Claremont Insider: April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Hypocrites-R-Them

For some reason, the hypocrisy and absurdity of Claremont 400 politics has us musing about the duality of human nature.

Anybody remember back during the March 2007 election when the Claremont Democratic Club endorsed Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin for City Council? There was a bit of complaining, some by local Democrats who didn't support either of the endorsees. Those people argued that it was a non-partisan election and that the Democratic Club had no business endorsing anybody.

You may recall Bob Gerecke, the club's president, writing a letter to the Claremont Courier defending the club's endorsements. Gerecke's confused and emotional screed seemed to argue that if local Democrats didn't stand behind their candidates, first the city, then the state, then the nation would be overrun by Republicans. Democratic voters, Gerecke believed, have a duty to their party to vote for Democrats--in particular the two he wanted you to support.

Of course, Gerecke conveniently ignored independent Jackie McHenry, who was the only councilmember to take positions on a number of city issues that mirrored what one would expect the national Democratic Party to favor: the armed forces banners (against); sustainable building--well before Mayor Peter Yao took the issue up (for), the city's proposed homeless ordinance--since pulled because of a court ruling that a similar statute was unconstitutional (against). Even Councilmembers Ellen Taylor and Sandy Baldonado, both registered Democrats, had worse records than McHenry on those issues.

At the time of the election, we believed that Gerecke's hysterical portrayal of Claremont as a potential springboard to higher state and national offices by Republicans was just a power play by Gerecke and his Claremont 400 friends. They just wanted to get endorsements for their candidates. They didn't care about the truth of those endorsement arguments.

For instance, Democrat Pedroza also got an endorsement and support from a person named Mike Kunce, whose organization Claremonters Against Strip Mining was fighting the proposed Vulcan Mining Co. gravel mine. Yet, we noted that Kunce also was a $1,000 donor to an anti-immigrant movement called the California Border Patrol Initiative in 2005. Hardly a Democratic position, and a strangely ironic source of support for Pedroza, who is a Latino.

So, the signs were there early. Pedroza isn't the tow-the-party-line Democrat Gerecke would have you believe. Was Gerecke lying or just stupidly naive?

And Pedroza does have a history of talking out of both sides of his mouth, as he did during the past year. In August, 2006, Pedroza argued against the affordable housing project at Baseline Rd. and Towne Ave. Then, after a good talking to by the Helaine Goldwater arm of the Claremont 400, he switched positions, arguing in October, 2006, in favor of the project.

We bring all this up because of a Republican fundraiser invitation that has been circulating around town. The occasion was an April 26th Claremont event for California Assemblyman Anthony Adams, who is a Republican. There were a number of local Republicans listed as sponsors for the event, but one name caught our eyes: "Councilman Sam Pedroza!"


So here you have Pedroza, the beneficiary of the Claremont Democratic Club's endorsement, using his new official title to help raise money for our area's Republican assemblyman's campaign war chest. Bob Gerecke's silly claim that our local politics are partisan and that Republicans could benefit from the March Claremont election turns out to be not-so-silly after all. Only, he got it completely backwards--it's Gerecke's Democrat endorsee who's out to help Gerecke's Republican opponents.

Silly man! As Sam Pedroza could explain to you, life is so much easier when you don't have to be accountable for your positions.

What can you say? It's Claremont, folks.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Music Notes


The Claremont Colleges' calendar shows several student music and art events coming up this week. Check them out if you have some free time this week:

Tuesday, May 1st
  • Pomona Student Recital. Pomona College music students present pieces they have worked on this semester. 7pm, Thacher Music Building, Pomona College, 340 N. College Ave. Call 621-8155 for information.

  • Scripps College student recitals. 7:30pm, Boone Recital Hall, Scripps College Performing Arts Center, Scripps College, 231 E. 10th St. Call 607-3266 for information.

Wednesday, May 2nd

  • Pomona College Senior Exhibition. Art majors exhibit their senior semseter projects. 7pm to 9pm, Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona College, 330 N. College Ave. Call 621-8283 for information.

  • Harvey Mudd College Electronic Music Ensemble inaugural concert. Followed by HMC's Jazz Ensemble improvising on themes by Thelonious Monk. 7pm, Platt Campus Center, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Blvd., Call 607-4170 for information.

  • Mariachi performance. 7pm Balch Auditorium, Scripps College, 9th and Columbia. Call 607-3266.

Friday, May 4th

  • Friday Noon Concert Series. Bartok, String Quartet No. 5, Op. 110. Rachel Vetter Huang, violin; Jonathan Wright (Pomona), violin; Cynthia Fogg (Pomona), viola; Tom Flaherty (Pomona), violoncello. 12:15pm, Balch Auditorium, Scripps College, 9th and Columbia. Call 621-8081.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quick Hits

Today Will Bigham reports in the Daily Bulletin on the continuing medical marijuana dispensary drama. According to the Bigham piece, Mayor Peter Yao says he gets occasional calls and emails about the issue, but no one apparently is contacting him after seeing the "Poorman's Bikini Beach" show on Channel 33 KJLA. (Maybe nobody wants to cop to watching the show.) The ad is also on You Tube and on the Foothill Cities blog, which has been having great fun with the whole issue.

Scroll down a little the Bulletin article, and you see that Bigham also reports that the new Sprouts grocery store on Foothill Blvd. at Mountain Ave. is scheduled to open in June. We hope the shopping center there gets a lift. It's been looking pretty sad since the Ralphs closed.

_______________________

Pomona may have some bigger problems to deal with than the Claremont land grab. Foothill Cities has been buzzing about the retirement of Pomona City Manager Doug Dunlap. Why couldn't he just go quietly into the desert like some other people we know?

_______________________

Glendora must have a lot in Claremont: small foothill town run for too long by patrician types, dysfunctional city council, official power wrongly directed against people trying to participate in the election process. Now that the L.A. District Attorney has declined to press charges against the teens he was targeting, we wonder what will Glendora Councilmember Gary Clifford do?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Careful--She Bites!

A reader writes to say that Claremont City Councilmember Ellen Taylor's at it again (so much for "civility). Of course, because it's Ellen, the Claremont 400 double standard applies, so no worries, Ellen, slap away! Hey, we don't make the news, we just report it. Also, Vulcan Mining (CASM's nemesis) makes a cameo:

Thu, 26 Apr 2007 10:31:09 -0700
Subject: April 24th Claremont City Council Meeting
To: "claremont buzz"

Deja Vu all over again at the Claremont City Council on Tuesday, April 24th.

According to council watchers
present at the meeting (you can see a taped broadcast of this event on Monday, April 30th at 8pm on the local cable station) when the discussion about approving the recommendations made by the Human Services Commission for distribution of CBO (Community Based Organization) money from the city's general fund came around, Councilmember (oops----Mayor Pro Tem) Ellen Taylor wanted to give Shoes That Fit , a local non- profit that provides shoes and clothes and school supplies for needy children, $1500 more than the Commission recommended.

This is the same thing that former Councilmember Sandy Baldonado did the previous year for a few of her favorite charities when CBO funding recommendations were presented to the council. Except that it worked for Baldonado with Mayor Peter Yao and Councilmember Taylor supporting her recommendation. Calaycay and McHenry voted no, for various reasons I hear, but perhaps it occurred to them, as it evidently did to some of the council watchers at the April 24th, 2007 replay of the 2006 event, that if councilmembers want to give away even more of the taxpayer money to charitable groups than their Commission recommended, perhaps they themselves should pony up the extra money.

