Sunday, September 02, 2007

Weekly News Roundup: September 1 Edition

I can't believe it's September already! Here is the Yucaipa-related news from the past week.

City News

Labor Day is Monday, September 3, so City Hall will be closed.

The San Bernardino County Sun is reporting on the three proposed major developments along the I-10 freeway that could add as many as 4,100 housing units to the city of Yucaipa. The plan by developer Robinson Properties is much more extensive than currently envisioned by the city council. Included in the plan are a 273 affordable housing units (for those of you without a calculator, that's about 6% of the total). City Council member Tom Masner points out that "affordable housing" doesn't mean that deadbeats (my term) will be moving to town.

However, real-estate prices can be so high in California that Masner said "affordable housing" should be renamed to something like "working American housing" or "new family housing." "California has pushed housing to the point where the next generation can't afford to do it without parents, grandparents or a spouse," Masner said. "It takes two people making a full-time income just to make a housing payment."

The real-estate market is going through a widely publicized slowdown, but Yucaipa houses are not exactly cheap. DataQuick Information Services reported that in July, the median price of a Yucaipa house was $385,000.

In Masner's view, Yucaipa needs more housing for working families and the area near the freeway is an ideal place to build new houses and apartments. How many new dwelling units the city needs is still an unanswered question, he said. "How much of it do we need? Do we need one thousand? Two thousand? Three thousand? Four thousand apartments? I don't know. I think that's a lot," he said.

In San Bernardino County a "low income" couple receives less than $37,900 a year (pdf). A couple with full-time minimum wage jobs would easily qualify. While I think affordable housing is a good idea, with home sales slowing, foreclosure rates skyrocketing and even couples with good credit ratings having trouble getting mortgages, it seems like an inopportune time to start a massive new housing development.

The Press-Enterprise reports that Yucaipa chicken farm Hoover Ranch (on Carter St. at Jefferson) will be able to convert to a cage-free system with 31% fewer chickens. The new system is expected to result in less odor and fewer flies.

The plan is a win for both the ranch and the neighbors, said David Long, who has been a member of the city's ad hoc vector control committee periodically since city incorporation in 1989. He lives near the ranch and has reported fly problems to county vector control officials.

Because it's a rural area, Long accepts some odors, but believes the conversion will reduce the flies.

"We've done battle a lot of years over this thing. Jimmy (Hoover) is at least trying to do the right thing. It's a step in the right direction," Long said.

(The San Bernardino County Sun reported the story August 16.)

The mother serving as treasurer of Cub Scout Pack 4, Rosanna Arcadi, has been arrested for embezzling as much as $20,000 from the pack's coffers since July 2005. According to the News Mirror, Arcadi admitted taking the fund, but has claimed that she paid much of the money back.
When the officers interviewed Arcadi, she indicated to officers that she was having financial difficulties and was using the scout's money to pay bills. She also stated that portions of the money she was taking had been returned and believed she only owed a couple thousand dollars.
Our congressional Representative, Jerry Lewis, announced that he will seek a 16th term in Congress. He is currently the highest ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, and, as the Press-Enterprise points out, he's been very effective in moving dollars in our direction.

Even in the political minority, Lewis remains hugely successful in steering funds to Inland projects because of his experience and standing in Congress. He attached more than $120 million in funding into this year's spending bills, roughly four times more than any other Inland delegate.

"That he's the ranking Republican on Appropriations means the region has an important voice on federal spending decisions," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "With a new member, the odometer would go right back to zero."

He seems undaunted by the ongoing Federal investigation into possible improper dealings with a lobbying firm.

In May of last year, several Inland cities, counties and agencies that had received funding with help from a prominent law firm received subpoenas from a federal grand jury seeking records of the correspondence with the firm and Lewis.

Lewis soon hired lawyers and has since spent nearly $1 million in legal fees, repeatedly denying any misconduct.

On Thursday evening, Lewis said he is confident that he is in the clear, noting that his wife, Arlene, a member of his staff, has kept meticulous records of all his dealings.

I'm not sure that his wife counts as an unbiased record keeper. I guess as long as all those juicy earmarks end up in our backyard, the situation could be worse.

Omnitrans bus drivers have rejected a new contract and a strike is possible if they can't come to an agreement. According to the Sun Omnitrans is preparing contingency plans that might involve hiring replacement drivers. Hopefully this will be resolved and people who depend on public transit won't be stranded here.

School News

The Standardized Testing and Reporting (STaR) results are back, and Yucaipa schools did OK. You can check out the scores for yourself, but here is an overview:

English-Language Arts Grade 5
  • State of California: 23% far below basic or below basic, 32% basic, 44% proficient or advanced.
  • San Bernardino County: 26% far below basic or below basic, 36% basic, 38% proficient or advanced
  • Yucaipa-Calimesa USD: 22% far below basic or below basic, 35% basic, 42% proficient or advanced
English-Language Arts Grade 10
  • State of California: 34% far below basic or below basic, 29% basic, 37% proficient or advanced
  • San Bernardino County: 38% far below basic or below basic, 31% basic, 31% proficient or advanced
  • Yucaipa-Calimesa USD: 39% far below basic or below basic, 29% basic, 33% proficient or advanced
Mathematics Grade 5
  • State of California: 30% far below basic or below basic, 22% basic, 49% proficient or advanced
  • San Bernardino County: 34% far below basic or below basic, 25% basic, 42% proficient or advanced.
  • Yucaipa-Calimesa USD: 28% far below basic or below basic, 26% basic, 46% proficient or advanced
Grade 8 ( Algebra I)
  • Since only a fraction of the students are tested, I'm not sure you can compare scores.
  • State of California (49% students tested): 34% below basic or far below basic, 27% basic, 28% proficient or advanced
  • San Bernardino County (58% students tested): 45% below basic or far below basic, 27% basic, 27% proficient or advanced
  • Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District (77% students tested): 39% below basic or far below basic, 36% basic, 25% proficient or advanced.
According to the News-Mirror, district officials were pleased with the scores.

