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Government & Regulations

Making California More Affordable for Disabled Veterans

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Property tax exemption bill by Sen. Morrell clears first committee

While higher costs of living and an increasingly competitive job market are realities faced by many Californians up and down the state, these challenges often hit California’s disabled veterans hardest.

With these realities in mind, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) is authoring a pair of bills to ease the burdens facing California’s disabled veterans. SB 500 and SB 562 will increase job opportunities while working to keep the cost of housing more maintainable.

In that effort, the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance has unanimously approved SB 562.

“California sends more men and women into military service than almost any other state,” said Morrell. “Unfortunately, many return home unable to perform the jobs they did in the Armed Forces. We need to ensure these service members have every opportunity to achieve the American Dream that they fought for.”

SB 562 will increase the current Basic Property Tax Exemption for disabled veterans to keep up with the rise in California home prices and cost of living. The median home price in California is approximately $540,000. Property taxes for a home this value exceed more than $5,000 per year.

The measure is sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit that builds new homes to meet the needs of disabled veterans. It is also supported by Disabled American Veterans Department of California.

SB 500 is a first-of-its-kind veterans’ education bill for disabled veterans to attain graduate-level degrees. The bill will create an education program through California’s Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) that extends housing and tuition assistance to veterans with a disability rating above 50 percent while they are enrolled in any program, internship, or fellowship that earn credits towards a master’s degree.

Along with a rise in housing costs, veterans are also returning home to a job market demanding different skillsets. According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder, nearly a third of employers are bumping up education requirements for new hires, while 27 percent are recruiting those who hold master’s degrees for positions that used to only require four-year degrees.

Morrell is also a co-author of SB 663, which would expand property tax exemptions for Veterans Service Organizations (VSO). Although VSOs already receive property tax exemptions for some properties, this bill would expand the exemption to cover lodges and other multi-purpose facilities where organizations often find the best uses for treatments, recovery, and fundraising. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance on March 27, 2019.

All three bills are supported by numerous veterans organizations and will be considered by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs later in April.

 

Senator Mike Morrell represents the 23rd Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Senator Mike Morrell, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814
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The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Career & Workplace

City of San Bernardino Names Nathan Freeman as Director of Community and Economic Development

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The City of San Bernardino Announces Nathan Freeman as its new Director of Community and Economic Development. His starting date is May 16.

An experienced professional with almost 25 years working in economic development in the Inland Empire, Freeman comes to San Bernardino after spending the past sixteen years with the City of Riverside, where he served as the Economic Development, Redevelopment, and Real Property Services Manager.

“Nathan Freeman has extensive experience successfully negotiating major development agreements while at the same time creating opportunities for small businesses and startups,” said City Manager Robert Field. “He has played a critical role in the recent and upcoming development in downtown Riverside and is a great addition to the San Bernardino team.”

In the role of Director of Community and Economic Development, Freeman will oversee the functions, programs, and activities of the Planning Division, Building Division, Code Enforcement, Economic Development, and Housing.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside an amazing team in San Bernardino, under the leadership of the City Council and City Manager, who are dedicated to building a stronger and more economically resilient community,” said Freeman. “I’m truly excited about the City’s long-term potential and am grateful for the opportunity to lead the Community & Economic Development Department as we encourage job creation, business development, and a better quality of life for all residents.”

In Riverside, Freeman played a key role in major development projects, including the revitalization of downtown. He negotiated approximately $1 billion in private investment throughout Riverside, including the development of over 250,000 square feet of Class A office/commercial space, worked to attract many new businesses to the city, and facilitated the development of the Riverside Food Lab, the Inland Empire’s first urban food court.

Previously, Freeman served as Business Development Officer for the City of Hesperia and Economic Development Project Manager for the County of Riverside.

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Government & Regulations

San Manuel Elects Lynn Valbuena as Chairwoman

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Tribal Ceremony Ushers in New Tribal Council, Leadership

The newly elected Chairwoman and Tribal Council members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians were sworn in today and now have begun their terms in office.

Lynn ‘Nay’ Valbuena begins her term as Chairwoman with a focus on serving her tribal community and continuing efforts to strengthen the Tribe’s Serrano culture, governmental sovereignty, and service obligations to San Manuel citizens. 

