How much more torturous can life get for a man who was falsely charged with killing his wife, finally convicted after three trials, started serving a life sentence in 1993 and now has been diagnosed with prostate cancer? Hmmm. How about having a judge finally reverse that murder conviction—but keep him behind bars on $750,000 bail for at least another year while waiting for prosecutors to take their sweet-ass time going through the appeals process? That’s the way William Richards’ life has been going since 1993, when his wife died in Hesperia and he was blamed. What kind of day are you having?
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
A kid from Yucaipa—authorities are withholding his name because he’s 16 . . . but for our purposes, let’s call him “Sparky”—is arrested on suspicion of starting more than one dozen fires since 2006, including the Crafton Fire that is still burning as he is processed into San Bernardino County juvenile hall. It’s that last fire that did little Sparky in. Somebody spotted him bicycling away from the source of the blaze, which has expanded to more than 350 acres. That’s a mighty big fire, but not even close to Sparky’s biggest. He’s also a suspect in the 860-acre Pendleton Fire in Yucaipa and the 1,159-acre Oak Glen Fire, both of which started in late August. Naturally, District Attorney Mike Ramos is looking into how he can turn this case of a seriously fucked-up kid to his own political advantage. For starters, Ramos is looking into charging him as an adult.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
Opening a new airport during a severe economic recession that has drastically reduced airline travel seems kind of . . . well, I was going to say “stupid,” but let’s lighten that to “problematic”—although bottom line, it’s “expensive.” Facing the prospect of a nearly completed passenger terminal and not one airline signed up to provide service, officials of the San Bernardino International Airport have decided to offer more than $10 million in incentives. According to the plan, that money would be allocated among the first four airlines—so, about $2.5 million each—that can guarantee a minimum of 12 weekly departures. This includes $1 million per year in revenue guarantees for two years, no landing-fee charges for five years and a half-million bucks to help them advertise. If this sounds like corporate welfare meant to cover the asses of big-talking, bad-planning politicians and bureaucrats . . . well, they’d like to call you “stupid,” but they’ll settle for inferring it by suggesting you simply don’t know about the financial realities of the airline business. “These amounts won’t nearly pay all of the costs that an airline would bear to extend service,” says Don Rogers, interim director of the Inland Valley Development Agency, which oversees airport development. “But it could make the difference in turning a profit on that service.” Rogers goes on to insist that it costs an airline between $70 million and $85 million to bring new services to any airport, and we’re supposed to believe that the $2.5 million in incentives is going to be the difference between profit and loss? That’s . . . “problematic.”
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
A big neo-Nazi protest of illegal immigration at a home improvement store in Riverside ends in a little more than 45 minutes, and about as humorously as a hatemongering event can—with counter protesters taking away their Nazi flags, tearing them up and chasing the Aryan racers to their cars.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Lakers forward Lamar Odom marries way-too-forward reality TV personality Khloe Kardashian, apparently less than one month after the two were introduced by . . . Ron Artest? Of course, it’s too early and unfair to say this relationship is doomed, and I’m not talking about the Odom-Kardashian coupling—God bless ’em. I’m referring to the Artest’s effect on the team chemistry of the Lakers, who begin training camp Tuesday for defense of their National Basketball Association championship. Artest has a reputation for causing problems—his sensitivity and aggressiveness sometimes make him his own second-worst enemy, right after whoever is coaching him. As a Lakers-hater—but only until the day Kobe Bryant retires—I welcomed Artest’s signing. But Odom is my favorite Laker, and I don’t want to see him damaged by some sort of plan by Artest to improve his own stature on the team by undermining a truly nice guy. What? Odom and Artest have been best of friends since boyhood? Now that sounds like a reality show.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
The Angels win their third consecutive American League West Division title with an 11-0 victory over the second-place Texas Rangers at Angels Stadium, and they break out the champagne for the standard type of clubhouse celebration. But then they do something very real—jogging onto the field for a team photo in front of the image of Nick Adenhart that’s been on the outfield wall since he was killed in a car crash in the first week of the season. Real is so rare, and so good.