Rialto City Hall Hemorrhages High Ranking Staff

In a sign of what is going on under the surface of Rialto City Hall another high ranking longtime employee of the City of Rialto’s management team has left the city of Rialto. Human Resources and Risk Management Director Lucy Garcia has left the city of Rialto for another unknown agency. For the last year and a half the city has lost seven main leadership positions and has only managed to fill one of them. We learned late last month that Development Director and Assistant City Administrator Robb Steel will be leaving this August.

To make matters worse is the City is on its 3rd Interm City Administrator, the people that the city has offered code enforcement and city engineering jobs to turned them down and nobody wants to be our police chief so we brought back Kling who is on a mission to destroy the relationship between the community and the police. Nobody wants to work here and we should strongly question anyone who chooses to except a job here.

Sources inside city hall say that Lucy Garcia left because she was being asked to withhold information from employees and do things that were not ethical. The information coming out of city hall isn’t surprising to me since I watched Lucy get attacked by the city council over giving the Budget Advisory Committee the information we asked for and not holding things back.

I will point out once more there is no plan for dealing with our $150 Million in Unfunded Liabilities and they just keep adding more and more public safety positions. Just in the last Council Meeting in March the Police and Fire Departments have added staff that were frozen over future cost concerns. Now Rialto has a new police captain we can’t afford and the fire department is adding a Deputy Chief to the payroll.

Never in my life have I looked at such a blatant disregard for financial ethics and common sense.

Rialto City Council Doubles Down With $2.5 Million Dollar Employee Raises

The Rialto City Council prepares to pay off more election day favors tonight as the Fire Union receives a $2.5 Million Dollar increase the city can’t afford. I respect our public safety officials but running for political office in this city and taking the Rialto Fire Union meeting was a big mistake. I learned that the only way a person gets the nod or financial support of any union in this city is by vowing blind devotion to whatever that union wants no matter if we can afford it or not.

These are costs we can’t afford, Rialto is the only public agency that has failed to address the $150 Million Dollars in unfunded liability the city of Rialto faces. They report the number being only $126 Million but that is because the other $24 Million is unfunded liabilities to the cities Retiree Medical Benefit Fund. You may be asking yourself how did they address the $24 Million in unfunded liabilities to the cities Retiree Medical Benefit Fund? They are simply ignoring it!!!

Yes this is how your elected officials deal with major problems they just ignore it and go on spending taxpayer money like nothing is going on!

To those of you that think I am wrong to say our elected officials are bought and paid by the unions, all you have to do is look at the juvenile way Councilman Ed Scott dealt with being given a professional opinion. Ed Scott voted against emergency repairs to the waste water treatment plant, voted against much needed infrastructure repairs but voted yes on the tab item presented by the Rialto Fire Union!

In the agenda for tonight’s meeting staff says that the $2.5 Million cost for this public union pay off is factored into the budget. So why would I say that this is a misleading statement? Well what the staff report fails to mention is that the way we afford this union pay off is by illegally dipping into the cities reserve fund.

“The City Council adopted the FY18-19 Budget with anticipated adjustments. Hence, the proposed compensation increases for FY 18-19 have been absorbed in the current Fiscal Year Budget. Future enhancements will need to be incorporated into future fiscal year budgets.”

The future enhancements referenced in the staff report are:

  • A change from the cities own ordnance that dictates that the city hold 50% of operation costs in a reserve account.
  • Additional taxes on homeowners for a fire district tax.
  • Additional taxes on Hotels.
  • Additional Sales & Gas Tax.

Another strange thing is that the cities Fire Chief was moved into the place of Iterm City Administrator before this contract was put in place is now the one responsible for signing off on its validity.

For City Council Meeting [March 26, 2019]

TO:                                           Honorable Mayor and City Council

APPROVAL:                      Sean Grayson, Interim City Administrator

FROM:                      Lucy M. Garcia, Director of Human Resources & Risk Management

Another glaring point in this agreement is the additional money that the city is dumping into the fire station and union staff. Right now the city offsets the costs of the cities fitness center and pool by paying for each and every employee to have access to the cities gym and workout facilities. Now the city is spending $79,000 this year alone on what the city already provides?

Medical Assessments and Fitness Equipment:  To address safety, the parties agree to new annual health assessments and fitness equipment at the fire stations.  Costs:  $79,000 initially (including $54,000 in medical assessment costs and $25,000 in fitness equipment costs). Equipment maintenance costs and other annual testing will ensue thereafter.