This time around, after initially saying that perhaps the council should give an extra $5000 and send it back to the Human Services Commission to make further
recommendations for distribution, Yao voted against the additional $1500. Calaycay, now taking on the questioning role McHenry used to play (albeit a softer and gentler version) opined that all the organizations recommended for funding were worthy of council support and it would not be fair to give additional money to just one group no matter how deserving. Evidently Elderkin and Pedroza felt similarly and the vote was 4-1 with Taylor dissenting. Her parting shot to the council after the vote came in, and heard by at least half the people in the council chambers (if you view the tape , see if you can hear it) was "Heartless.....". Some watchers heard "people" as the second word, some heard "council" but everyone heard "heartless".

Some watchers suggested that she could take some the $914 per month she gets from the city for deferred compensation and give that to Shoes That Fit, and , in fact, watchers tell me that Calaycay and Pedroza pledged to give their own money to the group. Evidently Taylor was not pleased with the vote and let her chagrin show and poor Pedroza , her seatmate to her right, took the brunt of it. Perhaps Sam should reconsider the seating arrangement and switch with Calaycay as they were seated in the initial meeting of the new council?

Speaking of Shoes That Fit , it is a very deserving outfit whose Executive Director is Roni Lomeli ( the wife of LaVerne City Manager Marty Lomeli and who are both Claremont residents), and whose Secretary/Treasurer is J. Michael Fay (who is not a resident of Claremont but manages to act as Treasurer for Claremont non-profits and local Candidates ,Paul Held among other luminaries) . In their Fall 2006 newsletter ,on the front page no less, is a glowing report of the wonderful contributions that Vulcan Materials has made to the organization. The newsletter reports that Vulcan "is one of Shoes That Fit's fastest growing corporate donors. Not only has Vulcan generously supported Shoes That Fit with donations from their foundation, but they have helped Shoes That Fit expand into our 33rd state with their new chapter in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and they have chapters in Upland, San Bernardino and Azusa, California." Wow! Maybe that is one reason Forbes Magazine voted Vulcan as the number one business in social responsibility in the nation (perhaps that was in their field, but check it out on the Forbes website,
forbes.com). The Vulcan employees seem to love the partnership also. This is also from the Fall 2006 Shoes That Fit newsletter" "It's a great feeling to be able to help these kids," says Richard Lopez, assistant plant manager in Upland, CA. "This industry attracts a lot of rough and ragged type guys. But Shoes That Fit has really softened these guys up." " And yet another testimonial from the Upland plant " " Everyone participates," says Richard Lopez. "It is a really heart-warming experience. Some of the folks here got teary-eyed reading the letters from the kids we helped." " Wonder what CASM (Claremonters Against Strip Mining) thinks of this view of Vulcan?

If any of you readers of this blog would like to find out more about Shoes That Fit, you can go to their website,
www.shoesthatfit.org, and if you contribute money, maybe you can tell the city council contact@ci.claremont.ca.us that you have made a contribution of private funds to support Shoes That Fit. Even better, you can make a contribution in the name of Ellen Taylor since she seems to short on both cash and civility.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Finding a Voice

The Internet is a great place for stuff. All kinds. A little digging on EBay can turn up just about anything your heart could desire. Everyone knows its also a great place to find information. Of course you sorta have to pick and choose among to find the "real" nuggets. There's a lot of disinformation or unverified information out there (here?).

The Internet turns out to be a nifty place for storing stuff too. Old newspaper articles, book reviews and the like. I found an NPR site for their "Lost and Found Sound" series, which ran occasionally from 1999 until 2004. Listeners sent in story ideas, along with recordings of just about anything--historical events, audio letters, Internet audio files. It's a kind of Americana oral history project.

The stories range from the odd: "Atencion, Seis Siete Tres Cero: The Shortwave Numbers Mystery" (did the CIA send spies around the world coded shortwave radio messages during the Cold War and after?); to the humorous and wistful: "Lindbergh, Collie, and Me" (Alexandra Kalman's 1982 recollection of Charles Lindberg's 1927 landing in Paris and her dragging her reluctant husband Collie to Le Bourget Field to watch the landing); to the poignant: "Her Father's Voice" (NPR's Susan Stamberg listening to a recording of her dead father's voice, which she hadn't heard in 30 years).

One of the most striking stories, the sort that make you pull over to the side of the road to finish hearing the story, was "The Vietnam Tapes of Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowski." The tapes were Baronowski's audio letters home from the Vietnam War in 1966. Whatever you believe about the Iraq War, you listen to this one story, and you realize what people at home and at war sacrifice in their partings.

Susan Stamberg seems to reach the heart of what the series aimed for when she talks about how a personality's essence can live in the voice. The website has a short epigram from a story about Sam Phillips: "There's somethin' about your voice--comin' out of the night, out of the light, out of the sky, out of the ground--over the airwaves comes your voice on a little Atwater Kent Radio."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weekly World News

The medical marijuana dispensary issue in Claremont took a strange turn this past week. Foothill Cities has been following the follies with interest.

Tony Krickl in the Claremont Courier reported in Saturday's edition that Darrell Kruse, the dispensary's owner, has had a falling out with his business partner Dave Touhey and admitted that the real reason for their opening a dispensary in Claremont was to head off a competitor who was planning on opening his own medical marijuana shop. Krickl's article said that Kruse and Touhey own an existing dispensary in Pomona. By opening the Claremont location, they caused city council here to place a moratorium on such businesses, effectively ending the competitor's plans.

Yesterday, Wil Bigham in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported that Kruse and Touhey have taken their dispute to court in Rancho Cucamonga where Touhey's family tried to get a restraining order against Kruse. And Kruse is claiming he has contacted the IRS in connection with the dispute.

Stranger and stranger.

_______________________


Yesterday's Bulletin ran a opinion piece from Pomona City Councilmember Stephen Atchley, who wasn't laughing over Claremont's proposed annexation of the Pomona plot in at Towne Ave. and Bonita Ave.

Atchley and Pomona Mayor Norma Torres are apparently unaware of Claremont's history of stepping on their neighbors' toes, or at least ignoring their property lines. We seem to recall a minor dispute with Upland a few years ago over the building of the Claremont City Yard on the Claremont-Upland border.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
--George Santayana

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bleacher Revolution

Regan McMahon, an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, was interviewed by Larry Mantle on KPCC 89.3 yesterday. She's written a book called Revolution in the Bleachers. The McMahon book is about youth sports and the pressures adults create for kids to the detriment of their childrens' emotional and intellectual development.

McMahon's thesis is at odds with the accepted wisdom of Claremont, namely that things like AYSO and Little League are good, essential activities necessary to a healthy and normal childhood. McMahon seems to believe that youth sports have devolved into activities not primarily for children, but for the egos of many of the parents involved.

In her interview, McMahon contrasts the image of organized youth sports with unsupervised play--the sort that kids used to do when they had sandlot baseball games among themselves. Do kids do that anymore? Just play?

Now, kids are starting in organized sports at earlier and earlier ages. McMahon argues that the evidence of psychologists shows that kids need unstructured play and that they develop important conflict resolution skills by having to negotiate the rules in pickup games as opposed to having an adult with a programmatic sports regime impose those rules on the child.

McMahon points out that some of the things that gets pushed out by youth sports is the family dinner and the family vacation. What used to serve as an important bonding times for parents and children have simply been jettisoned by an entire generation of parents. McMahon argues that there is a great deal of statistical evidence that shows lower rates of self-esteem problems and substance abuse and are happier when they grow up in families that do things like share sit down dinners together.

When you think of all the time, money, and energy devoted just to youth soccer in the U.S., how is it that a country like Brazil, where kids just grow up kicking the ball around and playing, can achieve such greatness and beauty in the sport? The jogo bonito's element of fun is missing from the American game.

