Claremont Insider: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

What's Happening?

TRI-CITY FUNDING PROBLEMS

Tri-City Mental Health, the cooperative mental health agency run jointly by the cities of Claremont, La Verne and Pomona, has had it's state funding eliminated in the current state budget. You may recall that Tri-City recently emerged from a 2004 bankruptcy.

Will Bigham reports in today's Bulletin on the issue.


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CITY SALARIES

A reader pointed us to a San Jose Mercury News article about city employee salaries that made it into the Bulletin today. As we recall, Claremont has been pretty free with its base salary information but has in the past fought releasing the performance bonus amounts given out to management. The argument against releasing has been that it violates employees privacy rights.


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BLOG UNLEASHED, BLOGGERS UNMASKED

The Foothill Cities blog has opened up their arena to all comers, and invites you to write to them and post your thoughts as an honorary blogger. If you have a bit of news or item of interest about the San Gabriel Valley, check out the FC and post your views.

And for those of you with prying eyes who absolutely hate anonymity, here's a photo of the FC bloggers, Centinel and Publius, taken at the recent Pasadena bloggers' picnic.


Photo Courtesy of Altadena Above It All


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Lastly, we received a nice note from Jared Cicon, the Claremont amateur ad creator whose Doritos ad we posted the other day.

Cicon asks for your (and our) support for his Heinz ketchup ad

Hello Insider,

------- suggested I check out your Claremont Blog, and when I did I was blown away. I want to thank Joslyn Jane for putting up the link to my Doritos Commercial. Thanks for helping to get the word out about the Heinz contest as well.

I need to ask my fellow Claremont peeps a favor, and hope you guys there at the Claremont Insider could help me do it.

The voting on the HEINZ contest is underway, and I could sure use some votes. The voting process couldn't be simpler.

You go to http://www.topthistv.com/ , hit the 'vote' area and look for my video. It is called 'Respect The Taste II'. Let me be clear, if you see one of the 15 commercials that you feel is your favorite, then give that producer the nod. I am OK with that. The only way I can truly understand what 'America' wants, is to let them vote honestly. I can then take that information and hit closer to the bullseye with my next project. If by chance you like my spot the best, than you can stay in Claremont.

Ha, Ha, Ha.

You can use ANY of your emails to vote EVERYDAY until Sept. 10th.When the votes are all tallied, the winner will win some cold hard cash, AND have his commercial Air during the national broadcast of the EMMY AWARDS on the evening of the 16th. Any support you can throw my way will be appreciated.

Site name: http://www.topthistv.com/Video name: 'Respect The Taste II by Jared Cicon.

Thank you everyone there at Claremont Insider, for taking the time.

Jared Cicon



Thursday, August 30, 2007

Remembering Mr. Claremont

George Gale, Mr. Claremont, passed away on July 3rd at the age of 92. The Claremont Courier yesterday carried a long obituary on Gale, who first came to Claremont in 1929. Gale was deeply involved in the community, working for the city's Parkways and Trees Department in the 1960's.

Gale volunteered for a number of local organizations and also was very politically active. He worked with Les Boring to argue against the city's Landscaping and Lighting District (LLD) assessment in 1989-90, and he helped Boring collect over 7,000 signatures on a petition against the LLD.

Gale combined his volunteer spirit and his desire for public participation in helping found Active Claremont, a local group that tries to encourage people to become involved in the community.

The Daily Bulletin also noted Gale's passing with an article yesterday by Will Bigham. The Bigham article was especially interesting because it showed Gale as someone who not only genuinely cared about his town, but who also was respected by a wide range of people.

Claremont City Councilmember Ellen Taylor was quoted:

"When we got here 30 years ago, George Gale was Mr. Claremont," said Councilwoman Ellen Taylor. "And he had a wealth of history in his head, and wanted to share it."

Kind words from Taylor, who has rarely had nice things to say about Active Claremont, the group George Gale helped start.

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We also received an email commenting on Gale's passing:

I was saddened to hear of George Gale's passing. I consider him to have been a good friend. He was a good friend to many, many people. One of his friends said he would give you the shirt off his back and that's no joke.

