Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It

For 15 years the city council has been using the Utility Users Tax (UUT) to supplement our cities ability to operate. It didn’t begin this way the 1st time the UUT was put into place as a way to enhance services and provide a bridge to increased tax revenues that would replace the UUT giving the city the ability to allow it to sunset and go away. Well since then some very big things took place making that a hard pill to swallow, here is what has made that impossible:

  • The recession happened – The ever so wise politicians decided that everyone deserved to be able to purchase a home even if they could not afford it. So they created things like State your own income, 4 year interest only loans and allowed people to sell torn up houses for 10 times what they were really worth. Was it any surprise the whole thing fell down around itself and left cities in a very poor place?
  • RDA Money Taken Away – Gov. Brown in all his wisdom decided to take away Redevelopment money away from California cities. This money helped them grow their city and promote why people should spend their tax dollars there verses other cities. This money also made it possible to afford to give developers sweet deals to bring development to local cities.
  • The City’s PERS contract enhancement in 2010 – As a way to entice employees to sign a new employment contract without a raise as a way to say you will have a sweeter retirement later on.
  • Poor investment performance at CALPERS – This has led to the increased PERS cost in the City of Rialto.
  • Retail has come but – The retail stores and shopping are finally coming but not in the numbers that we were told. The new Lewis Shopping Center will bring no more than the new Super Walmart in the south end. Also Mayor Robertson’s warehouses are bringing more problems and not more money. Still many of the warehouses pay tax to cities like Ontario with agreements that cripple small towns like ours.

So last council meeting our city council and mayor were supposed to look at the cities financial future with the community present. According to Mike Story and Robb Steel at the last Budget Finance Committee meeting that city council had the following issues with the Budget Finance Committee’s recommendation:

  • The Budget Advisory Committee didn’t formally recommend what the committee thought city council should do with the cities surplus. Should it remain at 50%?
  • City Council wants to know if the committee would bless spending the cities reserves?
  • City Council doesn’t feel right declaring a state of physical emergency when we have a budget reserve.
  • City Council wants to increase the amount on businesses to as much as 12% and lower it on residents to 6%.
  • City Council no longer believes that Seniors alone should be exempt from paying the tax only low income seniors.

The reason we titled this story “Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It” the popular saying by George Santayana because we find ourselves walking down a similar path. The last time the Utility Users Tax was placed on the ballot for renewal Deborah Robertson was the lone wolf standing in the way. She was throwing a fit and holding her vote hostage until she got what she wanted. This year she is the problem once again but this time it doesn’t seem like public safety is going to blink. You see we have the #1 fire department in the State if not the Country you are more likely to survive a cardiac arrest event here than anywhere else. Also here in Rialto our paramedic program provides an income for the city budget offsetting fire costs, in every other city in the region these services are paid out to minimum wage workers for a private ambulance agency.

Keeping to the topic of public safety lets not forget that it was former police chief Farrar who did the 1st study on the use of body cameras on police officers. That study led to such amazing results that Rialto was one of the 1st agencies in the USA to use body worn cameras department wide. As you can see from the image above officer use of force has dropped as well as citizens complaints of use of force. Also Rialto is one of the few agencies that still has an active Community Policing program and youth intervention programs that are producing results.

Sadly the writting on the wall with everything going on right now is that our city council is playing chicken with our public services and a massive looming debt. Many members of the Budget Advisory Committee see the Mayor and Councils actions as dangerous ways to run a cities finances. One member said that looking at $170 Million pension and health debt over the next 10 years, not moving the Utility User Tax to a vote and even discussing spending reserves is a dangerous course of action. Another member said that council is saying I know I’m get a pay cut next year but I am taking the expensive vacation anyway, this is no way to budget.

So where are things now? Well Council refuses to address the public again with this topic or even the new information on just how bad our budget looks like if we don’t act now. The Budget Advisory Committee on December 18th will hear just what council and the mayor are looking for in regards to spending reserves and playing with the reserve limits. The topic of making seniors pay for the UUT when they have not been required to in the past will also be discussed. The Budget Advisory Committee is a public meeting even though staff refuses to use the cameras in the room and stream the meetings on You Tube the meetings are public. They start at 6 pm and end at 8pm.

