Monday, August 8, 2022

• How Safe Is Wildomar?

There's always room for improvement, but based on the stats from Safewise.com, it's time thrust out our chests and stand proud and tall!

As you can see in the image, Wildomar jumped up 21 spots to hit #22.

Gotta love being ranked above places like Dana Point, Eastvale and Irvine. Not to mention that Temecula, Menifee, Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore didn't even make the list.

The only local city that ranked safer than Wildomar was Murrieta. 

California’s 50 Safest Cities of 2022
(the population is followed by the median income)

#1 Danville   44K   $160K
#2 Rancho Santa Margarita    47K   $121K
#3 Moorpark     36K    $107K
#4 Aliso Viejo    51K    $112K
#5 Yorba Linda    68K    $129K
#6 Laguna Niguel    66K    $108K
#7 Poway         49K     $107k
#8 Mission Viejo      94K     $118K 
#9 Rancho Palos Verdes   41k    $138K
#10 Thousand Oaks     126K    $109K
#11 San Ramon     76K     $109K
#12 Murrieta     117K     $90K
#13 Santa Clarita      221K     $99K
#14 Lake Forest     86K      $109K
#15 Temple City    35K     $78K
#16 Lincoln     48K     $88K
#17 Camarillo    70K    $93K
#18 Chino Hills     84K     $106K
#19 Oakley     42K    $104K
#20 San Juan Cap    36K   $91K
#21 Simi Valley   125K    $99K
#22 Wildomar  37K $74K
#23 San Marcos     98K    $80K
#24 Dana Point     33K    $99K
#25 Irvine     297K    $105K
#26 Eastvale      65K    $119K
#27 Santee        58K    $87K
#28 Encinitas     63K    $116K
#29 Cupertino     59K    $171K
#30 Folsom      82K    $114
As it happens, I had made a screenshot from 2021 when we were ranked #43.

It takes a team effort to make a city safer. It starts with the desires (the demands) of the residents and it takes a responsive city council that listens and changes the policies that need tweaking (beefed up code enforcement working as a team with RSO and SWAG)

Though I've never met a single person that enjoys paying taxes, the big turning point was when the voters chose to add an additional penny per dollar sales tax back in 2018 by passing Measure AA, with 58% of the vote. 

That has allowed the City of Wildomar to focus on many quality of life issues that it simply couldn't address in the past.

(I can't imagine our city without the improvements the additional tax money has made possible)

Are we done? 
Have we crossed the finish line? 

No way, no how... not even Murrieta would say that about their city. 

There's always room for improvement, but what a great leap forward we've taken in just a few short years.

There are lots of other interesting stats found in the link below.

https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-california/


Wildomar Rap opinion time


A couple of things.

First, look at the median incomes of the safest cities and you'll see that Wildomar managed to get up there despite our lower median income. 

Our median income, reported as $74K, was the lowest in the top 30 rated cities. Don't get me started on where we rank when it comes to the size of our tax base and city budget. 

Yet, still, we ranked 22nd. 
That's worth repeating.

Second, very often we'll see things that upset us about our city or neighborhood on social media. When we hear about someone's car or trailer being stolen, a catalytic converter being stolen, we get angry... and rightfully so.

I'm not looking to minimize such things when I point out that crime is something that has been plaguing society since the caveman days... that's why we have a police force in the first place.

Then throw in the new approach that Sacramento has when it comes to crime and punishment and it gets very challenging for the law abiding to stay safe. 

As we have learned from Neighborhood Watch meetings, don't make yourself an easy target (sometimes easier said than done) and if you are victim of a crime (or see one) be sure to report it to the police. 

Posting it on Facebook or Nextdoor doesn't count as "reporting" it.

Just for fun, let's compare Wildomar to Lake Elsinore at the website bestplaces.net. As you can see, they are below the fifty percentile too. 

When you look at these FBI stats from bestplaces.net you see why Wildomar is ranked among the safer places to live with a score of 12.8 out of 100 for violent crime. (The closer to 0 and further away from 100, the better).

Link to bestplaces.net

For those that may not know, my name is Joseph Morabito and I've been writing Wildomar Rap since 2013. I also have the honor of being Mayor Pro-Tem of Wildomar this year and I'm on the ballot for re-election this November. 

