San Bernardino, an “All America” designated city in 1976.

Thirty-four years later it’s a city exactly the opposite.

Decades of petty political infighting and misguided priorities further complicated by a antiquated Councilmatic Ward System has pretty-much destroyed a city that’s only viable because of a California State University campus, a courthouse, an Indian casino, and county government operations speaks volumes to the situation.

Sixteen years after the closure of Norton Air Force Base, politicians still struggle to recreate the dormant facility into an airport. A series of business failures and bad economy has impacted any meaningful recovery at the site. But, even during the good economic times that flowed with “funny money” conditions still deteriorated.

Downtown San Bernardino is basically dead. Without government employees venturing to work during the week, the city’s center and restaurant areas would be a ghost town.

Money wasted on unrealistic endeavors such as the failed Lakes and Streams concept, along with numerous non-executed studies on land use, has cost San Bernardino dearly.

Political wishful thinking, denial, lack of vision, and ego also share in the blame. Mayors with big hats and cute phrases helped mask reality and put the proverbial “lipstick on the pig”.

About a week ago, I walked around the downtown area and viewed just how bad the city really is. I thought to myself my god what have people been doing?

The answer? Apparently hiding the truth. Clearly no city leaders have taken the enlightening walk.

The downtown hotel on E Street, allegedly closed for renovation is nothing of the sort. It’s closed period.

The neighboring convention center, also closed, has a collapsed walkway and leaks water through the roof.

Concrete planters once located at the former Central City Mall site now sit in front of the abandoned Hotel and Convention Center. The plants have been allowed to die.

The currently named Carousel Mall has lost nearly all retail business, with just a few small merchants remaining. The remainder of the property is either empty or relies on governmental operations to exist. The former Harris Departments Store remains unoccupied. The Andresen Building remains in somewhat decent repair, housing a smattering of law offices.

The mall site actually involves 5 separate property owners, which complicates matters. The city Economic Development Agency (EDA) is currently pursuing the purchase of the note to the mall.

Several retail store fronts on Court and E Streets are now closed. Parking structures sit virtually empty.

And let’s not forget the closed theater on Fourth Street, which over the years has bled the EDA for millions in order to survive.

Arrowhead Credit Union Ballpark, home to the Inland Empire Sixty-Sixers, a Los Angeles Dodgers farm club, has weeds growing through the pavement of its overflow parking lot.

The only noticeable positive in my travels was the lack of urine odor.

When the vagrants and panhandlers have moved on due to the lack of public traffic and commerce, one knows the situation has clearly hit bottom.

With the only thing of any importance to city leadership recently being that of banning the sale of 40 ounce alcoholic beverages, you know were in trouble.

Even paralyzed county supervisors can’t seem to agree on the construction site of a new government center. The mall location has been the most talked about location, but it has its drawbacks as well. In the meantime nothing continues to happen.

However the location seems problematic due to the aforementioned political ego and lack of vision.