The most-popular story on the website of the Barstow Desert Dispatch is the one about the valedictorians for Barstow High’s Class of 2009, and is there a better illustration of the special joys of small-town life? No, probably not, especially if we’re talking about the joys of vicious gossip and backbiting. It seems that one of the valedictorians is Ilse Kruse, daughter of the school’s head guidance counselor, who emerged with the honor—which qualifies its recipient to apply for valuable college scholarships—instead of Bindiya Vallabh, who had the best grade-point average. Now school district administrators are talking about “re-evaluating” the selection process. Among the people who thought Ilse Kruse’s selection was strange was Ilse Kruse, herself, who says she is “completely shocked.” The outcome also seemed to confirm some of her darker preconceptions about life. “I didn’t even really want to go for valedictorian,” Kruse told the Dispatch, “because I knew something like this could happen.” That girl’s gonna go far.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20
Meanwhile, back in the real world that young Ilse Kruse already understands all too well, it turns out that Covina’s new city manager, Daryl Parrish, got the job with the help of a consultant who received a government contract from Parrish when Parrish was the city manager of Colton. That’s right. In October 2007 Parrish used his discretionary fund—which doesn’t require council approval—to award a $15,000 contract to management psychologist Bill Mathis. When Mathis was subsequently hired by the Covina city council to help select a city manager, he helped narrow an initial field of 59 candidates down to 15 finalists—while neither he nor Parrish revealed their previous financial relationship. What makes this extra sweet is that Parrish hired Mathis in the wake of scandals on the Colton city council to provide government officials with ethics training.
THURSDAY, MAY 21
Sam Maloof dies at 93 in his Rancho Cucamonga home, completing the final chapter of a remarkable life story that in many ways also doubles as the story of just-as-unremarkable suburban life in the Inland Empire. Maloof was an everyman from the get-go—he got his start as a woodworking artist because he was too poor to buy furniture for his tract home—and remained very much that way even as his woodworking made him a major figure in the California modern arts movement, with pieces on display at the Riverside Art Museum and in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Art Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. How common was Maloof’s life story? After buying land in a Cucamonga lemon grove and building a small house that he eventually expanded into an 8,000-square-foot home that eventually was designated a national historical landmark, Sam Maloof had to move his house three miles away in 2000—to make way for the Foothill Freeway.
FRIDAY, MAY 22
Today’s progress report on the Riverside County Redevelopment Agency’s plan to revitalize the dilapidated Mission Plaza shopping center in Rubidoux: None.
SATURDAY, MAY 23
Cityhood is coming closer and closer to Eastvale, and if you’re wondering what the transition of longtime dairyland into cookie-cutter suburbia is really going to look like, step into the new chain store wine bar and have a listen to resident Deanne DeGrandpre. She tells The Press-Enterprise that the WineStyles bar—one of more than 150 such franchises in 26 states—is a hit because “I know that many of the people in Eastvale that came from Orange County looked forward to places like this.” Meanwhile, at Al’s Corner, the rough-around-the-edges tavern which for a half-century was the only bar in Eastvale, that guy picking out a song on the jukebox just farted.
SUNDAY, MAY 24
Sixty women on horseback—the Overland Women Riders—complete a journey from Lake Elsinore to Norco that spanned three days. The event, now in its 10th year, followed a new trail that had two overnight stopping points, where participants ate, danced, handed out awards—and presumably got a lot of laughs at the expense of the slowpokes in cars who were stuck on the transition road between the I-15 and the 91. That route, as we all know, takes four days.
MONDAY, MAY 25
The Lakers lose by 19 points to the Denver Nuggets to even the best-of-seven series for the Western Conference title at two games apiece, and Coach Phil Jackson isn’t happy with what he calls the “inconsistency” of the officiating. We notice the change too, particularly as it relates to Lakers star Kobe Bryant—who is suddenly not awarded free throws when opposing players commit such “fouls” as invading his aura, thinking bad thoughts about him or considering playing defense.