Meet Channing Hawkins A Candidate for West Valley Water District

Well Rialto it is that time again time to VOTE! Now we all thought we had a break from this since everyone keeps talking about 2020 and the big presidential race. Sorry some agencies out there still run their elections on off years.

Today we come to you with one of our Q&A segments on someone looking for your vote. This election is for West Valley Water District and its boundaries are all over the place landing in both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Channing Hawkins is running for seat #4 which covers the communities of Fontana and Rialto.

This Q&A is simply a way for you to learn something you may not know about candidates seeking your vote. No matter who you choose please get out and cast your vote.

  1. Why do you feel qualified to sit on the West Valley Water Board?

In regard to my background, I am a graduate of Howard University
undergraduate school and Law School. While in law school I learned about public
policy and the law-making process. I have worked for a local Congressman and
Assemblymember, where I focused on constituent services and local
government. My first encounter with our local water issues began in 2005, when I
worked with federal and state agencies to help remediate the perchlorate
problem in our local water system. Since then, I have worked largely as an
advocate for civil rights, particularly for seniors and other vulnerable populations.
In my current job, I monitor county, city and water district budgets. I strategize on
long- term planning and negotiate contractual agreements on behalf of their
workforce. Therefore, I am familiar with budgeting, operations and long-term
planning in public agencies like West Valley Water District. I understand the need
of competent and forward-thinking leaders in government, who are willing to
learn and adapt to the challenges faced in delivering a quality public resource. I
am also experienced in addressing and adapting to technological changes.

  1. Are you aware of the boards changes to the open meeting laws over the last few years? How do you feel about those changes?

Unfortunately, West Valley does not operate in a manner that allows for input
from its ratepayers. Water is our most critical public resource and I am dedicated
to ensuring the affordability, safety and reliability of our local water system.
However, the biggest issue facing West Valley Water District is corruption,
unnecessary lawsuits and kickback schemes. I have spoken with a number of
rate payers who believe enough is enough. Ratepayers know they are not
receiving the quality of water or service they deserve. If elected, I plan to make
West Valley Water District more transparent, accountable and provide local
employment opportunities.

  1. What is your purpose for running for West Valley Water Board?

I am a Rialto resident who has a family that is served by West Valley Water
District. My kids literally brush their teeth and bathe in the water daily. My
concern for our district starts with my family and other families like mine, who rely
on the water to be safe, affordable and reliable.

  1. What is your political party affiliation?

This is a nonpartisan election. I will work with Republicans, Democrats, decline to
state, or anyone other party affiliation, as long as they are committed to
affordable, reliable and sustainable water.

  1. Have you taken any monetary or non-monetary support from large interest groups like unions or environmental groups? If not have you seeked out money or support and been denied?

The average donation for my campaign has been just over $75.00. Most of my
support has been from small business owners, attorneys, sole proprietors and a
few labor organizations.  I have not accepted any  money from current West
Valley Board Members or consultants.

  1. Are you being funded or supported by any current West Valley Water Board Members?

No. Unlike my opponent, who has received over 95% of his support from current
board members or consultants. I have refused endorsement or support from any
of the current board members.

  1. What is your take on the corruption rumors floating around for the last 8 years?

West Valley Water District ratepayers know that we deserve better. It is time to
put an end to the corruption, unnecessary lawsuits, financial mismanagement,
and shady hiring practices.  It is ridiculous that they spend over nearly $130
million a year with little to show for it. If elected, I plan to make the West Valley
more transparent, accountable and provide local employment opportunities.

  1. Can you promise no new rate increases?

I will not raise rates. I believe all budget matters should have hearing in local
community’s local communities, so ratepayers can have input on the budget and
help to set priorities for the district

  1. Do you support working to create a live broadcast of Board meetings and using a system to archive recorded meetings? Why?

Yes. My two biggest concerns regarding West Valley Water District are transparency and
accountability.  By live streaming and televising the meetings ratepayers like you can
have access to the meetings. I believe we should have budget hearings in the local
communities, so ratepayers can have input on the budget and help to set priorities for
the district. I also believe we should have an email alert system, so ratepayers like you
know when there is an issue with our system. I also believe in accountability at West
Valley Water District. We need to implement fair and open hiring practices, create new

financial controls and change board policy regarding contracting.  There has been zero
action by any of the board members to make West Valley more transparent or
accountable.