A number of years back, when Mark McGwire was making news in the baseball record book, George encountered Mark's mother walking on the Thompson Creek Trail near his home. He would regularly see Ginger McGwire and her friends. On this particular morning, George was carrying a box with two tee-shirts emblazoned with "McGwires Bar and Grill". George had found these treasures while on a trrip north, and he gave them to Ginger, saying that he thought Mark would like to have them. She accepted the gift with pleasure.

A couple of weeks later, George met Ginger again, and she was carrying the box. "Here are your shirts, Mark signed them for you", she said.

George was astonished, and almost without words. He was so proud of those shirts! His kindness and generosity were rewarded. That's the kind of man that he was.

Dave Wishart

Doritos Ad

Claremonter Jared Cicon's amateur ads for Doritos and Heinz ketchup were mentioned in the Daily Bulletin a few days ago.

Here's the ad Cicon came up with for the Doritos Super Bowl contest in January this year:

Welcome Back

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend before another school year begins. The Claremont Colleges are back in session beginning next Tuesday, Sept. 4th, and the Claremont Unified School District starts classes the next day.

The Colleges' September events calendar is out, and there are plenty of things going next month:

Ginger Elliot from Claremont Heritage will be giving a lecturing on Tuesday, Sept. 11th, titled "Claremont: 100 Years in the Life of a Town." The lecture is from noon to 1pm at the Hampton Room, Malott Commons, Scripps College, 345 E. 9th St. Call 607-9372 for information.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina will be speaking on "Health Care in Los Angeles" on Wednesday, Sept. 13th, at the Marian Miner Cook Anthenaeum at Claremont McKenna College. The Anthenaeum is located at 385 E. 8th St. Call (909) 621-8244 for information.

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Scripps College's Humanities Institute is also hosting a Fall 2007 lecture series called "Unequal We Stand: What Future for the American Middle Class." The following two lectures are scheduled for next month:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 18th, 7:30pm
    Garrison Theater

    Poverty and Inequality in America - Why Care?

    Mark Rank,
    Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare
    George Warren Brown School of Social Work
    Washington University in St. Louis

  • Tuesday, Sept. 25th, 7:30pm
    Garrison Theater

    All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy

    Jared Bernstein,
    Director of the Living Standards Program,
    Economic Policy Institute
Garrison Theater is located at 231 E. 10th St. on the Scripps College campus. Call (909) 621-8326 for more information.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Drinking Problems

California certainly has an odd way off dealing with businesses that serve hard alcohol. Saturday's edition of the Claremont Courier had an article by Tony Krickl about the costs faced by a couple new restaurants in the Claremont Packing House.

Krickl tells us the owners of Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue and Three Forks Chop House had to endure almost two years of lotteries and broker dealings before they got their licenses.

According to the article, the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), holds a lottery for the 25 new hard liquor licenses it issues each year in Los Angeles County. The 25 winners pay $12,000 for their licenses.

Everyone else has to then go through brokers who locate defunct businesses with active licenses. Three Forks' liquor license cost them $85,000, Krick reported.

As the FC Blog observed, the state seems to have allowed the creation of a market for liquor licenses with the primary beneficiaries being the license brokers. It certainly is an odd state of affairs.

Claremont sure could teach the state a thing or two about business regulation. All in all, it may be easier to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Claremont than it is to get a liquor license from ABC.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Amateur Hour

DEMOCRATIZING MADISON AVE.

The Daily Bulletin today had an article by Will Bigham about Claremonter Jared Cicon, who has a knack for creating amateur TV ads. Cicon, according to the article, was a finalist in a Doritos contest that aired the two top ads during the Super Bowl earlier this year. Cicon didn't win, but he did get $10,000 as a runner-up.

Cicon didn't stop there. Now he's out to win the $57,000 prize in a Heinz ketchup contest. Cicon has made the final 16, and the winning ad will air in September during the FOX network's Emmy Award telecast.

