By Greg Cappis, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 01/09/15, 10:20 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO >> In a new courthouse that is part of an underfunded county court system, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors met with the Inland Empire caucus of the state Legislature on Friday afternoon to discuss issues facing the region.

Public safety and economic growth were at the forefront of the conversations, topics some see as related.

“I’m really glad that we’re here at the new justice center,” said rookie Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga. “We all understand the elements of public safety and how important it is for our community because for us to have a prospering business climate we have to have a safe climate.”

The meeting gave supervisors an opportunity to pitch the state Senate and Assembly members — who were sitting adjacent to them at a conference table — on new legislation or needs of the county.

Most requests required additional resources, if not money directly.

The state legislators noted the state budget is tight. And even if they get legislation passed in their houses, Gov. Jerry Brown still has to approve.

Citing a quality-of-life assessment that ranked the county near the bottom of the state, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, suggested supervisors apply for and receive their share of grants.

“I think that the county should look at that and see how we can get in and see how we can get some of those resources,” Brown said.

High on the board’s priority list is improving the court system.

Since the closure of the Needles court in 2013, witnesses, defendants, deputies and others involved in cases have had to drive four hours one way to attend court hearings — mostly in Victorville — burdening residents and taxing deputies and patrolmen.

When a Needles deputy has to appear in court it basically zaps his or her day, according to Sheriff John McMahon. Department supervisors must then find another deputy to fill the shift, and pay overtime.

Another issue facing the courts is a lack of resources.

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