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Rialto Now Hosts Christmas Giveaways

Christmas is here and we know that not everyone gets excited about that. Many people in our city and region still struggle every single day but the pressure of the holidays is even worse. Having a family to feed is tough enough without having to worry about Christmas presents and food.

Well have no fear Rialto Now is here to bring a little light to the holidays. Throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas we will be doing a series of giveaways. Some of them you can win something for yourself and others are where you will nominate and get a chance to bless someone else in need.

The 1st giveaway will begin on Wednesday December 6th at 10 am on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/rialtonow

If you would like to participate and provide a giveaway simply email rialtosnow@gmail.com

Rialto Schools Go All Out With Red Ribbon Pride

We got a chance to ride along in a plain white van with judges and dignitaries as Local Rialto Schools vied for a chance to place in the top three in their region (North, Central & South) to show off their school spirit and celebrate the benefits of living a drug free life. We rode in the Southern Region van this year and had the pleasure of joining Rialto Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtemoc Avila, Board President Dina Walker, Director of Communications Syeda Jafri, Police Lt. Dean Hardin and Rialto Unified School District Security Chief Leary who drove us around.

Carter High School students greet the judging vehicles with cheers – Photo Provided by Rialto USD

Dr. Avila stated, “I echo our Board of Education’s sentiments that participating in this annual drug-free contest makes all our students, staff and parent-volunteers winners, but to keep the contest fair, I wanted make sure that each of the schools; the north, central and south sections, had their own sets of scoring. Again, the feedback from the judges was positive, and reinforces my faith that great things continue to happen at our schools. It was another proud moment to show the community that our schools have their focus on safety and promoting a drug-free lifestyle for our students.”

Each year has a Nationwide theme and this year the theme is “Your future is key, so stay drug free”. Each school that we saw that participated really took the theme and turned it into a visual representation of the overall message. Some schools really went all out which included a miniature version of District Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtemoc Avila (Garcia Elementary) a life size game of Life (Jehue Middle) or even tombstones of celebrities who died from drug and alcohol abuse (Milor High).

Some schools like Simpson Elementary you could see from a mile away and they made sure to get the judges out of the van and on their feet as they danced the Drug Free theme. Rialto Unified is one of the few school districts that has such a strong level of participation because of the importance that the District puts behind the annual event.

First place winners, Hughbanks Elementary School – Photo Provided by Rialto USD

“For years, Red Ribbon Week, here in Rialto, has become a pretty big deal, and that’s great,” said Rialto Police Lieutenant, Dean Hardin. “It was a fantastic commemoration and I was proud of the way that our students, led by staff and parents, participated. Drug use is a real issue, a serious issue for the younger generation and along with addiction, it can lead to anti-social behavior and lack of focus on education. The Police Department was happy to participate and we thank the District for making sure students understand the dangers of substance abuse.” As the South judging van pulled away from Simpson Elementary Lt Dean Hardin could be heard saying out the van window “Be Drug Free” and each time he said it the whole school repeated the mantra.

Schools earned points from 1 to 10 based on creativity, visibility and message. Judges were warned against giving out 10’s too freely as to help district officials from having to deal with tons of tie’s in the point totals. The Red Ribbon Decorating Contest ended in three-way ties for all three places — first, second and third — as well as a “Spirit” award initiated by Dr. Avila. Prize money is $1,000 for first; $750 for second; and $500 for third. The new “Spirit” award is also $500. Cash awards go to each school and are discretionary for each school.

The winning schools are:

1st Place Winners

Northern: Hughbanks Elementary School – $1,000

Central: Casey Elementary School – $1,000

Southern: Garcia Elementary School – $1,000

2nd Place Winners

Northern: Carter High School – $750

Central: Henry Elementary School – $750

Southern: Jehue Middle School – $750

3rd Place Winners

Northern: Kolb Middle & Kordyak Elementary Schools – $500

Central: Bemis Elementary School– $500 

Southern: Kelley & Simpson Elementary Schools– $500

Honorable Mentions

Milor High School – $250

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West Valley Water Board Race Nasty As Ever

It seems as though nothing has changed when it comes to providing clean drinking water to 11 cities in 2 counties.

