Claremont Insider: February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Today's Courier

The Courier decided against endorsing candidates this election, although we hear that the editorial board may have been ready to endorse three people (none of them Pedroza or Elderkin). The family that owns the Courier intervened and decided they would simply not endorse, using Martin Weinberger's recovery from surgery as an excuse.

Today, the Courier ran responses from the seven council candidates to two different questions:

  1. What has been the most difficult or challenging aspect of running your campaign?
  2. What do you feel is one of the most pressing issues affecting Claremont and how would you solve this?

The Courier website didn't post the story, so we can't provide a link to it.

The answers were for the most part what you'd expect: safe, motherhood-and-apple pie responses. Peter Yao did have an interesting comment regarding CASM when he talked of "running a clean and positive campaign while enduring the below-the-belt hits from a misguided, well-financed group with its own lawn signs and massive mailers."

Sam Pedroza's response to the first question was curious: "There were some learned lessons from my campaign two years ago, where I came in at 168 votes shy of winning. Claremont experienced some of the worst electioneering in our history. Although I and my campaign had nothing to do with negative campaigning that took place, we did vow to run a very positive campaign focused on the positive and my qualifications."

One thing Pedroza ignored was the fact that he came in 168 votes short of Corey Calaycay primarily because Calaycay was the sole target of what Pedroza called "some of the worst electioneering in the history of Claremont" by Pedroza's friends at Preserve Claremont. Further, in that election in 2005, Pedroza, while running a "clean campaign," also refused to denounce the smear campaign Preserve Claremont ran. Why? Because Pedroza benefited from having others do his dirty work.

This time around, Pedroza is not being so coy. He has taken to bad-mouthing McHenry and Calaycay (who is not up for re-election) off the record. Pedroza has repeated several untrue rumors to voters in an effort to undermine his opponents. And then he has denied doing that when confronted with his statements. Further, Pedroza has taken direct support from Preserve Claremont. His supporter list includes the following people who were listed in Preserve Claremont's smear ads:

  • Bo and Laura Bollinger--donated $500 to the Preserve Claremont campaign
  • Suzanne Hall and Ken Corhan--$200 to Preserve Claremont
  • J. Michael Fay--donated $100 to "Claremont Business PAC", now Honorary Co-Chair of Pedroza's campaign
  • Paul and Kay Held--Paul Held was spokesperson for Preserve Claremont, donated $100 to "Claremont Business PAC"
  • Frank Hungerford--$200 to Preserve Claremont
  • Valerie Martinez--$250 to Preserve Claremont, $100 to "Claremont Business PAC"; spokesperson for Preserve, treasurer for Claremont Business PAC
  • Lissa Petersen
  • Randy and Rhonda Prout--$200 to Preserve Claremont
  • Nick Quackenbos--$150 to "Claremont Business PAC
  • Jil Stark--$200 to Preserve Claremont
  • Roger Hogan--his business gave $2,000 to the "Claremont Business PAC" in 2005; his family gave $1,000 to Pedroza in 2007
  • Patrick Sullivan--$250 to Preserve Claremont

(The dollar figures listed above come from the 2005 city election campaign filing documents on record with the Claremont City Clerk.)

So, all of the above were unabashed Claremonsters, and none ever disavowed their involvement or condemned it. And Pedroza now takes their support. This would seem to make his concerns about running clean campaigns seem to ring hollow. Pedroza benefited from their interference in the 2005 election, and he is dependent upon their support this time around. Nothing has changed, not Pedroza's dependence on the Preserve Claremonsters, nor his dishonesty about it. Pedroza's simply trying to play a game of "Good Cop/Bad Cop."


Speaking of supporter lists, today's Courier featured an ad for Linda Elderkin that listed her campaign committee. Among those listed were:

  • All of the Preserve Claremonsters listed above for Pedroza.
  • Michael Fay, a non-Claremont resident who is also an Honorary Co-Chair for Pedroza.
  • Bridget "The Hammer" Healy, former assistant city manager under Glenn Southard.

If you were appalled by the Preserve Claremont campaign of 2005, if you were opposed to the the witch-hunt they conducted against McHenry and the lies and rumors they spread and published against Calaycay, then you cannot possibly support Elderkin or Pedroza, who are so clearly the children of Preserve Claremont today.

Keenan Writes

We've had a standing rule against posting emails from candidates (and we've had a few), but we'll make an exception to note that Michael Keenan has a blog up and running.

Mike's a decent guy, and his blogging certainly exceeds ours by miles.

Sam II

Sam Pedroza's just posted a 5 minute interview on YouTube, as the Foothill Cities blog noted today. The piece is framed as an interview and begins with Pedroza being interviewed by a "host" named Glenn Miya.

A little quick checking showed that Miya is not a television host. He is an pediatrician with a practice in Claremont. More importantly, he is a Pedroza supporter and is the partner of Claremont Unified School Board Member Steven Llanusa, another Claremont 400 candidate. KCET's Life & Times did a piece featuring Miya and Llanusa back in 2003, and the station posts a transcript for that show.

It does show that Pedroza truly is a 400 candidate, and the 'Monsters are pulling out all the stops to showcase Pedroza, who actually comes off in the piece as if he can speak coherently. If we had to venture a guess, we'd say that we detect the invisible hand of copywriter Judy Wright, and also that it took many takes to get the Pedroza interviews wrapped.

The piece ends with an endorsement by another former council candidate, Russ Brown. Brown, you may remember, is a former Claremont police captain. The most interesting thing about that bit is that Brown no longer lives in Claremont. We're told he moved to the Hemet area some time ago. We wonder what Linda Elderkin, who seems to care so passionately about those things, would say to Brown's endorsement of Pedroza?

As we noted earlier, we're working on getting a posting up on YouTube showing the true Pedroza, minus his Claremont 400 handlers.

Council contretemps

The Claremont 400 had Kevin Arnold carrying their water for them at last night's city council meeting. Arnold came in and ripped into councilmembers Calaycay and McHenry, and slightly into Peter Yao in public comment for discussing City Manager Jeff Parker's contract and compensation publicly at the city council meeting two weeks earlier.

Odd, even though at that earlier council meeting ALL five of the councilmembers were speaking, Arnold focus his fire on McHenry and Calaycay. Arnold was mad because he claimed they were discussing closed session subjects in public. The city attorney didn't think there was any violation here, and at any rate, she didn't stop the council meeting when the subject came up--something she normally does if it appears there might be a procedural violation. Of course, the 400 only believes the city attorney's opinions when they want to, as they did with the Elderkin fib about the conflict of interest matter (check that one out at city hall--it's a public document).

Like Lynn Forester, Arnold singled out McHenry and Calaycay for doing exactly what the other councilmembers present were doing.

