Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I disagreed with Jesse Stay, yet agreed with him (another "Walmart in Ontario" post)

Jesse Stay is a fairly well-known figure in the (admittedly small) tech/social media community. And he uses his last name as a branding tool - when he's not working, he takes "staycations" even if he leaves home. And his blog is called Stay N' Alive.

Recently he wrote the post Want to Give me a Christmas Present? Please Like This. It turns out that "this" is not a Facebook page (even though Stay co-wrote the book on Facebook), but another page:

If you give me anything this Christmas season, will you please just click like on this page, supporting Salt Lake City’s food bank? If we can get enough people to like it Salt Lake City’s food bank earns $1 million to distribute to the needy. This year is of particular need for the Utah Food bank. In a down economy, they are seeing increasing need for help, with a shortage in what they are able to provide. They claim this year to have a 30 percent increase in the number of families coming for food.

Well, Stay's post inspired me, but not exactly in the way he wanted. You see, I ended up finding another page - the page for Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California, and liked that page. If you're an Inland Empire resident who is reading this post (this is, after all, the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog), I encourage you to like it also.

As you have figured out, this is a competition between various metropolitan areas to get funding from a donor.

The donor? Walmart. If you go to the parent page,, you can find out what is going on:

Help fight hunger in your community

We're putting $1.5 million in your hands. You decide where it goes.

Select a community on the map. "Like" it to show your support. We'll donate $1 million to the community with the most support, and $100,000 each to the next five communities.

So now people in Salt Lake City, people in our area, and people in other areas throughout the country are working to get support before the contest ends up Friday, December 31.

Now I'm not blind as to WHY Walmart is doing this, or why Walmart has pledged $2 billion by 2015 to fighting hunger. Or why competitor Target has held similar contests to direct charitable giving.

Frankly, the big box companies want to obtain community support, and this is just a salvo in their battle against union supporters who want to keep big box stores out of every city (see my December 6 post).

Which is why my Facebook "like" of the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario page included the following message:

Sorry, Jesse Stay, but I needed to send a message to Cory Briggs.

Perhaps Briggs will ensure that Albertsons or the UFCW donates a few billion dollars of their own, and then we can call it even.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The tedium of City Council meetings

We often pay so much attention to our national government and our state government that we forget that many decisions are made at the local level, often at city council meetings.

David Allen mans the Pomona City Council beat, and provided an extended report on the first meeting of the new City Council.

Favorite line:

The swearing-in took place during a special 5 p.m. session. Council members then went into closed session, while I went into the Pomona Eagles Lodge for its $1 taco night. I probably made out better.

But governmental meeting tedium is not restricted to city councils. When I attended Reed College, the student government held regular meetings and issued minutes after those meetings. Now you'd think that Reed's reputation as a communist/atheist/free love place would offer at least a somewhat whimsical set of minutes, but no such luck. The minutes were published in the school newspaper (the Reed College Quest<) on a regular basis, until someone on the Quest rebelled and, instead of printing minutes, chose to post "seconds" - extremely brief observations that were more enlightening.

Allen could conceivably do the same, but when a columnist writes one-sentence columns, his or her job security would be endangered.

And Allen's accounts are much more entertaining than the official city council minutes - which I was unable to locate for Pomona. (When I viewed the website, the city council pictures hadn't been updated to take the new election into account.)

Ontario's City Council minutes are here, by the way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ontario, we have to get on the ball - goga's recruiting

While the Empoprise-IE blog is targeted to all of the Inland Empire, I naturally have a preference for stories that relate to my hometown of Ontario. Despite this, I don't really keep up with other bloggers in the city (other than Matt Munson).

At the same time, there is a thriving community of bloggers in Pomona.

And the Goddess of Garey Avenue wants to see that community expand:

I am writing this article purely to encourage others to join the Pomona blogosphere, or to help encourage the blogfaded. Also, given that us Pomona bloggers are going to have a blogger’s float in the Pomona Christmans Parade this year, I thought an article to help even more Pomonians to join us would be a timely adventure.

The Goddess explains exactly what a blog is, provides some examples of local blogs, lists three services that allow you to blog for free (one of her listed services,, is used for this very blog), describes some alternative ways to host your blog, and provides the names of some people who can assist new bloggers.

All in all, an excellent post that will help Pomona bloggers get started.

But if you promise not to tell goga, can I let you in on a secret? The same tips that can help Pomona residents launch a Pomona blog can be used to help Ontario residents launch an Ontario blog.

And we have an airport...well, actually Los Angeles has our airport, but we have an airport located here, I guess.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ontario consumers continue to suffer in Cory Briggs' union war

Yes, the Ontario WalMart project is delayed yet again.

City officials may be forced to scrap their three-year-old approval of a Walmart Supercenter and review the project again.

If the tentative opinion by the state 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside holds, city officials will have to set aside approval of the superstore and study the possibility of urban decay due to business competition.

Possibility of what?

"We won on key issues: urban decay and losing the grocery store. Both are big issues," said Cory Briggs, an attorney for the group of homeowners opposed to the project at Fifth Street and Mountain Avenue.

"This proves what we've said all along. Walmart doesn't create new jobs and does more to displace employers."

Here's what is alleged:

The analysis conducted by the city found that no significant urban decay would occur as a result of the project.

The city's report also found that if a grocery store were to shut down as a result of the Walmart project, other uses could fill the vacancy. An Albertsons market lies three blocks to the south.

But the court doesn't agree.

The report, the opinion states, "does not look at the actual demand for vacant food store space, and therefore did not adequately assess the likelihood of urban decay resulting from the project."

Urban decay, as the opinion described, can be attributed to increased competition and the economy. Both could lead businesses to close and, over time, the buildings to deteriorate.

The evaluation of that possibility, Briggs said, will paint a clearer picture of the project's economic impacts for the council and other city officials.

Any economists or politicians, Briggs said, will argue that small businesses are the backbone of the economy.

"Walmarts are small-business killers," he said.

Now bear in mind that the so-called "small business" that worries Briggs so much happens to be an Albertsons grocery store. Albertsons is part of SuperValu, Inc., traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the "SVU" ticker. As of Friday, SuperValu had a market capitalization of US$1.79 billion and revenue of US$38.62 billion.

And while Briggs speaks of urban blight, he completely ignores the urban blight that I have to face every day - namely, an abandoned grocery store AND and abandoned Target AND an abandoned Toys R Us. If you want to see urban blight, go to the corner of Mountain and 5th. Cory Briggs has preserved that urban blight for several years running.

Matt Munson still seems to think that this can be settled:

Here is my suggestion so we can get the project settled once and for all.

Listen to the residents, figure out what accommodations which could be made so we can get the project built. Having a pure super center like Chino is out of the question and having the project terminated is also out of consideration as well.

Um, Matt, it's not. Briggs and his friends would love to see the Walmart project completely terminated. Even if the store were only open five minutes a day and if you had to use mass transit to get there, Briggs and his friends still wouldn't want the Walmart in Ontario.

To realize why, you have to look at Cory Briggs' previous activity.

You see, Briggs hasn't only opposed the Walmart in Ontario. At around the same time that the Ontario Mountain Village Association started its battle, there was a battle that was being waged in another city. I've talked about this before (also here, but perhaps it's worthwhile to recap.

On January 2, Cory Briggs of Upland registered an organization called the "Murrietans for Smart Growth." (He also registered an organization called "Blythe Citizens for Smart Growth" on the same day.) One day later, the Murrietans for Smart Growth filed a suit to block a SuperTarget in Murrieta.

