Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Member/Alternates Only Meeting
Virtual meeting via ZOOM
Present: Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Sandra Cuellar, Sandra Espadas, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Pam Langford, Bill Lemann, Dan Little, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Brian Reider, Thomas Rice, Michael Rivera, Elizabeth Romero, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Dominique Tan, Sol Teh, Pete Van Helden, David Van Voorhis, Phil White, and Ray Wolfe.
Guests: Kathy Eiler.
Announcements: 1) Staff has received confirmation for many interesting speakers that are now scheduled for our September meetings.
Motion by T. Rice/Second by L. King/Passed: Minutes from July 7, 2020.
A second announcement was made for the proposed membership of The Inland Empire Community Foundation. Michelle Decker, CEO would serve as their representative. Questions or comments should be directed to John Mirau or Carole Beswick. The membership will vote on July 21, 2020. To learn more about them please visit their web site at https://www.iegives.org/about/iecf-overview/#iecf-overview
Louis Goodwin, Chair presiding.
Congressman Paul Cook gave an update on his service in Washington, D.C. He has represented the 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives since November 2012. He currently serves on the Armed Services and Natural Resources committees. The 8th District includes the high desert communities of San Bernardino County, as well as Mono and Inyo counties. On December 7, 2020, he will be sworn into his newly elected position as First District Supervisor on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
Congressman Cook was pleased to report that the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 was passed unanimously, a somewhat rare occurrence in government. He stated that our elected officials, when driven, really can work together and get things accomplished.
The nation is in an emergency situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Cook likened this emergency to World War I and the great depression when the public heavily depended on government to keep the country running and step up to help its people. Congress has already approved spending bills that total in the trillions and more will be coming. COVID relief is their number one priority. Going forward increased COVID testing is critical, and the back log is unacceptable. His requests for data regarding the ages of those that have succumbed to the virus from nursing and convalescent facilities have been met with opposition, citing HIPPA regulations. This data is however important in these extraordinary times.
The Congressman strongly supports NATO and believes that we must take care of our allies. The troops in Germany are very important and should remain. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has a goal of destroying NATO and will take advantage of the “in-fighting” making us vulnerable.
Wildlife authorities have recommended that Joshua trees be considered for an endangered species listing. It has been argued that the trees are facing the risk of extinction after years of development, drought, and more frequent wildfires, due to climate change. The designation would however create an economic catastrophe for the high desert Town of Yucca Valley. It would place a regulatory burden at a time when they are being hurt by declining revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trees are already protected under many city and county ordinances and within the nearby 800,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park.
His focus continues to be on policy rather than politics. As a moderate Republican, he has traditionally and successfully worked across the aisle. The core of his responsibility continues to be representing his constituents and being true to his oath of office. Washington, D.C. has changed to a very different climate, heavy with political agendas.
The Congressman is excited about and encourages new technology. He recognizes that technology is what will move us forward. He supports major regional infrastructure projects as they create jobs and advance us all. The infrastructure bills introduced have too many special interest pieces and the “devil is in the details”. The Congressman favors the proposed train from Apple Valley to Las Vegas as it would create an important economic.
Local governments will need financial assistance and he is confident it will happen in some version. He hopes that the funds will be distributed equitably and that our region gets its “fair share”.
Congressman Cook stated that he still has the ability and the fire for public service and looks forward to serving as a County Supervisor.
A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00 a.m.