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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Eisenhower High School gets Soled Out for Dunn Elementary Kids

It doesn’t surprise us anymore when we hear about awesome amazing things happening at Eisenhower High School. For those who grew up and attended Eisenhower High School we didn’t have as much to be proud of. Well current Principal Scott Sparks has worked hard to change all of that from community service to classroom education and sports Eisenhower is working hard to produce awesome adults that are guaranteed to make an impact on the world.

Now I can tell you right now that Scott Sparks would tell us that he is only a small part of what has been happening at Eisenhower, and while that may be true he isn’t just sitting back with his feet up. Scott Sparks has worked hard to bring in leadership that shares his vision and work hard to make that vision possible. From staff in the office to ASB and Sports Eisenhower has swallowed up some serious professionals invested in making tomorrow bright for students that want the help.

We didn’t record this video this was taken from Rialto Unified’s Facebook Page. If you would like to be kept in the loop with what is going on in our kids schools go to www.facebook.com/rialtounified

Thousands Spent On Lavish Retirement Party For Mike Story

Update 11/30 2:15 p.m.

Mike Story called us after this article was published. After people that our staff brought up information that was never made available to us we felt the need to see it for ourselves and get information from trustworthy sources. We worked on trying to ascertain the information on this event and were unable to. We spoke to Mike Story in person on November 20th and he said he had nothing to do with the party. At this point we were ready to drop this story and move on as this is Mike Story’s last month of employment. At the Council meeting Tuesday November 28th not only did council do nothing to address the cities financial woes by tabling tab 2 of the meeting but proceeded to talk about Giant Cake, Olives and other nonsense. It was at that moment when we decided to force the truth out by going with what information we had already gathered. Guess what the story was 8 hours old and people were tripping over themselves to set the record straight. Below see the corrected information. 

The following information was sent at the request of Mike Story via Angela Perry:

It was these Business Owners/Developers, as well as community individuals that made donations for Mike’s Retirement.  NO CITY FUNDS WERE USED.  The remainder of the funds are being donated to the City for the Rialto Institute of Progress.  The other reception that you may be referring to, in your blog, was put on by “IHELPIE” a Senior Citizen organization and their volunteers, which was held November 29that the Senior Center after a taping of Senior Voices.  You are more than welcome to attend his upcoming Reception being held on December 14th at Patio West from 5:00 – 7:00 pm; which is also being paid for from the Donations from business owners and the community.

11/29 10:30 p.m.

With Rialto on the brink of Bankruptcy if voters don’t approve the extension of the Utility Users Tax you would think Rialto would be watching every cent right? NOPE, they are out spending money like they just won the lottery  They are spending money in poor ways but not on this party. As you can see from the video above the elite of Rialto had a secret high dollar lavish party at the Sierra Lakes Golf Club to honor outgoing City Administrator Mike Story.

Spending tax dollars like this is one of the reasons that Rialto taxpayers are in for a world of hurt soon. Mayor Robertson and her council have spent thousands on special events for the political elite in warehouses, shut down public parks for Jazz Events that end up costing taxpayers thousands due to low ticket sales and gifting of public buildings to private organizations that are close to the mayor. Earlier this year Rialto Departments were forced to cut budgets by 20% as a way to find more money to pay to defend lawsuits and the consequences of not fully paying our PERS obligations.

When Mike Story was pressed about this party he becomes very uncomfortable and says I had nothing to do with it. Now we have 3 out of 5 of our elected leaders laughing about Cake, Olives and funny stories. Mike Story a person who in hard financial times made hard choices to get Rialto through a storm other cites like Colton have still not pulled through has shown an extreme lack of leadership by allowing this party to go on Mike Stated that every expense that comes from the city he has to sign off on so he had nothing to do with the party and no tax money was spent on it. Early estimates put the cost of this one event near $20k dollars!!! What makes matters worse is there are still 2 more parties for the residents to pay for to celebrate Mike’s retirement There are 2 more parties but these parties are apparently being covered by businesses or outside sources. On top of that there is a celebration for outgoing Police Chief Deanda that means the taxpayers are going to pay for three retirement parties We were unable to identify where the money from the party for Randy Deanda is coming from.