Now the city of Murrieta hadn't run into a lot of Murrietans who were demanding smart growth, and people began to wonder if the only one demanding this was non-Murrietan Cory Briggs. North County Times picked up the story:

Earlier this summer, after Regency's attorney suggested Briggs was the only member of the group, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Cunnison ordered Briggs to produce an actual member of the organization before allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

The first "Murrietan" to step forward was Richard Lawrence - who lives in San Diego and has no business affiliation to Murrieta, let alone Riverside County, according to court documents. In a deposition, Lawrence said he was the group's president.

Hubbard, however, continued to press Briggs to bring forward an actual Murrieta resident, according to court documents. And a few weeks later, on Sept. 4, Briggs produced a woman named Felicia Munoz-Graham, who lives on the city's west side and works at the Ralphs supermarket on Washington Avenue.

According to her deposition, Munoz-Graham was one of the founders of the group - but she said she had never heard of Lawrence.

The lack of familiarity between the two members further clouded the group's legitimacy in the eyes of Murrieta leaders.

So Matt Munson, I'm sorry, but you can't expect someone who will invent a group to reasonably negotiate - especially when you consider one other parallel between the Murrietans for Smart Growth and the Ontario Mountain Village Association.

Felicia Munoz-Graham works at a Ralphs in Murrieta.

Cory Briggs is, as previously noted, really really concerned about the Albertsons in northwest Ontario.

Why is Briggs worried about the Kroger unit (Ralphs) and the SuperValu unit (Albertsons), but not about WalMart or Target?

Well, I won't say the name of the organization that links the two grocery stores, but its initials are UFCW.

You probably already know how UFCW feels about WalMart. Here's how they feel about Target:

Of more than 1,400 Target stores employing more than 300,000 people nationwide, not one has a union. Employees at various stores say an anti-union message and video is part of the new-employee orientation. At stores in the Twin Cities, where Target is headquartered, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 789 has been trying for several years to help Target employees organize, with little luck.

"People ask what the difference between Wal-Mart and Target is," said UFCW organizer Bernie Hesse. "Nothing, except that Wal-Mart is six times bigger."

So, in response to Matt Munson's question regarding "what accommodations...could be made" to get the WalMart in Ontario approved, it's really very simple - unionize the entire WalMart workforce, and Briggs will cease his opposition to the project.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Macaroni Kid on My Delight

If you follow My Delight Cupcakery on Facebook, then you already know that they were featured in a post in Macaroni Kid. The post describes how My Delight started, and provides other details.

But Cynthia W. is a good blogger and knows that bloggers need to provide disclaimers. Here's the one that she provided at the end of her article:

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation or free "treats" for this feature -- I just tried their cupcakes and wanted to pass this info onto MacKid readers. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Did I violate Ontario International Airport's rules and regulations on September 21, 2008?

If you read my Empoprise-BI business blog, you may have just read my second post in a series regarding the citation given to Sam Wolanyk for an alleged violation of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Code 7.14(a). This broadly written clause reads as follows:

(a) No person shall take still, motion or sound motion pictures or voice recordings on the facilities and airports under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (the “Authority”) without written permission from the Authority’s Executive Director or his or her designee.

Upon reading that clause, I observed:

I'll grant that Ontario International Airport does not fall under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, but if it did, I have broken clause (a) many, many times. For example, on September 21, 2008 I have irrefutable evidence that I took a picture at an airport. And no, I can't argue that was my evil twin.

That irrefutable evidence can be found in an Empoprise-IE post entitled Self-portrait (#openworld08 DOES make Empoprise-IE). In that post, I (or someone who looks very very much like me and hacked my blog) admits that the picture was taken at the Applebee's at the airport.

Of course, the airport does not fall under the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. It falls under Los Angeles World Airports. So what does the April 2010 code (PDF) for Ontario's airport say?

2.12 Commercial/Non-Commercial Filming, Student Filming and Photography:

LA/Ontario Airport Operations has the responsibility of coordinating and
supervising filming activities as mandated by LAWA Board of Airport
Commissioners Resolution # 18978. All entities, including tenants, must contact
the ONT Film Desk, (909) 975-5345, prior to conducting any filming (feature film, television show, or television news magazine), video (music or training), or photographic project at ONT.

a. Film Production companies, airport tenants, students and others requesting to film, photograph, or videotape projects of a commercial, promotional or training nature at ONT must obtain a Film Permit in advance of the proposed production date. See LAWA - ONT Filming.

b. An ONT Film Permit does not constitute a contract. Film Permits are conditional, subject to ONT security and operational requirements, the needs of its tenants, and the traveling public.

c. Filming activity is permitted only in locations approved by the ONT Film Desk, and requires a production location scout, or technical scout, prior to filming. Filming is not allowed on any lessee's premises or lessee's facilities, unless specifically stated as a permitted use in the lease agreement, or unless individual permission is granted by the Executive Director or her/his duly authorized representative.

Now I could possibly claim that the Empoprise-IE blog is not a "photographic project," but you never know how laws could be enforced.

Of course, these airport rules are just a subset of rules that are alleged to conflict with First Amendment rights of free speech - the argument being that an airport, or a grocery store, or wherever is essentially a public place and not private property.

But if you want to play it safe, the next time you go to Ontario International Airport, bring a sketch artist.

Cal State University San Bernardino Alumni

Any college or university that has been around for a while is bound to have had some famous graduates - or, in the case of my alma mater, a famous non-graduate.

California State University at San Bernardino has an Alumni Spotlight page that features their leading alumni. Here are three of them:

Lee D. Roberts (B.A. biology 1974, B.A. economics 1975) is the former president and CEO of FileNet Corporation, a Costa Mesa-based business process and content management software company. Lee joined FileNet in 1997 and led the company’s transformation to the industry’s top enterprise content management provider. He currently is vice president and general manager of content management at IBM, which acquired FileNet in 2006, and where Lee worked for more than 20 years before joining FileNet.

Lois Carson (B.A. English 1967) is the recipient of the 2007 Lyndon Baines Johnson Human Services Award from the national Community Action Partnership. Lois, who is the executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County, was honored for her efforts helping low-income families change their lives.

Robert Bouttier (B.A. business administration 1977) is the president and chief operating officer for the Automobile Club of Southern California. Bob, a 32-year veteran of the Auto Club, oversees the daily operations of the largest AAA-affiliated motor club in the country. He was named COO in 2005, and prior to that promotion served as senior vice president of marketing and member services. Bob serves on the board of the Los Angeles Sports Council and also is a director of AAA Life Insurance Company.

More here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Biometrics at Cal Poly Pomona?

As you may know, I am employed in the biometrics industry, and I therefore have a keen interest in reading about local applications of biometrics.

Both Planet Biometrics and findBiometrics are reporting that Cal Poly Pomona has realized a 300% return on a biometric investment that it had made.

findBiometrics reprinted an M2SYS press release:

California University Campus Reports 300% Return On Investment After First Year Of Using Biometric Technology

Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Implements M2SYS Biometric Technology with Kronos Time and Attendance Software

LAS VEGAS --(November 8, 2010) – Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Inc. reported today that it has realized a 300% return on investment in biometric technology during the first year of deployment. It has implemented M2SYS Technology’s biometric fingerprint technology with its Kronos time and attendance software, enabling employees to use fingerprint readers to clock in and clock out at the beginning and end of shifts and lunch breaks.

Cal Poly Pomona Foundation identified several time and attendance challenges which led them to implement biometric fingerprint technology. The problems included backlogs during check-in/check-out, decreases in payroll staff productivity to reconcile time stamp errors and buddy punching. It was seeking to incorporate a biometric check-in/check-out interface that eliminated backlogs and sped up the process to decrease lost employee productivity.

