August | 2019 – sbcsentinel.com

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Sentinel 08-30-19
Indications are mounting that some San Bernardino city official or officials in 2018 pulled strings to prevent the proposal for a welfare office now scheduled to be placed into the Muscupiabe residential district from being considered and vetted and therefore signed off on during the type of full public access open forum routinely used for processing most development projects within the 62-square mile, 235,000 population county seat. Rather, it appears, the controversial project was approved during a meeting of the city’s senior staff officials in a far more obscure venue as a ploy to favor the project’s politically well-connected developer.
Last November, the San Bernardino Development and Environmental Review Committee, consisting of various members of city staff, primarily department heads and those from the community and economic development department, gave developer Scott Beard and his company, 27th Street TAD, LLC, go-ahead to construct a 38,150-square-foot building on a patch of ground at the northwest corner of 27th Street and Little Mountain Drive in San Bernardino, also described as Assessor Parcel No. (APN) 0148-021-66-0000. The property lies along the periphery of the Muscupiabe District, an historic neighborhood nestled between the triangular intersection of the 210 Freeway and 215 Freeway, contained within the city’s Second Ward and immediately adjacent to Ward Five, and a stone’s throw across the freeway divide to Ward Six.
In December 2017, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation from the county’s director of real estate services, Terry Thompson, and the director of the county’s transitional services department, Gilbert Ramos, that the county enter into a $14,036,184 lease agreement with 27th Street TAD, LLC, for approximately 38,150 square feet of office space to be located at the northwest corner of 27th Street and Little Mountain Drive site for occupancy by the transitional assistance department for the ten-year period beginning August 1, 2019 and running through July 31, 2029.
The transitional assistance department, which is sometimes referred to by its acronym TAD, provides a wide array of federal and state-mandated social services and income assistance programs to the residents of San Bernardino County, particularly those whose loss of jobs or income has put them at risk of becoming, or has rendered them, homeless.
The historic and quaint Muscupiabe neighborhood on the city’s northwest side is among some of San Bernardino’s strongest and most impressive residential sections. It’s entryway features large pepper trees and medium size homes, some of impressive architectural character.
For more than six months after Beard and 27th Street TAD, LLC were given clearance to proceed with the project, little attention was paid to the matter. After the development company, following a delay, began preparations for the construction project, including fencing off the property and undertaking to grade it, curious nearby residents inquired, at which point the nature of the project was first revealed to them. Word thereupon spread throughout the district like wildfire, and City Hall was inundated with protests and complaints, all of which arrived too late to stop Beard from carrying on with the project.
An initial round of inquiry by the district’s residents turned up three immediately apparent anomalies.
Two of those anomalies involved somewhat similar but separate mislabelings of the project. While at the county level and at the internal city level the project was clearly defined as what it was – a building to house an office of the transitional assistance department, a division of the county’s human services department – at one stage the city utilized an architect’s description line on a rendering for the building which substituted “resources” for “services” in the heading human services. This changed the implication to suggest that the building was intended to house the county’s human resources or personnel department. The second misnomer unrelated to the blurring of services/resources nuances occurred when in internal memos to the city council relating to the project and in the disclosure notifications to the residents living in proximity to the project, the structure to be built was referred to in planning profession jargon as one which would feature “office professional” uses or as a “professional office” building. Those terms carry a different connotation than the designation “commercial office,” which more accurately fits the actual 27th Street TAD, LLC project. A professional office is an office in which employees of a company are housed, featuring equipment and facilities typical of clerical work such as desks, chairs, cabinets, computers, adding machines, typewriters, printers, telephones and the like and where employees there either function separately or interact with one another or both but have little or no contact with the company’s clients and customers on site. This use generally involves a less substantial flow of traffic into and out from the site. In a commercial office, in addition to housing the employees of the businesses located at that location, those venues involve a daily or constant influx of customers to those businesses, entailing a much more substantial number of people and vehicles into, on and departing from the site on a constant basis during normal business hours. It thus appears that the city’s representation of the 27th Street TAD, LLC project obscured not only that the building upon completion would be a welfare office but that there would be a substantial amount of traffic into and through the area around the project in terms of people and cars coming onto and leaving the site.
The third anomaly was that instead of the project being presented to the city’s planning commission for analysis, recommendation and approval before being signed off on by the city council, the city’s development and environmental review committee, consisting of various members of city staff, primarily department heads and those from the community and economic development department, vetted the project. This was done outside a fully public venue, with what for practical purposes is a less than fully realistic opportunity for members of the public to scrutinize and analyze the project, its documents or particulars. While development and environmental review committee meetings are not closed to the public, they are extremely obscure proceedings which few residents know about and even fewer attend, though they are broadcast on the city’s website. Convened at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, they take place at a time when most adult residents of the city who are employed are at work, making public attendance somewhat problematic. Because the open public hearing process for the project was so limited and carried out under what was essentially a shroud of obscurity and misrepresentation, the residents of the Muscupiabe District – those to be most directly impacted by the project – had no knowledge of what was coming their way and did not have the opportunity to provide their input or offer any opposition to the project at the earlier point when the project’s approval could have possibly been prevented. At the November 14, 2018 Environmental and Design Review Committee hearing for the project, it was identified on the agenda as “an office building” and the zoning on the site as “commercial office.” The agenda further minimized the impression that the project would have a substantive impact on the area by saying it was “categorically exempt” from the requirement that an environmental impact report relating to the project be provided.
All of this, when combined with the circumstance of the political atmospherics at the time of the approval, makes for what many consider to be a suspicious circumstance.
The project was approved by the city’s development and environmental review committee on November 14, 2018 in the window between the November 6, 2018 election in which John Valdivia ousted incumbent Mayor Carey Davis and December 19, 2018, the date when Valdivia was sworn in as mayor and Carey Davis exited as mayor. Though Davis was a lame duck in the six weeks and one day between November 6 and December 19, he was nevertheless yet mayor, with authority as the titular head of San Bernardino’s municipal government. Throughout Davis’s nearly five-year tenure as mayor his major political supporter was Scott Beard. Indeed Beard would become Davis’s de facto campaign manager. Beard, through Gerald W. Beard Realty, SC Beard Enterprises and San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government, provided Davis with $45,000 toward his 2018 mayoral re-elective effort.
In the last throes of Davis’s tenure as mayor, in the little remaining time that Davis had before his power and authority would lapse, the normal protocol for the approval of development projects, and in particular a project of such scale and potential controversy as that one being pursued by 27th Street TAD, LLC, was suspended. As a consequence, the approval of the project, the completion of which would provide Scott Beard with $1.406 million per year for a decade, came off without a hitch.
By the first week of this month, the awakening of Muscupiabe neighborhood was complete and the growing numbers of the district’s property owners were up in arms. Second District Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra and Fifth District Councilman Henry Nickel took up the cause for the area’s residents, vectoring attention to what had occurred in November, and advocating that the city apply some remedy to the situation. At the August 7 city council meeting, they insisted that the burgeoning crisis come up for discussion. Former City Attorney James Penman advised the city that it “needs to preserve the status quo and freeze the situation,” advising the council it should “protect the city from liability by issuing a stop work order. You have to preserve the city’s position. You have to stop and freeze everything in order that you can do a proper investigation to determine what happened. If you don’t issue the stop work order, the developer continues to build and acquires vested rights. Later [when] the residents get a writ of mandate and make him stop, he is going to sue the city for allowing him to continue to build and spend money.”
Ibarra and Nickel sought to usher the council toward action before Beard proceeded with actual building activity beyond the grading he had done up to that point. Nickel made a motion to “direct our city manager to issue immediately a stop work order on this project and take appropriate corrective action.” That motion was seconded by Ibarra, but before a vote was taken a discussion ensued in which City Attorney Sonia Carvalho cautioned the council against imposing a stop work order on Beard after the city had given him approval to proceed with the construction of the building. She advised the council that it could yet seek to require that his tenant – the county – obtain a conditional use permit to operate a social services office at that location, potentially giving the city the leverage to head off the eventuality of the operation setting up at that spot. Sensing that there was not will on the council to move ahead with the stop work order, Nickel made a motion that the city council direct City Manager Teri Ledoux and city staff to proceed with an ongoing investigation Ledoux said she had already initiated, and report its findings back to the city council on August 14.
By the time August 14 had rolled around, however, Beard was threatening to sue the city if it took any action whatsoever – against him, his company, or the county – that would interfere with the completion of the project. While the public was expecting that the report of the investigation Ledoux was carrying out would be released on August 14 or shortly thereafter, based on Beard’s threat of legal action, the report and the documentation it entailed were withheld.
This prompted Kathy Mallon, who lives in the Blair Park Neighborhood immediately adjacent to the Muscupiabe District, to fire off, on August 17, a request made under the California Public Records Act that the city produce for her perusal information, documents and data that many people previously assumed would have been forthcoming with Ledoux’s so-called investigation.
Referencing “APN 0148-021-66, Northwest corner of Little Mountain Dr and W 27th St.,” Mallon wrote, “Please provide all permit application documents filed by 27th Street TAD and ATC Design Group” and “Please provide all staff reports used in support of the D/ERC [Design and Environmental Review Committee] evaluation” and “All email communications between staff and city administrators either internal or with the applicant/property owner. List below of known city staff and administrators to include but not limited to: R Carey Davis, Benito Barrios, Andrea Miller, Teri Ledoux, Jeff Bloom, Oliver Mujica, Brian Gumpert, Gary Akers, Hernando Cotangco, Robert Sepulveda, Robert Linberg, James Lane, Gracie Johnson, Stephanie Sanchez.”
Benito Barrios was the Second Ward Councilman in 2018. Jeff Bloom was the city’s acting community development director in 2018. Mujica was and is San Bernardino’s planning division manager. Gumport is with the city’s building and safety division. Akers is with the city’s land development division. Sepulveda is with the city’s public works engineering division. Lane is with the city’s environmental control division. Johnson is the city’s integrated waste division representative. Sanchez is the commission’s secretary.
Mallon sent her public records request via email directly to City Clerk Gigi Hanna, with electronic carbon copies to Ledoux, Nickel, Mayor Valdivia and Ibarra.