Why Kevin Arnold? Well, he was a schoolboard candidate, and he had considered running for council this time around (Paul Held and Valerie Martinez were stoking that fire). This may have been an opening salvo in an Arnold campaign for 2009. We'll try to post Arnold's attack on YouTube once the video is up on cable (it should air next Monday night on local cable).

Just another case of the 400 trying to stir the pot before the election. More on that subject later.

Sam the Man

Q: What do you believe in?
A: What do you have?

A Democratic Party representative has been making phone calls to Claremont Democrats to get them to vote for Sam Pedroza. We got to thinking about some of Pedroza's campaign promises--he spoke out at a city council meeting against the Baseline Rd. project, then not long after went to another council meeting to speak out for the same project (there's video of this--look for a post of the flip-flops, coming to YouTube soon). Pedroza's also argued for the Padua Sports Park and has argued at council for putting the sports complex in the gravel pit.

Pedroza's also been trying to appeal to both the Claremont 400 and to the others--people who support McHenry or Nasiali. He's told the non-400 voting public that he's his own man. "I'm not 'Judy's' [Wright's] man," he tells them. He tries to tell the non-400 that he will vote his own way. Yet, his record as a city commissioner is to knuckle under to the 400 every time.

Maybe Pedroza is really Dr. Faustus, the character from the German folktale who sells his soul to the devil for the gifts of power and knowledge. Or maybe Pedroza's more like the Klaus Maria Brandauer character from the 1981 Hungarian movie " Mephisto". Based on a real life person, the Brandauer character who, to continue his acting career, sells himself and his values in pre-World War II Germany. That character has the movie's last lines. Staring into the camera, he says, "What do you want? I'm just an actor...."

Our post from yesterday included a reader letter from a voter who had pretty much the same concerns after attending a Pedroza campaign event. The worry is that Pedroza's a career politician, willing to promise anything to anyone, but standing for little or nothing.

Buyer beware!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Get me rewrite!

Our last note regarding Elderkin's handling of her conflict of interest on the PVPA land contained an observation that instead of getting a free consultation from the city attorney (using public resources for electioneering--a no, no), Elderkin had several other options to choose from. We pointed out that Elderkin really should have either consulted the Fair Political Practicies Commission hotline (a toll-free call) or hired her own attorney to get an opinion.

It occurred to us that during the anti-McHenry Preserve Claremont campaign of January 2005, McHenry was forced to hire a private attorney to defend her at a cost of several thousands of dollars. The charges stemmed from then-City Manager Southard's claim that McHenry had created a hostile work environment. Southard's allegations were never made public, and when it appeared that an actual investigation by an independent judge might ensue, Southard suddenly dropped the matter, and the council didn't pursue an investigation. Southard's and Preserve Claremont's bluff was called. In any event, McHenry did not have the luxury that Elderkin had to go to the city attorney for a consult. Double standard? You betcha.

A couple interesting sidenotes to the last link. First, the article quotes former councilmember Al Leiga as saying that McHenry micromanages and that the council-city manager relationship should be like that of a private company's board of directors to its CEO: the board sets policy, the CEO implements it. What Leiga ignored was the fact that in Claremont, the council had become so acquiescent and unanimous in its unquestioning support of Southard that it was really more like the Enron board of directors or the Tyco board of directors. Nearly every decision was 5-0, and no one questioned Southard's and his staff's assumptions. That was what led to things like the city's 1994 investment of over $5 million in the failed Orange County Investment Pool, or the infamous roundabout at Indian Hill Blvd. and Bonita Ave.

The Orange County investment is an example of Southardism in action. As the above link showed, it took six years and a great deal of litigation for the city to eventually recoup 100% of its investment, plus attorney fees. Southard trumpeted this as a great victory but failed to point out that the city lost out on whatever interest the city might have gained over six years if that same $5.3 million if it had been invested in a safer vehicle, bonds say. Instead of working for us, the money was held up in legal limbo.

The other aspect of this that is revealing is the Southardian revision of history. This happened after every crisis Southard created. It is happening again with Preserve Claremont. Rather than owning up to their actions in 2005, the same people are behind the Pedroza and Elderkin campaigns, and McHenry is remade into the cause of that crisis rather than the victim of it. Chicken Creek may be long gone from Claremont, but the River Lethe flows strong through the heart of town. Drink, Claremonsters, and forget....


The other ironic thing about the 2005 TSL article on Preserve Claremont is that Pedroza, who ran and lost in that election, seemed to be both defending McHenry and endorsing her value to the community:

"When you have someone calling the shots for 17 years, they get complacent,” explained Pedroza of Southard. “Jackie has brought an important element to the council when she forced the city to cross its t’s and dot its i’s. Did the city need to? Yeah, maybe in some cases.”
Sam, Sam, how soon we forget.


A voter writes:

I went to one of Sam Pedroza's 'Meet and Greet', because I wanted to get to know the guy better. I was somewhat appealed to his environmental credentials. But his introduction about his life story was given in a way that people almost fell asleep. Not much charisma there. Also what bothered me a lot more, is how much he talked about where and for whom he worked, but literally nothing about what he accomplished. And to me that is a bad sign for a future city council member. His answers to most of the questions were very general, almost to the point that he tried to figure out what people want to hear. Based on this impression I am not sure I can vote for him, because it seems he will be one of these 'bureaucrats', who will sift to paper after paper without ever coming to a decision.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mail Call

More reader mail from one of our favorite correspondents:

Hi Claremont Insiders--

Thanks for printing my note to you earlier, and for answering my question. It seems fair to me that you don't allow comments. It's your blog, after all, and you're paying for it. You get to do what you want with it.

You were willing to tolerate one message from me, so I'll try another and see what happens.I'm still trying to figure out your views about city staff and elections. I understand that like you, City Council incumbents Jackie McHenry and Corey Calaycay were angry that the city attorney responded to non-incumbent candidate Linda Elderkin's questions about conflict of interest rules. I'm told that Jackie and Corey demanded that city staff tell them everything that they had said to Linda.But I remember Jackie demanding and getting all kinds of attention from city staff before she was elected to the city council. I thought Jackie wanted city staff to cooperate with the public and with people running for city council. I thought she wanted to make sure that we know what city policy and the law are before we go running off and jumping to conclusions.

I'm also confused about what you think Linda Elderkin should have done about your conflict of interest charge. You attacked her for not having good legal information about city rules, and then you attacked her for seeking good legal information from the city about their rules. Heads you win, tails she loses.

Finally, I'm trying to figure out why you say Councilwoman McHenry is an "outsider," when her faction has been is in control of the City Council for four years. Sounds like the George Bush supporters who think he is a persecuted outsider fighting against some evil "liberal" establishment that supposedly runs America. I don't get it.

Thanks for listening. And thanks for the piece on the Press. Great place.


