Year in Review

Posted December 30, 2009 in Feature Story

Riverside County DA Rod Pacheco

It’s not easy being the DA. Not when you’ve got nasty criminals to prosecute, victims to protect and judges to jaw at in court. Who needs a county grand jury to whine and moan and allege that Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco’s staff operates “under a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation” and that his office wastes thousands in taxpayer dollars. And while the grand jury obviously thought it was doing a good deed by questioning the way Pacheco ran his shop in a report released in May, you’ve gotta cut the DA some slack and commend him for standing firm (he called the report “limited, skewed and naïve”) and disregarding any need to question the way he does business. What is this, a democracy? You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. (James Abraham)


Jurupa Unified School Board member Noreen Considine

As California schools wrestle with brutal state budget cuts, elected officials of the Jurupa Unified School District are busy bickering. In January, JUSD trustee and decorated Navy veteran Noreen Considine threatened to sue the district over her colleagues’ alleged refusal to use her military title, Captain Considine. She claims certain board members shun this courtesy because they support Carl Harris, the incumbent Area 4 trustee ousted by Considine last November. Board President Dawn Brewer has described Considine’s insistence on being called “Captain” as “a ploy to elevate herself above other board members.” Relations between the Gulf War vet and her fellow trustees are famously stormy and lawsuits are threatened. Adding blogs to the fire, a local PTA official, (who claims no political motives), announced in April her intention to seek Considine’s recall, citing, amongst other things, her “childish behavior.” Aye aye, Cap’n! (Paul Rogers)



Just in case you thought San Bernardino County had set the bar high in terms of high-profile allegations of brazen corruption—take that, Bill Postmus–here comes little ol‘ San Jacinto. Prosecutors hit the corruption probe red-button when they bust down the doors like gangbusters and chuck accusations of money laundering, bribery and/or political crookedness at four members of the five-member City Council and a member of the local school board and a co-founder of the Chamber of Commerce and the police chief for Mt. San Jacinto Community College. Whew! Oh yeah, the chairman of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians also gets accused of accepting bribes. Suddenly San Bernardino County politics don’t look so bad. (Matt Tapia)



In a move that can be considered as brilliant and inspired or somewhat sad and pathetic, then-Corona Mayor Steve Nolan turned to Facebook to help convince city council members to support his bid to lower traffic citations on red-light violations. The ticket amount simply seems onerous at $446 a pop, but council members, fearing legal challenges and a loss of revenue, refused to play along. So, bang, Nolan went all Internets on them and won . . . well, at this point nothing but still. The jury may be out on using social networking sites to get anything achieved, yet Nolan at least tried to do something on Facebook besides describe his breakfast or hook up with girls he went to high school with and for that, sir, we salute you. (Bill Gerdes)



Like the eternal quest for a better mousetrap, there’s no shortage of folks trying to come up with better, cooler ways to fight terrorists and evil-doers. But when a former U.S. Navy SEAL unveiled his plans to develop, between Hemet and Perris, a private training facility for military, public safety and security personnel, local activists were (warning: obvious pun) up in arms. Battle lines were drawn and opponents of the Procinctu facility (“The Ranch”) alleged the site would essentially turn into a private army factory and end up the Second Coming of Blackwater. Protesters took their fight to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, but elected officials were only too happy to allow “The Ranch” to set up (another obvious pun) base camp in the unincorporated community dubbed Homeland. Homeland Insecurity? You bet. And, yes, that was another bad pun. (Matt Tapia) 



The Fox Theater Pomona, a historic landmark that smacked of the “talkies” days, reopened this year with much hoopla regarding this art deco movie palace’s evocation of Hollywood’s golden age. Yeah, this is Bob Hope’s turf. The Fox first opened in 1931 and with its vaudeville stage, the Fox played host to not just movies, but Broadway plays and musical acts. Today the Fox has been renovated and stands as the flagship attraction for the Pomona Arts Colony. What’s better than one re-done Fox? How about two. The transformation of the Fox Theatre in downtown Riverside into the “Fox Performing Arts Center” is well underway. The city has scheduled a grand-opening performance on Jan. 22. So which Fox is in fact the foxiest? Really, It’s hard to say. I just know that the show must go on in Riverside, while Pomona is ready for her close-up. (John Waterman)   



It looks like the setting for a spooky Scooby-Doo episode: a sprawling, abandoned amusement and water park with an ancient Egyptian theme, sitting alongside I-10 in Redlands. But Pharaoh’s Theme and Water Park’s recent story is a confused one. The park closed in ’07 as a family theme destination and instead became home to sporadic electro dance festivals with names like “420 Fest” and “Project Love Groove”—events which attracted up to 6,000 people. Yet, like the park, the raves soon faded. In March, squabbling amongst Pharaoh’s corporate types ensued and later, Redlands police and city officials took action and pulled the plug on the place and all its pupil-dilating glory. The park went dark. But Pharaoh’s may yet rise again as plans are afoot to re-open the park in April. (Paul Rogers)



At last the medical marijuana patrons of the unincorporated parts of San Bernardino County should be able to get their simple green from local clinics without fear of repercussions—at least in theory. San Bernardino and San Diego counties took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, contending that federal law trumps state law that allows the use of the medicinal herb. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, essentially telling the counties to talk to the hand. Definitely good news for your friendly neighborhood THC-consuming patients because, as we all know, Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Co. is the end of the road. Plus, as an added bonus, President Obama announces a hands-off policy regarding marijuana meds in Cali and other states where medicinal horticulture is sanctioned. An 86 on 420? Not this time. (John Waterman) 



Lovable Corona-based congressman Ken Calvert had a busy year as he attempted to play blocking-back for the Republicans in their effort to kill health care reform. Name a conservative talking point and Calvert in some way incorporated it. Death panels? Check, he used it. Fake concerns about losing the family doctor? Yep, he was all over that one too. Perhaps most disingenuously, he railed against government-run health care while simultaneously claiming that Democrats were putting Medicare in danger, which is, of course, a government-run health care program. As we go to press it looks like Kenny-Boy and his minions may have won after all—the public option appears to be as dead as flared jeans, color-coded terrorism alerts and Tiger’s public image. Happy New Year, Ken Calvert! You’ve done your small part to keep health care inadequate and pricey—except for you of course. (Bill Gerdes)





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