Friday, November 30, 2018

• Bronze Award Project at Wildomar Elementary

Let me begin by saying that one of the best parts about writing Wildomar Rap is being in a position to meet interesting people. Sometimes they're older and very accomplished, other times they're young and basically just starting out in life. 
Mikayla alongside the finished mural
Today meet ten year old Mikayla. She's a 5th grader at Wildomar Elementary and recently completed a Girl Scout Bronze Award project on the campus. The idea stemmed from the theme of a school assembly: Be Your Own Superhero.
During the early stages of the project, drawing the image onto the wall.
It was originally going to be one mural, but then blossomed into more than half a dozen murals throughout the school.

Being the current secretary of the Wildomar Rotary Club, I had the chance to chat with Mikayla before she started the project. She was looking for donations and I was the one that heard her presentation.
This meeting was at The Bean in early October when Mikayla discussed the project she had in mind, looking for donations. She was well prepared for the meeting, as she was the day she showed me the finished project.
She's been in the Girl Scouts for a year and a half, in the junior level. (Hint: junior level wears a green vest).
Mikayla poses with the supplies.
Mikayla gave me a tour of the work she oversaw and then answered some questions for this blog.

Her inspiration for this project was her own experience with being bullied. As she explained it, she's been bullied and seen others suffer bullying at the hands of others. She wants to bring awareness to her school and the community.
More than thirty people helped Mikayla with this project.
I asked her which part of the project she enjoyed most, her response was, "My favorite part about this project [has been] meeting all the people that have helped me. Without them, none of this would have been possible." 
Time for a group shot... say "Cheeeeeese"! ☺
She told me that the most difficult part of the project was "learning how to communicate [...] with people in person and in email" but now feels confident in such situations. 
This No Bullying mural can be seen from the blacktop.
In addition to learning how to communicate better during this project, she also listed, "how to manage a project from start to finish, how to express myself [...] through art and painting, the importance of how you treat people, and friendship."
Posing under one of the finished murals.
She received donations from Wildomar Rotary ($100), Lowe's donated much of the supplies, Diversified Landscape and Consultetech also chipped in. 
If only people would pay attention to such advice...
I asked her if she had any additional thoughts to add to the blog and she said, "Yes, I want to thank everybody who helped me through this project. My mom and dad, Ms. Connelly my Assistant Principal, Mr. Hoffmann my Principal, Wildomar Student Council, Britney Drysler and the Interacters from Temescal Canyon High School, April Watkins, (I might say your last name wrong) Joseph Morabito and the Wildomar Rotary, Miss Grace, Lisa Cabrera in Lakeland Community Center. For the materials Lowe's, Diversified Landscape and Consultetech." 
It's not all that difficult to be nice to people... 
Mikayla has been part of THINK Together at Wildomar Elementary for a couple of years now. As it happens, back in Spring of 2017 she was one of the key participants in a promotional video for the Justine Lee Pesicka Memorial 5K at Marna O'Brien Park.

Mikayla is part of a new Girl Scout troop lead by her mom Sonni LeGault, Troop 1929. The girls are in grades 4th through 8th, and go to schools in both Wildomar and Lake Elsinore. They meet once or twice a month on Sundays. 
Words to live by.
If you have a daughter that age, and are interested in her possibly joining Troop 1929, be sure to send Sonni an email:
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Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.
– Benjamin Disraeli 

Wildomar Rap is neither smoke nor fire... if anything, it's closer to steam coming off a demitasse of espresso.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

• Cookies With Santa: Cops For Kids 2018

The Christmas time of year is eagerly anticipated by kids of all ages with hopes of getting presents under the tree. However, not all kids come from families that can afford gifts and many charitable organizations seek to fill that gap.

Cops For Kids is a local organization that has been giving gifts to children for more than twenty years. 

"What started twenty years ago, by a couple of patrolmen out of the Lake Elsinore Sheriff Station, who saw a need among some in the underprivileged areas, who then went back to the station and took up a collection, bought gifts and distributed them to kids in need, while on duty, in uniform, from their marked patrol cars, has blossomed into an institution in the area: Cops For Kids."
- Dave Fontneau, Executive Director of the group
The area served by Cops For Kids stretches from the unincorporated areas north of Lake Elsinore down to Wildomar. It basically mirrors the Lake Elsinore School District boundaries.  

If you (or a family you know of) needs assistance, please check with your student's school or visit the Lake Elsinore Police Station to fill out the application. 

Please return the application to your student's school office or the Lake Elsinore police station.

To be eligible for gifts, this application needs to be filled out first.The flyer is wrong when it comes to the deadline (that's a Sunday).