Let's keep Wildomar going in the right direction. Please vote for me this November.

This blog is indeed an advantage for me to get my message out to the voters. 

My phone number is (951) 285-1663 if you have questions that you'd like to bounce off me... that's what I'm here for. 

I have a city email that you can look up at the city's website, but during the campaign I'll be using JosephMorabito2018@gmail.com or WildomarRap@gmail.com. 

If you call, leave a message. 

These days I don't answer unknown numbers... I'm tired of being warned about my warranty being ready to expire. 

If you use Facebook, click this link to follow my official city page











Saturday, July 9, 2022

• Group Effort Puts a Dent In It

Thirty-eight volunteers getting psyched up to do ten years of yard work in two hours. 😁
Donuts (donated by the VFW) and a pep talk before beginning.
Not the best "before" picture as a lot of work had already been done... but still a long way from the final look.

It started when Code Enforcement was called out to check on a property that was in need of some TLC (to put it mildly).

There were volunteers of all ages. 

Code Enforcement approached us (Dan Gonse and Joseph Morabito) after a Coffee with the Mayor event wondering if the Wildomar Beautification Volunteers might be able to lend a hand in a distressed situation.

A bird's eye view from the top of the roll-off dumpster.

From there Councilwoman Bridgette Moore jumped in and got the groundwork laid that saw 30 volunteers meet bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:30am to tackle this daunting task.

It took a few moments to get into the groove, but soon enough the volunteers were working in unison like a determined colony of ants with the same objective: let's get this done before the Sun really heats up. 😁
Mayor Ben Benoit atop the dumpster. Not the easiest job to volunteer for, but there he is... while I'm on this side of the camera and keyboard. 😅
Among the thirty volunteers were four members of the Wildomar city council, and three members of Wildomar's Code Enforcement Team.

I asked Bridgette for a recap of the morning: "Today we have over 30 volunteers helping an elderly veteran in the city of Wildomar. We have our mayor, Ben Benoit here, mayor pro-tem Joseph Morabito and council members Ashlee DePhillippo and Bridgette Moore." 

Look at the difference on that fence line.

"We also have our code enforcement team here. We have Prestige Nutrition. We want to thank our sponsor CR&R for donating the bin. And also Agustin Montesinos for trimming the palm tree."

Imagine all the palm fronds that had to be cut off of that tree.

It was said to be an $1800 job that they donated.

Michelle, of *Prestige Nutrition, and her daughter Ava, along with the other members of her family, were out in force.

*Prestige Nutrition is a new business in town. It's near Go-Nutz Donuts and Altura Credit union. It's veteran owned and they're already looking to be active members of the Wildomar community. 
I'm guessing that people who regularly use that road will be doing double-takes for the next week or two as they pass by it. Out of privacy concerns for the resident, I'm not going to post the address here. 
A candid picture of Bridgette Moore in action. In addition to organizing this, she worked it too. If you look close enough, you'll see a special shoe on her left foot. She had hurt it just a little over a week ago, but didn't let that slow her down where it would have easily sidelined me. 

After tons of debris surrounding this piece of equipment had been removed, it was evident that it wasn't going anywhere. I made a note to myself after seeing this. Clean out the garage and side yard while it can be accommodated with regular trash cans.

In the end, there was still a lot more work to do, but talk about having one heckuva head start. 

Wildomar is taking a more serious approach to code enforcement these days and though you may have been neglecting things for years (or decades) that's not going to be a valid excuse if you get that knock on your door.














Monday, July 4, 2022

• Are You The Next Member of the Wildomar City Council?

This year three of the five seats are up and will be on the ballot. 

One seat for sure will be getting a new face, district 1, the seat that 2022 Mayor Ben Benoit has held since 2010. 

Which district are you in?

He is running for a county wide seat, Controller/Auditor, and cannot be on the ballot for two races at the same time. 

That leaves his seat wide open 

I've heard that one person from district 1 has made an appointment with the city clerk to "pull papers" as it's now. That's when you get a chance to stick your toe a little deeper into the exciting waters of local politics.

Here is a link to the districts map; see which one you're in.

The other two seats that are up are district 3 and 5. That's Joseph Morabito (me) and recently appointed Ashlee DePhillippo

I have it on good authority that both Joseph Morabito (me) and Ashlee DePhillippo are planning on running for another term.