Last things first: Glad you liked the bit on the Press, and cheers to you.

As to McHenry's outsider status, if you look back to when she was first elected in 2003, she was considered by the Claremont 400 to be a gadfly, a busybody, someone who had no business running for council. As the reader pointed out, that was four years ago, but the reader is incorrect in believing that McHenry controlled a faction that ran the council for that period.

Look at who comprised that 2003 council: McHenry, Yao, Llewellyn Miller, Paul Held and Sandy Baldonado. Miller, who was elected in 2001 as something of an outsider, had by then been co-opted by the 400, something that led to his defeat in 2005. Yao could at best be considered someone independent of both the 400 and McHenry, as the Daily Bulletin pointed out. However, Yao strikes us as more of 400 candidate than as a true independent. On many issues his inaction has served as a de facto 400 vote, and Helaine Goldwater appears on both Yao's and Pedroza's supporter list--I doubt Goldwater would do that if she did not think she could control Yao, which she has done in the past. And, Lynn Forester's near-hysterical note also seemed to point to Yao as a Claremont 400 candidate.

Held and Baldonado, of course, are Preserve Claremonters/400ers. So, for her first two years, McHenry was pretty much by herself facing a council controlled by Held and Baldonado with Miller adding his support. There was no Yao-McHenry alliance, and Yao certainly did not defend McHenry publicly. And the abuse the 400 heaped on McHenry was merciless. They never acknowledged the legitimacy of her election and, in doing so, they were disregarding the 3,300-plus votes McHenry received. No matter what you think about McHenry, this cannot be denied: she had enough support to get elected. Every attempt by the Claremonsters to quash McHenry was a slap in the face to the people who voted for her.

In 2005, we've already noted, Preserve Claremont, with Paul Held, Valerie Martinez and Pastor Butch Henderson at the command, launched a two-pronged attack. In January 2005, they first organized with then-City Manager Glenn Southard, a campaign to try to censure McHenry. Held falsely accused McHenry of rifling through other councilmembers mail. And Southard accused McHenry of creating a "hostile work environment", which led to a special council meeting to decide whether the to commission a special investigation into the matter. The public showed up in support of McHenry, and the "investigation" or witch-hunt, depending on your perspective, died.

And, with Calaycay's election in 2005, the Bulletin's description is close to accurate, with McHenry and Calaycay on the one hand, Taylor and Baldonado on the other, and Yao somewhat in the middle, though as we've noted, Yao tends to side with Taylor and Baldonado on many things--pushing last year's failed assessment district for example.

--A note here, the notion of party politics at the council level, we've discovered, is fair nonsensical. We do not not believe our analysis of the things is anything like what the reader describes. For one thing, as we've just pointed out, McHenry hasn't been in control of anything for four years. We could also just as easily argue that Preserve Claremont's treatment of McHenry was no different than the Clinton impeachment. It is usually best to not try to apply partisan analogies to the Claremont situation, they just don't hold up on closer examination and often end up backwards in the looking glass world that is Claremont politics.

Lastly, we don't know anything about what McHenry or Calaycay have done regarding the Elderkin conflict of interest issue. It is probably best to ask them directly to get the truth--that's what we've suggested be done with Elderkin's issue--talk to Elderkin, ask her for a copy of whatever the city attorney gave her, and talk to the city attorney to verify Elderkin's account.

As we remarked a few days ago, the public and the council are entirely within their rights to know if the city attorney has treated Elderkin as a client. No, Elderkin should not have gone to the city attorney. What she should have done is what any of the other non-Claremont 400 candidates would have had to do: call their own attorney or, better yet, make call to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). They are the agency charged with interpreting and enforcing election and conflict of interest laws in California. The FPPC has a toll-free number, (866) ASK-FPPC, that can easily answer questions like Elderkin's.

The use of city staff time by candidates for election whether sitting councilmembers or unelected candidates is fairly strictly regulated. We do not believe that the applicable laws allow for the city attorney to give advice in Elderkin's situation.

A person who claims to be dedicated to fair process, as Elderkin does, would know better. Certainly, most other candidates for office in California would know how and when to contact the FPPC. Why didn't Elderkin?

Bridget Healy's Alive! Alive!

Bridget "The Hammer" Healy confided to friends recently that she wants to come back to Claremont from Indio. She does not like it there because "it's too hot." She may be referring to the political scene, where former Claremont City Manager Glenn Southard has made war on councilmember Mike Wilson much as he did here in conjunction with Preserve Claremont against Jackie McHenry.

Is this, coupled with the Paul Cooper appointment to Interim Police Chief, a move back to the future by the Claremont 400? And who can forget the work city staff did in the 2005 election? We get an echo of that in this election with the city attorney stepping into to help the Elderkin campaign with free legal advice. Southardism come back from the dead.

Only time will tell. Perhaps the Claremonster lives after all.


The Foothill Cities blog had mention of the possible sale of the Pomona Valley Protective Association (PVPA) land to Allied Retail Partners, LLC.

Try going to the Allied site and check out their proposed Park View project in Upland. It's located very close to the PVPA land. Notice that the Park View project was slated to go on 42 acres south of 210 Freeway, just north of Baseline Rd. and just east of Padua Ave. It included 400 single-family homes and a 100,000 sq. ft. retail shopping center on those 42 acres--a fraction of the 560 acres contained in the PVPA land that is up for sale.

BTW, a belated thanks to Foothill Cities for the link and the mention.

Reader Mail - The Unexamined Life

Our friend Lynn Forester recently wrote us to endorse three candidates for city council. Forester serves on the city's Community Services Commission. She's a nice person, but like a lot of the 400, she also cannot stand people who disagree with her. She puts a nice face on it, but her letter, which runs two pages and is far to long to quote at length here, contains many inaccuracies and out-of-context information.

Forester endorses Elderkin, Pedroza, and Yao, the three the Claremont 400 and Preserve Claremonters have pushed. Forester claimed to be at a meeting in December 2007 where two unnamed councilmembers (McHenry and Calaycay) condoned behavior which she considered "embarrassing at the least and unconscionable at the best."

We were not at that December meeting, so we contacted several people who were. Their take on the matter was that Forester dished out as much rude behavior as anyone there, interrupting speakers and assuming her position as a city commissioner gave her more authority, even though she was just another member of the public in attendance.

Forester's claims of condoning by the unnamed councilmembers are flat out lies, the other attendees say, unless silence mandated by the Brown Act constitutes "condoning." As one of the three councilmembers in attendance pointed out at the meeting (Taylor was also present), the Brown Act prevented them from speaking because having three councilmembers together would constitute a quorum, and it would be considered an official meeting of the council if they participated. So all three, Calaycay, McHenry and Taylor all remained silent. They had to by law. All three behaved the same way. Yet, to Forester, two of the three condoned the behavior she disapproved of.

