Monday, September 12, 2016

Traveling between the Inland Empire and Orange County

One disadvantage of living in a major metropolitan area is that sometimes, rather than going from the city center to the suburbs, you have to go from one suburb to another suburb.

When the major metropolitan area covers multiple counties, each with its own transportation agencies, the situation can get pretty complex.

I have spent a good portion of the last thirty years traveling from the Inland Empire suburbs of Los Angeles to the Orange County suburbs of Los Angeles. I spent five years at Cal State Fullerton, and I have spent over two decades working in Brea, Anaheim, and Irvine. Plus, I have had to visit Concordia University Irvine on occasion, as well as South Coast Plaza (and the nearby Hilton), Portillo's in Buena Park, and some mouse place in Anaheim.

This is difficult enough when you have to deal with the southern California freeways to get from place to place.

But what if you don't have a car?

If you happen to be near certain Metrolink stations, you're in luck. You can take Metrolink from Orange County to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, and can then take another Metrolink to the Inland Empire. Or, if you're lucky and do it at the right time, you can take a Metrolink from Fullerton to Riverside County - and sometimes to San Bernardino County.

There is a more direct route, however. The Orange County Transportation Authority currently has two bus routes, the 757 and 758 - one of which goes from Orange County to Pomona, and the other of which goes from Orange County to Chino.

Did I say that the OCTA CURRENTLY has those two bus routes? That's right - the 757 and 758 are being discontinued next month. Happily, there is an alternative - Foothill Transit Route 286, which connects an Orange County transit station at Brea Mall with a Foothill Transit station in Pomona. And the 286 runs hourly - provided you can get to Brea Mall or Pomona.

So let's say that you live in Ontario, and want to get to a city in Orange County. Here's how you'd do it:

Take a bus, or walk, to Holt Boulevard.
Board Omnitrans Route 61 going westbound to Pomona.
Transfer to Foothill Transit Route 286, and take it to the Brea Mall.
Take an OCTA bus from the Brea Mall - for example, the 20 to Yorba Linda or La Habra, or the 57 to a number of cities, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach.

I'll grant that taking a trip on three different bus lines can be complex, and I'm not sure which of the lines honor transfers from the other lines, but at least a trip is possible.

And it's better than walking. Nobody walks. (Actually, they do.)

[EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Earlier this year, I completed an Orange County Transportation Authority survey on vanpools. This was one of those surveys in which a survey participant could win something - and I won. Specifically, I received a $100 Chevron gas card from OCTA.

For those who recall the Jeannine Schafer/Louis Gray FTC blogger disclosure artwork, here's the one that applies.]

Monday, August 22, 2016

Anecdotal observations about Kmart (and VHS)

Back in late July, I wrote a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog that speculated about Kmart's future. Specifically, the post cited Kmart employee speculation that an in-house "path to profitability" effort to move inventory on to the sales floor was just the first step in closing Kmart stores.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit a Kmart to see whether things were as dire as the selected employees were claiming. I went in there realizing that anecdotal evidence is not necessarily reliable, and that things that I observed on my visit may not be reflected in all Kmart stores. With that in mind, I approached the Kmart on East Fourth Street in Ontario a little after noon. The employees were nice enough, and the problems that one employee was having with a store computer may not necessarily mean anything. But after a few minutes of walking around this particular store, something struck me.

If I were to walk into a Costco or a Walmart on Sunday at noon, I would usually be fighting mobs of people. And while there were people in some sections of the Kmart, other sections were oddly empty and quiet. I was told later that traffic usually picked up in the afternoon, but it still seemed strange to be in a major store on a weekend afternoon and to see empty aisles in some places.

Another thing struck me. It did not appear that the stock rooms had been emptied to move everything on to the sales floor, although it seemed that there were an awful lot of mattresses in one section. On the other hand, going through electronics and other places, I was occasionally greeted with scenes like this:

However, it is possible to find certain items at Kmart.

(If you didn't see my July post in tymshft about VHS recorders and tapes, I speculated that even though VHS recorder manufacture ended this year, you'll probably still be able to buy the tapes for years to come.)

But the most troubling thing from my visit to Kmart wasn't something I saw, but something I heard. While in the electronics section, I heard the following scrap of conversation from a man:

Should we go over to Radio Shack?