Bigham's article indicates that these sort of amateur ad contest seem to be becoming more popular and that the ad agencies that once scoffed at the contests are now seeing them as marketing opportunities.


CITIZEN JOURNALISM?

Speaking of amateurs, KPCC 89.3FM, the Pasadena public radio station, yesterday aired a show about the relationship of blogging and journalism.

Guest host John Beaupre, filling in on Patt Morrison's afternoon show, moderated a discussion between authors Andrew Keen (The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture) and Scott Gant (We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age).

Here's the show's description:


World Wide Web 2.0: Power to the People or Misinformation Superhighway?

These days it seems as if anyone with a computer can be an expert on anything. Think personal blogs, YouTube debates, literature reviews on Amazon.com, and CNN posting viewer submitted videos and photos. The internet has blurred the lines between amateur and authority, journalist and citizen, and is revolutionizing American media and entertainment at a rapid pace. But does today's self-broadcasting culture make for a more informed and involved public or have we simply compromised our professional standards?

(Click here to listen to the show.)

Keen, in our view, comes off as something of a cultural snob. He argues that the reading public has become "less literate" and needs professional, "media literate" journalists to present information for consumption.

Gant allows that much of the Internet is junk but thinks that readers have a certain responsibility to become media literate and to learn how to discern between legitimate information and fluff or propaganda.

This whole debate seems to create a false choice: blogging or journalism, pick one. As we've written recently, we think the two are different things, and that there is a place for both in the world. Further, do journalists really want to be put in the place of censoring bloggers, of saying what voices can be aired?

This debate promises to continue as we struggle with the place of new technology and new means of communication in our culture. We suspect the debate is an old one. Cultural gatekeepers in the 15th century surely saw the printing press as the next sign of the Apocalypse and must have argued that monks creating handmade, illuminated manuscripts was the only true way to disseminate knowledge. One thing is certain, new technologies are difficult to keep bottled up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Still #5

The Claremont Chamber of Commerce is selling t-shirts with the phrase, "We're Number 5!" in honor of Claremont's recent 5th place ranking by Money Magazine as one of the top 5 places in the nation to live.

Last week, the local KCLA Channel 5 morning television show was in Claremont visiting with Claremont Chamber of Commerce CEO Maureen Aldridge, the town's official though somewhat dowdy cheerleader. (Dowdy seems to be a requirement for our town mothers.)

Here are links to the two segments that aired on Channel 5 last week:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Mail

We received this note in response to one of our postings about the proposed Padua Sports Park in Northeast Claremont:


wanted to comment on your park piece from last week......when I lived there, I was on the AYSO board, and later a club soccer coach....at first, I was a true believer.....

then I found out about the lighting restriction on the residents in the north....When they put the lights at Mountain View, there would be nights when no teams would be on the fields, and still the lights would be on....

There is plenty of field space, the problem is the scheduling....all the sports orgs rarely communicate with each other......I had brought this up (the scheduling and communication), but nobody wanted to deal with it....
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We also received a note commenting on an announcement in Friday's Claremont City Manager Update. Allison Martinez, as he note points out, is the daughter of Randy Prout, the insurance salesman whose business address had been used by the Resident United for Claremont PAC in 2003 and who was a financial supporter of the 2005 Preserve Claremont campaign.

Allison's prior job in the Claremont Human Services Department had been a special events coordinator, a job that including working on the city's 4th of July parade, which might explain why Randy and his wife were honored in the parade a few years ago.

Our reader writes:


What do you get when you add....

A marginally talented SPECIAL EVENTS planner (with no degree)

+

A new, highly paid position in a dysfunctional department (which requires a degree)

+

Parent's in the 400 (she's Randy Prout's daughter)

+

A City Manager in the 400's pocket???

I know!...

"Alison Martinez is being promoted to human services supervisor and will be assigned to the Youth and Family Services Division."

But, you didn't hear that from me.