Update

Scott Beard CLAIMS that not one single dime from this party came from tax payers pockets. While we await his proof (more than words) we will deliver whatever can or will produce.

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As 2017 Comes To An End 2018 Brings New Political Challengers

Both Rialto and Fontana are in for one heck of a ride when it comes to political campaigns in 2018. Next year more money will be sucked out of the economy and into the pockets of political hopefuls. Here is a breakdown of who is already setting up campaigns for 2018 to challenge some very unpopular people:

Rialto:

  • If Rialto City Council can get their act together the cities Utility Users Tax will be on the ballot as early as April 2018. If this tax is unsuccessful the city of Rialto will be looking at bankruptcy as early as 2019.
  • Ed Palmer is back and he is taking the gloves off. After loosing to Mayor Warehouse Robertson in 2016 he was on a short list to fill a vacant spot on West Valley Water Board. Now he is back to take on Ed Scott for a city council seat and word on the street is all of his knowledge of everyone’s secrets are on the table!!!
  • Joe Baca Jr. is up for re-election in 2018 but he has his sights set on jumping into the seat Josie Gonzales will vacate in 2020. He will tell Rialto residents he is here to work for them but his plans will be to jump ship halfway through his term showing Rialto residents where is true commitment lies.
  • Ed Scott will also be up for re-election and according to his own statements will be running a Mayor Campaign in Fontana. He has tons of experience running campaigns for people as you saw in 2016 when he ran a campaign for a made up person named Lindsay Fretter. Nobody ever saw this candidate and yet she put up signs and actually got votes!
  • Former candidate for City Clerk in Rialto Ana Gonzales will be throwing her hat into the ring for city council in 2018. She wanted to run for city council in 2016 but was told it was not her turn by her political affiliates to make way for a Carrizales/Trujillio council grab. Now she has apparently benn given the blessing of her camp and she is ready for yet another campaign.
  • Rialto will have a new Police Chief and a New City Administrator which means that Rialto’s future is unsure.

Fontana:

  • Fontana Mayor Warehouse Warren is up for re-election and she already has to announced challengers Fontana Mayor Pro Tem Jesse Sandoval and Former Rialto Police Chief Deanda. Warren squeaked out of two recall attempts one by the local Tea Party group and another by the Fontana Progressive Democrats. Neithier group showed any steal will to bring anything other than noise which left Warren to purchase the votes she needed to now control both Fontana City Council and School Board.
  • Newly elected School Board member and puppet for Warren and her desires will be up for re-election next year meaning in an already busy year with money flying everywhere he will look to the Inland Empire Business Association for more massive handouts. Group leader Phil Cothran will be very busy trying to keep his two friends happy, paid and elected.

Other notable campaign races of course is the California Governor race. Also will be a ballot measure to repeal the latest gas and registration tax and make any further attempts to raise gas and registration taxes must come in the form of a vote from the people.

 

 

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Rialto Budget Hinges On City Council & Mayor Doing Their Jobs

Years of bad choices, out of control litigation and overbearing pension costs have put Rialto in a very uneasy place when it comes to being able to pay its financial obligations. One of the most pressing matters in regards to the cities budget is the upcoming expiration of the cities Utility Users Tax that accounts for about a third of the cities budget. If the Utility Users Tax is not continued for another five years Rialto will find itself unable to meet its obligations and our reserves will be depleted in 2 years. (see image below)

You may ask yourself what is fueling this budget busting trend? Employee Pensions are killing our city the same way they killed cities like San Bernardino. Rialto has not fully paid their PERS obligations hoping that PERS investments will preform better than expected and bail us out. Well they have not done that and now the city finds itself $130 Million in debt to PERS. Rialto’s pension payment will increase by $1.5 Million each year for the next 10 years!!!!!