When your business has a lower reputation than Radio Shack, things aren't looking good.

Monday, July 18, 2016

When search failed me (or, those big buildings around us must be Pokemon gyms or something)

You're probably well aware that if you buy a product from someone, that product doesn't go from the manufacturer directly to you. There are a number of intermediate steps that are required to get that product to you. Even if you buy the product online, rather than in a brick and mortar store, those steps occur. Amazon, for example, has to secure warehouses all over the country - especially to fulfill orders for same day delivery.

According to PYMNTS, there's a problem with that:

The bad news for online brands that rely on same-day and express shipping came down this week from commercial real estate firm CBRE. In a report, Chief Economist for the Americas Jeffrey Havsy explained that, at the close of Q2 2016, available retail warehouse space had fallen to just 8.8 percent of overall capacity. Not only is that the 25th quarter in a row that retailers have been buying up floor space in fulfillment centers faster than contractors can build it, but out of the 57 major metropolitan markets Havsy and CBRE looked at, 37 posted net losses in retail warehouse availability.

Although PYMNTS didn't include a list of the 57 metropolitan areas, my guess is that the Inland Empire didn't post net losses in retail warehouse availability. Heck, we have warehouses all over the place, and there's the big fight in Moreno Valley over a proposed massive logistics center.

But to get the authoritative word on this, I went to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership website, and searched the site for warehouse information.

That was not the result I expected. Or perhaps those aren't really warehouses across our region; maybe they're something else.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We are closer to ONTARIO International Airport

Source:, via

News Media Contact:
Amy Goethals
(909) 395-2496

Federal legislation facilitating transfer of ONT
to local control wins final approval

FAA bill now goes to President for signing

ONTARIO, Calif. - July 13, 2016 -- Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) officials hailed final passage today of federal legislation facilitating the transfer of Ontario International Airport (ONT) to local control.

The legislation for ONT was included in a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) programs and policies beyond Friday. Leading the effort to include the ONT provision in the bill were Rep. Ken Calvert (D-CA42) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The bill passed in the House on a voice vote Monday and was approved in the Senate today on a 89-4 vote. It now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.

"This is a landmark day in Southern California aviation," said Alan D. Wapner, OIAA President and Ontario City Council Member. "We are grateful for the tremendous bipartisan support this legislation received from throughout the Southland. It completes the funding plan for the transfer of ONT from Los Angeles World Airports to the OIAA, which we continue to expect will be completed in the second half of this calendar year."

The legislation allows future passenger facility charges (PFCs) collected at ONT to be used at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as repayment for PFCs previously collected at LAX and used at ONT.

As one of the last steps before the airport transfer, the OIAA has already begun arrangements for issuance of bonds backed by airport revenues to replace existing airport debt of approximately $56 million.

The FAA continues to work closely with the OIAA and LAWA to provide a seamless transition of airport sponsors from LAWA to the OIAA. The FAA will issue a Part 139 Airport Operating Certificate to the OIAA concurrent with the transfer.

About the Ontario International Airport Authority

The City of Ontario and San Bernardino County formed the OIAA in August 2012 by enacting a Joint Powers Agreement. The OIAA provides overall direction for the management, operations, development and marketing of ONT for the benefit of the Southern California economy and the residents of the airport's four-county catchment area. Commissioners are Ontario Council Member Alan D. Wapner (President), Ontario Council Member Jim W. Bowman, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, Retired Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge (Vice President) and Orange County Business Council President/CEO and California Transportation Commission Chair Lucy Dunn (Secretary).

About Ontario International Airport

ONT is located in the Inland Empire, approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California. It is a medium-hub, full-service airport with direct commercial jet service to 14 U.S. and Mexico cities. There are 61 daily departures offered by seven air carriers. ONT's service area includes a population of six million in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and portions of Orange and Los Angeles counties. It currently is operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a City of Los Angeles agency also operating Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports. Beginning in the second half of 2016, subject to FAA approval, ONT will be owned and operated by the Ontario International Airport Authority under a Joint Powers Agreement enacted by the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dick's and Sports Authority - anecdotally, recipe for disaster

While I am not much of a sportsperson, our family has hosted several exchange students over the years, and between these exchange student daughters and our own American daughter, we've spent some time in sporting goods stores.