Well, we don't know about the bit about the City Manager being in the Claremont 400's pocket, nor are we sure that a college degree is required for the supervisor's job Allison has been given. If the degree is indeed required, then we would wonder if any strings were pulled to get her the position. It is Claremont, after all, and membership in 400 does have its privileges.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Depot Makeover

Claremont city officials are planning on a makeover for the Claremont Depot on First St. in the old Village, according to an article in today's Daily Bulletin.

Bulletin writer Will Bigham reports that the depot, which has been owned by the city since the 1990's, is largely vacant, other than the Metrolink information office.

Bigham writes that city officials would like to see a bike shop in the depot that would provide repair services and a place to for commuters to store bikes when they used the Metrolink trains. The idea is to encourage commuters to give up their car for bikes.

The city is also in talks for the operation of the cafe with restauranteur Alain Girard, who started several other Claremont restuarants, including the Sagehen Cafe at Pomona College, Harvard Square, and Viva Madrid.

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The Claremont Depot, a Spanish-style building built in the mid-1920's by the Santa Fe Railroad, was renovated after the city took it over. The Depot is the site of the city's free fall jazz concerts, which begin next month.

The jazz concerts are sponsored by the city and Metrolink and will run Fridays from September 21st to October 19th between 7:00-9:30pm. For information on the series, call (909) 399-5490.


Claremont Depot
200 W. First St.
Claremont, CA

Friday, August 24, 2007

The City Council Writes Us

A FAMILIAR TUNE

Our post from Wednesday was a riff on a theme we here at the Insider have written about several times. It's been our contention, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that the net effect of that social network known in local circles as the Claremont 400 has been the creation of an inflexible, counter-productive, regressive, intolerant system of local governance.

On the surface, things look swell, but look deeper and you will see a consistent pattern of missteps and misjudgments that in a non-dysfunctional community would result in a change in leadership, a change in direction.

Here, however, given the unique and an entrenched nature of the 400, when Claremont started down the road to a more responsive city council beginning 2001 in reaction to the fatal shooting by Claremont police of 18-year-old motorist Irvin Landrum, the 400 snapped into action, working tirelessly by spreading false rumors about critics of the local scene in an effort to undercut anyone who stood to threaten their control of City Hall.

The result has been that voices of critics like ourselves have been either been silenced or driven underground. The 400 and their main representatives on the Claremont City Council (Ellen Taylor, Linda Elderkin, and Sam Pedroza) refuse to acknowledge this past and current behavior on the part of the people who got them elected.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF PACS

The August 18th edition of the Claremont Courier carried a very good article (not available online) by Tony Krickl that explored the phenomena of local political action committees that really began in 2003 with Residents United for Claremont (RUC), a PAC organized to support the three city council incumbents in that year's municipal election.

RUC was organized by Claremont Human Services Commission Chair Valerie Martinez and received the support of many former councilmembers and commissioners, as well as one future councilmember: Sam Pedroza.

RUC was the precursor to the Preserve Claremont campaign two years later that attacked sitting Councilmember Jackie McHenry and then-candidate Corey Calaycay. The Krickl article noted:


Mr. Calaycay referred to a full-page advertisement in the COURIER in February 2005 featuring a letter written by a man whom Mr. Calaycay had never worked with that offered false information about his career and character. Paid for by Preserve Claremont, a political action committee active during the 2005 election, the ad was one of several that the group received criticism over for being negative and malicious.

Preserve Claremont included spokespersons Valerie Martinez (again), former Claremont Mayor Paul Held and Homer "Butch" Henderson, the former head pastor at the Claremont United Church of Christ and the recent chair of the city's Youth and Family Master Plan Steering Committee.


2007 - ALL ROADS LEAD TO CASM


What happened after that Preserve Claremont debacle? Was there a backlash against PACs? Hardly. In this year's campaign there were two active PACs. The Krickl article noted that the anonymous Claremont Progress group was created by two former Claremont residents, including a Newport Beach attorney who largely funded the groups $2,000 operating budget.

Claremont Progress sent out a pre-election mailer critical of Mayor Peter Yao and candidates Elderkin and Pedroza. The mailer endorsed McHenry and candidate Opanyi Nasiali.

