the following link to view
Supervisor Ovitt's Video:
Earlier last month, the South Coast Air Quality
Management District Board (AQMD), on an eight to three vote (I was one of the
eight) approved rule changes that could speed up the construction of 11 or more
power plants across our region. That decision could bring an estimated $419
million to public treasuries. I viewed my vote as one to ensure energy
reliability in our region and to prevent electricity outages. And by building
new power plants some older dirtier ones could be replaced.
The rule change would give power plant developers the opportunity to buy credits
to offset the pollution that would be released by the new facilities. The vote
on the rule change, after months of hearings and testimony, was contentious with
neither plant developers or environmentalists completely satisfied with the
The idea of buying credits was put forward by Governor Schwarzenegger in a
report to the California Air Resources Board. It is essentially a market-trading
program. Under such a program power plants, refineries, cement plants and other
industries that produce greenhouse gases can buy and sell credits for their
emissions. That allows businesses that cannot cut their greenhouse gas releases,
because of costs or technological problems, to buy the right to pollute from
other, cleaner companies. The idea is that this “carbon market” will lead to a
reduction in overall emissions because it provides a financial incentive for the
cleaner companies to get even cleaner.
In some ways, I am ambivalent about the buying credits concept. As San
Bernardino County’s representative on the AQMD, I understand the importance of
cleaning up our polluted air. Conversely, we haven’t built a new power plant in
decades and current facilities don’t meet present demand and the disparity
between usage and power generation becomes more dramatic every year.
The AQMD Board is considering using the profits of new power plants to fund
alternative-energy incentives and studies on pollution health risks and that
will help enhance air quality in our region. A secondary issue at our meeting
was a debate over what type of electricity generation will replace coal power,
which is being phased out under state law. Natural gas-fired plants are a proven
technology but still emit greenhouse gases. Cleaner sources such as wind, solar
and other renewable sources are currently not reliable.
It is important to understand that although current megawatts of power are
sufficient, 400 additional megawatts will be needed annually in coming years to
meet the demand. Though we are not in a current power crisis, it takes at least
four to five years to plan for and construct a power plant. We can’t afford to
wait for a crisis to take steps to increase generating capacity now.
The state budget was 52 days overdue this year
and there doesn’t seem to be a timely end to this annual stalemate. In the past
thirty years, the state budget has passed just 13 times before the start of the
fiscal year (July 1) even though by law it should be passed by June 15. You
would think with that historical record, a meeting of the minds would have taken
place by now and a better way of developing an annual spending plan would have
been developed. A plan that was completed not only on time but also without a
deficit. It seems to me that the model for a budget plan is every responsible
California citizen who writes checks against what they have in their checkbook.
If you don’t have it you can’t spend it and no maxing out credit cards is
What this current budget morass means, besides a lot of state employees not
receiving paychecks, is delayed payments to vendors and medical institutions.
The final cost of the budget impasse is estimated to be $20 million including
legislator per diem payments, overtime for the State Comptroller’s Office,
penalty interest and fees to vendors and nonprofits and extra welfare payments.
The pain for a late budget was not felt equally. Hospitals, community colleges,
and other big institutions have reserves to fall back on or access to bridge
loan help. But there are many smaller community based providers in Southern
California that are a lifeline to immigrant groups and low-income populations.
The budget impasse, for them, was severe. It’s a financial crisis as well for
many thousands of in-home child-care workers whose clients pay them with money
received from the state. These folks need their money to pay bills now. They
don’t have an economic cushion.
Besides the partisan and personal political wrangling that occurs every year,
there is a fundamental structural imbalance that seems to exist. There is a big
discrepancy between revenue and spending. California relies disproportionately
on income and capital gains taxes that fluctuate with the economy (just look at
the wild ups and downs of the stock market these past few weeks).
