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 are...um...alive 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.