In an effort to juke Mallon, Ledoux had the city’s spokeswoman, Candice Alvarez, respond to Mallon by email on the morning of  August 27 in which she noted that Mallon’s request was being processed, adding “All requests for records need to be submitted to the city clerk’s office so that we can process them appropriately,” which implied that Mallon had not made the request properly. Within an hour Mallon emailed back to Alvarez, “The email sent on 8/17/2019 was sent to Gigi Hanna, City Manager Teri Ledoux, and the 2nd & 5th ward councilmembers. Teri Ledoux actually sent a portion of the request to me via email on 8/20/2019 and you were a cc on that email. Telling me 10 days into this request that I needed to process this in a different manner is unacceptable when it was sent in an acceptable method on the original request date and gives the appearance of stalling.”
Indeed, word through confidential channels at City Hall is that smoking guns exist in the communications among the various parties involved with the 27th Street TAD LLC project last fall, ones that demonstrate city officials actively involved in the approval process colluded among themselves and with 27th Street TAD LLC to prohibit the public from having a realistic opportunity to learn of the project and its actual nature, let alone provide timely input on the proposal before the  city’s development and environmental review committee put its imprimatur on it.
An indication of how egregious the collusion and convincing the evidence of it is consists of both Valdivia’s and Ledoux’s determination to keep it under wraps and prevent those incriminating communications from seeing the light of day.
Though what occurred came during the watch of former Mayor Davis, Valdivia’s political rival whom he defeated last year, Valdivia and his team still don’t want the information out because of the potential legal liability it represents to the city. A request sent by the Sentinel this week to Valdivia’s chief of staff, Matt Brown, asked him to use the mayor’s authority to expedite the release of the communications Mallon had requested. The request garnered no response.
The Sentinel has learned Ledoux is withholding the communications among and between staff as well as individuals with 27th Street TAD LLC not only from members of the public including Mallon but from both Ibarra and Nickel, who as members of the council have direct authority over Ledoux when acting in concert with the other members of the council. Ledoux’s reluctance to have Ibarra and Nickel in the loop is based on the concern that those two council members cannot be counted upon to not pass the communications along to the public.
Last week, Nickel told the Sentinel, “In the investigation that we requested, the [current] city manager [Teri Ledoux] did not produce the emails from members of the development and design review committee, [former City Manager] Andrea Miller, Carey Davis and Scott Beard. I have requested that all of those be produced. I anticipate there may be something there. I haven’t seen anything up to this point. The city manager hasn’t provided emails or communications or phone records yet.”
After the passage of seven more days, Nickel told the Sentinel Ledoux had still not come through with the requested communications, including emails, memos, text messages or voice mails. Asked if it is safe to assume the city is hiding something, Nickel said, “It is safe to say it could be. It is also safe to say that concerns exist as to what may exist in the context of the requested correspondence. It is furthermore safe to say the city does not appear to have sufficiently responded to the request for correspondence in contrast to the requests for other documentation.”
-Mark Gutglueck
As was anticipated, Adelanto Mayor Gabriel Reyes with the support of two of his council colleagues this week removed Stevevonna Evans as mayor pro tem.
Reyes and Evans were elected mayor and to the city council last year as part of a citywide reform movement by which the controlling majority that was previously in place on the city council was dislodged. The previous regime, consisting of former Mayor Rich Kerr, former Councilman John Woodard, former Councilman Jermaine Wright succeeded by Councilwoman Joy Jeannette and the on again-off again participation of former Councilman Charlie Glasper, had worked toward and largely succeeded in transitioning the cash-strapped city which was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy toward a marijuana-based economy.
Kerr and his associates had promised that the revenue the city would generate from taxing marijuana and cannabis product sales would fill the city’s coffers. Along the way, however, City Hall appeared to be favoring certain would-be marijuana growers and purveyors, cutting them breaks on having to abide by city regulations and pass inspections, and allowing them to skip out on paying for permits and slide out from underneath the taxes they were to pay/collect with regard to their product sales. This led to suspicions that city officials were receiving kickbacks from those provided with favorable treatment, which resulted in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS dispatching agents to monitor goings-on in the city. Wright was entangled in this dragnet, and was arrested when he was caught by the FBI taking a bribe in exchange for making arrangements to shield a cannabis-based business operation from city regulations. He was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and removed from office, and was ultimately replaced by Jeannette, who cooperated with Kerr and Woodard in welcoming cannabis-oriented businesses into town, a strategy  that entailed the promotion of contract economic development director Jessie Flores to the position of city manager. From that position, Flores propped the city’s doors open to allow one prospective cannabis entrepreneur after another to get licensed to do business in the city.
After the November 2018 election Kerr, Woodard and Glasper were replaced by Reyes, Evans and Gerardo Hernandez.
Though Hernandez in the immediate aftermath of the trio’s installation on the council linked up with incumbent Councilman Ed Camargo in an effort to reverse the direction the Kerr regime had taken the city in by terminating Flores, that effort was countered by Reyes and Evans, who voiced the need to be cautious with regard to a precipitous destabilization of City Hall. Jeannette, who remained committed to the program instituted by Kerr, voted with Reyes and Evans to keep Flores in place.
Reyes and Evans stuck with Flores despite revelations that under his watch as city manager the city had neglected to make assiduous collection of the tax revenue that was supposed to be generated by the cannabis industry in town and thereby prevent the city from falling into financial ruin. Moreover, the council also learned that under Flores the city had been indolent in its financial accounting, such that the precise amount of uncollected marijuana tax revenue was unknown, running somewhere between an estimated $1.6 million on the low side to as much as $4.8 million.
Simultaneously, the cannabis-related business interests in the city, along with Kerr, initiated a heavy duty lobbying campaign, accompanied by the provision of generous political donations to the newly composed city council, to convince the three newcomers to stay the course of marijuanifying Adelanto.
This led to accusations being leveled against Reyes and Evans that they, like Kerr, Woodard and Wright before them, were being bribed by members of the cannabis industry.  Meanwhile, Camargo and Hernandez on more than one occasion this winter, this spring and early this summer made runs at Flores in an effort to have him terminated. None of those efforts succeeded.
Within the last three weeks, it appeared that a third vote to cashier Flores had materialized, as Evans gave indication she wanted yet another evaluation of Flores’ performance as city manager, along with an option to vote on his removal. Just as it appeared that Flores’ days, indeed hours, were numbered, Hernandez on August 14 reversed himself, and refused to go along with the effort to fire Flores.
At the same time, Reyes gave indication he was contemplating using his purview as mayor to remove Evans from the post of mayor pro tem – a position tantamount to vice mayor – and install Hernandez into that largely ceremonial but nevertheless prestigious post.
In response to widespread perception and expressions that he was deposing Evans to punish her for her move to dispense with Flores and was elevating Hernandez to reward him for supporting keeping Flores in place, Reyes made categorical denials, asserting that he had lost faith in Evans because he considered her to be untrustworthy, and his perception that she was militating against him politically.
On Wednesday night, Reyes said, “I am making a request to have Mayor Pro Tem Evans removed as mayor pro tem and I’ll motion that we appoint Jerry Hernandez as mayor pro tem.”
Evans responded, “I think it’s a travesty for this council to be replacing me as mayor pro tem just because I have a disagreement and grievance with the city manager. I have fulfilled all my duties as mayor pro tem, and I have been a strong advocate for our city. There is simply no legitimate reason for this action. It appears as a naked and purely political power move that is a dangerous precedent to be setting in our city. Any time you have a disagreement with an executive, it can be used as a pretext to remove you from official duties like a position as mayor pro tem. If that was not enough for some on this council to reconsider this action, I would like to point out that I think the action would be illegal and improper for several reasons. I am duly elected as mayor pro tem. All of you on this council voted me in, and I thanked all of you for that consideration at that time. Thus, in order to replace me, you must first remove me from this office. That item has never been agendized. Thus, it would be improper and illegal to remove me just based on the agenda item before us. It would be proper to reagendize this item if you truly want to proceed, which I again ask that you reconsider for the good of our council and our city. I think this action is improper and illegal because it is in violation of the custom and practice that this council of this city had for years. When a person is to be replaced, they are removed first.  The custom and practice should be followed with me. It would be discriminatory to replace me without first removing me as mayor pro tem because the city has faced the same situation before and has treated others in the city different than me in this instance.”
Evans made a motion to “table the item and get the procedure right.”
Reyes said, “Your representation of myself as mayor pro tem – I didn’t want to go into any discussions about this – but the trust is not there. This has nothing to do with your opinion or how you feel toward the city manager. You clearly have stated to me and several people that you have been lied to or you don’t trust the city manager. Mayor Pro Term, you have lied to me, and I don’t trust you.  So, how can I have you as my mayor pro tem?”
Reyes asked City Attorney Victor Ponto if it was accurate that a removal must precede a superseding appointment.
“Under the code there is no mandate that there needs to be a removal and then there’s an appointment,” Ponto said. “The city charter is pretty clear. It says the council has the option under Section C to appoint the mayor pro tem.”
Reyes asserted, “I have no political power. I have no political motive. My motive is the City of Adelanto, putting Adelanto first, whether the decisions are easy, hard or whatever the case may be. That’s the oath that I took. I didn’t take an oath to a party.  We’re a nonpartisan city. I am not influenced by the left, the right or the middle. This has no political agenda for me. At the end of the day, those two things: trust and being lied to.  You have your ground and motion to make your decision however you see fit. I’ve been outvoted and I’ve never had an issue with being outvoted, but if you’re my mayor pro tem and you’ve lied to me and the trust is not there and you’ve plotted behind my back to do things, I’m sorry: I can’t trust you. It’s that simple. It’s nothing more, nothing less. You want to make a statement to make it seem like there’s a political motive on my behalf? What parties have I represented? What have I done?”
Councilman Ed Camargo said a “midseason mayor pro tem change is not the normal practice.”  While the mayor, Camargo said, had “the liberty” to ask for and get a change in who gets to serve as the mayor pro tem, he said “It’s not the normal practice for me.”
Councilwoman Jeannette indicated her belief the mayor had the ability to designate his own mayor pro tem. On a vote of 3-to-2, with Reyes, Jeannette and Hernandez prevailing, Hernandez was installed as mayor pro tem, returning Evans to the status of councilwoman.
