Monday, August 17, 2015

Some of the @CassieMacDuff proposed changes to ONT are easier to make than others

Now that Ontario International Airport is on the road to local control, people are thinking about how local control can improve the airport. Cassie MacDuff, whose coverage of the LAWA-ONT dispute earned her attention from former LAWA management, has provided a wish list of things that she'd like to see in the future.

The first three items on her wish list? The return of JetBlue to the airport, more flights to East Coast destinations, and more flights to West Coast destinations.

There's only one problem with these three wishes - in the short term, they're all wishful thinking.

The new airport authority cannot order JetBlue to return, and cannot order the airlines to increase their schedules. That is a function of the market, and even if ONT slashed its high landing fees, no airline is going to institute new flights until there is a proven demand for them.

However, MacDuff's fourth wish is something over which the airport can exert more control - increasing the operating hours of the in-airport businesses.

L.A. World Airports’ bright idea for ONT was replacing shuttered restaurants with vending machines, thereby passing up a huge business opportunity.

Travelers have a lot of time to kill inside airports, since modern-day security requires them to arrive two hours before takeoff. Somebody could make good money off those bored, weary patrons.

ONT needs to win back the 3 million passengers lost since 2007 under L.A.’s ownership. A full complement of restaurants, coffee shops and gift shops would help.

Requiring concessionaires to have stores open during peak travel hours would be smart. Too often, passengers are met with barred shop doors as they await flights.

Now I'll admit that the airport doesn't have complete control over this. It could go to the gift shop and tell it to stay open until midnight, and the gift shop could reply by saying it will take its business elsewhere. But this is something where the new airport authority could possibly negotiate some changes - stay open until midnight, and we'll cut your rent.

Now if I were to insert my wishful thinking into this, I'd add another request of the gift shops. But let me explain. In order to hear Kevin Costner and Modern West in Folsom earlier this month, I had to board a plane to Sacramento - obviously, from ONT. When I arrived at the airport, I had an assignment - find the Ontario shirts that can only be purchased in the airport gift shops. Only one problem - the gift shops have discontinued the Ontario shirts, and only sell California shirts (and really bad California shirts at that). So if I can engage in my wild wishes, I wish that the gift shops would return to selling Ontario stuff.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

ONT to ONT - anything for a price

Before I launch into this post, I wanted to reflect on the number of times that I've mentioned Ontario International Airport in the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog.

There's been a lot of them.

And most of the mentions are somewhat related to the fact that I refer to the airport as Ontario International Airport - not its official name. That particular post comes from 2008, which is about the time that ExpressJet and JetBlue pulled out of the airport - part of what caused an increase in fees for the remaining airlines. Surprise - there were more passenger declines.

Which then led to Alan Wapner asking Los Angeles to sell the airport back to Ontario.

Los Angeles didn't sell the airport back to Ontario.

And even though the downward passenger trend appeared to reverse, Ontario didn't. By 2012, there was legal action galore, as well as the Set ONTario Free campaign (with nary an L in it).

I won't go into all the nastiness that ensued, but suffice it to say that it got nasty.

Which of course leads to the two articles that I read on Wednesday night - one from ABC7, and one from Liset Marquez. (Actually, two when you count the timeline that she posted.)

The upshot of the reports? Los Angeles World Airports won't give Ontario International Airport away - after all, they made a huge investment in the airport, including the runways and the two new terminals - but they will (eventually) transfer the airport to a different authority.

Presumably the two parties, who have been fighting each other in court, ended up agreeing on a selling price.

Or perhaps the fine folk of Los Angeles were tired of all of us inbred folk out here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Possible changes to Ontario's watering regulations?

You will recall that I previously shared the new watering regulations for the City of Ontario. These limit watering to two specified days per week.

Last week, I saw a Facebook post that claimed that the city had changed the watering schedule to three days per week. However, the claim was not from a city official, and I could find no such claim on the city's website.

So I started asking around, and the City of Ontario Twitter account responded as follows.

So that's that. Except...

Now I could be really cool and trendy and journalistic and claim that I HAVE SOURCES. However, the truth of the matter is that I received other information from multiple sources, in a form that was probably not intended for public dissemination. So rather than cite the sources of my information, I'll play it safe and say that I HAVE SOURCES.

Man, I feel like I'm in Deep Throat. (The columnists who talked to Mark Felt, not the doctor who talked to Linda Lovelace.)

And what are MY SOURCES telling me?

The most important thing at the moment is that the statement from the city's Twitter account is correct - as of now, watering is limited to two days a week.

But that may be changed. For one, there is not necessarily any connection between a goal to reduce water consumption by 24%, and an ordinance limiting watering to two days a week. For example, if you had been watering seven days a week and cut to five days a week without changing the watering time, you would save over 24%. If you cut from seven to two days a week, you would save much more than 24%.

Another thing to consider - Ontario, like Riverside, does not depend upon outside sources for its water. As the city website notes:

The City of Ontario serves 13 billion gallons of water annually to the City’s 170,000-plus residents and 6,000-plus businesses through the operation and maintenance of 24 active groundwater wells, 572 miles of potable and recycled water pipelines, and 12 water reservoirs that store 75 million gallons of water. Approximately 80% of Ontario’s drinking water comes from local groundwater sources, including 17% of the total supply from two water treatment plants operated by the Chino Basin Desalter Authority (CDA). The remaining 20% of Ontario’s water is imported surface water supplied through the State Water Project and treated at the Agua de Lejos Treatment Plant, before it is delivered to the City for use.

