High Desert Corruption Watch

Tracking corruption, graft and fraud in Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley and beyond…

Uffer Makes A Claim

Ex-S.B. County CAO’s claim describes environment of favoritism, threats
10:00 PM PDT on Friday, April 2, 2010
The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County supervisors and their staffs regularly bypassed their top administrator to deal directly with county departments, worked to secure no-bid contracts for individual projects and threatened employees with their jobs.
That’s the picture former County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer paints in a detailed claim filed against the county on Thursday.

Uffer, ousted late last year on a 3-2 vote, is seeking $15 million in damages and accuses the county of wrongful termination, defamation and fraud. He said he was retaliated against for cooperating with the grand jury and an ongoing district attorney’s investigation.

If the supervisors reject Uffer’s claim, his next step would be filing a lawsuit against the county.The claim names supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt, Neil Derry and Gary Ovitt individually along with Bill Postmus, former assessor and supervisor, Ovitt’s chief of staff Mark Kirk, and Jim Erwin, former assistant assessor and former chief of staff to Derry.

“What is going on with San Bernardino County government is absolutely unbelievable and needs to be stopped and corrected,” Sanford Kassel, Uffer’s attorney, said Friday.
The county officials named in the claim all either denied the allegations, declined to comment or could not be reached for interviews.

In the 19-page claim and 160 pages of supporting documents, Uffer contends the supervisors violated the state’s open meetings laws, conducted backroom deals and engaged in favoritism — threatening him when he tried to thwart them.
“We have evidence and proof of each claim and every statement,” Kassel said.

Many of the allegations in Uffer’s claim could not be independently verified on Friday. The accusations in Uffer’s claim include:
Uffer objected to the purchase of a building from developer Jeff Burum.
Ovitt and Kirk sought county purchase of a Citizens Business Bank Arena luxury suite.
Kirk pushed no-bid contracts for the Chino Airport.
Uffer was berated for resolving a sheriff’s issue.
County staffs were pushed to give jobs to Postmus’ friends.
Erwin began targeting Uffer after Erwin’s girlfriend was forced to resign.
Uffer raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest with Derry.
Uffer contended supervisors held a drunken meeting in violation of the Brown Act.