Forester writes that she wants "Councilmembers who make decisions based on the good of the community and not on the interests of citizens with the money to bully the city for their own interests." Yet, she endorses Pedroza, who this election has taken $1,000 from the Roger Hogan family ($250 each from husband, wife, and two other family members). Roger Hogan owns Claremont Toyota, which generates over 50% of the city's sales tax revenue. In other words, when Roger Hogan sneezes, the city of Claremont catches cold.

You may remember in the 2005 election, after Preserve Claremont ran their smear campaign against then-candidate Calaycay, Roger Hogan spent $2,000 to fund two last-minute, city-wide mailers in support of a group called "Claremont Business PAC," which was organized by Valerie Martinez, another city commissioner and a spokesperson for Preserve Claremont. The mailers Hogan funded supported one person, incumbent Llewellyn Miller. Around the same time, Hogan was about to negotiate a 10-year loan from the city of Claremont to help with the purchase of property near his Toyota lot--a property that had been appraised for much less than the $3 million Hogan was paying for it. And Pedroza later co-wrote a letter to the Claremont Courier in praise of Hogan and his millions in sales tax dollars that feed the city coffers.

So, Forester really should be pointing the finger at her own candidate, Pedroza, when she writes about councilmembers basing decisions on the interests of "citizens with the money to bully people." We also saw that Roger Hogan is on the Linda Elderkin supporter list as well. Elderkin is also a Forester choice.

Forester also writes, "My intention is to not tell you how to vote...." Yet, she ends by enjoining people to vote with her.

Again with hypocrisy Lynn?

We'll be back with more mail later this evening.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Offline today and tomorrow for a welcome respite. We'll see you back on Monday with a look at the mailbag.

New Features

You might notice the new "Fair and Balanced" links list. We got to thinking about it, and decided our fair city, as divided as it is, is a microcosm for the wider, national political world. So we decided to add links to sites representing both sides of the political aisle. Feel free to forward any sites you find interesting. The only rule is if you send a link to a conservative site, The Claremont Institute, for instance, please balance it with a liberal counterpart, i.e., The Brookings Institution, and vice-versa. Satire should be balanced by satire from the other side.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Elderkin Conflict

Reading through the Linda Elderkin piece in the 2/21/2007 Bulletin, we couldn't help but notice Elderkin spoke with much authority but failed to provide any actual documentation for her claim that she would have no conflict of interest in either the Vulcan mining proposal or the prospective sale of that same land to a developer. As we noted, the sale is potentially a $174 million or more deal. Elderkin's husband's employer, Pomona College, owns a 1.25 percent interest in that land, which translates to a $2.17 million or more windfall for the husband's employer.

As we remarked before, the city attorney made a prior recommendation that Llewellyn Miller, when he was on council, had a conflict of interest regarding a city decision on the Sagehen Cafe at Pomona College, which employed Miller's wife Cecilia Conrad. That matter involved a much smaller dollar amount than the potential $2.17 million interest for Pomona College in the possible land sale.

Elderkin presented other troubling signals as well. In her Bulletin piece, Elderkin wrote: " is important to me to share with readers the response of the city attorney...." However, she neglected to include the actual responses the city attorney supposedly gave to her. She only gave her interpretation of those reported responses. Not that we don't trust Elderkin, but she didn't really give any citations that would support her claims of no conflict. What we'd like to see is any actual opinion given by the city attorney.

What exactly was that response? Was it addressed directly to Elderkin as a client? If so, then that might be a violation of state laws governing the participation of government staff in the electoral process. Elderkin, who is a process queen and League of Women Voters member, should be acutely aware of such problems. We'd like to see Elderkin release any correspondences or opinions from the city attorney. That would at least show good faith on her part.

Elderkin made such statements as: "I have no conflict and can vote on General plan and zoning changes." But, as we previously noted, the conflict had nothing to do with the General Plan. It is a pretty simple matter. If her husband's employer benefits above a certain dollar amount from any sale of the land, Elderkin, if elected, is precluded by law from participating in any discussion and vote on the matter. (See the California Fair Political Practices Commission guidelines for these sorts of conflicts.)

Finally, we'd like to know if the city attorney's opinion for Elderkin actually states that she absolutely has no conflict of interest. If it does not flatly state that, Elderkin was not truthful in her Bulletin piece, and she should acknowledge that.

Of course, unless Elderkin or the city releases the city attorney's opinion, we'll never know.

The Press Restaurant

It's was a quiet news day, so we took the time to have dinner at The Press Restaurant on Harvard Ave. between 1st and 2nd Sts. The Press has one of the nicer bars in town, and it's a lively place to go for a drink and to hear music on the weekends. Lots of college folk hanging out, talking, enjoying the scene.

The food's not bad. The menu has a mix of burgers, sandwiches, Mexican and Italian food. At $19.95, this month's special is a buy: New Zealand lamp chops marinated in garlic and vermouth, mashed potatoes, green beans, soup of the day, and cheesecake. The veggie lasagna is worth a try too.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Onward and Upward in Education

Scripps College President Nancy Y. Bekavac has announced she will be leaving her position at the end of June 2007 after what will be 17 years at the post. Bekavac, who is a friend and supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, has not announced where she will head after Scripps. Is Hillary calling on her friends as the Presidential campaign heats up? Bekavac, who is by all accounts nothing short of brilliant, might not make a bad Secretary of Education in a prospective Clinton II Administration.

Bulletin Blurb

From today's Bulletin:

Campaign blog resurfaces

The "Claremont Insider" - an anonymously penned blog - resumed publication Sunday after a nearly two-year hiatus, and its author's sights are aimed squarely at several City Council candidates.

The blog can be accessed at

Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin are the author's main targets, and those candidates and their supporters this week denounced the Web site's tactics in interviews.


A couple notes. The Bulletin calls this a "Campaign Blog". It's not. We just happened to start back up in the midst of an election that is sucking the air out of most other issues. When we started in May 2005, there was no election. We are just tired of an absurd situation where this Claremont 400 group thinks it can control this town and ignore everyone else.

Pedroza and Elderkin aren't targets, they are simply the faces of a group of people who've lorded their power over our fair city for too long. The equation's been an unequal one. All power on one side, powerless on the other, at least until recently. We just choose to shine a light on what's been going on in town and that is something the "400" cannot stand.

Elderkin needs legal advice? She gets it free from the City Attorney. What other candidate has received such a benefit? None. City funds, city time, city candidate. Elderkin's Bulletin piece, posted here yesterday, said, "I love this city." No wonder. Who wouldn't love a free attorney on retainer?