Yucaipa schools are showing a rise in ELA scores with big increases for grades 9, 10 and 11. Their scores were 41 percent, 42 percent and 47 percent respectively. Sue Gott, director of Analysis, Grants and Public Relations, said, “The district is excited at the gains being seen. We see gains not only in ELA and math but science as well. Our middle schools are making significant gains.”

The San Bernardino County Sun writes about the first day of school at the new Inland Leaders Charter School.
Visiting fourth-graders, Gordon told students they would be treated as leaders and expected to show high moral standards, such as "how to have honesty even when it's hard to tell the truth."

In a second-grade class, students learning the ground rules for the year learned they were expected to avoid using "mean words."

Gordon said Inland Leaders' student body is drawn from families with parents looking for alternatives to public schools, and charter schools become another option alongside homeschooling or private campuses.

"A lot of parents just like small schools," he said.
The San Bernardino County Sun talked to the new YCUSD superintendent, Sherry Kendrick.

To improve the relationship between the teachers and the district, Kendrick said, she plans to get the teachers more involved with district matters, such as being part of committees and attending meetings and even sitting in on interviews for administration positions.

The Yucaipa resident said this ultimately better serves the students and the community, "letting them know that the administration and the board can and will work together for our students," she said.

She also has plans to improve student achievement by "looking at the data" and ensuring a clean and safe school environment.

Kendrick and Dr. Jim Garver spoke at the back to school seminar for local teachers.
Garver's main point is students want honest truthful answers to their questions. Let them know what they are learning, why they are learning it and what has to be done at the end of the process. “The focus must change from teaching to learning,” he said. “I want you to do two things this year when you go back to your classroom. Try something new and open the door to the world.”
The Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District has filed a legal challenge against the Mojave River Academy Charter School. The Mojave River Academy, which is charted and overseen by the Oro Grande Elementary School District (just outside Victorville), operates the Yucaipa Learning Center. As the San Bernardino County Sun reports:
Having the charter school so far from its geographical boundaries limits the charter district from complete oversight and adequate operations of the school, Kendrick said.

It's a matter of following the law and providing the best for the local students, Kendrick said.

"The chartering district needs to have an oversight, making sure that the schools are following charter and the students are achieving," Kendrick said.

Joseph Andreasen, the executive director of the Mojave River Academy argues that they are within the law because they are within the same county as Yucaipa. While that may be technically true, I think that the enormous size of San Bernardino County (the largest in the contiguous United States, and larger than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware combined) is a bit of a special case. The spirit of the law seems favor close proximity to the chartering school district. Andreasen does claim that there is regular oversight, despite the distance:

He also said Mojave River Academy officials are at the Yucaipa Learning Center on a regular basis and are ensuring that all policies and procedures are being followed.

It seems ridiculous to me that school districts are competing against each other in this way. In an ideal world, they would be working together to ensure that kids get best education possible, meaning that there would be at least some oversight from the local school district.

Related article:

Yucaipans in the News

Team USA Youth baseball took gold at the World Youth Championship in Barquisemeto, Venezuela last weekend, defeating Brazil 8-2. Thunderbird baseball star Matt Davidson contributed to the win. According to the Sun:
Davidson had one official at-bat in the game and lined out. However, he played in every game during the tournament and went 3-for-5 in a key semifinal victory against Cuba.
For more, check out the article in the News Mirror.

The News Mirror reports that Yucaipan David Everett is directing a new after school program called Sports Connection.

In addition to teaching the fundamental skills of sports, Sports Connection is designed to teach kids to develop character, improve self-esteem and learn to encourage others through team play.

Sports Connection will also have a Homework Zone for kids to get a head start on all their homework, as well as a Game Room and many other fun-filled Outdoor Activities.

Sports Connection is geared for the kindergarten through third grade students and will be held between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Green Valley Christian Church.

Everett has a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry from L.I.F.E. Bible College and has served as a youth pastor at several FourSquare churches. Am I wrong to think that there will be a bit of Bible teaching along with the baseball and basketball? Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as they are clear to parents that it is part of the agenda.

Redlands Daily Facts writes about former Yucaipan Janet Ward who "speaks for the trees" in Redlands. Does that make her a Lorax?

The Wall Street Journal highlights the YouTube video series by in an article about small businesses wooing customers online. is a 10 employee Yucaipa company founded and headed by Jim Peterson.

Former Rancho Cucamonga Court Clerk and Yucaipa resident Eva Woods plead guilty for dismissing traffic tickets and fines for her boyfriend and ex-husband. She will serve 180 weekend days in jail and three years on probation.

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