Allegation details
Building purchase: In March 2007, Uffer contends he learned there was an attempt by Postmus to have the county purchase a building in Rancho Cucamonga from Burum, a co-managing member of Colonies Partners, the developer that secured a $102 million settlement from supervisors in November 2006.
The settlement is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, and Postmus and Erwin face multiple charges as part of the case.
Uffer believed the purchase of the building would raise a conflict of interest, according to the claim. The county bought the building anyway, and Supervisor Paul Biane moved his district office into it.
Luxury suite: Ovitt, Kirk and Greg Devereaux, then the city manager in Ontario, were working with the county through the Economic Development Department to lease a luxury suite at the new Citizens Business Bank Arena in June 2008. The arena is owned by Ontario.
Uffer insisted that public funds should not go toward the purchase since it could be considered a gift, according to the claim. The county’s lawyers also raised objections.
Documents included with the claim do not show whether the suite was purchased.
Devereaux this year replaced Uffer as county administrative officer.
Chino Airport: In January 2008, Kirk pushed departments directly to host an open house for the Chino Airport. Nearly $1 million was spent to market the airport in Ovitt’s district.
According to separate public records not part of Uffer’s claim, the airport work was done through more than a half-dozen noncompetitive contracts that mostly fell below the threshold that would have required a public vote by the Board of Supervisors.
At least one internal county e-mail raised questions about the deals with the subject line, “This is getting out of hand.”
Uffer berated: In August 2006, Uffer had a meeting about Sheriff’s Department seniority staffing. According to the claim, Uffer resolved the issues but was berated for doing so.
“Mark Kirk then became extremely confrontational and adversarial when he discovered that Mark Uffer had resolved the issue and verbally accosted Mark Uffer on the telephone,” according to the claim.
“Mark Kirk was screaming at Mark Uffer so loudly that Mark Uffer had to close his office door.”
Postmus’ friends: In January 2006, Uffer contends his staff was pressured to assign a project to rework a county radio system to Postmus’ friends.
Uffer said the project would raise suspicion but was told by a Postmus aide that the supervisor didn’t care. Uffer later recommended the board halt the project, according to the claim.
Erwin’s girlfriend: Elizabeth Sanchez, the county’s former human resources director who lost her job because of an affair with Erwin, a former head of the sheriff’s deputies union, filed a lawsuit against the county.
In September 2006, Uffer learned that Postmus “heavily pressured the County’s privately retained attorney” to settle the case, even though the attorney said Sanchez’s case lacked merit.
Erwin began targeting Uffer after Sanchez resigned, according to the claim.
“Jim Erwin boasted and bragged of having a list of employees, including Mark Uffer, upon which he would seek retribution which became a common topic of conversation throughout the management ranks, known as Jim Erwin’s ‘Hit List,’ ” the claim reads.
Derry conflict: In September 2009, Uffer expressed concern that Derry did not declare a conflict over his past employment with Southern California Edison. Ray Gonzalez, an Edison retiree, formed a consulting company and received a $25,000 contract with the help of Derry, according to the claim.
Brown Act: Uffer contends he discovered at least two violations of the Brown Act, the state’s open meetings laws.
One of the two alleged violations occurred at a California State Association of Counties meeting in San Diego in December 2008.
Derry, Mitzelfelt and Biane went to Mitzelfelt’s hotel room to talk about county health insurance plans. The three “discussed County business while intoxicated until about 5:00AM,” according to the claim.
County denials
In an e-mail Friday, Postmus called the allegations against him baseless and described Uffer as an inept county administrator.
“This claim/lawsuit is nothing more than a smokescreen for his lack of performance and trying to cause additional division within the county,” he said.
Erwin declined to comment.

In a statement, Mitzelfelt said he was disappointed by Uffer’s approach. He said he was limited in how he could respond because the issue involves possible litigation.
“I strongly disagree with his allegations, believe he is wrong, and will defend my statements and actions,” Mitzelfelt said.

Derry said Uffer’s allegations are untrue but didn’t want to comment on the specific issues.”The claim that he was fired because he was working with the district attorney is simply false,” Derry said. “Certainly I didn’t and I don’t believe anyone else knew he was supposedly working with the district attorney.”

Supervisor Josie Gonzales said she did not have a chance to review the claim. Gonzales, who along with Biane voted against firing Uffer, is not accused of any ethical violations or wrongdoing in Uffer’s claim.

Ovitt and Biane did not respond Friday to requests for comment.

Reach Imran Ghori at 951-368-9558 or ighori@PE.com
Reach Duane W. Gang at 951-368-9547 or dgang@PE.com


Filed under: Politics & Graft

LA Corruption Scams and Arrests Mirror High Desert/ San Bernardino County Politics As Usual

Two  recent Los Angeles  area corruption arrests seem to mirror what has been the accepted way of doing business in the High Desert and San Bernardino County for years. If we only had a District Attorney that would enforce the law instead of protecting these criminals, we might be have a chance at some effective government. The 2 stories below are from the LA Times. Do the scams sound familiar?  They should, we have perfected them locally through years of refinement. Only we re-elect them around here, instead of arrest them.

FBI arrests Commerce councilman
Robert Fierro, his wife and his sister-in-law are accused of trying to hide illegal campaign contributions. Fierro is also charged with telling a friend to lie to the FBI.
By Hector Becerra
April 2, 2010
FBI agents arrested a Commerce councilman early Thursday after a grand jury indicted him and two family members for allegedly trying to hide illegal campaign contributions.

Robert Fierro, 39, the mayor pro tem of the industrial suburb, is also charged with telling a friend to lie to the FBI. Fierro’s sister-in-law and campaign treasurer, Ana Perez, was charged with lying to the grand jury. Along with the politician’s wife, Linda Fierro, 36, she was charged with witness tampering.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Bruce Searby said the three were trying to obscure large, illegal contributions that the councilman allegedly received during his 2005 campaign.

