The following updates were provided by Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. District 1 encompasses the cities of Canyon Lake, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, most of the City of Riverside, and several unincorporated communities.
The Big BeefOne of the most common gripes shared with my office is about the homeless/street people. Huge sums of state and federal tax dollars have floated down to counties and cities to house the homeless in shelters and motels and everything in between.
When you see the down-and-out sleeping or panhandling on the streets today, I would argue that many, or perhaps most, have turned down housing assistance and other offers of service. It could be because they have severe mental health issues (which we can’t force them to obtain help), or they simply prefer living on the street, which just sounds wrong, but again, we also cannot force them to obtain help.
We still desperately need housing for those willing to accept help, but barring a change in state laws and court-granted rights and protections, I believe local government is quickly reaching a point where it cannot do much more to help those who do not want help, like the ones we most often see wandering in and out of the street like zombies or yelling at people on sidewalks. Are we really okay with creating a permanent court-sanctioned homeless class?
Changing of the Guard – Sort ofThe 2020 census and resulting redistricting has now officially moved numerous county supervisor boundaries. The communities in Temescal Valley, Lake Elsinore Valley, Canyon Lake, Woodcrest, and Lake Mathews have all moved into the Second District represented by Supervisor Karen Spiegel.
The City of Perris and the community of Highgrove will join the entire City of Riverside and the communities of Mead Valley, Good Hope, and Meadowbrook in the new revised First District. To further complicate the transition, if you reside in Wildomar, La Cresta, Tenaja, or DeLuz, you remain in the old First District until January 2024, at which time you will switch over to the revised Third District.
Now to be clear, I’m not walking away from any of the transitioning communities that elected me in 2020; however, Supervisor Spiegel is the most recently elected supervisor from those communities and she will be taking the lead. I will be the “backup” guy. To see the new 2022/2024 boundary maps, click here.
Budget and PensionsThe good news is that your county budget is doing very well. Taxpayers are generating lots of revenues (property taxes, sales taxes, DMV taxes, etc.). If you add these increases to the special COVID cash that the federal government printing presses have sent to local counties and cities, the numbers jump even more.
Unfortunately, just as rising inflation is hurting families, the cost of doing business for the county has also skyrocketed. The cost to build new fire stations, pave streets, or build daycare centers has gone through the roof. The other downside is that we know this big revenue jump is very likely a “one-time” scenario. The State of California is already facing a revenue drop approaching $20 billion, and the California pension system (CalPERS) is facing a very large drop in its investment portfolio, which typically translates into higher “contributions” (read: larger checks) from local governments to make up the difference.
One of my jobs during my last two years in office will be to make sure our county spending is kept under control, use chunks of any surplus funds to build up rainy-day reserves, pay down debt, and try to restrain new spending to “one-time expenses” so that we do not obligate our county to ongoing expenses with one-time revenues. With our growing population (30,000 +/- every year) and the resulting growing demands for increased services, it’s going to be a real challenge to hold it all together!
Victims Looking for JusticeOn December 28, 2022, Riverside County Sheriff Deputy Isaiah Cordero, 32, made a traffic stop and was murdered by a repeat offender. According to a Press Enterprise article, San Bernardino County Superior Court records indicate the killer had at least 12 criminal convictions, including five felonies with the latest conviction being kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
According to our County Sheriff, a San Bernardino County Judge had recently instead of sentencing him to 25 years to life in prison — lowered his bail, which allowed him to go free.
And speaking of going free, here in Riverside County the Riverside County District Attorney’s office has publicly reported that “…over the past 10 weeks, Riverside County Superior Court judges have dismissed more than 1,000 criminal court cases.” In October, the court stated that 2,800 pending cases were set for trial. As of December 16, 2022, there are about 2,200 backlogged cases, and Superior Court judges have dismissed 1,098 criminal matters.
On Oct. 10, 2022, Riverside County Superior Court judges started to dismiss criminal cases based on a lack of available trial courtrooms. Case dismissals continue to occur daily across the county. These cases are both misdemeanor and felony cases and include nearly all crime types. About 83 felony cases have been dismissed so far. Felony cases dismissed include charges such as attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence, and more”.
This unacceptable situation for our growing county (and especially for victims seeking Justice) is not something within the control of the board of supervisors; however, it is my understanding that our local State Senator Richard Roth (a retired Air Force general and attorney) is going to take our battle to the State Legislature. He will likely need our backing when the time comes.
During My Final Two YearsI hope to finally find the answer(s) to the one big overarching question I have been asking nearly every year since taking office… What do we, Riverside County, want to be when we grow up? Balanced, relaxed, recreational, educated/skilled, wide-open, not L.A., etc.?
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