Tuesday, December 31, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Happy new year?

It occurred to me that I had not recently provided an update on the results of my jury alternate service, although I've briefly discussed it elsewhere.

When I last discussed the matter in August, the defendant was scheduled to be in court for sentencing on October 18.

Well, on October 18, sentencing was rescheduled to November 8.

On November 8, sentencing was rescheduled for next year, to January 24.

As I said elsewhere: "If all goes well, the defendant will be sentenced before he dies of old age."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Positive examples of fiduciary duty - Jeannette Ewing and Garner Powell

I recently posted something in my business blog about two real estate agents who are alleged to have violated their fiduciary duties. Note to aspiring real estate agents: if you are selling a home, you should not have sex with someone in the home that you are selling if the owners are not present. (Or, frankly, even if the owners ARE present.)

I began the post by talking about the real estate agents that I have known, all of whom have been thoroughly professional. I mentioned that I had personally worked with two real estate agents - and their example shows the fiduciary duty to which real estate agents should aspire.

Many years ago, I was buying a home, and Jeannette Ewing was my real estate agent. The seller's agent was Garner Powell. During the final weeks before the home closed, Ewing had to be out of town for a brief period. She told me that during that time, if there were any issues, I should feel free to go directly to Garner Powell with them.

Think about that for a moment. Technically, Ewing and Powell were on competing "sides" of a transaction. Yet, their duties dictated that they not only be able to represent their clients, but also the clients on the other "side."

In the best of...um, cases, this type of behavior should be seen in many industries. For example, if you are in court, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney have a mutual duty to uphold the law; for example, if a prosecutor finds out something that exonerates the defendant, it is the prosecutor's duty to reveal that.

In the end, no crises occurred during Ewing's absence, so I didn't need to call upon Powell.

I last saw Garner Powell in 2007, when he was one of the speakers at an Ontario City Council hearing on the proposed Walmart. Powell opposed the Walmart.

Sadly, in the course of writing this post, I learned that Powell did not live to see the final result of the Walmart battle. Powell passed away in 2010. Incidentally, that's when I learned that real estate was his second career - his 20 years in real estate were preceded by a 30 year career with the Continental Baking Company.

Jeannette Ewing, however, is still available to meet your residential real estate needs.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jeff Pope a/k/a .@JeffPopeRadio will be broadcasting from San Jose as part of #PopeAndMarla - but there is the Internet

You will recall that a few days ago, I noted that Jeff Pope was about to start a new radio job, location unknown.

Now, he has announced where that job will be.

Dear FRIENDS!! After being heard on IE radios for (counting my fingers) 24 years - including 99.1 KGGI, X103.9 and even Cal State San Bernardino - I have accepted a major opportunity to do mornings in SAN JOSE, the 10th biggest city in America! Thanks SO much for all the love and support, and I truly appreciated being part of your morning routine! But, mostly, thanks to Jesse Duran for taking a chance on me 13 years ago; and to Evelyn Erives Laudenslager for being an awesome radio wife for 11 of those years. And to my REAL wife Sarah Turnbull for being my biggest fan! (And don't worry REIGN/FURY fans - I will be flying in for most games. Gotta love 65-minute flights!) #Mix1065 #PopeAndMarla #KingsFanInSharksCountry www.mymix1065.com

The "Marla" in the hashtag is Marla Davies, current morning DJ at Mix 106.5. Pope will be stepping into a very emotional...um, mix. Marla Davies' former co-host, Bill Kelly, passed away last summer. But Pope certainly has the capability to navigate this situation.

And if you have doubts about Pope's ability to navigate tricky situations, bear in mind that in the more formal press announcement of Pope's hire, he managed to praise the sport of hockey without mentioning the names of any teams whatsoever (cough - Kings - cough).

And yes, http://www.mymix1065.com/ has a "Listen Live" button if you want to hear Dumbass of the Day in its Northern California glory. And the station is also available on TuneIn.

Friday, December 6, 2013

If this is "futuristic," then we in the Inland Empire live in the future

I previously read this:

Two small Northeast airports, Syracuse and Atlantic City, have installed futuristic unmanned portals to replace security officers at the airports’ exit points. The move, which will add a few seconds to the end of passengers’ trips as they exit the airports, is estimated to save airports millions of dollars in wages over time....

Travelers are directed to step into the cylinder pods and wait as the door slides shut. After a few seconds, a second door slides open with a voice instructing passengers to “Please exit.”

By the way, I've flown into the Atlantic City airport, but I don't recall going through such a portal; perhaps they hadn't been installed yet.

But I have been through such a portal...when visiting a bank here in the Inland Empire. I don't think the portal employed voice commands, but I do recall entering the portal, having the door close behind me, and then being able to go through the second door.

Such technology makes sense for banks, who always have to deal with the possibility of someone entering the bank, making an unauthorized withdrawal, and then departing. I would presume that any bank robber with smart would avoid a bank with such portals.

But I wouldn't call the portals "futuristic."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Good news - maybe - for Jeff Pope fans

I've been listening to Jeff Pope on and off since BEFORE he was on KGGI. (Those with long memories will recall that he used to do traffic for X103.9.)

Well, Pope lost his job at KGGI several months ago, and his fans have not been happy since (unless they attend a lot of minor league hockey games).

Fans, have heart. Pope just posted this comment on his Facebook page (as a comment to a post about his niece finding Pope in Google auto-complete):

Back on the radio in the New Year.

But will his new station be one that you can pick up in the IE?

Friday, November 15, 2013

No new news regarding the 2008 murder of Santiago Contreras

As I caught up on all of the McStay news this morning, I began wondering about another unsolved murder - one that I blogged about way back in 2008, when I wrote an "mrontario" blog devoted solely to the city of Ontario.

In that blog, I wrote a post on Monday, February 18 about one Santiago Contreras.

Santiago Contreras was kidnapped in front of his family Monday afternoon at 2:20 pm. The family itself had been held hostage for several hours, awaiting Contreras' arrival.

A few days later, his body was found, amid reports of drug trafficking involvement by a brother-in-law.

However, I have found no mention of Contreras since February 2008, and even the 2008 mentions at the San Bernardino Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin web pages no longer exist.

It turns out that over 30 percent of all murders go unsolved. Will the McStay murders also fall into that category?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

After dark door-to-door fundraising?

It happened again.

Well after dark, two people showed up at our door, selling something or another (in this case coupons) to promote something wonderful (in this case tuition for a four-year college).

I had never heard of the organization that they said that they represented.

I told them that I wasn't interested.

Now I have given to door-to-door people in the past. When Howard Snider (former mayor of Ontario) sold Kiwanis tickets, I bought them. When the kid that I knew from down the street stopped by, I bought from him. If I actually recognize the institution, and if the person is appropriately dressed to represent that institution (Snider always wore official Kiwanis insignia), I may give.

But otherwise, I don't. And with good reason, since the door-to-door fundraisers - especially the ones that show up after dark - are probably fake:

We've all experienced those door-to-door fundraisers. Elementary school kids sell candy, wrapping paper, or magazine subscriptions. Shadier, pushier teens and adults sell candy bars for $5 apiece to supposedly raise money for leadership training, summer camp, and what have you. Not surprisingly, these aren't always legitimate. While you shouldn't necessarily call the cops on your neighbor's 4th grader, exercise caution. If you're suspicious, it's probably for good reason.

As of May 2011 "students" going door-to-door are asking for money for music programs. An article in The Enterprise reports that UC Davis and Sacramento State are warning people that no university-affiliated music program is doing anything of the sort. Chances are the con artists will be happy to switch their story up, so just because they're not claiming to be collecting for a music program doesn't mean you should let your guard down.