The "400" always makes it about them. It's not. It's a about a town we all love. On that note, we will add that it has always been our intention to broaden this blog beyond the 400, and we will. This is a town with much to offer, and we will spotlight those things, cultural, social and political, as time goes on.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More Carnac

Why is it so easy to predict what the Preserve Claremonsters will do next? It's because they do the same thing every time. They don't have any original ideas, they only rely on peer pressure. Vote for me because my friends tell you to.

They also have a big voting block in the retirement homes--Claremont Manor and Pilgrim Place, primarily, and they count on the oldsters to be too dumb to do their homework (a little like a Nigerian 419 scam). And there are apocryphal anecdotes about non compus mentis retirees getting "help" filling out absentee ballots in elections past.

Mostly though, it's High School Confidential politics. McHenry, for instance, is unpopular because she's the Fat Girl. Attendees to certain League of Women Voter committee meetings know well the catty remarks Ellen Taylor and Helaine Goldwater can make. Nasiali? They're still trying to figure him out. The best they can do is to say, "He's not black enough." This from white liberals (we can say this because we're both white liberals and people of color here). More hypocrisy in action.

So what's next? If Southard were still around, we'd say the city staff would get involved. Maybe the injection of City Attorney Sonia Carvalho into the Elderkin campaign does that. Of course, Bridget "The Hammer" Healy, Southard's former assistant city manager and current assistant in Indio, is listed on Elderkin's supporter list, as is Paul Held, and any number of other Preserve Claremonters from 2005. Oddly, most of them also appear on Sam Pedroza's supporter list.

Hey 'Monsters, why is it all of you say the Preserve Claremont thing was such a mistake, but none of you will come out and publicly apologize for it? We think it's because you're really proud of it, as are Elderkin and Pedroza, who love your support.

So, to sum up, if Southard were here, we'd be expecting city staff to intervene to prop up the "good" candidates. But absent that, the next guess would be a city wide mailer hit piece by the 'Monsters.

Carnac the Magnificent

Well, we don't want to gloat, but we called it. Linda Elderkin's piece in today's Bulletin did everything we predicted in our last posting and more. First, here's Elderkin's response to the Trozpek piece on the endorsements by Claremonters Against Strip Mining:

There is no conflict of interest

Linda Elderkin, Guest Columnist Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Article Launched:02/21/2007 12:37:54 PM PST

It was very disappointing to read such a factually inaccurate account of my supposed conflict of interest with the mining question in Claremont (Ludd A. Trozpek's guest column, Feb. 20). It was even more disappointing to read such a presentation of my character.

This comes just before the City Council election in Claremont where all candidates have stressed the need for cooperation and openness. It would have seemed more appropriate to check facts first. And indeed Mr. Trozpek's claim that I will not be able to vote on the mining issue is simply incorrect.

Had it occurred to me that there might be a conflict interest with my husband's employment, I would have looked into the matter long ago. When Mr. Trozpek spoke to me after the candidates meeting last week, I told him that. I did comment then on several possible scenarios as I made my first efforts to think about this potential conflict. He does refer to some of these comments, but alas, not in their context.

I also said to him repeatedly that I would be checking the facts on the situation. His comment that I should know the facts without the "... need to consult her advisers or the city attorney" makes it quite clear that he was very aware of my intent to do just that. Obviously, he did not wish to wait for any clarification or fact check.

I did need help in understanding the possibilities and I pursued them the very next day. I have now received the needed information. My husband does of course work for Pomona College. The college does indeed own a little over 1 percent of the nonprofit Pomona Valley Protective Association. The college has no seat on the board with such small holdings.

However, it is important to me to share with readers the response of the city attorney in Claremont concerning areas of possible conflict:

I have no conflict and can vote on General plan and zoning changes.

I do not have a conflict of interest with the Vulcan mining application to Claremont.

If the PVPA land is sold to developers, they will become the applicants so I could also vote on the possible housing development.

Should any other possible PVPA conflicts emerge, they will depend upon the extent of the financial impact on Pomona College (amounts set by law).

This clarification will be helpful to our community and we appreciate receiving it.
I love our community. I am running for the City Council to serve it well. The more I learn about Claremont, the more I find there is to learn. I have not intentionally deceived anyone about anything, and in this case I would really have appreciated the opportunity to have the facts clear before having such destructive allegations published. I can only hope that it was not the intent of the writer to get the allegations out quickly, before the facts could stand in the way.

In the spirit of his guest column, it might be interesting to ask Mr. Trozpek why it was taglined "a resident of Claremont.'' He does not vote or live in the city of Claremont, but in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County that adjoins Claremont. A minor clarification, but really, why make it look otherwise?

Linda Elderkin is a candidate for Claremont City Council.

Meow! Linda sure bit on the unincorporated county bit, just as we predicted. Wonder how she feels about non-resident, non-voter J. Michael Fay's position as Honorary Chair of Elderkin's running mate Sam Pedroza's campaign? Fay has also served on past election committees as well. Again, what's a little hypocrisy between friends?

Where to begin....

We noticed several flaws in Elderkin's defense of her conflict (or appearance of conflict):

  1. Elderkin claims to value a process. How does her participation in a decision affecting her husband's employer square with the "pristine process" she calls for, given that there is either an actual conflict or the appearance of a conflict?

  2. City Attorney Sonia Carvalho makes the "no conflict" call on General Plan and zoning; that addresses a charge that was not made. Trozpek pointed out that the Elderkin conflict had to do with the land sale to Allied.

  3. The City Attorney's supposed advice to Elderkin seems to conflict with prior advice she gave to former council member Llewellyn Miller. How does this square with the minutes of July 10, 2001 City Council meeting, page 3: "City Attorney Carvalho explained that council member Miller will recuse himself from consideration of this matter as his wife is a professor of Pomona College and is a source of income to him which creates a conflict of interest. Councilmember Miller left the meeting."

    That conflict involved a liquor license of Amine Corporation (dba Sagehen Cafe), a lessee to Pomona College as we found out. The amounts with PVPA are hundreds or thousands of times greater than the amounts of the liquor license benefits. So even though Pomona College's interest is 1.25%, approximately, it is 1.25% of a much larger number--likely upwards of $174 million or more (based on the sale of 580 undeveloped acres at an estimated $300,000 per acre). PVPA is a shell in this case that does not inoculate Pomona College from benefit or the conflict of interest issues.

    That measly 1.25% that Elderkin makes light of in her piece amounts to a potential $2.17 million windfall for Pomona College, the employer of Elderkin's husband. We're not sure whats more troublesome--Elderkin's inability to acknowledge the appearance of a conflict that would could open the city up to litigation, or Elderkin's bad math (her husband's a math professor after all).

  4. There is probably a real conflict; certainly the appearance of a conflict. Again, Elderkin avoided addressing the land sale issue in her claims of no conflict. Is it possible she was told that there was a conflict regarding the land sale and just chose not to mention that fact? Hmmm.....