  1. Do you support creating rules that bar board members from using West Valley staff and Water District marking materials in future election advertising?

Absolutely.

  1. Any words you would like the Rialto Now readers to know about you?

Ratepayers are tired of the corruption and mismanagement at West Valley Water
District. We can't expect different results with any of the current
board members. Ratepayers need someone who will clean up the mess. The
power is in your hands to make a change at West Valley this November
5th. Vote Channing Hawkins for change.

I encourage any ratepayer to call me at directly at (909) 265-4418 or email channinghawkins2019@gmail.com. For more information www.channinghawkins.com.

Rialto Officers Widow Say Lip Service Isn’t Going To Pay The Bills

The widow of fallen officer Sergio Carrera appears to be having issues getting paid from her husbands death back in 2007. Louise reached out to our staff with angst and frustration over her workman’s comp payments being short, wrong or lost in the mail altogether. Louise says that this has been an ongoing issue for years.

Our city council and city leadership are quick to jump on their soap box and tout that they care about and want to make sure that the families of our fallen officers are taken care of. Sadly this is just lip service it appears because time and time again we hear stories that those families feel tossed aside and not cared for.

In the case of Louise Carrera and her two kids these wrong checks and missing checks are more devastating than most would think. Could you imagine having to borrow money to pay for utilities or being late on your house payment just because the city can’t seem to get your money to you? Rialto touts how 21st Century the city has become yet instead of allowing people like Louise Carrera to have their money put into their bank account via direct deposit, that option isn’t available leaving more opportunities for errors.

Louise said that she has grown tired of the firm the city has hired to process her payments. “Both the city and LWP seem to care less what happens to me and my kids and it is sad” Louise Carrera.

So it seems that the next time a council member or a ranking member of the city leadership claims to care about our staff and their families we can point back to this situation and say, What about Louise Carrera?

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Rialto Residents Brace for Another Gas Price Increase Yet Again

Because we are gluttons for punishment in California and especially in Rialto our fearless leaders are dropping yet another gas tax on people who buy gas in California. Rialto residents get additionally taxed because Rialto residents have to pay for damage that Burttec has caused to our streets.

California is poised to charge the highest taxes and fees on gas in the COUNTRY once the 5.6 cent tax increase goes into effect on July 1st. What is scary is that State leaders say they will still be BILLIONS of $$$$ short of what is needed to fix California roads. They are still trying to fix what is already there still they have no plans on how to increase lanes yet they keep increasing the population. These taxes are part of the SB1 bill that state Demoncrats approved in 2017 and California Voters failed to pass a proposition that would have killed SB1 and the pending tax increases.

Even with the increased taxes the state claims they will be $78 Billion short of what is needed to bring California Roads and Bridges into GOOD repair. Why are all these taxes not enough? Here are some glaring reasons:

  • More than 60% of the money from SB1 wont ever go to fund a single road repair project, this money is going to mass transit, failed high speed rail and bike lanes.
  • Caltrans is a drain on society, they work slow and have thousands of engineers that sit around. They agency is full of fraud, bribery, favoritism, bid rigging, and  spending work time to derail a citizen proposition.
  • California leaders have been robbing the road fund for years only to now say we don’t have enough.
  • Funding health care, drivers licenses, food stamps, public education and so much more for illegal aliens.
  • They even go so far as to give themselves yet another raise!
  • Don’t forget the massive looming deficit coming for the State in the Retirement System PERS!

So it looks like California and Rialto are in for more and more increases in taxes until they start speaking louder from the ballot box!

Click here to see how Rialto residents are paying for road services they will never get!

All Residents Pay A Unpopular Fee, but Not All Benefit From It

On May 28th we learned something about our least favorite fee in the city that should have your blood boiling. For the last 4 to 5 year you have been paying and ever increasing tax on your monthly trash bill. This TAX was added to deal with Rialto’s streets that are deteriorating much faster than Rialto officials can keep up at least that is what we were told.

On May 28th we found out that streets that are in poor repair will not be fixed with the Trash Fund money, only newer streets will get any work done from the Trash Tax. There is a promise that they will seek out a way to do something for those residents but they say that as we head for Bankruptcy!