The other group that was active in the 2007 election was Claremonters Against Strip Mining (CASM), which Krickl noted spent more than four times the amount Claremont Progress did - over $8,000 total. CASM was organized to fight the proposed Vulcan Materials Co. gravel and aggregate mining project in Northeast Claremont.

CASM and its president Mike Kunce, were largely a single issue PAC. However, the Preserve Claremont group wasted no time in trying to co-opt CASM in order to get two candidates, Elderkin and Pedroza elected. CASM ended up endorsing those two and also endorsed candidate Mike Maglio, whom the 400 knew could not win.

The strategy was to use Maglio to siphon off votes that might have gone to McHenry and Nasiali. That much was evident from the involvement of Pedroza supporter and Human Services Commissioner Ed Leavell in Maglio's campaign.

According to the Krickl article,

Several local political leaders and observers believe that the group was influenced by behind-the-scenes players who were seeking CASM's endorsement for their favored candidates.... This was done, they say, by feeding CASM's leadership questionable information and rumors about the prospect of mining in the city and certain candidates' stances on the issue.

In the run up to the election, CASM president, Mike Kunce, approached the COURIER with unverifiable information, claiming that the city council had voted in closed session to authorize negotiations with Vulcan Materials Company to allow strip mining....

Mr. Kunce's named former mayor and spokesman for Preserve Claremont, Paul Held, as his source on the information leaked from closed session, as well as "someone very close to the inner workings of city hall." If the statement is true, Mr. Kunce's claim could imply that a Brown Act violation occurred on the part of either council members or city staff for leaking information out of closed session. [Emphasis added.]

No outcry from the public on that last bit, so we can assume it's okay for the Claremont 400, without being anonymous but manipulating behind the scenes, to break the law and to spread false rumors in order to get Elderkin and Pedroza elected.


PEDROZA RESPONDS

Another thing we've observed repeatedly is the habit of the Claremont 400 to constantly erase the past, to refuse to acknowledge any error in judgment. When critics arise with valid points, the 400 will never address the facts of those arguments. They consciously avoid engaging on the issues. Instead, they attack the person speaking out. So, we ask, is it really surprising that things like anonymous blogs would arise?

We think that what frustrates the 400 the most about our humble efforts is the fact that they don't have anyone to attack, so they are left with having to deal with the information we provide - something they tend to be inept at responding to intelligently.

A case in point. We received an email from Councilmember Sam Pedroza in response to our posting from Wednesday. Did Pedroza address the concerns we raised? Did he use his skills in debate and argument to refute our points of contention? We'll let Sam speak for himself:

Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2007 10:24:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: "sam" spedroza1@verizon.net
To: claremontbuzz@yahoo.com
Subject: Claremont Insider : Why are We Here?

sam has sent you a link to a blog:

weak response, if you are just providing another view then why hide... just another coward.

Blog: Claremont Insider Post: Why are We Here? Link: http://claremontca.blogspot.com/2007/08/why-are-we-here.html

We suppose cowardice takes many forms. The worst, we feel, is that of the weak, insecure man placed in a position of power and who allows himself to manipulated, who refuses to use his position to speak out against serious things like possible Brown Act violations and the leaking of information from closed session city council meetings in order to influence elections. Cowardice need not be limited to anonymity; often it is masked in respectability.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Southard Speaks

The Foothill Cities Blog had a couple Claremont posts the other day. Their writer Centinel commented on the local art scene.

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Publius over at the FC Blog sent over a link to an article in Riverside's Press-Enterprise that talked about former Claremont City Manager Glenn Southard's new $300,000 salary in Indio and the $30,000 bonus he got from Indio's City Council.

Southard is now the highest paid city manager in the area, according to the article, and that helps other city executives by raising the bar. Cities get in bidding wars, much like baseball team owners, for "talent." But are they really worth what they get paid? Is A-Rod really worth $252 million over 10 years? Who knows?

