LAFCO Replies To Letter From
Newberry Springs' CEQA-NOW

      Picturesque Troy lakebed in beautiful Newberry Springs.  This photograph was taken facing in a general southerly direction from the former residential house of Huell Howser.  Trucks on Interstate-40 can be seen in the distance.

A better community starts with knowledgeable voters.

To understand what is happening to Newberry Springs.

June 2, 2015


      The Blotter on May 6, 2015, published a letter from Newberry Springs' CEQA-NOW to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for San Bernardino County.

      The letter, in essence, asked for clarification on several points of duty and law.  Apparently, digging for an understanding as to why the Newberry CSD has been so ineffective in serving the local community for decades.

      A reply from LAFCO to that letter has been received and the Blotter thanks both CEQA-NOW and LAFCO for keeping the Blotter, and thereby the community, informed.

      LAFCO's responses to the first three CEQA-NOW questions are interesting.  Currently, the Blotter is doing background research into the manner in which the Newberry CSD handled the Kiewit Pacific funds that the community was given; principally for road improvement and youth-oriented recreation and recreational facilities.  The funds were provided by Kiewit Pacific as mitigation offset for the opening and the operation of a local mine.  CEQA-NOW's questions have relevancy to the Blotter's study.

      Roughly ten years ago, the community in a settlement with Kiewit Pacific was given $350,000 in cash; and an entity was necessary to step-in, in a fiduciary trustee relationship, to see that the funding was properly distributed to the highest and best use of the community under the terms of the agreement.  The CSD board, seeing a large sum of money, stepped-up to handle the funds.

      What resulted has been a complete breach of fiduciary duty, the highest legal duty that a person or entity can hold.  Rather than seeking matching grants to multiply the fund's application towards its intended targets, the Newberry CSD commingled the funds into its general account and has used the money as a slush reserve for its general operational expenses.  Now, according to LAFCO's first and second responses in its reply, the Newberry CSD seems to lack any authority to act in the capacity of a third-party fiduciary trustee.

      It has previously come to the Blotter's attention, in networking with others within the community, that part or all of Newberry Springs might be categorized as 'Economically Disadvantaged.'  Perhaps, even 'Severely Economically Disadvantaged.'  If so, this opens the door to special funding that the community could be acquiring; but obviously isn't.  The question then arises, why isn't Newberry Springs tapping available funds as other communities are?  An example of one of the many opportunities is here.

      LAFCO's response to question No. 3 in its reply shows recognition that Newberry Springs is a "Disadvantaged Unincorporated Community" (DUC).  The reply states that this is based upon Newberry Springs being a community where the annual median household income is less than 80% of the statewide annual median household income. 

      LAFCO's response opens the door to many additional questions; such as where does the 80% figure comes from.  In the federal government, different agencies and departments have different criteria percentages.  So some additional questions would be, what California departments are using the 80% figure for "Disadvantaged?"  What can the "Disadvantaged" classification do for Newberry Springs?  How far below the 80% level does Newberry Springs fall?  Does Newberry Springs have pocket areas that fall into lower categories, such as Severely Economically Disadvantaged, that might allow Newberry Springs to be prioritized for economic assistance?

      The sad news is that blogs like this one are being written.  The CSD board should be actively involved in exploring outside grants and opportunities that would economically benefit Newberry Springs.  The CSD board should have long ago been on top of these opportunities.  Instead, the Newberry CSD board members present the attitude of do-as-little-as-possible and pick-up the monthly general meeting stipend.

      In over a half century, the CSD boards have NEVER asked LAFCO for additional authorized powers whereby the CSD could better act to economically benefit Newberry Springs and thereby improve the daily lives of its citizens.

      As pathetic as this is, it demonstrates what happens when an uninformed electorate repeatedly elects good friends and neighbors to the CSD board who lack vision and performance.

LAFCO's reply letter to CEQA-NOW.

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