10:00 PM PST on Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

As a new independent panel prepares to draw new political lines and congressional districts in time for the 2012 elections, a pair of veteran Inland House members are already sparring over the possibility they could be fighting over a seat.

Some political prognosticators have speculated that Reps. Joe Baca, D-Rialto, and Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, could be drawn into the same district, which might include portions of each of their current constituencies.

“I might run in that district,” said Lewis, who is still weighing a bid for an 18th term in Congress. “That might be stimulating.”

He said he’d taken note that Baca had given a campaign contribution to his Democratic challenger, whom Lewis easily defeated in November.

“I told him he was just throwing his money away,” Lewis joked.

Baca responded that he, too, would look forward to squaring off against Lewis, if the redistricting commission draws the lines that way.

As for the donation to Lewis’ opponent, “I was investing it in what might be my district,” he quipped.

RSA criticizes stone

This month, it seemed Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone couldn’t pass up an opportunity to push one of the county’s most powerful unions toward labor concessions.

The Riverside Sheriff’s Association, which represents deputies, is in contract talks with the county. Stone for three weeks running urged the association to make wage and other concessions to help the county financially. The county faces a $31.3 million shortfall through June 30.

Stone, who continues to support a traditional pension plan for sheriff’s deputies, even got his colleagues to agree to have staff analyze public safety pension costs and gather information on putting a pension-reduction plan to voters.

Now, though, the sheriff’s association is firing back. On its website, the association has criticized Stone for using “extremely harsh rhetoric” toward deputies.

The association accused Stone of misrepresenting his position when he sought the group’s endorsement for his 2008 re-election. The association quoted from Stone’s endorsement application in which the supervisor wrote that he did not support changing the 3 percent at age 50 pension formula for deputies.

“Literature shows the shortened life span of public safety officers. 30 years of putting one’s life on the line deserves the appropriate rewards,” the association quoted Stone as saying in 2008.

Stone, though, has said in recent weeks that the county is entering a new era of lower revenues and that he must make tough decisions to keep the county financially solvent.

Million-dollar affair

The final 2010 numbers are in for the costly pension fight on Riverside County’s November ballot, and it was a million-dollar affair.

Measure L, backed by the Riverside Sheriff’s Association, spent $822,011 last year. But the campaign returned $20,624.90 to the sheriff’s association to close out its account at the end of the year.

Measure L received 230,552 yes votes during the election.

Meanwhile, the rival Measure M backed by county supervisors spent $245,239 and received 261,972 yes votes. But the Measure M campaign ended 2010 with $52,979 in outstanding debts.

bolting over redistricting

Jodie Filkins Webber was sitting in a banquet room recently listening to the mayors of Corona, Norco and Eastvale answer questions from residents.

Suddenly, Filkins Webber bolted from the room as if it were on fire.

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