-Mark Gutglueck
By Mark Gutglueck
At times over the last two-and-a-half years, the factionalism and contention among the directors of the Rialto-based West Valley Water District has rivaled or exceeded that on all or nearly all other governing boards overseeing the 87 governmental entities or agencies in San Bernardino County.  With the 2019 election approaching in which three positions on the water district’s board are up for election, both factions are seeking to assert control by blocking the reelection of the opposition and keeping their respective allies in office.
The contretemps in the district centers around Dr. Clifford Young, a California State University, San Bernardino professor and administrator who was selected in 2004 to serve as Fifth District county supervisor following Jerry Eaves’ forced resignation as the consequence of Eaves’ conviction on political corruption charges. For the better part of the next decade, Young contented himself with his academic role, but in 2013 returned to elective office when he was elected along with Linda Gonzalez to the West Valley Water District Board of Directors in a race that saw incumbents Don Olinger and Jackie Cox defeated.
A strong personality, Young, initially formulated alliances with his board colleagues upon moving into the post, eventually acceding to the position of board president. In due course, nonetheless, Young came into conflict with Alan Dyer,  an incumbent whose presence on the board preceded Young’s, as well as Gonzalez.  In most respects, throughout Young’s first and the initial part of his second term on the board, he and his fellow directors had few substantive differences with regard to the operational aspects of the district’s function, and the district’s personnel conformed, at least initially and for the most part, to the wishes, expectations and official instruction of Young and his fellow board members  when acting collectively in their official capacity. To the extent that difficulty with Young’s comportment as a board member manifested, it related to what his supporters referred to as his decisive and assertive manner and what his critics called his megalomaniac approach, which at times involved his acting outside of official channels by telling, instructing or ordering staff to initiate action that had not yet been ratified by the board.
Young, a Republican, a relative rarity among African-Americans, particularly in California, endeavored to have the water district put its best foot forward in the arena of public perception, hiring two high-priced consultants closely identified with the GOP, political lobbyist William Lowery and public relations guru Patrick O’Reilly, both through no-bid contracts.
In 2015, Olinger was successful in his bid to return to the board, gaining election along with newcomer Greg Young, who is no blood relation to Clifford Young. Alan Dyer was the sole incumbent reelected in that race.
In 2017, Clifford Young was handily reelected, extending his coattails and endorsement to Michael Taylor, a Rialto resident and longtime Baldwin Park police officer who had risen to the top of his profession as that department’s police chief.  Taylor displaced Gonzalez on the board. In the same election, Kyle Crowther was victorious in a specially-held contest to serve out the final two years remaining on Dyer’s term, which was necessitated after Dyer resigned. During his final two years in office, Dyer had been subjected to a series of investigations prompted by Clifford Young which were aimed at fleshing out an allegation that he no longer resided within the district’s boundaries after having sold his home in Rialto and having purchased one in Redlands. When his claim that he was renting a home within the district and yet residing there came under question, Dyer opted to leave. When Clifford Young, Greg Young, Don Olinger and Linda Gonzalez were unable to reach a consensus on his replacement, the county board of supervisors appointed Robert Bourland as his interim replacement. Bourland, however, failed to hold onto the position to which he was appointed, when Crowther, a Fontana School District police officer who had the backing of Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, Fontana City Councilman Jesse Armendarez and Fontana political activist Phil Cothran and the assistance of Cliff Young in the form of shared electioneering resources, outdistanced him 1,640 votes or 54.85 percent to 1,350 votes or 45.15 percent in the November 2017 specially-called short term election to determine who would serve out the remainder of Dyer’s term.
Prior to the 2017 election, things were growing particularly testy between Young and Gonzalez, a circumstance that spilled over to involve some senior members of the water district staff, as Cliff Young had filed a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against Gonzalez;  the district’s former chief financial officer, Suzanne Cook, had filed a lawsuit against Cliff Young and the district, alleging Dr. Young had engaged in improper hiring and financial practices; and the district’s general manager, Matthew Litchfield, had filed a claim against the district, alleging Cliff Young was seeking to micromanage the district by directly dictating orders to him without first obtaining the consensus of the other four members of the board. To a greater or lesser degree during the 2017 political season, then-Chief Financial Officer Marie Ricci,  then-Human Resources Manager Karen Logue, the board’s secretary, Shanae Smith, Litchfield and Litchfield’s wife had actively supported Gonzalez’s reelection effort while working against Cliff Young’s candidacy.
With his 2017 reelection, Cliff Young, appeared to be safely in control of the district for at least the next two years. Taylor, who like Young possesses a masters degree and a doctorate, fell, or so it appeared, within his camp. Greg Young, too, was a member of Cliff Young’s political machine. Olinger, who had been displaced in the 2013 election when Cliff Young and Gonzalez had made a clean sweep of Olinger and the other incumbent, Cox, appeared ready to dispense with whatever animus he felt toward Cliff Young over his defeat by him four years before as the district looked toward the future with its revamped political leadership in place. Nevertheless, Cook, Ricci, Logue, Smith and to a lesser extent Litchfield remained intent on raising questions about Cliff Young’s use of his expense account and the propriety of his comportment in office, efforts which Young’s supporters felt constituted efforts to undo the will of the voters.
On December 7, 2017 at a special meeting of the water district board, both Taylor and Crowther, as new members of the board, were sworn into office, and Cliff Young, as an incumbent, took the oath of office for another four years. Dr. Young, on a motion by Taylor and seconded by Greg Young, was appointed board president. Later in the meeting, on a motion by Taylor seconded by Crowther, the board by a 4-to-1 vote with Olinger in opposition, voted to hire Robert Tafoya of the law firm Tafoya & Garcia as the district’s new general legal counsel. Tafoya was also the city attorney for the City of Baldwin Park.
Four days later, at a specially called meeting of the board, on December 11, 2017, just one month and five days after his 2017 reelection, Cliff Young flexed his political muscle and moved to consolidate his power, effectuating a major makeover at the senior level of the district’s staff. While he succeeded in establishing that he could at that point translate his political primacy into immediate administrative authority, the event proved to be nothing short of an out-and-out Pyrrhic Donnybrook, although its full effect would not become apparent for more than a year.  At that meeting, Young’s associate from Cal State San Bernardino, Robert Christman, who for a time had been the acting chief financial officer of the water district, had been installed as West Valley’s acting interim general manager. The board, by a margin of 3-to-1, with Taylor absent and Olinger dissenting, placed District General Manager Matthew Litchfield on administrative leave and outright terminated chief financial officer Marie Ricci.
The following day, at the first regular meeting of the newly composed board and with all five members present, assistant general manager Greg Gage, the district’s human resources manager Karen Logue and the board’s secretary, Shanae Smith, were all suspended or placed on administrative leave by a vote of 4-to-1, with Olinger casting the dissenting vote.
As Christman, a firm Clifford Young ally and former Loma Linda mayor, took the helm as the interim head of the district staff, most of those who were being displaced took their parting shots at Young and his political affiliates and fellow board members. Litchfield, perhaps mindful that vindictive enunciations about his erstwhile political masters uttered in the heat of anger might have long term negative consequences on his future professional prospects, eschewed public comment.
That was not the case with Logue and Smith, however, who suggested that Young had been playing fast and loose with district funds and perquisites, and had improperly influenced the hiring of district personnel. For Taylor and Crowther, what was their first regularly scheduled meeting in their newly-elected positions, the ordeal proved to be something of a baptism-by-fire, as the atmospherics were more indicative of a scene from Bedlam than a public meeting, and a handful of police that were present to maintain order were at one time obliged to remove several members of the public after the disruption of the proceedings careened into chaos.
Within three weeks, Gage had been reestablished into his position as assistant general manager with the district. The others who had been suspended were on their way out.
Over the next 12 months, the board members remained on cordial terms with one another, at least outwardly, as Young, Taylor, Young, Crowther and Olinger appeared to be more or less in virtual lockstep with regard to district issues, the only notable exceptions being some votes in which Olinger abstained; a measure to raise the board’s compensation, on which Greg Young was the lone dissenting vote; and votes to pay for the district’s special counsel to carry out investigations into former staff members’ accusations against Cliff Young, expenditures about which Dr. Young was less than enthusiastic.  Nevertheless, though there was remarkable consonance in virtually all of the board’s votes over that period with regard to the decision-making processes relating to district operations, the board was beset with a degree of tension from the December 12, 2017 meeting onward.
The district employed a veritable who’s who of Southern California law firms over the ensuing timeframe in dealing with not only litigation and procedural actions relating to access to water availability that involved numerous other regional water purveyors, but claims and litigation the district became embroiled in with former employees. In addition to its general counsel, Tafoya & Garcia, the district at one time or another throughout 2018 was represented by the Kaufman Law Firm; Varner & Brandt;  Larson O’Brien;  Ziprick & Cramer; Albright, Yee & Schmidt; and Gresham, Savage, Nolan & Tilden.
In March 2018, the board rejected claims filed against it by Litchfield, Smith, Logue and Ricci alleging harassment and wrongful termination. Subsequently Logue and Litchfield filed unjustifiable termination suits against the district. Also that month, Baldwin Park City Councilman Pacheco was hired by the West Valley Water District as the “assistant general manager of external affairs.” Subsequently, Pacheco would be promoted to the position of assistant general manager.
In June 2018, with Olinger and Crowther absent, the board hired Clarence Mansell to serve as interim general manager to replace Christman.
In August 2018, Gage, having found employment elsewhere, departed from the district.
In October 2018, the board reorganized, appointing Michael Taylor board president and making Crowther vice president.
For much of the public, there were issues roiling below the surface that went completely unremarked. At the January 17, 2019 meeting of the board, the first overt hint of dissension among the board members was reflected on an item relating to a contract to renovate the customer service foyer at district headquarters. Both Cliff Young and Greg Young wanted to reject the awarding of a $567,000 contract to Caltec Corporation, which had been the low bidder on the project. Ultimately, both Young and Young, who asserted the pricing on the work was too high, were unable to convince their colleagues to hold off on the action, as they were defeated in a 3-to-2 vote.
The following month, at the February 7 board meeting, it grew clear that there was a rift on the board, and that it was widening. For starts, the board split 3-to-2, with Young and Young dissenting, to approve the district’s December 2018 purchase order report. There followed a 3-to-2 split over a $43,395.64 payment to Tafoya and Garcia for services rendered in October 2018, again with Young and Young at odds with their colleagues. That was followed by a 3-to-1 vote, with Greg Young in opposition and Dr. Young abstaining, to ratify a $32,679.10 payment to Tafoya & Garcia for services rendered in November 2018.