In my case, a second term. In Ashlee's case this will be her first election run.

► My thoughts on seeking reelection

I've enjoyed my four years on council and would be honored to be elected for another four years, but as I've said since day one of my campaign back in 2018, "It's not about me, it's about the voters."

I know that sounds a bit corny or contrived, but it's not, it's true. I don't have an agenda, other than to provide clear and timely communication from the city to the residents. 

I only want your vote if you believe that I've done a good job representing you. If you are ready for new representation I fully respect that. It's your choice, and you will owe no one (especially not me) an explanation as to why or how you voted.

If you would like to support my bid for reelection, please comment. To be fair, if you're sick of me and ready for new representation, it's fair to let me know that too. 

I've heard that someone in District 3 has made an appointment to get their nomination papers. That's how it should be. Those on council want to be elected in, we really don't want to just walk into it, even if that's an easier path. 

The idea is for Wildomar, and in my case District 3, to have solid representation. 

That'll be up to the voters to determine in November. In the meantime, I'm still willing to do "Better Know a Candidate" blogs on all the candidates, and that goes for any challengers against me... even if that's a bit awkward. 😅  

I'm also happy to meet with all the candidates or just the ones from District 3 for a meet and greet, or a debate that's opened to the voters. 

If you're interested in running for any of the seats, even mine, you need to make an appointment with the city clerk. Those appointments start on July 18th and run through (I believe) the second week of August (the 12th). But double check on that, I may be mistaken. 

Please check below to see if you meet the qualifications to run.

From the city's website

Election Information

The City of Wildomar consolidates its election with the Riverside County Registrar of Voters who provides the voter registration, ballot materials, polling places and other activities. The City Clerk serves as the local Election's Officer and is responsible for issuing and receiving Nomination Papers, accepting City Measures and for the publication of all legal notices.  

City’s General Municipal Election Schedule

The City of Wildomar is a General Law City governed by a five-member City Council. Members of the City Council are elected by district for a four-year term. Pursuant to California Elections Code Sections 1301(b), 1000 and 10403.5, beginning in November of 2010 and every even-numbered year thereafter, the City’s general municipal election shall be consolidated with the statewide general election held on the second Tuesday following the first Monday in November. (Ord. 08-15 § 2)

District Election Schedule

Councilmembers shall be elected in Council Districts 2 and 4 beginning at the General Municipal Election in November, 2016, and every four years thereafter. 

Council Members shall be elected from Council Districts 1, 3, and 5 beginning at the General Municipal Election in November, 2018, and every four years thereafter. (Ord. 118 § 2, 2016)

Candidate Qualification

- Must be 18 years of age.
- Must be a Citizen of the United States.
- Must live in, and be a registered voter in, the district in which he or she seeks election at the time nomination papers are issued, pursuant to California Government Code Section 34882 and Elections Code Section 10227. Termination of residency in a district by a Councilmember shall create an immediate vacancy for that Council district unless a substitute residence within the district is established within 30 days after the termination of residency.

For specific questions, contact:
City Clerk - Janet Morales
Phone: 951-677-7751 x 210
Email: jmorales@cityofwildomar.org     


Thursday, June 30, 2022

• Ask Wildomar Rap: What's Up With The Different Color Street Signs?

As you have most likely noticed, the old green street signs are being updated to blue. 

I've been asked 'why are they no longer green?' 

Have you wondered about the different color schemes found on some signs?

That's an easy answer, green is the color of county signs, and now that we're a city, and the old signs are at the end of their lifespan, we're updating them to the new city design.

This is the second reversed sign that I've seen in town. Have you seen others?

The new signs are blue and white, but, if you've been paying close attention, you've noticed that once in a while there's a sign that has the colors reversed; white and blue.

I bet that you're wondering what that's about...

The blue signs are for public streets that the city maintains. 

The white signs are for private streets that the city does not maintain.  

The nuance is the private streets may be public but they are not maintained by the city. This dynamic is something inherited from the county. 

Good old Google Maps... not too long from now these green signs will all be relegated to the ash heap of Google memories. 

When will the changeover be complete?

The changeover program isn't a front-burner issue and is being done in segments as the budget allows. If your street hasn't been done yet, it will be in time. 