Rialto not only did not pay what they knew they had to pay but sources close to major bargaining units and City Hall itself say that payments were regularly late under the watch of former Finance Director George Harris. Mr. Harris no longer works for the city of Rialto and the circumstances surrounding his forced departure remain a mystery filled with rumors and speculation.

The chart above shows how expensive each residential unit is in Rialto Vrs the amount of money that is brought in by these units and where a lion share of the money comes from. As you can see the single largest amount of revenue is from the Utility Users Tax. The chart above also spells out that each residential unit costs the city $800 Thousand more than they bring into the city.

 

As you can see keeping the Utility Users Tax gives us the funds necessary to find better solutions to our pension obligations all the way to 2024! Nobody likes taxes and we all know that we live in the most heavily taxed state in the country but, many look at reduced police and fire services as a bad trade off for continuing to pay what we already have been paying.

What does need to change in the minds of many is the reckless disregard for the citizens money. Some on council and in City Hall have been putting this city under a financial obligation that we should have never been in. They have been unable to properly administer workmans comp and that has cost us millions, they have gone on personal which hunts after people that they think are plotting against them and are costing us millions and they have refused to control high ranking employees and have allowed them to put the city under a horrible financial obligation and have chased employees out in droves.

Tonight city Council and the Mayor will once again be asked to:

  • Declare a State of Financial Emergency.
  • Putt the Utility Users Tax on the ballot for April.
  • Keep the Utility Users Tax at it’s current rate and term.

They were unwilling to do this earlier this year with the same information meaning they didn’t seem to care if we found ourselves in financial ruin.

So the question is where do you want to see Rialto in the next 5 to 10 years?

 

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What’s New in Rialto?

So as everyone has seen there is a lot of dirt movement going on in Rialto. Some of it seen as good forward progress some has residents furious that their concerns seem to be falling on deaf ears.

On Baseline and Willow the old Carrows is being transformed into a Billy “T”s restaurant.

 

On Foothill and Cedar Avenues the last open field is getting a new shopping pad that will be anchored by a Smart & Final.

The Rancho Verde Plaza shopping center (Riverside Ave north of the 210 freeway) will soon have several new businesses.

Planet Fitness continues to renovate a portion of the former Ralphs building. AutoZone will open a new auto parts store in a building fronting Riverside Avenue that was vacant for many years. The Maple House Chicken and Waffles restaurant recently opened at 2026 North Riverside Avenue this is their second restaurant in the Inland Empire (Ontario).

This project where the Planet Fitness is going in is causing North End Residents to fume on social media. Residents are still questioning why the city refuses to give the North end residents a fresh food option. As of right now the north end of the city (above the 210 freeway) is a fresh food desert. Even the old Fresh & Easy is being turned into a Dialysis Center.

The City met with the developers of Rialto Marketplace (NewMark Merrill) to discuss the proposed development of a retail center on Successor Agency parcel of approximately 15 acres located between the former and new WalMart buildings. The developer proposed two development options that included retail, entertainment and restaurant opportunities. NewMark Merrill is soliciting tenant interest for the project.

The City met with the developers of the Renaissance Marketplace (Lewis Retail) to obtain updates on new tenants, potential restaurant pad users, and
construction status. Lewis announced that Cinemark Theaters will open in July 2018 and the first phase of the retail center north of Renaissance Parkway will open in early 2018.

The City met with the owners of the former Wal-Mart (Pacifica). Pacifica proposes to carve the old store into three smaller modules for specialty retailers and develop 2-3 freestanding pads including a fast casual restaurant. Pacifica intends to submit entitlement applications later this year to construct the pads, obtain user approval and conduct tenant improvements.

