve Poizner as guest speaker. Mitzelfelt said, “I had agreed to be on the Host Committee. Post that event it changed to the governor event. Adams used me on the host committee without permission.”

“I would have preferred to be asked again,” Mitzelfelt stated. “I did not go to the event. Anthony is my friend but I did not agree with his vote on the budget.”

Mitzelfelt mentioned the recalls that have been filed against 59th District Assemblyman Anthony Adams, “The recall is between him and the voters. I think this is an unfortunate situation, but we will just have to see how it goes.”



This bogus information was posted on Victorville's Website....thousands of jobs?

Victorville, CA - The City’s recently approved $568 million budget reflects funding for essential city services such as police and fire, as well as continued investment in job development.

According to City Manager Jon Roberts, the City currently invests in economic development to bring jobs and new services to Victorville.

Through the City’s efforts, thousands of manufacturing and logistics jobs have been created in town and at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA), as well as countless retail and service related jobs throughout the High Desert.

Last year, Newell-Rubbermaid opened its distribution center at SCLA creating some 150 jobs. This month Dr Pepper Snapple is set to begin construction on its west coast distribution facility creating 200 new jobs.

In addition to the creation of new jobs, the City’s investment into infrastructure has increased the City’s ability to offer new services such as paramedic service, crime reduction programs, and new road projects . This year the City will complete construction of a new park and fire station at Eucalyptus and Topaz.

“In these tough economic times, the City is reinvesting taxpayer dollars back into the economy,” said Roberts. “All of our economic development efforts come down to one simple concept, job creation.”

It is hard to understand the direction Victorville is going in. So far the majority of jobs created have been low paying and substandard. I certainly don't see the thousands of jobs that are mentioned in this article that was posted on their website.

A message to the City: 'You can fool some of the people...aw you know where I'm going with this one'
By the way: retail sales are down 15% in Victorville and up 35% in Apple Valley. Oh, Hesperia reports an 8% increase.....Barb

The Treasury Dept. has issued a new dollar bill to reflect the state of the economy.

The Treasury Dept. has issued a new dollar bill to reflect the state of the economy.
Oh my God!