Most of the news about newspapers has been bad lately, but the news inside newspapers remains vital to our way of life. The Riverside Press-Enterprise provides the latest reminder today by going to court in hopes of unsealing the warrants that resulted in the drug charges against just-resigned San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus. The paper argues that the public has a First Amendment right to access the documents, especially in cases involving possible public corruption. San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Douglas Elwell denies the request for the second time, agreeing with prosecutors that access to the documents would harm ongoing investigations. The newspaper’s attorney, Al Wickers, criticized “the district attorney’s unmistakable contempt for these important statutory and constitutional rights.” The P-E says it plans an appeal, arguing that California law requires that court records be sealed only “in the rarest of circumstances.” The paper has a history of success in these matters, last year successfully suing to unseal other warrants related to the assessor’s office investigation. Thank you, Press-Enterprise.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18
Jaime Erick Cooth is in jail, the suspect in a recent series of bank robberies committed in Moreno Valley, Corona, Riverside and Norco by a man wearing a floppy hat, a bandage over his nose and a neck brace—which is why he became known as the Neck Brace Bandit. Cooth, 32, matches the description of the Neck Brace Bandit, right down to the kind of car he drives—an older Mercedes with black chrome rims—and Moreno Valley Police who searched his home say they found evidence related to the bank robberies . . . except for one thing. The neck brace remains at large.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19
Pomona Unified school board members and senior administrators apparently can’t contain their excitement over being able to say the two most-fun words that come with being a boss: You’re fired! Long before the legal deadline—and also before they were sure they were right—they’ve mailed out 643 notices to employees informing them that they could be laid off at the end of the current school year. Thing is, some of those employees—between 45 and 50 of them—have received contradictory letters, one which informs them they may be laid off and another which informs them they will not. Others get letters with seriously wacked-out information, such as the start dates that are used to determine seniority—and thus, in many cases, whether or not they could be laid off. Some of that information is off by as much as 10 years. The result? Widespread anxiety, if not panic, a rippling freakout. “It’s a nightmare,” says one employee. Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana reassures everyone that sending out the notices is not “a scare tactic” intended to “play with people’s lives.” Maybe not but, you know, as long as it worked out that way, enjoy!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Whoever has been ass-scalping equine members of the Mira Loma community lately are not only dirty, low-down horse thieves, but kinda weird, too. And maybe, just maybe, they play the violin. See, these thieves don’t take the whole horse—just the tail hair. Two more horses in the Sky Country equestrian community of Mira Loma got butt-Samsoned this week, bringing the number to three such incidents in the area since December. Maybe they’re in it for the money. Horsehair can be sold for a variety of uses, from making the bows on violins to making rope to making accessories like belts to making art. It can even be used to make extensions for the tails of less-well-endowed horses. Then again, maybe they’re just into it for the vandalism. Let’s hope they’re not into it for . . . well . . . whatever is suggested by the tone of the story in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which described a little too well how one horse lost “about 5 feet of his lush, white tail,” and how another lost “about 3 feet of her blonde tail.” All this talk about tail makes me . . . well . . . want to ride. But the quotes from that story really give me pause. “Whoever is doing this should be caught and pay for their crime,” says horse owner Jodi Smith. “Our animals are like our children and we don’t want them violated.” Yeah, probably better to take a cold shower.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Who wants to be . . . a meel-ah-nayahhh?
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Sixty-three-year-old Soon Ja Lee leads Riverside Sherriff and California Highway Patrol cars—their emergency lights flashing and sirens blaring—through the dawn and three counties in an hour-long chase from the Morongo Casino in Cabazon to West Covina. She observes the speed limit all the way. When a CHP officer finally pulls alongside her and yells through a bullhorn to pull over, she does—carefully signaling first. She shows a valid license. She has no warrants. She tells officers she didn’t know she was being followed all that time. They write her a ticket for failing to pull over and let her go.