TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11
Turns out you can put a price on the value of human life. You just don’t have to pay it—not all of it, anyway—particularly if you run a nursing home or special-care facility and that life belongs—well, belonged, actually—to one of your elderly residents or special-needs patients. The Press-Enterprise reports that between January 1, 2003, and March 30, 2007, nine such Inland Empire facilities were cited and fined $540,000 by the state for code violations that have involved patient death. But only four of those facilities have paid even a portion of those fines, and the total among them only amounts to $88,750. Those figures are included in a wider investigation that reveals that almost 100 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have paid only $335,000 of about $1.3 million in fines for all manner of violations during the same period. The problem is that nursing homes are allowed to appeal the fines assessed against them and usually end up paying only a fraction. Abuse of the system is statewide and has gotten so bad that an account meant to help regulate the industry nearly ran out of money this year because the state Public Health Department didn’t collect enough fines to fund it. On the bright side, Grandma is in heaven now.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12
George Lopez is going on his second year as the new host of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament, which only seems incomprehensible if you’re not aware of the long history these two comic lamebrains shared. Here’s how Lopez recounts it today in a conference call with reporters: “In 1991 . . . I opened for Bob Hope, and he was still performing. He was very active, you know, and we rode over from the Doubletree Hotel to the venue, didn’t really talk, and on the way back I remember him turning on the light over his head and you could see his face illuminate with this light. And he asked me what did I think of the crowd? And I said—well, I was a little taken aback—and I said, ‘Well, I thought they were a little slow at first. Then I thought once you got them and you stayed on them, you finished really strong, had a nice build.’ And he said, ‘That’s what I thought.’”
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13
The Mitchell Report is released, and the Inland Empire loses its claim to the hometown of the most-famous baseball player to have allegedly used performance-enhancing substances. Roger Clemens is at least the equal of Barry Bonds, which means that Dayton, Ohio, now sits alongside Riverside.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14
Plans for a new 160-acre casino and resort near the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park are revealed by the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians, and environmentalists are understandably upset about the prospects of cars and trash and bright lights ruining the delicate desert ecosystem and star-filled skies. I’m no fan of casinos and find it sad that Native American culture has been forced to embrace sleazy gambling halls in order to survive, but it’s hard to come down too hard on a people that have been so decimated during the last few hundred years. Still, I have a hard time with arguments that we ought not worry about the damage to the environment, just because the developers are Native Americans. “Their history has much to do with the night sky,” reasons Jerri Hagman, owner of the Homestead Inn Bed and Breakfast in Twentynine Palms. “The stars and the moon.” She forgot about their recent history with the night sky, which has a lot to do with neon.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15
The Moreno Valley Police Department serves 50 arrest warrants for driving under the influence during a morning sweep through the city. Hapfy Horridays!
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17
Kids in Corona can’t be as lame as the adults at City Hall make them sound. Can they? Consider how city officials are making their case for the Mayor’s Youth Council and a city-funded Youth Website. Raymond Navera, a senior management analyst, feels compelled to assert that “youth have always been critical to Corona.” Tina Hunt, director of the Youth Council, actually accuses the city’s cell-toting, computer-savvy teens of not knowing that there is an ice-skating rink a few miles from Corona. “The kids don’t know how to get the information,” she claims. Hunt goes on to make membership on the Mayor’s Youth Council sound totally boring and ineffective, foreshadowing “brainstorming” sessions over issues that they may or may not be able to bring to the mayor’s attention. Thing is, the city’s Youth Website (www.cy411.com) really isn’t so bad, particularly if you want to know “What do I do if there is a strange animals in my neighborhood?” Yes, it says: a strange animals. Bless the beasts and the children.