And years ago, I concluded that some stores were better than others.

I've always had good luck at Big 5, and Chick's Sporting Goods was...well, it was GOOD when it was around. But Chick's gave way to Dick's several years ago, and I still remember a not-so-fruitful visit to Dick's in the Colonies. At one point, the salesperson told us, "You're not going to get the same service at Dick's that you did at Chick's." On this point, the Dick's salesperson and I were in complete agreement.

But at least I found a salesperson at Dick's. One day about nine years ago, I took my Swiss daughter to the Sports Authority store east of Montclair Plaza. We started looking for some assistance...and couldn't find any. Eventually it became a game, in which I was roaming around the store trying to find SOMEBODY. Finally I gave up and walked out of the store; I think we went to Big 5 (this was before the Upland Mountain Avenue location closed).

Now I am the first to admit that this is anecdotal and not scientific, and I'm sure that there are people who have received wonderful service at both locations. But my experience was a little different.

Having not set foot in either location (or any of the locations of the two stores) for years, I certainly raised an eyebrow when I read this article:

Over the last several months, Sports Authority has experienced a long, painful and visible death — the likes of which the retail sector would rather not see so often. For the last few weeks, Sports Authority has been going through the process of auctioning off what storefronts and inventory it could to make a little scratch back, and though it was rumored that some buyers were sniffing around the brand itself for a possible resurrection down the line, Dick’s Sporting Goods put a stop to that Thursday (June 30).

While rosy-eyed people may talk of synergies and other wonderfulness, I have steadfastly been of the opinion that the merger of two weak companies does not result in a stronger company; more often than not, the resulting company is weaker than the first two. And no amount of fluffery will negate the inherent problems of the merged firm.

And in this case, Dick's isn't even getting stores; it's getting "intellectual property," a mailing list, and (maybe) a few stores. But when you consider the intellectual property of Sports Authority, it makes the intellectual property of "Late Night With David Letterman" seem like deep philosophy.

Sports Authority and Dick's could only dream of having this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Who and where - why? (Biometrics, Geographic Information Systems, and the U.S. Army)

For many years, I have worked for MorphoTrak and its corporate predecessors. Starting with fingerprints, my responsibilities have grown to include palmprints, faces, irises, and other items. In essence, however, my professional life has centered on the question "Who?"

At various times during this professional career, I have interacted with ESRI out of Redlands. During the Printrak-Motorola days, ESRI provided software for our Computer Aided Dispatch product (which stayed with Motorola when MorphoTrak was formed). During my second stint in Proposals, I attended several monthly APMP webinars from a regional meeting point at ESRI's headquarters (before we started hosting our own regional meeting point at MorphoTrak, and obviously before APMP did away with the regional centers and just let everyone dial in to the webinar personally). ESRI, for those who don't know, concentrates on the question "Where?"

While "Who?" and "Where?" are different questions, there are overlaps at times. The U.S. Army has an intelligence system called the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (PM DCGS-A) which, according to Defense Systems, includes a lot of different types of intelligence:

DCGS-A is the Army’s common system for gathering, analyzing and sharing intelligence information from different echelons. It is capable of providing planning and direction, collection, processing/exploitation, analysis, prediction and production, battlespace awareness data dissemination, and relay capabilities. The system is able to integrate 600 sources of information.

For instance, DCGS-A is used to analyze imagery or map products, process collected cell phone data, report human intelligence, match biometrics and use NSA or aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data.

As you can see, DCGS-A includes information on "where" (map products, cell phone data) and "who" (biometrics, cell phone data). Think about that before you take your T-Mobile phone and run off to join ISIS.

The Army is currently preparing to procure Increment 2, and has noted:

There is an explosion of data that is occurring.

All of that who and where stuff can certainly put a strain on the tubes.

Monday, February 29, 2016

LAWA and OIAA on the web

If the acronyms in the title of this post confuse you, LAWA stands for Los Angeles World Airports, the organization that oversees several airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Ontario International Airport (ONT). OIAA stands for the Ontario International Airport Authority, the organization that will eventually oversee Ontario International Airport.

I thought of LAWA when I recently read a piece in Airport Technology. It turns out that TBIT (this acronym stands for Tom Bradley International Terminal) isn't the only terminal that has been "modernized":

The second busiest international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Terminal 2, is undergoing a major improvement to enhance the airport's level of service and its appearance.

