Thursday, November 26, 2015

• Thanksgiving At The Elks Lodge 2015

Yesterday the Elks Lodge held it's 37th annual Thanksgiving dinner for seniors. 


They had two meal times. The first around noon and the second at about 2:00pm. I came to take pictures and do a write up about it, and wasn't expecting to be invited to eat; good thing I happened to come hungry, because the food was delicious and I ate up every bite... even the veggies.

Before the meal there was the citing of the pledge of allegiance and a prayer of thanks.

I was seated near a pair of brothers, the Alexanders. The older brother has lived in Wildomar for 45 years, is a member of the VFW and it was a treat to hear stories about the area when the 15 Fwy was just a two lane road called the 395. 

Across from me was a delightful couple, and the volunteer that was refilling coffee asked the woman if she had been a famous movie star in the past. She smiled and said no, but did reveal that she had been born in 1926.

I asked her how she had heard about the Elks dinner, and she remarked that they'd been coming for years, and that a friend of theirs brought them the first time. 



The meal included turkey, mashed potatoes , stuffing, a vegetable medley, cranberry sauce, a roll, gravy and followed up by pumpkin pie and coffee.


In attendance were the younger members of boy scout troop 332. They were on hand to refill beverages,  take away plates, and otherwise be helpful to the guests. There were also many adult volunteers on hand to cook, serve and clean up the meal.


The table I was at was served by ten year old boy scout Matthew. Everyone at my table remarked how well mannered he was, and how much they enjoyed seeing his eagerness to help out.


Between the two seatings, it was estimated that they had 300 guests, and they'd love to see the number rise for next year. They prepared enough food for 400, and though all the volunteers (about 50 in total) ate, they'd love to find themselves in a position of running out of food next year. ☺

The meal was free, but they did have a donation box that you could leave a donation in at one of the exits. It was known as a purple pig,  though this one had been charred by two past fires, so they named it Flamboyant. The money goes to the Elks charity work.


It was a great opportunity to meet more people from Wildomar, enjoy a fine meal and be thankful to live in such a great, generous and giving country.

•      •       

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”
― Erma Bombeck

Wildomar Rap would like to express a heartfelt thanks to the Elks Lodge for hosting such a terrific event, and allowing me to partake in it too. Happy Thanksgiving Wildomar! ☺

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eastvale V. Wildomar?

Wildomar is facing more legal action. This time by fellow newbie city: Eastvale.


So why is Wildomar having to defend itself from a lawsuit filed by cousin city Eastvale?

Let's encapsulate several years worth of information into as little space as possible. 

Wildomar, Menifee, Jurupa Valley and Eastvale are the last four cities to incorporate in Riverside County, and all did so around the same time period. There are "start up" costs that each city must pay back to the county once they become cities, and each of the four cities was on their own pay schedule.

Eastvale found it in their budget to pay off the county earlier than the other cities in the group. Something I think is a wise course of action.

Why have a debt needlessly hanging over your head if you can pay it off?

Not long after the four cities incorporated, we were hit hard by "The Great Recession" and anticipated revenue targets were not met here, or up in the state capital. So Sacramento took away funds that were promised to the four new cities to try and plug their hemorrhaging budget. Funds that every other city in the state still get. They come from the Vehicle License Fees (VLF) which amount to about $50 per head. Wildomar's yearly share approaches $2,000,000.


Back to Eastvale. They were able to weather the recession better than most and paid off their debts despite the lack of the VLF funds. In the ensuing time, the four cities banded together and hired a lobbyist to see about having Sacramento return the funds to the cities.

Three years in a row the legislature has passed a bill that would do so, and three years in a row the governor has vetoed the bill. The last two years the bills were passed with 100% support from both chambers.

However, this year there was a competing bill working it's way through the legislature at the same time. SB 107 Redevelopment Dissolution Bill is a lengthy bill, but buried in it was some money for the four cities. Below is the pertinent portion.