Recycled water is provided for non-potable uses, such as outdoor irrigation and some industrial applications. During the past five years, more than 200 recycled water service connections have been completed, supplying nearly 10% of Ontario's total water demand.

So in essence, not only is Ontario doing its bit for recycling, but it is also not all that dependent upon outside water sources like some other cities.

So technically Ontario could raise the same type of stink that Riverside is raising over the imposition of water rationing, SOURCES indicate that this is unlikely. For one thing, it doesn't matter. Since 2014, the state water restrictions have been written in a "starting today" mode, not in a way to reward communities for past conservation efforts. So while Riverside may loudly proclaim that "it's unfair", it sounds like Ontario will get with the program.

We'll see what officially happens. For now, my sprinklers are still on the two day per week schedule.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

(empo-jooryst) Now it can't be told, the 2015 edition

Back on March 27, 2013, I wrote a post called (empo-jooryst) Now it can't be told. This was an alert to a series of posts that I published in July 2013, concerning a trial in March 2013 for which I was an alternate juror.

Even the March 27, 2013 post didn't publicly appear until after the verdict - and my (heavily redacted) stories about the trial itself did not appear until over 90 days later.

Why not? Because, according to a very strict reading of California law, my blog posts are written "for compensation," and therefore, a juror - even an alternate juror - cannot discuss a trial for 90 days after being discharged.

Because of this, I did not publicly discuss my alternate jury service until July 1.

Why am I talking about this now? Well, I am writing this post on May 26, 2015 - and am scheduled to appear for jury service on May 27.

I have no idea what will happen. Perhaps tonight (i.e., the evening of May 26) my jury summons will be cancelled.

Perhaps I'll show up on May 27 and won't end up on a jury.

Perhaps I'll end up as an alternate on a jury again. (This has happened to me twice in my life - in 2013, and once in the 1980s. You sit through the entire trial, but never get to render a verdict - well, unless something unexpected happens.)

Perhaps I'll end up as one of the actual twelve jurors.

Regardless, as of this moment (again, the afternoon of May 26) I have to stay away from the "proceedings" pages on the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court website until I am released from jury service (released from a jury, released from being an alternate, or just plain released). After that, I can look all that I want.

Here we go again.

See you in September.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Officer down in 1951 (Bernard Green)

There is a website called the Officer Down Memorial Page that lists brief biographies of police officers killed in the line of duty. For Ontario, California, the site lists four such officers. None of the deaths are recent - the most recent entry is for 1975.

The oldest entry is for 1951 - and it was clearly a different time.

Officer Bernard Green was on duty on June 15, 1951 when a man was fleeing other police. The man was accused of assaulting his wife and, in the words of ODMP, "attempting to run over a constable." Officer Green was asked to help out, and he did so by setting up "a roadblock on the road leading into Ontario."

Obviously it was a different time. Today, there are dozens if not hundreds of roads that lead into Ontario.

Sadly, the suspect was not affected by Officer Green's roadblock - while driving at 90 miles per hour, the suspect hit Officer Green's police cruiser, killing Green.

The city of Ontario website provides additional information on the loss of Officer Green, noting that it was San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies who were pursuing the suspect, that the suspect was traveling from Fontana to Ontario on Highway 99 - now known as Holt Boulevard - and that Officer Green's roadblock was at the intersection of Holt Boulevard and Bon View.

The city's page further notes that the impact of the suspect's car on Officer Green's cruiser caused the cruiser's gas tank to explode.

Officer Green was thrown from the car, but the heat and flames were too intense to reach him for several minutes. He later died at San Antonio Community Hospital.

The California Peace Officers' Memorial Foundation notes that the initial chase started a day earlier, in Yermo. Of course, in those days we didn't have TV news copters in the air following every police chase. Back then, Stan Chambers stayed on the ground to cover the Kathy Fiscus well tragedy.

There is one common thread among all of the officer memorial pages - none of them named the suspect who killed Green. They probably didn't want to give him any fame.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Get off my...dirt?

I'm spending my lunch hour composing an Empoprise-BI Business Blog post in my head, and it occurred to me that I could use the phrase "get off my lawn" in the post.

Then I remembered that I live in California.

What's a lawn?

P.S. I thought I had posted Ontario's water conservation ordinance to this blog, but I hadn't - I had just posted it to Facebook. Let me rectify my lack of dissemination.

City Declaration & Drought Update

Drought Alert

Ontario City Council Approves Stage 2 Mandatory Water Restrictions

In response to California’s record drought, on April 1, 2015 the Governor signed an Executive Order mandating a statewide 25% reduction in water use and approved specific mandatory Emergency Conservation Regulations. As part of these mandatory Regulations, water suppliers (like the City of Ontario) are required to implement their local Water Conservation Plans.