The article, by former Claremont Courier reporter Naomi Kresge, noted that the increases in city manager salaries have outpaced that of rank-and-file workers like city maintenance people and city planners. Southard defends his salary by basically saying, "Hey, but I'm worth it." According to the Kresge piece:

"I haven't cost the city of Indio anything, really. I've brought money in they didn't have," Southard said.

Asked what major projects he had completed since coming to Indio, Southard didn't provide specifics. He said he had paved a significant amount of roads, helped the city become more financially stable, expanded the parks system and sought retail development.


The central defense for these high salaries is that city managers are like private-sector CEOs and deserve the same sort of compensation. Of course, the result has been, much like in the private-sector, management is reaping the rewards of double-digit salary growth, while the lower level city workers are getting the 3% raises.

And, if Southard ever decides to retire from the city management business, he can always move north and take up farming, especially now that Claremont has okayed retail outlets for certain crops. (Thanks to Publius for this as well.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why are We Here?

A reader passed on a link to a Michael Skube Op-Ed piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. Skube is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and educator. In his Sunday essay, Skube argued that the blogosphere is far too filled with noise - the rants of cranks with too much time on their hands - and lacks the objectivity that professional journalism provides.

Skube quoted the late historian Christopher Lasch in support of his argument:

"What democracy requires," Lasch wrote in "The Lost Art of Argument," "is vigorous public debate, not information. Of course, it needs information too, but the kind of information it needs can only be generated by debate. We do not know what we need until we ask the right questions, and we can identify the right questions only by subjecting our own ideas about the world to the test of public controversy."There was something appealing about this argument -- one that no blogger would reject -- when Lasch advanced it almost two decades ago.

But now we have the opportunity to witness it in practice, thanks to the blogosphere, and the results are less than satisfying. One gets the uneasy sense that the blogosphere is a potpourri of opinion and little more. The opinions are occasionally informed, often tiresomely cranky and never in doubt. Skepticism, restraint, a willingness to suspect judgment and to put oneself in the background -- these would not seem to be a blogger's trademarks.

Truth be told, the Insider has been guilty of some of those very same negative characteristics at times. We also agree with Lasch's sentiment that skepticism is a worthy trait and that it's not information we're lacking so much as a context into which to place that information and understand it.

We also agree that bloggers, including the Insider are not the same as professional journalists, who still fill an important function. Nor do we see ourselves necessarily in competition with journalists so much as filling an informational niche unmet by newspapers, magazines, and broadcast and Internet news.

As we've noted in past posts, on the local level, news and context are often lacking. The corporatization of the news business has left entire communities bereft of local papers.

Town newspapers like the Claremont Courier have become rarer, even though indications are that family-owned local papers may be better suited to surviving the current business environment precisely because they provide very specific news to a specific audience.

And because a paper like the Courier is family-owned, it doesn't have to answer to Wall Street's shareholder expectations the way a large corporation like the Tribune Co. does. As a result, family-owned papers can operate on lower margins that a paper like the LA Times.

In any event, we really don't see blogs as belong to the same philosophical category as journalism. We recognize we exist simply to provide an outlet for opinions about the local scene that we think have been ignored for a good 20 years or so. Ironically, we think we provide some of the skepticism about the Claremont scene that Skube believes is needed in the blogosphere.

Too often in our recent history, Claremont, particularly its city government and the Claremont 400, have been allowed to simply dictate the news through press releases that went unexamined, and we aim to shine a light into those dark areas. We believe there's been too little of the sort of local public debate that Lasch referred to, and too much of a willingness to accept the conventional wisdom.

Claremont's strength is in being possessed of a community that's more involved as a whole than a lot of others in the area, and that community's opinion is far more diverse than the Claremont 400 has traditionally acknowledged. The 400 speak of "consensus" in the academic sense, implying agreement reached after vigorous argument and debate. But they are really talking about their desire to force their one point of view on this community, to suppress diverse thinking.

When people like former Mayors Diann Ring, Judy Wright or former commissioner Helaine Goldwater haunt city hall and manipulate policy behind the scenes, they truly believe they represent an institutional memory and see themselves as providing continuity in decision-making. What they don't see is how they also end up keeping new ideas from receiving a fair hearing and how they stifle innovative-thinking.