Senate Bill No. 107
SEC. 28.

 (a) For the 2015–16 fiscal year, the sum of twenty-three million seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($23,750,000) is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Provision of these funds to the department shall be contingent on the County of Riverside agreeing to forgive amounts owed to it by the Cities of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee, and Wildomar for services rendered to the cities between the respective dates of their incorporation, and June 30, 2015. The county’s agreement to forgive these funds shall be forwarded to the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and to the Director of Finance no later than December 1, 2015. The county’s agreement shall be accompanied by a summary of the actual amount owed to the county by each of the cities for the period between the date of their incorporation and June 30, 2015. The agreement reflects a valid public purpose which benefits the cities, the county, and its citizens.

This bill was actually signed into law by the governor, mostly because it really gave huge sums of money to northern California cities —$500M to San Francisco alone, and though Wildomar wouldn't be getting the $1.9 Million annually, it would wipe out about $1,000,000 that we still owe the county.

"Why would Wildomar be named in a lawsuit by Eastvale over something we didn't cause, nor encourage?" you may be asking.

I truly don't get it either, and I have a feeling that you need to be a city attorney type to really get the nuances here. In short, since the legislation mentioned all four cities, if one of the cities isn't pleased with it, they can't simply ask the state or the county to make things fair (in their eyes). Like everything else in the modern world, things have to go through a court, and you have to name 100 John Does as possible defendants, and Wildomar is one of those.

I'm not sure what Eastvale thinks they can really accomplish here, even though I can see why they're steamed about getting dissed here... it's as if they're being punished for being diligent... as if they were the third little pig, that built their house of bricks —not straw or sticksand theirs was the only house to get blown in.
You can see that Jurupa Valley is far and away the big winner when it comes to SB 107.

The way I see it, Eastvale knows that with SB 107 they don't even get to sniff the pie, much less get the tiniest sliver of it.

Instead of being happy for the other three cities, and looking to a time when we get a new governor, that doesn't have a vendetta against Riverside County (check this blog if you're not sure about such an accusation) —when we can reasonably anticipate the return of the pilfered funds, they have embarked on a course of sour grapes.

Since they didn't get what they wanted (FTR: none of the four cities got what they wanted), it certainly appears as if they are willing to see that the other three cities get nothing too, if that's what it takes.

Their actions remind me of a petulant child

Let's make a bedtime story out of it, shall we?

Once upon a time there were four school chums. They weren't equal in size, power or self deluded ego, but they were all in the same grade, and at the same school.

Eastvale came from a family of means, and was able to get pretty much whatever he wanted. The other three friends did their best with what they had, but often had to rely on stretching existing funds just to make ends meet.

Li'l Willa Mar is a happy young city in SWRivCo.

So one day, Grampa Jerry Brown forgot to veto a bill that would make the four cities' lives a bit brighter. The bill promised them all an ice cream cone, in efforts to shut them up, after the governor stole a big chunk of their allowance. In typical Jerry Brown fashion, he only brought three cones with him and he had to solve the dilemma of "who gets the shaft?"


Grampa Jerry short changes RivCo again.

As it turned out, Eastvale had already had an ice cream cone that he'd bought with his own money, and the decision was made to give the other three, the cones. On the surface it all seemed fair enough, but Eastvale wasn't satisfied and he started demanding a share of the others' ice cream (about $5M's worth).

Refer back to the pie chart above. Based on Jurupa Valley's 90% take,
the Wildomar and Menifee scoops would  be closer to the size of a marble.

Though the others could see Eastvale's points, about being left out by Grampa Jerry, they didn't understand why Eastvale would be willing to jeopardize what the others got, just because he was left out... but he didn't care if his actions caused problems for the others or not... to be continued.

"If I don't get any, you don't get any either."

Long story short, the agreements that you've entered into, and are bound to, have nothing to do with others, nor the agreements they are part of... even if you feel like you've been wronged.

