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.

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.