You may remember a few years ago when we covered corruption and misuse of funds on the West Valley Water District Board of Directors. Then Councilman Shawn O’Connell a resident of the water district called out blatant areas where funds were being misused, board members were being bullies and political lines were being drawn in the sand. It became so bad that groups that previously supported Councilman O’Connell threatened to pull their support of him if he didn’t stop his questions of board member Clifford Young.

Now Clifford Young is running for re-election and he is looking to buy residents votes, spreading lies about other candidates and turing on those who once supported him.

One Candidate and the former General Manager of West Valley Water posted this on his social media page earlier this week:

I’d like to respond to some of the attacks that have come out recently against Linda Gonzalez and myself. They are lies, plain and simple.

I’m proud of my 35 years of management of the district. During my time as manager we built two water treatment plants. We kept the water supply safe, despite the discovery of perchlorate pollution. Rates may have gone up in 2013 but that was because we refused to raise rates at all during the economic recession following 2009, and despite the rate increases our district’s water rates are lower than both Rialto and Fontana’s water rates. If the district had been mismanaged for 35 years, we wouldn’t be able to say any of that.

Regarding the claims made about Linda Gonzalez, I’ll just say this. I can provide anyone with records of Freedom of Information Act requests made to the district which show that in the last three years Linda Gonzalez has been paid $34,000 for her work on the board. In that same time Clifford Young was paid $97,000 for carrying out the same job. He did this by going to as many “business” lunches and trips as possible and by gaming the system to get extra perks.

So who is really trying to take all the money they can from the district? Butch Arizia.

Mr. Arizia is right he did an excellent job as the General Manager for West Valley Water. Not only did the Water District not steal millions from rate payers like Rialto Water did to clean up Perchlorate from the ground water. Rialto Water charged the residents Millions to clean up the water then spent over 50 million (Tax Money)on attorneys to sue the people responsible then settled for pennies on the dollar. Mr. Arizia also kept West Vally water from making a monumental mistake that would have done extreme damage to West Valley Water. When the Rialto City Council was forced to remove American Water as the preferred company to handle the selling off of a utility the council went to West Valley and more importantly Butch Arizia to see if West Valley wanted to step in. Butch Arizia took one look at the contract and knew it was a poorly put together plan that made delivering on the Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) impossible. He was right because Rialto Water customers still have water that is hard to drink, skyrocketing water rates and none of the Capital Projects completed and many are way behind schedule over 5 years later.

Another former General Manager from West Valley Water who worked under the regime of Clifford Young left and when we bumped into him he was beyond happy to be out of West Valley Water and out from under certain people’s thumbs.

One of our favorite stories we wrote on Clifford Young was when new board members were sworn in and Clifford Young took this opportunity to change the rules of open meetings making it harder for the public to address their elected officials. Another one we enjoyed was when Clifford Young ripped into water employees.

Some people are claiming that Clifford Young is buying votes with his latest campaign ad (see below).

If purchasing your vote isn’t bad remember Clifford Young is the person most responsible for giving support to Rafael Trujillio the Councilman from Rialto that worked behind the scenes to turn Rialto into a sanctuary city putting millions of dollars in Federal grants in jeopardy.

Cities that west valley water works in are:

CITY OF BLOOMINGTON, CITY OF COLTON, CITY OF FONTANA, CITY OF GRAND TERRACE, CITY OF HIGHGROVE, CITY OF JURUPA VALLEY, CITY OF MUSCOY, CITY OF RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CITY OF RIALTO, CITY OF RIVERSIDE & CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO

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Interview with Fontana School Board Candidate Kareem Gongora

Here at Rialto Now our Moto is “Informing the public one post at a time”. Campaign signs can’t tell you about a persons character really it is only an indicator of how much money they have because signs are EXPENSIVE!!!!!!

With that being said each candidate has been given opportunities to have an interview published with our informational blog/website. Please read the questions and answers below and get more informed about this school board race.

Full disclosure this is a Special Election for a seat that will be up for grabs again in November 2018.

Give us some background on the history behind this school board election?

  • Late last year a serving Board Member was elected to Fontana City Council leaving a vacancy on Fontana Unified School District’s School Board. The four remaining Board Members implemented a thorough interview process to fill the vacancy and I was one of the finalist. However, at the end of this process the Board was deadlocked and chose to fill the vacant seat by holding a special election. While it has been a journey filled with many obstacles I promised my children – all students at FUSD schools – that I wouldn’t stop until I was in a position to help lead the District and ensure that they and their classmates are receiving the quality education they so richly deserve.

