Claremont Insider: Assessment District Defeated One Year Ago Today

Friday, July 27, 2007

Assessment District Defeated One Year Ago Today

The Insider is not much for anniversaries; just ask Mrs. Insider. But we will do so in the spirit of NPR, which uses as news hooks first, fifth, tenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth, thirtieth, fortieth--oh, they love fortieths, those unreconstructed hippies: we've had the fortieth of every Beatle album, it seems, through Sergeant Pepper (June 2, 1967 in the U.S.).

Claremont, the 5th best place to live between 7,500 and 50,000 with lotsa good ethnic restaurants nearby celebrates its own modest anniversary today.

It was just a year ago, on July 27th, 2006, that it was announced that the "Parks and Pasture" Assessment district failed 56% to 44%. This represented the end of Claremont as we know it. The Courier website early on had the unambigous sub-head: Measure Bombs by 12-Point Margin (it was later softened), followed by the somewhat ambiguous, Johnson's Pasture Future Uncertain.

It was just a year ago today,
Sergeant Parker tried to make you pay.
He tried to make your tax bill higher
And it's guaranteed to raise your ire.
So let me introduce to you
The act you've known for just two years:
Sergeant Parker's Parcel Tax Club Band.
Where are we now? Councilmember McHenry had made sure that the City was ready to go with a G.O. Bond in the event of the failure of the AD. In early August, Council put forward the G.O. Bond to the voters; in November 2006, the voters approved the purchase by a super-majority of 71% to 29%. Six months were wasted while co-owner Deborah Robinson held out for more money, but eventually last month she caved and the deal was closed. Suzanne Thompson was feted in the July 4th Parade. Advertisements for a bond prospectus have appeared in the Courier, and bonds will go on sale on August 7. Escrow is set to close sometime in September--about the time Councilmember Elderkin reported at the July 10th Council meeting that the 210 Freeway would open to San Bernardino.

The coalition to pass the G.O. Bond included--strange as it may seem--several vocal opponents of the assessment district who worked on the bond's campaign steering committee. It also included an unsuccessful candidate for city council in 2007 (black, fifth of five serious candidates) who approached the Colleges and got the initial agreement for them to make a payment in lieu of taxes on at least a part of their otherwise-exempt property. We heard even Corey Calaycay met with one college president. Meanwhile two later-successful candidates were missing in action on the G.O. Bond. They made sure their names were on the steering committee, but attended few meetings and did no work.

All of that effort was made in good faith reduce the cost to Claremont taxpayers: getting the Colleges on-board, re-visiting the flawed appraisal (at State urging) and holding firm on price to garner a state grant, a quarter-million dollars of private money by the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy, a half-million dollars from the County arranged by Supervisor Antonovich--these are major reasons why the bond issuance is for only $10 million instead of $12.5 million or even $13 million.

It is a measure of the machine-like power of the Claremont 400 with hundreds of very reliable voters in the Village that McHenry (incumbent, fourth of five) and Nasiali (black, fifth of five) were defeated, Pedroza and Elderkin (strongly for the assessment district, missing in action on the G.O. Bond) were elected.

This is the State of the City in Claremont on this first anniversary of the defeat of the Assessment District: Reward the Guilty. Punish the Innocent. Promote the Uninvolved.
I get by with a little help from my friends,
With a little help from my friends.