About three dozen people, mostly public officials and employees of local agencies and governing bodies, attended a public safety forum at Copper Mountain College. Dan Stork summarizes the presentations they heard from three regional officials, on jails, courts, and highways…


29 Palms Council Member and SANBAG rep Jim Harris, Sheriff John McMahon, Caltrans District 8 head Basem Muallem. SANBAG Executive Director Dr. Ray Wolfe, Superior Court Presiding Judge Marcia Slough, Yucca Valley Council Member and SANBAG rep George Huntington.

As the first of three speakers at the public safety forum sponsored by San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) at the Bell Center at Copper Mountain College, County Sheriff John McMahon repeated the presentation that he delivered at the September 24 Twentynine Palms City Council meeting, in which he described how the county jail system is dealing with AB109, the prison realignment bill. Again, he covered greatly shortened sentences, additional prison beds and medical facilities opening up in Adelanto, and rehabilitation programs designed to reduce recidivism.

San Bernardino Superior Court Presiding Judge Marsha Slough gave a history of the Court’s efforts to deal with declining revenues, excessive workloads and understaffing, and an unfair state funding formula. She described lobbying activities that have resulted in a fairer apportionment, which is already bringing more state money to the County’s courts, and promises accelerated future improvements. She also talked about using technology to streamline court operations. Her takeaway message for the Morongo Basin community is: The Joshua Tree court operations are safe from further cuts. “As it relates to access to justice, our paperwork submitted to the legislature says we are keeping the Joshua Tree Court open.” In a separate discussion after the meeting, she told Z107.7 that the Joshua Tree Drug Court program is safe.
Caltrans District 8 Director Basem Muallem sketched procedural changes that he says will streamline project development and will make Caltrans more responsive. He defended the controversial placement of “channelizers” on State Route 62 in Morongo Valley by asking “What is the value of a human life?” meaning that the measure has been successful in eliminating median crossover fatalities. He promised opportunities for community input before a permanent median is constructed in 2015.

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