Ovitt Outlook
In This Issue...  
August 2007
Prison Overcrowding

Click the following link to view Supervisor Ovitt's Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl3w2l1qGWw

One of the ongoing problems in the greater Chino area is the overcrowding that exists at Chino Institution for Men (CIM). This adversely affects Chino Hills, Upland and Ontario as well as Chino. The Institution has been under court order to reduce the inmate population for a couple of years. A plan, by Governor Schwarzenegger, to contract with other states to relieve prison overcrowding was rejected by the courts earlier this year.

I’ve participated in meetings with local and state officials to review critical issues at CIM including multi-jurisdictional communication, law enforcement mobilization and reimbursement payments to local cities and law enforcement agencies as a result of their responses when assisting prison authorities. Members of my staff have toured the facility to view conditions first hand. We need to be proactive and responsive to the current situation. As elected officials, we need to be tough on crime and on those who commit them. Those who break the law should receive their just desserts. That should not include early release.

Last Week, two federal judges ordered the creation of a special panel whose mission would be to recommend ways to relieve California’s overcrowded prisons, which might ultimately lead to capping the inmate population resulting in the release of some prisoners.

With this decision, the judges rejected a key solution initiated by Governor Schwarzenegger and state legislators to address this decades old crisis. Last spring, they agreed to an ambitious $7.8 billion program to build 53,000 new prison and jail cells. The judges ruled that plan, only makes matters worse for the state Departments of Corrections and Rehabilitation. They said the state cannot hire enough guards and medical professionals to provide adequate care and oversight for the present inmate population, let alone the thousands more that might be added by the building program.

Governor Schwarzenegger has said he will appeal the judge’s decision. He feels that the state has taken sufficient steps to reduce current and future prison overcrowding and he wants to make sure dangerous criminals are not returned into communities prematurely. The appeals process could take years. In the meantime, the state will press ahead with its building program and the transfer of 8,000 inmates to prisons in other states.

I applaud the Governor’s actions in this matter. The last thing we need is to release prisoners early into our communities and neighborhoods. The periodic uprisings and altercations at CIM are unsettling at best. We don’t need a full-blown incident to tackle problems that need to be addressed in the best interests of Fourth District Residents. It should not take a criminal released early from detention, who then commits a serious crime, for us to realize that this option is not a way to protect our neighborhoods. Our policy should be; you do the crime, you do the time.
 

 
Clean Air

This past year and in the coming months the state’s air-quality regulators will pursue a frenetic schedule of activity that will have important consequences for millions of Californians, whether in their cars, on the job or at home.

There are four agencies: The California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL-EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) who play an important role in determining air quality standards and requirements in California.

CARB has taken action on a number of fronts including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, diesel discharge from diesel trucks and heavy equipment, cigarettes and indoor air cleaners. All the agencies are looking at coming up with a policy that meets federally mandated clean air guidelines by 2012. However, there is hardly a consensus as to what the policy should look like and include.

The first step was taken by CARB at the end of July, when the Agency adopted tough emission standards for off-highway diesel vehicles such as bulldozers, airport baggage trucks and ski resort snowcats. The rules will eventually force the oldest and most polluting pieces of equipment out of service and require construction firms and other companies to spend billions on new equipment or engine retrofits. It would require emissions from backhoes, forklifts and other types of diesel equipment to be cleaned up gradually beginning in 2010. The rules would be phased in through 2020 for fleets of large vehicles and 2025 for smaller equipment.

The pollutants targeted in the rule – particulate matter and nitrogen oxide – are blamed for premature deaths, respiratory ailments and cardiovascular problems. The standards under consideration are projected to prevent 4,000 premature deaths, 110,000 asthma-related cases, 9,200 cases of acute bronchitis and 680,000 lost work days lost over 20 years, according to an analysis by the CARB Board. The Board further projects that the requirements will save up to $26 billion in health care costs by 2030.
 

 
Online Electronic Campaign Report Filing
At my request, the County Registrar of Voters (ROV) has inaugurated an electronic filing system for Financial Disclosure Forms (Form 460), in time for the July 31st semi-annual filing requirement. Those affected include county party committees and other county elected officials who are required by law to file a semi-annual report.

This, in my opinion, is an important step in making the political process more transparent to county residents. The ability to view the reports online will dramatically increase the number of contact hits on the (ROV) website. We know that once Financial Disclosure Forms (Form 700) went on line, the number of website hits increased the first month to 2,000 from last year’s in-person visits of 200.
The new electronic on-line filing system is available free of charge and allows anyone to enter and file disclosure statements quickly and easily. The system benefits campaigns and committees by providing them ready access to campaign statements. Currently, campaign statements can only be viewed by an in-person visit to the ROV office.

The San Bernardino County ROV, Kari Verjil and her staff, Clerk of the Board Dena Smith and her staff and Steve Hall and the staff at the Information Services Department deserve a great deal of credit for making electronic filing happen. They worked hard to make sure the technology mirrored the concept.
 