It makes far better sense for Eastvale to take their lumps, maintain their strong ties to the other cities and keep the fires burning for the bigger fight; restoration of the VLF funds. Instead of making it necessary for the other cities, especially Wildomar and Menifee which might as well be getting nothing too, to have to pay for a legal defense to this action.

The court date is set for Monday November 30th. Let's see where this version of Mr. Eastvale's Wild Ride takes us. Stay tuned.

If I have to go over the cliff, I'm taking Li'l Willa Mar with me.
Since this matter was discussed behind closed doors, there aren't any details available at this point. Details like: How much this is costing us in legal fees?   We'll learn more at the next council meeting.
•      •       
Lucy, you've got some 'splainin to do. Ricky Ricardo

Wildomar Rap's tip of the day: Be a good egg, even if such a thing can't be located anywhere in your DNA. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

• Third Time's The Charm For Sentencing

Finally, on the third attempt to sentence James Heflin for his role in the 2014 Troop 332 Boy Scout trailer theft, he received an 8 year sentence in state prison.


As the trailer appeared after it was recovered. The inset above shows it as it had been before the theft.


Southwest Justice Center
The first time I went to the Southwest Justice Center to hear his sentencing he was out on bail, and though he had been at the courthouse that day, he fled and later had to be "recaptured".

The second time, September 18, 2015, he tried to change his plea at the last moment, and because the judge in the case was already familiar with the case, and she herself had past ties to the boy scouts, recused herself.

Today there was more gamesmanship attempted on the part of the defendant, but after much delay, Judge Elaine M. Keifer quickly dismissed his feeble attempts to stay in county jail a day longer, instead of being sent to the state pen.

The advantage to serving time in the county jail, from what I understand after speaking with the Deputy District Attorney Gregory Albright, is that not only are you not in a prison environment, where more hardened/violent criminals are, but that you accrue additional credits for time served (more about that later).

One person that I'd seen at the courthouse, at the previous failed sentencing hearings, was a tiny old lady named Renee Duncan. Until today, I'd assumed that she was there on behalf of the defence. 

Boy was I wrong. 

She let loose with a laundry list of alleged wrongs by the defendant and his friends, and "after returning home from dinner at Denny's with a friend," saw the trailer on her property and reported it. 

She was only there to watch him get sentenced. "I came to watch him get sentenced... I'll be glad to pay taxes for that (his incarceration)." 

As it became obvious that there were going to be no more delays, the defendant could be seen shaking his head back and forth many times, indicating his disagreement with the proceedings.

There were two cases against him, a pervious strike too, and after all the numbers were crunched he was handed a six year term and a two year term to be served consecutively. He had spent more than 300 days in custody and since it was served in the county facility, he was credited with serving twice that amount of time. (A clear advantage to doing time in county v. state).

There was a bit of wrangling over time served credits, and the two attorneys stipulated to 609 days served. Which get sliced right off the top of the sentence.

After the hearing was over, the deputy DA said he'd been sentenced to eight total years with about a year and a half credit. Once he hits prison, he'll have to serve 80% of that. He roughly estimated that he'll be behind bars for at least 4 years.

◄  ☼  ►

Considering that I recently heard Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin speak, and he mentioned that convicted car thieves will get sentenced to about 2 years, yet often end up serving less than 20 days —due to overcrowding... I won't be all that surprised if this guy is walking free before Christmas.

   •      •       
If I was gonna go to jail, I don't want to go to jail for stealing a bottle of water. I'll steal that $20 million. At least then it was worth it. Idris Elba

Wildomar Rap's tip of the day: orange may be the new black, but I hear that the food is pretty bad in the pokey... especially if you're served the loaf

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

• RTA Rider Appreciation Event

As part of the local T-NOW group (which meets monthly to discuss the RTA in our area), I attended a Rider Appreciation event at the Outlet Mall in Lake Elsinore. It was from 4:00am to 7:00am on November 18th.
A look at the first pick up and another at the last one of the event.
Wolfee Donuts provided coffee and donuts for the riders on this chilly morning as several RTA Board Members engaged in conversation with the commuters that take public transit into, and back from, LA or OC everyday.
A panoramic look at the bus stop (the lights in the center of the pic) as the Sun was coming up... about 90 mins into the event.
I learned that the top reasons these people chose the bus/train over their own automobiles varied a bit, but none listed saving gas money as a top reason.