Searby said that such schemes manipulate voters by obscuring potential conflicts of interest that may allow the people they elect to “operate in the shadow” of someone else’s influence.

”The public is entitled to know who is truly funding an election campaign,” Searby said Thursday. “There could be a hidden agenda behind a candidate, a hidden source of influence behind a candidate for office.”

Fierro did not return a call seeking comment. The city’s four other council members could not be reached.

Fierro’s autobiography on the city’s website describes him as an elementary school teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District who has worked as a probation officer for the Los Angeles County probation department, assisting at-risk youth. His wife is also a teacher, and the couple have four children.

According to the indictment, family members and friends of the then-candidate wrote two $500 checks to Fierro’s campaign in January 2005, when he was first running for office. Fierro then allegedly reimbursed the contributions by paying the donors $1,000 in cash to conceal the true source of campaign funds. According to the indictment, Fierro called a purported donor — “Contributor A” in the indictment — and persuaded him to lie to the FBI.

The indictment alleges that the Fierros, Perez and other co-conspirators met secretly to discuss a game plan to counter the federal grand jury proceedings and questions from FBI agents. They allegedly prepared “fraudulent stories” to cover their tracks.

Searby called contributions from such apparent backers “conduit” or “straw” contributions, designed to circumvent limits on campaign contributions and hide a source or sources of illegally excessive donations.

”Let’s say I’m trying to help you win an election, and I want to give you $10,000 instead of $500,” Searby said. “Then what I may do, and this is illegal, is to get a bunch of people to write $500 checks to you and pay them back. The big guy behind the scenes masks [his or her] involvement in the campaign.”

L.A. Unified manager indicted for alleged conflict of interest
A grand jury says subcontractor Bassam Raslan steered business from the huge school-building effort to a firm he co-owned. The district is criticized for failing to step in.
By Andrew Blankstein and Jack Leonard
April 2, 2010
A grand jury has indicted a top Los Angeles Unified School District manager for allegedly funneling business from the district’s massive school-building effort to a company he co-owned, highlighting possible flaws in the way one of the nation’s largest public-works projects has been overseen.

The indictment charges Bassam Raslan with nine counts, accusing him of conflict of interest. But it also takes the school district to task for failing to prevent the alleged crime even though it knew of his interest in the company.

”LAUSD management knew of this but did not direct Mr. Raslan’s supervisors to take action or implement specific policies to prevent” the conflict, the grand jury said. “LAUSD senior management did not implement any effective means of preventing conflict of interest other than relying on those committing the crime to self report.”

The indictment comes three years after a Times investigation raised questions about the ability of Raslan’s company to win lucrative school district contracts while he worked as a regional director of construction.

Details about the contracts, including how much money was involved, remained under seal Thursday, and prosecutors said they could not provide more information because state law prevents them from discussing secret grand jury testimony.

L.A. Unified hired Raslan, 52, to help oversee its $20-billion school construction effort. He worked as sub contractor rather than a district employee. The district has relied heavily on contractors to supervise construction, defending the practice as a way to attract higher-quality employees while providing the flexibility to quickly increase or reduce their numbers as needed.

The indictment is the latest black eye for L.A. Unified’s building program. An internal audit completed last year found that consultants working for the program cost taxpayers 70% more than if district employees had done the same work. The audit also found that some contractors did not meet required qualifications.

Filed under: Politics & Graft

Colonies, Postmus, Erwin Charged By Attorney General

Brown Files Bribery Charges Against Public Officials in $102 Million Corruption Case 2-10-10

View complaint n1859_colonies_complaint

San Bernardino, Calif.-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos today announced the filing of criminal charges against former Chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors William Postmus and James Erwin, former Chief of Staff to Supervisor Neil Derry, on “conspiracy, corruption and bribery” charges related to a $102 million land-development settlement paid by San Bernardino County.