Someone has suggested that we have a budget process built for a manufacturing
economy, which no longer exists and doesn’t mirror the economic realities of the
21st Century. We are also paying for past lawsuits and voter-approved
initiatives that redirect where the money goes. Many reform proposals require
voters’ approval of constitutional amendments further complicating the situation
and making a quick fix unlikely. Every year it is suggested that state officials
take the time to find a better way to craft and then pass a budget. Clearly
their credibility is hurt with the general public who wonder why there is not a
budget passed on time and a budget, which lives within our means.
Early last month, California Secretary of State
Debra Bowen determined that most of the electronic voting machines used in
California were vulnerable to tampering. She ordered new security measures be
put in place and limited the use of machines made by Diebold Election Systems
and Sequoia Voting Systems to one per polling place to limit the chances they
could be tampered with, but, still be available if required by handicapped
voters. Sequoia machines are used both in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
The new security measures Bowen imposed include: reinstalling the software
before the February 5th election to ensure it has not been tampered with;
placing special seals at vulnerable parts of the machine to reveal tampering;
secure each machine at the close of each day of early voting; assign a specific
election monitor to safeguard each machine; and conduct a complete manual count
of all votes cast.
Bowen’s actions came at the end of an audit she conducted of electronic voting
machine systems. The audit found that the Sequoia machines could be compromised
either by manipulating the software or physically breaking into the computer
hardware. Sequoia responded by pointing out that no electronic voting system has
ever been successfully tampered with in an actual election. Bowen’s audit has
been harshly criticized by elections officials around the state who said the
testing wasn’t consistent with real life situations and were done under
unrealistic conditions, assuming that election officials would take no defensive
measures to prevent hacking.
Regardless of who is right in this debate, the integrity of the voting process
is sacrosanct and its integrity should be protected at all costs. We all
remember the hanging Florida “chads” from the 2000 Presidential Election and the
Ohio “cloud” from the Presidential election of 2004. We don’t want a repeat.
That means in San Bernardino County, voting in the November 2007 and February,
June and November 2008 elections will be almost entirely by paper ballots in
order to ensure compliance with state standards. But the effort will be
completed at a substantial cost. The County will have to purchase additional
paper ballots, voting booths and boxes to transport the ballots. That cost will
total approximately $1.5 million dollars. Equipment used to count absentee
ballots will be used to count paper ballots, but the downside will be delays in
reporting election results.
Our County Registrar of Voters, Keri Verjil, is also working with Sequoia
officials to have our machines recertified by state Secretary of State officials
at the earliest possible time.
Illegal immigration is a
complicated problem nationwide. It is primarily a responsibility
of the federal government but we can and are doing something
about it here in San Bernardino County. The newest phase of
activity at the national level, after Congress failed to come up
with comprehensive legislation to deal with the situation
earlier this year, was initiated by the White House last month
when they introduced a plan to crack down on employers who hire
The intention was to diminish the United States as a “job
magnet” that draws illegals to our country. The plan includes
higher fines for employers and a new electronic scanning program
to help detect fake documents. The White house says the plan is
not focused on those employers who follow the law but on the
deliberate violators who will now face stiffer sanctions. Fines
for employers who knowingly hire illegals can range from $250 to
$10,000 per illegal worker and incident, according to the law.
Under the Bush Administration plan, employers who have been
notified that workers have problems with their social security
information will be held liable if the problem is not resolved
within 90 days. Other elements of the proposal include: reducing
the number of documents employers can accept to verify a
worker’s eligibility; directing the Department of Labor to make
changes in the H2A agricultural seasonal worker program so it is
easier for farmers to use; address delays in the H2B program for
hiring workers for landscaping, hospitality and other
industries; extend from one year to three the duration of a visa
for hiring professional workers from Canada and Mexico; and,
spend additional money to speed up background checks on would-be
I believe that illegal immigration is just that and violators
should be punished accordingly. I also believe that we should
stand behind those who do things the right and legal way and
support their desire to become productive members of our
society. As a member of the San Bernardino County Board of
Supervisors, we are doing our part. We have taken steps to
ensure that those who apply for county jobs and desire contracts
with the County are legal citizens.