Deadline Monday 12/3/18

Cops For Kids can only provide gifts for students in the LEUSD ages 2-12 years old. They thank you for your understanding. Also, no double dipping. If you're being assisted by another organization this year, please do not ask for an application this year.

There is a "Cookies With Santa" event being held at the Lakeland Village Community Center that is opened to all. See the flyer below for more details.

Free Cookies with Santa event on 12 7/18!

On Saturday, December 15th be sure to attend Wildomar's annual Breakfast With Santa at Station 61 on Gruwell St.

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He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
– Roy L. Smith

Admittedly, Wildomar Rap is not a good wrap for Christmas presents.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

• November 25, 2018

A couple of items 

1: Planning Commission Opening
With a new city council term comes a new term for a planning commissioner. Each city council member can nominate someone for the planning commission, which then has to be approved by a majority of the council.

It's customary for the city to advertise in the Press Enterprise and send out emails informing interested persons that applications for a seat on the Wildomar planning commission are being taken. I'm sure that will happen as usual, but I'd like to get the process started now.

If you are interested in working for the betterment of Wildomar, and would like to be interviewed for a seat on the planning commission, please reach out to me. I haven't been issued a city email or phone yet, so at this point you'll have to use other email (or facebook messages) for the initial contact.

I'm not looking for any one thing in a potential planning commissioner, but a commitment to serve the entire four year term, and an overall positive demeanor are a must.

Other things I'm looking for: someone that doesn't have an agenda, is easy to work with, will do all their homework, visit the various project sites before voting on them, be able to explain to the public their votes during commission discussion before a vote.

You don't necessarily have to be a long time resident of Wildomar, but you're going to have to convince me that you have a commitment to our city if you're new to the area.

I'm looking to have this filled in a reasonable time frame so that the commission will have its full complement of five members with as little delay as possible. 
If you're interested in the position, then you'll have to fill out an application with the city. (which can come off as invasive, but that's the tradeoff when you want to serve the public)

2: Measure AA Oversight Committee
This is a new oversight committee that was promised with the passing of the sales tax increase known as Measure AA. I haven't heard the particulars yet, but I don't believe this will be filled the same way as the planning commission. 

All interested persons would need to contact city hall and ask for an application for the Measure AA Committee. You can also approach any of the council members and let them know you're interested.

My suggestion is that, in addition to the qualities listed above, you also have a head for numbers. 

3: This Blog
Wildomar Rap opinion time

You may have read that some of Wildomar Rap's standard blogs will be going away. Primarily the recap of the city council and planning commission meetings. I still want to share what has gone on, but it'll be tricky while abiding by the Brown Act. 

For example, if I come in with opinion on a pending agenda item, it could be seen as an attempt to communicate with other council members... something strictly forbidden. Each council member can communicate with ONE other member, but that is all.

More than that and there is a voting majority (3 is a quorum) and trying to circumvent the Brown Act is an easy way to get into serious trouble. 

I'm not going to rush this, as it's always better to measure twice and cut once... as my grandfather would always say.
Wildomar Rap will still highlight things within the community. Local businesses, park events, people and the like. If you know of something or someone that has a story that should be shared with the rest of Wildomar, please let me know about it, I can't write about something I'm unaware of. I can't promise that I'll blog about it, but I might. 

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I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.
– Abraham Lincoln

Come on Abe, no one bats 1.000, Wildomar Rap is willing to walk back when the situation calls for it. 

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

• City Council Meeting November 2018

The November city council meeting opened with a presentation by Sue Reed of the Special Olympics of Southern California. (video link 2:45 mark)
Seven of the athletes posed with the council for a photo.
PUBLIC COMMENTS (video link 9:00 mark)
    • Monty Goddard talked about new taxes (Measure AA) and incorporation.
    • Ken Mays noted that live streaming of meetings still weren't in place, discussed fire codes, and information signs.

COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS (video link 19:45 mark)
Council communications are where the council members recap their activity of the last month. I don't usually report on this part of the meeting, but Tim Walker used part of his time to shake hands with me (Joseph Morabito), wish me success and give me a gift of some chocolates; a classy move.
Tim Walker and Joseph Morabito shake hands.
Photo courtesy of Scott Rux.
Item 2.1 HUD Assessment Survey (video link 28:50 mark)
Back in September there was an online survey the city asked the residents to participate in (link to blog about it). The goal of the survey was to get public input on issues most concerning to the community. 
Highest needs per category.
There were many charts generated from this study found in the agenda packet (link to agenda packet) skip down to page 109 for this item and goes to page 165.
Wildomar Rap opinion time

Only 94 people participated, and if we parse that a bit further I'm guessing that the number of residents that are not dialed into city issues would drop below 50.

