With help from the Fontana Police Department, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest 15 members of a drug ring that used hundreds of concrete statues of donkeys—that is: three-feet-tall, 100-pound garden decorations—to smuggle 1,800 pounds of marijuana into the Los Angeles area. The pot came from Mexico and was being sent to a fictitious business in Fontana. Discovering the $1.5 million worth of pot in the 200 hollowed-out burros—which adds a new meaning to the term “drug mule” . . . or how about this: donkey bong?—involved nearly a dozen federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement personnel were on their own on this one, as lawn decorations everywhere refused to answer any questions.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Times are hard, but not harder than the hearts of the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, which gives tentative approval to an ordinance that provides police and code-enforcement officials the right to fine poor people they find going through the trash.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5
At the center of every luxuriant avocado is an ugly pit, and so it is, too, with the California Avocado Commission. That’s a poetic way of looking at the commission’s former president, Mark Affleck, who not only wrapped himself in a cushy $300,000 annual salary, but also millions in professional sports tickets, luxury hotel suites, massage and spa services, meals, personal vehicle maintenance, house repairs and questionable credit card expenses—all courtesy of members’ dues. No? Not poetic? Well, better than the coarse words that are thrown about by more than 300 avocado growers who attend a meeting in Fallbrook, three of whom are security guards hired just in case words fail the angrier among them. They complained that the costly salaries and spending abuses were racked up while they were plagued by fires, freezes, drought conditions and a flood of foreign imports. Affleck apparently knew the jig was up when internal financial reviews and an audit the California Department of Food and Agriculture began early in 2008. He resigned immediately. Don’t worry, he’s found another job—at Saddleback Church in Orange County. Talk about a purpose-driven life!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6
San Bernardino County tax assessor Bill Postmus resigns, citing the appearance of impropriety—and perhaps this is the moment of clarity talked about so much in 12-step meetings. Once the Golden Boy of San Berdoo—a powerful politician and former leader of its Republican Party—Postmus is facing allegations of corruption, an arrest on suspicion of drug violations and two investigations of the assessor’s office. If Postmus can actually see that this outrageous behavior over the past few years might possibly be displaying “the appearance of impropriety” this may be a day to celebrate more than the departure of a big, costly and just-downright-distracting problem in San Bernardino. Dude’s got a problem—a potentially fatal one—and we’d like to see him solve it. Even douchebags deserve salvation. In other news, water falls out of the sky. Weird.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7
A lonely heart in Blythe reaches out via this ad in the personals of The Desert Independent, and we are touched: “I am a varmint hunter looking for a place to shoot/harvest ground squirrels eating more than their share of alfalfa crops. I am very respectful of ranching and a very safe shooter. I am looking for a local group of hunters that I could make contact with this spring? You can email me at email@example.com.”
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Who needs Andrew Bynum?
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9
A sophomore at Big Bear High School gets an apology from the superintendent of Bear Valley Unified School District—settling a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union—for the Monday last fall when school officials did not allow her to wear a political T-shirt. “The district extends apologies to you for taking adverse actions based on your lawful right to free speech,” Superintendent Carole Ferraud wrote in a letter to 16-year-old Mariah Jimenez. The superintendent also wrote that the incident “was, in fact, a violation of your freedom of speech.” The district will update its speech and dress code to reflect First Amendment rights, will team with the ACLU to organize a forum to provide teachers and students with information about students’ rights, and the ACLU will also provide training for teachers on nondiscrimination and student speech. Jimenez had turned to the ACLU for help after the school acted against her on Nov. 3—a day before the election—when she arrived wearing a shirt that read “Prop. 8 Equals HATE,” protesting the measure that intended to ban gay marriage in California. Of course, Prop. 8 ended up passing, which means that Jimenez has the freedom to express her political views on her clothes but can’t grow up to marry whoever she chooses.