McMahon goes on to say in her interview that parents are pushing kids into youth sports at the age of seven or earlier partly out of the unrealistic belief that their child can earn a college sports scholarship. Yet, less than one percent of all the kids in youth sports get college scholarships. Sports parents operate under the mistaken illusion that organized sports can make their child a great athlete, but as one coach interviewed by McMahon says, "You can't coach in what God left out."

In the meantime, parents will spend thousands, tens of thousands on youth sports chasing a vain dream. A better bet, McMahon says, is to simply put that same money into a college savings account. And, according to McMahon, there is many times more money in scholarships available for academics as opposed to sports, so it would seem to make more sense to devote money and energy into a child's learning rather than their sports.

All of which raises another question. Are we in Claremont enabling destructive behaviors by placing so much emphasis on competitive, organized youth sports? Besides inhibiting childhood emotional development, pushing kids into sports has also the cause of rising orthopedic injuries among kids, as McMahon notes in her book. The evidence seems to show that some parents are realizing that things have gotten out of balance, and the pendulum is swinging the other way. Parents themselves are discovering the error of some of these assumptions.

McMahon's advice seems to make sense to us. Want to bond with your children? Forget AYSO. Take them hiking, cook a family dinner together, take a long vacation with them, and let them play. Let them be kids.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Watery Vision

You may have caught our notices of charitable events going on around town and seen that a good many Claremont 400 people are members and leaders of these organizations--the League of Women Voters, the Claremont Community Foundation, Friends of the Library, the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis, the Claremont Educational Foundation, etc....

As we've pointed out in the past, these people and these organizations do many good works. The problem is when the prejudices of the 400's social networks collide with the challenges of managing a city and a school district where the constituents may have different ideas about how they'd like things run. The problems arise when the Claremonsters assume that they have every solution and are incapable of making a mistake.

Looking back at Claremont's proposed purchase of the water company ($100 million and counting), one of the complaints the city and Claremonters have is the fact that our current water provider, Golden State Water (GSW), has lumped Claremont's rates together with high desert towns like Apple Valley and Barstow, where GSW has to pay to install the water infrastructure for a rapidly growing area--a cost we in Claremont help underwrite. This combining of different towns into one rate schedule is called regionalization.

But if we examine the roots of regionalization, we see that Claremont, under then-City Manager Glenn Southard and a City Council wholly owned and controlled by Claremont 400ers like Diann Ring, Al Leiga, Paul Held, Suzan Smith, and Karen Rosenthal, contributed to the problem.

In 1998, Claremont was also in negotiations with the other agency members of the Six Basins Watermaster, which resulted in Claremont receiving 535 acre-feet in water rights annually. Claremont's water company at the time was Southern California Water Co. (SCWC), which later changed its name to Golden State Water after being bought out by American States Water.

On 5/26/98, the Claremont City Council received a staff report by Scott Miller (now working for the City of Beverly Hills), who at the time was the Assistant to the City Manager. Miller's report outlines a proposed water deal the city wanted to make with SCWC. The deal would lease Claremont's 535 acre-feet of water rights to SCWC (now Golden State Water) for 30 years. In exchange, the city would receive annual payments amounting to $123,000 based on 1998 rates. In addition, SCWC would give the the City of Claremont a 50% rate reduction, amounting to $177,000 in annual savings at that time.

Miller's report recommended making the deal because Claremont stood to benefit by $300,000 a year. What the report didn't mention was that Claremont also agreed not to oppose regionalization when SCWC applied for its next rate increases in 1999. The City of Claremont, in effect, signed off on regionalization and in return got a nice yearly water rights payment and now only pays half of what the citizenry has to pay for water.

Oh, and the city also benefited when the water company was allowed to raise its rates and instituted regionalization. You see, higher rates means higher utility tax revenue for Claremont. It was a win-win for the city, and a lose-lose for the citizens.

How did the debate go before the city council? See Item 17 of the Council Minutes. Here are some excerpts:

Councilmember Ring thought the proposal was historic and that many such agreements take twenty years to final[ize]. Mayor Smith agreed and thought it set a good tone for the future.

Moved by Ring, seconded by Leiga, and carried 4-0 to approve the agreement for execution by the mayor.
(Absent: Rosenthal).

Incidentally, the only person on record questioning the agreement was Jackie McHenry, who "asked how citizens would save money. It costs the city less, may cost citizens more." (Who's the one with vision?)

Like so many problems in Claremont, the city council and staff long ago sowed the seeds for water rate woes by going along with SCWC and by not mounting a coordinated effort to lobby the state Public Utility Commission to oppose regionalizing our water rates.

Ironically, at the same 5/26/98 meeting, the matter of the Claremont Wilderness Park came up (Item 14). Mayor Smith inquired about the fire and vegetation management plan. The city's failure to implement that plan fully became a central argument for the plaintiffs in the Palmer Canyon fire lawsuit (settled in March, 2007, for $17.5 million). Smith was assured by staff that fire safety in the park was under control. We know what happened in October, 2003, when the Grand Prix fire swept through the area.

All of this really argues against any notion of competence under Southard, Ring, Held, et. al. It really argues for the need to avoid at all costs going back to that sort of mismanagement and to hold those people accountable for the bad their incompetence has inflicted on our community. It's simply folly to fail to see how all the good the Claremont 400 has accomplished is counterbalanced by a large body of incredibly boneheaded decisions for which they refuse to accept responsibility.

When you turn on your tap, when you pay your water bill, or if your house burned down in 2003, think of Diann Ring; in fact, call her up and thank her personally for her "vision."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Aloha, Bloggers

There must be a secret society of expatriate Hawaiians. I keep runing across them in the blogosphere. There's Kathy, the Claremont McKenna College senior at A Passion for Food.

Reading that blog turned me onto Rubber Slippers in Italy, a nicely done blog by Rowena Castelli in Provincia di Lecco near the southern end of Lake Como in the Lombardy region of Italy. Rowena's from Hawaii and married to an Italian. Her blog has gorgeous photos, receipes and travel notes. You can find interesting things like Sicilian cuddura for Easter time.

Home in France has postings from Barbara, another island expat who first went to France 17 years ago and who married a Frenchman. I've got the greatest admiration for anyone who can leave behind their native language and set up shop in a far off place.

Closer to home, next Saturday, April 28th, the Claremont Rotary Club is having their annual Taste of Claremont from 5 pm to 8 pm. Tickets are $50, and you can call (909) 447-7717 for more information.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Managing the Hive Mind

Gary Wolf in today's Los Angeles Times has an opinion piece on the problems the Bush Administration and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez are having with U.S. attorney firings brouhaha.

Wolf writes that the problem is really more of a structural problem that he calls the "hive mind." What he failed to point out was that these problems aren't limited to the Bush Administration; rather, they are inherent in any group that closes itself to criticism and outside opinion. It really the same type of groupthink that social psychologist Irving Janis studied. It really is the same malady that plagues the Claremont 400 in our own town and brought down former City Manager Glenn Southard, himself an architect of that hive culture.

Wolf remarks:

The key to making a consensus operative — getting it out of mere chatter and into the real world — is preventing the outbreak of factionalism and debate, which can lead to time-wasting attempts to resolve conflicts by "thinking" about them. The Bush administration, so brutal when seen from the outside, has been a remarkable oasis of cooperation within. Now well into the last quarter of its eight-year tenure, the executive branch has weathered a series of national crises that border on catastrophe, and yet it has yielded no point of principle or policy. Though plans may have occasionally been foiled by force majeure (the unforeseeable sectarian violence in Iraq, for instance, or the surprising vulnerability of Gulf Coast cities to wind and water), still, in nearly every case, White House staffers have stuck to their stories and to each other. There have been few public fights and bitter resignations, fewer negotiations with adversaries, no apologies and certainly no explanations.