What is worse is there is zero accountability that the Fire Staff will actually use said equipment and there are heavy maintenance and replacement costs that this contract fails to address and ignores.

To add insult to injury the Rialto City Council hidden in the Consent Calendar is an increase in the rate of pay for all Commissioners in the city of Rialto….. No Wait that is a pay increase for the only commission that is paid the planning commission! Once again people who said they would volunteer their time are being paid and now they are receiving a raise we can’t afford. Still to this day there is no plan for how to deal with the $150 Million Dollar Unfunded Liabilities.

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Rialto Middle School Holds Annual Career Day

On Wednesday February 27th Rialto Middle School held their annual career day where fifty three different presenters came out to expose the students to a wide variety of potential careers. Many were your traditional careers like law enforcement, teaching and the medical field. Yet there were many presenters that were from career fields we may not think of when we are preparing kids for their future!

One presenter was John Merchant a local voice actor, professional beat boxer and a radio DJ personality. John Merchant showed off his latest project he worked on was the Missy Elliot Project where musician Christina Hall pays homage to one of the most influential female rappers of the 20th century. John also spoke to the kids about how to be successful in life with something you are passionate about. John Merchant didn’t talk at the students he spoke with them.

We came to this interview unprepared because we thought that Kenny Landreaux just worked for the Dodgers organization in the front office. We were not aware that he played professional baseball. Kenny came to speak to the filed of being a professional athlete and working in other facets in the professional sports arena. It was pretty cool to see that Rialto Middle School had him out to speak to the kids.

We wanted to see Mike Kindrich’s presentation just because of our knowledge of what his employer Mercy Air does. Mercy Air operates private air ambulance service helping get critically injured people to a care facility as quickly and safely as possible. When we found out Mike was a helicopter mechanic that was even better. Mike spoke to his body of work and the many different opportunities that existed in the field he worked in. Mike is a A&P Mechanic this A&P license has given Mike the ability to work as a civilian for the army, a ride mechanic for Disneyland and now a Mechanic for Mercy Air.

One thing that was clear at this career day was that the staff were invested in seeing the students succeed now in school and in the future. This career day event was inventive, exciting and totally an out of the norm type of event for a public school. This event was something you normally see in a private school not a public school setting. I was honored to be able to get a chance to attend and cover this event.

Big thank you has to go out to Mr Rod Campbell who invited us to this event, the principal who was so welcoming, school counselors for going the extra mile and the school security staff that always had a smile each time we saw them on campus!

 

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Rialto Leadership Lacks The Ability To Lead ALL of Rialto

With homeless population increasing every single day and the core of the city falling into disrepair many of the regular unconnected people in Rialto are asking if our leaders still have what it takes to lead all of Rialto. There is development happening in the North and South ends of the city but as you move closer to the city center the decay becomes quite evident. This question isn’t just something whispered about in quite circles but people are asking it out loud in public forums and there really isn’t any answer to the questions.

At the Rialto Unified School Safety Seminar the question was asked multiple times about what the city and schools are doing to deal with homelessness and the crime and consequences that come with them. Rialto Police Lt. Cameron Nelson said that the police departments hands are tied by new public camping laws (nobody ever references a specific law). The problem has become so bad that parks and schools are now dealing with homeless living in the or near them. One are that was brought up at the school safety seminar was the walking trail behind Rialto Middle School and Warner Elementary School. Both of these schools have access gates that open up into this trail. This BLOGGER brought up many concerns with this trail and having access gates to the schools. The powers that be said I was crazy and just trying to get in the way of progress. Now we have unstable people living where kids walk to school and have access to the schools. Does a child have to be hurt or go missing before anyone listens?

When it comes to what our leaders it seems that most of them are ok with Rialto becoming an homeless magnet. Mayor Deborah Robertson seems on a fast track to begin opening housing shelters in Rialto. When new laws are thrown in the public’s faces as the reason that more isn’t being done to fix the problem I wonder what benefit we get from the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of $$$$$ we spend on lobbyists and having our elected officials travel with our tax dollars to Washington and Sacramento.

Some if the worst areas of our city are the main corridors that people travel every single day! Areas like Route 66 that are full of shuttered businesses, graffiti and homeless are far from the beacons of progress and prosperity that our leaders preach about.