On May 5th, the Ontario City Council declared a water shortage and moved from Stage 1 into Stage 2 of the City’s Water Conservation Plan (Plan), effective immediately.
• All customers, other than water dependent industries, shall irrigate between 4pm and 9am two (2) days per week, based on address ◦ Odd Number – Mondays and Thursdays
◦ Even Number – Wednesdays and Saturdays
◦No Irrigating – Tuesdays, Fridays, or Sundays

•Water dependent industries shall irrigate between 6pm and 6am, no more than every other day
•No hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking areas or other paved surfaces
•No hose washing of an automobile without a fitted shut-off nozzle
•No public place (ie. restaurant) where food is served, shall serve water unless requested
•No person shall water outdoor landscaping between the hours of 9am and 4pm
•No person shall allow water to be applied to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff
•No filling or refilling empty swimming pools without permission from the City

Monday, May 4, 2015

I finally visited the unofficial McDonald's museum - I mean historic site - in San Bernardino

The Inland Empire has been a hotbed of fast food innovation - Glen Bell alone is directly or indirectly linked to Taco Bell, Baker's, Del Taco (and Naugles), and Der Weinerschnitzel. But the unquestioned leader in the fast food industry was started by two brothers in San Bernardino, California named McDonald.

There is a museum on the site of the original San Bernardino McDonalds. I finally got to visit the museum over the weekend.

The museum is an unofficial museum, not operated or sanctioned by the McDonald's Corporation.

And there's a very good reason for that.

The story of Ray Kroc and McDonald's is well known. In a 2008 post, I linked to a comprehensive story of the rise and fall of the Kroc-McDonald relationship. Briefly, an Illinois milk machine salesman went out to faraway San Bernardino, California in 1954 to try to figure out how a single fast food outlet had the need to buy eight of his machines. Since each machine could make five milkshakes simultaneously, these McDonald brothers were obviously generating huge business with whatever they were doing.

Kroc, excited by what he saw, worked out a deal with the brothers and sold franchises on their behalf. Within a few years, however, Kroc determined that he needed to buy the entire company from the brothers outright.

He bought most of the business...but not all of it.

Kroc became quite frustrated at the closing table when the brothers did not transfer any real estate and rights to the original unit to him as they had discussed earlier of giving the entire operations, property and everything to the founding employees.

So Kroc bought all of McDonald's...except for the original McDonald's. Thus began "McFeud," in which Kroc forced the brothers to change the name of the original restaurant at 14th and E...and built an official McDonald's just one block north, at 15th and E.

According to a handout from the museum, the "Big M" was sold in 1968 when the McDonald brothers retired. The buyer was Neal Baker, a friend of the aforementioned Glen Bell. Eventually that restaurant and the "official" McDonald's both closed and McDonald's San Bernardino origins were not visible...until Albert Okura stepped in. Okura is yet another Inland Empire fast food founder, having started the Juan Pollo chain in 1984. Like any successful fast food chain founder, he knows that consistency is essential.

Many in the restaurant industry do not fully understand the demand for perfection. For example: If you score 90% on school tests, you receive an “A” on your report card. In fast food, if you get 90% of orders correct, that means 1 out of 10 customers might have a problem and chances are your restaurant is in trouble.

Okura needed office space for his chain, and he found a building at 1398 E St...a building that was on the site of the original McDonald's. So part of the building is office space, part is the McDonald's museum...and one small room is devoted to a Juan Pollo museum.

Oh, and Okura also bought a city.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A "reasonable" alternate approach to the LAWA-ONT controversy

We have a tendency to seek information from people who are just like us. When we hear about an American woman who was charged with murder in an Italian court, we believe the American sources that tell us that there is no credible evidence against the woman. When we hear about all of the stuff that Americans are doing to combat Ebola, we wonder why the Commies aren't doing anything.

A similar myopia exists regarding Los Angeles World Airports' control over Ontario International Airport. We KNOW that LAWA hasn't been investing in ONT, and we therefore KNOW that LAWA is the reason for ONT's decline.

Reason Foundation readers, however, have access to a different perspective.

Ontario city officials blame LAWA for neglecting ONT, as if airport managers could force airlines to increase service to an airport, when this is clearly—both as a matter of business decision-making and the law—entirely an airline decision (subject, of course, to being able to lease gate space and being willing to pay what it costs). Ontario's case also ignores the general phenomenon of smaller hubs generally losing service during the past 10 years....

The best performing medium hub was New Orleans Louis Armstrong, up 6.59%. But the worst performer was Memphis, down a whopping 31.51%. And Memphis has no large hub nearby that can be blamed for stealing traffic!

The post, which notes the court ruling that the statute of limitations had long since expired on the 1967 sale of ONT to LAWA, concludes with this editorial comment:

Still pending is the rest of the lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and violation of fiduciary duty by LAWA; that case, alas, will be heard by a jury later this year.

"Alas." Not what a patriotic Ontarian wants to hear.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Only in America (on Dawoodi Bohra chief Mufaddal Saifuddin's visit)

Normally when a special church celebration occurs in the United States, all sorts of festivities are going on.

But what if the celebration occurs at a mosque?

And what if the special guest, Dawoodi Bohra chief Mufaddal Saifuddin, is from India?

In a case like that, you have an interesting mixture of cultures, as recorded by the Daily Bulletin's Grace Wong:

Hundreds of people crammed inside the mosque Thursday night, many of them pulling out their smartphones to snap a picture while a man sang “America the Beautiful” in Lisaanal Dawati, a mixture of Arabic and Gujarati, an Indian language.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Carl's Jr. on Mountain ISN'T Cooked

I was driving on Mountain in Ontario, turning on to 6th, when I noticed something unusual at the Carl's Jr. Part of the roof was missing, other parts appeared blackened, and the entire restaurant was fenced off.