Voter apathy (or just apathy in general) is a real thing, the majority of people leave it to others to make the decisions. That's all well and good, and one vote/opinion may seem insignificant, but it's from the collective data that policy is made. If you don't participate, the data is incomplete, but the decisions still have to be made. 
2.3 Fire Prevention Fee Proposal (video link 37:00 mark)
I read this as a good thing for the people of Wildomar. If you have a project that needs input from the fire department, now you won't have to traverse up to Riverside (often multiple times) to get that box checked off your paperwork.

3.1 Wildomar Meadows GPIP (video link 46:00 mark)
This project is at the early stages. Various versions of it have been around for many years. In short, it's a large development (think Windsong Valley) that is going to be nestled between The Farm and the pending MSJC campus.
Map of Area, blue star is the project.
This has a long way to go. I'm curious about the ingress and egress (what will La Estrella to Salida Del Sol to Clinton Keith turn into?) and also if they're going have shopping amenities like a previous version talked about?

For more details, check out the video or the blog about the October planning commission meeting. (link to blog)
3.2 Holiday Light Contest (video link 1:01:00 mark)
There are two categories of the contest that you can enter into. The first is traditional, the second is Clark Griswold. In short, one is decoration with a basic approach and the other is with an over the top approach.
Here's a look at what the Clark Griswold competitors are trying to match.
Key dates: Entries will be accepted through Thursday December 6th, and the winners will be announced at the December 12th city council meeting.

City Manager Report (video link 1:02:30 mark)
    • Special Meeting on Monday, December 10th to swear in new councilmember Joseph Morabito, and say a thank you to outgoing councilmember Tim Walker for his years of service to the city.
    • Measure AA will go into effect around April (at the soonest) with the first revenues hitting the treasury in June of 2019.
    • Photo Contest for the 2019 calendar. You can submit up to two photos, and one can be chosen. For assistance or for more information, please contact Janet Morales at or 951-677-7751 x210.

This will be the last of the Wildomar Rap blogs about city council meetings. There are just too many potential conflicts of interest to continue, plus it takes a long time... time that I'll be using to prepare for the meetings.

I was asked about video taping meetings, and I really hope that we can all work together so that there is no interruption in making the video(s) available. From what I was hearing, it sounded like video is slated for January (not sure what that entails). 

Outside the chamber I heard the Mayor suggest that this could be bumped up to December, I hope so. 
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There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.
– Erroneously attributed to Charles Dickens

Most things are better than Wildomar Rapeven with chocolate.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

• Various and Sundry Things: Volume 9

Just a couple of photos of projects that are showing some movement to share, and a brief recap of the recent election. 

If you've driven Clinton Keith towards the 215 you've seen the first walls raised for the coming Clinton Keith Village (at the corner of Clinton Keith and the future "Wildomar Trail" intersection).
The buildings are coming together.
No updates on when it'll be open for business, but it's a reasonable guess that it'll be by mid 2019. 
Another look from another angle.
Over on Monte Vista, just north of Cornerstone Church, the first signs of a residential project can be seen. I was told that it's going be 67 homes, though the construction sign says "70 residential lots".
Part of the orange boundary line.
Heavy equipment can be seen from Monte Vista.

Election update:
The official vote counting is still ongoing, but Measure AA has 12+ point lead and is in no danger of failing. 

The next step will be to field an oversight committee. If you're interested in being on it, contact city hall and ask for an application. I'm aware of residents already inquiring about it.
The next update is said to be after 6:00pm (11-9-2018).

The three council seats that were on the ballot have been decided. Mayor Ben Benoit (District 1) and Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Swanson (District 5) ran unopposed and have won another term.

District 3 was the only contest with more than one name on the ballot. 
Swearing in will be Monday, December 10th, 6:30pm at the City Council Chambers.
For those that may not know, Joseph Morabito (that's me) is the writer of Wildomar Rap. I look forward to working with my fellow council members and staff for the betterment of Wildomar. (I have another blog in mind that can get into more details soon)

The last of the local elections was for the EVMWD Board of Directors. District 3 covers about half of Wildomar, on the westside of the freeway.
The voters have spoken.
Although George Cambero went to many doors during his campaign, was very visible and accessible, not to mention that he's an all around good guy and pillar of Wildomar, he came up short. That's how it goes. I'm not going to whine about it being a "sad day in Wildomar" because it's not. 

