Welcome to the “Inland Empire”

san bernardinoThe “Inland Empire” is a vast stretch of land east of Los Angeles County inhabited mostly by cacti and Republicans, characterized over the years by brazen political corruption (the most recent former San Bernardino County assessor used the office as a political headquarters when he wasn’t high on meth or participating in rehab) and the intellectual analysis of issues on a level of sophistication that would make any fifth grader proud.

The “West End” of this region — roughly from the cities of Montclair on the west to San Bernardino on the east — is served by a daily newspaper called the “Inland Valley Daily Bulletin,” which is frequently used by local politicians as a convenient and apparently willing mouthpiece.

Thus, about two weeks after he was sworn in as the representative of the 63rd district to the California State Assembly, Republican Mike Morrell railed in a “Point of View” column (12/16/10) against increased taxes, “out-of-control spending, and looking to big government for solutions” (complete with sentence fragments and plural pronouns matched to singular antecedents). He claimed that “the people” always spend their money more wisely than government; that in the alleged dichotomy between people keeping their money or sending it to Sacramento, “it is our freedom that’s at stake”; and that no less a luminary than Thomas Jefferson would certainly have agreed with him.

I would never argue that government is perfect. However, Mr. Morrell’s “analysis” fails to mention even the most basic of services that state government is supposed to provide to its citizens — including such things as public education and prisons (where the aforementioned former County Assessor, along with a recently convicted former City Councilman from Rancho Cucamonga, will likely take up residence). One could read his article in vain for any reference whatsoever to any vital service for which any branch of government should accept responsibility. At least, then, he might (if he valued it) claim intellectual consistency; if he believes governments have no legitimate functions, then of course they have no need for any tax dollars. Of course, in order to do so, he would have to ignore the fact that his alleged hero (other than Ronald Reagan, whom he cited repeatedly in a campaign event I attended) actually described several legitimate functions of government in his acclaimed Preamble to the Constitution.

The day after Morrell’s diatribe against taxes and big government, another representative to the State Assembly, 60th District representative Curt Hagman, used an op-ed column (once again riddled with grammatical errors) in the “Daily Bulletin,” to defend the e-mail he sent to constituents inviting them to a “Christmas Open House.” Apparently he was upset by the fact that some of the residents in his district pointed out to him that he was using government money to pay for an event that was given an explicit religious label. In defending his action, he dug the hole even deeper: “The purpose of my Christmas party was to give people an opportunity to share their views with me on state issues in a casual setting.”

I’ve been to events of this kind, and to the best of my knowledge, very little exchange of views takes place. People network with their friends, eat and drink (presumably at the expense of the government, which, remember, has no legitimate functions), and return to their offices the next day bragging that they met an important public official (probably for about ten seconds). But even supposing that the event served as a venue for the casual exchange of views, does the Assemblyman only want the views of Christians?

Earlier this week — I kid you not!! — a letter to the editor appeared in said newspaper in response to this controversy, criticizing automobile companies for running a plethora of TV ads for their products in end-of-the-year sales campaigns (which they certainly did!) but failing to mention Christmas in their ads!

Ron WolffI strongly support the right of U.S. citizens to celebrate the religion of their choice (or no religion at all). But would it be too much to ask that they at least recognize the existence of a secular society apart from religion? Secularists are not a threat, as they are apparently perceived. The larger threat to American society is the failure of so many to see that our culture is diverse and can be “unbundled” (religion from non-sectarianism) without the slightest danger to either.

Ron Wolff
Musings from Claremont


  1. Donna says

    Your article speaks the truth about the Inland Empire. I lived in Upland and Ontario for over 12 years. Every part of the gov’t and the courts are a mess.I use to volunteer for the NAACP. The majority of the politicians and judges are there to make money any way they can off of the hard working residents. Regular employees will keep their mouths shut because they want to keep their jobs. The corruption is bigger than we will ever know.

  2. AliAgins says

    I’ve lived in the so-called Inland Empire since my folks moved here from Escondido to Riverside in 1945.

    For many years until some one and I’d suspect someone in advertising came up with the name Inland Empire as an umbrella for all these cities and towns in the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. It is and always has been a silly sounding name. I suppose Empires have lots of areas that are completely different from each other but all ruled by one “Emperor”. Riverside is and always has been totally different from San Bernardino. We have never co-mingled much unless Riversiders would go to the Orange show. Riverside is Riverside. Folks in Corona where I live don’t bother to go there very often unless they get a summons from the courthouse to do jury duty. Chino, Ontario,Montclair? They are what they are and I can’t remember the last time I was over that way. And then at the Southern end is Temecula and Murrietta and one goes through there on the 15 to go to San Diego. I’ve been to San Diego more times in oh let’s say five years than I’ve been to San Bernardino in ten. And then there is Palm Springs at the Eastern edge. So completely different from Riverside or San Bernardino or maybe anywhere.
    I remember when Riverside was named an All American City. We have had a lot of bad planning and supervising since those days.
    The likes of Jerry Lewis (San Bernardino) Mary Bono Mack (Palm Springs (Riverside) Ken Calvert part of Orange Co (hence the Republican votes) and Corona. Down at the other end there is Darrel Issa rearing his ugly head from Vista.
    Really if the districts get an overhaul it will be interesting to see Calvert get beat without his Orange Co friends.

    We are a poor excuse for an Empire! I just wish that title would go away and each one of the cities could be recognized for who they are and stop lumping them all together.

  3. Bruce says

    The Inland Empire does not consist of only San Bernardino County. You should not mislead your readers into thinking that it is only one county.

    • says

      I specifically referenced the “West End” of the Inland Empire in my post and included the word “vast” in describing the geographical characteristic of the entire area.

  4. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    When is someone going to do an article on how broke the State of California is? What happens if we default on the municipal bonds especially since it’s doubtful this new Congress will bail the state out–I would find this much more interesting. Also, could someone explain to me why we have to pay $500 to register a car in this state and it’s only $36.00 in Pa? These questions need far more inquiry than the one posed by the writer regarding the Inland Empire. Finally, could someone tell me why the states that have gained the biggest population over the past ten years are those with the lowest tax rates? An analysis of that proposition might be more useful.

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