It turns out that this is the same type of "modernization" that was carried out at TBIT - putting all sorts of dining and other services on the other side of the security checkpoint.

But this statement in the Airport Technology article puzzled me:

The terminal improvement programme is part of an $8.5bn modernisation project initiated by airport operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to upgrade all the five terminals at LAX.

Uh, Airport Technology, LAX has seven numbered terminals (1-7) plus TBIT, which adds up to 8 when I last checked. And I doubt that LAX is going to close three terminals any time soon.

Oh, and in case you missed the paragraph that I quoted above, a callout repeated the incorrect statistic later in the article.

It's easy to check such things, since LAWA has a website that presents the correct information.

But what if a future Airport Technology article has the wrong information about Ontario Airport? Where will people go to get authoritative OIAA information?

Sadly, we don't know yet. As of today, OIAA does not have an official website. To get OIAA information, you have to go to Set ONTario Free and to a page on the City of Ontario's website.

Presumably when Kelly J. Fredericks starts his new job as head hONTcho with the OIAA on March 7 (see PDF of 2/1 OIAA agenda), one of his action items will be to establish a true web presence for OIAA, in anticipation of the expected approval of the transfer of ONT from LAWA to OIAA.

But the new website had better be established quickly, before someone writes about a visit to ONT Terminal 3.

Friday, February 19, 2016

IE, we have our own Geddon! (Or is it a Gate?)

It used to be that "-gate" was the most popular suffix on record. Every scandal after Watergate ended up getting a name that also ended in "gate."

Well, there's a new suffix in town.

It started over on the West Side, when a multi-day closure of Interstate 405 was announced. Adapting the word "Armageddon," this closure was popularly referred to as "Carmageddon."

So now that we in the IE are getting our own weekend closure, the popular name that has emerged for the Corona closure is...Coronageddon.

And its effects will be felt well beyond Corona, because there will be no good way to get from Yorba Linda (and the eastern part of Orange County) to Corona (and the western part of Riverside County). For example, my home city of Ontario may feel the effects of people coming all the way north to State Route 60 to get from place to place.

But back to the name.

You know what this means. Now every Southern California freeway closure will be referred to as a Geddon. Maybe we'll have a Ramgeddon when the Inglewood stadium is built. In my case, a Diamondgeddon would be extremely disastrous.

And then the suffix, like our gangs, will spread out of southern California and infect the whole country. Arlington, Virginia - is a Shirleygeddon in your future?

But that's not the worst of it. One day, one of these freeway closures will result in some sort of scandal.

And you know what that means.


P.S. For the latest news on Coronageddon - whoops, the "91 Steer Clear" - visit

Monday, November 2, 2015

I was wrong again - you CAN sleep at Ontario Airport

I get a perverse pleasure out of revisiting my many Jim Bakker moments, in which I said something that turned out to be completely and totally wrong.

About three years ago, I wrote a post on the adventures of one Glenn Campbell, who arrived at Ontario Airport late at night, with no flight out until the next morning.

He had only been to Ontario Airport once before, but he surmised (correctly) that he wouldn't be able to sleep at the airport itself.

This is how Campbell put it:

I had been to the Ontario airport only once before, when I flew in three days earlier. (I was heading to Vegas but chose Ontario for a cheaper rental car.) Ontario is a small airport where the secure area probably closes at night. If the baggage claim area remained open and I was allowed to stay there, I would be sleeping on relatively hard seats with fixed armrests, giving me no opportunity to lie down. Even if the floor was carpeted (which I can't recall), I knew from experience that it would be too hard to sleep on. I could “survive” in the baggage claim area if I had to, but I wouldn’t get a good night's sleep there.

So what did Campbell do? He spent $15 on a sleeping bag and slept out in a field near the airport.

According to the people at "The Guide to Sleeping in Airports," he spent $15 too much. According to reports, you CAN sleep at Ontario Airport.