We have democracy here, and the people made their choice. Just because I don't like the choice, doesn't mean I'm going to get dramatic about it. Let's hope that Jared McBride does an outstanding job for us.
Wildomar Rap opinion time

Though the totals will go up some after every last vote is tallied, it's a sad commentary that not even half the registered voters weighed in on Measure AA... just over a third at this time. (rough guess based on 15,000 registered voters in town)

I think it's fair to conclude that the absent votes indicate [at least] a tacit approval of the tax. 

You have the right to vote, and that includes abstaining, but if you're also one to complain about things, I sure hope you took the time to participate.
•                •                •

What is the fate of the prophet who brings the word? Is he greeted with bread or a stone? Were they hailed because they were saviors or destroyed because they were saviors?
– E.G. Marshall (CBSRMT 1976)

Wildomar Rap has never purported to be a prophet or a savior, so that must apply elsewhere... but it's still interesting to mull over.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

• Planning Commission Meeting November 2018

Very little transpired at the November planning commission meeting. 

There was a compelling public comment about a voter being disenfranchised on election day (see the video), a zoning amendment involving craft fairs/open air markets, and four EOTs (Extension of Time) for projects that were approved in the past. One was approved way back in 2005 when the city of Wildomar was still just a gleam in the eye of the WIN committee.

In brief, the quick rundown on the projects include:

   •  Rancon medical/retail center (96,000sf) on Clinton Keith and Elizabeth Lane (3 years, until October of 2021). 
   •  Elm Street subdivision (3 year extension)
   •  Beazer homes, McVicar and Grand, 170 units. Approved in 2005, (looking for extensions through 2021.) 
   •  Villa Siena, 170 apartment units at Elizabeth Lane and Prelippe (3 year extension)

Wildomar Rap opinion time

Never having been in the developing business, I simply don't understand how delaying a project for years helps. 
The meeting was over in under 30 minutes. The video is below. 
Publisher's Note:
As some of you know, the writer of Wildomar Rap (Joseph Morabito) won a seat on the city council yesterday. Detailed blogs about Planning Commission and City Council meetings are being phased out. I'll still endeavor to get the details out, but not in the same manner traditionally seen in Wildomar Rap. 
•                     •                    •

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, for the want of a battle the kingdom was lost... and all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Thankfully, Wildomar Rap doesn't use nails in shoes in the first place... so nothing has been lost.

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

• Better Know a Local Non-Profit: The SWAG (Social Worker Action Group)

Have you heard of The SWAG? They are a group of people that are on the frontlines in Wildomar when it comes to addressing the impacts of homelessness in the community. 
The SWAG team, Summer 2018.

I sat down with Aaron (studied sociology at Cal Baptist university) and Adrian (substance abuse counselor for the last ten years) at The Bean and asked them to tell me about themselves and their mission. 

The other key members of the group include Monica (masters in social work), Kendra (licensed substance abuse counselor/eighteen years), David (bachelors in sociology) and Ricky (substance abuse counselor).
Group shot on location.

They worked in governmental homeless social services for many years before taking the step of creating a nonprofit to serve the people that are in need. 

My first question was...

 WR  How did The SWAG come about?
 SWAG  We worked in governmental homeless services and there are a lot of gaps [in what is needed]. So we all took the bold step [...] of doing this on our own, as a nonprofit, to serve the people that are in need. 

 WR  What are the types of homeless people that you encounter in this area?
 SWAG  If we're talking about those on the streets, definitely a high concentration are both mentally ill and addicted to a substance. There is a correlation to drug abuse and mental health because [...] to shed the basic self preservation skills we have, to not sleep outside in the rain and weather [...] you're at a level of depression, even if it's undiagnosed, you're severely depressed. That's the largest portion [of homeless people]. 
We are also dealing on a daily basis with families, seniors, people that are facing homelessness —at risk because of economic issues.
Wildomar Rap clarification time

This part of the conversation was far more detailed than the paragraph above. However, mention of the criminal element, those released from jail or prison early due to AB 109, Props 47 and 57, weren't brought up here.
In the field.
 WR  What is it that SWAG does on the ground level?
 SWAG  On the ground level it's relationship building. The people on the streets, generally speaking, they're not looking for help or they're so lost they don't even know how to begin finding that help. A lot of their interactions on the streets are negative interactions. Law enforcement, code enforcement, public works, business owners saying 'get off my property'. So much of their daily experience is negative they have their guard up [when we first approach]. 
We have a commitment to always be connected to the work and the work happens out there (referencing to a nearby encampment) not in some office.  —Aaron of The SWAG
 WR  How many are on the streets because they "missed a paycheck"?
 SWAG  (Adrian) Typically, someone who "missed a check", and that's it, their homeless episode will not last very long. Someone who "missed a check", who's had an ongoing check, they're used to working, used to making it work, that [still have the] survival instinct [...] might just need a leg up and connected to a short term program that's going to assist them getting on their feet.