I thought that the building had been damaged in a kitchen fire.

It turned out that I was wrong.

It's just a very extensive remodel. I don't know if they will change the entrance to align with the Walmart.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Let's be social WHAT WAS I THINKING??? (An Ontario Airport tweeter gets unwanted attention)

While searching for the latest news about major investments that Los Angeles World Airports is planning for Ontario International Airport, I ran across a breaking story about a United Airlines jet that took off from LAX, bound for Dulles.

It didn't get that far.

In fact, it only got as far as Ontario before making an emergency landing.

At the time that I read the story, there was no official word on what caused the abortion of the flight. So we had to rely upon "citizen journalists" to fill in the gaps.

"They can't deplane us until the fire is out, it's not in the cabin. Cabin has smoke in it though. It was smoky mid-flight. Again, not fun," tweeted passenger Mitchell Hashimoto...

But then...

...who later deleted the post, citing unwanted media attention.

Well, not exactly. As the founder of HashiCorp, Hashimoto presumably wants media attention - of a particular type.

When I checked Hashimoto's Twitter feed, I did find a few tweets about the flight.

9:11 am:

I don’t think I’ll be flying to Belgium today. One flight is good enough for me today. Well try again another day.

9:12 am:

But also, our pilot handled that situation super fast and professionally. High five.

That second tweet elicited a reply from Rachel Hawatmeh, someone that Hashimoto didn't know.

@mitchellh Hi Mitchell, reaching out from ABC News, can you give us a call at 818 553 5500??

At some point Hashimoto tweeted the information on the fire. He later deleted the tweet, but the text was preserved by - you guessed it - ABC News.

Eventually, Hashimoto tweeted this at 10:06 am:

Sorry folks, deleting some tweets because I’m being contacted by press about my flight and I’m not interested.

The sentiment is understandable - one moment you're on your way to Belgium, the next you're stuck in Ontario, without a Hugo Boss store in sight.

But when HashiCorp wants coverage for its latest product, forget about getting coverage from ABC News. Rachel Hawatmeh will be otherwise occupied.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Addendum to last year's post about Tom Bradley International Terminal

Since Ontario's local airport will be managed by the city of Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, it's natural to take an interest in the airport that the city of Los Angeles REALLY cares about. As a result, I wrote a post on March 27, 2014 in this blog that concerned the placement of the restaurants at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. After the recent renovation, most of the restaurants that were BEFORE the security checkpoint had been removed. Great if you're flying out of LAX, but not good if you're meeting someone or dropping someone off.

Well, now it's 2015, and I recently had the opportunity to be on the other side of security at TBIT.

This is just part of the shopping area between the gates. Yes, there are food places behind security, but frankly the majority of them are pretty dinky, and the nicest sit-down restaurant was completely empty. At lunchtime.

It turns out that restaurants aren't the primary focus of the redesigned TBIT. Shopping is. The TBIT shops include:

Bead Factory North Concourse
Bliss South Concourse
Bvlgari Great Hall
CNN Newsstand South Concourse
Coach Great Hall
Emporio Armani Great Hall
Fred Segal Great Hall
Hollywood Reporter South Concourse
Hudson Great Hall
Hugo Boss Great Hall
iStore Boutique Great Hall
Kitson Great Hall
Michael Kors Great Hall
Porsche Design Great Hall
Relay Great Hall
Sanrio South Concourse
See's Candies North Concourse
The Economist North Concourse
Tumi Great Hall
Victoria's Secret Great Hall
XpresSpa South Concourse

So while my personal goal was to eat a burrito at the Border Grill, apparently the TBIT planners are instead catering to the shoppers at Victoria's Secret and Porsche Design. This makes sense, when you think about it; people who are flying internationally tend to have more disposable income. Back in 2012, LAX and shopping manager Westfield anticipated $98 million in sales.

LAWA wants the TBIT offer to change LAX from a transit point to a destination in its own right. The airport operator, which is a department of the City of Los Angeles, confidently predicts that “the new TBIT will revolutionise the passenger experience in North America”.

Which begs the local question - what does this mean for Ontario International Airport? Will Los Angeles World Airports invest hundreds of millions of dollars to bring Coach, Fred Segal, Hugo Boss, and the like to our airport?

You can stop laughing now.

Frankly, I'd be happy if the existing shops and restaurants would actually stay open for the entire day.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Did I shirk my civic duty by leaving my hot water heater on the street?

Many cities, Ontario included, provide recycling services along with trash services.

They do not do this out of the goodness of their hearts.

One benefit to the cities is that stuff that goes into the recycling bin doesn't have to go to the landfill. Another benefit is that the cities can actually sell the stuff that goes into the recycling bins, and get a little bit of revenue in the process.

Most of us, of course, think of ourselves before we think of our cities. When you finish drinking that soft drink, how many of you throw that can or bottle into a city recycling bin? You probably don't; instead, you keep the can or bottle for yourself, turn in the cans yourself, and get the nickels yourself. There are a few people, of course, who do throw their cans or bottles into the city bins, but the city may not get them, since there are people who roam the streets the night before a scheduled trash pickup, go through your recycling bins, and extract anything of value.

But there are other ways in which we cheat the city.