The complaint alleges that Erwin took $100,000 for inducing the Board of Supervisors to pay $102 million of taxpayer’s money to Colonies, a development company, in a fraudulent settlement and that Postmus took a $100,000 bribe for his vote to approve it. If convicted of all charges, Erwin faces a maximum of twelve years in state prison, and Postmus faces a maximum of eight years in state prison. 

”These individuals engaged in conspiracy, corruption and bribery that cost San Bernardino taxpayers more than $100 million,” Brown said. “This is one of the most appalling corruption cases ever seen in California, and we will aggressively pursue this conspiracy until all of the facts are exposed.”

In January 2007, Erwin was appointed Assistant Assessor of San Bernardino County, a job he held until he resigned in November that year. In September 2008, he was named Chief of Staff to San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry. 

Postmus served as a member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors from 2000 until January 2007, when he took office as San Bernardino County Assessor. He resigned in February 2009. 

In 2002, Colonies filed a lawsuit against the County seeking to recover $23.5 million it had spent on flood-control improvements and challenging the County’s easement rights that it claimed deprived Colonies of the ability to develop its property.

On November 28, 2006, the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to approve a settlement of $102 million with the Colonies, an amount based on an unsubstantiated demand and against the advice of County Counsel and private attorneys. 

The complaint alleges those votes were obtained as part of a broad conspiracy which involved extortion and bribery, culminating in acts of public corruption that cost San Bernardino taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. The investigation uncovered four bribes totalling $400,000 paid by the Colonies to secure the settlement.

Colonies gave Erwin $100,000, which was deposited into the Committee for Effective Government PAC he controlled, for his role as an intermediary between Colonies and the supervisors to achieve the settlement. The complaint alleges that Erwin created political mailers depicting Postmus as a drug addict and homosexual in order to blackmail him into voting for the settlement. Erwin also created negative mailers against another supervisor prior to the vote. 

In addition to the $100,000 bribe, Erwin accepted other gifts for his role as intermediary, including a private jet trip to New York, meals, lodging, entertainment, prostitutes and a watch. Erwin is facing charges of perjury in connection with failing to report those gifts after he became a county officer.

At the time of the vote to approve the settlement, Postmus was the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and led the effort to approve the settlement. The complaint alleges that he received $100,000 from Colonies, which he funneled into two Political Action Committees (PACs) that Postmus set up specifically to receive the money. Postmus controlled both PACs, the Inland Empire PAC and “Conservatives for a Republican Majority,” but attempted to conceal his connection to them. 

Postmus then transferred $50,000 from the Inland Empire PAC into his campaign account and used some of the funds for personal meals and entertainment.

The Chief of Staff for Supervisor Ovitt secretly controlled the Alliance for Ethical Government PAC, which received $100,000 from Colonies. The Chief of Staff received payments for campaign consulting from the PAC. 

Colonies also gave $100,000 to the San Bernardino County Young Republicans PAC that was secretly controlled by a member of the board of supervisors who voted in favor of the settlement, and whom Erwin had threatened with the exposure of damaging information.

Funds from the PAC were used to pay the supervisor’s campaign expenses and fund his campaign account. 

The investigation is ongoing and may lead to additional arrests.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos stated, “The assistance of the Attorney General’s Office has been, and will continue to be, invaluable in our investigation. I would like to thank Attorney General Brown for providing the excellent assistance of Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel who has been working directly with our team and Senior Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons for his advice and direction over the past months. It is critical that confidence in their government be restored to the residents of San Bernardino County. This is just one more step in achieving that goal.”

