They had to contort their name a little—well, OK, a lot—but the group that has formed in San Jacinto to recall the four City Council members who were indicted last month in a massive corruption probe have come up with the Inland Empire’s best acronym of 2009: SCRAM. Somehow, that stands for San Jacinto Corruption Recall Active Movement, although the name of the organization would actually seem to form the acronym SJCRAM. As for the “Active Movement” thing, yes, that is rather strained and ambiguous, inasmuch as the group hasn’t actively moved for anything yet—it exists more as a threat or an ultimatum. “We would rather that they resign,” say its attorney, Rob Davis. “We’ll follow through with the recall if they don’t resign.” Or, as the acronym suggests, if they don’t SCRAM.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2
The City of Colton’s budget is a mess, and former mayor Frank Gonzales—a 22-year member of the City Council who left office way back in 1994—is among a growing segment of the community calling for the current council to commission an independent, outside accounting firm—one not normally doing business with the city and its staff—to perform a forensic audit of the city’s books. Gonzales says that “somebody isn’t minding the store,” but the problem seems to go deeper than that. For example, when Councilmember Richard DeLaRosa addressed Colton’s dire bookkeeping at last month’s council meeting, he said, “I know half of it was the economy.” Then he said, “Half was staff error.” And then he said, “Half of it was council error.” That adds up to three halves—and three halves make a whole lotta trouble.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3
The Harmony Schoolhouse, a 119-year-old wooden building that had recently fallen on hard times, goes up in flames. Firefighting crews from three engines respond to a blaze in the historic structure, located on the border between Hemet and Old Pleasant Valley in Winchester, at 6 p.m. and battle the blaze for four hours—which is hard to imagine, considering the tinderbox was only 800 square feet. “There’s nothing left but cinders,” explains 51-year old Tami Wilhelm, whose family has owned the little house of learning for 83 years. OK, then, I can see how that might take four hours, taking it all the way down to cinders. The Harmony Schoolhouse had been in the Wilhelm family since 1915, when Tami’s great-grandfather, Louis Wilhelm, bought and restored it as a playroom for his children. The end began six years ago when Tami’s grandmother died and the unsecured schoolhouse became a hangout for transients. By the time the fire started, the Harmony schoolhouse had gaping holes in the roof, missing shingles and broken windows. Walls inside were covered with graffiti, and trash and mattresses were strewn about. “I’m in tears,” says Tami. “I’m so broken-hearted.” On the bright side, she can erase her long-standing plans to rehabilitate and move the schoolhouse from her to-do list.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4
The Redlands Police Department is going to double the size of its surveillance-camera system from its current 51 cameras to as many as 110 by spring. Chief Jim Bueermann is sure that somebody watching the monitors will eventually find something interesting happening in Redlands.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5
Charlie Weis, just fired as football coach at the University of Notre Dame, all but accuses USC football coach Pete Carroll of having an affair with an unnamed grad student and complains that he’d never be able to get away with it. “Was I living with a grad student in Malibu, or was I living with my wife in my house?” Weis asks rhetorically and perhaps with a hint of sad envy. “You could bet that if I were living with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news. He’s doing it in Malibu and it’s not national news. What’s the difference? I don’t understand.” Weis’ statement displays so much naïveté, knuckleheadedness and poor judgment it’s hard to know where to start—although I’d begin by standing him in front of a mirror . . . talk about your “South Bend.” Meanwhile, Weis’ comments weren’t very considerate of his wife, who now has to think of how much nicer it might be to be a grad student doing it in Malibu with Carroll.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6
Murrieta’s Rickie Fowler earns his Professional Golfers’ Association card by finishing 15th in a qualifying tournament. A PGA card will permit Fowler to play in PGA events in 2010 . . . you know, just like Tiger Woods, if Tiger Woods’ face heals by then.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7
Toby Gerhart, a Stanford University running back from Norco High, is chosen as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, college football’s highest individual award. Gerhart ran for 1,736 yards—a 144.7 per-game average—and 26 touchdowns this season. Maybe Norco really is Horsetown, USA, after all.