BANNING VOTER GUIDE
CITY COUNCIL : JERRY WESTHOLDER (AS THE ONLY VOTE)
MEASURE “J” : YES
MEASURE “AA” : NO
SAN GORGONIO WATER – DIRECTOR AT LARGE : RAY MORRIS
SAN GORGONIO WATER – DIRECTOR DIVISION 3 : JOHN JETER
REVIEW OF THE CANDIDATES AND MEASURES
Even though you can choose two candidates, we recommend voting only for Jerry Westholder. Westholder was unanimously appointed to the Council in November of 2013, after the abrupt resignation of Bob Botts. He has proven to be a Council member who respects the wishes of the people over those of developers and special interests. Westholder is not a career politician. He talks straight from the heart and has no hidden agenda.
Westholder was opposed to the Probation Department moving into Banning’s finest retail development, Paseo San Gorgonio, which has been subsidized by the taxpayer with 4 million dollars. He had the overwhelming support of Banning citizens in this matter.
He also warned about the impact of AB-109 on Banning, a warning that was eventually mirrored in a Grand Jury Report, soon after his opponent George Moyer had dismissed it as “scare tactics” (story).
Westholder is currently the only candidate that takes issue with Banning’s utility scandal. As we reported earlier , $ 32,000 worth of free utilities were given to the privately operating Banning Chamber of Commerce (story). Westholder has come out and demanded that the City collect the debt from the Chamber, while his opponents Debbie Franklin and George Moyer have avoided the issue. No Banning ratepayer can afford a Franklin/Moyer “wildcard”, when it comes to accountability issues like utility billing.
Franklin has been holding office for 8 years. During this time she made many poor decisions on the Council. Probably one of the most controversial was to give a convicted criminal Demario Jackson, over $ 500,000 in taxpayer funds.
Franklin and Jackson recently conducted an interview for the Record Gazette, during which they attempted to whitewash the transaction. The Record Gazette aided Franklin
in every way they could : they not only failed to identify any of Jackson’s criminal past (view examples), but also did not report that during the interview, Jackson was out on $ 25,000 bail. He is currently charged with two felonies (view charges).
Another issue affecting all Banning residents is the recent utility scandal, which consisted of a $ 32,000 giveaway of free utilities to the Banning Chamber of Commerce (story). In a recent mail piece, Franklin prides herself of being an “active member” of the Chamber, which is probably the reason why she has avoided commenting on the scandal altogether. Apparently Franklin values her friendship with the Chamber over her loyalty to Banning’s utility customers, who she apparently expects to pick up the difference.
There is another aspect to this scandal that, so far, has not been brought to light : by not asking for utility payments from the Chamber, Mayor Franklin and Art Welch may have committed Securities Fraud, a Federal offense. Here is why : the Banning Utility Authority, formed in 2005 to facilitate a $ 42 million + bond offering, issued a bond prospectus (view) in which they make clear representations on how customers are to be billed and payments are to be collected (view relevant segment). These representations are contrary to the treatment of the Chamber’s utility account.
Bondholders relied on the prospectus when they purchased Banning’s utility bonds. They had a reasonable expectation that all customers are billed and collected upon, without exception. The oversight of the Banning Utility Authority does not lie with the City Manager, but with the Council members directly, as officers of the Authority.
Franklin is one of those officers that had direct responsibility to make sure all utility payments are billed and collected upon, not just for the benefit of Banning ratepayers, but primarily for the benefit of the bond holders, who have every reason to expect that all utility dealings are “above board”.
In the final analysis, Franklin has done a tremendous amount of damage to the City of Banning. She gave away money loosely and facilitated a free ride for her friends at the Chamber. In doing so, she and other Council Members may have violated Federal law, when they allowed this to happen.
Moyer runs his campaign as an advocate for Sun Lakes, as evidenced by a recent mail piece on his behalf . In this piece a picture of Sun Lakes is shown right next to Moyer. As the most important reason to vote for him, his long term Presidency at Sun Lakes is highlighted. Both of these claims serve as a clear indication that Moyer is not trying to appeal to all of Banning, but strictly to Sun Lakes. His campaign material cites no reasons as to why Non-Sunlakers should vote for him.
In order to secure votes for himself inside of Sun Lakes, Moyer has deployed scare tactics. Part of these tactics is his claim that the City of Banning is subject to a “class action suit”, that potentially could cost the City unconscionable amounts of money. This claim is completely false and shows that Moyer does not know what he is talking about. There is no “class action suit”, nor is there an attempt to bring one. This is all fabrication on the part of George Moyer.
As the Board President, Moyer controls Sun Lakes election debates. It is remarkable to note, that unlike previous years, courtesy of George Moyer, no debate was held in Sun Lakes this time.