When they talk of "diversity" they are usually speaking of ethnic and cultural diversity, but not ideological diversity. They want a community that looks different but thinks exactly alike. We, however, think that ideological diversity remains our greatest virtue, and we aim to provide an outlet for that on local issues, from affordable housing to fiscal policy, from open space to local services. And we'll gladly stop posting tomorrow if the Claremont 400 ceases its political gamesmanship and steps aside to allow others to have a fair and equal say in city governance.

Absent that, we say, until tomorrow, dear readers.

Blogger Down

Blogger was down for maintenance earlier this morning, so our post will be delayed. Check back in later for today's news.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today's Area News Briefs

OPEN SPACE

Will Bigham had an article in Sunday's Daily Bulletin that said Claremont is planning on purchasing more hillside open space. Bigham wrote that the city is looking to purchase several parcels of land surrounding Johnson's Pasture. The parcels total over 600 acres, and would be purchased through grants the city is now pursuing.


MARIJUANA REDUX

Bigham also has an article in today's Bulletin about a new group called the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition. The group is based in Rancho Cucamonga and is apparently dedicated to opposing medical marijuana dispensaries.

The group claims that the dispensaries attract criminal activity and blight and are used by people who are not ill and who simply want access to marijuana.

The article gives no indication as to whether or not the group plans on being active in Claremont, which along with Diamond Bar are the only two cities in the area who have allowed the dispensaries.


LITTLE LEAGUE RESPONDS

And lastly, Claremont Little League manager Bob Costello had a letter in today's Bulletin responding to another recent letter writer who accused the league's All-Star team of being a "travel ball" team with kids from outside Claremont.

Costello writes that, contrary to what the first letter claimed, the Claremont All-Stars is comprised only of Claremont-area kids and that they only competed against travel ball teams on Sundays to improve themselves against tougher competition. Costello refutes the first letter's claim that the Claremont All-Stars were some sort of travel team trying to circumvent Little League rules.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Going Along to Get Along

We received a recent email from a reader regarding the proposal that Claremont work with neighboring cities like La Verne or Upland to develop a shared sports park that would serve the needs of each of the municipalities involved.

The reader wondered if there were any examples of cities working together, how would costs be divided, and if the park were located in another city, would Claremont have to reciprocate by hosting something here.

We don't know about the details of such an arrangment, but several examples of Claremont working with neighboring cities exist. The obvious one is Tri-Cities Mental Health, which is a cooperative effort by the cities of Claremont, La Verne and Pomona to provide mental health services that in most other parts of the state are provided by counties. Tri-Cities, though, does have a number of problems unique to its set up and the services it provides, and it has only recently emerged from a 2004 bankruptcy. So these cooperative efforts to have to be well planned and executed to avoid such problems.

Other instances include Claremont's general liability insurer, the Joint Powers Insurance Authority (JPIA), which is a cooperative consisting of many California cities that have pooled their risks and who pay into a fund to cover them in the event of a claim.

Claremont's $17.5 million settlement with the Palmer Canyon homeowners over the October, 2003, Padua Fire was covered by JPIA, so the financial impact to the city is far, far less than it would have been if Claremont had bourne the cost of settlement itself.

Other examples might include towns that share school districts or police services. The idea that Claremont might to look to Pomona or Upland to partner in a joint jail facility has been floated by city staff recently.

And today's Daily Bulletin carried an article by Andrea Bennett that talked about how the cities of Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario work together when it comes to attracting companies to relocate to their towns. According to the article, the two staffs communicate regularly and never bid against each other. They seem to recognize the benefits of working cooperatively.

Claremont may be heading in this direction, which would be a welcome change. In the past, our institutional arrogance has precluded the possibility of working with our neighbors, and as a community we have paid the price.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Marijuana Wars

These are strange times in Claremont, or maybe it's just the herb that's strange.

