Sunday, December 31, 2006

Three Decades of Public Service to Rialto

Three decades of public service
Jason Pesick, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 12/31/2006 12:00:00 AM PST

RIALTO - A great deal has changed about this city in the last three decades. It has experienced remarkable growth and encountered great challenges. But one constant during that time has been Joe Sampson, who held elective office in the city from 1975 through 2006, when he finished third in a race for two seats on the City Council.
"He's just civic-minded - all for helping his community," Jessie, his wife of more than five decades, said in an interview in their home.

Sampson began working for the city in the spring of 1975 as deputy city clerk. Shortly thereafter, the city clerk, Jimmy Frost, left the city, and Sampson replaced him. He served for almost 20 years in that role until 1994 when he won a seat on the City Council. Two years ago, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor, but he served as mayor pro tempore until leaving the council. At 74, he seems at ease with the recent loss, although he clearly feels the sting of a rough campaign.

"I'm not sure people believed my sincerity in working for the community," he said.

And although he said he wants to put the city's battle with the Police Department behind him, he can't help but defend himself for voting to eliminate the department last year. It was a vote that may have cost him re-election. He pointed out that he was a military police officer in the Air Force.

"I'm still a law-and-order person," he said.

Deeply religious, Sampson is not a person who looks to pick fights.

"It's made me, I think, maybe a more mellow person," he said of his devotion to the Catholic Church. He said that during his time working for the city, he rarely came across someone he could not work with.

"I try not to take life or myself too seriously," he said.

Despite his gentle demeanor, however, he has strong views on every issue facing the city. He has been an unwavering supporter of the city's decision not to permit water with any detectable levels of the potentially dangerous chemical perchlorate. He has supported the city's lawsuits against the suspected polluters even though those suits have complicated the city's relations with other government entities, including the county, one of the defendants in the suits.

He also calls the planned Renaissance Rialto project that would replace the city's airport "our last, best opportunity to make that big leap."

Sampson was born in rural Louisiana. His father was a sharecropper, and his mother, who raised four children as a single mother, was a cook in a hotel restaurant. As a teen, he moved to Port Arthur, Texas, where he met Jessie. He graduated from Tuskegee University in Alabama and then joined the military. He said he was the first black elected official in Rialto and the first black councilman.

Councilwoman Deborah Robertson said he might be the longest-serving black elected official in the Inland Empire. "He had basically broken any barriers you could think of back in the '70s when he was elected," she said.

Robertson also praised Sampson's work on senior-citizen issues, making sure the city is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

At Sampson's last City Council meeting in December, Mayor Grace Vargas, whom Sampson hired to work for the city when he worked in the City Clerk's Office, said, "He dedicated himself to Rialto."

Sampson said he is not sure if he'll ever seek elected office again, but he plans to apply to serve on one of the city's commissions.

BS Ranch Perspective:

It is true that Joe Sampson did do three decades of service however, the last few years of service were slighted. He didn't make the best decisions as to what should best serve the city of Rialto!

For Example, Joe Sampson voted to close the long serving Rialto City Police Department in favor of an outside Agency, the San Bernardino Sheriff Department to do the Law Enforcement for Rialto. I have only to wonder what did he do that he had to pay the Sheriff of the County this tab. What was it that he owed the Sheriff of the County, this great debt that he would give him a $3.5 Million dollar Budget to play with. It really was puzzling me!

When asked in the City Council Meetings as to the Reason for the sudden closure of their own City's Police Department over that of another Agency, Sampson simply sited to the people at that meeting, and the many watching at home on "KRTO Channel 3 TV" that the Rialto's Police Department of some 70 years, was "Corrupt". When asked to site what kinds of corrupt behaivor that the department was dealing in, bribes, running the city as its own little gang, etc etc...Sampson just mearly said, NO, it isn't anything like that it is just Corrupt! (for a Police Agency to be "Corrupt" it has to be working outside the law in some way, but there was no evidence of this type of activities within the department, only unfair practices regarding hiring, and promotions and the like, nothing of the nature that Sampson was talking about).

The best that I could come up with was that Joe and Ed Scott was making all kinds of deals. One was to close the airport. They would have this Congress member add pork to the transportation bill (the largest transportation bill in American history). When the Bill was signed by the President of the United States, it made the City Less Obligated to the FAA to keep the Airport Open. In fact all they needed to close the airport was a Majority Vote to close, and to pay the FAA 70% of the money that the City made on the land when it was sold for Private Development. The Crooked part of this was that the Congress Member that attached the little pork bill onto the Transportation bill also Owns a Development Business, and he got the contract to Develop the Airport and turn it into the Renaissance I feel that is dirty, and rotten, but who am I, the congressmen used his Elected Position to make money for himself!! That is sick.

Not only that but it is this writer's feelings that the Rialto City Council was not through with their Favors on this deal. They had also, told the Sheriff in the County of San Bernardino that he would get the Contract for Law Enforcement in the City of Rialto, to make up for the Fact that he would have to find a new Place to Fly his Helicopter from or base it out of, that is another bit if dirty business in this whole deal!!

So, was Sampson doing a good job for Rialto, at First he was, but in the final days he was not, he was working with the people to give them money and make them rich, at the expense of Tax Payers, but everyone seems to forget that now that he is not in any office.

I would say that Overall that Sampson did some pretty good work for the city. He did work for the City's Aging, and did a lot for them, their Lunch program was in large part becuase of some of the work that Sampson did. However when it came to the Police Department, a City Department that had been open with the city since the city was incorperated in 1911, and was open shortly there after, almost as soon as they could afford a Police Department they had one.

Like many of the Police Agencies, it started through the Fire Department and worked on through to what it is today. at one time there was only Two Officers and the Chief of Police was also the Fire Chief, that went on for years, but as the city grew, so did the two Departments, then a second chief was warrented, and that was when Sidney A. Jones Sr. became the first Full time Police Chief that the city of Rialto had. with Raymond Farmer being the second, I beleive that is how history will see it. Lewis third, and Dennis Hegewood Fourth, before coming on to Having Michael Meyers, and now Mark Kling.

Thank God that Sampson lost the Vote for the Closure of the Police Department, and he was right that was what lost him his seat on the City Council.

BS Ranch

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