Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez kicks off a two-day visit to the furthest edge of his sun-baked district with a luncheon at the Blythe Chamber of Commerce. Huh . . . commerce in Blythe . . . who knew? About 20 business owners and politicians gathered at the offices of Blythe Realty. Really? People buy land in Blythe? Anyway, during the Q&A part of the program somebody notes how badly budget cuts are affecting city services and asks Perez if he can help bring prison work gangs back to Blythe. Until about five years ago the orange-clad teams of inmates from the nearby prison inmates were common sights around town and the fairgrounds. They did lawn care, trimming, cleaned alleyways and vacant lots, as well as a lot of yearning for their freedom. The people of Blythe miss that, especially with the recent layoffs in the Parks Department. But they do have a suggestion: In the past, the city was required to subsidize the salary of the guards and transportation costs. But now they’re figuring that as long as the guards still have to be paid regardless, maybe these prison work gangs could return without cost to the city? Ya think? Yeah, that’s the Blythe we know!
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25
The big news on the political reform front in San Bernardino County is that the Board of Supervisors is tightening up its code of ethics. When the amendment is approved, no longer will public officials be able to use their office or position for personal gain. No way. Not anymore. That will be specifically prohibited.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26
It’s Thanksgiving morning, a day when we observe so many time-honored traditions—turkey, football, naps—and maybe try out some new ones. For example, Manuel Albert Reyes allegedly tries to steal a church bus. The 41-year-old parolee from Fontana apparently climbs into a 26-passenger bus in the parking lot of the Yucaipa Baptist Church, and sets off down the road. A church employee sees him do it, jumps in his own car and follows the bus, using his cell phone—and, we’re hoping, a hands-free attachment—to call the cops and give them updates as they join the pursuit. A sheriff’s patrol unit catches up with the bus and stops it near the 10 Freeway and Tippecanoe in San Bernardino. During the stop, Reyes gets out of the bus and tries to run from the deputy. But Reyes doesn’t apply the emergency brake, so as the deputy gives chase the bus begins to roll forward. The church employee jumps inside and stops the bus before it crashes into anything. Reyes tries to walk coolly into a nearby Sam’s Club, but of course, Sam’s Club stores are totally uncool. So somebody spots him, and a Yucaipa patrol officer takes him into custody and books him on suspicion of grand theft auto. Sounds like way more fun than my Thanksgiving, and next year I’d like to join Reyes in his new holiday tradition—if he’s out of jail by then.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27
I go to www.rescuemarriage.org.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28
Snow falls in the San Bernardino Mountains—that still tends to happen at this time of year—and motorists throughout the area are caught without tire chains and other necessities for the frozen precipitation. That still tends to happen at this time, too, no matter how thorough and definitive the weather predictions might be. “It’s problematic,” Sgt. Jeff Newsome of the California Highway Patrol tells Judy Bowers of the Big Bear Grizzly as cars throughout the valley slide into each other or get stuck and block traffic. Yes, that’s what he says, although I hear “idiotic.” What can I say, that’s how my ears work.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30
The Thanksgiving weekend officially concludes with the annual release of the California Physical Fitness Test results. All together now: Thanks, a lot! The good news is that the test measures the fitness—aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extensor strength, upper body strength and flexibility—of the state’s children. Not a word about their lard-ass parents, for a blessed change. Most of the rest of the news is not so good, especially in San Bernardino County, which coincidentally is named after the patron saint of lap-band surgeons. Only 24 percent of San Berdoo Co’s fifth-graders met all six benchmarks on the state’s physical fitness test results, as did 27 percent of seventh-graders and 33 percent of ninth-graders; all those percentages are below the statewide averages of 29 percent (fifth graders), 34 percent (seventh graders) and 38 percent (ninth graders). “National statistics show that today’s children are twice as likely to be overweight than their counterparts of the 1980s,” says Jack O’Connell, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, rubbing it in. “Teenagers today are three times as likely to be overweight as those in the 1980s.” The kids’ parents declined comment. Well, actually, they just don’t think it sets a good example to talk with their mouths full.