By Allen David
The City of Redlands has replaced its traditional supply warehouse with a fully automated system of 42 vending machines, and early results indicate the change will save time, waste and money, while improving access. The idea was put forth when new purchasing services manager Dana Abramovitz grew weary from the daily hours she spent restocking shelves, completing purchase orders and handing out supplies. The City partnered with Fastenal—which has offices and a store in San Bernardino—which installed the machines at no cost and gives the city a monthly bill. Employees are fitted with ID numbers and passwords, and machines are accessible after hours and in emergencies. Sadly, the change has eliminated the museum-quality experience that used to be part of employees’ visits to the supply warehouse, where the stock included an array of such outdated materials as floppy discs, VHS tapes and expired first-aid kits and medical supplies.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
Philip Lester, chief executive of Gold Country Lenders, and his wife, Ellen, surrender to custody in Riverside County after being charged with securities fraud, conspiracy and elder abuse in connection with a northern California real estate scheme that bilked dozens of investors of more than $2.3 million. The victims were not told Philip Lester had a partnership interest in some of the development projects he sold to investors, nor that some land targeted for development had toxic waste issues. In some cases, prosecutors said, funds were diverted to buy and run the Auburn Valley Country Club, where the Lesters lived.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
Suddenly rethinking my opposition to the death penalty, at least for cases of real-estate fraud.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
Tom Minor, whose nearly five decades of working for the City of San Bernardino included a mid-1990s stint as mayor during which the City added real and positive meaning to the term “Inland Empire,” dies of a heart attack suffered in his Yucaipa home he shared with his wife of 58 years. Minor, who lived 81 years, served with the San Bernardino Police Department for 36 years, retiring as assistant police chief in 1986. He served as a councilman from 1987 to 1993, before being elected mayor in 1993, an office he held until 1998. As the Mayor of San Bernardino, Minor led a fight against a group of corrupt councilmembers, helped bring the Dodgers’ Triple-A minor league team to San Bernardino and get a stadium built, brought about construction of the new Caltrans building, got soccer fields built and saved the Inland Center Mall by bringing in Gottschalks as an anchor store—a list of accomplishments that stands in sharp contrast to the current condition of San Bernardino. While Minor lived long enough to see the latest of his six great-grandchildren born on Sept. 15, he also lived to see the City of San Bernardino file for bankruptcy. Funeral services were scheduled for Wednesday, after which Minor was expected to immediately begin rolling over in his grave.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
More and more of the stunning creatures that account for the name of Joshua Tree National Park—and that droning album by U2—are dying out because of drought, and a couple of eco-columnists for The Press-Enterprise seek out a biologist to find out why. They find Jim Cornett, a biologist who has been charting the fate of Joshua trees in widely scattered plots in California and Nevada, and he says he has documented the deaths of 24 percent of Joshua trees in a plot in Joshua Tree National Park in a single decade. “Joshua trees seem to be the big-time victim of the global weather patterns we’re seeing now,” Cornett says. “All these things are happening much more rapidly than anyone thought they would.” On the other hand, Cornett says Joshua trees in northernmost study plots—near Tonopah, Nevada, and in northwest Death Valley National Park—are thriving and, in fact, becoming more plentiful. Cornett believes the Joshua trees will be gone from their Joshua Tree National Park within 300 years. What can we learn from this? Cornett has an answer ready: “Never, ever name a park or a place,” he says, “after a plant.”
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
A group of street racers, once as common to Southern California as the black & white, doomed-youth-themed B-movies about street racers that were shown as triple-features at drive-in theatres, back when they were common in Southern California, are discovered lamely doing their behind-the-times thing on Sixth Street west of Etiwanda Avenue in an industrial area on the southeast end of Rancho Cucamonga. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies looked embarrassed as they descended on the pathetic collection of cluelessness, ordered 17 vehicles towed away and arrested 27 people—especially when all of them gave their names as “Johnny.”
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
While sitting in the Athenaeum of Claremont McKenna College and watching the opening credits of The Invisible War, I notice that this acclaimed 2012 documentary on sexual assaults in the United States military is directed by a guy named Kirby Dick.