For nearly 50 years, Chairwoman Valbuena has held numerous elected and appointed positions within San Manuel tribal government. Her role as the Tribe’s first housing commissioner set her on the path to leadership. She has held several officer positions on the Tribal Council, including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice Chairwoman, and now her fifth term as Chairwoman. Valbuena also has a lifetime of service and leadership with regional, state, and national organizations, including the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN), where she is currently serving her 27th year as Chairwoman.  

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Valbuena also served as Vice Chairwoman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, Secretary for the National Indian Gaming Association, and delegate to the National Congress of American Indians. She previously served as a Trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, which is a part of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She continues her trusteeship for the Autry Museum, and Advisory Council Member for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California since the organization was founded more than 20 years ago.

“I express my deepest gratitude to all Tribal leaders and citizens for serving our people,” said Chairwoman Valbuena. “Chairman Ken Ramirez and Business Committee member Alexis Manzano have served our community with great effect, producing results that will benefit our Tribe.”

Latisha Casas was re-elected to the office of Treasurer for the Tribe. As Treasurer, her responsibilities include protecting the Tribe’s overall financial interests and establishing generational financial stability for the Tribe by way of strategy and oversight of treasury management, economic growth and investment portfolio.  She begins her fifth term on the Tribal Council as Treasurer. Casas has also been a member of the Investment Board since it was established in 2008 and is Chairperson of the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority, the Tribal instrumentality that owns and operates the Palms Resort Casino.

Laurena Bolden was elected to her first term on the Tribal Council as a Member-at-Large. Bolden is a three-term member of the San Manuel Education Board and currently serves as its secretary. She is active in several other citizen-led planning groups, including the Cultural Advisory, and Reservation Masterplan Working Groups, which steer various development projects and cultural initiatives. 

Continuing in their elected positions are Vice Chairman Johnny Hernandez, Jr., Secretary Audrey Martinez, and Members-at-Large Edward Duro and Karina Torres.    

The Tribal Council is the elected seven-member body that oversees the day-to-day operations on behalf of the General Council, the Tribe’s governing council that establishes policy and makes decisions on all significant matters on behalf of San Manuel. 

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is engaged in important relationships with other governments as well as partnerships with nonprofit organizations and community groups across its vast aboriginal territory that takes in the majority of present-day San Bernardino County.

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Government & Regulations

San Bernardino Names Darren Goodman as New Chief of Police

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(San Bernardino, CA – April 1, 2022) – After a nationwide search, the City of San Bernardino has announced that Upland Police Chief Darren Goodman has been selected to be the next Chief of Police. Goodman has been in law enforcement for over 31 years, and comes to San Bernardino from the City of Upland, where he has spent the last four years as its Chief of Police.

“Chief Goodman brings to San Bernardino a wealth of experience, leadership, and knowledge of this region,” said City Manager Robert D. Field. “We are very pleased that he will be joining us.”

Goodman, whose starting date will be June first, joins a department with 262 sworn officers and 150 civilian staff. He will be the first African American police chief in the San Bernardino Police department’s 116-year history.

When asked about why he chose to come to San Bernardino, Goodman said, “During the early years of my career, several of my assignments were in San Bernardino. I am very familiar with the city, many community members, and the high caliber of police officers that work at the San Bernardino Police Department. I am not oblivious to the challenges the city has had in the past, but I believe in the potential of San Bernardino.”

“I am humbled and excited about the fact that as a Police Chief, with a team of dedicated police officers, we play a critical role in protecting and improving the quality of life that residents and business owners of San Bernardino strive to preserve,” Goodman added.

Darren Goodman has served as Chief of Police for the City of Upland Police Department since July 16, 2018. Prior to joining Upland, he was a Captain for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. During his 27 years with the Sheriff’s Department, Goodman’s roles included serving as the Police Chief for the Chino Hills Police Department and Commander of the Frank Bland Regional Training Center. He also worked in Corrections, Patrol, Narcotics, Emergency Operations, Regional Gang Enforcement, Fugitive Apprehension, and SWAT.

His law enforcement philosophy includes a commitment to data driven policing principles, civic partnerships, and community engagement. Chief Goodman has implemented holistic approaches to addressing crime and quality of life issues within by reducing gaps between police specific services and other service providers dedicated to public safety such as public works, code enforcement, mental health services, and homeless advocates. A strong advocate of community policing, Chief Goodman regularly facilitates community forums to engage citizens and increase stakeholder inclusion.

Goodman holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership from USC. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University. Goodman has also completed law enforcement and leadership programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and POST Command College Program.

Goodman also serves as an Adjunct-Professor at California State University San Bernardino.

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