The thing is, if you replace "Bush administration" with Claremont 400 or Enron management, you get the same results. Dysfunction and mismanagement emerge inevitably from these closed social systems. Gary Wolf, who writes for Wired Magazine, misses the point. What we need in government, in management, is more open sourcing.

Mailbag

More reader mail. This time a letter from a reader concerned with the city's raising it's copy fees. Is Claremont returning to its past ways or is staff merely adjusting prices to the going rates of neighboring towns? You can read the staff report on the matter for next Tuesday's City Council meeting.

We suspect that if you're reading this post, you probably don't have an opinion about the copy fees because you can get most of the city's documents online for free. Also, raising copy fees from $ .10 to $ .25 per copy for black-and-white and $ .50 per copy for color pales in comparison things like:

  • The $17.5 million settlement for the Palmer Canyon fire (although this was covered by the city's liability insurance).

  • $675,000 to compensate The Tolkin Group for former City Manager Glenn Southard's decision in 2000 to put in all the utility hookups before any buildings were put in place.

  • The $10 million instant pension deficit when Southard increased staff retirement benefits in the year before he left town for Indio (the pension increases were retroactive to employees' date of hire).

And on and on.

Still, may the reader has a point--watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves:

Subject: Item 10 on the 4-24-07 Claremont City Council agenda
To: "claremont buzz"
claremontbuzz@yahoo.com

Take a look at item #10 on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, April 24th. It calls for an almost triple increase in the cost to the public for having the city copy documents (b&w copies). Thanks to Jackie McHenry and her survey of costs in the late 90's, the cost to provide black and white copies to the public was lowered from .25 to .10 a page. The cost of providing audio tapes was lowered from $5 to $2.50 (if the requestor supplied their own tape) and when video taping of council meetings began in late 2003, the cost for the video tape was the same as for an audio tape( with the requestor providing the blank tape).

Now that McHenry is gone, the current staff and council are turning back the clock to the good old days of gouging the public. Bad enough they are partying like crazy now that the watchdog is gone, but they are also going back to discouraging the public from accessing documents at a Reasonable cost. What is next? Look at the survey cites in the report and see that the charges for B and W copies ranges from .05 -.25 a copy. So why doesn't Claremont charge.05 or .10 which is reasonable? Because they now have a majority that can do whatever they want to do and get away with it.

As late as last year, if the Observers for the League of Women Voters wanted a copy of the packets for the Commissions or the Council meetings (if they did not have computers or preferred to have a paper copy), those packets, some of them quite lengthy, were given to them free of charge. The reason? According to a former councilmember, the LAW were grandfathered (or perhaps grandmothered) in when they set the fee policy. The rest of the community (but who knows who really had to pay and who did not) had to pay the scheduled fees.

They are not supposed to charge for the time it takes the staff member (usually the city clerk) to get the documents and then copy them, but only for the direct cost of making the copies, i.e., paper, toner, electricity figured out by the cost per copy. Is Claremont violating the Public Records Act by doing this? I am sure their attorney has ok'ed it. The public needs to know about this and e-mail or speak out at the council meeting on Tuesday. If anyone even cares about it, that is.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Police [Station] in Our Time

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin had a funny editorial suggesting possible land deals to get Claremont that land in Pomona at Bonita and Towne. Claremont wants to build a new police station there but forgot to tell its neighbor they were planning this. What's next, the Sudetenland?

Of course, Pomona Mayor Norma Torres is a good deal tougher than Neville Chamberlain. And, as David Allen notes in today's Bulletin, Pomona's better-armed than Claremont.

We think the Claremont-Pomona land switch may be a good idea. Or better yet, how about a council switch? We may be on to something with that one--let's do a reality show! Something along the lines of ABC's "Wife Swap."

We'd love to see how Councilmember Ellen Taylor's snootiness (snottiness?) plays without the backup of the Claremont 400. It'd be something like the bully who turns around and finds himself all alone. "Council Swap," coming this fall to your local station. Let's do it!

_______________________

Overheard at Sunday's Claremont Museum of Art Grand Opening:

A 40-year Claremont resident looking around Village West and seeing the parking structure, the new housing and all the construction for the Casa 245 hotel and new movie theater, commented that Claremont was becoming just like any other town. The person told their spouse that maybe they should move to Sierra Madre.

There's some irony in that comment given the hubbub in that town over the recently passed Measure V anti-growth initiative.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Events

Scanning the Claremont Colleges calendars, we found that Harvey Mudd College will be hosting a conference of environmental social scientists this Saturday, 4/19, from 8:30 a.m.to 3:45 p.m. The conference will be held in Beckman Hall in the F. W. Olin Science Center on the HMC campus.

For information, call 909-607-3840.

Pure Gold

Los Angeles restaurant reviewer Jonathan Gold was awarded the Pulitzer Prize earlier this week. He is the first food critic to win a Pulitzer.

Gold has written for the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and Gourmet Magazine. Gold's "Counter Intelligence" column in the Weekly is well-respected and manages to cover Southern California's tremendously varied culinary world with wit and insight. He has an uncanny knack for uncovering the best in out-of-the way eateries from a noodle house in Chinatown to the best place in Los Angeles for Peruvian chicken (Pollo a la Brasa in Koreatown of all places).

And a Gold review gives you the whole experience from soup to nuts. You feel like you've tagged along with him on his outings. It's a rare gift to be able to learn a city through its food and to be able to translate that to the printed page.

NPR interviewed Gold on Tuesday, and he explained how he often has to turn over a lot of stones to find that certain treasure.

The Weekly's website also features Gold's "99 Essential L.A. Restaurants," which covers just about every price range and ethnic cuisine. Rain is forecast for the weekend, maybe some comfort food, no? How about a trip to Langer's for America's best pastrami sandwich or just across the street to Mama's Hot Tamales Café? What else can get you out to MacArthur Park these days?

Gold, incidentally, spoke at Pitzer College back in the spring of 2005. Afterwards, the Courier ran a nice column by the late John Murphy, who captured the evening and Gold perfectly:

There is a Swiftian delight in Gold’s voice and prose when he reels off the astounding excesses of recent upscale dining: one orders tea and a variety of living plants are brought to table and the leaves are pruned with solid silver scissors; one orders mineral water and the “water sommelier” brings 16 varieties and suggests which size of bubbles will go well with the foie gras; a chef in Paris centers his recipes around perfume fragrances—the physics and chemistry of food offer a world of experimentation. Gold is not overtly judgmental, however, because he’s also fascinated by people’s obsessions with food. Recently, he spent several days in the hills of Kentucky talking with bacon makers who are completely taken by the nuances of their craft. “You want people who are a little bit nutty about food.”

Where are the good eats in the L.A. area these days? The San Gabriel Valley for Chinese, Silverlake and West Covina for Thai, Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima for Mexican, and many of the 700 regional restaurants in Koreatown. When the talk ended, Mr. Gold said he’d like to eat somewhere ethnic, so on the advice of Steve Glass, former restaurant reviewer for the COURIER, some of us migrated to Tropical Mexico on East End in Pomona. There was much good food, drink and conversation amidst families out for a tasty, modestly priced meal. Jonathan Gold had high praise for the
albondigas soup.

