Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/07/2010 09:28:03 PM PST
FONTANA – Outgoing mayor and former police chief Frank Scialdone will see a near 40-year career in the public sector come to a close tonight when the new City Council is sworn in.
“It’s time do something else,” Scialdone said Tuesday afternoon between bites of salad at Millie’s Restaurant and Bakery on Valley Boulevard. “I enjoyed my time on the council. I loved my time in the Police Department … change is good.”
Scialdone saw plenty of change in this city during his journey from the Police Explorers program to his appointment to the mayor’s office five months ago.
The 61-year-old Ohio native, whose family moved here when he was 2 years old, recalled how the city morphed from a steel town filled with bars and bikers to a city that has been ranked by America’s Promise Alliance as one of the 100 best communities for young people.
“I think the city as a whole is doing much better,” Scialdone said.
He grew up in the area south of Foothill Boulevard near Tamarind Avenue when Fontana had just one high school.
Scialdone remembered a rural town with grape vineyards and farms to the south, and sagebrush on the north side.
“My friends and I would take our .22 rifles, walk down the center of town to Jurupa Hills, sit down there and plunk with .22 rifles and walk back to our houses,” Scialdone said. “We were 9 or 10 years old. Nobody bugged us.”
Scialdone enrolled in the explorers program in 1965.
After graduating from Fontana High School in 1967, he earned a degree in criminology from Cal State Long Beach in 1971 and joined the Police Department in 1973.
A 31-year career in the department provided plenty of anecdotes about life as a cop and the relationships formed with fellow officers and the community.
One man a few years ago introduced himself to Scialdone as the toddler Scialdone once helped after he fell out of a two-story apartment window.
“Somehow that connection was made and he remembered,” Scialdone said.
He said sometimes that’s not a positive thing.
Scialdone once ticketed the man who was instrumental in getting the bust of President John F. Kennedy placed in front of City Hall.
Scialdone said the Department of Motor Vehicles eventually required the man to take his driver’s exam again, and when he failed, the department revoked his license.
“Until the day he died he hated my guts,” Scialdone said. “So it works both ways.”
Scialdone spent nearly five years as police chief before retiring in 2004. His time leading the Police Department was not without controversy.
The department withstood allegations of police brutality after two officer-involved shootings and three in-custody deaths in 2002.
Former Police Chief Larry Clark, who started at the department when Scialdone was a sergeant, said Scialdone was a role model who led the department through the turmoil.
“People are put in place at the right time for the right reason,” he said. “There is no question in my mind that Frank was the right person at that time, and it had to do with his integrity and his ability to communicate with people.”
After he retired as police chief in 2004, Scialdone was appointed to the City Council. Scialdone was elected to the seat in 2006.
In the meantime, he worked interim stints at Pasadena City College’s Police Department and the Rialto Police Department.
The council here appointed Scialdone to the mayoral office in July, after Mark Nuaimi took the town manager job in Yucca Valley.
“The mayor is the leader of the city, but the mayor has one vote on the council,” Scialdone said. “You can talk all you want, but it’s all part of being a team.”
Nuaimi, who has always poked good-natured fun at Scialdone for being short, said Scialdone always did what was right and best for the city.
“While the man is somewhat lacking in vertical presence, he definitely makes up for it in heart,” Nuaimi said.
Nuaimi shared a story of how Scialdone one time leapt on his back when Nuaimi was emceeing a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club.
Scialdone didn’t know Nuaimi at the time had a hernia.
“He is capable of (making) a hernia into a double hernia,” Nuaimi said.
Scialdone ranks among his proudest achievements overseeing the annexations the city conducted this past decade and how well the city prepar