Finally, we hate to point it out, but Elderkin got quite a deal from the City Attorney, whose hourly rate must be over $250. Elderkin seems to have gotten free legal advice (on the city's dime?). We suppose this should be listed as an in-kind donation on Elderkin's reporting forms, not that she will report it. And, of course, it is her city, not yours.

Well, just another example of the "400" and the Preserve Claremonsters using city staff as their own private servants. To them, city staff and city resources are just another lever of power to pull. And you! Hands Off!

(Has anyone else noticed how the Claremonsters are running Elderkin and Pedroza as if they were an incumbents? At least Pedroza has a track record of mismanagement and mangled syntax on a commission, but Elderkin? She herself said she didn't know she was running until October--she wasn't the 'Monsters' first choice, apparently.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bulletin Redux

This was also in today's Bulletin:

Ethical tin ears in Claremont

Article Launched:02/20/2007 01:00:00 AM PST

Wednesday's City Council forum in Claremont was helpful in allowing the seven candidates to make her or his case before potential voters.

Unfortunately, it revealed that two of the candidates have an ethical tin ear. Linda Elderkin has an apparent conflict of interest involving any issue such as mining or proposed residential development on 560 acres in northeast Claremont. In just the past week, Michael Maglio has given three different answers on the extent to which he supports development on this property. Further, he has repeatedly misrepresented the facts of his position on the biggest open space issue of the past year in Claremont: funding for purchase of the Johnson's Pasture open space.
Linda Elderkin continued to fail to disclose a conflict of interest in her answer to a question about development on open space. The open space in question is owned by the Pomona Valley Protective Association (PVPA), which holds lands for water spreading purposes. Elderkin hinted darkly at the forum about the suspect form and structure of PVPA, and of its intentions for the property.

What she failed to explain was that if elected she could not participate in any discussion or action involving the PVPA property. The reason is simple. Her husband's employer, Pomona College, is one of the six owners of PVPA. There is ample precedent in Claremont, in situations involving Lew Miller when he was on council and with Mayor Pro Tem McHenry in the past year, where similar conflicts required them to recuse themselves.

When I discussed this with Elderkin after the forum, she clearly knew the facts. She told me that even if there were a conflict, she could participate in discussion but merely could not vote: her words were that "she could not take any action." I don't believe she is right, nor that her position meets the spirit of the ethical guidelines. The purpose of recusal - it comes from the Latin recusare, to refuse - means that the person tainted with the conflict neither participates in the deliberations nor the action.

The conflict of interest rules protect all parties. They protect the citizens who have an expectation that decisions will be made on the merits and not on extrinsic factors; they protect applicants who may then be assured that their applications are considered fairly, and they protect the city from potential litigation alleging an unfair process. As a self-described "process person," Elderkin should know this without the need to consult her advisers or the city attorney.

With the apparent conflict, Elderkin, if elected, cannot participate in any discussion or decision relating to the property owned by PVPA because of the ownership interest of Pomona College, her husband's employer. She has not disclosed this conflict in three candidate forums - deception or a tin ear?

Mike Maglio has shown that he will say anything in this campaign. I attended his ice cream social on Feb. 10 to hear his views on Claremont issues. He was in favor of housing to keep away the mining on the PVPA property. I asked him pointedly if that meant that as a council member he would vote to rezone the area from "open space" to "residential." He answered, "Yes."

After the Chamber forum on Tuesday morning, he elaborated on this by saying that he thought the residential housing would be a good thing because the developer fees from such a large project would be a boon to the city.

At the League forum the very next day, however, Maglio stood for the proposition of open space now and forever on the property.

At the social in the park, I asked him also about his positions on two recent open space issues in Claremont, the failed assessment district of last summer, and Measure S which passed by a 71 percent to 29 percent margin. He said he had opposed Measure S because he didn't think people should be taxed for something that benefited just a few people in town, and he had supported and voted for the assessment because it provided money for parks all over Claremont. He gestured over to the nearby restrooms at Blaisdell Park and said they would have been improved had the assessment passed. He reiterated his vote for the assessment once more at the forum on Wednesday.

His problem is that he voted no on the assessment. The City Clerk has the assessment ballots on file and they are disclosable public records. It was simple to get a copy of Maglio's ballot with his signature, not his wife's, on the NO ballot. I gave him a copy and urged that he view the original at City Hall.

Maglio's ethical tin ear is that he has a hard time with the truth. If he won't tell the truth about small things such as his vote on the assessment, can we believe anything he says?

There is more than a little irony in the fact that a local organization opposed to mining has endorsed both of these candidates. On the one hand, its board has endorsed a candidate who will be unable to participate in the mining issue. On the other hand, it has endorsed a candidate who doesn't tell the truth. No one can take such endorsements seriously.

- Ludd A. Trozpek is a resident of Claremont.

The author, who has been a thorn in the side of the "400" for many years, is a bit of a crank, but he's also been obsessive in his fact-finding. He lives in Padua Hills, which is in unincorporated L.A. County land, surrounded by Claremont. Look for the "400" to tell you to ignore the piece because the person is a non-resident. If you listen to their screeching, you'll notice they never address the substance of the claims, which maybe says something about the facts of the matter.

Claremont 400 Rule #1: Always attack the person, attack their credibility, never engage on the issues--avoid, avoid, avoid getting involved with facts. This much is pretty predictable: You don't have to listen to him/her because he/she is ....

FYI, Googling "Trozpek Claremont" shows the author has a Claremont address--the U.S. Postal Service seems to think this is Claremont. And, J. Michael Fay, another 400er, lives in the same unincorporated area, but he's OK--as is evident from his position as Honorary Chair of Sam Pedroza's campaign. What's a little hypocrisy between friends?

Daily Bulletin Coverage

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin has become an interesting, lively paper. The Bulletin's endorsements of Claremont candidates on 2/16/2007 was a first.

The endorsements acknowledged that there is an "old guard" and a "new guard" in Claremont. In endorsing Nasiali, Pedroza, and Yao, they also identified Sam Pedroza as "old guard" and Opanyi Nasiali and Jackie McHenry as "new guard." Peter Yao, the other incumbent besides McHenry, is listed as an independent.

Yao is presented as a swing vote on many issues, and his Honor the Mayor has been making the most of that tag in his campaigning. Too bad it isn't true. Yao quite a while ago named Helaine Goldwater, candidate Linda Elderkin's campaign manager, as one of the key people he needed support from if he was going to run for re-election.

Yao, in seeking Madame Goldwater's support, went along with many things the "400" wanted, among those: the street banners for Iraq troops, the flawed affordable housing development project on Baseline Rd. (something that may not pass the environmental impact report muster), Padua Sports Park--a $10 million+ boondoggle that even sports groups say won't meet their need for lighted fields, the installation of Lt. Paul Cooper as interim police chief--effectively giving Cooper a heads up on any other candidates, and allowing Cooper to install his cronies as subordinates (Cooper is a Goldwater favorite).