Must have been an evening to remember.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Water Company Mail

We got a response to our recent post on the city's possible water company purchase. The reader doesn't believe Claremont can buyout Golden State Water for $100 million without a big water rate increase. The reader's figures are taken directly from the League of Women Voters (LWV) water report. A couple notes: AF means acre-foot, state water is brought to our area from the Sacramento River delta via the California aqueduct, hence the higher rate.

We won't go into the reader's math here and simply present the information for you to review. We do think that the reader brings up some important points and that, based on some of the inquiries we've received, we think the city should have a public debate on the matter. They and the LWV held a sustainability forum on 4/14/2007, and this issue is certainly related and equally vital. Let's open it up to a community discussion rather than having it hashed out behind closed doors. All of the five current councilmembers ran on platforms that at least mentioned openness or inclusiveness. Let's see them put their money ($100 million worth) where their collective mouths are.

Here's the reader's note:

To: claremontbuzz@yahoo.com
Subject: Some Water-Calculations
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 23:31:43 -0400

I read your article about the potential purchase of the water company with interest. I also scanned through the League of Women Voters' study about the costs of purchasing the water company. As someone living in Claremont, I am all for buying the water company and making it a public good, but the promises that it will not increase our water rates is more or less wishful thinking.

Here some thought about the numbers: I did some back of the envelope calculations with the numbers presented in the LWV report.

Proposed purchase price: $100 Mil.; bond interest rate: 5.3%; number of customers in Claremont: 10,800; Annual water use in the city: 13,000 AF (acre-feet); approx. 50% from wells - 50% from Three Valley (MWD); cost of produced well water: ~$140 /AF; from Three Valley: ~$500/AF; average [annual] water bill in Claremont: $840

- $100 Mil divided per customers: $9,260 debt per customer
- annual interest (5.3%): $490 per customer (does not include depreciation)

Water production costs:
6,500 AF x $140/AF = $ 910,000
6,500 AF x $500/AF = $3,250, 000
Total production costs: $4.16 Mil

- production cost: $385 per customer.

This means that only the interest for the $100 Mil and the water production costs is approx. $875 per customer, which already exceeds the average annual water bill. The $875 does not include costs for managing and maintaining the system, repairing of old infrastructure and capital expenditures for new one, just to mention some other costs involved in running a water systems, and I am sure I did not include everything.

Concluding from the simple calculation: I just do not see how Claremont can pay $100 Mil and still claim that we can afford this without raising dramatically the water rates. In this case I do hope I am wrong with my assumptions and would be pleased if somebody can prove me otherwise.

Sincerely,

-------------

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Party Notes

A concerned reader sent this in:

Subject: Party Hearty Claremont
To:claremontbuzz@yahoo.com

In the wake of the $13,000 going away party for Karen Rosenthal and Al Leiga, a new city ordinance was drafted to regulate the big spenders on the City Council with a $500. limit.

Thanks to Jackie McHenry for looking out for us.

Not all partying was affected, though. Here are a few of the extracurricular events that we still enjoy sponsoring.

$7000.00 approved for the city employees and families picnic in Larkin Park on June 23.

$6000.00 for the Christmas party last December at Double Tree Hotel

$50,000 per year allowed to the EDAC (Employee Development Action Committee) for parties and activities to improve morale

$3000-4000 for Council Commissioner dinner for 45 commissioners and spouses as thanks for their (volunteer) time.

Hooray for Claremont!

Looking for work? Need great benefits? Apply at City Hall for the best, most secure jobs in the land. Party Hearty!


New Police Station

The city has a solution as to the where to locate Claremont's new police station. According to today's Daily Bulletin, the city is looking to a plot at the corner of Bonita and Towne--in Pomona!

As the Will Bigham article indicates, letting Claremont build a new police facility is the least Pomona could do since that city's criminals insist on crossing over into our fair city to commit their crimes (at least that's what some police officials and a good number of Claremont 400ers believe).

Pomona's mayor Norma Torres didn't seem to thrilled with the idea, however, since Claremont has long used it's neighbor to point to as a comparison for any problem (crime, homelessness, redevelopment, municipal finance, etc...).

Maybe we shouldn't tell her about Claremont secret motto: Thank God for Pomona!

Comment

The tragic shoooting at Virginia Tech underscores the laughable absurdity of the minor flap over Pomona College's crime stats. A few unauthorized golf cart trips and a spike in dorm room thefts hardly constitute a dangerous situation. And, no amount of planning can prepare a campus for the sort of random insanity that happened in Blacksburg yesterday.

All we can do for that is to make contingency plans for a scenario that in all likelihood may never happen. Short of a continuous campus lockdown and placing metal detectors and armed guards at every building, there may be no way of completely preventing a lone, crazed person from committing a mass shooting at any campus, workplace or government office. And such measures conflict directly with the academia's ideal of openness and the free exchange of ideas. Such are the calculations our times force upon us.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Morning News

Today's Daily Bulletin had an article by Will Bigham on former President Clinton's lecture at Bridges Auditorium yesterday. The online article includes a video link that features a possible future president.

______________________

Bigham also had a piece on the new Claremont Stars amateur women's soccer team, which will compete in the Women's Premier Soccer League. The new team will practice at El Roble Intermediate School and play its games at Claremont High.

For those not familiar with soccer, the Stars are a club team--a much more serious and competitive soccer group fielding boys and girls teams for different age groups. Players have to tryout to win a place on a Stars team, and coaching is more skilled and professional than AYSO, which uses parent volunteers. Also, the Stars can recruit players from anywhere to play for them.

Each summer, the Stars host their Summer Classic tournament, which draws teams from all over the U.S., as well as Canada and Europe.

In a way, the Stars are in competition with the more amateur and volunteer AYSO for the field space on city and school district practice fields, and the downside to the new team is that they add another group that besides occupying the fields will create a good deal of wear-and-tear on the facilities.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Water

We received this note the other day from a reader curious about the water company purchase:

Hi

I was wondering how come no much is being said about our purchase of the water company, which is the first priority for our City Council. I would be interested in finding out what are people in town thinking about it, pr the level of awareness around that issue.

Thanks
The League of Women Voters (LWV) did a pretty good study of the water issue in 2005, and, as Foothill Cities noted just the other day, the issue ranked number one on the city's A-list of priorities. Tony Krickl in the 4/14 issue of the Claremont Courier, reported on this.

The water company issue tough one to parse. Golden State Water, in our view, may be the worse of two evils. Claremont's water rates are much higher compared to cities like La Verne or Pomona, which has it's own municipal water system.

A great part of the problem is that Claremont's water rates are regionalized, which means that in 1999 they were rolled into rates for high desert places like Hesperia and Barstow. Because of all the development that has gone on in those areas, Golden State Water has had to pay to build the infrastructure, pipes, pumping stations, etc., to deliver water there. Claremont's complaint is that it is subsidizing Golden State's cost to build those systems through the higher, regionalized rates.

Of course, that ignores the fact that the city under then-City Manager Glenn Southard, signed off on regionalization in 1999, actually arguing that it would benefit Claremonters in the long run (we tried pulling up the city's information for the 1999 regionalization debate, but city's document archive has been down all week).

Golden State Water counters by saying that Claremont gets lower rates through the economy of scale that it creates through regionalization. They say a stand-alone water system would result in higher rates for the city. Golden State also argues that municipal water systems can't be compared to privately owned systems because municipalities can hide costs of taxes, bonds, and other fees.

The total cost of the water company purchase would be over $100 million, according to the Courier article. So, the city would have to first use eminent domain to acquire the water company, which would involve considerable legal fees, then finance the purchase of the water company. The financing would be through revenue bonds that would be paid off through customers' monthly bills.