Thereafter, Dr. Young and Dr. Taylor locked horns on an item calling for the district to send a formal request to the state controller’s office to conduct a full financial audit of all of the West Valley Water District’s fiscal dealings over the previous two years, including all contracts and contractors used by legal counsel. Taylor suggested that instead of having the state auditor go over the district’s books, the district have the district’s previous auditing firm carry out the examination. When Greg Young insisted on the board voting on the original motion to seek the state audit, that motion failed 2-to-3. Taylor then motioned to have the district’s contract auditor carry out the audit to cover the period from the end of the last audit completed to the current date. That passed 3-to-0, with Young and Young abstaining.
From that point onward there have been a significant number of items that have come before the board on which Cliff Young has dissented or abstained, quite often, though not always, joined by Gregory Young, particularly with regard to issues relating to the district’s financial dealings and less often pertaining to operational issues.
At the board’s May 16, 2019 meeting, the agenda contained an item relating to the potential disciplining, removal or termination of Assistant General Manager Ricardo Pacheco. Before the board adjourned into closed session to undertake that discussion, however, Taylor made a motion to pull the item off of the discussion calendar and all five board members agreed to do so. At the June 7 meeting, the ill-will between the diverging factions on the board appeared to have hit a crescendo. With Dr. Young absent, all items considered by the board passed 3-to-1, with Greg Young voting against everything, including considering the agenda, adopting the consent calendar consisting of multiple essential, signatory changes on all of the district’s JP Morgan Chase, US. Bank and Caltrust accounts, another action related to the local agency investment fund, approving a change order on a contract by Aerotek for temporary labor service,  and a change order on a well rehabilitation project.  Greg Young maintains he was compelled to dissent on those votes because the agenda for the meeting and the accompanying staff reports and back-up materials had not been made available the requisite 72 hours in advance to allow the board and the public an adequate opportunity to examine and evaluate those actions.
On June 20, with Dr. Young once more absent, Greg Young was again the dissenting vote on all issues that came before the board relating to financial issues.
In June, the degree to which the relationship between Clifford Young and several of the others within the district had degraded loomed into sharp relief with the revelation that on February 19, 2019, Clifford Young, West Valley Water District Chief Financial Officer Naisha Davis and West Valley Water District Assistant Board Secretary Patricia Romero as plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Rachel Fiset and Erin Coleman of the law firm Zweibach, Fiset & Coleman, had filed, under seal, a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, referred to as a qui tam action, which alleged West Valley Water District General Counsel Robert Tafoya and his law firm, Tafoya & Garcia; West Valley Water District Special Counsel Clifton Albright and his law firm, Albright, Yee & Schmit; West Valley Water District Special Counsel Martin Kaufman and his law firm; and West Valley Water District consultant Robert Katherman, as defendants, had violated the California False Claims Act. In the suit, Michael Taylor, Assistant West Valley General Manager Ricardo Pacheco, West Valley Water District Board Vice President Kyle Crowther and West Valley Water District General Manager Clarence Mansell were identified as co-conspirators.
A writ of qui tam is a private individual’s or individuals’ petition, who is or are claiming to be of assistance in a possible prosecution, for a court order against those the petitioner or petitioners alleges or allege have engaged in prohibited acts. The petitioner in a qui tam action can receive all or part of any penalty imposed on those adjudged guilty. The name qui tam is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur, meaning “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”
The qui tam suit in and of itself embodies a paradox that presents a further dilemma and conundrum for the district and its board members. The suit names the district as a plaintiff despite the consideration that the district board never voted to file the suit and, in fact, three of the board’s members – Taylor, Crowther and Olinger – are adamantly opposed to the prosecution of the suit, disagree with the upshot of the suit, and have not empowered the law firm Zweibach, Fiset & Coleman, nor Rachel Fiset nor Erin Coleman to act on the district’s behalf. According to Coleman, however, Young’s, Davis’s and Romero’s assertions of whistleblower status taken together with the nature of the false claim allegations they are making against the defendants endow the complainants with the legal entitlement to sue on behalf of the district and its constituents.
The lawsuit alleged that Taylor, who was chief of the Baldwin Park Police Department from 2013 to 2016, had been terminated by the Baldwin Park City Council but was subsequently re-hired to a one-year contract to again serve as Baldwin Park police chief on December 1, 2017, some 25 days after being elected to the water board and six days before he was sworn in. Taylor’s contract to resume his duties as police chief was drafted by Tafoya, who was also Baldwin Park’s city attorney, according to the lawsuit. Upon being sworn in as a water board member and assuming his duties in that capacity on December 7, 2018, according to the suit, Taylor effectuated the hiring Tafoya as the West Valley Water District’s general counsel on a contract with no end date. In the ensuing 18 months, according to the lawsuit, Tafoya’s firm billed the West Valley Water District approximately $395,000.
Further, according to the suit, less than four months later, after Taylor assumed his position on the West Valley Water Board dais, Pacheco, a Baldwin Park City Councilman who had voted for Taylor’s reinstatement as police chief, was hired by the West Valley Water District as the “assistant general manager of external affairs.” He was later moved without board approval to the newly created position of “assistant general manager,” earning a salary of $192,000 per year, the suit alleges. Since his hiring, Pacheco and the California Education Coalition PAC he controls have donated a total of $8,000 to Taylor’s campaign and $1,000 to West Valley Water District Board Vice President Kyle Crowther’s campaign, according to the lawsuit.
According to the suit, in 2018, Taylor spearheaded the effort to hire his associate, Mansell, as the West Valley Water District’s interim general manager and subsequently as the permanent general manager, at an annual salary of $225,000.  The lawsuit alleges Mansell was hired by a 3-to-2 board vote without a recruitment effort.
The lawsuit alleges that in 2017 and 2018, Tafoya provided Taylor with travel and accommodations in Mexico and Las Vegas, paid for Taylor, Crowther and Cliff Young to travel to Arizona, twice paid for Crowther’s airfare to Florida and made contributions to Crowther’s and Taylor’s campaign war chests or otherwise assisted them in their campaigns. Tafoya further militated or lobbied on behalf of Albright, Yee & Schmit, the Kaufman Law firm and Robert Katherman in getting the two former entities legal work for the water district and a consulting contract for the latter while those firms and/or their principals were providing gifts, travel accommodations, entertainment and political contributions to members of the water board, in particular Taylor and Crowther, the suit alleges.  According to the suit, Taylor, Tafoya, Pacheco, Crowther, Mansell,  West Valley Water District Human Resources and Risk Manager Deborah Martinez and other law firms and consultants connected to Taylor and Tafoya  “have engaged in illegal kickbacks and bribes to ensure contracts with the district and subsequent approval of invoices for payment.”
Maribel S. Medina, representing the West Valley Water District as a real party in interest in the lawsuit, on July 9, 2019 filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, accompanied by a memorandum of points and authorities, a declaration and exhibits.
In general, Medina’s overarching suggestion is that Dr. Cliff Young, who was subject to complaints by Litchfield, Gonzalez, Ricci, Logue, Smith and ultimately Mansell of improperly seeking to extend his authority beyond the limitations of his statutory power as a single vote on the water district’s five-member board of directors by making direct orders to staff, had grown discomfited by his inability to quash the internal district investigations those complaints triggered. The investigations into those accusations were carried out, in large measure, by the Kaufman Law Firm. In this way, the suit implies the qui tam action is a reprisal by Young and those he is affiliated with against Mansell and the district’s political leadership – i.e., the board – for allowing Litchfield’s, Gonzalez’s, Ricci’s, Logue’s and Smith’s accusations to persist without being controverted by official district action.
According to Medina, the suit, filed under the auspices of the California False Claims Act, fails to meet the legal requirements of such an action and exists rather as a politically-angled hit piece that lodges spurious allegations of corruption against the members of the board who, over the roughly one year period after the 2017 election, had evolved toward resisting Dr. Clifford Young’s improper overreach in dominating and micromanaging the district utilizing his status by asserting authority outside his legitimate role and capacity as an elected member of the board. The qui tam lawsuit neither establishes that the defendants and their named co-conspirators acted in collusion or in secret, according to Medina, nor does it delineate any information or true or false accusations that were not publicly known previously. “The allegations in the complaint consist of sensationalized facts taken directly from negative news media articles,” the motion to dismiss states. “The purpose of the California False Claims Act is to expose undetected fraud, in order to guard the public. By [the] relators’ own admission this case has nothing to do with fraud, let alone any interest in protecting the district’s financial interest. [The] Relators declare, repeatedly in their various motions that this lawsuit was brought ‘to expose corruption at the district,’ and ‘expose a scheme of kickbacks and bribes.’ Consequently, as a California False Claims Act claim, the complaint is facially and fatally flawed.”
As used by Medina, “relator” is a term meaning plaintiff in a California False Claims Act case, as someone who has related a set of facts upon which the lawsuit is based.
“The fact is, this lawsuit has nothing to do with exposing fraud,” according to Medina. “It is the proverbial wolf dressed in sheep clothing. This lawsuit was brought in an attempt to interfere with ongoing investigations of harassment, bullying and misappropriation of public monies by relator Dr. Young, who has been represented by relators’ legal counsel Rachel Fiset in the ongoing investigations. This lawsuit is frivolous, vexatious and brought solely for the purpose of harassment. Under such circumstances, the district hereby moves to dismiss the California False Claims Act claim. On November 29, 2017, four district executives sent the district’s then general manager Matthew Litchfield a memo titled, ‘Director Clifford Young Sr. Activities.’ The memo outlined in significant detail examples of relator Dr. Young’s ‘grossly abusing his power and misappropriating public funds for his own personal benefit.’ On December 7, 2017, Marie Ricci, the district’s chief financial officer sent a complaint via email to the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit also alleging relator Dr. Young engaged in unethical and illegal conduct.  On or about January 11, 2018, the Kaufman Law Firm, APC was retained by the district to investigate allegations made against relator Dr. Young that he harassed, bullied and abused former General Manager Matthew Litchfield. Mr. Litchfield further alleged that relator Dr. Young gave him a list of people to hire and terminate under threat of retaliation. On or about the latter part of 2018, the district again retained The Kaufman Law Firm to investigate various complaints made by district employees against relator Dr. Young by alleged co-conspirators current General Manager Clarence C. Mansell and Deborah Martinez. The investigation concluded, [the] relator, Dr. Young, subjected Mr. Mansell and Ms. Martinez to ‘conduct which was harassing, intimidating and hostile.’ Relators’ legal counsel, Rachel Fiset, from the law firm of Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman, LLP served as legal counsel to relator Dr. Young during the investigation. On February 19, 2019, relators also served the California Attorney General’s office with the complaint and statutorily mandated ‘written disclosures of substantially all material evidence and information per §§12652(c)(2)-(3).’  Blatantly missing from the packet of material evidence submitted to the Attorney General is all the correspondence from the Fair Political Practices Commission, including the Fair Political Practices Commission’s final notice that they had concluded the investigation and would not be proceeding with any action.”