Or at least you could when Mahari wrote this in December 2005:

Was redirected to Ontario from a late flight leaving from Atlanta going into San Diego because of a thick fog that rolled and planes couldn't land there....Get to the terminal shortly after 11pm and all the stores were closed, amongst all the confusion, everyone was directed to report to the check-in counters for statuses about leaving the next morning. After receiving my information, I got comfortable in a set of chairs with arm rests and set my laptop up. Got bored with the laptop after 2 hours and tried to get some sleep. This at first was nearly impossible because of all the commotion of disgruntled passengers, but by four in the morning, I was able to fall asleep with my bags snug between my legs, laptop in my lap. The only background noise you really had to worry about were the constant security announcements, but other than that it was straight!

I can't tell if Mahari stayed on the lower level after receiving the information, or if Mahari went through security and slept upstairs. However, it sounds like it can be done.

Another reviewer, Lydia, stated that "the seats have armrests, but the airline employees are generally very nice, and the security will ignore you totally."

So if you ever need to try this's better than a field. I guess.

(Of course, now I expect to hear from the hotel folks.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Giving you the business - when that DoubleTree by Hilton Ontario Airport worker isn't a Hilton worker

Yesterday, I posted an item in my Empoprise-BI business blog and called it The fiction of brands - how Apple, Hilton, McDonald's, Uber, and others are not single entities, but thousands of independent companies and contractors.

It was inspired by a local story from right here in Ontario, written by Neil Nisperos of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin last Friday. His story, entitled Fired Ontario hotel workers file unfair labor charges against DoubleTree, describes how four people working at the DoubleTree by Hilton Ontario Airport, were not actually employed BY the DoubleTree by Hilton Ontario Airport, but were fired by their real employer (Pro Clean). The DoubleTree made a point of saying that it treats its employees wonderfully, while kinda sorta leaving out the fact that those four people were NOT employees of the DoubleTree.

Oh, and by the way, that DoubleTree hotel is not owned by Hilton Worldwide. It's actually owned by a separate company, the Blackstone Group. As I noted in my post,

So do you deal with Pro Clean..., the Blackstone Group, or Hilton Worldwide if you have a problem with your room?

The Hilton, of course, is not the only brand that wants you to think of one company when in reality there are a bunch of subcontractors involved in providing you with the Hilton experience. Three other examples are Apple, McDonald's, and Uber. I talk about all four of them in my post here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

High speed rail to Vegas, this month's edition

So I saw the headline via a Facebook share - high speed rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas!

What prompted the excitement? This announcement that "XpressWest, a private venture proposal backed by Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer Marnell Companies," had secured a partner in China Railway International USA.

Let's review.

Who's proposing this latest version of a high speed railway to Las Vegas? The casino interests of Las Vegas.

Why? Because the casinos are in Las Vegas, and the people are in Los Angeles. So the casinos need a way to get the people to the casinos.

Who's going to pay for this?

That's the sticking point. While the casinos are extremely willing to suggest the idea of a rail system to Vegas, they can't actually pay to put it in.

XpressWest had been unable to secure a federal loan or investment from within the United States for the project.

I vaguely remember one of these proposals from a decade or two ago, in which the argument was made that since most of the rail line would go through California, and only a little itty bit of the line would go through Nevada, therefore California should pay for the bulk of the project. Never mind that the intent of the project was to suck money out of California.

One other comment: this version of the high speed rail project not only bypasses the Ontario area, but also bypasses the entertainment complex in Orange County. That airport that's coming under local control, and that brand spanking new rail station in Anaheim? Forget it.

Frankly, I can't quibble with the routing of the line (which, for the record, is Las Vegas to Victorville to Palmdale to Los Angeles). If we in the IE really really wanted a high speed rail line to come here, we'd pay for it - and frankly, we weren't even willing to pay for our own airport, trying to get it for free.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

ONT to ONT - now we need a head hONTcho

So now that we're on the road to a locally-controlled Ontario International Airport, we have to do the nuts-and-bolts work to actually RUN an airport. No, Alan Wapner cannot do this by himself, although he's part of the group that will select someone to run the airport. Wapner is one of several people who constitute the Ontario International Airport Authority, a group that doesn't even have its own named website yet. However, the Set Ontario Free website includes a description of the OIAA.