After implementing biometric technology, Cal Poly Pomona Foundation estimates at least 10 employment service staff hours saved per pay cycle by eliminating the need for supervisors to authorize hours in the system after processing. This equates to 10 hours per cycle, 20 hours per month and approximately 240 hours per year which they have been able to allocate to other projects and initiatives. They estimate savings of $15,000 per year through a $5,000 investment in biometric technology.

This announcement was made from KronosWorks™, the industry’s largest venue for exchanging ideas on how to effectively manage the workforce. KronosWorks is taking place this week in Las Vegas.

About Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Inc.
Established in 1966, the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Inc. is an integral component for the educational mission of the University. The Foundation exists to provide the highest level of service and financial support while maintaining corporate fiscal integrity.

About Kronos
Kronos is the global leader in workforce management solutions that enable organizations to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity. Tens of thousands of organizations in 60 countries - including more than half of the Fortune 1000® - use Kronos time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics applications. To learn how Kronos uniquely delivers complete automation and high-quality information in an easy-to-use solution, visit

About M2SYS Technology
M2SYS Technology,, provides technology that makes biometric software affordable, simple to integrate and inexpensive to support enabling customers to easily utilize the right form of biometric technology for their needs.

CONTACT: John Trader
Communications Specialist
M2SYS Technology
770-393-0986 x34

DISCLAIMER: I am an employee of a different biometric company, MorphoTrak.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is Chevron blithe about solar?

Perhaps it's the recent election, but somehow the idea has entered my brain that oil companies are evil. I mean, if the TV says that they're evil, it must be true. A lot of time was spent on TV talking about evil Texas oil companies such as Valero, and evil English oil companies such as British Petroleum.

But somehow the opponents to California's Proposition 23 (which lost, by the way) never got around to talking about the fact that there's a California oil company, San Ramon-based Chevron Corporation, which employs Californians, and which would have benefited from Proposition 23. The opponents kinda sorta left that out of their negative campaign ads.

Of course, companies such as Chevron could be harmed by market conditions. There are other energy sources, and those of us who live in the Inland Empire know about them. Just drive out toward Palm Springs, and you'll see more windmills than you can shake an oil rag at. And if you keep on driving, you'll find another energy source in the future:

A 250-megawatt solar power plant planned for Riverside County received final regulatory approval Thursday from the Secretary of Interior.

To be developed by NextEra Energy Resources, the Genesis Solar Project will be located on nearly 1,950 acres of public land 25 miles west of Blythe.

But NextEra, please don't refer to your project as the "Genesis" project. When you put something out in the middle of the desert and call it "Genesis," next thing you know aliens will start showing up and attacking Blythe and Yuma. And we can't let that happen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This call center is slightly smaller than the Hilton's call center

I talk about call centers a lot in my Empoprise-BI business blog, but not so much on this Inland Empire-focused blog. One major center was an August 19 post which talked about the closure of a Hilton call center in Hemet, and the transfer of the employees' duties to the Philippines.

That closure affected nearly 300 employees. But not all call centers are that large. In fact, the Riverside Press-Enterprise recently interviewed the heads of a much smaller call center, the nearly 50 employee Professional Communications Network. And in a world in which we commonly talk about call centers in the Philippines or India, it's interesting to hear the views of a company which concentrates on a much smaller geographic area.

There's less mom-and-pop answering services ... Technology has really allowed for that, because when we started it was very expensive for us to handle calls in Malibu, Los Angeles, Long Beach from Riverside or from Los Angeles just because of mileage. You used to have to pay a lot of mileage just to get the calls here. And now with technology we can cover all of Southern California ... and it's next to nothing.

But wouldn't it be cheaper to have staff in Manila or Omaha?

With a lot of our medical especially, I think they feel comfortable being in Southern California having somebody in Southern California answer it. I don't think they're excited about having their patients answered by somebody in New York ... Our clients want us to be able to answer questions and understand a little bit about what they do.

Read the entire interview here. Or visit the company's website at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taco organizations - the Veterans of Foreign Wars?

I guess I should explain the title of this post. Years ago, there was an indie musician named Doctor Orange who released a song called "Taco Taco Taco." In the middle of the song, out of the blue, Doctor Orange sang the line "Taco organizations."

Well, if you believe Liset Marquez, the Ontario post (Post 2085) of the Veterans of Foreign Wars qualifies as a "taco organization."

Marquez reports that the post hosts a taco night every Friday evening from 5 to 7. See Marquez's blog post for the VFW post's phone number. They're at 1341 East D Street.

View Larger Map

Monday, November 8, 2010


At least in our country, some airports are designated as "international" airport. The criteria appears to be "if a flight from another country has ever landed at your airport, it's international."

The international airport is not CURRENTLY required to provide international service. If it were, then Ontario's airport would have to go through a dizzying round of name changes, as service between the airport and Mexico starts, stops, then starts again.

Ontario is currently NOT receiving any international flights, but it will definitely be international beginning on November 20:

Aeromexico will resume international flights at Ontario International Airport starting in late November.

According to the airline's website, the first flight from Guadalajara, Mexico, should arrive Nov. 20 at 11:45 p.m. and depart from the Inland airport the next day at 1:15 a.m. Fares for the flights linking Ontario and Guadalajara range from $138 to $253 each way, according to the site.

The Press-Enterprise article notes that Aeromexico had stopped its service in February, expected to start it again in July, but won't actually start until late November.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A lesson for non-incumbent candidates in local elections

I was just checking the analytic data for this blog, the Empoprise-IE blog, to see if my election posts had resulted in a surge of interest in the blog. It turns out that they have, since at least some people were getting here while searching for information on Paul Vincent Avila. But the most popular search terms for this blog include variations on Frederick J. Minook's name.

This just goes to prove something that I said back in August.

[A]s of this evening (August 24, 2010), if someone were to search Google to find out who the heck Frederick Minook is, my previous blog post on Frederick Minook would be the first search result that they would encounter.

As of this evening, that blog post is STILL the top search result for Minook.

It's fairly obvious that Minook did not conduct any type of online campaign. As far as I know, the only campaigning that Minook did was to send a postcard-sized mailer to voters - and if you search the web for "minook mailer," you'll find that a post on this blog was the top search result there, also.

Yes, this scares me. And it even scared Paul Leon, and Leon was Minook's opponent in the election. Leon offered the following comment:

Well stated. The internet should also be thoroughly researched for truth in content. Not only can somebody shape your identity, they can put a very negative spin on it. Cross referencing all research is very important. Good point here. Even "trusted" sites like Wikipedia can be suspect because the nature of Wikipedia is for "users" to add content. Now that is a bit scary!

Now I have never met Leon or Minook, and I don't know how well they know each other, but during their campaign I never heard them taking swipes at each other.

But if there's any lesson that non-incumbent candidates should learn, it is that any candidate, especially a non-incumbent, HAS to establish an online presence. If the candidate doesn't do this, it's possible for their opponent, or someone else, to do it for them.

Initial OMSD and Ontario mayor results

Initial results in San Bernardino County are coming in faster to than I thought.

The Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog has discussed two local elections, so I thought I'd check in on them. Here are initial results for the Ontario-Montclair School District:

Ontario-Montclair School Dist - Gov Brd Mbr
10/70 14.29%
Vote Count Percent
ELVIA M. RIVAS 1,741 13.92%
DAVID CAMPIO 1,353 10.82%
J. STEVE GARCIA 1,804 14.43%
KRIS BRAKE 2,454 19.62%
BENJAMIN LOPEZ 1,111 8.88%
Total 12,506 100.00%

So the three leaders are Avila and two of the three teacher-supported candidates.

The mayor race is no surprise - in fact, I might even call it. Frankly, Minook probably could have called it a few months ago.