Moyer also resents recent accountability measures deployed by the Council, for example the ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption made against staff (story). Moyer states that such investigations are disruptive to City Government and make staff want to look for employment elsewhere. Accountability and scrutiny don’t seem to be high on Mr. Moyer’s list .
Voters ought to be aware, that Moyer filed for bankruptcy during the mid nineties. This raises questions about his ability to manage money properly.
To complete the picture about George Moyer, all one has to do is look at his supporters.
In a recent mail piece, no other than Banning’s corrupt former Mayor Don Robinson is highlighted as endorsing Moyer. This endorsement may turn out to be a slippery slope for Moyer : we have already covered Robinson’s uncanny background in length (see here and here). Robinson’s involvement in the Chamber utility scandal along with his endorsement seems to indicate that the two must have come to an understanding on how to dispose of the $32,000 Chamber utility debt.
Apparently Moyer does not care that Banning Chamber Director Robinson is – once again – delinquent on his taxes : as of June, 2014 the IRS has filed a tax lien in the amount of $ 25,702.82 against Don Robinson and his wife Katryn (view).
In addition, Robinson is delinquent over $ 10,000 in property taxes on his business location at 1346 E. Ramsey Street (view). With tax dodger Don Robinson, Moyer sure picked one heck of an endorsement.
Not much better is Moyer’s endorsement by former Mayor/good-ole–boy Larry Higgins. County records show, that – like Moyer – Higgins filed for bankruptcy (2001), and even had a judgment filed against him for not paying child support (view), identifying him as a deadbeat dad. Currently, Higgins is a deadbeat debtor (Riverside case # BAC1201094) , and has been ordered to appear for a debtor’s examination, based on a judgment entered against him in 2012 (view). Larry Higgins – another great pick by George Moyer.
One of Moyer’s monetary supporters is Christopher Leggio (view filing). In 2009, his brother Mark Leggio was convicted and sentenced to 180 days in jail in connection with a campaign money laundering scandal.
According to the L.A. Times (view), the main recipient of the illegal campaign funds was former Banning Mayor Brenda Salas, who received $ 15,000.
Salas’ boyfriend at the time was Chris Mann. Mann is the founder of the “Inland Empire Taxpayers Association”, a Political Action Committee, that is now – you guessed it – supporting George Moyer. As you can see, we have come full circle.
With supporters like the above, does George Moyer need political enemies ? The voters will be the judges on November 4.
MEASURE “J “
However, the circumstances of Measure “J” are somewhat different : the measure is designed to tax mining operations in Banning. Such operations, currently conducted by Robertson’s Ready Mix, have both a monetary as well as a non-monetary impact on the City. In particular, Hargrave Street is used for ingress and egress. This causes regular damage to the street, yet all street repairs are made by the City. The operation also produces large amounts of dust, has a significant noise impact on neighboring residents and increases traffic exponentially.
The mine has been operating without compensating the City in any way for the impact of their operations. This is fundamentally unfair to every Banning resident. Banning taxpayers ought to look at Measure “J” as a tax relief for themselves, rather than a tax measure, because it will shift the burden of the mining operation away from the taxpaying “little guy”, and to the source that is creating it. Only mining operations, not residents, will be subject to this tax.
County Supervisor Marion Ashley is deeply in bed with Robertson’s. Having received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Robertson’s, Ashley is coming out against Measure “J”. Go figure – and welcome to politics.
In contrast to Measure “J”, Measure “AA” impacts each and every property owner directly. This is a bond brought forward by Mount San Jacinto College. What stands out about this measure is its outlandish amount of over ¼ of a billion dollars ($295 million). Gee, are they sure they are asking for enough money ? Do they really believe Riverside County taxpayers have this much money to spare ? It seems, whoever is willing to freely hand over that kind of money to a bunch of bureaucrats needs to get their head examined.
Proponents of the measure say that the college will create an educated work force, and with that a larger tax base. In theory this may be correct, but the reality is that there is no interest – at least as far as the Banning campus of MSJC goes : due to lack of attendance – i.e. lack of interest – classes had to be cancelled and the campus is offering very little.
Even worse, in the past visitors to the Banning campus were not even able to get a list of the classes offered. It appears that the only purpose of the Banning campus has been all along to justify the need for additional public funding of MSJC. In the meantime, nobody will tell you that the Banning campus is built right adjacent to a high pressure gas pipeline, an issue that most likely makes it ineligible for State funding.
Unless you enjoy taxing yourself, stay away from measure “AA” as far as you can.
If you would like to comment or discuss this – or any other – article, please visit us on FACEBOOK