UPDATED:
I was asked why the Wildomar Trail signs are brown... I knew that I should have included that. 

The idea was to have the Wildomar Trail roadsigns stand out and give an old-timey feel.

Before.

After.

If you have questions for Wildomar Rap, I'll see if I can answer them. The question is how to contact me???  

Facebook is the best method... though I have an email that I don't check that often wildomarrap@gmail.com for those that have wisely avoided social media.

•                •                •
  

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." 

– Ovid

Wildomar Rap is doubtful of a bountiful crop, but has indeed been resting.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

• Volunteer Group of the Year: Wildomar Beautification Volunteers PART 2

You may be thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, wasn't this already covered?"

Joseph Morabito, Dan Gonse, Jerry Orchard, Ann White, Jim Webster, Debi Southerland, Keith Johnson, Nancy Linton, Sandi Fandrick, Bridgette Moore and Ashlee Dephillippo.
Yes, but no. The previous blog announced the news, this blog has some pictures of the day and an 8 minute video from the Board of Supervisors meeting where the non Wildomar portions were edited out. 

We invite you to come out and join us in making Wildomar beautiful. You don't have to become a regular, even once would be great. If you'd like to follow along with what the group is doing, use this link to get to the Facebook page.

Use this link for previously published info about Wildomar Beautification Volunteers.


Outside the County Building along with the volunteers of the year from other districts in Riverside County. 

From L to R: Wildomar Mayor Ben Benoit, Councilwomen Ashlee Dephillippo and Bridgette Moore, Mayor Pro-Tem Joseph Morabito with the mic, Supervisors Kevin Jefferies, Jeff Hewitt, Karen Spiegel and V. Manuel Perez.

Group shot of all the groups honored.

Wildomar Beautification Volunteers taking up the whole front row.

Can you name these people? Hint, they've been named up above. 😁

If you can't see the video above, you can use this link.

The Wildomar Beautification Volunteers have many, many members. Some are more active than others. There were several very active members that weren't able to make it to this meeting, I don't want to name them here, because invariably I'd leave out a name or two... but we know who you are. 😊

Friday, April 1, 2022

• Volunteer Group of the Year: Wildomar Beautification Volunteers

In the most recent issue of Supervisor Kevin Jeffries' newsletter he announced that Wildomar Beautification Volunteers were selected as this year's Volunteer Organization of the Year, and last of the original Wildomar city council members, Bridgette Moore, was selected as Volunteer of the Year.

The group will be honored at the April 26th Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Early on a Saturday morning, getting ready to beautify Wildomar.

Link to Supervisor Jeffries' Newsletter

If the font is too small to read on the image, here it is again. 😁
Supervisor Jeffries has selected the Wildomar Beautification Volunteers as the First District Volunteer Organization of the Year. 

In July 2020, Wildomar Councilwoman Bridgette Moore asked Mayor Pro Tem Joseph Morabito if he would accompany her on a litter pick up. They quickly saw that once a month would not make a dent so they planned for every week. Residents started joining in and a movement was started! The residents have created this wonderful group and have about 20 dedicated volunteers that are out in the community consistently. 

In 2022, they started picking up litter everyday. In addition, they have adopted 4 miles of the I15 freeway within the City. 

Their totals for 2021: Hours 1, 323 hours Bags 1,352

Bridgette spends countless hours out in the community cleaning and organizing daily events, supplies, and encouraging others to get involved in the community. 

Thank you Bridgette for all you do in the community. 

Bridgette and members of the Wildomar Beautification Volunteers will be honored at the April 26th Board Meeting during our Volunteers of the Year Presentation.


Bridgette has always been kind enough to include me (Joseph Morabito) as one of the founders of WBV. 

Yes I was there, much like the McDonald's brothers were there at the start of McDonald's, but it was Ray Kroc that made it a household name, and it's Bridgette Moore that breathed life into Wildomar Beautification Volunteers.
Ok, here's the reverse angle of the story... before Covid hit, there were a couple of residents that had been picking up litter on their own, most notably was Kathy Bundy and Jerry Orchard. I'm aware of a couple of others that regularly picked up litter, but they had been flying below my radar at that time.