7/69 10.14%
Vote Count Percent
PAUL S. LEON 4,986 75.01%
FREDERICK J. MINOOK 1,661 24.99%
Total 6,647 100.00%

Election coverage from Sacramento

The Sacramento Bee's blog just ran a post regarding the demographics of voter turnout and how they affect Proposition 19.

You can follow the Bee's "Capitol Alerts" here. Obviously no specific IE coverage, but they will have coverage of the statewide races.

This could be the last time...

Matt Munson (who, as I previously mentioned), is live-blogging today's election, brought up an important point in his initial Election Day posting:

This is our last election where you can vote for a third party like Green or Libertarian. I hope Proposition 14 gets repealed....

Come 2012 we will only have the dog and pony show.

If you're not sure why Munson is making such an argument - didn't Proposition 14 promise open primaries? - then be sure to read what Kurt Hyde wrote in advance of Proposition 14's passage earlier this year. Here's an excerpt from Hyde's post:

The candidates who would be adversely affected the most by this are third-party candidates, independent candidates, and write-in candidates. In effect, they would find themselves unable to be on the ballot in the general election. While third party, independent, and write-in candidates are rarely elected to office, their influence has helped immeasurably in keeping many a so-called conservative at least reasonably on track during the campaign season by offering disenfranchised voters the opportunity to voice their disgust by casting a protest vote. Sometimes they are successful in being elected. Don’t forget Strom Thurmond was first elected to the U.S. Senate as a write-in candidate in 1954.

Frankly, the only way that a third-party candidate will become one of the top two vote-getters would be if the candidate has huge star power, exceeding that of, say, Ross Perot (although Theodore Roosevelt admittedly did well as a third-party candidate in 1912). Hmm...Rob Reiner? Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Anyway, as I write this you have less than 8 hours to go out and vote Peace and Freedom or whatever...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another option for local election coverage

OK, if you're not from the IE, you're going to have to put up with our sob story for a minute.

One of my favorite spectator sports is election night results. And not just the top of the ballot - I want to hear about my entire ballot. I went ahead and votoed for (or against) all of the stuff - why not find out how the rest of the area voted?

So I tune into our local television stations and hear all of the election results - for Los Angeles County.

Thanks a lot.

Well, one year I had another option - our local public television station, channel 24, offered local coverage. This consisted of a guy in a monotone reading election results, coupled with a woman at one of the party headquarters asking inconsequential questions.

However, there's always the Internet. You can visit for San Bernardino County results, or for Riverside County results. And there are all sorts of bloggers everywhere who will voice opinions on...every election except the one that I'm interested in. No, I don't really care about the witch in Delaware; what about the warlocks and witches in my own back yard?

Which is why I was happy to read this news from Matt Munson:

I am planning a live blog on the election and provide coverage throughout the day, even when I head to the voting booth. All thanks to the blackberry I can provide remote coverage.

I look forward to reading Munson's coverage. Check his Inland Utopia blog for updates.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rick McClure responds

Last Monday, I posted an item entitled Dipping into the local election junk mail which included the following regarding the Ontario-Montclair School District election:

One of the teachers' union mailings was very teamwork-oriented, speaking of teacher-principal-parent teams as well as the "Teachers' Education Team" of Steve Garcia, Elvia Rivas, and Kris Brake. Garcia is the only incumbent who was mentioned in this mailer. The union says that the three will respond to Sacramento's budget cuts by keeping "budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible." Brake, in her separate mailer, says that she "will work to ensure that taxpayer funds are utilized to directly benefit students."

But the teachers' union sent out a separate mailer - one that lives up to the high "standards" set by the state governor's race....

What follows is a hard-hitting attack on Paul Vincent Avila's stances on the issues affecting the board...well, except for the issues part. The hard-hitting attack is still there....

Perhaps I'm going out on a limb here, but I highly suspect that the teachers' union has objections to Avila other than his language or his electioneering.

My post prompted a reply from Rick McClure, President of the Ontario-Montclair Teachers Association, which I am reproducing here in full:

Well, as the President of the union responsible for that piece I think I'm qualified to speak to this. I suggest you go to and see and read for yourself about Mr. Avila. If after reading just his emails to me and the other candidates for the school board you think I've got ulterior motives, well OK. But I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that instead you'll be saying, "OMG, this nut's an elected official!"

If you go to the website, you can see electronic copies of BOTH mailings - the one regarding Avila is at the top of the page, while the one regarding "the education team" of Garcia, Rivas, and Brake is at the bottom of the page. (Since this is the "vote out Avila" website, the order of the ads is reasonable - there is another page in which "the education team" is at the top.) There are also links (some of which have expired) to some of the correspondence from and to Avila.

To my knowledge, Avila does not have a campaign website, but his official school board biography, as well as the biographies of J. Steve Garcia and the other incumbent school board members, can be found here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alan Wapner's LAX-ONT conflict of interest claims

As noted previously, Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner has been a vocal proponent of purchasing Ontario International Airport from its current owner, the city of Los Angeles. In a recent letter in the Los Angeles Times, Wapner argued that the city of Los Angeles has a conflict of interest in running ONT:

Los Angeles has an inherent conflict of interest in controlling both airports. As Los Angeles struggles to regain lost traffic at LAX and to pay for a multibillion-dollar expansion, it views ONT as something of a competitor deserving scant attention.

I don't know if Wapner's claim is true or not, and considering the moves by LAX's neighbors to limit traffic, you'd think that the opposite would be the case. However, Wapner has evidence from Los Angeles World Airports' own Executive Director:

To avoid this conflict, Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates both facilities, must relinquish control of ONT and concentrate on LAX. The need for this was highlighted by LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey's comments at the July 14 meeting of the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners:

"Now continuing to pursue a strategy that actively pushes traffic away from the city of Los Angeles and into other jurisdictions could be viewed as a little self-destructive."

Wapner also claims that one reason for ONT's high fees is the 15% administrative fee tacked on by LAWA.

Unfortunately - and Wapner should realize this - he is dealing with bureaucrats. And the last thing that a bureaucrat would want to do is to reduce his/her power.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A little more Mills at Ontario...but more approachable

It's a truism that malls are always expanding and adding new stores. They are never contracting and losing stores. Basically, all this means is that some tenant moved out (not discussed) and some other tenant moved in (discussed ad nauseum).

But sometimes malls do expand. A few years after I moved to California, the Montclair Plaza added a second floor. And now, the Ontario Mills center is expanding...a bit:

Areas that used to serve as loading docks will make way for additional exterior storefront entrances as well as extra parking.

Actually, although the increase square footage apparently isn't that significant, the configuration is. Exterior storefront entrances are vitally important to some retailers.

Sports Authority will occupy more than 50,000 square feet and will be in Neighborhood 3, replacing the Baby Depot.

The sports retailer, Smith said, is actually returning to the Mills.

It used to occupy the space where Forever 21 is located, but one of the reasons it left several years ago was because it didn't have an exterior entrance, Smith said.

And it's not just the Mills. When Barnes & Noble moved down Montclair's Central Avenue to relocate in Montclair Plaza a few years ago, the new Barnes & Noble included an exterior entrance.

Of course, if exterior entrances become more and more important, then you'll end up with...a traditional shopping center, or perhaps something more akin to Victoria Gardens.

Only in California...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TMI - Take the train to Cagle's?

I had to find the phone number for Cagle's Appliances in Ontario, so I went to Google to find it.

Now on the one hand, I appreciate the integration that Google has performed between locations and nearby transportation systems, and I can certainly verify that you can get to Cagle's by walking from the Ontario Amtrak station.