Top reasons for taking public transit included:
  • Avoiding traffic
  • Less stress
  • Saving wear and tear on their cars
  • Camaraderie among the regular riders
Most people that I asked about their top reasons for taking public transit mentioned how avoiding the stress of driving was top of their list. 

One man, that makes the commute to UCI, mentioned how he uses the ride home to unwind from his day at work. He views driving to still be working, and he prefers to be done working once he's off the clock. He either watches movies, listens to books on tape, etc and when he gets home he's ready for family time. 
12 year commuter CeCe and Bridgette Moore before the 4:26am pick up.
Another of the many hats that Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore wears is being a Board Member of RTA. In the picture above, she poses with daily rider CeCe who was been taking public transit to work in OC for the last 12 years.

As for me, I only commute one day a week these days, and it's over Ortega Highway where there is no public transit, but if I worked in LA or OC I can see the advantages of taking this route to work if you have a regular five day a week job and you're not a fan of the 91.

On my driving day I no longer can just leave at 6:00am and be there at 7:00am. What used to be an hour commute has morphed into at least 90 mins (on a good day) if I leave at 6:00am. So, to avoid the mess, I have to leave at 4:45am and then since I'm way to early to start work, I end up parked for an hour.
The coffee and donut station as supplied by Wolfee Donuts.
Based on the stories I heard from the various riders this morning, their commutes aren't much longer than driving, and it's relatively stress free compared to being behind the wheel. Something to consider if you're fed up with the Corona Crawl that only seems to be getting worse with time.
A look at the intrepid group that was set to greet the riders as seen through a selfie of Murrieta Mayor Randon Lane.
From L-R: Randon Lane (Murrieta), Joseph Morabito (WR), Nichole Daily (LE), Brad Weaver (RTA), Deni Horne (Field rep for Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez), Bridgette Moore (W'mar), Wolfee rep, John Zaitz (Canyon Lake), Amy and Daryl Hickman (LE).
•      •       
“Fresh popcorn is near impossible to resist, second only to fresh doughnuts.” ― Shannon Wiersbitzky

Tip of the day from Wildomar Rap: When your hands are cold before the sun has risen, discard the paper cup sleeve on your coffee and let it heat up your hands...if you're wearing gloves that is.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

• Wildomar Residents Line Up For Sandbags

Today was part one of a two part event. Sandbags and sand were available at the cemetery today for those that proved residency. Keith Ross, head of Wildomar's code enforcement team, was there checking in those that came. Which numbered 85 cars as of 12:30pm. A couple of cars from other cities had to be turned away.

The line up started before the official start time of 8:00am and there wasn't a break until approaching 1:00pm.
In the photos above you can see some of the volunteers. They were missionaries from the LDS Church and other than during their shift change, when the morning crew left and the afternoon crew came in, there were always at least six there ready to help fill bags or load them into vehicles.

There were 34 tons of material and each resident could take up to 25 bags, which weighed in the 25 to 40 pound range depending on who filled them. Basic math tells you that as many as 2,100 bags were filled and carted off.
This is what was left of the sand pile at noon. It started more than four feet tall.


Also on hand from the city was Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore. She wasn't just there for a photo op, she worked filling bags and helping lug them to cars for hours... in addition to going out and getting water and pizza for the volunteers.

I showed up just to take some pictures and found myself helping out a few ladies that lived off of Union Street, which morphed into helping in general until close to 1:00pm. It was a great morning for it, though I'm sure my back will remind me about it later on.