And it's not just in Davis.

Monday, November 4, 2013

There goes the judge...to San Bernardino

Attorney David Ricks is not happy:

The attorneys of the West Valley of the Inland Empire are fighting hard to protect the rights of the citizens of the Inland Empire. It was announced by the San Bernardino County Presiding Judge that the Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga will no longer provide civil and family law services as of May 2014. This move will deprive so many people of their access to local courts, protections from domestic abuse through easy access to the courts, lower cost legal services, etc.

More here, including a link to an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin article that details the specific changes:

The reorganization looks like this:

San Bernardino district criminal cases, both felonies and misdemeanors, will be heard in the new San Bernardino Justice Center.

Countywide civil cases, including those from Rancho Cucamonga, will be moved to the new San Bernardino Justice Center.

West Valley Superior Courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga will only hear West End criminal cases. Felony and misdemeanor cases in Fontana will be reviewed to determine which courthouse - San Bernardino or Rancho Cucamonga - is better equipped to hear them.

The Rancho Cucamonga courthouse will also have temporary hearings on both civil and domestic violence restraining order matters.

San Bernardino family law cases will stay in the historic San Bernardino building. Rancho Cucamonga family law cases will move to the historic courthouse in San Bernardino.

Family law cases in Victorville will stay where they are.

Cases of small claims, landlord tenants and traffic/non-traffic infractions from the San Bernardino, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga districts will be heard in Fontana.

I live in the West End and am therefore affected by this, but it could be worse.

Slough said within the county court system, 86 judges are doing the work of 156, and 866 employees are doing the work of about 1,500.

And in the last year and a half, courthouses in Chino, Needles and Big Bear have closed due to budget cuts. And there is only one courtroom currently open in Barstow, which is scheduled to close July 1.

There are Omnitrans buses that run between the West End cities and San Bernardino. But what if you live in Needles?

Friday, November 1, 2013

If you doubt my claim that Walmart could close its new Ontario store in a few years...

...how many of you remember the Sam's Club in Montclair? If you don't, then don't look for it; the building has long since been torn down.

If you missed my previous post that stated that the newly opened Ontario Walmart could conceivably close as soon as ten years from now, it's here.

After many delays,the Ontario Walmart is open - but for how long?

A follow-up to my October 14 post - the Ontario Walmart at 1333 North Mountain is now open.


The opening took a couple of weeks longer than expected - the first two Yelp reviews were from people who had been told that the Walmart was open when it wasn't.

But it was definitely open by October 31, when I made two visits to the store - one in the morning to get a Subway breakfast sandwich, and one in the evening to get last-minute Halloween candy. I haven't ventured far into the store yet, but so far things look good.

And it's definitely better than the abandoned eyesore that some people seemed to prefer over the past few years. Even the co-owners of Ontario Bakery agree about that, something that David Allen (no fan of Walmart) noted.

By the way, regarding Allen's concern about Walmart wiping out local businesses - as I've noted before (for example, here), the businesses that may be wiped out by Walmart have themselves wiped out businesses back in their day. My March 2008 post quoted from an article that is no longer online, but which stated the following:

Today's supermarket offers everything from fresh mangoes to muffin tins, from carnations to wedding cakes. Its configuration is based on people's demands; one-stop shopping for the time-starved consumer.

But the supermarket phenomenon has caused its share of casualties, including the neighborhood grocery stores where pantry staples were just a short bike ride away and you called the grocer by his first name. In retrospect, the independent store's decline seemed inevitable as society grew more mobile, fickle and deal-conscious, and less loyal to neighborhood businesses.

"The fittest is going to survive," says Roger Larson, second-generation owner of Larson's SuperValu in West Fargo. "I'm a small-town person at heart, and I hate to see that, but it's a matter of economics. The fact is you need volume to survive."

Five years after I wrote that post, SuperValu sold its Albertsons grocery stores after closing some of them. This proves the accuracy of Roger Larson's words - SuperValu and other supermarkets wiped out smaller markets in their day, and now SuperValu and these same supermarkets may be wiped out by Walmart.

And Walmart may be wiped out by Amazon. Yes, the Ontario Walmart itself will probably close down one day. That day may be 40 years from now, or perhaps that day may only be 10 years from now. I've only lived in this area for 30 years, but I've seen several stores come and go on Mountain Avenue between 5th and 6th. And it's quite possible that we may witness the closure of the Ontario Walmart as early as 2023, and people will lament the closure of their friendly neighborhood store.

The merry-go-round continues.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why it is a matter of civic pride to NOT visit airport-ontario.com

I haven't written about Ontario International Airport (the airport referred to by some as "LA/Ontario International Airport") in almost two years, so I figured I'd better catch up on all of the latest news. To do so, I needed to find the airport website, so I conducted a Bing search to find it.

(Yes, a Bing search. If this Blogspot blog suddenly disappears, I guess you'll be able to figure out why.)

So I conducted my search, and found SEVERAL websites, several of which started with the letter "L" instead of the letter "O."

The first one, operated by Los Angeles World Airports, can be found at http://www.lawa.org/welcomeONT.aspx. Obviously, this is one of the sites that refers to the airport as "LA/Ontario International Airport." It has all sorts of local information, including the local weather, and a link to various news items. When I visited the site, the news item that displayed was the one about airport volunteers working at Dockweiler State Beach - which, for the record, is over 57 miles away from the airport, but really really really close to some other "LA" airport.

I found a second website at http://ontarioairport.org/. A website whose URL does not have the letters "LA," the site is...well, it's the exact same site as the one I previously mentioned, just with another URL. Ontario weather, Dockweiler State Beach, the whole bit.

And I found a third website, http://www.flyontario.com/. This website is also owned by Los Angeles World Airports, but displays some different content before redirecting you to the main LAWA web site.

And, of course, my Bing search also turned up http://setontariofree.com/ - which naturally does not use the "LA" designation for the airport (although "LA" is used on the site, mostly in anger).

Oh, and I found one other website at http://airport-ontario.com/.

It turns out that this website is NOT operated by any of the parties competing for the airport. If you perform a WHOIS search, you will find out that airport-ontario.com is operated by an anonymous private entity, who can be reached via AIRPORT-ONTARIO.COM [at] domainsbyproxy.com.

Well, it's obvious that the person or people operating airport-ontario.com are not local people, since the website prominently uses "LA" to refer to the airport. That cultural faux pas is, to some, the moral equivalent of serving a pork roast at a Jewish-Islamic intercultural event, or naming an ex-Burger King employee to head up a major McDonald's supplier.

Well, perhaps the operators of the website will hear that their website is only popular with people that live west of Interstate 710, and isn't really liked by people in Ontario itself.

Of course, this may not be true. Most people who end up at the website probably don't care about the letters "LA" that are all over the page. (And a few will question whether the airport is in Louisiana, or in Canada.) But, as the recent Federal budget showdown demonstrates, a few people are very capable of raising a really big stink.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Something that I was blogging about nearly ten years ago is finally about to happen

I'm spending the day marking my ten-year blogging anniversary by looking at some old posts that I've written over the past ten years.

And one of those old posts is rather timely.

If you've been in northwest Ontario lately, you've noticed that the construction of the area Walmart is nearly complete. I'm not certain of the opening date, but it's pretty clear that the store will be open in time for the shopping season.

Which, in a sense, is a miracle. If some people had had their way, that Walmart would never have been built. As it was, the project was delayed.

Why was the project delayed? Well, an organization called the "Ontario Mountain Village Association" mounted a fight against the Walmart, and the OMVA's website (which no longer exists) listed a number of arguments against the Walmart. Here are some of them:

Development of the Wal-Mart Supercenter must be stopped because:

It will draw additional traffic, noise and trash into our neighborhood.