Medina’s reference to the Fair Political Practices Commission pertains to a complaint filed by Romero in early January which covered much of the same ground as that contained in the lawsuit, specifically alleging that the donations, gifts, travel expenses, accommodations and/or political donations provided to Taylor and/or Crowther by Tafoya; Albright, Yee & Schmit; the Kaufman Law firm and Robert Katherman constituted violations of the California Political Reform Act of 1974.
“Although, statutorily the district must have been provided a copy of the complaint and material evidence 15 days after the Attorney General receives it, the district was not,” according to Medina. “The district became aware of the qui tam lawsuit only after the seal was lifted, when the named defendants were served with the complaint. On March 19, 2019, Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kanada, sent the packet of material evidence with a cover letter addressed to ‘West Valley Water District-Board of Directors, Attn: Don Olinger.’ Director Olinger is one of five members of the board of directors. Although the salutation was addressed ‘Dear Board,’ no other board member received the packet. The letter to Director Olinger from Deputy Attorney General Kanada had the notation, ‘Under Seal’ in capital letters and large font. Nowhere in the letter was Director Olinger informed that he would be the only board member receiving the packet. In fact, in bold letters were the following directives, ‘We therefore request that you keep the existence of this action and the enclosures to this letter confidential. Within your organization this case should only be disclosed on a need to know basis. This case should not be listed on any public agenda or discussed in open sessions during any meetings.’ Not only was Director Olinger not informed he was being given the packet as a representative of the entity, he was directed not to share the documents or the substance of the information with anyone. Further he was directed not to agendize this item for discussion. The Brown Act, governing how public officials communicate on matters within their subject matter jurisdiction, prohibits communication without properly listing the item for discussion on a publicly accessible agenda. The seal was lifted without the district even knowing the lawsuit had been filed. Upon learning of the lawsuit and retrieving from the court website a copy of the complaint, special counsel for the district contacted relators’ legal counsel advising her of the fact that the district was never properly served with the complaint or packet of material evidence. Relators’ legal counsel acknowledged knowing that the only individual who received a copy of the packet was Director Olinger, but she asserted that board members and the top executives ‘were conflicted’ from reviewing the information because they were listed as defendants or co-conspirators in the complaint. In addition, Relators’ questionable manner in handling this lawsuit is most evident in their refusal to provide the district, the public entity they are allegedly representing, the packet of material evidence.  Rather than simply providing the evidence purportedly supporting their claim, relators’ legal counsel sent a letter asserting it was the Attorney General’s obligation to provide the public entity the material evidence.”
In an email she sent to California Deputy Attorney General Emily Kalanithi on June 11, Medina indicates she was informed that the California Attorney General’s Office, upon review of materials previously sent it on behalf of Cliff Young, Davis and/or Romero or all three, had declined to take action against any of the defendants or identified co-conspirators in the subsequently-filed qui tam suit.
According to Medina, the billings that Tafoya and his firm; Albright, Yee & Schmit; the Kaufman Law Firm; and Robert Katherman made to the district were legitimate invoices for services that were actually rendered. In this way, the central premise of the legal action Young, Davis and Romero have filed is invalid, Medina insists, as no false claim was ever made by Tafoya; Albright, Yee & Schmit; the Kaufman Law Firm; and Robert Katherman.
“This notion was apparently not obvious for this lawsuit,” according to Medina.
“The California False Claims Act attaches liability, not to the underlying fraudulent activity or to the government’s wrongful payment, but to the claim for payment,” according to Medina’s motion for dismissal. “A ‘claim’ under the California False Claims Act is a ‘demand for money that induces the government to disburse funds or to otherwise suffer immediate financial detriment.’ [The] relators here allege in general and conclusory terms a ‘scheme of illegal kickbacks and bribes’ and somehow leapfrog to therefore named defendants ‘presented false claims for payment.’ But [the] relators fail to identify a single false claim. Instead, by [the] relators’ own admission, ‘Qui tam plaintiffs filed this action in order to shed light on the board’s corruption and misappropriation of public funds.’”
The plaintiffs were obliged to plead the case with specificity, according to Medina, meaning they had to lay out exactly what false claim the defendants had made. They were unable to do so, Medina said, because no false or fraudulent billing had taken place. “Relators do not even come close to meeting the ‘who, what, when, where and how,’” according to Medina. “In the 77 paragraphs of the complaint, relators do not identify a single false claim for reimbursement, let alone specify who did what. In fact, Relators do not even distinguish between the role of the named defendants or the named co-conspirators, which alone is a fatal flaw. The specificity requirement of the California False Claims Act requires separate allegations for each defendant and co-conspirator and not merely lumping multiple defendants together.” Medina cited the decision in the case of US v. Corinthian Colleges, which stated,  “In the context of a fraud suit involving multiple defendants, a plaintiff must, at a minimum, identify the role of each defendant in the alleged fraudulent scheme.”
The suit by Young, Davis and Romero inaccurately portrays the provision of gifts and political donations as being secretly conducted, according to Medina. “Relators also assert that the political contributions made by the named defendants to the members of the board of directors is evidence of this scheme of kickbacks and bribes,” according to Medina’s motion.  Making reference to campaign disclosure statements filed by Board President Taylor and Director Crowther that were cited as exhibits in the qui tam suit, Medina notes that disclosure of the donations were made and that Dr. Young was himself a political contributor to Taylor’s campaign.
“Not only is this not fraud, but the California Supreme Court has held, “[p]olitical contribution involves exercise of fundamental freedom protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1 of the California Constitution,” according to Medina.
Of at least academic interest is at what point the once cordial relationship and political alliance between Cliff Young and Michael Taylor evaporated. Though the votes on the board betrayed no overt hostility until March, there is evidence to suggest those in Dr. Young’s circle were militating against Taylor and Crowther by late December 2018 or perhaps earlier.
The Sentinel has obtained a letter dated January 4, 2019 written by Romero to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit. That letter states, in part, “I have been a witness to the GM [general manager] Mr. Mansell and President Dr. Taylor tak[ing] authoritarian power from our CFO [chief financial officer] Naisha Davis over the finances and accounts payable and hand the responsibility to an uncertified personnel, Director of LT [business services] and Finance Jon Stephenson, and divert all money movement through the purchasing department with no qualified CPA [certified public accountant] and having Executive Assistant Melissa Blount oversee a lot of transactions regarding the allocating of funds to the consultants, [who] have not provided services and proper invoices for services render[ed] to our district for work product produced. Checks are being made out to consultants with no work product produce[d] or tracked. I have heard and seen consultant Rob Katherman on several occasion outside my office ask the Engineering Manager Linda Jedeski about our reserve funds. This is suspicious and alarming in nature.”
While the qui tam suit alleges Mansell was hired by a 3-to-2 board vote without a recruitment effort, background checks, or other standard hiring reviews, the minutes of the June 21, 2018 meeting indicate that Mansell was hired on a 3-to-0 vote during the board’s closed session, with Young, Young and Taylor voting in support of the hiring and both Olinger and Crowther absent.
Though the suit cites Taylor as having hired Tafoya as the West Valley Water District’s general counsel, Tafoya’s hiring was supported by Cliff Young, who was the board president at the time.
Fiset and Coleman assert that Dr. Young, as a plaintiff in the suit; Taylor and Crowther as named co-conspirators in the original suit; and the Tafoya and Garcia law firm, as defendants in the suit, are “conflicted” in terms of their ability to engage in any part of the decision-making or voting process with regard to action the district takes in response to the suit, and thus cannot vote on the matter or offer the district counsel or advice relating to the suit. Fiset and Coleman have asserted that Taylor and Crowther as well as Robert Tafoya have engaged in conflicts of interest in their official action on behalf of the district in response to the suit. In an amended complaint to the suit filed with the court, Fiset and Coleman have elevated Taylor and Crowther from the status of named co-conspirators to defendants, alleging against them violations of Government Code Section 1090, engaging in a conflict of interest.
While the case was earlier scheduled to be heard in the Los Angeles Superior Court courtroom of Judge Ruth Kwan, there is a pending motion by Fiset and Coleman to have the matter categorized as a “complex case,” so that it will be assigned to Judge Yvette Palazuelos, who in addition to being a judge is a renowned legal scholar. The presiding judge rendered a tentative determination that the matter qualifies as a complex case. Judge Palazuelos is, however, temporarily off the bench, and therefore Judge David Cunningham will be initially presiding over the matter. The district filed an opposition to the complex case designation, arguing that the lawsuit is fatally flawed on its face since it does not identify any or even a single false claim and therefore the motion to designate the case complex is simply a delay tactic by the qui tam plaintiffs. The district has also argued that qui tam plaintiffs are legally precluded from requesting the complex case designation since the West Valley Water District intervened and is therefore prosecuting the case.  Albright, Yee and Schmit has also filed an opposition to the complex case designation. The tentative decision to catalog the suit as a complex case has not yet been confirmed.
Of issue in the case and the overarching circumstance is timing. It is the observation of those familiar with the circumstance that the very existence of the lawsuit and the accusations of which it is composed are of potential damage to Crowther and his candidacy for reelection this year and represent a challenge to Olinger in his reelection campaign this year as well, given his closer affiliation on the board with Taylor and Crowther than with Cliff Young. The motion to dismiss was going to heard by Judge Kwan on September 19, 2019. That hearing has now been postponed in anticipation of a case status conference that will not be held until October 8, 2019. Those who perceive the qui tam case as lacking in merit maintain that it is a political ploy to influence the outcome of this year’s board election.