The Board has taken a very strong stand in an effort to identify
criminal illegal aliens and refer them to federal authorities
for deportation once their status is known. This will allow us
to more efficiently prosecute and house our own inmate
population. It is estimated that 15 – 20% of inmates detained in
our county are illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrant detainees
contribute to overcrowding and pressure for early prisoner
Our San Bernardino County program identifies and processes
undocumented immigrants. It is estimated that 15% of the inmates
detained in our county are illegal immigrants. That amounts to
about 750 per month. We have to identify the undocumented
immigrants in order to receive reimbursement funds from the
federal government. We are, in effect, doing their job by
housing them. Our county taxpayers should not be left holding
the bill. The cost for housing inmates is about $46.68 per day.
That amounts to about $35,010 per month if each illegal
immigrant were incarcerated one day. However, the average stay
in West Valley Detention Center is 28 days. That amounts to
about $11,763,360 per year for illegal immigrants. Housing
illegal immigrants also adds considerably to prison
overcrowding, hence the need to spend millions more to build
Community Clean Ups
|In July, my staff and County
Code Enforcement staff conducted a highly successful community
clean up in Chino. Over 202 vehicles were served and 74.25 tons
of material was removed. That is approximately 15 trash trucks.
About a dozen County staff participated along with additional
help provided by Waste Management and E-Cyclers.
In August, we held another community clean up in Montclair.
Again my staff, County Code Enforcement staff along with
additional help provided by Waste Management and E-Cyclers,
contributed to a successful effort. 183 vehicles were served and
46.75 tons of material was removed. That is approximately nine
trash trucks. We will hold more community clean ups in the
future. Check my website at
to get the link for dates, times and locations.
Besides our regular Fourth District community clean ups, we are
beginning a new program at the County focusing on illegal
dumping. We are in the process of installing 90 surveillance
cameras at known illegal dumping sites to find out who is
dumping trash in order to catch them in the act. Illegal dumpers
can be arrested and have their cars impounded by deputized code
enforcement officers. A first offense conviction can land an
illegal dumper in county jail for up to six months.
The motion-activated, high-tech cameras can see in the dark, up
to 90 feet away and the images are stored on a digital hard
drive for one month. In order to steer clear of privacy
concerns, the cameras will be placed only in public
unincorporated areas. Fines are also increased from $500 up to
$1,000 to $3,000.
County Employee Spotlight
IT Technical Assistant II
Information Services Department
County of San Bernardino
Desiree began working in May 2005, for the County of San
Bernardino, as a Secretary to the Applications Development
Division Chief of the Information Services Department.
Approximately a year later, she was promoted to IT Technical
Assistant II, where she works primarily on web content and
graphics for County department websites and applications.
Desiree received her Bachelor’s Degree in Experimental
Psychology from La Sierra University and is currently attending
classes at Crafton Hills College with the goal of adding an
Associates of Science degree in Computer Information
Desiree loves to spend time with her husband Dustin and two sons
Xander and Lucas. She enjoys camping on the beach, swimming,
hiking in Yosemite and many other activities.
Send an email to Gary Ovitt:
Click Here to Subscribe
to Ovitt Outlook
To unsubscribe to the Ovitt
Outlook, please email
SupervisorOvitt@sbcounty.gov with the subject:
385 N Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415
Chino District Office:
13160 7th Street
Chino, CA 91710
Mark Kirk, Chief of Staff
Anthony Riley, District Director
Roman Nava, Senior Field Rep
Grace Hagman, Community Outreach Specialist/ Field Rep
Naseem Farooqi, Constituent Services Rep
Burt Southard, Special Projects Coordinator
Joy Chadwick, Executive Analyst
Christy Ray, Executive Secretary
Annette Taylor, Executive Secretary