The City does not need the revenue.

The Mom and Pop businesses do not need the "made in China" competition.

A 24-hour Super Center will act as a magnet to attract a dangerous criminal element into our neighborhood, especially from midnight until daybreak, seven days a week.

We, the voters and property owners, don't need 1,400 additional cars and trucks clogging the streets of our community every hour.

Back when the OMVA's website still existed and these arguments were still prominently displayed, I wrote a rebuttal to all of them (especially "The City does not need the revenue") in a blog post.

That blog post appeared in my Ontario Empoblog, an old blog that I used to write.

And just to show you how long this fight has been going on, that post was written on October 23, 2005.

I'm glad that Mr. and Mrs. Dave Taylor are still around to finally see the Walmart. I'm not sure what Anita Logue will do. Maybe she's helping the chairman of the Inland Oversight Committee.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Inland Empire Bloggers Court is not dreamy

I know that it was just a dream, but it still gives me chills, even a couple of days later.

I received an official-looking summons to appear in front of the Inland Empire Bloggers Court. Frankly I had never heard of any such court before, but I researched it on the Internet and it appeared to be legitimate.

Clutching my summons, I arrived at the court and was motioned to sit at one of the two tables at the far end of the courtroom, near an imposing-looking raised bench. I noticed the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's Liset Marquez at the other table, so I smiled and waved at her. She did not smile in return, and purposely turned her back to me. I couldn't think of any reason that I had offended her, so I just waited to see what would happen next.

Next to the bench, I overheard a conversation.

"Isn't the Goddess of Pomona supposed to be representing Mr. Bredehoft?"

"Yes, but no one can find her."

One of the two people walked up to my table.

"Mr. Bredehoft, do you have alternative representation?"

"Representation?" I asked. "What representation?"

"To help you respond to the charges against you."

"Charges?" I was perplexed. I scanned the summons again; the summons didn't say anything about any charges. It was at that point that my slow brain figured out that I was a defendant before the court, and Liset Marquez was apparently the prosecutor.

I then spotted Matt Munson in the back of the court. "Matt," I called out to him, "would you represent me?"

"With what you're charged with," Matt replied, "I don't want to have anything to do with you!"

"Charges? How come everyone knows the charges except for me, the accused?" I exclaimed.

My outburst was interrupted. "All rise for Judge Allen!"

At this point David Allen, resplendent in judicial robes, entered the courtroom and climbed up to the judge's bench. I didn't bother to smile at him; he was definitely not in a "show me the funny" mood. He looked like he had just suffered a 24 hour Metrolink delay, and all the good restaurants next to the Metrolink station had been closed for health violations.

Judge Allen turned to me. "How do you respond to the charges against you, Mr. Bredehoft?"

"I don't even know what the charges are against me!"

"Mr. Bredehoft, your crime is so heinous that the charges against you have been sealed. Prosecution, please begin your presentation."

Marquez stood up and addressed the jury, a group of 14 people all wearing winter clothing. (It's odd to be wearing winter clothing in the summer, I thought.) Because of my recent experiences, I took a close look at the two juror alternates, seated slightly apart from the rest of the jury. To my surprise, one of the alternates was Johnny Worthington, a well-known (in FriendFeed circles, anyway) former podcaster. He did not look happy.

Marquez began. "On or about Monday, August 12, 2013 California time, the defendant did write a post in his Empoprise-MU music blog. This post was entitled Why I will never be a roadie for .@avaberee (watch out for the roos???). I obviously remembered the post, having just written it last week. It was about the Australian vocal trio Avaberee, from the town of Brisbane (coincidentally, the hometown of juror alternate Worthington). The post concerned the tour that the band was undertaking at that time.

Marquez continued. "In this post, the defendant mentioned a number of Australian cities, including Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Canberra, and one city in the state of Victoria." She paused. "Melbourne."

The court gasped. From what I could tell, the mention of Melbourne seemed to be shocking to them for some reason.

"Yes, the defendant, a resident of Ontario and a former resident of Upland, wrote an entire blog post about the country of Australia" - here Marquez's voice rose in anger - "and failed to mention the city of Mildura!"

The court broke out into pandemonium. In the back of the courtroom, Matt Munson was clearly yelling, "Off with his head!" It was disconcerting to notice that the entire jury and the judge had joined in the condemnation.

I am usually slow at such things, but I was grasping the enormity of my predicament. My hometown of Ontario, which originally included the area that became Upland, was founded by two brothers from Canada, George and William Chaffey. (This explains the name of my hometown.) After a few years in California, both brothers relocated to Australia and went to the city of Mildura. The Australian city is similar to my hometown in several respects, including the presence of a wide thoroughfare bisecting the town (except that in Mildura, it's not called Euclid Avenue). Because of the common heritage, the two areas have been linked ever since, and Upland (my former residence) even maintains a sister city relationship with Mildura (although at times it seems that Upland is the wild party sister, while Mildura is the respectable one). Obviously, it would be a most serious offense for an Inland Empire blogger to write about Australia and to fail to mention this relationship with Mildura. Well, obvious to everyone except me.

Judge Allen slammed his gavel, quieting the courtoom. "Mr. Riley," barked the judge, "execute the defendant!" At this point Duncan Riley (an Australian who has founded many blogs) strode into the courtoom, carrying a large, blood-stained axe. The jury - all Australians, I suddenly realized - yelled incomprehensible Australian terms to the grimacing executioner. Riley began walking toward my table...

...and I woke up, drenched in sweat, breathing heavily. It took me a few moments to realize that I had only been dreaming, but the unusually vivid dream was still frightening me - so much so that I couldn't get back to sleep. I went to the living room, then wandered outside to my front yard, muttering to myself, "Mildura...Mildura...Mildura...Mildura..."

Monday, August 12, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Speedy justice, August 2013 edition

You'll recall where we left off on July 11.

A crime occurred in November 2008.

The defendant was arrested in December 2008.

The trial was held in March 2013, and the defendant was convicted of a lesser crime. Sentencing was scheduled for May 3.

Then for June 28.

Then for August 2.

So, would you like to hear what finally happened? Here it is, in court speak.

Action: SENTENCING Date: 08/02/2013 Time: 8:30 AM Division: R4 Hearing Status: DISPOSED















Obviously, these conferences occur all the time, and obviously, there is often no way to figure out exactly what was being discussed. But after the conference, the following significant event occurred:





As I've previously noted, the defendant is currently in custody, so the court can make sure that the defendant appears on the hearing date (although I guess he could refuse to appear, the court would at least know where he is).

But what is a "Romero motion"? For the answer to that question, I turned to attorney William Holzer:

A good criminal defense attorney can help a client facing a strike allegation by filing a “Romero motion” with the court. Attorneys are often successful in convincing the court to dismiss a strike under 1385 of the Penal Code. This is because it is not uncommon for prosecutors to overcharge cases by alleging old strikes on minor new offenses.

During the trial, the jurors (and juror alternates) were informed that the defendant was a convicted felon. Obviously this fact has an impact on his sentencing, which is why this is being dragged out to October - or beyond.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Speedy justice?

Remember way back on March 27, when I first discussed this case on this blog? This was one day after the jury had reached its verdict - for a crime that had been committed way back in November 2008.

Obviously it took years for this case to get to trial. But now that the defendant has been found guilty, how long will it take to sentence him?

As I mentioned in that first post, I have now been able to access the material on San Bernardino County's website - and that's where I'm now following the trial, since this case - even though it involved the shooting of a person - is not necessarily newsworthy enough to require day-to-day coverage in the Daily Bulletin or any other local paper.