In the Attorney General’s complaint filed today, Erwin was charged with nine felony counts, including: 

- Conspiracy to Commit a Crime (Penal Code Section 182) 
- Two counts of Corrupt Influencing (Penal Code Section 85) 
- Two counts of Offering a Bribe to a Supervisor (Penal Code Section 165) 
- Two counts of Extortion to Obtain an Official Act (Penal Code Section 518) 
- Misappropriation of Public Funds (Penal Code Section 424) 
- Forgery (Penal Code Section 470)

Postmus was charged with five felony counts, including: 

- Conspiracy to Commit a Crime (Penal Code Section 182) 
- Accepting a Bribe (Penal Code Section 86) 
- Supervisor Accepting a Bribe (Penal Code Section 165) 
- Conflict of Interest (Government Code Section 1090) 
- Misappropriation of Public Funds (Penal Code Section 424)

Filed under: Politics & Graft, Real Estate Ripoffs

New County CAO Inside Appointment Violates Hiring Laws

New County Administrative Officer “ appointment” looks very much like a good old boys inside job placement of one of their own. DA investigating trip with Colonies investors.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Ontario City Manager Gregory C. Devereaux to serve as County Administrative Officer effective February 13 2010. He replaces Mark Uffer who was fired without cause on November 17,2009.

Based on the news stories that have been posted so far, the “appointment” and lack of a fair hiring process in the pre-selection of Devereaux before the job was vacant or available has violated numerous Federal, State and County laws. These include County and State fair hiring practices and procedures, Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws, Federal Veterans Preference laws, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964,
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the California Civil Rights Initiative.

In September of 2008 Devereaux went on a cross country trip on a private jet with two Colonies investors and County Supervisor Paul Biane. San Bernardino County prosecutors have asked the state Fair Political Practices Commission on Jan. 11 to look into whether Devereaux and Biane properly reported the trip on campaign finance and gift disclosure forms. District attorney’s spokeswoman Susan Mickey declined to comment on why the District Attorney’s Office is looking into the trip or whether it factors into the office’s ongoing corruption investigation, which includes scrutiny of a landmark $102 million settlement between the county and Colonies Partners in November 2006.

Biane went on to say in a SB Sun story, “It was an opportunity that I would have to talk to Greg about issues that affected the county and the city of Ontario, as well as his interest in being the CAO of the county.” My guess would be that the Supervisor had made up his mind a full year before the CAO vacancy and subsequent “appointment” of “candidate” Devereaux was made. This pre-determined appointment selection was verified by the Board of Supervisors decision to only interview Devereaux for the position. The only person interviewed out of out of 277 applicants for the job.

Next is the rock star paying water tight contract given to Devereaux that has provisions that Government experts on contracts have “never seen before” (until now). They mirror those contracts given to washed up professional sports figures brought in trying to salvage a washed up sports franchise. Like hiring an over the hill quarterback with no penalty for failing, the taxpayers get to keep paying Devereaux without any performance standards built into his contract. He could be worst then Uffer, but still collect a paycheck for the next ten years while only working for five.

In this sweetest of all contracts you see that Mr. Devereaux becomes a “special advisor” in the last five years of his ten year contract instead of CAO. And absent malfeasance the County must pay him for the duration for not working or having any responsibilities to the taxpayers. This is without a doubt , a gift of public funds to Mr. Devereaux.

Devereaux’s contract also requires a super-majority of four votes to remove him, and the only reason he can be fired in the next 10 years is for malfeasance in office. What do the taxpayers get out of this deal? Another political insider with a rock star contract to cover up the corruption and money laundering that is San Bernardino County. What did you expect?

Filed under: Politics & Graft

County Supervisors Pay Doubles- How About Your Public Services?

You be the judge for the question. Are you getting double the services from the County over what you got five years ago? I don’t think so.  And as far as Mitzelfelts comment that the voters are smart enough to know what they are voting for. They voted Adams and Postmus and Caldwell and Honeycutt into office, how did that turn out for the voters?  Add Mitzelfelt and all of the other San Bernardino County supervisors and Ramos to this list and the electorate is not looking that smart.