What do you think makes you the best choice for voters in November?

  • I’m a life-long Fontana resident and a product of FUSD. My wife and I chose to raise our children in Fontana and send them to the same FUSD schools I attended when I was their age. However, I’m running for School Board in order to ensure that the education our students receive is better than the one I did and that they have more opportunities than I did. As a member of the Fontana Planning Commission and Chairman of the San Bernardino County Committee on School District Organization, I have experienced leading deliberative bodies through building consensus among my peers. That is the leadership that FUSD’s Board needs now, more than ever, in order to craft excellent public policy that enhances educational equity, improves special education programming, and keeps our students safe.

Many believe that school board seats should be more about what is good for the school and not ties to a particular political agenda. What are your thoughts on this.

  • Politics must begin to take a back seat to education in our community. Too often representatives elected by the people to do what is best for them and our students end-up placing their own interests – including the potential trajectory of their political careers first. Earlier this year, I drove to Sacramento twice to testify in front of Senate Education and Public Safety committees about legislation our community desperately needed to safeguard our children from child predators — the legislation earned bipartisan support in both committees. I also joined a local non-profit to testify in front of the State Board of Education to advocate for equity and stronger accountability measures for our school districts – specifically low-income students, English learners, students with disabilities, and other racial and ethnic groups.

A lot of attention has been given to this election should be about the kids. What are your thoughts on this.

  • As a parent, all I think about is creating better opportunities for children within my community– I grew up here, I live here, and want all of our children to be successful. This is why one of my priorities is advocating for social and emotional learning programs, to effectively help our children apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. This was my focus when I helped establish the WATCH DOGS program at my son’s middle school.

With most budgets at max capacity how vital are public/private partnerships to provide more for Fontana students?

  • As a school district, public and private partnerships are critical to improving learning conditions and environments for students. In fact, this is something I was able to accomplish when I was in charge of federal and state grants that provided financial literacy, nutrition education, and healthcare access to families.
What can you bring to the table for parents that a skeptical that anyone on the school board or in district office are being wise stewards of Fontana tax fillers?
  • I want students, parents, community members, and business owners to be more involved in the decision-making process. As a Board Member, I will be fully accessible and open to new ideas to not only engage, but include recommendations to how we can operate more efficiently and be better accountable.

How vital is it to you that local business owners step out and help train tomorrow’s innovators and business owners? How have you stepped up and put words into actions?

  • I think it is incredibly important that we expose our youth, at an earlier age, to the idea of attending college, seeking a trade, or business ownership to help create a plan for them. This is vital to economic development in our community and I want our children to help drive that. Too often, we have only exposed our children to certain industries, but the jobs of tomorrow have yet to be created. Our children need exposure, which is why when I developed after-school programs, I placed an emphasis on bringing different careers and backgrounds to inspire students. In fact, one of my biggest accomplishments is organizing Fontana graduates to come back and mentor students in the school district through Fontana Foundation of Hope, Big Brothers Big Sisters Inland Empire, and the Fontana Unified School District. My next project will be providing access to high school juniors and seniors with internships at local businesses. I work in human resources for the tenth largest county in the United States and I want students to be prepared to fill these positions.

Reporters side Note:

Whoever you pick in November as your person for Fontana School Board I can tell you that when it comes to political ideals Kareem and I are miles apart. Yet he is approachable, willing to sit down and hash out ideas and even come under harsh digital attack and scrutiny. Yet this man remains willing to help and listen. Every year both Kareem and I go to a local continuation school to talk to kids that struggle with life choices and their education about the opportunities before them. School board elections should not be about political affiliation they should be about people that are ready to get their hands dirty and work hard for students and parents.

San Bernardino Pastor Files a Law Suit Claiming Medical Malpractice.

Bishop Jones a Rialto resident and Pastor in San Bernardino is used to fighting off Satan and praising the Lord but now he is in a battle to be made whole after from what he claims Loma Linda Hospital failed to catch a surgery mistake that led to the loss of Bishop Jones fingers and legs.