So when I first accessed the online information on late March, the minutes said that sentencing would take place on May 3.

And if you go to the minutes for the May 3 sentencing, you find this:


Actually, in a way that was kind of nice for me, since I already knew that this series of posts would begin running on July 1. So, right before the series actually started to appear, I'd have all of the knowledge about the final sentence.

You can guess what happened on June 28:


Obviously, whenever sentencing actually takes place, "credit for time served" will enter into the conversation.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

(empo-jooryst) The players

In theory, those people who are charged with working for the court are united in their pursuit of justice.

Yeah, right.

While prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to behave honorably, they still have an incentive to best represent their "side." After all, their jobs are to convince a jury of guilt or innocence, and they want to marshal their best arguments in support of their case.

In my particular case, there was one prosecutor, Dan Ross, and two defense attorneys, Michael Becker and K.T. Tran. But before we look at them, let's look at the judge in this particular case.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Stephan G. Saleson to a judgeship in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Saleson, 56, of Riverside, has been a partner with Varner, Saleson & Brandt since 1997. Previously, he was an associate and then a partner with Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden from 1980 to 1997 and served as deputy district attorney for San Bernardino County from 1977 to 1980. Saleson earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dennis G. Cole. Saleson is a Republican. The compensation for this position is $149,160.

During the trial, Judge Saleson did not discuss his previous experience as a deputy district attorney, nor did he express his political affiliations or his salary.

Moving on to Dan Ross, I only found a single news account about him, regarding a 2007 incident in which Ross, as deputy district attorney, had some harsh words for a defense attorney who tasered a client to try to prove a point about alleged police brutaility. I did find an avvo.com record that says that Ross has been licensed to practice law since 2005. As noted in the Daily Bulletin article, he was already with the San Bernardino County district attorney's office in 2007.

When researching Michael Becker, I discovered something interesting. At the time of the trial, I had no idea whether Becker was a public defender, or if he had been hired by someone to represent the defendant. Once I found out that Becker practiced law in Las Vegas, Nevada, it became apparent that the latter was probably the case. Interestingly enough, Becker was endorsed by a prosecutor:

Micheal and I faced each other on several matters when I was a Chief Deputy DA. He was always prepared, adept at spotting the issues, and committed to getting the best results for his client. In virtually every case his commitment paid off. I have seen Michael obtain Not Guilty verdicts and outright dismissals of major felony charges on more than one occasion. I have zero reservations in endorsing this lawyer.

Becker has more experience than Ross, having practiced in Nevada since 2004 and in California since 1993. His website is here. And here's a video:

Because Tran is a common name, I was unable to conclusively find the K.T. Tran that appeared in this case. While Becker was the lead defense attorney, Tran took the lead with certain witnesses.

Both the prosecutor and the defense lawyers took care to advocate their positions on the case. And since at the end of the day, the defendant was convicted of a lesser charge, I guess that you could claim that both did their jobs well.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Another view of the analogy mashup

Several years ago, I read a book about the O.J. Simpson trial. That trial was a little different from my trial - in Simpson's case, the jurors were physically sequestered - but there were some parallels. The Simpson jury, like my own, was ordered to only consider evidence that was presented in court. Certain things were not revealed to the Simpson jury, or to my own. In my case, the attorneys and the judge would engage in whispered conversations at times, and at times the judge would ask the jury to leave the room.

So naturally, my view of what was going on was somewhat limited.

However, unbeknownst to me, a complete public record was being published of the proceedings in my jury room. Certain things were confidential at the time, but anyone who was interested in the trial could follow all of the proceedings online.

Take Tuesday, March 12. This was the day that they finally got around to interviewing me, and when I formally became an alternate juror. I've already told you my version of the story, but this is the official record that the court published of that day - something that I was unable to see until after the trial was over.
















Let me interject something here. As far as I knew at the time, it was only the third day of trial. However, the jury wasn't even called into the room until the second day.













I'm actually going to cut out a lot of the proceedings here. There were more off the record discussions, more jurors excused, a lunch break, and so forth. As Judge Saleson remarked, real court cases are not like TV.

Oh, and one other thing happened - noted in the record as "JURORS ADMONISHED." We were admonished a lot - basically reminding us not to research the case or discuss the case with anyone, including our fellow jurors. The last admonishment applied until (and, in my case, unless) we were in deliberations.

So let's pick it up at 1:51 pm - or, because the court uses military time, 13:51.




















And that, in the eyes of the court, was the official account of the selection of alternate juror number two, including his analogy mashup joke. Exciting, huh?

Because the court had no idea when a panel of jurors and alternates would be sworn in, there was no attempt to start opening arguments on that day. But the charges against the defendant were officially read to us - after a time.
















And the defendant did appear. Although he probably didn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Either cars.com was hacked, or Samy Bouzaglo owns a used car dealer in Ontario

Many rating services allow, and actually encourage, business owners to respond to customer reviews. Often these responses take the tone of "We are sorry you were disappointed with our service." At other times, it probably would have been better if the business had not responded at all. I found the review below on a cars.com page.

(empo-jooryst) In which I make a false assumption

Eventually, the testimony ended, the closing arguments were heard, and twelve of the fourteen people sitting in the jury box were dismissed to begin deliberations.

The two alternate jurors remained for a few minutes. The judge thanked us for our service, but reminded us that we were not fully released from service until the jury reached (or didn't reach) a verdict. The judge had no way to predict how long this could take, since every jury is different. The process could take a few hours, or it could take weeks. Either way, someone at the court would call us to tell us what the verdict was.

That was on a Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday evening, I checked to see if the case was still listed on the criminal calendar for Friday. It was, indicating that the jury was probably still going to be deliberating on Friday.

Similarly, I checked the criminal calendar again on Sunday evening. The case was still listed for Monday.

On Monday morning, I received a call from the court. But it wasn't the call that I expected. The court representative stated that there may be an issue with one of the jurors, and that I may need to join the jury. If I had to do so, how soon could I get to the court in Rancho Cucamonga?

After I told him, I figured that this probably wouldn't affect me, since I was the second alternate and presumably wouldn't be needed unless two jurors dropped out.

Wrong, John. The court representative explained that if a juror did drop out, they would draw lots between the two alternate jurors to see which one would be added to the jury.

At this point, I had to start telling co-workers and various family members that I may be back on jury duty again. I would find out within the hour.

Just a half hour later, the court called again. I was instructed to go about my daily business, and that I would not be summoned to the court - that day.

That was on Monday. On Tuesday, I received a second call from the court. But this time, they had reached a verdict.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Yeah, we replaced the dead guy...but the replacement's a secret

Just last Tuesday, I wrote about Cory Briggs' latest organization, the Inland Oversight Committee, and the fact that the listed chairman of the committee, Ian Trowbridge, actually passed away several months ago.

Well, Briggs has returned to the news again. When I read the title of a recent Liset Marquez article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Lawsuit threatens formation of Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga tourism marketing district, I wondered if Briggs had something to do with it.

Turns out I was right. (Off-topic, this makes me feel better, because I was sure that Dwight Howard wouldn't make his free agency decision until after July 10. Turns out I was wrong about that. I think.)

The Ontario-based Inland Oversight Committee, in its suit, is asking that the district's formation be taken to the voters.

Cory Briggs, the group's attorney, filed the lawsuit in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga on Monday....

So, considering that the Inland Oversight Committee web page currently lists three people in the organization - Briggs (no listed official role, but quoted in the press releases), Anthony Kim (legal adviser), and the aforementioned dead man (chairman), I wondered if Marquez was able to use her journalistic skills to figure out if anyone else was on the committee. But Marquez had no such luck:

Members of the group have asked to remain anonymous.