“Both the facts and the law, as they stand today, support an immediate dismissal of this case,” the district’s official spokesman, Steve Lambert, told the Sentinel.
An indication of how serious the stakes are for those involved in the district’s upcoming election in which Olinger, Greg Young and Crowther are competing to hang onto their respective positions can be seen in the effort by a West Valley Water District employee to obtain a restraining order against Greg Young that began last month and which has yet to be settled.
Naseem Farooqi, who is the public affairs manager with the water district, maintains that Greg Young grew so angry with him that Young made a threat to kill him.
The Sentinel is informed the fracas evolved out of a press release that Farooqi authored on behalf of the district and distributed. The press release in question apparently referenced a vote by the water board, and Greg Young objected to what he says was a factual error in the release, which stated that he had voted against the item being voted on when in fact he had abstained from voting.
Greg Young’s alleged threat came during a San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee meeting at which they were both in attendance. Farooqi maintains that while Young was upbraiding him about the error in the press release, Young threatened to kill him.
Farooqi said he had petitioned the court for a restraining order against Gregory Young because “I take all threats of this nature very seriously.” Queried as to whether what Greg Young had engaged in was simply a matter of overstatement or hyperbole, Farooqi said, “It was not a joke. Director Greg Young was very angry and threatened me out of anger.”
The matter came before Judge Barry Plotkin on the morning of July 31, as an ex-parte hearing.
Both Farooqi and Young under oath provided their version of events to the court, with Young having been advised of his 5th Amendment rights. Thereafter, the court went into recess to allow Farooqi to call a witness, a district employee, Socorro Pantaleon. When the hearing resumed at 1:38 p.m. Pantaleon offered her testimony. An exhibit was marked for identification and entered into evidence.
During the hearing, an individual identified as Christian Dustin Duarte who was in the company of Farooqi took a photograph of the counsel table. Judge Plotkin, noting that taking photographs in the courtroom was unlawful, had a bailiff escort Duarte from the courtroom and excluded him from being present at the proceedings. After the testimony was concluded, Judge Plotkin denied the immediate granting of a restraining order, but ordered both parties to return on August 27 to see if a restraining order would be entered at that time.
This week, on Tuesday, August 27, both Farooqi and Young returned to court, where the hearing on the matter had been transferred to the courtroom of Judge Janet Frangie. Young was represented by his attorney, Thomas Pratt. Frangie stayed the granting of a restraining order, continuing the matter to September 16 to allow Young to file a formal response to Farooqi’s petition. She also issued an order for Gary Grossich, who was present at the Republican Central Committee meeting when the alleged threat was said to have occurred, to be present to testify at the September 16 hearing. The Sentinel has learned that Grossich is prepared to testify that he heard Young utter no threat to Farooqi and that he saw Farooqi willingly and cordially carrying on a conversation with Young.
“Despite Mr. Farooqi’s claim, I never admitted to making a threat,” Greg Young told the Sentinel. “I clearly told the judge that I did not recall all of the conversation and do not recall ever saying that I was ‘going to kill him.’ Furthermore, I certainly never said it three times in a row as he claims. The judge had to have a political associate of Mr. Farooqi removed from the court for attempting to take pictures of me during the hearing. Christopher Dustin Duarte is a friend and political associate of Mr. Farooqi.”
Young said he believed Duarte intended to use the photos he had sought to take “to make the whole proceedings into a political circus and have something my opponents can use against me in the campaign.”
By Gail Fry and Mark Gutglueck
The Sentinel has learned more about the July 11 fatal shooting of 29-year-old Sammy Lee Davis of Crestline by 27-year-old Alex Opmanis, also of Crestline.
In the initial aftermath of the shooting and the sheriff’s department’s homicide detail’s preliminary investigation, what occurred was cataloged as an apparent justifiable homicide.
In a July 12 official statement from the sheriff’s department, Davis was referred to as the “suspect” and Opmanis was not identified by name but described as being 27 years old and a resident of Crestline, and was referred to as the “victim.”
“The victim recognized one of the men as an associate of the suspect that assaulted him in January 2019, which resulted in hospitalization,” according to the sheriff’s department’s statement released the day after the shooting. “He felt threatened as the three subjects approached, verbally taunting him, and retrieved his firearm from a compartment in his car. One of the subjects, Sammy Davis, grabbed the victim’s shirt and punched him multiple times. The victim fired his gun, striking Davis and stopping the assault.”
After four weeks passed, the sheriff’s department’s homicide investigators in a significant reversal arrested Opmanis on August 9 on suspicion of murder in the shooting death
That shooting took place at approximately 9:17 p.m. on July 11 in the parking lot of Goodwin’s Market at 24089 Lake Gregory Drive in Crestline.
Deputies were dispatched to the scene after a 911 call reported that shots had been fired. Upon their arrival, the deputies found Sammy Davis on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound and an off-duty nurse administering medical aid. Davis was transported to St. Bernadine Hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 10:12 p.m.
Subsequently, homicide detectives responded to the Goodwin’s Market parking lot where they initiated their investigation and conducted preliminary interviews with witnesses and Opmanis. Opmanis told detectives that Davis and two other men had approached him.
Following its initial survey of the situation, the sheriff’s department assigned Detective Eric Ogaz under the supervision of Sergeant Angelo Gibilterra to look into the matter further. Later, Homicide Sergeant Joseph Steers augmented Ogaz and Gibilterra’s efforts.
Davis had a criminal record. On April 18, 2012 he entered a plea of guilty on a charge of burglary filed against him on May 11, 2011. On April 11, 2011, he entered a plea of receiving stolen property that was filed against him on April 1, 2011. On February 15, 2012 misdemeanor charges of drunk in public and failure to appear filed against him on November 17, 2011 were dismissed. On February 29, 2008, Davis pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge that had been filed against him on February 26, 2008.
Opmanis was convicted on May 26, 2017 of misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol on a case filed on March 21, 2017 relating to an incident on New Year’s Day 2017.
A persistent report in the immediate aftermath of the shooting was that Opmanis did not have a concealed weapon permit. The information supplied by the sheriff’s department in the July 12 statement implied, but did not explicitly state, that the gun retrieved by Opmanis from his car and used in the shooting was loaded.
Under California law, an individual without a concealed weapon permit can transport a firearm in a vehicle only if the firearm is unloaded and locked in the trunk or in a reasonably secure place in the front of the vehicle, with the ammunition for the gun in the opposite location, either the trunk or in the vehicle, which also must be locked.
While many of those who carry firearms in their vehicles consider having them unloaded to be impractical, carrying a loaded firearm in a car or truck can be charged as a misdemeanor if discovered by a law enforcement officer. A second such offense can be ratcheted up to a felony.
While the July 12 report seemed to indicate that the sheriff’s department took Opmanis at his word when he said he had a fear for his safety when he encountered Davis, the sheriff’s department no longer considers Opmanis’s assertion to be credible.
“On Friday, August 9, 2019, Alex Opmanis met with homicide detectives to provide an additional statement,” according to an August 22 sheriff’s department release. “Following the interview, detectives determined Opmanis’ statements were inconsistent with the evidence gathered and placed him under arrest for the murder of Sammy Davis.”
In its August 22 statement, the department had dispensed with its reference to Opmanis as the victim and labeled him a “suspect.” Conversely, Davis was no longer referred to as the “suspect,” and the department used instead the term “victim” in describing him.
A video of the incident has been obtained by the sheriff’s department. An informed source who had seen video told the Sentinel that on July 11 Davis was in the company of two others. One of those accompanying Davis had previous violent contact with Opmanis, and it is that person, not Davis, who was “the likely intended victim of the shooter,” Sentinel was told. “It appears Opmanis had seen Davis and his two friends inside the store, and waited for them to come out. It does not appear that Davis and his friends saw him. When they were leaving on their motorcycles, Opmanis was at his SUV, standing up with his feet inside on the rail/floor board, and viewing over the roof. As they passed by, he waived them over to him.”
According to the informed source, the individual who had the previous violent encounter with Davis did not see Opmanis, but Davis and the man in his company did, and both turned toward Opmanis and parked. While the man who had the previous violent encounter with Opmanis initially rode off, several seconds later he turned around after he was on the highway and came back to the Goodwin’s Market parking lot.
“Raised voices can be heard” on the video, the Sentinel’s source said, as the returning motorcyclist came up on the other three, including Davis and Opmanis, and removed his helmet. “He is off the bike only seconds when two shots are fired,” the Sentinel was told. “It was Sammy who was shot. The story of taking a beating and getting into the car for the gun does not match the video.”
Based on the history of violence between Opmanis and the motorcyclist who had headed all the way out onto the highway before returning to the parking lot, the Sentinel’s source said, “I’m fairly certain Opmanis intended to shoot him, but Sammy was coming at Opmains after arguing about something. The word is Sammy did not know Opmanis.”
Deteriorating field conditions and growing fan apathy have prompted Yardbirds Baseball Team owner Andrew Dunn to depart from Adelanto Stadium. Dunn, who is also the owner of the independent Pecos League in which the Yardbirds compete, has given indication that he was prompted to leave the stadium because he was consistently losing money throughout the season.
Dunn took the action in July, electing to have the team play all of its home games on the road. Now, with the Yardbirds in the playoffs, Adelanto is once again being denied the opportunity to host another championship team.
His efforts to engage Adelanto officials in a meaningful dialogue were futile, Dunn indicated.
In large measure the city has neglected the field.
Though the Yardbirds lost their last home game in Adelanto, 6-4, to the Tucson Saguaros, the team did remarkably well while they were in place in the  City of Unlimited Possibilities.  In 2017, during its inaugural season, the Yardbirds captured the Pecos League championship.
This year, the Yardbirds ran away with the Pacific Division Championship, finishing the season with a 48 win and 16 loss record or a .741 win-loss percentage, 10 games ahead of the second-place finisher. Their record at Adelanto Stadium was 16-5  this year and their record at other venues around the league was 30-13. the team had an impressive division-leading batting average of .314 and a division leading ERA of 4.27.
A bizarre, indeed perverse, curse seems to attend Adelanto Stadium. Just as the Yardbirds had a wonderful record in the last season they played there this year, in 2016, the farewell year for the High Desert Mavericks, that team captured the California League championship, with a record of 82 wins and 58 losses, and then went on to sweep the Visalia Rawhide in the first three games in the five game league championship series. After what was arguably the team’s best performance in its 25-year history up to that point, at the end of the year the team departed what was then called Stater Bros. Stadium, never to return.