A little over a week ago, I noticed some water in my garage, between my mini-refrigerator and my washing machine. I didn't see any leaks from the washing machine or the refrigerator, so I didn't think much of it...until the next night, when the water was still there, and I noticed another puddle of water outside the small area where our water heater sits. Yes...our water heater was leaking. So we shut off the gas and the water and started figuring out how to replace it. 1 1/2 days (and one very cold shower) later, the new water heater was installed, and the old water heater was ready for disposal.

Last Friday, I took my old water heater out to the curb, but I didn't call the city to arrange for a bulky pickup. The city allows for bulk pickups; it's even part of the municipal code.

It should be noted that by placing this article on the street several days before a scheduled trash pickup, I committed a code violation.

Sec. 6-3.308. Residential receptacles, placement.

(a) Residential refuse, recycling, green waste or other organics receptacles shall be placed for collection by 6:00 a.m. on the scheduled collection day, but not prior to the evening preceding the collection day. Receptacles shall be removed no later than the evening after collection day....

(c) If the provisions of this section are not fully complied with, the solid waste collector shall place a tag indicating a violation on the container.

Well, I did not receive a violation tag - for two reasons. First, I didn't put the item in a container, so there was no container to place the tag. Second, the city didn't have any time to tag it, because within a few hours of my placement of the old water heater on the curb, it was gone.

Perhaps you've seen the trucks that go up and down city streets, especially on weekends or just before trash pickup day. Those trucks are filled with all sorts of metal - old bicycles, old appliances, and the like. The trucks go up and down the streets, looking for additional scrap metal, and then take a truckload of stuff to a recycling center and get some small amount of money for it.

So when I put my old water heater on the curb on Friday afternoon, I figured that the scrap fairies would come by some time over the weekend, and my water heater would magically vanish. And I was right.

Now one could argue that the scrap fairies and I were cheating the city of Ontario out of some potential revenue. And one could also argue that the guys with the shopping carts who dig through your recycle bins are cheating the city of Ontario out of some potential revenue.

But then again, every one of us who saves cans and bottles and turns them in ourselves for the cash is also cheating the city of Ontario out of some potential revenue.

For additional thoughts on this, including the difference (if any) between going through a personal recycling bin or a corporate recycling bin, check this Jeffrey Seglin post.

And in some cases, the police get involved.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Perhaps you may be toking it up at your local casino one day - or perhaps not

We often forget the special status of Indian reservations in this country. Indian tribal land is sovereign land, not necessarily subject to laws of the state(s) in which the land is located.

Another reminder of this came from the U.S. Justice Department, and it concerned the topic of marijuana legalization.

The U.S. Justice Department is giving Native American tribes authority to legalize marijuana on their reservations, telling federal prosecutors the issue needs to be handled on a "government-to-government basis."...

The guidelines are the latest signal from the Obama administration that it respects the sovereign status of Indian tribes, said Stephen Pevar, an instructor on American Indian law at New York University Law School and author of the book "The Rights of Indians and Tribes."

"It's not pro-marijuana or anti-marijuana," Pevar said Thursday. "It's pro-sovereignty."

Why am I writing about this in the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog? Because, as the Desert Sun notes, there are 12 reservations in Riverside County. Add the ones in San Bernardino County and surrounding counties, and there is a potential change that could affect many marijuana lovers.

For example, if an Indian reservation decided to legalize marijuana - including in the casinos on tribal land - then Californians could simply go to a casino whenever they wanted to toke up, without fear of legal penalties.

But before the tokers who read my blog go "KEWL," remember that sovereignty works the other way also. What if California completely legalizes marijuana (not just medical marijuana), but the Indian reservations ban it? And there's certainly a precedent - until 2013, Pine Ridge Reservation banned alcohol, despite the fact that it was legal in South Dakota.

So don't count on the Morongo Casino to offer tacos, tequila, and toking just yet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jose Ventura, the Bane of Chino

Courthouse News Service reports an item of local interest.

Back in December 2007, Jose Ventura was pulled over for a traffic violation by Chino police officers. The police noticed that there was a 1994 arrest warrant for Jose Ventura. But there was an issue:

The warrant described "Jose Ventura" as a Hispanic male who was 6'1" tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had black hair and brown eyes. Ventura's driver's license had him as 5'6" tall and 180 pounds.

Now there are three possibilities here. One possibility is that there are two Jose Venturas. The second possibility is that the arrest warrant had incorrect information. The third possibility is that the driver's license had incorrect information.

According to Ventura (the driver), the police "coached" him to respond that the driver's license was incorrect, and that he was really 5'11".

No one disputes that Ventura spent six days in various jails in San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, and was released after his fingerprints did not match the fingerprints on the arrest warrant.

(DISCLOSURE: I work for a company that provides automated fingerprint identification systems. In 2007, my employer did not provide systems in either of these two counties.)

This has become a civil case that has been winding through the courts. According to Courthouse News Service, a Federal appellate panel has determined that Ventura can press his claims against the city of Chino, under the Bane Act.

The Bane Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 52.1 and Penal Code section 422.6 et seq., prohibits violence or the threat of violence based on grounds such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age disability or position in a labor dispute.

Civil Code section 52.1 protects all people within this state from interference with their free exercise or enjoyment of the rights guaranteed them by the state or the United States. If the interference is by means of speech alone, however, no remedy will be available to you under the Bane Act unless it can be shown that the speech itself threatened violence against you; that you reasonably feared violence would be committed against you or your property because of the speech; and that the person threatening violence had the apparent ability to carry out the threat.