Bishop Jones is the father to popular street artist Wet Paint Larry and is the main driving force to bring his son legit. In a conversation we had with Bishop Jones prior to his surgery he spoke about how they worked to show their son how living a life that didn’t break the law (painting on other peoples walls) was the best choice for his life. Bishop Jones told us the key was getting Larry to focus on his talent in painting and less on the skateboarding.

Bishop Jones San Bernardino church is a place for new beginnings, spiritual healing and a safe place during some scary times in San Bernardino right now. We have been inside Bishop Jones church and one thing hit us very hard, when the congregation gets up to give a testimony they aren’t giving thanks for a new car, or a raise at work they are giving thanks for another day alive, lights on and food in the fridge. One testimony that we will never forget is a Father who was thankful that he is able to have his kids with him finally. After fighting with bad landlords and in and out of work he now can provide a safe place to be together as a family. Most of us have never had to worry about this type of stuff. Most of the time were upset that our order was wrong in the drive thru or our trip to the mountains wasn’t as fun as we thought it would be. Bishop Jones and his wife deal with real life situations in others lives and now they seem to be dealing with a major hurdle in their own lives.

Bishop Jones is more than just a spiritual leader for his flock but he is the neighborhood peace keeper as he seeks to create safe places for families to thrive. This time of year especially as Bishop Jones church hosts a Holy Night a safe Halloween Alternative to kids who are living in some very dangerous neighborhoods.

Our prayers go out to the Bishop and his family.

Video via ABC7 News

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Changes coming to Rialto Police Department Leadership

Information sent to us today indicates that changes to the top leadership rolls will be coming to Rialto Police Department.

As of October 1st former Police Chief Mark Kling will come on as a “Consultant” to help transition current Police Chief Deanda into “Retirement”. Police Chief Deanda should be well versed in the retirement process as he regularly tells the story of how he was needed so much in the city of Rialto that he was asked to return to work three times after filing for retirement.

In the communication from City Administrator Mike Story he laid out the struggles a quick departure like this will bring “As the city administrator, I must ensure there is a smooth transition of leadership and place leading up to and after chief Deanda retirement. Ideally, organisations have about 1 year to plan the transition of executive leadership. Chief Deanda will be retiring from public service and three short months on December 28th 2017 there for once Chief Deanda submitted and I accepted his notice of retirement, plans for executive leadership transitioning were set into motion. As an organization, filling the position of a retiring police chief is Paramount to community safety, department operations, and intergovernmental Affairs across departments so there are minimal service interruptions”.

Earlier today the Chief was witnessed briefing his command staff on the coming changes in his Department. Those pictured with the Chief at Mimi’s in North Fontana were Captain Andy Karol, Lt Robert Smith, Lt Dean Hardin and Paul Stella. Staff could overheard the chief talking about the memo from Mike Story and the impending changes.

Nobody will ever know the true story on why we have such a quick departure since past leadership has made sure a replacement was already on the ground before major changes took place. For example:

  • When Chief Kling left he had vetted and prepared Captain Tony Farrar for the promotion.
  • Fire Chief Matt Fratus knew he was not going to work forever so he hired Sean Grayson our current Fire Chief to eventually replace him.
  • When Police Chief Tony Farrar was on his way out he secured the promotion and placement of Chief Deanda.
  • Even City Administrator Mike Story announced months ago of his coming retirement at the end of this year.

So when something is outside the ordinary you have to ask yourself what is the real story? What we do know is that the city has found itself under more legal action brought by staff that claim they were fired, discriminated or retaliated against without merit and some of those cases have began to settle out of court. The latest claim was made know yesterday September 26th 2017 when a $125,000 claim was filed claiming misconduct by a former employee of MHM & Associates.

Answers that will need to be answered are:

  • How much is the city going to pay 2 police chief’s?
  • Will Deanda’s removal begin to bring the lawsuits to a close?
  • How do you attract a quality Police Chief in a Financially Strapped city like Rialto?

There are more questions than answers.

Today we got some of the answers from City Administrator Mike Story who said that Mark Kling will be working on a $15,000 dollar contract for three months to help during this transition. Mark Kling is one of the brighter spots in Rialto Police Department history as he led the Police Department out of the scandals of the past and the poor public trust of the police department. City Administrator Mike Story said that this money came out of the city administration budget already earmarked for consulting.

We will update as more information comes in.

Have a story you think people should know about? Email Rialtosnow@gmail.com

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