But as much as I admire Cagle's, I don't think that people are going to be taking a long-distance train to get there. However, should you be a Tucson, Arizona resident who is looking for a California appliance store, here's how the Sunset Limited can meet your transportation needs.

  • Board the Sunset Limited in Tucson on Tuesday evening. It currently departs at 10:30 pm, but this may change when daylight saving time ends.

  • Disembark at Ontario at 6:21 am Wednesday morning.

  • Take your time walking east on Holt to Cagle's. Maybe you could stop somewhere for breakfast.

  • When Cagle's opens at 8:30, go ahead and head on in. Take your time browsing around. But don't take too much time.

  • Be sure you're back at the train station to board the eastbound train on Wednesday at 3:34 pm. (You did stop for lunch on Holt, didn't you?)

  • You're back in Tucson at 12:06 am on Thursday, give or take an hour depending upon time changes. But you have some new appliances!

Note, however, that the Sunset Limited only runs three days a week. And since Cagle's is closed on Sundays, which is one of the days that the Sunset Limited is in Ontario, there are only two days a week in which you can take the Sunset Limited for your shopping excursion. So plan carefully.

Or if the train trip doesn't work for you, Cagle's is a short cab ride away from Ontario International Airport.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Dipping into the local election junk mail

On Saturday morning, I did something that I had been avoiding.

I started looking at the accumulated election-related junk mail.

And it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, there's still a little bit of time before the election, so it can turn really bad really quickly.

For the purposes of the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog, I'll ignore the statewide races and just concentrate on the local stuff.

I heard from two incumbents - Congressman Joe "Food on the Table" Baca and Ontario City Council Member "Fire Chief" Jim Bowman. Because of their incumbency, they didn't have to resort to negative campaigning. Both are creating jobs, and both are tough. Baca didn't mention who was supporting him, but Bowman noted union support (the fire fighters' union and the police union endorse him) and also noted that every member of the current City Council endorses him. The phrase "independent voice" was not found either of the two Bowman mailers that were in the pile.

Another incumbent of sorts mailed me - the city of Ontario itself. While the mailing was about Measure V (an increase in the hotel-motel tax), the mailer was careful not to endorse Measure V. The mailer just provided information...along with a lot of pictures of fire trucks, fire fighers, and police officers. (For some reason, a picture of someone filling a pothole wasn't deemed sexy enough for this brochure.)

Oh, and remember Fred J. Minook? He sent me a mailer also, which talked about dreaming big and being "innovative." Without trashing the current council (again, a refreshing break from negative advertising), Minook listed some of the things that he wants to do, including the redevelopment of Holt, Euclid, and Mountain to increase businesses and tax revenue; attracting more museums and cultural institutions "so our residents do not have to travel to Los Angeles"; and other big plans. One might question the specifics and logic of ideas such as this:

Fred would expand the Convention Center to attract major conventions and stem the losses.

(What if the bigger conventions DON'T come?) but Minook certainly gets credit for raising the issue.

Unfortunately, the apparent civility in the Ontario mayoral election doesn't appear to have extended to the Ontario-Montclair School District board election. The police and fire unions aren't the only unions that are participating in the election; of the three mailings that I had concerning the OMSD election, two were from the local teachers' union, and the third was from a teachers' union-endorsed candidate.

One of the teachers' union mailings was very teamwork-oriented, speaking of teacher-principal-parent teams as well as the "Teachers' Education Team" of Steve Garcia, Elvia Rivas, and Kris Brake. Garcia is the only incumbent who was mentioned in this mailer. The union says that the three will respond to Sacramento's budget cuts by keeping "budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible." Brake, in her separate mailer, says that she "will work to ensure that taxpayer funds are utilized to directly benefit students."

But the teachers' union sent out a separate mailer - one that lives up to the high "standards" set by the state governor's race. It opens as follows:

It's OK
for Our Children
to Pretend to be Adults...

But It's Not OK
for Our Board Members
to Behave Like Children

What follows is a hard-hitting attack on Paul Vincent Avila's stances on the issues affecting the board...well, except for the issues part. The hard-hitting attack is still there. Examples:

Avila threw a tantrum, using profanity to berate school administrators in front of parents and teachers when his name was left off a middle schools' graduation program....

In his time on the Ontario-Montclair School Board, Avila has lost races for State Assembly 3 times, State Senate 3 times, college board 4 times and city council 6 times.

Perhaps I'm going out on a limb here, but I highly suspect that the teachers' union has objections to Avila other than his language or his electioneering.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spirit Walk at Bellevue Cemetery on October 30

Bellevue Cemetery in Ontario holds some personal significance for me. Three family members are buried there, a neighbor is buried there, and just recently I heard that a former pastor was going to be buried there.

If I were to name these people, most of you wouldn't know them, but anyone who has studied Ontario history will certainly have heard of some of these people:

George Chaffey, founder of Ontario.
Dr. Orville Ensign, local physician.
E.H. Richardson, inventor of Hotpoint Iron.
Frances Elizabeth Oakley, citrus owner and member of Ontario's Women's Temperance Union.
Kezzie Monroe, one of the early librarians.

The Ontario Heritage Association is holding a "Spirit Walk" at the cemetery on October 30, and actors will portray each of these five people at their gravesites.

Frankly, I was surprised to discover that George Chaffey was buried here. Ontario was just one of the projects in which he was involved during his lifetime. However, I guess that it would be hard to bury him in the town of Salton.

See Liset Marquez's post for more details on the Spirit Walk.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Safariland's corporate history

I haven't really followed the Ontario firm Safariland lately, even though I have a natural interest in the company. Since I've worked in public safety software for the last 15 years, I'm always interested in Inland Empire companies like ESRI and Safariland that also play in that sector.

But when I last checked into Safariland some time ago, they were a stand-alone independent company in Ontario. A September Press-Enterprise story on Safariland's Scott O'Brien updates that history somewhat.

In 1999 O'Brien and Perkins sold their ownership in Safariland and planned on retiring. But the buyer, Armor Holdings, was unable to coordinate the operations of Safariland and 18 other manufacturers of law enforcement products it had acquired, and in 2005 O'Brien agreed to return as president and meld the separate companies into one organization....

Then in 2007 the United States unit of BAE Systems plc, a British global conglomerate, bought Armor Holdings. O'Brien continued as president. Today he is navigating Safariland, which has 1,763 employees and manufacturing plants in Inland Southern California, Florida, Wyoming and Tijuana, through a severe economic downturn.

A word on that downturn - you'd think that public safety would be pretty much recession-proof, but when governments are short on cash, they'll often try to make do with existing equipment and software for just one more year. So I can see O'Brien's challenges.

Be sure to read the interview of O'Brien in the Press-Enterprise.

Oh, and by the way, I can identify with O'Brien in another way, since he sells products that are subject to export controls. O'Brien:

Our biggest market is the Untied States. The international arena has more growth opportunity but the problem now is that BAE is very stringent about how they want business done internationally. You have to do a lot of careful vetting of whom you sell to, to make certain they are not going to take the stuff and sell it to some corrupt government.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And you thought that only auto racers came to the IE

The Citizens Business Bank Arena is bringing new people here who otherwise wouldn't come. Case in point: Elton John and Leon Russell will appear there on November 5. They've also worked on an album together, which will be released in October before their appearance.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maybe David Allen will run for office too

I never got around to this, but Gino Filippi is running for Upland City Council this November. While his claim to fame is with the Filippi Winery, I actually know him best as a columnist for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, where he wrote about...Gatorade. Just kidding, he had a wine column.

