TUESDAY, AUGUST 21
Plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter in north Redlands are up and running again, and the city is accepting written comments from residents and public agencies through September 17. Feedback is already pouring in, and why not? Just consider the prospect of having the world’s biggest retailer as the centerpiece of a 33-acre project, which would feature a 310,000-square-foot shopping center called Redlands Crossing in what is now an open field at the San Bernardino Avenue exit of the 210 Freeway. It would help stodgy old Redlands catch up with super places like Beaumont and Moreno Valley, which already have Wal-Mart Supercenters. It would keep Redlands a super step ahead of Highland, which has one on the drawing board. "It’s kind of the crumbling of our sweet little civilization here in Redlands," says Karyn Lehmann, owner of Paws in downtown Redlands, who has already written to the city. "There’s building everywhere, there’s growth everywhere. There’s not an orange grove left barely." That is the plan, of course . . . but Lehman seems to be saying it like it’s a bad thing.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson attempts to soothe jittery investors, insisting the country will get through a spreading credit crisis that has unhinged Wall Street. "We are going to work through this problem just fine," says Paulson, as the Federal Reserve pumps another $3.75 billion into the financial system to reduce the risk to big investors—bringing a series of cash transfusions to more than $100 billion in about a week. Paulson urges patience, reminding investors that "these things take a while to play out." Paulson speaks a few days after 1,500 people converged at the Ontario Convention Center for an all-day auction of homes repossessed by lenders, hopeful they could benefit from the record number of foreclosures in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which are up eight-fold this year. The people who lost their homes are probably not quite so comforted.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 23
Native American activists who hoped that inviting Democratic presidential candidates to a forum on the Morongo Indian Reservation would demonstrate the political clout of their people . . . well . . . if nothing else, the "Prez on the Rez" certainly does that. Only three candidates—New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel—show up. The slap in the face will be remembered, say tribal leaders. "The reality played out here today will have an impact in Indian country," says Frank La Mere, chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Coordinating Council. "There is some fence-mending to be done between now and the Iowa caucuses." Richardson agrees, calling it "negative and embarrassing that not every candidate is here." Speaking of negative and embarrassing, only about 200 people attended the event.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 24
Reggie Miller blows out 42 candles on his birthday cake as well as the flickering hopes of some National Basketball Association fans that he would come out of retirement to join the revamped Boston Celtics. The prospect of the Riverside Poly High grad taking one last shot at winning an elusive championship was intriguing to some people—most of them either named Reggie Miller or members of AARP. But those of us who remember how Karl Malone desperately hooked on with the Lakers in hopes of finally winning a title didn’t want Reggie to go out that way. Besides, this clears the decks for the next Miller comeback rumor, this one featuring his sister, Cheryl.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 25
Randy Couture retains his Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight belt, breaking the nose of challenger Gabriel Gonzaga two minutes into the first round ("I heard the crunch," says Couture afterward), steadily turning that bloody mess into a bloodier mess in the second round (Gonzaga asked for a timeout because he couldn’t see for all the blood in his eyes) before finishing things up in the third round with a final barrage of nine consecutive punches to Gonzaga’s head before the fight is stopped. The UFC is established enough at this point that it’s kind of pointless to even question what has happened to our culture. Undoubtedly, Couture is a great athlete. I’m not saying such bouts should be prohibited. I guess I’m not even against them. But, like being a prostitute, you have to sadly wonder what other career doors have closed on somebody before they choose to be ultimate fighter.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 26
I finally read a month-old story on the Press-Enterprise website in which reporter Jeff Eisenberg describes the role of sports inside the prison walls of San Quentin. In an accompanying poll, a reader objects, writing "We have families out here that can’t afford food, clothes and housing for their kids. We have seniors that have worked all their lives and can’t afford anything on Social Security. People with no medical insurance or anything." In other words, the kinds of circumstances that drive people to crime . . . and prison . . . and maybe ultimate fighting.
MONDAY, AUGUST 27
The morning after Norco’s three-day rodeo—which featured such "sports" as steer wrestling, tie-down roping and bull riding—Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick officially pleads guilty to various dog-fighting charges and is sentenced to prison.