If anyone interferes with your rights under this law by threats, intimidation, or coercion, you may be able to get a court order banning this behavior and be awarded for money lost and emotional distress, as well as a $25,000 civil penalty and attorney's fees.

On, and there's one other thing. Remember how Ventura's driver's license said he was 5'6" and 180 pounds? Well, when he was released six days after his arrest, he was described in a document:

[A]t the time of his release, Ventura's release form stated he was 5'7" and weighed 320 pounds.

They must have some good food at the West Valley Detention Center and the Los Angeles County Jail.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The dreams come out at election time, or, the Empoprises Rule of City Importance

It is time for yet another Empoprises Rule - the Empoprises Rule of City Importance. This follows my previous Empoprises Rule of List Length, from October.

Your city is not as important as you think it is.

I wrote about one example of this rule over a decade ago, in a comment to an Inland Empress blog post.

[W]hen I lived in Upland years and years ago, I'd attend city council meetings on occasion. I happened to attend one at which IHOP's building permit was under consideration. Today the IHOP in Upland seems like it's been there forever, but back in the 1980s it had not yet been built.

Rosalie Kamansky (since deceased) was then on the Council. (If I recall correctly, her day job was in real estate.) As the IHOP rep made his presentation, she had a little teeny question:

Did IHOP really have to put that blue roof on their restaurant?

The IHOP rep had much more patience than I would have had. He simply stated that he could check with IHOP, but that he thought that IHOP sort of liked their blue roofs.

Let's just be thankful that the designers of the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, and Mount Vernon didn't have to get Upland City Council approval.

Think about this. The International House of Pancakes was, and is, a major corporation with a distinctive marketing message. And why was IHOP asked to modify its distinctive marketing message?

To borrow a phrasing structure from this decade, "because Upland."

Certainly IHOP would be willing to bend its silly little rules for the City of Gracious Living, would it not?

(The comment, incidentally, was part of a rant on what the Upland-controlled parts of Upland look like - a long expanse of unending beige roofs, all Council-approved.)

However, thoughts of a town's self-importance and well, even today, as the San Bernardino County Sentinel notes. In preparation for this week's election, the Sentinel has been covering a number of local candidates, including one with a familiar name - Joe Baca. And no, the name isn't familiar because of the son - in this case, it's the father who is running in a local election. Baca, who once represented the region in the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, wants to be mayor of Fontana.

And Baca has a vision for Fontana. As part of this vision, he said the following:

I would like to see an opera theater outdoors to attract people from the surrounding communities, Redlands, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland and, of course, Fontana. I would like to see a California University in Fontana. In San Bernardino County we have community colleges and a Cal State University and private universities but we don’t have a UC system campus. I was instrumental in helping Merced when they got the University of California to come in there and I believe I could utilize my experience with the state legislature to get Fontana a University of California campus. We have access to the 15 Freeway, the [10] Freeway and the 210. I would love to see downtown Fontana become a cultural center for fashion and the arts. We need an amphitheater.

Why Fontana? Because, according to Baca, Fontana is now the largest city is San Bernardino County, and thus is deserving of an "opera theater," a branch of the University of California (Riverside schmiverside), and culture.

But Baca continued:

With the right retails stores we can make it so we have something like Rodeo Drive and Palm Springs.

Yes, that's right - Baca just compared Fontana with Beverly Hills and Palm Springs. Never mind the fact that Fontana's residential income is slightly lower than those other two cities.

But Baca and Kamansky aren't the only politicians who have overestimated the importance of their cities. All of the politicians - and, frankly, all of us residents - believe that our cities are deserving of stellar retail presences - if not Rodeo Drive, then at least a business that doesn't attract any traffic, but does magically attract outside spending.

In reality, however, we're lucky if we can get a swap meet to locate in our city.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Burger King abdicates...again

Burger King has been in the news lately, because of its forthcoming acquisition of the Canadian company Tim Hortons and its possible move to Canada. This, naturally, has everyone up in arms because an American company is fleeing American taxes. The critics rightly point out that since Burger King will contribute 73% of the revenue (in 2003 terms) to the combined company, the combined firm should be located, whoops, it seems I got my figures wrong. Based upon 2013 revenues, Burger King's US and Canadian operations will contribute a whopping 16% of the combined revenue, with another 11% from Burger King operations in the rest of the world. Yup, Tim Hortons will contribute 73% of the revenues.

A little sobering...but not surprising when you look at things at the local level.

Some time last week, the Burger King in Montclair at the corner of Central and Palo Verde closed its doors, joining closed Burger Kings in east Ontario and other locations.

You never hear about a McDonalds closing, and although you might have an occasional Arbys close here and there, it seems that a fair share of Burger Kings have closed over the last few years. And 3G Capital has been closing company-owned Burger Kings.

Or am I just hypersensitive to these closings?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Campaign overlap

On Sunday, I saw a Rudy Favila for Mayor sign on San Antonio north of 8th.

For those who don't understand the significance of this, Favila is running for mayor of Ontario.

San Antonio and 8th is in Upland.

Does this mean that the candidates in the contentious Upland election will campaign in Ontario?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

If you marry your sister, it keeps the meth lab in the family (this is about ONT, of course)

As you read the title of this post, some of you are saying, "Oh, he's going to talk about THAT." Others are wondering what's going on.