This is what Gino Filippi said:

The Upland City Council needs revitalizing. My passion is driven by people and their contributions. I'm considered open-minded, ethical and organized. While this is my first opportunity to serve the people of Upland in an official capacity, I have served as a community volunteer for multiple organizations for over 20 years. I will work to establish term limits, maintain public safety including sidewalk and street repairs, restore library services and support local business. I have no agenda for personal gain or favors and my objective is to restore Upland to the "City of Gracious Living" as intended by its founders.

So does this mean that David Allen will run for the city council in Claremont or Pomona or wherever he lives?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Somehow this drop in the jobless rate is not encouraging

Again, a statistic that can be spun multiple ways.

On the one hand, the jobless rate in the Inland Empire has dropped!'s dropped to 14.8%.

But gets better:

Unemployment, which had reached an all-time high of 15.1 percent in the Inland area in July, declined to 14.8 percent. The jobless rate declined because more than 9,000 people left the work force last month.

In an odd twist, net employment gains were registered by construction and shipping firms (or what John Husing called "the meat-and-potato sectors" for our region), while net employment losses were registered by government agencies.

Well, at least that's a good sign. If the net gains were being registered in the public sector rather than the private sector, I'd be more worried.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Well, one regional airport is thriving

Sometimes it seems that the stories emanating from Ontario International Airport alternate between bad news and worse news. But there is a bright spot in the (sort of) local airport conversation.

Palm Springs International Airport has added a direct flight from Toronto starting Feb. 2 on West Jet.

Wow. Ontario doesn't have a direct flight to Canada, to my knowledge.

Oh, and the number of air travelers at Palm Springs is increasing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ontario International Airport without the "LA"?

Readers of this blog know the story. Ontario International Airport launched a big expansion, just before 9/11 hit and rendered its terminal configuration meaningless (all of the shops and restaurants ended up behind security barriers, meaning that only passengers could get to them), decreased the number of passengers because people didn't want to fly, resulted in increased rates to the airlines who flew into the airport...thus meaning that airlines began to pull out of the airport.

I guess it helps to write a 25 page study to say that, but the study apparently also calls for an action plan.

City leaders in Los Angeles, which currently operates the facility, must act now to prevent further loss of flights at ONT, where unusually high operating costs contributed to a decision by Southwest Airlines alone to cut its daily departures by a third in the last decade, the report said.

If you've never been to the airport, Southwest pretty much IS the airport. Yes, other airlines fly here, but Southwest is clearly the dominant carrier.

There are actions that can be taken, and a suggestion of who can best perform those actions. The Press-Enterprise:

Reviving ailing Ontario International Airport will require slashing costs and increasing marketing, two things the city of Ontario thinks it can do better than the city of Los Angeles....

So how do you cut costs?

The plan focuses instead on the airport's high cost to airlines -- a result due in large part to a bloated work force of city employees and millions of dollars in administrative costs collected by Los Angeles International Airport annually, according to the report.

But the Press-Enterprise cites one economist, Alan Bender, who says that operational cost-cutting won't help much.

"You go where the business is," he said. In an area where the recession has left an even deeper wound than other regions, the business climate has waned, he said. "That's more important than lowering the costs."

But you have to admit that the costs are huge.

It costs airlines an estimated $14.50 per enplaned passenger at Ontario airport. At LAX it costs $11, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County it costs $9.93 and in Long Beach Airport it's $5.34.

Hmm...maybe Los Angeles could sell the airport to Long Beach.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why the Ag Preserve needs to be shut down

This story is from Australia, but it bears great relevance to the Inland Empire, and illustrates why the Ag Preserve needs to be shut down.

When a crowd of about 50 Aussies started pawing at their suddenly burning, aching eyes, panic set in.

Did somebody release poison gas? (But why would terrorists strike the dairy pavilion at the Royal Adelaide agricultural show?)

No, it’s so, so much worse.

Austrialian health officials were called in CSI-like to investigate the outbreak, Reuters Life! reports. The culprit: Stagnant cow urine.

More here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Follow-up to my Royal Tahitian post

On March 3, 2009, I photoblogged a poster that I saw in the Applebee's in Ontario International Airport. Because the poster listed musicians, I posted it to my Empoprise-MU music blog. However, it talked about a local place - the Royal Tahitian. The post, entitled "At the Royal Tahitian, circa 1966," mentioned that I knew nothing about the establishment, other than the fact that Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughan, and Louis Armstrong had apparently performed there in 1966.

Leave it to David Allen, in a September 4 post in his blog, to fill in some of the gaps.

The Royal Tahitian operated in Ontario from 1960 to 1967 at Whispering Lakes Golf Course.

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Afterward the building became the clubhouse for the golf course (at 2525 E Riverside Drive, Ontario CA 91761), but Allen reports that the clubhouse was closed in April, and the building is slated to be demolished.

Be sure to visit Allen's post for some before and after pictures, including some handbills from the heyday of the Royal Tahitian. Some of the other performers included the Four Tops, James Brown, and Ray Charles. Also see the Sunday article that Allen wrote in his paying gig, the Daily Bulletin.

But it wasn't just about the music, according to Critiki:

The Royal Tahitian claimed to be the world's largest Polynesian restaurant, with 250 acres of tropical landscaping and "lagoons" -- however, this was simply a reference to the Ontario National Golf Course nextdoor. The main floor was the restaurant, with a bar downstairs, and a show area outside. It featured a dramatic asymmetrical swooping A-frame entrance.

However, Critiki also claims that the building was demolished in 2003. Frankly, I trust David Allen on this one - unless the golf course happened to have TWO buildings with dramatic asymmetrical swooping A-frames. Perhaps there are multiple Royal Tahitians, just like there are multiple Doyle Owls. (And no, I don't think Reed College's Doyle Owl has ever appeared at the Whispering Lakes Golf Course.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Pacific Island music (now - Pacific Island Dancers of Chino Hills)

As I mentioned in a post in my Empoprise-MU music blog, I first encountered Pacific Island music when I needed to select a theme song for my college radio show. Eventually I used M.K. Moke's "Moana Chimes" (after a period of using Roy Smeck's "Indiana March"), but I really hadn't run across much Pacific Island music since that time until I was invited to a Saturday evening luau.

At a senior citizen assisted living center.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but I figured that the center would serve some pineapple, and I figured that perhaps some of the 80-year old women could still hula, so I went there with an open mind.

As it turned out, they did serve pineapple, and a variety of other foods (no roasted pig with an apple in its mouth, though). And the dancing was NOT done by the residents. Instead, the entertainment was provided by three dancers (two female, one male) and one drummer from Pacific Island Dancers, a group based on the "island" of Chino Hills, California.

Their show (presented in the parking lot of the complex) was billed as a tour of the islands, starting and ending in Tahiti, with stops in Hawaii, Samoa, and New Zealand. Much of the dancing was done to pre-recorded music (with the drummer augmenting things on some songs), but the final dances were accompanied by the drummer alone.

They also had an audience participation segment. No, none of the residents participated, but they did get five family members to go up front and shake around a bit.

A fun time was had by all. In addition to performing at corporate events, Pacific Island Dancers also offers instruction for all age groups.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Finding the local blogs

While searching for the slightest mention of a particular Ontario, California mayoral candidate, I made a discovery about the Original Skrip blog. I normally read it via Google Reader, so I just see the RSS version of the posts and don't see the entire blog in all of its goodness.

It turns out that if you actually visit the blog, you'll find a list of local blogs in the upper right corner, including this very Empoprise-IE blog. I was familiar with some of the listed blogs, but hadn't heard of some of the others. In particular, the Goddess of Garey Avenue was new to me. How many goddesses can a single city have? And yes, "GOGA" was inspired by the similarly-named Goddess of Pomona.

The Goddess of Pomona has been trying to get me to start a blog for quite some time now, so I’m finally having at it.