The City met with the developer of the Renaissance East (Fernando Acosta) retail development at Ayala Drive and the 210 Freeway. Cracker Barrel
proposes its second California restaurant for opening in September 2018. The City met with a prospective hotel developer exploring options for a Holiday Inn Express or Hampton Inn. The City Council will consider the entitlements for the project on November 14, 2017. The City expects construction to commence in January 2018. Fernando Acosta is the owner of the Popeyes fast food restaurant on Baseline and Ayala. Mr. Acosta also was to person who brokered the In & Out development.

The City met with the developer of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Fountainhead) at Easton Avenue and Riverside Avenue. The developer
communicated escrow will close in early November with construction commencing immediately thereafter. Fountainhead expects to complete
construction within 90 days.

The City met with Aldi and Panera Bread to discuss current and future projects in Rialto. Aldi intends to construct a store at the northeast corner of Foothill Boulevard and Cactus Avenue, adjacent to WSS. Panera will construct a new restaurant in Renaissance Marketplace and may add one additional store in south Rialto.

Meet West Valley Water Board Candidate Linda Gonzalez

Welcome to our individual interviews with Candidates running for local elections. All candidates were given the same questions and allowed the freedom to answer as they see fit. We did not alter any of the responses so you are hearing things directly from them.

In this interview we are introducing you to Linda Gonzalez. Mrs. Gonzalez  is a person who has spent a long time in the Rialto area. Mrs. Gonzalez is also one of the elected incumbents seeking re-election to the West Valley Water board.

 

1) Tell us about yourself where did you grow up, go to school and work before?

I was born in Los Angeles. In 1985 I was married and we decided to buy our first house in the City of Fontana in 1986.
I have attended local community colleges in the area and raise our four children who are young adults now. I currently work at our family owned business since March 3, 1988 in Fontana California. In 1990 we relocated to Bloomington California and decided that is where we raise our four children, all our children attended grade school through Bloomington high school and graduated and continued on to colleges and universities.

2) How does your past make you a good candidate for West Valley Water Board?

My whole life I have been a community advocate in our local areas I care about our cities and towns.
I have served in the following boards or Business organizations.
A. Bloomington municipal advisory Council (MAC) served 13 years.(1998-2011). Four years as chairwoman.
b. Fontana Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors served six years. (2000-2006).
C. Bloomington woman’s club served as President four years.
(2010-2014).
D. Colton unified school district (measure G) committee served as the vice chair for six years.
E. Volunteered in the Girl Scouts of America many years.Bloomington Little League volunteered as a team mom.
F. I currently serve as vice president on West Valley Water District board from December 2013 -to present.
I understand what it is to have a well fiscal year budget balance. I have the knowledge on how to implement ideas on the table to help our general manager and the water district team to succeed in securing future funds for the water district and on behalf of our ratepayers.

3) Some of you are incumbents what have you learned since being elected or appointed that you didn’t know until you sat in the elected seat?

I am currently the vice President of our West Valley Water District.
I currently served on
A. Executive committee.
B. Human resource committee.
c. External Affairs committee.
I have Learned that water is more difficult than what it seems. Water has to be treated and it has to be transferred from point A to point B meaning from our wells and reservoirs to your homes and business.The state regulates water very highly.

4) How important is transparency to you? 

Transparency is very important to me. From always respecting our water district ratepayers to our internal departments. We should always have open communication. There should always have an open door policy at this water district.

5) Do you believe that partisan politics have a place within a water board seat?

I am here to represent all people across the board all walks of life.

6) What is your impression of the communities freedom of speech?

Our First Amendment gives us rights to freedom of speech.

7) What are your thoughts on budget surpluses? Should they be a certain percentage of the overall budget or are they even important? 

The district should have a budget surplus for in case of a natural disaster or to slowly address aging infrastructure,1/3 of the budget surplus is for restricted funds for our bonds.

To find out more about Linda Gonzalez go to  https://www.facebook.com/2013lindagonzalez2017/

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