Activists told the city council and the residents that the city would find ways of putting this money back into their own pockets and moving street maintenance money around to other pet projects. The last honest Councilman caught his colleagues playing games with this money shortly after it was approved.

Councilman O’Connell was interviewed by Sun reporter Leslie Parrilla and said:

“We gave the impression that we were going to use that money to help improve the roads,” O’Connell said.

The increased rates for the city’s solid waste collection, recycling and disposal service rates were passed to help maintain Rialto’s deteriorating roads. But after the fees started being collected, the roughly $1.2 million normally budgeted annually for road improvements dropped to $600,000 this year, instead of increasing with money from the new fee.

“It seemed to me the citizens got it right when they said, ‘be careful, they’re going to take advantage of it,’ ” by moving money around, O’Connell said.

The plan was to decrease the Trash Tax and fix the roads with Measure U. Well a year later Councilman O’Connell passed away unexpectedly and since then here are all the things Measure U is targeted to cover:

  • Millions in behind street maintenance.
  • Reduce the now PERMANENT Utility Users Tax by 25%.
  • Cover our $150 Million Dollars of Unfunded Liabilities.
  • Provide for more cops.
  • Provide more money for Recreation Programs.

The only problem with these promises is that even with best case scenario is that the tax would bring in $15 Million a year. As of today there is less than $10 Million in an escrow account while the tank farms sue us. It looks so grim that the Mayor and Ed Scott are publicly talking about settling for way less than expected just to get something.

While that goes on Burrtec spends thousands of dollars on campaigns for elected officials that act as rubber stamps for their programs and agendas. While Burrtec is holding a fundraising party for the Mayor they got:

  • Rialto residents to pay for the damage thier trucks do to the road.
  • A 10 year contract that never expires because it renews for another 10 years each year and we have to give them 10 years notice if we want out of the contract.
  • They got $1.3 Million back in their pockets that was supposed to go to create a community garden for the North End of the city.
  • We now are forced to pay burrtec through our property tax bills so we can’t see the many times they raise our rates.

So the only question is, are you mad yet? Don’t forget gas goes up 5.6 cents a gallon on Monday July 1st for more on that story click here!

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City of Rialto Chooses New City Manager After 2 Year Search

Photo from the OC register

Since December 2017 Rialto has been without a permanent City Administrator. There have been three men to fill the top seat on a temporary basis as the Rialto City Council made poor choices that have moved us closer and closer to financial disaster.

First to fill the seat was Assistant City Administrator Robb Steel he lasted for a short stint prior to looking to take a step back into his old role. Then the City Council brought back  Ahmad Ansari, a former public works director and city engineer, as interim city administrator. The most recent person to fill the interim chair is Rialto Fire Chief Sean Grayson.

The spot at City Administrator isn’t the only position to sit without a permanent place holder over the last few years. As the city ignores the looming reality of the unfunded pension liabilities and private vendettas are allowed to hurt employees from bad leaders the city has struggled with attracting new talent. This has shown in the length of time it took to fill this position as well as Police Chief and the fact that is took two years to find a finance director. There have also been jobs in public works and code enforcement that the city offered employment to people and those people turned the city down!

One thing that all Rialto residents and business owners should pay close attention to is the cost of this salary. The article we wrote in the Rialto Record December of 2018 still rings true today. Rialto is spending money it doesn’t have and next years budget which starts in one month is going to be a HOT mess. Your Rialto City Council have spent MILLIONS on raises for employees that we can’t afford.

I say all this to show you how little your city council cares about the taxpayers!

Rod Foster worked as the city manager for the city of Colton, not really the beacon of innovation and clearly not a city to model after. Mr Foster then followed Eileen Gomez to the city of Laguna Niguel. Rod Foster spent ruffly four years at the city of Laguna Niguel and left at the same time as his assistant city administrator. Now Rod Foster may be a very nice man nothing here is to say he isn’t, the problem is can Rialto afford a City Administrtor at the tune of a quarter of a million dollars a year? Rod Foster the new city administrator and Mark Kling the Chief of Police make half a million dollars in Salary alone!!!!