I have been mentioned on several other Pomona blogs over the past couple of years and was first mentioned on the the Goddess of Pomona’s blog several years ago when I was really into sungazing while on Garey Avenue. And that’s where I got my name The Goddess of Garey Avenue.

Now I'm wondering if there are any other emperors in Ontario.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why social media political campaigning is rapidly becoming a necessity


I have previously noted that current Ontario Mayor and mayoral candidate Paul Leon has an online presence, while mayoral candidate Frederick Minook does not.

Why is this important?

Because, as of this evening (August 24, 2010), if someone were to search Google to find out who the heck Frederick Minook is, my previous blog post on Frederick Minook would be the first search result that they would encounter.

In my blogging, I've tried to corner the market on obscure topics before, but I've never had the (theoretical) potential to affect the future of our great city.

Of course, I'll grant that most people don't make political decisions based on Google. But it's still scary to think that if someone isn't promoting their own cause, an interloper could come by and do it for them.

(empo-tymshft) An Inland Empire 2010!

You may recall that I wrote a post a couple of years ago that talked about bulletin board systems (BBS'es) in the 20th century Inland Empire.

But that isn't the only time that I wrote about BBS systems. Matt Munson (who was mentioned in my 2008 post) apparently found a reference to my BBS'ing days while perusing the August 2004 archive of the Ontario Empoblog, and Munson ended up writing a post about his own BBS'ing days. Excerpt:

[B]ack on July 1995, I had plans for my first bbs where I wrote my plans for a message base lineup, but I only had 60 megs to run a bbs and I decided to run a part time bbs, but that was kind of not cool because people did not know the difference not to call at the daytime when they were supposed to call at night.

But Munson's time in BBS-land hasn't ended. The post includes a link to a BBS that Munson started in 2002, and is still going strong today.

Yes, a link. The BBS world has changed since the time that I'd dial in to a BBS via a modem. These days, there are new ways to access such systems.

There are three choices for interactivity, you can visit with a web browser to read the message forums, and download files (such as the telnet client and offline message reader program), flash based terminal program where you can do most things on my bbs except for downloading and uploading files, and the telnet connection where you can visit my bbs like if you were dialing with a modem.

But once you get to the BBS via the newfangled methods, it's just like you were interacting with a BBS in the 20th century.

Well, with one exception. This post includes a signature block which would have mystified me if I had seen it on the Grotto back in the day:

~ I am on twitter: @thinktank79 on Twitter ~

I can see the 20th century version of me asking, "What's a twitter?"

Now, I could conceivably join the BBS just to answer that question, and even though I'm reluctant to add yet another login (BBS systems don't support Facebook Connect or Twitter OAuth), I just might do it in this instance. But if I do, what should I use as my handle? Wasp the Houseboy? Ontario Emperor? 20th Century Modem Man?

Friday, August 20, 2010

London, Redlands, and trees

Back in July, the Financial Times of London ran a story on ESRI's Jack Dangermond. But perhaps the readers of that esteemed paper didn't get some of the implied local references. For example:

He does have an indulgence, however – trees. A keen conservationist, he buys thousands of acres of “junk” land in southern California in order to reforest it.

Considering that Dangermond works in Redlands, his appreciation for trees is understandable.

More here, including Dangermond's thought on his technology and the virtues of running a private company.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why the Echo Hills Golf Course won't be replaced by a Hilton any time soon

Someone who worked for a Hilton call center in Hemet two years ago has made some allegations about some bad timing on Hilton's part.

Employees of a Hemet reservation call center for Hilton Worldwide were sent to the Philippines to train agents at a new call center there only two months before Hilton announced that it was closing the Hemet office....

[A]t a 2 p.m. meeting on Aug. 4, Hilton told its Hemet employees what had been rumored for months: that the center on Florida Avenue would close, on Oct. 6. Documents say 295 people will lose their jobs.

Hilton has been somewhat tight-lipped about the matter.

[A]lthough office staff handed out the phone number of a public relations executive, he did not return calls seeking comment. Four hours after the layoff was announced, that executive, David Trumble, Hilton's director of corporate communications for the western United States, e-mailed a three-paragraph statement....

Trumble took seven days to respond to e-mailed questions about Hilton's operations, including whether Hilton had call centers in the Philippines, whether Hemet employees were sent there as trainers and whether Hemet employees would receive relocation assistance.

He did not answer the latter two questions. [Former employee] Stroud said Hemet employees were offered relocation help.

This isn't the first time that Hilton has sent employees to the Philippines to train their replacements, according to this 2009 article:

Some of the 176 soon-to-be laid-off employees of the Hilton Reservations & Customer Care call center in Humboldt Industrial Park traveled to the Philippines to train workers for a new facility, according to several sources at the center.

The local call center is scheduled to close Dec. 8, a company spokesman confirmed earlier this week.

About a dozen workers, who requested anonymity because they remain employed at Hilton, claim multiple contingents of workers from the local call center have traveled to the island nation to train workers.

A spokesman for Hilton Reservation Worldwide did not return calls seeking comment on the claims.

Interestingly enough, the same article from 2009 stated that the center in Hemet was "scheduled to close." Presumably if out of town newspapers were reporting this, the employees in Hemet already knew it; they just didn't know when it would happen.

Note to Hilton employees - if you're sent on a business trip to the Philippines, polish up your resume before you go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Angus - the magical name

Use of the correct term can make a big impression, as any "automotive specialist" who "consults" with individuals on the purchase of "pre-owned cars" can tell you.

McDonalds knows a thing or two about marketing, which is why this announcement has appeared.

McDonald's is launching a new Angus Snack Wrap in Southern California stores, including in 111 of its 134 Inland locations.

Using words such as "Angus" allow McDonalds to potentially increase its profit margin by marketing to a more upscale clientele, or at least to those of us who want to pretend to be upscale. Slashfood observed the following during an Angus Snack Wrap taste test:

We attended a product-tasting event yesterday afternoon in a three-story restaurant with wood-paneled walls and modern accents, where people were using the free wifi and enjoying complimentary manicures. Sounds fancy, eh? The restaurant, by the way, was a McDonald's. (And those manicures were exclusive to the event.)

I'm not sure if I want a McManicure in a restaurant, but perhaps I'll try an Angus Snack Wrap if I'm in a snack mood.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Golfers in Hemet will weep

The stereotypical image of a golfer does not necessarily correlate with the stereotypical image of the Inland Empire. Golfers are supposedly urban, rich, and (until what's-his-name became popular) white, and the Inland Empire is generally none of the above.

But despite this, golf is popular outside of the elite circles, and was doing pretty good business in more remote locations.

Well, WAS is the operative word. The Echo Hills golf course in Hemet is closing after nearly fifty years in business:

"The business didn't support the costs," said owner Phil Crockett.

Interestingly enough, Echo Hills is (was) the only course in the area that was a 9 hole course. The others are 18 holes. The Press-Enterprise claims that the 9 holes, as well as the short walking distances, effectively gave Echo Hills a niche that made it popular with children and senior citizens. The fees ($10 to walk the course) certainly helped with popularity, but apparently didn't help with the bottom line.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The yards are still selling

You'll recall that I wrote about Ontario's new limitations on yard sales, after reading Matt Munson's post on the topic.

The first official yard sale weekend was the weekend of August 6-8, as I noted in these two posts.

After that weekend, all yard sale activity in the city of Ontario was supposed to cease until Friday, November 5.

Yeah, right.

Last weekend, I saw several signs in Ontario for yard sales. I should have taken pictures like the blogger/journalist that I am supposed to be, but I didn't.

Don't know if the code enforcement police toured the neighborhoods looking for offenders.