For a full account of the basis of Briggs' latest lawsuit, see the article.

Oh, and by the way, I found out more about Anthony Kim. According to LinkedIn, Kim is based in San Diego, and is an attorney with the Briggs Law Corporation. Presumably, as legal adviser to the Inland Oversight Committee, Kim is responsible for securing legal representation for the committee in its court cases. And so far, the lawyer that Kim has recommended is...Kim's own boss. And oddly enough, Kim does not appear on the list of attorneys for the Briggs Law Corporation, although his name does appear on this complaint, filed on behalf of the "Redlands Good Neighbor Coalition," and filed against Costco. No, I'm kidding, it's against Walmart.

So the Inland Oversight Committee site lists a dead man, and the Briggs Law Corporation website fails to list a current attorney - well, someone who was an attorney a few months ago. If you are a webmaster, please try to get a job with Briggs; he seems to be a little slow in updating his web sites.

P.S. The empo-jooryst series will resume on Monday.

Friday, July 5, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Some TMI about the hazards of jury duty

During a criminal trial, a jury is restricted to basing its decision on the evidence presented in court. Jury members cannot go and research the law on their own, research news accounts on their own, or consider anything outside of the courtroom.

In the case in March for which I was an alternate juror, the judge reminded us of this constantly. As far as I know, we all honored the judge's request - even when it caused us difficulties to do so.

One afternoon, after a nice lunch with two other jurors (followed by a post-lunch coffee), I arrived at the courtroom in time for the afternoon session. I wanted to stop by the restroom, but didn't have a chance before we were called into the courtroom.

After some testimony, the prosecution was asked to call its next witness. At this point the prosecution said, as delicately as possible, that the witness may be in the restroom. The judge then ordered a brief break in which the jurors were asked to exit the courtroom, and were (as usual) reminded not to discuss the case with anybody.

This may have been a wonderful opportunity to take care of my personal needs, but there was only a single restroom on the floor - and a witness may have been in there! So I decided to wait a while.

Eventually the witness was located, testimony continued, and eventually we got to another break. The jury filed out (after hearing the judge's usual admonition) - and the spectators filed out also. I did not know who the spectators were, but they appeared to have some interest in the case. Were they friends or family of the defendant? I didn't know. Were they friends or family of the alleged victim of the crime? I did not know.

What I did know was that several male spectators took the opportunity of the courtroom break to head to - you guessed it, the restroom.

The story has a happy ending - eventually I took care of my own needs, and was not a victim of jury tampering when I did so.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Is my dog competent to stand trial?

When you spend several days at a trial, things start to rub off on you.

It was the Saturday after the trial began, or a little over a week after jury selection began. I was engaged in important duties that had nothing to do with my jury assignment, or with my regular job. Specifically, I was in my backyard, picking up dog poop.

Frankly, I would rather have been back in voir dire.

As I was picking up after my dog, I was talking to her. Or rather, we were talking to each other. This is what she was saying:


Meanwhile, I found myself saying this to her:

Your job is to keep cats out of the backyard. But here in my hand, I have evidence that shows that you have not done this! Allow me to introduce Exhibit 1, this piece of cat poop...

I wonder if our prosecuting attorney says things like that to his dog.

I just hope that this doesn't mean that poop will become a major part of this case. Heck, I already cut my hair and then discovered a few hours later that the alleged crime took place near a barbershop. I shudder to think of what might happen next.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Cory Briggs interest group has a real person connected with it - well, sort of

Sorry to interrupt my coverage of my jury service three months ago, but I was checking my analytics and saw an uptick in people reading articles about Cory Briggs. Since the Ontario Walmart appears to be on schedule for a fall 2013 opening, I figured that perhaps Briggs was being active in some other city. I was correct; I found this article from early June:

CHINO -- A possible lawsuit has Mayor Dennis Yates concerned it will scare away potential developers from building in his city and the Inland Empire.

On Tuesday, the attorney for Inland Oversight Committee threatened to take the city to court if the council didn't reverse the Planning Commission's action approving a million-square-foot industrial development for Watson Land Co.

Attorney Cory Briggs filed an appeal with city alleging the project did not receive the proper environmental review and the city did not properly notify the public about the Planning Commission's approval a month and a half ago.

So this organization is called the "Inland Oversight Committee." We've been down this road before, with the Ontario Mountain Village Association, the Blythe Citizens for Smart Growth, the Menifee Citizens for Smart Growth, and the Murrietans for Smart Growth. So I suspected that the Inland Oversight Committee was just something that Briggs had completely dreamed up, and that the committee itself had one member, Briggs.

Well, in my typical Jim Bakker fashion, I was wrong. Not only does the Inland Oversight Committee have a website, it actually has real people associated with it. But first, let's see that the Inland Oversight Committee does that is different from the other organizations that I have named:

IOC's specific purpose is to educate members of the public about their rights to transparent, accountable, and responsible decision-making by the government, as well as their rights to the fair, equal, and lawful treatment by the government when they interact with government agencies and representatives. Pursuing this purpose, IOC's mission is (1) to identify, expose, and educate the public about non-compliance with local, state, and federal laws of every kind (including but not limited to taxpayer waste and circumvention of voter approval) by government bodies and by persons who conduct any form of business with those bodies; (2) to advocate for and pursue appropriate corrective measures for such non-compliance; and (3) to serve as a "watchdog" to ensure that unethical and illegal conduct by government bodies is exposed and appropriate remedies are pursued.

And if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see the people named as part of this group, none of whom has the last name of Briggs (although he has represented the group in legal matters):

Chairman: Ian Trowbridge

Legal Advisor: Anthony Kim

Now I have not yet researched Anthony Kim - as you will see in a future post in my empo-jooryst series, it is difficult to research people who have very common names. But I figured that Ian Trowbridge would be a relatively easy name to find, so I began looking for an Ian Trowbridge in southern California - perhaps in the Inland Empire, or perhaps in the San Diego area.

Bingo. I found an article all about Trowbridge - about how he had been a "retired Salk Institute researcher who turned his attention to local politics and became a thorn in the side of many an elected official." The article included a quote from "East [San Diego] County activist Charlene Ayers, who worked with Trowbridge to hold government officials accountable to the people they serve." After he retired from the Salk Institute:

Trowbridge became a fixture at public meetings of the San Diego City Council, the county Board of Supervisors, the port commission and any other public agency that he thought might benefit from his civic interest. He advocated for clean-needle exchanges to fight the spread of AIDS. He sued to stop developments over environmental issues, or to avert generous severance packages for corrupt officials.

Oh, and there's one other thing about this article.

It's Trowbridge's obituary.

You see, Ian Trowbridge passed away in early February.

Yet his name is still on the Inland Oversight Committee website, where he is listed as Chairman.

Mayor Daley would have been proud.

(empo-jooryst) The strangest coincidence

This is another post about my experiences as an alternate juror back in March 2013.

As I noted in my previous post, I was questioned on a Tuesday afternoon regarding my fitness as an alternate juror. Neither the prosuection nor the defense objected to my inclusion, so I was sworn in as an alternate juror on that Tuesday afternoon.

Opening statements were scheduled for Wednesday morning, and since the judge had other cases to attend to early in the morning, we were instructed to report to court at 10:30 am on Wednesday morning. Since I am no longer constitutionally (heh) able to sleep in all morning, this gave me some free time before my jury service began.