Board of Supervisors’ budget doubled in past five years
Voter-approved measure triggers sharp growth in supervisors’ salaries

STAFF WRITER VV Daily Press 1-17-10

• Higher paid staffers, bloated benefits and a voter-approved salary hike have helped nearly double the budget for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in the past five years.
Residents who object to the roughly $150,000 salaries for county supervisors — whose paychecks have ballooned by 84 percent over the past decade — have mostly themselves to blame.
The whopping boost in supervisor salaries accounts for about one-fifth of the growth in the overall Board of Supervisors budget, which jumped from $3.3 million in 2004-05 to $6.6 million for 2009-10.
In 2006, San Bernardino County voters approved Measure P, an initiative promoted for limiting county supervisors to three terms — with the added impact of increasing their salaries by 22 percent the first year and by more than 53 percent by 2009. The measure set board member salaries at the average of those in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties, with an additional 7.5 percent increase for the board chairman.
Backed by the Board of Supervisors, Measure P was criticized by some as a ploy by supervisors to use the popularity of term limits to help line their own pockets.
“This particular measure, which was approved by the voters under the guise of term limits, if you’re cynical you would say that people who pushed this initiative probably saw term limits coming and then decided that perhaps they could compensate for that a little bit financially,” said Steven Frates, senior fellow at the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College. “In democracy, you get what you voted for, and it’s important to read the fine print.”
But 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt argues Measure P, which passed by about 56 percent, was well covered in local media and won the public over by bolstering the competition for county offices.
“Our voters are smart enough to know what they are voting for,” Mitzelfelt said. “Some argue that the higher salary could attract higher quality candidates in some cases. Also, some argue that term limits result in less entrenched incumbents and more voter choice.”
In 2007, county supervisors contributed to their budget’s growth by quietly voting to pad their benefits packages.
Their board retirement benefits shot up from $7,514 to $16,640 annually. That’s on top of $13,000 to $28,210 per year in health benefits, with no contribution necessary.
In May supervisors rolled back those perks effective at the start of their next terms, reducing their retirement contributions back to $7,514 and trimming their health benefits to match exempt county employees at a maximum county contribution of $11,838 per year.
Supervisors still get an additional $2,400 cell phone allowance and $14,200 vehicle allowance, or a county vehicle.
As neighboring counties lowered supervisor salaries this past year, San Bernardino County’s supervisors salaries dropped nearly $2,000 to $150,183.
Aside from the supervisors’ payroll, the board’s combined staff has grown from 42 in 2001-02 to 59 today. Those additional positions are increasingly coming with higher price tags, according to county spokesman David Wert.
“Board offices in recent years have replaced many lower-paying field representative positions with higher-paying analyst, special projects and deputy chief of staff positions,” Wert said. “This was done in an effort to provide supervisors with improved oversight over county operations and finances.”
Mitzelfelt’s 1st District office has a $1.5 million budget for 2009-10, which is about 80 percent higher than in 2004-05.
Mitzelfelt said the 1st District historically gets $200,000 to $250,000 more than the other four districts because of its unusual challenges, including dozens of unincorporated communities, seven cities, traditionally higher unemployment levels, many miles of unpaved roads and more territory to cover. The 1st District spans more than 17,000 square miles — more than six times as much as all four other districts combined — and includes about 461,500 people, more than one-fifth of the county’s population.
Despite the overall budget growth, Mitzelfelt said for the past few years the board has foregone $1 million in discretionary budgets typically available to them and will likely continue to do so until the economy bounces back.
The 1st District now has nine full-time staff members and five part-time workers, with nearly four full-time-equivalent budgeted positions left vacant.

Filed under: Politics & Graft

Buck Johns Inland Energy Is The High Deserts Colonies Partners

In a legal settlement of a lawsuit between San Bernardino County and the Colonies Partners, the Colonies walked away with $102,000,000 in 2006.  Approximately four months later, the Colonies distributed hundreds of thousand of dollars into several political action committees(PAC’s).
Ostensibly, the purpose of the distribution of the money was to fund the political campaigns of several incumbents and candidates that had aided or concurred in the Colonies monetary settlement.
The Colonies, a development company from Rancho Cucamonga, is symbolic of the  buying power of large sums of money. The adverse influence of the money reached into several areas of the State of California, including the Victor Valley, for such candidates as Brad Mitzelfelt, Bill Postmus, Mark Kirk, Anthony Riley, Anthony Adams and several others. In this case, regional money was influencing local elections.