Now you would think that there was a lot of discussion on this appointment and the other top candidates names were presented right? Nope they acted like this effort was a simple, everyday line item and passed this without any explanation or discussion. After the quick motion and second then the comments came. Mayor Robertson spoke about some special trip to Mommie Helens Bakery and her sole reason for picking Rod Foster was his sweet tooth! Ed Scott even more childishly asked Rod Foster to protect him from the many people that Ed Scott has upset over the years, maybe if Ed Scott doesn’t sue Rod Foster he may protect him!

In Rod Fosters defense community members like Gary Grossich and Eileen Gomez have nothing but positive things to say about Rod Foster. These are marks in his favor but why would someone like Rod Foster want to come to Rialto?

To make matters worse Rialto still has no plan on how to deal with $150 Million in unfunded liabilities!! They are still waiting for magic money to fall from the sky! Mark my words bankruptcy or insane tax increases are right around the corner!

Here is what the contract says on the Agenda:

The following provides a summary of key provisions of the proposed employment agreement with Mr. Foster:

 

•                     Salary:  Annual salary would be $240,000 annually.

 

•                     At-will nature of employment: The position of city administrator is an at-will position serving at the pleasure of the City Council.

 

•                     Term: A term of 5 years, which can be extended by the parties for 1 year following a positive performance evaluation.

 

•                     Severance: If Mr. Foster is terminated without cause, then he will be entitled to severance as follows:

 

0-6 months with City                                          monthly salary times 18

6-24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 12

After 24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 6

 

If terminated for cause, Mr. Foster would not be entitled to payment of any severance.

 

•                     Benefits:

 

o                     The benefits would generally consistent with those of the City’s department heads, except as specified in the employment agreement.

 

o                     Vacation leave: Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 6.15 hours per pay period.

 

o                     Sick leave:  Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 10 hours per month.

 

o                     Administrative leave: 140 hours per year.

 

o                     Deferred compensation: $750 per month.

 

o                     Vehicle: Provided a City-vehicle for business and incidental personal use.

 

o                     Educational incentive: 7.5% of regular base salary based on master’s degree (same as provided to eligible City department heads).

 

o                     CalPERS: Mr. Foster would be enrolled in the City’s 2% at 62 retirement plan consistent with the requirements of state retirement law for “new” CalPERS members. The employee contribution under this plan is presently 8%.

 

o                     Health insurance coverage and retiree health: Same as for department heads.

 

o                     Relocation reimbursement: Up to $8,500 if Mr. Foster moves to San Bernardino County and within 25 miles of City Hall within 2 years.

 

o                     Life insurance: Benefit amount equivalent to 2x amount provided to department heads.

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Two Dead Bodies Found in Rialto Neighborhood

Photo of crime scene at Sycamore and Jackson Streets from Loud Labs IE

RIALTO (LoudLabs News)

On Saturday morning, April 27, 2019, the Rialto Police Department along with the City of Rialto Fire Department responded to reports of a two people down. The incident was reported around 6:19am in the 100 block of E. Jackson Street.

When Officers arrived they located two males, down in the front yards of two different addresses, roughly 200 feet apart. Both victims were pronounced deceased at the scene. Homicide Detectives as well as the Coroner’s Office were just arriving at the scene around 8:30am.

Police investigators working the crime scene where 2 dead bodies were found on the corner of Sycamore and Jackson Streets photo from Loud Labs IE

Details surrounding the two deaths are limited as Police will only say they are conducting a death investigation. No further information was immediately available.

Why are murders and deaths on the rise in Rialto?

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City of Rialto Website Goes Down

In the age of technology where we get all of our information it hurts when a website goes down, but outside of the Covered California website most of the time government websites are pretty bullet proof. Well since this morning the Rialto City website had a blue screen advertising other websites and stating that the City of Rialto’s domain had expired!!!

We called down to city hall to find out it wasn’t until an employee went onto the website that anyone was aware! This begs to question is the cities website domain available for purchase? We were curious so we went over to square space to find out. This is what we found:

So the cities domain name is good for now but this still means that if you need to access any information or phone numbers for the city you are at a loss and have to go down to an already understaffed city hall!!! We reached out to Mayor Robertson who said at the time we reached out that she was just made aware of the situation. City staffer Angela said that IT has been notified but gave no ETA for when the website would be back up!

If you are having website issues don’t let your website get pulled down and loose valuable time and money have our friends over at Mass Atom Studios help you with your website needs!

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