Mojave has needed a new courthouse for many years to handle an increasing caseload and to improve safety for sheriff’s deputies moving prisoners between the luxury motor-coach that transports them from the main jail in Bakersfield to the various buildings that comprise the court.

The issue arose several years ago and resulted in the creation of a committee of local folks to seek a site for the new court structure.

As a former clerk/administrator and bailiff of the court, editor of the local newspaper (then, not now) and all-around active good citizen, I was a member of a committee which met several times and recommended a site.

The whole process clanged shut like a jailhouse door when the state shifted the money for replacing courts during an economic downturn.

Governor’s budget

When I read about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget revise, an annual artifact of state government finance, I emailed the office of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to see if there was any money to replace state courts.

I got a prompt response from Merrill Balassone in the Chief Justice’s office that offered at least a thread of hope.

“The May revise did not include additional funds for court construction,” he reported.

“(But) the new Mojave Courthouse project is on the indefinitely delayed list, which means it will be going through the reassessment/reprioritization for all unfunded new courthouse projects.”

“The Legislature has said there will be no more funding until we do this reassessment, which is being conducted right now, and we’re expecting a draft ready to go out for comment around August,” Balassone emailed.

Language in the Revise notes that the Judicial Branch includes the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, trial courts, and the Judicial Council.

Trial courts like ours are funded with a combination of General Fund, county maintenance-of-effort requirements, fines, fees, and other charges.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that no one gets hurt waiting for a new and safer courthouse to be built in Mojave.

I was also tempted to ask Mr. Balassone if his boss has any relation to our Cantil, but thought better of it.

Hats off

Our hat is waving for Lydia Chaney and Audrey Post of South Street Digital in Tehachapi.

These two very talented ladies recently received the “Woman Owned Business of the Year for the Central California Small Business Development Center Region” award.

The region includes 14 counties and spans from Stanislaus County to Kern County, from the Pacific Ocean to the Nevada State line.

They were nominated for the award by Jay Thompson, Lead Business Consultant, Cal State University, Bakersfield SBDC.

South Street Digital is an active member of the Mojave Chamber of Commerce and does all the chamber’s printing.

Cold case justice

Our hat is also off to the Kern County Sheriff’s detectives whose efforts led to the sentencing of two men who committed the brutal and senseless murder of a Rosamond McDonald’s employee in 2001, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

This is a story I reported for a Mojave newspaper and former Antelope Valley Press Editor Charles F. Bostwick covered for this paper when it happened. We agreed that it was one of the worst we had ever covered.

I’ll never forget standing outside the crime scene tape at the restaurant along with a stunned crowd of Rosamond residents, many of whom knew the victim, 37-year-old Maria Cruz Pina. “She left behind three children who have struggled to come to terms with their mother’s death,” The Californian reported.

Judge John Lua sentenced Cedric Sutton, 37, and Darnell Wheat, 41, to life without the possibility of parole plus 100 years, guaranteeing that they will spend the rest of their lives in prison, barring an appellate court ruling.

The woman was grabbed by the two men as they opened the restaurant.

One of the men shot Pina in the head with a sawed-off shotgun because she was unable to open the safe, The Californian reported.

The two men were arrested in 2016 based on some good cold case police work involving DNA.

Fee foolishness

On a lighter note, there was a story on the front page last week about L.A. County Sanitation District 20’s 95-cent sewage fee increase, and district board member Marvin Crist’s response to a complaint from Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s office about the hike. The district primarily serves Palmdale.

Crist reminded the assemblyman that the increase was due to an action from the state legislature.

It reminded me of a letter from Senator Ted Kennedy we received at OSHA Headquarters when I worked there in the mid-80s, referring a letter from a constituent wanting to know why “we” (the Reagan administration) had not filled a vacancy on some OSHA-related board.

I did my research and learned that — you guessed it. —  Kennedy had a hold on the appointment.

I called the Senator’s office and told a young staffer what I had learned. I would love to know how they handled it.

Two-buck tax hike

These two items also recalled a public hearing in Mojave years ago on a $2 increase in the property tax for streetlights, raising the annual fee to about 15 bucks.

The only people who attended the hearing were an elderly couple from L.A. who owned the lot on H Street behind RSI Petroleum’s warehouse.

They drove all the way up here from L.A., ate at least two meals here and on the way, and stayed overnight in one of our finer hostelries to save two bucks a year, which, at their age (near my current age) would have probably amounted to not more than six bucks.

The wife was the instigator and the husband a long-suffering nice guy who had managed to stay married for many years by keeping his mouth shut.

That lot is still vacant and would make a good location for a Stop-and-Rob to serve residents of Mojave’s west side.

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