There’s lots to catch up in today’s report and having attended the December 13th, Upland City Council Meeting, I have so much to say. The meeting started with the council going into closed session to discuss the never ending Amazon / Bridge Development debacle, so residents were up in arms from the jump. Then, the regular meeting opened with 13-minutes of absolutely gut-wrenching public comments from the family of an 11-year old boy that went missing 34-years ago, from the south-west corner of Foothill and Euclid in 1988. The audience and council were moved to the point of tears and now, the case is getting a fresh look from UPD’s finest. This new council is magnificent and there are no words for how much I LOVE this town and its residents. But first, without further ado, let me say MERRY CHRISTMAS UPLAND!!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS UPLAND!!!!
Who doesn’t love that movie, right? And especially the scene above. I’ll admit I’ve yelled SANTAAAAAAA as loud as I can, in tribute to Will Ferrell and to get my kids jacked up, multiple times annually since the movie came out in 2003.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get back to what happened at the 12/13 council meeting. Let me first just say, Upland finally got it right with the hiring of Michael Blay, as its new city manager. God, what a breath of fresh freaking air, is this guy?!
Think how long residents and city employees have waited for some sound leadership here. What’s it been, a decade?
I suspect Chief Goodman will now finally get the respect he so deserves from the city manager’s office, so long as Michael Blay remains the city’s top executive. Truth be told, I was pleased as punch with Blay’s hiring and that’s REALLY saying something, as noted by the countless scathing articles here regarding Upland City Managers of Christmas past, being Thouvenell, Vagnozzi and Hoerning.
The 12/13 council meeting started with a closed session discussion with City Attorney Stephen Deitsch, regarding the resident’s legal case, trying to stop the Amazon Distribution Terminal on the corner of Benson and Foothill. You may recall this summer, the citizen’s group Upland Community First won a major legal victory and succeeded in having Amazon’s future development agreement and their Mitigated Negative Declaration regarding the environmental impacts, set aside, based on inadequate or unknown calculations of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Most Uplanders have been praying that the retail giant, would just go away after Judge Cohen’s ruling. So when this item appeared on the 12/13 agenda, residents spoke out yet again to voice their objections to this insanity.
When the council emerged from closed session, the city attorney declared no action had been taken on the closed session agenda items. Unfortunately, three days later on 12/16, residents learned that Amazon’s developers had filed their notice of a forthcoming appeal and five days after that on 12/21, Upland Attorney Cory Briggs on behalf of Upland Community First, filed his notice of a forth-coming cross appeal.
I suspect Cory Briggs may now be filing a cross appeal, to contend that the Superior Court judgment failed to properly grant all of the relief he originally requested, in hopes the appellate court may add additional reasons to rule in favor of the residents. But we really won’t know until both appeals are formally filed and made public. Until then, we’ll all be hanging in limbo.
Once the closed session was over, the council chamber filled up with the families of Upland’s outstanding police officers, where Chief Goodman presented promotions to Upland’s finest men and women serving in blue. It was an awesome way to start the night. Afterwards, the public comment segment started, where what happened next, has been unshakeable for me and likely everyone else that was there that night. This adorable sounding woman called in and within seconds, the gravity of what she was saying and the brokenness of her heart, gripped the chamber and you could hear a pin drop.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen, an Upland Mayor allow anyone to go over their allotted three minutes and continue speaking. To Bill Velto’s credit, that’s exactly what he did and the woman continued to pour her heart and soul out, for everyone to hear. She explained her 11-year old son named Patrick “Shawn” Betz, disappeared from the south west corner of Euclid and Foothill after leaving the Pizza Chalet, nearly 34-years ago. Shawn’s mother Barbara Betz and her daughter, Shawn’s older sister Pamela Betz, openly blamed then Police Captain Martin Thouvenell, for allegedly “botching” Shawn’s original investigation.
Barbara and Pamela also took issue with Thouvenell for allegedly having “badgered and interrogated” Shawn’s then 15 year-old brother for hours, to the point where they say he still suffers from PTSD to this day. The family contends they were absolutely traumatized by the investigation and feel they were the subject of the investigation, instead of the investigation looking elsewhere for what happened to Shawn. You can hear the pain in their voice(s) as they recall the day bloodhounds and search and rescue personnel besieged their family home and excavated areas around their property and under their house, looking for Shawn’s remains.