Other costs could include the purchase of the water delivery infrastructure, something that would add considerable maintenance cost and which may be in need of major repairs, and the expense of managing the utility. All these costs would be passed on to customers.

The LWV water report assumes that the total cost of financing the water company purchase would be $200 million ($100 million in revenue bonds, and another $100 million in interest over 30 years). Based on financing at a 5.3% rate, customers would not break even on their bills until after 18 years, according to the report. The LWV report also states that if the city refinanced the bonds after 11 years, then customers could reach the break-even point at that time.

There are a lot of unknowns built into the LWV projections. These include the state of the infrastructure, which could require extensive reworking and repair. It also assumes competent, efficient management--something that has not always been present in the city in the past.

On the whole, though, we favor a city purchase. It seems to make good public policy to have a vital, shared resource like water owned by the public rather than by private corporations. Further, as the LWV report points out, there is a concern about the purchase of private U.S. water companies by multinational corporations whose shareholder interest may not align with those of customers in local markets.

The success or failure of a Claremont-owned water company depends on honest, competent management. There will no doubt be the temptation to use water company as a cash cow to generate revenue to pay for other, unrelated projects or debt, a prospect former Councilmember Sandra Baldonado salivated at. If that happens, or if the city does not have the ability to maintain the water system, then costs will rise as much or higher than they have under private ownership.

But as long as the city runs things fairly and acquires the needed expertise, in the long run, 30 years out, the purchase seems to make sense.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Some Dessert

Hope I didn't offend the fine folks over at Some Crust Bakery with yesterday's post. I was speaking strictly bread, and although Some Crust's challah and jalepeno cheese bread are very good, they're not quite the artisan breads that Full of Life used to make, or that the new Le Pain Quotidien will offer when it goes into Village West.

That said, Some Crust's pastries, cookies, scones, cakes and assorted other desserts are very fine. They're a little bigger and heavier than the you might find in a patisserie and have a little more of an Americana feeling. It's still a nice place to go into to grab a cup of coffee and a sweet or to order a special occasion cake.

Some Crust makes it's goodies on-site from scratch and that does make a world of difference. For a good write up with photos, check out A Passion for Food's entry from April 8th.

Our only complaint about Some Crust is the service is very spotty and is downright bad on occasion. The staff is very friendly but too often slow, and the wait can be long, especially on weekend mornings. But, if you have the time to spare, the treats are worth the five or ten minutes it takes to get your order.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Baked Goods

Every town should have a good bakery, especially a walking town like the Claremont Village. St. Honoré Boulangerie in Portland's Northwest district fills that bill, as does Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery on La Brea near 6th St. in LA.

Full of Life bakery used to fill that niche with its cranberry walnut loaves, chewy, slightly sweet, pale-crusted baguettes and its fabulous cheese counter. Wandering around the Claremont Farmers Market on a Sunday morning, you could pick up a fresh loaf, and feel very European, walking home baguette in hand with your sack of new potatoes and turnips and organic apples and throw a nice supper together.

But Full of Life changed owners a year or so ago, and the quality of the bread declined sharply. The cheese counter seems to have pretty much disappeared, and the restaurant is now more like the average sandwich shop.

Claremont's languished ever since.

But have no fears. Help is on the way (no, not Bill Clinton's Sunday visit). Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery that got its start in Brussels in 1990, is coming to Village West. The Student Life had a mention of the Le Pain in Beverly Hills, so you might sample some of the goods there if you're out that way. Soon you won't have to go far.

Clinton Visit

Former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at Bridges Auditorium this Sunday, 4/15, at 4:30 p.m. President Clinton is a guest of Claremont McKenna College, and because of the high demand for seats, the school is limiting admission to CMC students, faculty, staff and invited guests.

Even if you miss the speech, try to make it over to the Claremont Museum of Art's opening.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Fine Mess

First the recent $17.5 million Palmer Canyon fire settlement, now a very costly goof with Claremont's Village West project. He's over two years gone, but as our readers have pointed out, Glenn Southard is the gift that keeps on giving.

A Will Bigham article in the Daily Bulletin today indicated that back in 2002, when Village West was just beginning to take shape, then-City Manager Southard and his staff decided it'd be a good idea to put in the utility infrastructure ahead of time. Southard's reasoning was that it would attract businesses to the project by having all the sewer, electrical, communication, water and gas connections in place ahead of time.

Southard's staff told the developer, The Tolkin Group, that when the businesses eventually went in, several years later, it wouldn't cost much to adjust the utility connections to whatever configuration the buildings actually took.

But it turns out that the price of adjusting the utility connections to fit the actual project is going to be $675,000--a bill the city is having to foot. Unfortunately, this is something we've seen emerge time and again from the Southard management style. It's akin to the old Soviet-style five-year plan. Decide what the shape of the future is going to be, price in all your false assumptions, devote manpower and resources to achieve it, and then discover that when it arrives the reality is different from what you'd assumed. Next step: come up with another misguided five-year plan to adjust for the mistakes you made before. And so on.

The city staff report on the problem states:

As construction of the project has progressed, the developer has incurred approximately $1.5 million in additional site and utility costs that were not in its construction budget, as a result of having to relocate utilities and reconstruct portions of the public streetscapes.

Staff has negotiated that $1.5 million down to the $675,000 the city will now have to pay to Tolkin Group to compensate them for their additional costs. (Compensate is a key word that comes up time and again with the landmines Southard left behind.)

Sadly, this is the same sort of planning that Councilmembers Ellen Taylor, Linda Elderkin, Sam Pedroza, and their Claremont 400 supporters want to return to. This is the "vision" they speak of. As we've said before, sometimes "vision" is blind.

Mayor Peter Yao, who can always be counted on to say something appropriately ironic, was quoted in the Bulletin article: "'I hope future councils don't have to clean up messes that we create,' Yao said."

We couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Art Event

Celebrate Tax Day Sunday, April 15th (really the 16th this year), by going to the Opening Day festivities at the new Claremont Museum of Art. Among the inaugural perks are live music and fee admission.

The museum's collection includes works by a number of well-known Claremont artists, including:

Woodworker Sam Maloof isn't listed, but one of his rockers is shown in the slideshow on the museum's website. Maloof, who is originally from Chino, now makes his home in Rancho Cucamonga, where his workshop and foundation are located. Maloof is certainly an important, world-renowned artist, so you'd expect his work to be represented in the new museum's collection as well.

Maloof Rocking Chair
Rocking Chair, Sam Maloof
Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Pollock, Renwick Gallery

The inaugural exhibition features the work of Karl Benjamin, an artist who began painting while working as a public school teacher in Chino. Benjamin is an abstract classicist, and his paintings are full of geometric shapes and rhythmic colors that seem to have an almost musical harmony to them. Check out the video interview with Benjamin on the museum's website for a little insight into his work.

#9 (1966), Karl Benjamin
#9 (1966), Karl Benjamin

The Claremont Museum of Art is located in the former College Heights Citrus Packing House, and will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. Admission will be $3.00, and kids under 18 will get in free. There is no charge through the end of May.

Claremont Museum of Art
536 W. 1st St.
Claremont, CA 91711

(909) 624-3591

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April Fool's

Okay, we've received a few emails in response to our root2's David Beckham piece about Beckham and his wife looking to move to Claremont. A number of readers correctly noted the date of the post: April 1st. That's right.

Centinel over at Foothill Cities also noted the Beckham piece.

For more, see Wikipedia.

News Briefs

Will Bigham in today's Daily Bulletin reports that the family of an 83-year-old pedestrian killed at Mountain Ave. and Ninth St. last year has filed a $15 million claim against the City of Claremont, alleging that the city should have installed a crosswalk at the intersection where the accident occurred.