If you missed this chance to get sandbags, they are still available at the cemetery during the week. It's best to contact Les Chapman first, and make arrangements with him on times, etc.

Les Chapman
Phone: 951-677-7751
Municipal Services

Saturday December 5th will be another event like today, where volunteers will help you. 

Key word is help → you. 
Unless you're on the disabled list, then please be ready to work with the volunteers that are on hand.


•      •       
I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.― Ed Helms as Andy Bernard

Wildomar Rap is more into sand castles at the beach than sand bags at the cemetery, but you can't have chocolate ice cream for breakfast everyday... right?

Friday, November 13, 2015

• City Council Meeting November 2015

Closed Session
This is usually a short recap, with no real details, of the private meeting between the city council members and the city attorney.

Two items were of note.

Bridges et al v. City of Wildomar and Zareh Hookasian; RSC Case No.RIC1512918

This apparently is another attempt to distort the CEQA protections in order to retard an approved project.

The city council voted unanimously to defend "that litigation matter," in the words of City Attorney Thomas Jex.

The other thing mentioned was the old document dump trick, where at 5:00pm a letter by Wildomar's self appointed watchdog "Threatened Litigation" from the Martha Bridges trio, over the Villa Siena project that was on the evening's agenda.
Look out builders, if you want to cross the BRIDGES be prepared to pay a toll.


I can't imagine what makes people like this tick.

Though it wasn't her group, Wildomar recently had to pay out $200,000 ($120K to the lawyers for AIP, and $80K to pay our own lawyers click this link for those details) so no matter how their cases get settled, you can take it to the bank that it will be costing us money that could otherwise go toward public safety.

PRESENTATIONS
Proclamation – Eagle Scout Anthony Ramos

Representatives from four elected officials (US Rep Ken Calvert, State Senator Jeff Stone, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez and County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries) presented Anthony
Ramos certificates recognizing his new Eagle Scout status and the project he completed to attain it.
Mayor Ben Benoit congratulates Eagle Scout Anthony Ramos as Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore takes a pic from the dais.



2.1 Allocation of Community Development Block Grant Funds
Every year, the City of Wildomar has the opportunity to apply to the Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) to receive an allocation of Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

This year there were four agencies asking for a piece of the pie. There were $19,622 dollars that Wildomar had to give to charitable organizations. They include The Assistance League, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE, and Merit Housing.

The only group that was present to plead their case was The Assistance League. Though Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore suggested splitting it among three of the groups. Council Member Marsha Swanson made a strong case for dividing it evenly among only two of them (The Assistance League and HOPE) at $9,811 each.

Merit Housing runs the assisted living place off of S. Pasadena St. I liked Marsha's point that all the people that live there pay to live there. It's not a charity, and if they would consider opening their doors as a cooling station on hot days, then the vote might go differently in the future.

2.2 Villa Sienna Apartment Project
This was already covered in detail when it was before the planning commission last month. Click this link for the details. Those that can't afford the time it takes to click, the thumbnail description is this.

It's a proposed 170 unit apartment project on ten acres at the southeast corner of town. It's also the project mentioned at the top of this blog as having been threatened with legal action.

There was a fun exchange between Planning Director Matt Bassi and Mayor Ben Benoit that seemed to poke fun at the naiveté of the letter writer.

I would like to mention that we did receive a last minute letter from Martha Bridges [et al]. The context of the letter basically says that staff did not adequately address her comments from the draft EIR related to fire protection. We did address the comments but what she wanted to see was references to state fire codes to mitigate fire hazards through compliance with regulations... although those are already required by law. We technically, and legally, do not need to include state mandated ordinances into the conditions of approval. Those codes are already mandated.

At this point Mayor Benoit ask Bassi this question.
Just to clarify further, how many other codes are out there, that they're going to be complying with, that we would not put in the EIR because they know they have to comply with them?

