TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10
Surveillance cameras monitoring traffic-signal compliance at four intersections in Loma Linda for the past four years have been a slightly-less-smashing success. That is, accidents are down at a rate of one per year—65 per year during the four years before the cameras were installed in January 2006, 64 per year in nearly four years since. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but I think the four accidents that didn’t happen were mine—because I haven’t driven through Loma Linda since it started spying on motorists. This is precisely the reason several city council members want to remove the cameras. “I have heard it over and over again: ‘I no longer like coming to Loma Linda because of the red-light cameras,’” Councilman Ovidiu Popescu tells The Press-Enterprise. “There [are] people who stopped going to the doctor in Loma Linda because of red-light cameras.” There are also people who, now that they think about it, haven’t driven through Loma Linda in more than 30 years—since they used to pick up their brother at his Loma Linda University dorm on Friday afternoons and bring him back Sunday nights so he could spend weekends at home. Those people think the people using the red-light cameras as an excuse for not coming to Loma Linda are just being nice.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 11
The serene grounds of Patton State Hospital don’t match the stereotype of a 116-year-old mental hospital, and that seems to aggravate San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry’s inner Nurse Ratched. Where are the howls of delusion from chained-down patients in their musty wards? Where are the screams of agony from chambers filled with the crude implements—high-pressure water hoses, high-voltage generators, maybe a soldering gun or how about a turkey baster—employed in depraved “treatments?” Where are the hulking-and-robotic guards? And speaking of things flying over the cuckoo’s nest, that crack Derry made last week—calling the hospital police “rent-a-cops”—has provoked a wounded response. “For Mr. Derry to say that is really an insult to us,” says the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, which has about 700 sworn peace officers who have graduated from police academies and are well-trained in dealing with mental patients. Derry is just saying he’s troubled by security changes made at Patton that reduced the number of California Department of Corrections officers. Well, actually, what he’s really saying is, “I think it creates a grave danger to the public.” Well, actually, what he’s really saying is the powerful union that represents corrections officers can begin sending its campaign contributions now.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12
Acting on an anonymous tip that ignited an 18-month investigation, Riverside County prosecutors indict nine people—including four members of the San Jacinto City Council—on 155 charges (56 felonies and 99 misdemeanors) of bribery, money laundering, perjury, concealing campaign contributions and tax evasion. Court documents allege a network of graft involving developers and the council quartet—Mayor Dale Stubblefield, Vice Mayor John Mansperger and councilmen James Potts and Jim Ayres. Also indicted was Ayres’ wife, Nancy Jo Ayres, who is a member of the San Jacinto Unified school board. The only San Jacinto council member not indicted is Steve Di Memmo. Why? Apparently, investigators didn’t get Di Memmo.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Sorry about that.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15
Now that they’ve had a few days to digest the indictments, residents of San Jacinto tell Press-Enterprise reporter Mark Muckenfuss—love that name—they aren’t surprised. That’s really not much of a surprise, either; everybody knows corruption has been a part of politics from the get-go. Residents also tell Muckenfuss they’re concerned the town will get a black eye. Not to worry; most people who heard the news about San Jacinto probably asked, “Where?” And that brings us to the most-pleasantly-surprising part of this whole affair—Muckenfuss’ crisply vivid description of downtown San Jacinto: “A few blocks north is a small, neatly trimmed park where veterans memorials are marked by an Army tank and an airplane propeller. Running past the park is the newly refurbished Ramona Boulevard. The cobblestone islands marked with palm trees have angered local merchants, who say the redesign was ramrodded through by the City Council and has made it difficult for customers to access their businesses. A block south, Ramona runs into the city’s historic Main Street. These days, the desperate block of businesses supports a T-shirt store, a dimly lit and half-barren drugstore and a dingy market next to the Mazatlan Grill. A handful of renovated buildings pop up on the edges. [Betty Jo Dunham, 79] remembers when this was the jewel of the city, rebuilt in the 1950s after a fire destroyed much of the block.” And now I remember why I still take the Sunday paper. Surprise!
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16