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Rialto Unified Head Football Coach Resigns

Only in Rialto can you have a Head Coach of a popular local football program treated poorly and tossed aside.

Normally when coaches are forced out it has to do with poor performance from an amazing team or issues with parents & players. In Rialto we seem to mess things up in a very special way! Three years into his time at Eisenhower High School Head Coach Al Brown has resigned his position with the Football program in Rialto. This news comes on the heels of the Eisenhower Eagles return to greatness with a Division CIF Title the first one in 20 years and a very close second in the State Semi Finals against a very powerful Fontana Kaiser Cats football team.

Things all changed with the removal of Eisenhower High School Principal Scott Sparks who brought on coach Brown three years ago in an effort to return the football program to its former greatness. Coach Brown worked hard for two years under the support of Principal Scott Sparks to build a program that brought Eisenhower to its former glory but more importantly created amazing student athletes that are pillars in the community. The goal was to grow young student athletes that would continue to make Rialto proud.

Coach Brown not only raised up some amazing student athletes but he brought a CIF championship back to the Ronnie Lott stadium! Being close to Coach Brown and some of his prior players (now playing college football) this season was tough on Coach Brown. It was tough because the CTE (career Technical Education) class Life Management was not offered to Coach brown this year as new Principal Frank Camacho took over for the departing Scott Sparks. So in order to feed his family and remain available to coach Eisenhower’s Varsity team this year Coach Brown was forced to take substitute jobs. Working as a substitute offers no job security or medical benefits, also coach Brown had to be prepared for a different teaching situation each day. This fact alone made his CIF season even more amazing given what the coach was dealing with this season.

One constant face at Eisenhower High Football games was former Principal Scott Sparks. The former leader of Eisenhower High and a childhood friend of new Eisenhower High Principal Frank Camacho was at as many of Eisenhower’s games. Scott Sparks watched what he started blossom into a season and record that Eisenhower Alumni could brag about!

According to Coach Brown he was told that he would have a teaching contract this week solidifying his place with the Football team. When the deadline to offer this contract came and went coach Brown had no choice but to resign. Eisenhower High School staff have not been happy this year talking about how much life at the school has changed in just one year. Many people close to what Coach Brown was going through this school year hoped that the CIF season would be enough to prove to Eisenhower Administration that Coach Brown was a vital piece to the positive school culture at Eisenhower.

This writer is left wondering what is going on at District Office and what does Dr Avila and the School Board think this latest problem will do to moral and the culture at Eisenhower? According to Syeda Jafri the Communications Director from Rialto Unified “the district has not received a formal resignation from coach Brown, so it would be difficult to comment further on this matter”. Since posting this story it has come to light that the team is still waiting for the end of the year banquet. We have heard from sources that the school district is waiting for the CIF rings to come in so that they can be presented at the banquet. The rings can take 6 weeks to be ready.

One thing that we learned about this year was how difficult it is for schools in low income communities to get their rings. Kaiser High in Fontana was gifted a grant at the Inland Valley Classic Football game on January 26th to buy their CIF rings. Eisenhower High Schools rings are being taken care of by District Office. 

Most gut wrenching about this move is the $300k video that Westbound Communications did for San Bernardino on how hard Cajon High School in San Bernardino worked to keep an amazing sports program together. People gave up jobs and changed their lives to keep the coach in place and make it impossible for him to want to leave. One thing that Athletic Director Richard Imbriani says in this video is we teach kids life skills and how we don’t quit on people. Well apparently Rialto has a lot to learn from San Bernardino!

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Community Meeting Scheduled For New Rialto High Density Development

If there is one area of the city that has been more neglected in the city of Rialto it is the center section of Rialto on the West side of the city known to those who live there as the Flores Park Community. The name of the community comes from the central location of Flores Park to the communities self created boundaries.

There will be a meeting on October 18th at 6:00 pm at Dollahan Elementary School to discuss a proposal to develop a private residential neighborhood on Foothill Blvd. between Larch and Spruce Avenues.

Christopher Development Group, Inc. proposes to develop a private residential neighborhood with 70 single-family residences and 116 attached townhomes on 15.95 acres. The project site is located on the north side of Foothill Boulevard between Larch Avenue and Spruce Avenue.

On June 27, 2018, the Development Review Committee reviewed the project plans and the applicant will prepare revisions based upon the comments received. The Planning Department asked the developer to return with a select set of changes. Non of these changes were ever made available to the public. Yet that hasn’t stopped the Mayor from already getting in cozy with this Orange County developer positioning herself to receive campaign contributions in exchange for a favorable nood to this project.