The Victor Valley, Victorville in this case, has their own Colonies distributorship of sorts,  in the form of Mr. Buck Johns.
We have reviewed the campaign contribution lists of Mr. Johns and believe that he may have given money to as many as half of the candidates and elected officials in the Victor Valley during the 2006 and 2008 elections. In some cases, the candidates receiving the money had little or no knowledge regarding the responsibilities and technologies involved in the offices for which they were candidates.
Mr. Johns has become symbolic of quite a lot that ails Victorville and the huge debts of over $200,000,000 which the city is currently attempting to resolve. It is suggested that bankruptcy is a possibility. If bankruptcy is possible, it is very difficult to understand how Victorville continues to spend, borrow, leverage, transfer and phantomize money.

The Victorville2 (VV2) power plant is encumbered  with a contract provision that would require payment to Inland Energy (Buck Johns), of $5,000,000 a year, perhaps for thirty years, for simply consulting on the project. Potential buyers of VV2 have balked that with a contract clause to Inland Energy, the purchase doesn’t make sense. And so, Victorville sits with a project that is in massive debt and may not be sellable at anywhere near it’s potential ultimate costs.
Inland Energy (Buck Johns) was the developer of the first Victorville power plant. The plant generates electricity by using local resources and then the product is exported out of the area for sale and profit. Victorville profits in several ways, one of which is the collection of a large property tax.
The Victor Valley does not profit because the electricity generated is not available for local use. The technology of the power plant requires that heat, created from the generating process, must be cooled. In this case, the cooling is accomplished by evaporating 3,000 acre feet of water a year (978,000,000 gallons), enough water for 6,000 homes for a year, into the atmosphere. Water gone forever, never to return to the underground aquifer.
Mr. Johns had access to alternate methods of cooling the power plant. Since an air cooled plant is more expensive, water, that commodity which cannot be manufactured, was used as the economical choice. The economics favored Mr. Johns, but not the Victor Valley and the limited amount of water available to it each year from the state.
Prior to the construction of the power plant, Inland Energy realized that without a sustainable water supply for cooling, they did not have a project.

Enter the Mojave Water Agency. The rather conservative nature of the MWA board that existed when Johns entered the valley, did not appear to possess the degree of cooperation which John’s needed to secure 3,000 acre feet of water each year.
Consequently, a large political smear campaign was conducted to oust two of the members of the MWA board, to be replaced with two who would be cooperative.
The funding for the smear campaign, in part, derived from Buck Johns campaign contributions in support of the two winners. One of the losing incumbents was maligned because he was rumored to have not paid his property taxes on a vacant lot. Imagine, the law allows a five year period of lack of tax payment and the incumbent was made to appear untrustworthy for simple failure to pay for one year!

In the MWA election of 2008, Buck Johns again entered the picture by contributing money to a candidate who became the winner. The candidate is a representative of big industry and therefore Mr. Johns saw the potential   in the value of the issues for which the newly elected board member would probably vote in favor of.
It should now be apparent that Victorville controls the Mojave Water Agency through Buck Johns. Whatever Victorville wants, MWA delivers.

Consider the massive drought that we are now experiencing! The MWA is making available to Victorville, through the Dr. Pepper plant,
2,000,000 gallons of water per day.  The water will not benefit the valley because the soft drinks will be exported out of our area for consumption down below.
So, again, MWA allows part of the precious limited water amounts entitled to the Victor Valley to be used for consumption in other areas.
Victorville, through the recent press release of the MWA, is encouraging the idea that the MWA will simply buy more water, $73,000,000 worth, and the public won’t have to pay for it. No new taxes. How incredibly moronic!
The MWA monetary reserves, and the bonds they will sell to pay the $73,000,000, are all paid by the taxpayers, one way or another it is a TAX.
We will in essence be subsidizing Dr. Pepper. But that’s not all. Victorville is also subsidizing Dr. Pepper through the payment of monies due for necessary utilities and traffic control. That is some mighty expensive Dr. Pepper that the good citizens of Victorville pay for.
Mr. Johns must be chuckling. The very city that is paying him to be in business now appears to be less than forthright with it’s citizens. Victorville’s former manager,  Mr. Roberts, has bailed out to climates that are more conducive to his style of “handshake” business contracts.  A myriad of demeaning behavior by the city council includes the infamous traffic cameras, paying employees to be silent about public matters, questionable conduct through VVEDA by siphoning funding in an unprescribed manner, and payment of over $13,000,000 to Inland Energy(Buck Johns) since August 2005,  simply for advice about projects that may never happen.
CHUCKLING all of the way to the BANK, he is!
What charade will Victorville perform as the income through the RDA continues to dwindle and the bonds to pay the $73,000,000 through the MWA cannot be paid?
Stay tuned. New taxes to pay bonds as well as probable gargantuan additional taxes to satisfy the upcoming $12,000,000,000+ state budget deficit, should become the pied piper to lead hundreds of thousands of families from California.
Junk bonds may reign supreme.