Now remember what I was NOT allowed to do during this time. I was not allowed to discuss the case with anyone, nor was I allowed to research the particulars of the case. For example, I could not search the Internet to find any news articles that mentioned the defendant in the case. I was also not allowed to use the Internet to research anything about the specific charges that were filed in this case. Although opening statements had not been delivered, I already knew the name of the defendant and the four charges against him.

So I decided to do something that had nothing to do with the defendant and those charges.

I went and got a haircut.

After getting the haircut and taking care of other business, I reported to the courthouse. Since I live in Ontario, I was required to report to the courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga. This is a nice courthouse to report to; among other things, it is a building of recent construction that is reportedly able to withstand a major earthquake. (Not that I want to test this.)

I went through security. This is more comprehensive than TSA security, and is the second strictest security that I have been through. (The most secure place that I have entered is the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.)

After security, I went upstairs, met my fellow jurors and alternate, and proceeded into the courtroom to hear the opening statements.

As the prosecution attorney began his presentation, he described the scene of the crime.

A parking lot outside a barbershop.

Luckily, the barbershop that I had visited that morning was NOT the barbershop in question. Otherwise, I would have had a big problem.

Monday, July 1, 2013

(empo-jooryst) The analogy mashup

While I have been known to write blog posts in advance of their publication, I don't think I've ever written one three months in advance. As I write this, it is March 14; I am scheduling this post to appear some time in July.

Allow me to explain.

As I write this (back in March), I am an alternate on a jury that is hearing a criminal trial. While the trial is in session, I am prohibited from talking about the specific case with anyone (including my dog). I am also prohibited from researching the case on my own. While many of these prohibitions will be lifted once the case ends, I am also unable to talk about the case in exchange for money - at least for a period of 90 days after the case ends. (I'm reluctant to research the particulars of this prohibition at this time, due to the other restraints that the judge has placed upon me.)

Since this blog includes advertisements, the regulation could be construed to prohibit blogging about the case during that 90 day period.

Therefore, if the case ends by the end of March, then this prohibition will be lifted by the end of June. Hence, the delayed nature of this post (and any other posts, with the exception of my March 27 post).

Jury selection began on a Thursday afternoon, then continued all day on Monday, and then continued some more on Tuesday morning and into Tuesday afternoon. For those who have never been involved in jury selection, it consists of a brief interview of each potential juror followed by the judge, followed by questioning from both the prosecution attorney(s) and defense attorney(s). The attorneys are trying to determine if a potential juror would be favorable or unfavorable to their side of the case. After the interviews and questioning, each set of attorneys may choose to remove a potential juror from the panel. This continues for some time (in my case, over three separate working days).

In my particular case, the attorneys used a couple of analogies to determine how the jurors would make decisions regarding guilt or innocence. Again, I am prohibited from researching these analogies online at this time, so I'll reconstruct them from memory.

One analogy discusses a driver who is approaching a yellow traffic light. As the driver approaches, he or she can either go through the light, or stop at the light. The driver only has a split second to do this. The question that the attorneys posed - is this a conscious decision by the driver, or is it a reflex? At this point (March 14) I cannot surmise why this particular analogy was presented, although I have a sneaking suspicion that I know why the question was asked.

The second analogy discusses a hypothetical case in which walking on the beach at night is a crime. In this particular instance, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (since this is a criminal trial, not a civil trial) that all of the elements of the crime are in place, namely (a) that it was night, and (b) that the person was in fact walking on the beach. It is not sufficient, for example, to say that the person was walking on the beach without noting the time that the person was walking on the beach.

These analogies were used in questioning the potential jurors.

Dozens of potential jurors.

Over the course of three working days.

Eventually, by Tuesday afternoon, both the prosecution and the defense had agreed on a set of twelve jurors. But now they had to pick two alternate jurors, so that in case one of the twelve jurors had to drop out for some reason, the court could just plug an alternate juror into the original juror's place and continue with the trial or deliberations or whatever.

I had been waiting for three working days, and had not yet been called. Finally, I was called as a potential juror to fill the second of two alternate juror slots.

The judge asked me if I had any concerns about anything said by the attorneys or by the dozens of potential jurors who had been interviewed previously.

My response: "Well, I don't know what I'd do if I ran into a traffic light on the beach."

The entire court burst into laughter, since this relieved some tension.

I will need to remain silent for the rest of the trial - unless two jurors drop out and I end up in deliberations - so this will probably be the only utterance of mine that will be heard in court. I guess it was worth three days of waiting.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

(empo-jooryst) The new post series finally begins tomorrow

Way back in March, I promised all of the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog readers that I'd eventually be sharing a series of posts describing my experiences as an alternate juror in the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court.

Well, after more than three months, that series will begin tomorrow, July 1.

To see the posts in the series, check http://empoprise-ie.blogspot.com/search/label/empo-jooryst over the next several days.

Monday, June 17, 2013

No, Ontario isn't on Route 66. But we're celebrating anyway. (And so is San Bernardino.)

As most of you know, Foothill Boulevard (and its various other names) is the former route taken by Route 66. Technically that old Route never went through Ontario, but the next big Route 66-related event will take place in Ontario anyway.

As you know, the impetus for this event was the cancellation of the 2013 Route 66 Rendezvous due to budget issues in the city of San Bernardino.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - (February 19, 2013) It is with deep regret that the San Bernardino Convention & Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with their title sponsor, Stater Bros. Markets, announces the suspension of the 2013 Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous®....

“This was a very difficult decision for our Board of Directors to make and not one that we came to lightly,” said Jim Gerstenslager, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the San Bernardino Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The loss of funding due to the statewide elimination of Economic Development Agencies coupled with the current financial situation of the City of San Bernardino has resulted in a total loss of the revenue needed to continue the day-to-day operations of the Convention & Visitors Bureau and by extension the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous® and the California Welcome Center.”

From the Route 66 Rendezvous Facebook page:


Thousands of Classic Cars and Fans will Jam Historic Euclid Avenue Sept. 20-22.

ONTARIO, CALIFORNIA – (June 13, 2013) – Ontario will experience a population explosion this fall as several thousand classic cars and tens of thousands of automobile enthusiasts descend upon the city Sept. 20-22 for the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion®.

The three-day classic car rally will feature block upon block of cars and displays, feature off-site events such as a Poker Run and car competitions, and draw immense crowds of fans from Southern California and the Southwestern United States to Ontario’s historic Euclid Avenue.

“San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire have enjoyed a long and rich love affair with all things relating to vintage automobiles,” noted Michael Krouse, president of the nonprofit Route 66 Reunion and President & CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As a part of Ontario’s continuing vision for growth and greater community pride, we have formed what we know will become a long-standing, highly popular vintage metal road show for everyone to be proud of and to enjoy. We couldn’t be more excited as this is a great day for the city of Ontario.”

Teaming-up with the 501(c)3 Route 66 Reunion is long-time car show event planner Shelly McNaul. “Shelly, who now is our director of event planning for Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion, brings more than 20 years of successful car show operations experience to the team,” said Krouse. “We are thrilled to have her on board!”

The Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion will feature three days of classic cars, cruising, contests, live entertainment, fabulous food and revelry to make it one of the nation’s most extended, long-play events of its kind. Vintage autos and car hobbyists will line Ontario’s tree-shaded Euclid Avenue and a take part in a Poker Run rally incorporating the much loved classic Route 66.

Visit www.Route66CruisinReunion.com, or follow us at http://www.facebook.com/Route66CruisinReunion, http://twitter.com/CruisinReunion, http://www.youtube.com/cruisinreunion for information about becoming a sponsor, vendor or to register your vehicle for the rally.


The Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion®, created by the newly formed 501(c)3 Route 66 Reunion, is Southern California’s ultimate weekend celebration of America’s love affair with the automobile and its world-famous highway, Route 66. Three days of cruising, contests, live entertainment, fabulous food and revelry make it one of the nation’s most extended, long-play events of its kind. Held annually each September along historic, tree-shaded Euclid Avenue in Ontario, California, the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion is where classic cruisers, convertibles, hot rods, and wicked Woodies fuel a jam-packed jamboree. Visit www.cruisinreunion.com for details.


The Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau provides groups and meeting professionals with an unbiased, comprehensive resource when booking a tour, convention, meeting or event within the cities of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Ideal for both leisure and business travel, the region boasts scenic mountains, deserts, vineyards and metropolitan areas that are both historic and cosmopolitan in character. For meeting needs of all sizes – from a conference room to a citywide convention utilizing the Ontario Convention Center – or for a special exposition or sporting event, the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau will provide the necessary destination support tools to execute a successful experience.



Don Williams

Public Relations

Route 66 Reunion

(760) 707- 4589


Oh, but there's just one little thing. While all of this organization was going on, the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce (a separate entity from the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau) is planning its own event for that weekend:

The San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce invites you to Rendezvous Back To Route 66 at San Manuel Baseball Stadium, 280 S. E Street, San Bernardino. The original Route 66 Rendezvous may have been suspended this year, but the fun continues with a Poker Run, food and many, many old time vendors, kids' games and more. Continuous stadium entertainment, music, movies and more! And yes, we have CRUISING!!!! All proceeds go to local charities, Verteran's Hospital & San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce.

The competing events are getting coverage from as far away as San Jose:

"We do not want to lose Route 66," said Judi Penman, the president and CEO of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce....

"I look it as competition is good. We'll become better or stronger as a result. Otherwise, we will fail. There's many car shows that exist in this world. This region is ripe for these shows," said [Michael] Krouse, the president and CEO of the Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is also president of the newly formed nonprofit Route 66 Cruisin' Reunion.

Hopefully this won't become a west side/east side war of competing car enthusiasts. But at least if someone decides to attend both shows, there's a logical way to get between the two. And on the way, you can do it in a teepee.

Friday, April 12, 2013

First they came for the new bookstores...

Times change, as David Allen notes in a Daily Bulletin article:

One of the Inland Valley's few remaining used bookstores is closing its doors. The Book Exchange, a used book store at 4847 Arrow Highway in Montclair, has been in business for 30 years, said owner Luisa Conner, who bought it in 1997. The last day of business is Saturday.

The closure of a used bookstore is no surprise.

Conner said her store was affected by the shift to online sales and e-reading, the same factors that have hurt other bookstores.

So what happens to the books?

After the close of business Saturday, remaining books will be boxed up and donated to libraries.

This assumes, of course, that the libraries (a) are still around, and (b) if they are still around, that they're actually stocking deadwood books.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The fourth E is Ending (Ramon's Cactus Patch is closed)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a three-part series of posts describing a Saturday in downtown Ontario. The third post in that series, The third E is Eating, described my first-ever visit to Ramon's Cactus Patch, a Mexican restaurant at the corner of San Antonio and Mission that has been in existence (at various locations) since the 1930s.

Toward the end of the post, I wrote:

I just regret that I waited so long to visit the place.

I really would have regretted it if I had waited a few more weeks to visit. According to David Allen, the restaurant is now closed, since Ramon has decided to retire.

After all, he's 99 years old.

Now some business plan extensive transition periods. Take NBC, which has decided (again) that Jay Leno will leave the Tonight Show and transition to a new host next year. But in the case of Ramon's Cactus Patch, the decision to finally close the restaurant (due to Ramon's health) was made rather quickly:

Customers who ate there on what turned out to be the last day [Saturday, March 30] had no idea the restaurant would close.

[Ramon's children] Roque and Ramona didn't either, although they knew the end was near.

The restaurant is typically closed Sunday and Monday. During a family meeting Sunday, they decided not to reopen Tuesday.

"It was very abrupt," Roque admitted.

I'm glad that I made it when I did. Hopefully, the family will be able to follow the suggestion that David Allen made, and open the restaurant for one last farewell to its customers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(empo-jooryst) Now it can't be told

Yesterday, a jury in Rancho Cucamonga, California returned guilty verdicts in a criminal trial.

I have not said anything about this until now, for a compelling reason - I was an alternate juror on that jury, and obviously a juror can't discuss a trial while it's going on.

It turns out that a juror can't discuss a trial after it's ended, either. You can thank the O.J. Simpson circus - I mean trial - for this:

Gov. Pete Wilson on Monday signed bills spawned by the O.J. Simpson double murder case that make it illegal for witnesses and jurors in criminal trials to sell their stories until the case is finished....

Under the legislation, AB 501 by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and SB 1999 by Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco), it will be a crime starting Jan. 1 for jurors, witnesses or potential witnesses to provide information for compensation, a practice known as "checkbook journalism."...

Jurors will be barred from engaging in any arrangements for compensation until 90 days after being discharged.

Well, how does this affect me, you may ask? It's not that people are beating down my door offering to pay for my story. All that I can say is...um, look to the left over there. While it's a stretch to say that one of those boxes to the left may qualify as "compensation," you can't be too careful.

So I'll tell a few stories about my jury service...in July.

In the meantime, now that I am now able to read about the case and the particulars online, I'm going to do some catching up. When you're a juror, you are only supposed to base your decision upon evidence that is actually presented in court. If there was any coverage of the crime when it originally occurred, I'm not supposed to use it as a juror. In fact, I don't even know if the defendant hired his own attorneys to defend him, or if he were assigned a public defender.

After this self-imposed cone of silence, I have some catching up to do.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The third E is Eating

(Continued from previous post.)

So I was driving westbound on California Avenue, which is now a mixture of residences and car repair shops with the occasional other store thrown in. At the end of California Avenue, where it intersects with both San Antonio Avenue and Mission Boulevard, you can find Ramon's Cactus Patch.

This restaurant, which has been on this particular corner for over 50 years, and has been in existence in various Ontario locations since either 1937 or 1938, bears the distinction of being the first Mexican restaurant in Ontario. Except, however, that back in the 1930s, advertising a restaurant as a "Mexican" restaurant would be bad for business. (As I learned during my tour of the museum, the desegregation of Ontario public schools was a controversial issue in the 1940s.) So Ramon referred to his business as a "Spanish" restaurant - at least until he had a regular clientele.

I learned a lot of this while waiting for my order. Two articles - one from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's David Allen, the other from a local Upland newsletter - told of the history of the restaurant. (I couldn't find the Allen article that is at the tables of Ramon's Cactus Patch, but Allen has written about the restaurant several times, most recently here.)

The food is nothing fancy (no Chinese fusion here), but is very good.

I just regret that I waited so long to visit the place.

Ramon's Cactus Patch, like the museum, has limited hours. It closes for two hours every afternoon, and it is closed all day Sunday.

So how was your Saturday morning?

The second E is Education

(Continued from previous post.)

So after my Ingress/RunKeeper game play, I ended up back in the parking lot from which I had started.

This was the parking lot for the Museum of History and Art in Ontario.

I hadn't been here in several years, so I timed my Ingress/RunKeeper game play so that it would be completed by about noon - the time that the museum opens. (Check the museum's schedule; it is not open every day.)

From now until April 7, the north end of the museum includes an exhibit entitled "Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider." This is a discussion of the foods eaten by the California Indians. The exhibit is described as follows:

The foods of California's Indian peoples were - and still are - as varied as the landscape, as are the methods of preparing them. Now, a new exhibition tells the story of foods important in the lives of Native Californians, including fish, shellfish, seaweed, meat, vegetables, berries, fruits, flowers, nuts, seed and salt.