Bassi's response was this.
We have the California Building Code, the plumbing code, the electrical code, zoning code, and with each of those codes there's probably several hundred specific line items that need to be addressed. It's just not appropriate do to that in an EIR. 
Basically sums up the letter writer's lack of acumen rather tidily if you ask me.
Though this seemed to take up an hour, all four resolutions passed 5-0. Now it gets forwarded to the troll [in the above cartoon] to see if she can figure out an angle to sue over or not.

CITY MANAGER REPORT

  • The project that will be putting in a left hand turn arrow at Hidden Springs Road at Clinton Keith will start on November 18th and be completed by November 28th.
  • The Freedom Swing will be reinstalled starting November 23rd and completed by December 23rd.
  • Sandbags will be available at the cemetery this Saturday 
  • December 8th, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm there will be another community meeting for the Grand Avenue Bike Lanes and Multi-Purpose Trail. 
•      •       

When you open yourself up to being mocked... you'll probably be mocked.
― Peggy Noonan

Wildomar Rap suggests building your mental acumen up before venturing out into the public arena. Though that has proven to be an anathema to many self appointed activists I've run into.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

• Halloween Around Town 2015

A couple of pumpkins painted at the event at Silver Oaks Park.

Even in a small city like Wildomar, there is just too much activity to cover in the narrow window of Halloween... but three family friendly events caught my eye.

Dishing up some fresh popped popcorn for eager trick or treaters.

First was at the community park called Silver Oaks. Realtor Joseph Onello sponsored this event where kids painted pumpkins, jumped in a bounce house, and got their picture taken.
The paint table where kids put their own special touches on pumpkins.

From there we went over to Cornerstone church to see their Trunk or Treat event. It was amazing.
A panoramic view of the 139 cars at Cornerstone church for their 2015 Trunk or Treat event.


The last count had 139 cars registered, and 1300 pounds of candy being on hand. The event was scheduled from 6pm to 8:30pm. We got there at about 5:30pm and they allowed the early trick or treaters to enter fifteen minutes early.

Happy families enjoying the evening.
What a spectacular bash they hosted. There were games, music, food, fire trucks, and candy galore.
A game of skill where tossing a wiffle ball into one of the pumpkins was the goal. 

We left early. I checked my watch and it was only 6:10. As I passed the official people counter I asked her what the current tally was. She showed me her counter and it was at 376 people. That was 10 mins into a two and half hour event.

Our next stop was in Windsong Valley where realtor Terri Holladay's  house was all decked out for a festive time. The best part was inside where delicious homemade chili, french dip sandwiches, fried chicken, and a complete sweet table was set out. Not to mention the libations available to those over 21.

If you're from Windsong Valley, this house needs to be on your trick or treat map.
The "graveyard" at the Holladay house. Complete with a zombie that rose from a coffin to scare trick or treaters.

While driving through the neighborhood I didn't see the throngs of trick or treaters like I'd seen in years past. I probably was just on the wrong street at the wrong time, or... they were all over at Cornerstone. ☺
One of  the many detailed installations crafted to give a person the willies at the haunted house on Pashal.

Up the street from Terri's place is a house that goes all out too. They lost a large olive tree during last year's snow storm, but that didn't stop them from going all out. A glowing graveyard with many props. A favorite of the neighborhood.

I'm sure that throughout the city there must have been hundreds of other well decorated homes too.

Next year Halloween will be on a Monday. I know that the city of Wildomar is looking to upgrade their Trunk or Treat event by putting it on the grass, freeing up the parking lot for the participating families. Adding a DJ, and many other things that are just in the idea stage at this point. If you have ideas, I'm sure that they'd to hear them.

It'll be wise to coordinate with Cornerstone and keep the events on different days. Maybe they'd even want to have a car at the city event too.
•      •       

“Too much work, and no vacation, 
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses;
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.”
― Oscar Wilde

Wildomar Rap is happy to call Wildomar home. Not only is it a good community to live in, but it goes well with the name of the blog.

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