Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries updates community on district news

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.

Emergencies Overwhelm
We’ve (Riverside County) experienced brutal hospital overloads in past years when real nasty strains of the flu hit all our emergency rooms, mostly occurring in winter. I remember getting reports of paramedic ambulances not being able to “hand-over” patients to the hospitals (for extended hours) because the hospitals were so overwhelmed. We are well past those milestones now.

Adding the serious COVID patients to the routine emergency room emergencies (heart attacks, strokes, accidents, etc.) and now adding serious flu cases to the mix, the front-line healthcare employees are really taking a beating, and for the vast majority of them, they are going above and beyond the call of duty. Staffing shortages, extended shifts, limited days off, patient overloads as ICU needs now exceed capacities – what could go wrong? A very big thank you all those doctors, nurses, and support staff working the front lines!

Recycling Hits the Dumps
Many of us do our part to recycle various items at our home or business. In fact, the state mandates that we do, and the state mandates that our curbside trash pick-up providers provide that service, and the state requires the landfill operators (private or public) to carry out recycling efforts at the landfills. The county can actually face penalties from the state if we don’t divert enough of our waste into recycling.

The problem (that you and I are not seeing) is that the recycling program is collapsing, and not just here. A few years ago, China (and then other Asian nations) stopped accepting most imports of recycled waste, and there has been no market to replace them.

Recycling has gone from a moneymaker for many agencies to a net loss, as the resale value of recycled material has plummeted. And residents, particularly in California, have been pushed harder and harder to increase their recycling, which has resulted in more and more “wish recycling,” where people toss items into their recycle bin that can’t be recycled, causing expensive manual separating of the materials later.

Many people don’t realize even a little bit of spoilage in “recyclable materials” (e.g. peanut butter in a jar, a grease stain on a pizza box) make them valueless and require them to be thrown away. Some cities and counties have gone so far as to start running “when in doubt, throw it out” educational campaigns, to get people to recycle less (or really, to recycle more successfully).

Unfortunately, despite the lack of market for these items that cause“recyclable” goods you have separated to go back into the same landfill as your regular garbage, state mandates continue to get more strict, which means your trash hauling rates will continue to go up, as the hauler has to pay for the recycle bins and then pay to separate the recyclables, and even then, still are unlikely to make any real money off the recycled goods market.

To add to this, the board of supervisors just had to prepare to implement yet another state mandate that “organic waste” trash containers be distributed to residential customers. It hasn’t gone into effect yet, but you can be sure it will jack up your rates even further when it does.

Inside Baseball #2
Last month, I reported on some internal employee leadership changes, including our county CEO retiring. Well, the applications are in, and the herd has been thinned, sorted, and prepped for board Interviews. The board will be interviewing for the new CEO in January.

It takes a special kind of person to manage a $5 billion+ a year budget, 20,000+ employees, 44 departments, and a $40 million operating deficit, on top of a virus that is impacting every aspect of life and our economy, plus the joy of having to work for five bosses.

In the First District office, we’ve recently added a new member to the team, Samantha Stilwell. “Sam,” a longtime Riverside County resident, has worked as a staff member in the California State Legislature, as well as a manager with a public relations firm, and has somehow fit in time to attend Cal Baptist. She is also already familiar with all the MACs and CACs in our unincorporated communities, so we expect her to hit the ground running in the New Year. Welcome aboard, Sam!

On a Personal Note
January officially kicks off my third term as your First District supervisor. Over the past eight years, I have never missed a single board meeting, never taken a pay raise, and have done my very best to be help moms and pops and other residents in need of services get through the cumbersome endless bureaucracies.

On a personal-personal note, I truly miss the days when Riverside County was a very rural county of 600,000 versus its 2.4 million today and we enjoyed endless open spaces between the few cities we had.

My young adult life was largely shaped by my 29 years of community service, serving Riverside County as a volunteer firefighter, volunteer captain, responding to over 4000 emergencies, and then being hired by Fire Chief Tom Tisdale to write grants and help manage the then 1100 volunteer firefighters. My wife and kids put up with a lot, and my wife still does.

With roughly 450,000 residents in the First District, the job can be extremely demanding and very rewarding when you can make a difference. I’m lucky that I have a great staff, and I’m fortunate that my wife runs our family businesses so that I can focus on the county and the first district.

I don’t go on junkets, I don’t travel on the public dime, and I don’t spend much if any, time attending conferences, leagues, associations, or seminars. I focus here at home on our county. I consider myself very fortunate to work for the people of the First District, even the ones who write really nasty emails (they come with the job). And yes, I actually do read all the emails and letters that are sent to me. Thank you all for your patience, support, and commitment to making Riverside County a better place (all 2.4 million of us)!


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