_______________________

Bigham also had a short note on the city's sustainability forum scheduled for this Saturday at the Alexander Hughes Center from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. As we noted yesterday, the League of Women Voters for the Claremont Area is co-sponsoring the event.

We are always struck by the irony implicit in Claremont's and the League's call for sustainability. League stalwarts like Judy Wright, Diann Ring, Ellen Taylor, and Helaine Goldwater talk a good game about the subject while at the same time supporting Claremont's dependence on sales tax revenue from Roger Hogan's Toyota dealership.

Sure, Hogan sells a lot of Priuses, but he also sells a lot of gas-guzzling, greenhouse emission producing 4Runners, Tacomas, Highlanders, Sequoias and such. According to the city's website, Hogan's Claremont Toyota is sixth largest Toyota dealership in the world in terms of sales volume. (Notice the big pickup on Hogan's website?)

Pomona College Crime Rates

We've received a lot of mail regarding last week's post about Pomona College President David Oxtoby's email concerning a possible Forbes.com article potentially ranking Pomona College in the top-5 of US colleges in terms of per-capita crime rates.

Oxtoby had indicated that Forbes might post the article by the end of last week. That never happened, so it is possible that Oxtoby's concerns about Forbes' methodology being flawed may have convinced the magazine to not run the article or that they needed to reconsider their survey before posting the article.

In any event, the article has not run. In the meantime, we give you Oxtoby's email in its entirety, and we'll let you decide:


From: David Oxtoby
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 12:01 PM
To: Staff
Subject: Forbes article

To: The Pomona College Community
From: David Oxtoby, President

I am writing to let you know in advance about an article to appear on the
Forbes.com Website later this week that will portray the College in a troubling and unfair light. Using the U.S. Department of Education campus crime statistics for the year 2005, a Forbes reporter is finalizing an article ranking American colleges according to the amount of crime reported on their campuses during that year. Depending upon how they parse the numbers, we may be listed in the top five for campuses with the most crime per capita -- possibly even at number one.

Obviously, this runs counter our own experience -- that this is an exceptionally safe campus. The main reasons for this unlikely ranking are twofold. First, the number of reported thefts at Pomona in 2005 was abnormally high -- 71 as compared to 41 in 2004 and 33 in 2006. (A big part of this spike was due to one group of juveniles who were caught and stopped.) Second, the number of reported "motor vehicle thefts" on our campus in 2005 was listed at 13. This misleading statistic includes 11 cases of unauthorized use of a golf cart.

I would stress that the safety of our campus community is not in question here. The number of thefts in 2005 was a genuine concern, not to be dismissed or minimized. However, it is important to note that reported crimes against people on our campus were virtually non-existent that year, and that they remain among the lowest in our peer group of colleges.

Paradoxically, our vulnerability to theft may be exacerbated by the fact that our students feel so safe on this campus that they sometimes neglect to lock their doors. We have been working to encourage them to take more reasonable precautions to safeguard their property, and we hope to continue to bring those numbers down in the future.

In reporting alleged criminal incidents, Pomona makes a strong effort to follow the letter of the reporting rules laid down by the Department of Education in compliance with the Clery Act. These rules specifically require campuses to report items involving golf carts and joy riding. We are also required to include any incident reported to campus security, even if no police report is ever filed.

In truth, I believe the article and chart to be printed in Forbes say more about the magazine's methodology than they do about the relative security of Pomona's campus. If Forbes' intent was to identify campuses where personal security is a problem, then they have clearly failed. Pomona is, and will continue to be, a very safe place to live and work.

-------------------------------------------------------------
This message has been scanned by Postini anti-virus software.
Pomona Staff Mailing List
-------------------------------------------------------------
This message has been scanned by Postini anti-virus software.

The 1990 Clery Act requires American universities and colleges to collect and make public campus crime statistics. The U.S. Dept. of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) maintains a searchable historical data set for the crime information they collect from postsecondary institutions around the country.

The OPE website allows you to compare any single institution's crime rate with that of a given geographical area. (It doesn't allow for ranking the schools as Forbes apparently tried to do.)

Below is a table showing Pomona College's crime stats compared with average numbers for 9,209 other colleges and universities in the United States. Pomona College is the "Target Campus." The data is for 2001-2005, and the comparison group averages are shown to the right of Pomona's numbers:


As you can see, the 2004 and 2005 burglary numbers (what Oxtoby referred to as "theft") match up with the numbers Oxtoby cited. The 2006 numbers are not posted yet on the OPE website.

The anomalous 2005 burglary numbers are indeed well above the average, as Oxtoby indicated. However, the 2004 numbers are also twice as high as the national average. The 2003 numbers are also above the average.

We ran the same comparison for several specific areas of the country (Far West, Northeast, Great Plains) and found Pomona College 2004 and 2005 burglary stats above average for those geographical regions as well.

Burglary was the only area where Pomona was far above the average. Recall that he said that the burglary (theft) numbers dropped to 33 in 2006, and he attributed that 2005 spike to a small group of juveniles who were apparently apprehended. The high 2004 numbers could also indicate that the burglary ring was active during that year as well. In fact, the numbers seem to build from a 2001 low of only six incidents (below the national average) and peak in 2005.

So, Oxtoby may be right in pointing out the anomalous burglary numbers, and apart from those Pomona College's crime numbers are no worse and are in some cases better than the average U.S. college. The numbers, though, aren't measured on a per-capita basis. With an enrollment of only about 1,500, Pomona could still have a relatively high per-capita crime rate.

The University of Southern California, which has 32,150 students, is not listed on the OPE site, but the USC website has a 2005-2006 Annual Security report that lists a table with 2002, 2003 and 2004 crime statistics (beginning page 15). In 2004, USC's main Univeristy Park campus had 47 burglaries reported on campus; in 2003 they had 91 burglaries; and in 2002 they had 107. Here is a comparison of burglary incidents per 1,000 students:

Even the lower 2006 burglary number cited by Oxtoby (33) was higher per capita (22) than any of the USC stats listed above.

The per-capita vehicle theft rates were similarly higher for Pomona versus USC, but Oxtoby indicated those numbers included unauthorized use of golf carts that skewed the stats.

Similarly, Pomona's per-capita crimes against persons rate (murder, assault, sex offenses, robbery) was higher than USC's numbers for 2002-2004. For that period, Pomona had a total of 9 such crimes, or 6 per 1,000 students. At the same time, USC had a total of 84 crimes against persons incidents, or 2.6 per 1,000 students.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Goings On

The Claremont City Council will be meeting in the Citrus Room at City Hall with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 4/11.

The council will be discussing "Items of Interest and concern within the City of Claremont," according to the meeting agenda.

City Hall Citrus Room
225 W. Second Street
Claremont, 91711
(909) 399-5460


_______________________

On Saturday, 4/14, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m, the city and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters will be hosting a public forum on sustainability in Claremont. The forum will be held in the Padua Room of the Alexander Hughes Community Center. The city's information states:

Local and Regional leaders on the topic will speak and answer questions.

This public education event is sponsored by the Mayor's Ad Hoc Committee on Sustainable Development and the Sustainability Committee of the League of Women Voters of the Claremont Area with a grant from the Millenium Campaign of the Better World Foundation through the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Hughes Community Center - Padua Room
1700 Danbury Road
Claremont, 91711
(909) 399-5341


_______________________

Speaking of the League of Women Voters, on Saturday, 4/21, at 5:30 p.m., the League will be holding its 32nd annual gala auction. The event, titled "Paris After Dark," is a dinner and silent auction and will also be at the Alexander Hughes Center.