In early 2020 a couple of friends and I went and picked up a couple of bags of trash at what used to be the Baxter/Central curve. I wrote a blog about it, but it didn't become a regular thing by any means. 

Then in the Summer of 2020, after a lot of chatter on Facebook about trash on our roadways, Bridgette asked if I'd join her in picking up litter in town, I said, "Sure." 

We thought that we'd pick up from McVicar to Grand and all the way to Clinton Keith. We were rookies then and had no idea how much time it actually took to pick up trash. We barely made it to Grand and back to the creek before we ran out of time.

We realized that once a month wasn't going to do anything, so we upped it to every other week, and then weekly. I remember the first time that other people joined in. I believe that it was Ann White and another person.

I was pretty regular with picking up trash on a weekly basis until the weather changed in December and it was barely light outside at our start time (great excuses, right? 😅). I went MIA until late January, and when I returned about eight weeks later, I saw how there were many new volunteers ready to make Wildomar beautiful. 

This is where things really changed. I was concerned that we couldn't keep up the pace of weekly, and was trying to lobby for twice a month or even monthly. I'm glad that Bridgette didn't listen to that and now the group has a couple of dozen regular members, all with great personalities and stories of their own, plus many others that come now and then. 

Not only is it a weekly thing now, there are some in the group that go out several times during the week, and the impact of all the volunteer hours really shows as Wildomar roadways continue to look better and better.

Thank you Bridgette Moore for having the tenacity and sticktoitiveness to take this from its humble beginnings to the point that you can take a week or two off and the group won't skip a beat. 

If you'd like to join the Wildomar Beautification Volunteers (even just one time), please reach out to either Bridgette or Joseph... but mostly Bridgette. ☺

 

Friday, March 18, 2022

• Wildomar Conversations: 4 Keith Johnson

Meet Keith Johnson. 

Keith Johnson at his place of employment, The Anchor.
He went into the Army at age 19. He spent fourteen years in the California Army National Guard with a rank of Sgt E5. He was discharged in 2016 and then opted to pursue a musical career in a band in the Lake Elsinore area. 

Things didn't work out as he'd planned, and within six months of that move he found himself homeless. He'd lost his place to live, his car, his family photos and records... he was on the streets of Lake Elsinore.

In 2018 he attempted a 90 day course of rehab, but only made it about 55 days before he headed back out to the street. It was about a year later that he first encountered SWAG. That occured at the lake bottom in Lake Elsinore. 

Three different looks of Keith; then, then and now.

It was around that time that local law enforcement changed their approach to homelessness and started arresting people for warrants, paraphernalia, trespassing, and other things that go unchecked in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Keith was arrested for trespassing multiple times and paraphernalia. Each time that happened SWAG was there to offer help. They knew who he was and had taken his information multiple times. Eventually, after six years of being homeless, he walked to The Anchor seeking help on his own. 

Click to read more about The Anchor

Keith has now had a year away from the streets 

He has goals and desires. He was able to reach this level by saying "yes" to help. Something he wasn't ready for earlier, but with persistence from the community partners of SWAG, RSO and code enforcement, he took that big first step and is well on his way to being an asset to the community. 

Please take a look at the interview with Wildomar Councilwoman Bridgette Moore to get a more complete picture. Note: the original video ran more than 20 minutes. I pared it down to a little over 10 minutes. 

I know that Keith credits Gloria Strippling and Ashlee Dephillippo for their help, but also the entire "SWAG tribe" as he referred them, in his success.

Though homeless individuals need food along with things like clean socks, clothes and even fresh shoes fairly regularly, it's counterproductive to hand them cash. Cash generally is used for one thing: Drugs or alcohol. 

If you're so moved as to want to donate money, seriously consider what it's going to be used for and seek out a trusted local organization, such as SWAG, to give the money to instead. This is where the well worn phrase comes into play, give a hand up, not a hand out.


What homeless people, or addicts, need the most is to know that there are people that sincerely care and CAN help. Not just clothes and food.

— Keith Johnson

Joseph Morabito and Keith Johnson.
Even with my super foofy hair, I'm still much shorter than Keith.

Below is a video regarding The Anchor. 


As an aside, "Say Yes" is a recently proposed campaign in the quest to assist chronic homeless people in getting off the streets put forth by Lake Elsinore City Councilwoman Natasha Johnson.