The Mavericks came into existence in 1991. At times, the stadium was packed with fans.
Litigation ensued when Adelanto forced the Mavericks’ departure. Main Street California, LLC, the corporate entity that owned the Mavericks, was seeking $11 million from the cash-strapped city. In March, city officials agreed to settle the lawsuit for $3.8 million, by means of a $1.5 million up front payment followed by 24 monthly installments of $95,800 that are set to end in June 2021.
The Yardbirds have managed to remain a going concern for three years, but have never proven a major draw while in Adelanto, as they were seemingly unable to capture the passionate fan base the Mavericks had cultivated. On average 40 to 41 fans were in attendance at the Yardbird’s games in Adelanto. A large number of those were dignitaries or guests who had been comped tickets.
Dunn’s losses were relatively modest, something around $300 to $400 per game.
The city had allowed the field to fall into a state of dishabille, with burned patches of grass and small pits. The field had been compromised in part by the city using the field for venues other than playing baseball, such as rodeos and motorcycle races.
-M.G.
Both Big Bear Lake and Lake Silverwood, two of San Bernardino County’s major bodies of water, have been plagued in recent weeks with potentially unhealthful algae blooms.
State, regional and local water boards urged boaters, swimmers, dog owners, fishers and everyone else to avoid direct water contact while visiting areas of both lakes due to the condition.
The areas affected by the bloom at Big Bear Lake include the North Shore, running for roughly a half-mile west of the Big Bear Solar Observatory, and the west side of Stanfield Cutoff, with toxins generally confined near the shore. At Lake Silverwood, bloom conditions have been mercurial, migrating rapidly, with wind and waves pushing the bloom into different portions  of the reservoir, and likewise impacting the concentrations of the algal material.
The phenomenon arises from  organisms known as blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, which will concentrate and accumulate into mats and scum, form foam at the surface and along the shoreline. While it generally ranges in color from blue to green, it sometimes manifests as white or brown.
Cyanobacteria or microcystis aeruginosa is a single-celled blue green alga which produces several strains of toxins. Microcystis can proliferate to combinate into multiple toxins, including the potent liver toxin, microcystin.  When microcystis die, their cells break open, releasing the toxin microcystin into the water.  Ingestion of water or algal cells containing microcystin has produced adverse effects a wide cross section of animals, including fish, dogs, cats, livestock and humans.
Microcystis blooms are typically well-hosted in warm, turbid, and slow-moving water. Water that is high in nitrogen or phosphorus, known as eutrophic waters, supports blooms with the highest biomass.  Microcystis require substantial light intensity to facilitate blooming. In Southern California, cyanobacteria proliferate in the early summer through late autumn and may last for up to four months.  Occasionally, microcystis may be present in the water without apparent blooms on the surface, with the blooming taking place beneath the water.
In humans, algae bloom toxins typically result in gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as eye and ear infections, earache, sore throat, blisters, muscle weakness and pain.
In dogs, cyanobacteria can cause vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, lethargy and sudden loss of appetite, tremors and seizures.
An investigation initiated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and completed by the Los Angeles Police Department after a burned body turned up in a dry lake bed in Joshua Tree earlier this month has led to the arrest of three people believed to have murdered a 72-year-old Marina del Rey man in an effort to appropriate his $2.6 million home.
On August 16, a 911 call that came in at 8:49 a.m. alerted sheriff’s deputies about a body discovered in the area near Sunway Road and Rosehedge Avenue, a few blocks east of Sunfair Road.
“Based on evidence at the scene, detectives from the sheriff’s department homicide division responded and assumed the investigation,” according to the sheriff’s department.
After the body was determined to be that of William Webb, 72, of Marina del Rey, San Bernardino County handed the investigation over to the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Bureau homicide division.
In relatively short order, Los Angeles Police Department investigators connected the circumstances relating to William Webb to 44-year-old Haena Kealia Worthing, of Marina Del Rey. In June, Webb had sought a restraining order against Worthing, who was described variously as Webb’s “stepdaughter” and “former stepdaughter.” According to Webb’s court filing, Worthing had threatened him and had stolen documents relating to the title and sale of his house.
It was ascertained that Webb had expired from a severe beating by a heavy object.
Upon further investigation, the police department identified Worthing, 44; John Schiefer, 38 of Nipomo, and Shavonne Webster, 40 of Winchester, Indiana, as having been in contact with Webb in the days before his mid-August disappearance. Working with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, homicide detectives obtained arrest warrants for Worthing, Schiefer and Webster.
According to affidavits filed in conjunction with the warrants, Schiefer and Webster were renting a room at Webb’s Marina del Rey residence.
Available information is that Webb’s wife and Worthing were opposed to Webb’s stated intention to sell his upscale house.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Worthing, Schiefer and Webster participated together in bludgeoning Webb to death using a hammer on August 15. His body was then driven 153 miles eastward, where it was set afire.
Webb’s wife had reported him missing on August 16.
Schiefer and Webster were arrested August 21. Over the next several days, the Los Angeles Police Department carried out repeated and thorough searches of Webb’s house. Worthing was arrested on August 26.
Schiefer, Worthing and Webster are being held in Los Angeles County custody in lieu of $2 million bail each.
They are next scheduled for court appearances on September 9 and September 19.
Style 08 30With summer coming to a close, we begin to welcome fall and all the diverse outfits and opportunity for layering. We have booties, slip skirts, leather, blazers and a lot more to have fun with. With that said, get ready to  mix and match for the season. The combination of pieces are endless. Be sure to include the dress over your favorite jeans. This season is going to vary, because it’s full of different trends. There’s something for the minimalist to the Boho Chic lover to the person for whom anything goes! It depends on your personal preference. The more unique your pieces are, the more you’re going to sway into your own style. Autumn is full of emotions, and I can’t wait to see all the different personalities that fashionably shine from it. Get ready!
“There are days when I want to feel cool, sexy, goofy, and at these times, fashion helps me define my mood.” -Disha Patani
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190009108
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: Upland Endodontic Dental Group, 600 North Euclid Ave., Suite 102, Upland, CA 91786
Business is Conducted By: A Corporation
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ John G. Hockin, II
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/2/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: 1/1/1986
County Clerk, s/EF
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/9/19, 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190009234
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: Premier Training Institute, Theatrical Arts Foundation, Prime Time Academy, CA College of Arts & Technology, Golden College, 417 B Central Avenue, Upland, CA 91786, Mailing Address: 1520 Majesty Street, Upland, CA 91784, SunnyMD2, LLC, 841 Buffalo St, Gilbert, AZ 85295
Business is Conducted By: A Limited Liability Company
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Devdat Mashsswari
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/6/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: N/A
County Clerk, s/JV
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/9/19, 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190008166
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: VB Beauty, 15997 Los Cedros Ave, Fontana, CA 92336, Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2265, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729, Vianca B Beltran, 15997 Los Cedros Ave, Fontana, CA 92336
Business is Conducted By: An Individual
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Vianca B Beltran
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 7/11/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: 2/27/2019
County Clerk, s/SH
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/9/19, 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19
APN: 1089-221-08-0-000 TS No: CA08000361-16-1 TO No: 160027292-CA-VOI NOTICE OF TRUSTEE’S SALE (The above statement is made pursuant to CA Civil Code Section 2923.3(d)(1).  The Summary will be provided to Trustor(s) and/or vested owner(s) only, pursuant to CA Civil Code Section 2923.3(d)(2).) YOU ARE IN DEFAULT UNDER A DEED OF TRUST DATED November 22, 2005.  UNLESS YOU TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY, IT MAY BE SOLD AT A PUBLIC SALE.  IF YOU NEED AN EXPLANATION OF THE NATURE OF THE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST YOU, YOU SHOULD CONTACT A LAWYER. On September 16, 2019 at 01:00 PM, at the main (south) entrance to the City of Chino Civic Center, 13220 Central Ave, Chino, CA 91710, MTC Financial Inc. dba Trustee Corps, as the duly Appointed Trustee, under and pursuant to the power of sale contained in that certain Deed of Trust recorded on December 13, 2005 as Instrument No. 2005-0944171, of official records in the Office of the Recorder of San Bernardino County, California, executed by ROBERT HERALDEZ AND NANCY C. HERALDEZ, HUSBAND AND WIFE AS COMMUNITY PROPERTY, as Trustor(s), in favor of MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. as nominee for CYPRESS POINT FUNDING, INC as Beneficiary, WILL SELL AT PUBLIC AUCTION TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER, in lawful money of the United States, all payable at the time of sale, that certain property situated in said County, California describing the land therein as: AS MORE FULLY DESCRIBED IN SAID DEED OF TRUST The property heretofore described is being sold “as is”.  The street address and other common designation, if any, of the real property described above is purported to be: 6940 GALATIN PLACE, RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA 91701 The undersigned Trustee disclaims any liability for any incorrectness of the street address and other common designation, if any, shown herein. Said sale will be made without covenant or warranty, express or implied, regarding title, possession, or encumbrances, to pay the remaining principal sum of the Note(s) secured by said Deed of Trust, with interest thereon, as provided in said Note(s), advances if any, under the terms of the Deed of Trust, estimated fees, charges and expenses of the Trustee and of the trusts created by said Deed of Trust. The total amount of the unpaid balance of the obligations secured by the property to be sold and reasonable estimated costs, expenses and advances at the time of the initial publication of this Notice of Trustee’s Sale is estimated to be $997,351.94 (Estimated).  However, prepayment premiums, accrued interest and advances will increase this figure prior to sale.  Beneficiary’s bid at said sale may include all or part of said amount.  In addition to cash, the Trustee will accept a cashier’s check drawn on a state or national bank, a check drawn by a state or federal credit union or a check drawn by a state or federal savings and loan association, savings association or savings bank specified in Section 5102 of the California Financial Code and authorized to do business in California, or other such funds as may be acceptable to the Trustee.  In the event tender other than cash is accepted, the Trustee may withhold the issuance of the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale until funds become available to the payee or endorsee as a matter of right.  The property offered for sale excludes all funds held on account by the property receiver, if applicable. If the Trustee is unable to convey title for any reason, the successful bidder’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be the return of monies paid to the Trustee and the successful bidder shall have no further recourse. Notice to Potential Bidders If you are considering bidding on this property lien, you should understand that there are risks involved in bidding at a Trustee auction.  You will be bidding on a lien, not on the property itself.  Placing the highest bid at a Trustee auction does not automatically entitle you to free and clear ownership of the property. You should also be aware that the lien being auctioned off may be a junior lien.  If you are the highest bidder at the auction, you are or may be responsible for paying off all liens senior to the lien being auctioned off, before you can receive clear title to the property.  You are encouraged to investigate the existence, priority, and size of outstanding liens that may exist on this property by contacting the county recorder’s office or a title insurance company, either of which may charge you a fee for this information.  If you consult either of these resources, you should be aware that the same Lender may hold more than one mortgage or Deed of Trust on the property. Notice to Property Owner The sale date shown on this Notice of Sale may be postponed one or more times by the Mortgagee, Beneficiary, Trustee, or a court, pursuant to Section 2924g of the California Civil Code.  The law requires that information about Trustee Sale postponements be made available to you and to the public, as a courtesy to those not present at the sale.  If you wish to learn whether your sale date has been postponed, and, if applicable, the rescheduled time and date for the sale of this property, you may call In Source Logic at 702-659-7766 for information regarding the Trustee’s Sale or visit the Internet Web site address listed below for information regarding the sale of this property, using the file number assigned to this case, CA08000361-16-1.  Information about postponements that are very short in duration or that occur close in time to the scheduled sale may not immediately be reflected in the telephone information or on the Internet Web site.  The best way to verify postponement information is to attend the scheduled sale. Date: August 1, 2019 MTC Financial Inc. dba Trustee Corps TS No. CA08000361-16-1 17100 Gillette Ave Irvine, CA 92614 Phone: 949-252-8300 TDD: 866-660-4288 Myron Ravelo, Authorized Signatory SALE INFORMATION CAN BE OBTAINED ON LINE AT www.insourcelogic.com FOR AUTOMATED SALES INFORMATION PLEASE CALL: In Source Logic AT 702-659-7766 Trustee Corps may be acting as a debt collector attempting to collect a debt.  Any information obtained may be used for that purpose. Order Number 62846, Pub Dates: 08/16/2019, 08/23/2019, 08/30/2019, SAN BERNARDINO SENTINEL
NOTICE OF PETITION TO ADMINISTER ESTATE OF:
Lynn Kathleen Poston; aka: Lynn K. Poston, Lynn Poston
NO. PROPS1900668
To all heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, contingent creditors, and persons who may otherwise be interested in the will or estate, or both of Lynn Kathleen Poston
A PETITION FOR PROBATE has been filed by William Arthur Poston III, in the Superior Court of California, County of SAN BERNARDINO.