But before I get into the topic in question, I want to lay out several truths.

First, from the perspective of the city of Los Angeles, it is in the city's interest to retain the so-called "LA" Ontario International Airport. The airport, although distant from the city, provides three benefits to Los Angeles: (1) a source of revenue; (2) a source of pride and patronage; and (3) removal of a potential competitor against the city's crown jewel, Los Angeles International Airport.

Second, again from Los Angeles' perspective, if the city does have to sell the airport to Ontario, it makes sense to sell it for a price as high as possible. That's just good custodianship of tax dollars. Los Angeles, as far as it's concerned, legally bought the airport from Ontario years and years ago, and it doesn't want to just give it away without getting anything in return.

(As an aside, former Ontario mayor Howard Snider used to go door to door and sell Kiwanis breakfast tickets. Snider, back in the day, was instrumental in selling the airport to Los Angeles in the first place. One time when he was selling pancake tickets, I mentioned that the airport sale was certainly in the news a lot. The elderly Snider didn't offer any comment, either because he didn't recall the earlier sale, or chose not to do so.)

The third truth is from the perspective of the city of Ontario. Obviously, Ontario wants to buy the airport for a price as low as possible. In fact, the city would be tickled pink to acquire the airport for free. Hence the lawsuit - and the outrage that I'll be talking about in a minute.

The fourth truth concerns Press-Enterprise columnist Cassie MacDuff. MacDuff is most widely known as a columnist. Now she may also do some regular reporting, but her primary claim to fame is as a columnist. And columnists provide opinions.

Which is germane to an email exchange between Warren Adams, an advisor to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA, the government entity that controls both LAX and Ontario International Airport), and Stephen Martin, Chief Operating Officer of LAWA. You see, Adams had seen a Cassie MacDuff piece on the Ontario Airport fight, and Adams decided to share it with Martin, along with this comment.

I thought reporters were supposed to be objective? She has been relentless in her views.

Return to my fourth truth - MacDuff was writing as a columnist, not a reporter.

LAWA's Martin chose to provide an email response, which included the following.

Not in the inbred Inland Empire.

Return to my third truth. There are some who are focusing on that "inbred" comment and using it to try to pry Ontario International Airport away from LAWA. Both Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner and Congressman Ken Calvert - both of whom are up for re-election - issued strong statements.

“I was appalled by the statements that were made, and I think, frankly, it shows their ignorance of the Inland Empire economic market and what goes on out here,” Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner said Tuesday. “I don’t think most of these people have even been to the Inland Empire, and it’s reflected in their statements. It shows their ignorance.”...

On Monday, Congressman Ken Calvert, R-Corona, called for Martin’s immediate termination. He called Martin’s statement “offensive and highly unprofessional.”

Others, however, are taking clearer heads over the whole "inbred" brouhaha. One of those people is Cassie MacDuff herself:

They just don’t like my opinions. As a columnist, I’m fine with that. They are entitled to their views. I’m entitled to mine.

MacDuff then goes on to say that the issue isn't what LAWA has said, but what LAWA has (or hasn't) done.

But all of this should not obscure what was revealed by Ontario’s court filings in its lawsuit to get the airport back: Los Angeles World Airports slashed ONT’s marketing budget to focus its attention on growing LAX.

No wonder the airport has lost 45 percent of its passengers and scores of flights.

According to witnesses whose statement became public last week, LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey and then-Deputy Executive Director Michael Molina directed underlings to pull back from marketing ONT and instead put efforts into LAX, where the international terminal was being rebuilt.

Now perhaps I should follow the lead of Cassie MacDuff, and of others such as San Bernardino County Supervisors Janice Rutherford and Gary Ovitt, who argue that the future of Ontario International Airport should be decided on the issues, and should be considered in a calm, fair manner.

But that's too much work, so I'll go into the gutter instead. (And I'm not even running for re-election.)

While he may claim otherwise, Stephen Martin is pretty much talking about incestuous behavior. However, incestuous behavior can also occur in business relationships, as this 2010 Daily Breeze article noted. In this case, a losing bidder on a LAWA proposal was complaining that "two other companies vying for the contract have conflict-of-interest issues that likely would not withstand a legal challenge." In the process of discussing the various conflict of interest issues, this tidbit came out:

Chad Molnar, the LAX field deputy for Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose area includes the airport, pointed out that the global airport community is so tiny it's virtually impossible to find people who haven't worked in or have connections with both the public and private sectors within the industry.

For example, the LAX website notes that Stephen Martin, chief operating officer for Los Angeles World Airports, also worked for a decade as a consultant to LeighFisher, one of the consulting companies Host complained about.

To paraphrase another person named Martin, airport management is not pretty.

Oh, and one more thing: LAWA's headquarters is at 1 World Way, which happens to be where LAX is located. If LAWA truly wants to encourage LAX use, then perhaps they should free up their headquarters for use by the airport, and relocate their headquarters to an underused LAWA facility in a much lower-cost area.

Yes, I'm proposing that LAWA move its headquarters to Terminal 4 of Ontario International Airport, where several of the gates have been closed due to the traffic downturn.