Visit and say "hi" to such Claremont 400 luminaries as Judy Wright, Diann Ring, Suzan Smith, Helaine Goldwater, Ellen Taylor, and Linda Elderkin. Talk about "continuity"!

Tickets are $55 per person, and you need to reserve by Monday, 4/16.

Call 624-9457 for tickets and information.

_______________________

It must be the season of charitable giving in Claremont because Friday, 4/27, is a shop & dine day benefiting the Claremont Educational Foundation (CEF) and Claremont schools. A portion of the money spent at participating shops and restaurants goes to CEF.

Like the League of Women Voters, you'll find many Claremont 400 and Preserve Claremont members in the background at CEF: Amy Mathieson (current CEF President), Ken Corhan (CEF Immediate Past President), and Paul Held (CEF Boardmember). You can't tell the players without a scorecard!

Call 399-1709 for more information.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Corrections

In response to Joslyn Jane's 4/7 post about Rhino Records, an astute reader writes in to say:

You new contributor "Joslyn Jane" really is cracking me up. Ameoba Music is at the intersection of Sunset and Cahuenga -- squarely in the heart of Hollywood! West LA is the other side of the 405. But I do agree that Rhino is great!

The reader is correct. Amoeba Music is located at 6400 Sunset Blvd. between N. Cahuenga and Vine St. We've updated Jane's post to reflect the reader's information.

___________________________

Centinel over at Foothill Cities also wrote us last week with comment posted on the Mayor Sam 2 blog. The comment stated:

For all intents and purposes, Alhambra is a suburb of the eastside of L.A. Without a "real" city like Los Angeles to hang onto the skirt tails of and drive their economies, these little "independent" cities that carry so much self-important pride (while they look down their noses at L.A.) - like Glendale, Alhambra, South Pasadena, El Monte, West Hollywood - even Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Long Beach might as well be Needles or Tucumcari, New Mexico.

They're as captive and indentured to the real city here, as is Hollywood and the SFV.

Are towns like Claremont mere lesser satellites of Los Angeles? Do we over-compensate for our place in the world by inflating Claremont's importance (à la Judy Wright's historical bits and the Claremont 400's constant chatter about the need for "continuity" in our elected leadership)?

Or is Centinel right in saying that the commentator has no idea what goes on along in our foothill towns? You tell us.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Don't Mess with Claremont

A sharp-eyed reader points out the Texas-shaped graphic on the door jam of Chief Cooper's car and wonders what that's all about. Probably the logo of the impound lot where they get it lubed. Maybe nothing.

Another reader thinks the Chief is missing a bet by not having an official Claremont PD song, and suggests the following. Readers can remind themselves of the tune by clicking here.

Chief Paul Cooper, Where Are You?
There's a holdup at the Vons,
AYSO's broken out in fights,
There's a traffic jam on Baseline
That's backed up to Claremont Heights,
There's a sports team short a child,
The City Manager's gone wild--
Chief Paul Cooper, where are you?

All Cooper All the Time


This week is all Paul Cooper's, we have to give it to him. Today he assumes permanent command of the Claremont Police Department after a meteoric career beginning in 1985. Following a nationwide search, wonder of wonders, Jeff Parker found the most qualified person right here in his own backyard. This sounds to us just like Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court awhile back. What are the chances?

According to the Courier, Cooper will be sworn in at 4 p.m. Friday, April 6th, (that's today) at the Doubletree Hotel.

In the City press release, Jeff Parker said,

Cooper has worked in many capacities at the Police Department and has a long list of accomplishments, including serving as a field training officer and patrol watch commander supervising officers; working as a detective investigating burglaries, thefts, fraud, narcotics and gangs; overseeing the operations of the jail, communications, records and the impound lot; coordinating the upgrade of the department’s radio systems; developing the Reserve Police Officer program; developing and implementing the supervisor and manager training program; and, providing leadership and management for the entire department. He has also applied for, received and managed close to $3 million in grant programs.
One wonders if he had time to catch any actual criminals.

It looks as if physical training isn't much of a priority for the new police chief, though. Or has he been bulking up with those tummy steroids? This must be part of his new plan to "work smarter, not harder". We will avoid the obvious jokes about policemen and donut shops. Anyway, the camera adds 10 pounds.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Crime Watch II

Yesterday's Claremont Courier featured a front page article about new Police Chief Paul Cooper. We've written here before about Cooper's being the candidate of the Claremont 400, Helaine Goldwater in particular. We've also argued that Cooper, who joined the Claremont PD in 1985, about three years before former City Manager Glenn Southard started, is very much in the Southardian management style: install yes men in middle and upper management; stifle dissenting opinions; use bonuses and performance evaluations to reward those loyal to you and to punish independent thinking.

As we stated two days ago, our objection to Cooper is that he doesn't really represent institutional change. Rather, he represents a step backward in terms of management culture, back to the Southard days. He's spent his time since being installed as interim chief in August, 2006, filling the positions beneath him with people loyal to him, entrenching himself in the position and discouraging more qualified candidates from applying. The fix was so obviously in that it would be a waste for a smart person to apply.

Speaking of the fix being in, a reader with inside information wrote in to say:

Rumor has it that the public review panel for the chief of police unanimously thought that Paul Cooper was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Why then, do you suppose, did City Manager Parker appoint him? What was the decision of the professional panel? Did the CM just hold his breath, wait for McHenry to become political dead meat and do what he planned on doing all along? Were the two review panels, public (each council member got to appoint 1 public person for the public panel) and professional, just a dog and pony show? Seems that way. There were about five or six formal letters to council members touting the merits of appointing Cooper, one of them from the owner of Bert and Rocky's Ice Cream Parlor, so was that what swayed him? Perhaps we will never know, but it would be interesting to find out how they all voted. Bet it is secret information, but in the end, it was the CM's decision all long.More pity Claremonters.

The reader also pointed out that the Tony Krickl's second article on the Police Department had the misleading headline of "CLAREMONT CRIME CONTINUES TO DECREASE." (The article is not available online.)

The police department released a comparison of 2005 and 2006 crime stats, claiming that crime had declined eight percent in 2006. Here is a table with the stats. Note that Cooper's department withheld the 2004 numbers:

As you can see, virtually the entire decrease came in one area: thefts. In the Krickl article, Cooper attributed the drop to the arrest of two very active burglars and to educating college students on keeping a better watch on their property.

The other crime numbers stayed essentially the same. If you removed the theft numbers, the totals for all other crimes were 444 in 2005 and 452 in 2006.

The problem with the numbers is that the Claremont PD and Cooper are doing exactly what Pomona College President David Oxtoby complained of when he wrote that Forbes.com was most likely going to list Pomona College among the top five, and possibly the number one, among colleges for crime per capita.

Oxtoby said that Forbes looked at only one year, 2005, which he said was anomalous for crime. Oxtoby listed the following numbers for reported theft incidents on campus:


The 2005 spike was not the norm and, according to Oxtoby, was the result of "some juveniles" who were apparently stealing from dorm rooms. In 2006, the numbers reverted to what one might normally expect. So, in Oxtoby's mind, pointing to only the 2005 numbers and not looking at how they fit into the bigger picture, Forbes is skewing their analysis of Pomona College's crime problem.

Using the Cooper Method, Pomona College's theft rate decreased by 54 percent from 2005 to 2006. Or it increased by 73 percent from 2004 to 2005. It all depends of what numbers you play with.

And that is exactly what Paul Cooper is guilty of. Glenn Southard, of course, did this type of thing constantly, this numbers game. Don't say we didn't warn you.