The family alleges it took over a year for UPD to finally declare Shawn an endangered missing child and by then, the case was so cold, the media wasn’t interested in covering it. While listening to all of this, my jaw was on the floor! The video of the Betz’s family public comments from 12/13 is below. It is not to be missed!
The last speaker who took the mic to talk about Shawn, was Upland resident Stephen Ondich. I instantly recognized that name and went fumbling through my phone scanning Upland Report emails and found where Stephen Ondich had reached out in November, seeking help regarding getting some coverage for Shawn’s cold case. By the time he was done speaking, I had emailed him back to tell him I was sitting two rows behind him in the council meeting and of course, I would help in anyway I could.
Once Stephen had finished his comments, Mayor Bill Velto took the mic and was choking back tears, as can be seen in the video above. Bill asked that Stephen talk to UPD Chief Darren Goodman, to see what can be done now, to help solve this 34-year old cold case. Having chatted with Stephen several times since the council meeting, I know he has spoken with multiple UPD officers, since then. I also know a YouTube Channel called Crime Hound, will be releasing a video about this case on the anniversary of Shawn’s disappearance, being January 20, 2022.
I also know that I-Heart Radio’s 640 KFI-AM will be covering this story in February, on the radio show Unsolved With Steve Gregory. Links will be made available on The Upland Report, when those stories go live. Lastly, I don’t want you to miss when the band Soul Asylum, featured Shawn in their videos for their Smash hit, Runaway Train. According to this article in People linked here, Soul Asylum featured 36 missing children and amazingly, 25 of them were found and only 11 remain missing, which sadly includes Shawn.
Stephen Ondich interviewed both Barbara and Pamela Betz in November for an hour and furnished The Upland Report with access to that recorded interview yesterday. In the interview Barbara stated her son had visited the Pizza Chalet twice the day he disappeared to play video games. Barbara last saw Shawn shortly before 6PM on 1/20/88, when she entered Pizza Chalet and spoke with her son. Barbara recalls her son telling her that the adolescents he was hanging out with at the pizza parlor, were the son(s) of the owner.
According to Barbara, Shawn began joking around with the teenager behind the counter, about how he should date Shawn’s sister. Barbara recalls the teenager telling Shawn that he was leaving town the next day to attend college somewhere up North. Barbara stated her son and his friend(s), had planned to attend the Upland High School Basketball Game that night at Upland High. But when the boys discovered that the game was being played in Chino instead, they returned to the Pizza Chalet until about 9PM, when Shawn was last seen walking presumably home, near the intersection of Foothill & Euclid, with an older unidentified adolescent male.
Barbara stated the owner’s of the Pizza Chalet closed down the location approximately four months after Shawn’s disappearance and that the owners then allegedly moved away. The Betz family contends this case was not properly investigated 34-years ago because the police allegedly, considered Shawn a runaway. I want the Betz family to know our hearts break for them. Should anyone reading this know anything at all about Shawn or his disappearance, please call the Upland Police Department at (909) 946-7624. Shawn’s Case # is 88-01-571.
The remainder of the 12/13 council meeting was uneventful, compared to the events above. The council did vote 3 to 2, to not allow a digital display sign company, the right to erect huge digital billboards in the city, which would have potentially marred the city landscape for the next 40 years and been a source of unwanted light pollution. That discussion was rather spicy and if you want to see it, here’s a link to view it.
As we wrap up today’s report, our friends at Normal Guy Supercar have referenced another lawsuit having been filed, against Upland’s now notorious Supercar dealership’s owner. What makes this legal complaint a stand out, is it’s claiming $4,000,000.00 in damages!!!!!! And it’s 70-pages thick! It is so large in fact, I really don’t want to upload it here and waste my precious digital storage space for this site.
Plus, who has time to read 70-pages on Christmas Eve, not me. And none of you do either. But I do wonder what in the world the DMV investigation has uncovered and what in God’s name, are they going to do about it?
The Supercar saga broke in April, so how long are the folks affected supposed to wait for answers from DMV? Cause it’s feeling like FOREVER!
Well folks, that’s going to wrap up today’s report. I’ve got Christmas gifts to wrap and a Festivus dinner to cook and having aired my list of grievances above, I now feel so light and carefree.
I am so thankful for the lifelong friends I’ve made in the City of Gracious Living. Upland is such a special place, because of all of you. May each of you enjoy the holidays to the fullest and thank you for your friendship and readership. Cheers Everyone and to all a good night! Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!
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