Even Councilman Rafael Trujillo who’s mother lives right next to this proposed project refuses to engage with the community about the impacts of this project.

There are rumors that this project will be more dense than other projects in the city. Also some of communities in Rialto that have density issues are rife with crime and have become something Rialto try’s not to talk about. Also a large majority of Rialto’s multi family complexes are full of unchecked crime.

If you live in the area or just care to watch how a MASSIVE rich Orange County Developer will tell Rialto what it is going to do come on out and be a part of the circus!

 

Big Checks Written to Pay off One Union for Pushing Permanent Tax on Residents

The city is super proud of themselves for taking the last bit of control away from the voters on getting spending in this city under control. As they were preparing for the June 5th vote the city was working out a lucrative payoff program for the Police Department.

“On May 31, 2018, the parties reached an oral tentative agreement on the terms for a successor MOU, the deal points of which are set forth below and affirmed by the execution of this formal written Tentative Agreement by the parties’ labor representatives.” (Police Union Agreement)

Let us tell you why we believe that this agreement is a slap in the face to the people who live in Rialto. Let us go over a few key points before we move on:

  • We are not against the Police getting paid for the job they do.
  • We realize that the Police were working on a contract that was two years old.

What happened is that the city of Rialto approved an 8% back pay lump sum check for Rialto Police Officers and Management for two years, then a 8% pay increase for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. There are two big problems with this move:

  • The city has no extra money – for the last 5 years we have been basically cash balanced meaning we can pay our current bills but if the car breaks down we are screwed. Our budget has zero room for any sizable hit to it.
  • The Vote to make the Utility Tax Permanent was only an increase in the respect that it is here forever. The only way the city can make more money on it is by increasing the rate above 8%.
  • The city is $150 Million in debt to PERS and Retiree Health Benefits and there is ZERO plan on how to pay those costs.

Another problem with this raise is the fact that as our population is increasing our police force is shrinking. Nobody inside city hall seems concerned with the fact that Rialto Police Department is less likely to be able to handle this city with less and less staff. Not to mention popular shopping and dinning centers that are coming on board. How is Rialto going to handle the influx when staffing levels continue to drop?

Members of the Rialto Budget Advisory Committee wanted to add staff positions to the department while giving a 1.5 percent pay increase to the Police. The community members saw that just throwing money at the problem wouldn’t solve the issue of the public’s ability to feel safe. Chairman Stacey Augustine said as a manager of a major plant in Rialto he learned that simply giving employees more money would not change everything that was wrong in a workplace. Members Joe Rayden and Michelle Sanchez were concerned that the additional funds were not spent on hiring new officers.

Rialto Police have had a lot of recent turnover. The turnovers have applied pressure to the city to make a move to make employees happy and pay them back for pressuring community members into backing the permanent Utility Users Tax. Was this turnover simply about making less money or are there deeper roots? We do know that for the last two years the following has happened:

  • Police Chief Randy Deanda ripped apart a happy and functioning police department.
  • Officers were targeted for removal just because the current political power players didn’t like them.
  • Money was spent on personal witch hunts.
  • Police management staff have abused travel spending and lied to justify travel.
  • A long standing non profit that supported the police department with providing vital funds for specialized departments is still barred from doing their work.
  • Officers, Cpls, Sgt’s and Lt’s all have left the city for other departments.
  • Outside of pay the latest class and comp study showed Rialto Police Officers making at or above the median for other agencies of similar size..

If money was the sole issue why is the Dispatch Supervisor and a veteran officer still leaving after this deal was approved? Also one prominent Sgt recently made his intentions of an early retirement known, if he kept working he would make more in retirement than he will now? So if it is just money why is he leaving?

The problem is that Rialto is not learning from any past mistakes:

  • You can’t promise what you don’t have.
  • You can’t spend what isn’t coming in.
  • You can’t depend on the leadership of intern staff in high level positions in difficult years.

Rialto has spent money or promised to spend money they do not have over and over again. They added $2 million to redeveloping Frisbee park, They have locked Rialto into an agreement to build a 22 acre park in the new Renaissance area with no funds for that park, handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars to the police with this new raise (regular officer alone will make an extra $6 thousand a year with the new raise) and still funnel money to special interests and development buddies that dump money into their campaigns.

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