Filed under: Politics & Graft

Bond Debt


Bond debt adds up for local residents

October 04, 2009 9:19 AM


Adelanto and Victorville residents are nearly tied when it comes to how much debt they’re carrying on behalf of their cities, largely as a result of infrastructure and enterprise projects.

Though Victorville has four times the bonded debt as Adelanto — with $480 million on the books as of June — debt in both cities averages out to more than $4,000 per person.

Hesperia has twice the debt of Adelanto but that equals half as much per resident, with $2,682 per person.

Apple Valley finishes a distant fourth both in the amount of debt it carries and its per capita total, at $936 per resident.

To read the full story, see Sunday’s edition of the Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call 760-241-7755 or click here.

Brooke Edwards may be reached at 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.

Filed under: Water Scams

Victorville City Councilman Terry Caldwell Too Boozed Up To Notice What He’s Voting For?


Caldwell: conman, lawyer, lush

This week, councilman Terrry Caldwell sat red faced and obviously confused through a quick session of the city council, rubber-stamping every item on the agenda, pausing only to berate a reporter and lick the boots of a couple of sleazy trash men from Burrtec by proclaiming that “trash was what people appreciated the most about Victorville”—before voting yes to extend Burrtec’s contract with the city. When it was all over, he couldn’t remember what was on the agenda that he had just greenlighted.

Good work councilman! And good work Daily Press, this is the kind of reporting Victorville needs more of! Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Politics & Graft, , ,

Victorville Elections 2010 Watch: Angela Valles’s Unsavory Political Connections

Here’s a piece from The eXiled on Angela Valles, who is going to run for Victorville city council in 2010. She’s not the “change politician” Victorville needs, or that she’s pretending to be:


By Yasha Levine

. . .

A youngish woman was sitting up front, all dolled up like she was taking part in a businesswoman pageant: crisp pantsuit, serious cleavage, heels, styled hair with huge fluffed up curls, layers of makeup. She stood out against the old, overweight bureaucratic suasagefest background of the meeting, and the dudes there couldn’t help but steal glances in her direction. It looked like she was on display, and it turned out she was.


Her name is Angela Valles, an ambitious upstart running for a spot on the Victorville city council in the upcoming November 2010 elections. She is the perfect beginner’s guide to this city’s politics, a sleazy circle-jerk raging in the local halls of McPower, lubed with campaign contributions, lucrative contracts, industry jobs, government posts, and, when it can be proven, direct kickback schemes. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Politics & Graft

Victorville Has $480 MILLION In Bonded Debt, $4,000 Per Person

Recently, The Daily Press ran a story on how much each local community was bonded and how much each citizen would end up paying.

Victorville has $480 MILLION in bonded debt which averages out to around $4000.00 per person.

To see your property tax bill go to http://www.mytaxcollector.com/trSearch.aspx and put in your address.

You will find in addition to your property tax a number of other bond debt payments. 2 of these bond issues are for the Mojave Water Bond Debts 1 and 2. How much are you paying in addition to your property tax to fund Victorville’s water usage?

Filed under: Real Estate Ripoffs