About the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA)

The OIAA was formed in August 2012 by a Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino to provide overall direction for the management, operations, development and marketing of ONT for the benefit of the Southern California economy and the residents of the airport's four-county catchment area. OIAA Commissioners are Ontario Mayor pro Tem Alan D. Wapner (President), Ontario Council Member Jim W. Bowman, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, Retired Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge (Vice President) and Orange County Business Council President and CEO Lucy Dunn (Secretary).

Note that although Los Angeles County is one of the four counties in the "catchment area," it is not represented on the OIAA. Perhaps the good citizens of Claremont and Pomona fear us inbred folks just as the people from Westchester do.

Anyway, Wapner, Bowman, Hagman, Loveridge, and Dunn themselves can't run an airport either. For that you need a professional. And, according to the San Bernardino County Sentinel, they're seeking one.

The Ontario International Airport Authority...has earmarked $95,000 which it will pay to Boyden Global Executive Search, a headhunting firm based in Washington, D.C., to find a full-time executive director to oversee the transfer of authority over the airport from Los Angeles World Airports to an executive team overseen by the authority and the city of Ontario.

And no, I don't think LAWA's Stephen Martin will be applying for the job. But who will?

It's an interesting challenge of a job. For most airport head jobs, the new airport head will have a staff of people and an airport to run. There are other cases in which the new head may have a skeleton staff, but needs to actually build the airport. In this case, the airport already exists, but the staffing for the airport is uncertain. Remember, the OIAA itself doesn't even have a website, much less office space. And presumably some people who currently work for LAWA will end up working for OIAA, but those details must still be worked out.

So the candidates are going to show up in Ontario for job interviews. Unless they're local, they'll presumably have the smarts to actually fly in to the airport that they'll be running. If they land in Terminal 4, they'll notice that a significant section of the terminal is empty. Depending upon the time of day, the retail shops may or may not be open. At least they'll see a nice American flag when they go to baggage claim.

However, if they want to make any inquiries about the existing airport, OIAA can't really help them. They'll have to meet with LAWA people. In the ideal situation, LAWA folks will not only be willing to meet with the candidates, but may actually come out to Ontario to do so (rather than making the candidate go to LAX). If there are any LAWA-OIAA disagreements at the time of the candidate visits, however, things might not go so smoothly.

However, regardless of what happens with the candidate interviews, there's one thing that will have an extremely positive impact on the candidates. As they exit Terminal 2 or Terminal 4, they will be facing north and will see our local mountains - the same mountain range that enchanted me when I came to California for a job interview in October 1983.

Well, they may not see it if the job interviews drag on into next summer and the mountains are enclosed by fog.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

(empo-jooryst) My 2015 jury service wasn't as long as my 2013 service

For reasons previously explained, I have waited until now to talk about my 2015 jury service.

Although frankly, there's not much to tell, because I didn't even make it on the jury as an alternate.

In late May, I reported to the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court for jury duty. Eventually I was placed on a panel and ushered upstairs to a courtroom, where I found out that this jury trial was going to be a little different that other jury trials.

This trial was a mental competency hearing to determine whether a defendant was competent to stand trial. Because it was a mental competency hearing, there were two things of significance. First, the burden of proof was on the defense; the defendant was presumed to be competent unless the defense proved that the defendant was incompetent. Second, there was a lower burden of proof; rather than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden that is usually encountered in a criminal courtroom, the defense merely had to prove incompetence via a "preponderance of the evidence" - in other words, the same burden of proof that you find in a civil trial.

Potential jurors were not told what the defendant was charged with, because in essence that didn't matter anyway. The jurors' only duty was to determine competence by listening to some expert witnesses (from both sides) and applying the law. Needless to say, I was curious about this, but knew that I couldn't research the case until I was released from jury service.

Since I wasn't picked for the jury, I could research any time after that, including during the competency trial itself. However, I knew from previous experience that it takes a while for the transcripts to show up, and I also knew that the competency trial itself wouldn't start until early June.

In early June, I peeked at the records and found out that the defendant was charged with burglary last year. (Speedy justice and all that.) Oh, and I did find out something else - a close relative of the defendant has had numerous brushes with the law, going back over ten years; but that's all that I'll say about that.

Regarding the competency trial itself, this entry was placed in the online records on June 2.


Finally, at the end of June, the defendant was sentenced to time served and released under supervised probation. The 27th and final condition of the defendant's probation?


Does that prohibition extend to Safeway's Vons stores?

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.