THE PETITION FOR PROBATE requests that William Arthur Poston III be appointed as personal representative to administer the estate of the decedent.
THE PETITION requests authority to administer the estate under the Independent Administration of Estates Act. (This authority will allow the personal representative to take many actions without obtaining court approval. Before taking certain very important actions, however, the personal representative will be required to give notice to interested persons unless they have waived notice or consented to the proposed action.) The independent administration authority will be granted unless an interested person files an objection to the petition and shows good cause why the court should not grant the authority.
A hearing on the petition will be held in Dept. No. S37 at 8:30 a.m. on September 23, 2019 at Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, 247 West Third Street, San Bernardino, CA 92415, San Bernardino District.
IF YOU OBJECT to the granting of the petition, you should appear at the hearing and state your objections or file written objections with the court before the hearing. Your appearance may be in person or by your attorney.
IF YOU ARE A CREDITOR or a contingent creditor of the decedent, you must file your claim with the court and mail a copy to the personal representative appointed by the court within the later of either (1) four months from the date of first issuance of letters to a general personal representative, as defined in section 58(b) of the California Probate Code, or (2) 60 days from the date of mailing or personal delivery to you of a notice under Section 9052 of the California Probate Code.
Other California statutes and legal authority may affect your rights as a creditor. You may want to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in California law.
YOU MAY EXAMINE the file kept by the court. If you are a person interested in the estate, you may file with the court a Request for Special Notice (form DE-154) of the filing of an inventory and appraisal of estate assets or of any petition or account as provided in Probate Code section 1250. A Request for Special Notice form is available from the court clerk.
Attorney for Petitioner:
Duane P. Booth, Esq.
555 North D Street, Suite 110
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Telephone No: 909-888-7895
Published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel
On: 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE FOR CHANGE OF NAME CASE NUMBER  CIVDS1919087
TO  ALL INTERESTED PERSONS: Petitioner: Rania Bishay filed with this court for a decree changing names as follows:
Andrea Usama Girges Boleus Girges to Andreas Usama Girges Boleus Girges
THE COURT ORDERS that all persons interested in this matter appear before this court at the hearing indicated below to show cause, if any, why the petition for change of name should not be granted. Any person objecting to the name changes described above must file a written objection that includes the reasons for the objection at least two court days before the matter is scheduled to be heard and must appear at the hearing to show cause why the petition should not be granted. If no written objection is timely filed, the court may grant the petition without a hearing.
Notice of Hearing:
Date: 09/30/2019
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Department: S17
The address of the court is Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino District – Civil Division, 247 W Third Street, Same as above, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0210, San Bernardino
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order be published in the SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SENTINEL in San Bernardino County California, once a week for four successive weeks prior to the date set for hearing of the petition.
Dated: August 14, 2019
Michael A. Sachs
Judge of the Superior Court.
Published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel on 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE FOR CHANGE OF NAME CASE NUMBER  CIVDS1923724
TO  ALL INTERESTED PERSONS: Petitioner: Jo Lynn Esparza filed with this court for a decree changing names as follows:
Jo Lynn Esparza to Jolynn Duran Esparza
THE COURT ORDERS that all persons interested in this matter appear before this court at the hearing indicated below to show cause, if any, why the petition for change of name should not be granted. Any person objecting to the name changes described above must file a written objection that includes the reasons for the objection at least two court days before the matter is scheduled to be heard and must appear at the hearing to show cause why the petition should not be granted. If no written objection is timely filed, the court may grant the petition without a hearing.
Notice of Hearing:
Date: 09/23/2019
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Department: S16
The address of the court is Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino District – Civil Division, 247 W Third Street, Same as above, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0210, San Bernardino
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order be published in the SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SENTINEL in San Bernardino County California, once a week for four successive weeks prior to the date set for hearing of the petition.
Dated: August 12, 2019
Michael A. Sachs
Judge of the Superior Court.
Published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel on 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE FOR CHANGE OF NAME CASE NUMBER  CIVDS1922400
TO  ALL INTERESTED PERSONS: Petitioner: YVETTE VOLTAIRE filed with this court for a decree changing names as follows:
IVAN DEMITRI GONZALEZ  to  DEMITRI KANANI VOLTAIRE
THE COURT ORDERS that all persons interested in this matter appear before this court at the hearing indicated below to show cause, if any, why the petition for change of name should not be granted. Any person objecting to the name changes described above must file a written objection that includes the reasons for the objection at least two court days before the matter is scheduled to be heard and must appear at the hearing to show cause why the petition should not be granted. If no written objection is timely filed, the court may grant the petition without a hearing.
Notice of Hearing:
Date: 09/9/2019
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Department: S16
The address of the court is Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino District – Civil Division, 247 W Third Street, Same as above, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0210, San Bernardino
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order be published in the SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SENTINEL in San Bernardino County California, once a week for four successive weeks prior to the date set for hearing of the petition.
Dated: JULY 29, 2019
Michael A. Sachs
Judge of the Superior Court.
Published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel on 8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190009529
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: CCS Distribution, 16155 Sierra Lakes Pkwy, #160-609, Fontana, CA 92336, Leadforum LLC, 16155 Sierra Lakes Pkwy, #160-609, Fontana, CA 92336
Business is Conducted By: A Limited Liability Company
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Diaresina Gonzales
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/12/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: N/A
County Clerk, s/AJ
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190008715
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: J’s Fingerprinting, 2947 North E St, San Bernardino, CA 92405, Jacqueline R Johnson, 2947 North E St, San Bernardino, CA 92405
Business is Conducted By: An Individual
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Jacqueline R. Johnson
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 7/24/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: N/A
County Clerk, s/AJ
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190009457
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: All American Hauling, 15289 Camp Rock Ct, Fontana, CA 92336, Jessica M Orozco, 15289 Camp Rock Ct, Fontana, CA 92336, Rigoberto Orozco Jr., 15289 Camp Rock Ct, Fontana, CA 92336
Business is Conducted By: A Married Couple
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Jessica M Orozco
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/12/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: 8/12/2014
County Clerk, s/GM
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190009196
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: Zlu Design & Associates, 9805 La Vine Ct, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701, Zheng Lu, 9805 La Vine Ct, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
Business is Conducted By: An Individual
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Zheng Lu
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/06/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: N/A
County Clerk, s/AG
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/16/19, 8/23/19, 8/30/19, 9/6/19
FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME
STATEMENT FILE NO-20190010102
The following person(s) is(are) doing business as: Designs by Diff, 1785 Eastgate Ave, Upland, CA 91784, Stephen E Diffenbacher, 1785 Eastgate Ave, Upland, CA 91784, Karen J Diffenbacher, 1785 Eastgate Ave, Upland, CA 91784
Business is Conducted By: A Married Couple
Signed: BY SIGNING BELOW, I DECLARE THAT ALL INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS TRUE AND CORRECT. A registrant who declares as true information, which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of a crime. (B&P Code 17913) I am also aware that all information on this statement becomes Public Record upon filing.
s/ Stephen E Diffenbacher
This statement was filed with the County Clerk of San Bernardino on: 8/23/19
I hereby certify that this is a correct copy of the original statement on file in my office.
Began Transacting Business: N/A
County Clerk, s/KNH
NOTICE- This fictitious business name statement expires five years from the date it was filed in the office of the county clerk. A new fictitious business name statement must be filed before that time. The filing of this statement does not of itself authorize the use in this state of a fictitious name in violation of the rights of another under federal, state, or common law (see section 14400 et. Seq. Business & Professions Code).
8/30/19, 9/6/19, 9/13/19, 9/20/19

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