Incidentally, if you want to see the full text of the city ordinance, you can find Ordinance number 2924 here (pdf).

Yeah, but does Frederick Minook tweet?

It's always interesting to see the people who choose to follow you on Twitter. (My Twitter account name, by the way, is @empoprises.) Some people follow you just to increase their follower count, or to hawk their "social media expert" wares. And others follow you because of the things that you talk about, and since some of my tweets involve the Inland Empire (all posts to this blog generate Twitter entries), there are various Inland Empire people who choose to follow me.

And one of my recent followers is @mayorpaulleon. He uses his Twitter account and his website to promote all things Ontario. And, of course, the presence also helps to promote Mayor Leon himself. Nothing wrong with that, because if it were, I'd have to go back to posting under a pseudonym.

It should be noted, however, that this is an election year, and Mayor Leon is running for re-election. So naturally there's an interesting in seeing who, if anyone would choose to run against him.

Liset Marquez has linked to the list of candidates and almost-candidates, the latter being people who pulled papers, but didn't end up officially filing. Or perhaps they filed but didn't have enough signatures.

At the end of the day, only two candidates are running for the position of Mayor - Leon, who qualified for the ballot on August 2, and Frederick J. Minook, who qualified for the ballot back on July 14.

Now I'll admit that I haven't really followed city politics all that closely lately, so maybe those in the know already are familiar with Minook. I, however, am not. So I am depending upon the web to see what I can find out about him. Be cautioned, however, that there is always the possibility of two Frederick J. Minooks in the area, so perhaps I'm a little off here.

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Minook donated to Damien High School.

At one point Minook apparently applied to become a member of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, who solicited comments about him.

San Bernardino County documents for this election (see page 57) list Minook's occupation as "Retired Technical Supervisor."

And that's about all that I found, which may not bode well for Minook in this election. Let me give you an example - a Google search for the quoted phrase Frederick J. Minook only presents 6 results (which will presumably increase to 7 after this blog post appears). By way of contrast, John E. Bredehoft yields over 300,000 results. And we already know that I wouldn't get any significant amount of votes in any election. For one thing, I don't own my own domain name like Mayor Leon does.

Obviously Minook does not have the technical savvy that Suzan DelBene and Dave Reichert have. But then again, the election season is young, and maybe Minook will get a YouTube channel before Leon does.

Then again, perhaps Minook is more savvy than we thought.

And in case I get audited by some election commission, here's some equal time for Paul Leon.

OK, so maybe these videos don't show OUR Minook or Paul Leon. (But there is a Mayor Paul Leon video on YouTube.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Better ways to reduce the dangers of our stereotype

Contrary to popular belief, every resident of the Inland Empire does not have his or her own personal meth lab. Neither does every resident of West Virginia, but West Virginia University is pursuing ways to improve meth lab cleanup:

[Suzanne] Bell and her research group will investigate if the standard cleaning and purifying procedures used to clean homes and apartments which previously served as meth labs really work.

“It’s important to clean it up properly because so many toxic chemicals are used in the preparation of methamphetamine and demolition of the site is not always possible or appropriate. The danger to future occupants is chronic exposure to residuals of these hazardous compounds,” Bell said.

So how will this research be conducted?

Bell and graduate students, Rona Nishikawa, Lucy Oldfield, Travis Doria, and Holly McCall, will simulate meth labs to gauge the effect of the chemicals used on living environments. They also hope to visit former labs to gather samples. Field sites provide the best research environment because it is impossible to simulate an entire meth lab in the academic laboratory.

I wonder if the simulation will include a mobile home, a picture of dogs playing poker, and a television set tuned to Jerry Springer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Villaraigosa wants ONT. Why?

Local new agencies printed two stories about Ontario International Airport recently.

This one (from the Press Enterprise) notes that Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa does not believe that his city should give up control of the airport.

This one (from the Daily Bulletin/San Bernardino Sun) notes that it will be a long time before airport traffic returns to previous levels. In fact, consultant Warren Adams won't reach the 2007 level of traffic (7.2 million passengers) until 2040.

Yes, 2040.

Personally I believe that Adams' crystal ball is a little crowded. For one thing, if LAX continues to suffer from overcrowding and pollution and noise and bad policing and a myriad of other issues, Los Angeles city government may become more active in encouraging more people to travel out of ONT than out of LAX.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(empo-tymshft) Let's demolish stuff for healthy living

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a guy.

I am a guy.

These two facts will be key to this post.

But first let us return to a time when Schwarzenegger's native land was the just-defeated enemy in the war of the United States and others against fascist aggression. The great expansion of the California economy that resulted from World War II was followed by an even greater expansion of the California economy that resulted from the Cold War. When I moved to the Inland Empire in the early 1980s, there were military facilities all over the place, and they were supplied by major defense firms that were also all over the place. Southern California wasn't filled with waitresses who wanted to be actresses - Southern California was filled with military officers who wanted to make huge money working for defense subcontractors.

And in a few short years it was over. The Cold War ended, and the buildup of huge military forces was replaced by a rapid reduction in military facilities. Bases were closed, defense contractors laid off thousands, and the region entered a painful new phase.

One of the decommissioned areas was March Air Force Base, way out in the middle of nowhere south of Riverside, and south of the brand-new city of Moreno Valley. March Air Force Base became March Air Reserve Base.

And recently my governor watched as the remaining buildings at March were destroyed. And it sounds like it was pretty cool:

The first step is the removal of some 40 older buildings, a process that began with a ceremony presided over by Schwarzenegger near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Cactus Avenue. Two pieces of heavy equipment demolished the old Air Force child care center that most recently housed the Somerset Academy for special education students.

If you go to the Press-Enterprise article, you will see pictures of the two pieces of heavy equipment.

So what's happening out there? A hospital center is being built:

The governor said the efforts could turn the former base property into what he called "The Mayo Clinic of the West."

"We're celebrating something no one has ever done in the world. We're building the first health and wellness city," said Schwarzenegger, who flew in to March Air Reserve Base.

Oh well, California has always been a land of dreamers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ontario lawn owners set up safe and attractive garage sales

Follow-up to my earlier post.

While driving down south Euclid Avenue at about 7:15 this morning, I saw two garage sales being set up between Mission and Philadelphia.

View Larger Map

Now I normally don't take that route, so I don't know if Friday morning setups of garage sales are usual at that time on a Friday. But it's possible that this is an indicator of a LOT of lawn activity this weekend.

I checked the Daily Bulletin's garage sale ads, and at the time I checked it there were 37 ads. Only 13 of the ads were for Ontario, which seems rather low to me.

Reminder to Ontario, California lawn owners - today is a garage sale day

As Matt Munson posted on July 24, and as I posted on July 29, this is one of the only four weekends within the next twelve months that Ontario, California residents will be allowed to have a garage sale.

Here's the notice from the city, in case you missed it.


Garage Sale Rules Have Changed

A City Permit is no longer needed for a garage sale. As of June 17, 2010, an ordiance amendment went into effect to allow garage or yard sales only on fixed dates, four weekends per year. Ontario residents may now have four garage sales per year, instead of two sales per year. The dates for 2010 are August 6, 7, and 8th and November 5, 6, and 7th. The dates for 2011 will be posted on the City web site later this year. The new ordiance will help to reduce parking and traffic problems, and will help to keep the City a safe and attractive place to live.

So if you're so inclined, skip work today, throw a bunch of stuff on the front lawn, and sell it.

Or do it tomorrow.

Let's see how "safe and attractive" Ontario looks over the next three days.

Better yet, let's see how many people hold garage sales next weekend, when it's illegal to do so.

[7:55 AM - FOLLOW-UP.]