Other than the seaweed, salmon, and cider, two other foods caught my eye. The first was acorns. The exhibit talked a lot about grinding acorns and making acorn bread.

The second was something that I didn't realize was a food. Perhaps you've seen the commercials for the Chia-Pets and similar items.


Well, it turns out that the Chia seed is edible - and that Indians ate it. Luckily for them, they didn't have late night television.

The permanent part of the collection includes a variety of items related to the history of the city of Ontario. I had remembered the Hotpoint portion of the exhibit from a previous visit, but I spent most of my time in the "Roads" section. While Route 66 did not traverse Ontario (it went a few miles north of Ontario, through Upland), there were three U.S. routes that did go through the city, including routes 60, 70, and 99. Initially, all three of them went down Holt Boulevard, but then Route 60 was moved south, to Mission Boulevard. Eventually U.S. Route 60 was decommissioned in California, and the number was used for a state freeway a couple of miles south of downtown Ontario. Route 99 also became a state route, but you have to go all the way to Bakersfield to find it.

The relocation of U.S. Route 60 to Mission Boulevard resulted in a reconfiguration of the city of Ontario - one that adversely affected the businesses on California Street. So after I left the museum, I drove west on California Street. And after my exercise, and after reading about the delicious Chia seed, I was hungry.

(To be continued.)

(empo-plaaybizz) The first E is Exercise

I use a number of applications on my Android phone, including the two applications Ingress and RunKeeper.

I've previously mentioned Ingress in this blog (and have mentioned it more frequently in some of my other blogs). If you haven't heard of it, it's a location-based game from Google that can be played on Android phones. It's best described as a 21st century version of geocaching, except that in this case the caches are virtual. Ingress still requires you to move around in the real world, however, and visit particular locations to play the game.

I haven't mentioned RunKeeper in this blog, but I have discussed it in my Empoprise-BI business blog. One such discussion can be found here. RunKeeper, like Ingress, uses the GPS properties of your phone, but in the case of RunKeeper they are used to track your exercise, including (of course) running, as well as other exercises such as walking.

I have run hot and cold on both Ingress and RunKeeper. However, during the last week I've had the opportunity to get re-acquainted with both applications. (I can't tell you why I've had this opportunity, at least not yet; I should be able to discuss the opportunity in this blog at a later time - perhaps in July.) Basically, I'd use RunKeeper to get out to a particular point, and then I'd play Ingress.

In the ideal world, I'd be able to use Ingress and RunKeeper at the same time. That way I could play the Ingress game, and record my exercise while doing it in RunKeeper. However, I couldn't figure out how to do this; Ingress is a notoriously sensitive game, and if you leave it to do something else, the game is no longer active.

Finally, my boneheaded brain determined that if I started RunKeeper first, and THEN started Ingress, I should be able to use both applications simultaneously. I tested my theory in Montclair this morning, and discovered that it worked.

So I was off to downtown Ontario.

As I have previously mentioned, downtown Ontario has a number of Ingress "portals" where you can play the game. So I parked in a parking lot near one of these portals, started RunKeeper, started Ingress, and set off to play the game.

I didn't visit every Ingress portal in downtown Ontario - there were two that I skipped - but during my walk, I was able to visit six Ingress portals in the vicinity of Euclid Avenue. I walked approximately 0.8 miles during my Ingress gameplay, which is better than nothing.

So after doing that, I ended up back at my original starting point.

(To be continued.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks for western San Bernardino County

From http://www.richblockspoorblocks.com/, a website that lets you enter a city name (or an address) and display income or rent information for that geographic area.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Roman Gadass and a Tech Parody

Loren Feldman lives in New York and spends time in Los Angeles, but doesn't spend a lot of it in the Inland Empire or the eastern San Gabriel Valley. He is, however, obviously familiar with the area - to a point.

Feldman is no fan of Jeremiah Owyang or other self-styled "community managers," so when Feldman heard about Monday's "Community Manager Appreciation Day," his creative juices got flowing and he wrote this.

As part of his comment on the so-called Community Manager of the Year, Feldman wrote:

Mr. Mauran received his award at a gala even held at the Motel 6 in Pamona, CA, who graciously gave the Motel 6 ballroom in exchange for blog posts from attendees.

And no, I didn't send a spelling flame to Feldman for misspelling Pomona. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think he cares how Pomona is spelled.

Since Pomona is in our backyard, I figured I'd see if there actually was a Motel 6 in Pomona. Turns out that there is - on Garey Avenue, right by the intersection of the 60 and the 71.

I even found a Google Maps picture of the motel.

This prompted me to write something of my own on Google+:

After the impressive Community Manager Awards, held in the ballroom of the Motel 6 in Pomona, California (as ably reported by +Loren Feldman - see link in comments), the assemblage of distinguished community managers went to a swank reception at the Pomona Branding & Social Media Appreciation Park (seen on the right of the picture below, right next to the Motel 6). Attendees subsequently attended an informal gathering, organized by the Pomona Police Department and held at Pomona Police Headquarters. After the all night affair, one attendee remarked, "I got to experience the same thing that I do to the sheep - I mean customers."

Then, because most Google+ readers are not familiar with the specifics of Pomona, I linked to an old David Allen story that detailed how the Pomona Library closed, and then reopened with some of the former workers now employed as part-time hourly staff.

It's enough to make a Roman goddess - whoops, gadass - want to cry.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I need an Upland reporter, preferably young, to investigate a non-corpse

Dan Seifert shared a long-ish Laura June article in The Verge entitled For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade. It's an extensively researched article that not only discusses the one-decade heyday of the video games arcade, but the long history before and after that decade, ranging from the years of Prohibition to the present day.

For my purposes, I will reproduce a very small excerpt from the article:

Arcades in the late 1970s and early 1980s held a particular place in the American way of life. Like shopping malls and roller skating rinks, they were safe, isolated areas where kids and teenagers could hang out, and, with a reasonable amount of money, spend hours without their parents. Bill Disney, a pinball enthusiast and owner of The Pinball Gallery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, says of his younger years that "most parents, they basically didn’t know what their kids were doing any time of the day. They were on their bikes, out the whole day," and "they didn’t care where they were." This laid-back attitude varied by family, as well as by geography, but the relative autonomy of older children in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and early 1980s, was much greater than it would be moving into the ‘90s. Films of the early ‘80s such as E.T. and The Wizard show typical, American kids, left to their own devices, playing video games and capturing aliens with their friends while their parents are at work.

But the major thesis of the article can be summed up in the title: arcades in this form are now dead. Laura June defines the classic video arcade as a dark place, inhabited by young people, that only has video games. No food or drink, except perhaps for a stray vending machine. And by using this definition, most of the classic video arcades ARE dead.

But I suspect there may be at least one that is still standing. But, due to the "inhabited by young people" thing, I'll need someone to check this out for me.

In Upland, California, just east of Upland High School, there is a long-standing establishment called James Games. Despite the fact that I actually know James (who sold the business long ago), I have never set foot in the place, despite the fact that I lived within a quarter mile away from it in the mid 1980s, and that I literally lived down the street from it in the mid 1990s.

If someone is ready to take on the glory that is involved with being an official Empoprises correspondent, could someone venture in to James Games and let us know if it's still a video arcade place in the traditional sense?

If you know something about the 2013 version of James Games, you can post your comments here on this blog post, or you can write your own blog post in your own blog and let me know about it, or you can send me an email. I have a Gmail account under the name "empoprises."

In the meantime, here's the Yelp page for James Games: http://www.yelp.com/biz/james-games-upland.