(Aaron) We like this question, we talk about this a lot. That's a common misconception. We use that analogy [to illustrate the point]. If I were to lose my paycheck, there're safeguards with unemployment. Hopefully I was doing things right and I have some savings, or I have something I could sell. But even if all that was gone and I even lost my house [...] I still have a support system [...] we have some safeguards still in place.

Someone that's on the street has burned their bridges with friends and family. Rarely do you find someone who grew up an orphan that has nobody. It wasn't one decision that got them on the street, it's a process of bad decisions —relationships, mistakes, addiction. We like that question because it's not that "one flat tire away from being on the street'. 
Meeting the people where they "live".

 WR  What about people that want to give food to the homeless?
 SWAG   (Aaron)would never deny anybody food, but [suggest] let's go eat together —it's feeding with a purpose. I'm not going to tell you what to do (the homeless person), but I'm going to tell you that you're better than this. We're in the greatest country on Earth, everybody can, and should have a place to stay, let's help them find that.

(Adrian) I've watched people do feedings before, and groups that have gone and fed families and I've watched them, in the trunk of their car, carry the food that's wrapped in a foil lid. And I've watched them grab food with their hands. 

This isn't sanitary. There are [proper] temperatures for food for a reason. You're quite possibly putting someone else in a position where, if he doesn't have medical insurance or doesn't have a clinic available, to get sick and go back out to the cold streets.

Between April (2018) and October 31st- 152 individuals and 24 families off the streets in the area.
 WR  What's your experience between homeless, panhandlers and scammers?
 SWAG  Awhile back I worked for a lady that was Romanian and she let me know about the travelling Gypsies and I've never seen a family —a mother and children panhandling that were really homeless; they've been professionals. There are professional panhandlers, because it pays well. Again, I've never once met a family that was homeless who was panhandling.
The SWAG team, all smiles, in September 2018.
 WR  What authority does SWAG have? You work with the cities, you're not just a group of do gooders, how does that break down?
 SWAG  That's what makes us different. We're full time professionals. This is like our trade, and this is like our craft. There are a lot of well intentioned people who do [this work] part time, and that's good —we need that, we absolutely need that, we want to team up with them. But we also want to team up with government because they have [authority]. We want to continue to inform both government along with the [volunteer] citizen that feeds on Saturdays in the park, and everybody in between.

It's our mission to inform everybody, and be true and accurate with the data. So the cities we work with, we provide them monthly with demographics.

 WR  In the early going of The Swag has been the greatest challenges to overcome. Conversely, where have things gone smoother than expected?
 SWAG  I think one of the biggest challenges [as a nonprofit corporation] is bringing in money to pay qualified employees who are professionals. Funding for homeless services hasn't been traditionally through the cities. Big cities like Riverside or Los Angeles contribute, but all these other cities [increased homelessness] is brand new. It's kind of a new norm and having cities understand that this is something they need to help, because the county can't do it by themselves, and geographically we're a big county.

On the positive side, unexpectedly, cities are understanding. The wheels of government turn slow, we know that —it's hurry up and wait. On the flip side, things have moved quickly. The challenge and the benefit has been seeing cities on board with "helping" [homeless] versus just an enforcement [approach].
Working directly with those in need.

 WR  How do people donate time or money to The SWAG?
 SWAG  You can contact us through our website (link is below). You can reach out the anyone of us with our tollfree number​— 1 (833) SWAGORG • 1 (833) 792-4674.  We work with a lot of faith based organizations, community members. We look for people that are passionate about giving back; anybody who'd like to help. 
Wildomar Rap opinion time

What most of us remember as "homeless people" of the past has greatly changed in California over the last decade or so. Compassion for people in need is a good thing, but misplaced compassion can have the bring the opposite desired results.

If you want to help do not, repeat, DO NOT hand them money. You should assume that the money will be going directly to a drug habit... you might as well be handing them a dose of heroin (or whatever substance they prefer).

Instead, donate your money or time to a vetted organization, that is dealing with the homeless in a strategic way, that will minimize the attraction of more people to this area.

•                •                •

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wildomar Rap suggests that a close second to letting it rain when it's raining, is to use an umbrella or just stay inside from the get go.

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