The Rundown

By Allen David

Posted November 17, 2011 in News


There are 28 items on the agenda at this week’s Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting, and members of Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union apparently have strong enough feelings on 25 of them to submit the forms required to address the supervisors. How’s that as a model for participatory democracy? Not that these particular union members particularly care about each of these particular issues. They have what you might call their own agenda, and it’s got one item—their contract with Riverside County, which is currently being negotiated. That’s what they plan to talk about, which isn’t hard to figure out, which is why Board Chairman Bob Buster figures it out after awhile. Being the guy in charge, Buster isn’t so hot on democracy-with-a-small “d,” and reacts with schoolyard sarcasm. “We have a rare, perhaps unprecedented, morning policy agenda where we have one speaker on almost every policy calendar item,” Buster smarms. “It is going to be an exciting moment.” As the parade of speakers begins—saying a few words on the agenda item, then rambling onto their issue—they urge the county to negotiate in good faith with the union. Good faith turns out to be as irritating to the guys in charge as the little-d word. There are a lot of heated exchanges between union members and supervisors, particularly Buster. Ain’t democracy grand?


A 350-pound La Verne man is arrested at his friends’ apartment in Apple Valley and accused of unsuccessfully trying to rob a nearby bakery earlier in the day.


It’s my birthday, extra noteworthy this year because of the 11-11-11 thing, which I do not fail to mention to Mom and Dad in my annual expression of heartfelt congratulations to them. Special day or not, I deliver this message in the way that has become traditional over the decades—by opening my bedroom door and yelling down the hall.


Not really.


At the breakfast table reading the morning paper—glass of juice on the left, cup of coffee on the right, San Bernardino Sun spread everywhere—when I read that Starbucks has purchased our little local juice company, Evolution Fresh . . . for $30-freekin-million dollars! Well, that sure is exciting, isn’t it? “I think it’s exciting for the owners of this manufacturing company,” confirms Judi Penman, CEO of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, although she doesn’t sound all that excited, does she? “I have definitely tasted their product, and it is good. This way they get more exposure.” Penman added, as my own glass of juice suddenly curdled into strings of pulp, that she hopes the company stays in San Bernardino. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sounds just as thrilled during conference call with the local media, saying something to the effect that he views the purchase as an entry point into a healthy foods market that Starbucks sees as being worth $50 billion worldwide, while building our own little San Bernardino juice company into a national brand. Golllllleeeeee! “What we’re saying to the market place,” Schultz says, as my cup of coffee thickens into bitter gruel, “is that our intention is to reinvent this category in the same tonality that we reinvented in the last 40 years, the basic commodity of coffee.” Suddenly, my copy of The Sun spontaneously combusts, and as I run out the door and toward the spot a safe distance away, from where I will watch my house burn to the ground, I remember The San Bernardino Sun is owned by evil newspaper baron William Dean Singleton.


Again, not really.


Up in little Big Bear Lake, Reese Troublefield is in some hot water with the townsfolk. It seems that Troublefield is the city’s park district general manager. It seems that Troublefield also attends Community Church by the Lake. It seems that Troublefield proposed building a community center. It seems that Troublefield proposed building it at Community Church by the Lake. And that seems—to many of the townsfolk—as though Troublefield has a conflict-of-interest. Trying to simmer everybody down, the Big Bear Grizzly publishes an editorial that attributes the whole hoop-dee-doo to the up-close-and-personal nature of small-town life. “If we lived in Los Angeles, no one would know or care what church the park district director attended,” the editorial asserts. Of course, the Big Bear Grizzly is wrong on all counts. Troublefield is swirling in controversy because he does have—if not in fact, certainly in appearance—a conflict-of-interest . . . and also, possibly, because he has the unfortunate last name of Troublefield. Rather than this being a small downside of small-town life, it looks more like an example of real-world citizen vigilance. And oh-yes-someone-in-Los-Angeles-would know or care what church the park district attended if he had proposed spending public money to establish a community center there. Or at least Angelenos would hope so. The only downside of living in a small town that’s related to this editorial is the provincial outlook of whoever wrote it. Really.


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