 
West Nile Virus

Just because our weather locally has been bone dry does not preclude the presence of mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus. In this past week new cases have appeared in Sacramento and Orange Counties and infected birds have been found in San Bernardino County. Last year seven people died in California as well as 177 nationwide.

About 80% of those infected won’t show symptoms according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Others have mild symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting and a rash on the chest and back. But one in 150 people infected will become seriously ill, with high fever, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, vision loss, coma and even paralysis. Symptoms can last for years and neurological damage can be permanent.

The West Nile season generally runs from May through October, with the virus transmitted by mosquitoes that feed on the blood of wild birds. Only a few of the 22 species of mosquitoes carry West Nile. Surprisingly, drought has little effect on the mosquito population. More than twice the number of birds infected with the virus have been detected this year than at this time last year, even though the number of birds tested is similar according to state officials.

Public health officials are advising people to apply insect repellent containing either DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors, especially in the early morning and early evening. People should ensure that screen doors and windows are intact and should eliminate sources of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed. West Nile virus was first detected in California five years ago.
 

 
The Institution We Love to Hate - Government
Americans are more and more hooked on government. They either directly work for or receive substantial income from government. As of 2004, 52.6% of Americans received a “substantial” portion of their income from a variety of sources that would cause great personal hardship if removed. In 2004, our population was about 293.7 million of which 154.4 million received a substantial portion of their income from the government.

In 1980, 55% of Americans received “substantial” income from government. However, starting with President Ronald Reagan there was a 20 year decline in the number of people hooked on government. By the year 2000 that figure stood at 49.4%.

How are Americans hooked on Government? Nearly one-in-five work for government at the federal, state, or local level. Almost one-in-five receive social security or a federal pension. Over two million receive housing subsidies. Nineteen million are on food stamps. Five million receive subsidies for school.

In 2005, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that federal entitlement programs would increase federal spending from the current 18.4% to 25.3% of the gross domestic product by mid-century. The chief drivers were demographic – the retirement of “baby-boomers” and the need to pay their pension and health care costs.

This all brings new meaning to the venerable words; “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

 
 
Useful Websites
Fire Risk

Drought conditions exacerbate the danger of fire. But a new website tells you – no matter where you live – exactly how vulnerable you are. The website developed at the University of California at Berkeley Center for Fire Research and Outreach lets people know exactly how to assess the potential risk of wildfire damage to their homes and communities.

At the website, firecenter.berkeley.edu/toolkit, residents can enter information about their home’s construction and landscaping to get a science-based assessment of its vulnerability to wildfires, and suggestions for reducing their risk. They can also type in their address to see if they live in a region at risk for wildfires and obtain information about fires that have occurred in the area since 1950. The website also lets you know if you are in a local, state or federal responsibility area. Tips and resources for recovering from a wildfire are also available on the website.


Water Conservation

There are a number of ways to conserve water use in these current drought conditions. Among the top five actions that can be taken are fix and repair all water leaks, make sure your toilet is a water efficient 1.6 gallon per flush toilet, replace clothes washers with a washer that has a water factor of 9.5 or lower, plant the right plants with proper landscape design and irrigation and water plants only when they need it.

Now there is also a way to bring water saving tips to every home – via the Internet. The California Water Conservation Council has created the website www.h2ouse.org. This water saver home web site provides an online encyclopedia of water conservation techniques. It tells homeowners how to read a water meter, install water-efficient appliances and fixtures, conserve water through creative landscape design, detect and repair leaks and save water during a drought.

Visitors to the web site can also view water-saving tips room by room with the virtual home tour, find out some of the best ways to save water in and around the home, use the water-budget calculator to figure out how much water is being used at home and look at the garden guide to find water conservation gardening ideas.
 
 
STAFF SPOTLIGHT
Ignacio Nunez
San Bernardino County
Land Use Services Department
Code Enforcement Division

Ignacio Nunez serves as Code Enforcement Officer III as well as Senior Officer in the Fourth Supervisorial District. He began working for the County of San Bernardino in 1996 as an eligibility worker in the Transitional Assistance Department. His first assignment was to assist residents in need of childcare.

Ignacio began working for the Code Enforcement Division in 1999. His many responsibilities include coordinating 25 – 30 community clean ups a year throughout the county, working with fire hazard abatement, coordinating illegal vendor sweeps and assisting Fourth District residents with code enforcement issues.

Ignacio is married and has two children. He is active in the community and particularly enjoys coaching peewee baseball.
 

Prison Overcrowding

Clean Air

Online Electronic Campaign Report Filing

West Nile Virus

The Institution We Love to Hate - Government

Useful Websites

Staff Spotlight

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Main Office:
385 N Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415
(909) 387-4866

Chino District Office:
13160 7th Street
Chino, CA 91710 
(909) 465-1895

Staff Members:
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