Of course, Yao ignores things like Cooper's co-authorship of the city 1999 staff report (pull up the PDF file and scroll down to Item M, Threat Assessment) that recommended stationing a psychologist or social worker at council meetings to evaluate the potential threats of people speaking at public comment. The policy was wisely tabled and never implemented.

Yao's submitting to the will of the "400" may or may not have paid off. As noted, Goldwater is chairing another candidate's campaign. Our thinking is that the "400" will come to support Yao late in the race--they want him to be thankful for saving his bacon should he be re-elected.

Yao is a smart guy trying to please, but his pleasing has been pretty one-sided. He takes credit for many of the changes in Claremont, but really what has he done? Ex-city manager Glenn Southard didn't withdraw his employee-of-the-year awards for the two police in the Landrum shooting because of Yao's leadership, and it took two more years--the weekend before Corey Calaycay was elected to the council in 2005--for Southard to step down and take a job in Indio. Yao didn't speak up in a leadership role during the whole Preserve Claremont fiasco in that same election.

Worse, Yao pushed the Parks and Pasture Assessment District in 2006, saying that that a bond would never get the 67% of the vote needed to pass. The assessment lost with only 44% of the vote, and the bond passed with 71%. In the aftermath, Yao claimed that the people had spoken, Johnson's Pasture was saved and the means of paying for the pasture didn't really matter. Sort of misses the point, doesn't it Mr. Mayor?

Yao's a nice guy, a smart guy, who has very little political sense. He is in the Llewellyn Miller mold in that sense, and both were taken advantage of by the "400" once they got into office. Used and abused, then discarded.


The Bulletin's Letters section has also gotten more lively:

Claremont should re-elect McHenry I strongly agree with you that Claremont has more qualified candidates than open seats for the upcoming City Council election. But I disagree with your exclusion of Jackie McHenry on your endorsed list.

For the last four years, my family has attempted a straightforward subdivision and building project in Claremont made infinitely more difficult, delayed, and costly by bad decisions from City Hall. Jackie McHenry and Corey Calaycay were the only City Council members to even listen to our concerns.

That we need another council member aligned with the "old guard" makes no sense to me. The city government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around. I believe that Jackie McHenry knows this.


McHenry takes a lot of heat for being "negative" and "abrasive". Look at what she faces: an entrenched group of snobs who believe they own the town. Remember Diann Ring's call "to get back our town." Remember the Preserve Claremont campaign that worked in concert with Southard and his senior staff members to try to censure McHenry in 2005 (they failed and lost that election). The "400" and Preserve Claremont never believed in McHenry's legitimacy, and they have sought to attack and undermine her since her election in 2003. Their attacks have been unrelenting in labeling her has "negative". That's one of Diann Ring's and Judy Wright's talking points.

So how would you come off in McHenry's place? All those problems that happened in Claremont prior to McHenry's election have disappeared. Instead of winning a Black Hole Award for secrecy and closed government, Claremont was lauded for its openness in government. The "negativity" McHenry is accused of is another example of the "400" blaming the victim they have attacked with let up for four years.

Monday, February 19, 2007

More Reader Questions

A Sam Pedroza supporter writes:

Hi Claremont Insider folks--

I tried to post a comment on your blog, but it says I must be a "team member." Can I become a team member?

I think you would get an interesting conversation going if you opened up the comments to all.

Thanks for the offer, but we're keeping it simple here. We're just a stream-of-consciousness chronicle of the Claremont that does not get much mention in the official histories of Claremont. We do endeavor to keep things factually accurate, and where possible we do provide links to the necessary documentation.

The conversation goes on out there in the real world. Here at this blog we are merely humble diarists, not political scientists. Our "team" is full up right now, but we're always looking for tips, so feel free to pass them on dear reader.

The city election seems to be the hot issue now, but there are any number of other things on the horizon, and we aim to follow those closely. Let us know what your issue de jour is. We'll do our best to spotlight it.

A Reader Asks

We received this inquiry yesterday:

Dear Mr./Ms. Buzz,

Saw your blog, "Claremont Insider." Who are you? Is this another anonymous blog? Also, you have some factual errors in one of your recent posts. The Ellen Taylor annual deferred comp. payout is a bit lower (not sure on the specifics).

I hope you reveal who you are, not that it really matters that much I guess. I'm just curious. But anyone stirring up the pot in Claremont (besides me) is good for Claremont.

We did some fact-checking, and our reader was correct. According to a 9/30/2006 Claremont Courier article by Will Bigham, the way the city council benefits work is that council members can elect to receive $914 per month to use towards a variety of things (medical, dental, vision insurance). Whatever is left over after the health benefits can be placed in a deferred compensation retirement account--something like a 401(k).

Only Ellen Taylor and Peter Yao among the five council members takes these benefits. According to the Courier, Ellen Taylor puts $61.03 per month (or $732.36 per year) towards vision and dental insurance, the remainder, $852.07 (or $10,224.84 per year)--the Courier's math may be very slightly off here--goes into Taylor's deferred comp account.

Peter Yao puts $863.96 per month towards health and dental benefits, and the remaining $50.04 per month goes into a deferred comp account.

Thanks to our reader for pointing out those errors. We've corrected them accordingly.


As to the reader's other question, "Who are you?" We can only answer that we are indeed another anonymous blog along the lines of the Foothill Cities blog. In this town, the first thing the Claremont 400 focuses on is not what you are saying, but who you are, what clubs and organizations you belong to, who your friends are.

You see, dear reader, Claremont is a town that was for many years run by bullies who supported the ultimate bully, former city manager Glenn Southard. Like our current president, this group, informally known as the "Claremont 400", does not really care for people who disagree with their worldview or point out obvious inconsistencies in their positions. You are either for them or against them.

That is why Diann Ring, at the January 2007 campaign kickoff for Sam Pedroza, talked about the need "to get back our town." They really believe this is town just for them and their friends. So, when anyone comes along questioning their assumptions, rather than consider and the facts, they attack the questioner as negative, abrasive or "uncivil." These are merely code words for "You don't have to listen to this person." So important information gets lost and ignored.

We choose anonymity to force them to argue the issues. Let's have a real discussion on the merits of the case.

The irony (that word again!) is that the Claremont 400 is itself uncivil in its attacks on the Other (see: Twilight Zone in Claremont--Election 2005). Recall that in that election, the Preserve Claremont group revealed itself, using hysterical attacks against first Jackie McHenry, then candidate Corey Calaycay, claiming that they were going to destroy the city and chase staff away. Strangely, there were never any apologies from any of the Preserve Claremonters or "Claremonsters" as some took to calling them. They are now back, working the Pedroza and Elderkin campaigns, working "to get back our town."