Imagine if Stephen Martin, other LAWA personnel, and consultants like Warren Adams had to come to Ontario every day for work. Rather than the noise and the glut of traffic on Century Boulevard, they'd be driving by the wide open fields near Archibald Avenue. Instead of heading to the Lakers practice facility after work, they'd be taking in Ontario Reign games. And, if we in the IE do our best to live up to our stereotypes, there'd be more methamphetamine available to the LAWA executives than they'd ever be able to score near LAX.

Heck, there might even be a preacher who would let Stephen Martin marry his sister. (I don't think the pastor of this church would perform the ceremony, however.)

Oh yeah, there's a mayor election in Ontario

I wrote about Ontario's last election for mayor, so I guess it's time that I write about the upcoming election. But I'm going to do so in the context of Route 66, which isn't even in Ontario.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was there for the last day of Ontario's version of a Route 66 festival. (San Bernardino's version is coming up later.) Even on the last day of the event, there were still a lot of people there, and when you have a lot of people at a single location, the crowds attract something.

No, I'm not talking about flies or pickpockets.

I'm talking about politicians.

It makes sense, since politicians want to make contact with the people, and especially in a local election, personal contact will go a lot farther than expensive, brief television ads.

So as I was walking down Euclid Avenue, I spotted a booth on the sidewalk for Rudy Favila. I figured that I'd pick up some campaign literature, and the volunteer who handed me the campaign literature was - Rudy Favila.

I told him that I was considering Favila, but not Avila. In addition to general concerns about Avila's antics, Favila has a personal issue with Avila, since Avila endorsed Favila for mayor at one point, and then decided to run himself. (Avila is free with his endorsements; he endorsed Paul Leon for State Senate in 2013.)

Anyway, Favila with an F had a live voter in front of him, and he did not want to waste the opportunity, so he told me about his idea to solicit a number of brief proposal papers from potential business owners, select the best of those ideas, and temporarily waive the business registration fees while the business were just starting. Frankly, this reminded me of some of Favila's initiatives when he was on the Ontario City Council several years ago, when he just liked to get a couple of people together and get something done.

After listening to Favila's pitch, I walked on down the street and ran into the Paul Leon booth. Leon was not present, but he had been at the Route 66 festival previously. The Leon volunteer did not provide me with a speech - but did provide me with a bottle of water on that hot day. I don't THINK that counts as bribery...

Friday, August 8, 2014

When Adriana's Insurance nickels and dimes you

Living in the Inland Empire, I have certainly seen my share of advertisements for Rancho Cucamonga-based Adriana's Insurance. Based upon these advertisements, I've always gotten the impression that this insurance company is 100% staffed by hot Latina women.

Well, if this is true, at least one of these women is apparently very muscular, according to Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times.

[Andres] Carrasco alleged that an employee at the company assaulted him when he tried to purchase insurance....

Hint to aspiring salespeople - assaulting your customers is not a good sales tactic.

The case went to court, and Carrasco (assisted by lawyer Antonio Gallo) won a judgment from Adriana's Insurance that required the company to pay Carrasco $21,000. In compliance with the decision, Adriana's Insurance paid all $21,000.

Eight representatives with the insurance company delivered 16 to 18 paint buckets filled with quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies to Carrasco's attorney's office....

I'm not sure what the company would do if a customer paid his or her insurance premiums that way.

And the method of payment was especially insensitive for another reason. According to attorney Gallo, his client had just had a hernia operation.

Of course, $21,000 is a relatively small amount. According to Aequitas Law Group, Adriana's Insurance spent $1.2 million to resolve the case Preciado vs. Adriana's Insurance Services, Inc. Aequitas does not say how Adriana's paid that claim. I found an Aequitas-authored PDF online, and its summary of the case is fascinating:

In Preciado v. Adriana’s Insurance Services (L.A.S.C. BC 400171), Judge Kenneth R. Freeman in Dept. 64 granted our motion and certified a class of customer service representatives and sales agents, for the following subclasses: (1) Unpaid Wage Subclass (“off the clock” claims); (2) Meal Period Subclass; (3) Rest Period Subclass; (5) Expense Reimbursement Subclass; (6) Late Pay Subclass; (7) Wage Statement Subclass.

While I could find no additional information on the case, it sounds like employment with Adriana's may not always be optimum. However, Glassdoor rates the company relatively highly.

In addition to some customer issues and employee issues, it may not be good to be an unrelated towing company either. Adriana's is not only the target of lawsuits; it also files them on its own, as can be seen by this summary of a trademark infringement suit that it filed against Adrianas Towing Services. This was decided in September 2013, in favor of the towing company:

JUDGMENT by Judge Virginia A. Phillips: Pursuant to the Joint Motion to Dismiss filed by Plaintiff on August 30, 2013 20 , IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiffs Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court orders that such judgment be entered.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Villa Roma Sausage Company Recipe Contest 2014

The Ontario-based Villa Roma Sausage Company is holding a recipe contest. Entrants must submit a recipe which feeds four for less than $10 (assuming that one pound of Villa Roma sausage costs $3.99). And if you win the grand prize, you get:

One Year Supply of Villa Roma Sausages!*
Your recipe will be featured on the Villa Roma website.
Your recipe may appear on future Villa Roma Sausage packages.
Plus: Master Chef Apron – Villa Roma Sausage Fresh & Natural Recipe Contest Winner

No, I will not be entering the contest. Entries due September 30 (submit online).