By Allen David
A couple of Riverside County sheriff’s deputies respond to a case of highway robbery, and what do they get for their trouble . . . you know, besides their wages and benefits and eventual publicly paid pension? A potshot—from the victim of the robbery and from the guy who tracked down the robbers. Actually, they are the same person: John Szwec. That’s right, Szwec was buzzing around Temecula delivering medical marijuana to patient—he thought up that job himself—when a couple of crooks bagged an ounce of weed and $400. The robbers sped away. Szwec sped after them in his pickup truck, his pursuit of the getaway car putting enough pressure on the thieves that they crashed on a freeway offramp. That made them relatively easy pickings for the sheriffs who eventually got to the scenes and collected evidence . . . that’s what they called it—collecting evidence—when they gathered up and took off with Szwec’s entire remaining supply pot. Without it, Szwec’s business is shot.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31
The rise in incidents of stolen metal from public infrastructure can sometimes be shocking, which is how two dudes become suspects tonight in the attempted theft of copper from a San Bernardino industrial building. See, the electrical lines they were apparently trying to strip turned out to be live. Rodney Juarez, 41, of Chino and Sean Ferguson, 41, of Pomona suffered burns on their hands after being shocked by the lines at the abandoned warehouse in the 1000 block of West Ninth Street. A police officer saw two men running away, they were found hiding nearby, got medical treatment from firefighters, were taken to a hospital—and then booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of burglary.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1
The story line I’ll always remember from this Super Bowl weekend? My 16-year-old cat is dying, and doing it with the humble-but-certain toughness and dignity that basically characterized his whole life. Me? Keeping him as comfortable as possible until whatever moment reveals itself as his last—or a signal for me to take him to be put down. Oh, and crying a lot.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Big doin’s in Wildomar, where the waiting is over and the excitement just beginning for them among the local folk who own one of them-thar horseless carriage contraptions. The new Clinton Keith Road Bridge is open and today is the first chance to follow its path over Interstate 15. How big a deal is that? Consider that Clinton Keith Road is named after Adna Clinton Keith, who was appointed as County Surveyor for Riverside in 1945. Doesn’t do anything for ya? OK, then consider that this bridge—under construction since a-way back in April—features three traffic lanes in each direction, which is a truly significant milestone of progress for Wildomar, inasmuch as three lanes in each direction add up to a total of . . . let’s see now . . . six! And the convenience of that becomes immediately obvious when one considers the old bridge—built a-way back in nineteen and seventy-nine—only offered one lane in each direction, for a total of two. The additional lanes are intended to reduce the congestion of automobiles in the area. But not today. The opening of the new bridge is merely the first half of a much bigger project, which will involve completing new freeway ramps, adding auxiliary lanes to I-15—and demolishing the old bridge . . . which is kinda sad. But sadder still is that all this work is going to require full freeway, lane and ramp closures on yet-to-be-determined dates. It’ll be a hot mess.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3
At next year’s Super Bowl they ought to combine the halftime show with the power outage.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4
My cat, which I think I told you was dying? Dead.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5
During the stretch run toward Election Day last November, Republican state Senator Bob Huff—the legislative chamber’s minority leader—assessed the battle between Republican Jeff Miller and Democrat Richard Roth for the 31st Senate District as “ground zero.” Zero? If Huff was referring to the cost of the campaign, it turns out he was off by more than $9 million. That’s how much the campaigns of Roth, Miller, and another Democrat, Steve Clute—along with their independent supporters—combined to spend in their competition to represent Corona, Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris. The 31st was the most-expensive race in California in 2012. But Huff’s “ground zero” reference reflected his fear that a victory by Roth would help give the Democrats two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature for the first time since the 1880s—and diminish the importance of his leadership position from “minor” to “absolutely insignificant.” Ultimately, that’s what happened—and in Sacramento these days, “ground zero” is wherever Republicans happen to set foot.