To Diann Ring, we say, this is everybody's town--yours, ours, the homeless guy you wanted to throw in jail with your unconstitutional homeless ordinance, the public speakers your people wanted to have evaluated by psychologists to determine their their fitness to speak (see: 1/26/1999 city draft report--Item M: Threat Assessments, co-authored by current acting police chief Paul Cooper).

We think Claremont is for all of us. Like AYSO, everybody plays! So get over it.

We feel that the city has lost out in the past because the Claremont 400 has cut off real debate and access to real information. We aim to provide that and will back up our assertions with links to backup documents and news articles. Let the facts speak for themselves.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


We've already spotlighted the odd, inexplicable endorsements by Claremonters Against Strip Mining (CASM). Now onto the Claremont Democratic Club. They endorsed Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin. Why? For the same reasons as CASM endorsements. The Claremont 400 wants Pedroza and Elderkin pushed, and they want votes taken away from the other candidates.

Remember: the president of the Claremont Democratic Club is Bob Gerecke. Gerecke's wife Katie was the former co-president of the Claremont League of Women Voters, until she was suspended for unknown reasons (word is she took partisan stances on some issues--a League no-no).

The irony of the Democratic Club endorsement is that Sam Pedroza is also taking support from CASM president Michael Kunce, the CEO of Armstrong Garden Centers. Kunce is a registered Republican and in July 2005 donated $1,000 to an organization called the California Border Police Initiative. That organization was dedicated to sealing off California's border with Mexico by creating a state border patrol unit.

Kunce's support of this anti-immigrant group is ironic because his industry, the gardening and landscaping business, is so incredibly dependent on immigrant labor, both legal and illegal immigration. Kunce's backing is even more ironic since Pedroza is of Hispanic descent. Of course, this sort of ironic hypocrisy is nothing new in Claremont.

But, remember, this is Claremont--land of the inconsistent, the hypocritical, the goofy!

Here's a link to the 2005 Kunce donation (scroll down to 7/25/05): ElectionTrack.

And here is a link to the organization itself:

Back Online - Election Season

Yes, we're back after a much, much too long hiatus from still zany, still silly Claremont.

Folks, it officially crazy season in Claremont--Election Time! That moment that comes every two years in which the goofy, so-called Claremont 400 (Paul Held, Valerie Martinez, Diann Ring, Helaine Goldwater, Randy Prout, Al Leiga, Patrick Sullivan, Judy Wright, Sue Keith, Jeanne Hamilton, Michael Fay, et. al.) get their Friday night dinner group together to campaign for their typically inane candidates.

This time up, the Claremont 400 has nominated Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin to be their candidates. If elected, the two will join Ellen "The Slapper" Taylor to form a group of three to control the five-member city council.

Pedroza, for those who haven't followed city politics, is a man who has never met a policy position he didn't like, depending on who his audience is. Pedroza has taken alternating positions on: the Baseline Rd. affordable housing project (first opposing, then supporting it); and Padua Sports Park (pushing for it, then lobbying for putting a sports complex in the gravel pit at Baseline and Monte Vista).

Pedroza has also never met a tax he didn't like. As chair of the Claremont Community Services Commission, he pushed to have the city's Landscape and Lighting District (LLD) brought before his commission each year for review. In 2006, Pedroza voted for a larger increase to the LLD (6.48%) than the city council eventually voted for (4.67%).

Pedroza also backed last year's failed Parks and Pasture Assessment District to pay for the purchase of Johnson's Pasture and to fund park maintenance in town. Pedroza was on the Parks and Pasture Steering Committee and along with other people like Al Leiga, Diann Ring, and Judy Wright, hijacked the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy for the Parks and Pasture issue. That assessment failed 56% to 44%.

After last year's assessment failed, all these people, including Pedroza, pulled a disappearing act, refusing to help work on the Measure S bond for Johnson's Pasture that ended up passing 71% to 29%. Pedroza, ever the opportunist, had his name put on the Measure S steering committee, but those who worked on the issue say that Pedroza showed up for very few meetings and was mostly missing in action, other than for a couple photo ops--a typical Pedroza move.

Linda Elderkin, the other Claremont 400 candidate, is another in a long line of Claremont League of Women Voter dilettantes. Elderkin is much in the mold of Sandy Baldonado and Ellen Taylor, both of whom have bothered even their own supporters by their negative, no mean, behavior while in office. Recall that after the Parks and Pasture assessment lost, Baldonado was quoted in the papers as saying that Claremont did not deserve her services (yes!). And Taylor told Claremont Courier reporter Will Bigham to shut up when he questioned Taylor about the $10,000 per year retirement benefit she is taking (Taylor and Peter Yao are the only ones of the five current council members to take the council benefits--Yao's mostly in the form of health insurance).

So voters shouldn't be surprised if Elderkin follows in the footsteps of Baldonado and Taylor if she elected (i.e., turns a deaf ear to the public; blindly follows what her handlers tell her; must get the last word in to show how much she knows about anything). Listen to Linda at one of her coffees, and you can probably guess why the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin didn't endorse her--she's a know-it-all. Elderkin was another who backed the Parks and Pasture assessment and latched on to the Measure S campaign when she was deciding to run for office.

Elderkin has been endorsed by Claremonters Against Strip Mining--a group oppposed to the Vulcan Materials Co. proposal to mine aggregate in northeast Claremont. She's an odd choice because her husband Rick works as a math professor at Pomona College, which a part-owner of the land Vulcan wants to mine. If elected, Elderkin would have a conflict of interest that would almost certainly force her to abstain from any discussion or vote on the mining issue.

CASM's odd choices for endorsement--Elderkin, Pedroza and Mike Maglio--don't seem so odd when one remembers the discredited Preserve Claremont smear campaign from 2005. Recall in that one, Preserve Claremont, through Paul Held, got the CASM people all worked up with false rumors that then-candidate Corey Calaycay was taking money from mining interests. To no one's surprise, CASM appears to be spreading similar false gossip this time around.

And why did CASM endorse Mike Maglio? Because he splits the opposition vote. The Claremont 400 and the Preserve Claremonters (who are trying to take a much lower profile in this election) have been taking turns pumping Maglio up. Poor goof, they've got him thinking he actually has a chance. Anyone who's heard Maglio speak knows that this is a guy who seems to be running on a lark. Maglio himself has pretty much said in several candidate forums that he's learning on the fly. Voter records show that Maglio hasn't voted in the last three city council races, he hasn't ever served on a city commission, and he has only attended one city council meeting--EVER! Maglio has consistently displayed an ignorance of the issues and has changed positions of such things as the gravel mining land--housing development there good (prevents mining, generates development fees) and housing development bad (we want open space).