This past weekend 244 people were arrested at the San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore. Another 20 were hospitalized. One had to be airlifted.
The arrests took place during Beyond Wonderland, a two-day rave held on the county property. Arrests were for crimes ranging from drug possession, being under the influence of alcohol, and trespassing.
It was First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, who on January 29, 2013, went against the other two Republicans on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and voted with the two Democrats to allow the drug-themed concerts on county-owned property. Supervisor Janice Rutherford and then-Supervisor Gary Ovitt both voted against allowing the events while Supervisors James Ramos and Josie Gonzales voted in favor of allowing raves. In the end, Lovingood’s swing vote resulted in the county allowing up to four raves each year at the venue for the duration of the contract.
So far two deaths have taken place at the raves along with numerous arrests and injuries. And traffic for commuters in the surrounding area is a nightmare.
Raves are not the only drug-themed concerts the county is allowing at San Manuel Amphitheater. This June the venue will be play host to the second annual Blaze ‘n’ Glory Festival, a marijuana-themed lifestyle event. Unlike the raves where attendees must be at least 18 years old, Blaze ‘n’ Glory is being marketed as a family affair with a carnival and is open to all ages, including children.
A couple of things make Lovingood’s penchant for drug concerts concerning. First, as evidenced by the injuries and deaths, clearly raves are not harmless fun. As concerts go, they are in a class all their own in the costs to society both in terms of human life and in encouraging behavior that can negatively impact the quality lives forever.
Second is the fact that with a single vote, Lovingood created a mess for an already overburdened criminal justice system to clean up. Lovingood has shown nothing but contempt for the very same county employees that he depends on to mitigate the effects of his bad decision.
Lovingood makes his negative feelings towards government employees very clear. He has often been heard saying they are lazy and overpaid. He also suggests that agencies should hire temporary workers, such as those from a firm like his own, where they are paid less with no benefits.
As a county supervisor, Lovingood has taken a hard line against employee unions, including the Safety Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA), the union which represents sheriff’s deputies and other county sworn personnel. He doesn’t want to pay them a fair wage but he wants those very same first-responders to risk their lives dealing with drugged and violent offenders at concerts on county-owned property. Apparently, their lives and livelihoods are not worth much to Supervisor Lovingood.
It is shameful that Supervisor Robert Lovingood puts so little value on human life and human dignity. Clearly, his interests and loyalty are not with the residents of the First District or the County of San Bernardino as a whole but with whatever special interest convinced him drug concerts on county property are a good idea.