Former Claremont Mayor Al Leiga had an opinion piece in last Wednesday's Daily Bulletin and in yesterday's Claremont Courier. Leiga took to task the City Council majority that voted 3-2 to go forward with a city ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Leiga piece struck us as a bit odd because in the March 2007 city election Leiga had endorsed two of the councilmembers, Linda Elderkin and Sam Pedroza, who voted with Councilmember Ellen "The Slapper" Taylor to allow the dispensaries.

The piece was also odd because of the reasoning Leiga used:


Unfortunately, it seems that some council members thought the absence of a massive showing against the dealer was a sign of acceptance. That was a poor assumption, based on what many people have told me.

While Leiga's take on things may be true, it certainly is at odds with his own behavior on council - for instance, his support while on the council of the Landscaping and Lighting District assessment, for which there is wide community opposition.

Still, it was refreshing to see Leiga step up and question a council decision, and we do have to respect that dissent.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

West Nile Warning

Will Bigham had an article in today's Daily Bulletin about West Nile virus being found in our area.

Apparently, a dead mockingbird found in Rancho Cucamonga tested positive for the disease. According to Bigham's article, the incidence of West Nile locally has declined in the past two years.

The virus is transmited to birds and people by mosquitoes, and authorities attribute the decline to increased mosquito control and to less mosquito-friendly weather.

Snoop Moves On

In other Claremont entertainment news, musician and actor Snopp Dogg, née Calvin Broadus, has finally sold his house in Northeast Claremont.

The Courier had a lengthy article on the move, and the Daily Bulletin also had a mention.

CLAREMONSTER! in Post-Production

Gabriel Fenoy reports in the Claremont Courier today that a low-budget film called "Claremonster!" was shot recently in Pomona College's Bridges Auditorium.

According to Fenoy,

Flesh-eating, walking-dead zombies are the stars of a new limited-budget, independent film called CLAREMONSTER! filmed entirely on location at Bridges Auditorium on the Pomona College campus.

In the film, Walter the ghost, played by local Eric Thor Shumpert, possesses the zombie son of the auditorium’s caretaker, played by Claremont blues legend John Harrelson. As the zombies begin to multiply and learn of the auditorium’s imminent demolition, they begin to do what zombies do: eat the flesh of unsuspecting mortals.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Youth Sports Field Problem

The youth sports groups have complained for a very long time that they lack sufficient fields for all of the kids who participate. Even if the $10 million Padua Sports Park is built tomorrow, it would only supply two soccer fields and one softball/baseball field - not nearly enough to accommodate the wants of the sports groups.

It's been our contention here at the Insider that one of the problems is that Claremont's Human Services Department has opened the sports leagues up to too many people from outside of Claremont. The lack of field space is a self-created problem, not one of too many local kids.

Okay, AYSO and Little League are primarily Claremont children. We can understand that. National Little League's rules, for example, restrict the area local teams can draw from.

But what about other groups? The Claremont Stars and the Foothill Storm are club soccer teams and utilize paid coaches, as opposed to AYSO, which relies on parents to volunteer. And they seek to attract the best players, not just from Claremont but from the wider area.

Even though the city requires 51% of a sports league's participants to be Claremont residents, there's no real audit of the records, no independent checking for compliance. Even AYSO is not above playing with the numbers. They claim 1,700 kids in 2006, up 500 from about 1,200 in 2002. Prior to the 2006 figures, the numbers had, in fact, held pretty steady up at around 1,200.

But that 1,700 is really counting kids twice. AYSO's fall/winter league has 1,250 - just about what it has always been. And their secondary spring/summer season has 450 kids for a total of 1,700. But these are the same kids!

1,250 has magically become 1,700 through the wonder of Claremont math. That kind of fudging has been the poison pill for things like state grants. When the city lies in its grant applications, they are turned down. That's why three grant applications for Padua Park totaling $3.2 million have been denied.

_______________________


But let's focus on the residency issue. The Stars recently added a women's team to compete for them in the Women's Premier Soccer League. Here's a profile of one of their recent signees, Lee Klopschinski of Upland.

Here's another: Lee Turner of Ireland.

The Stars WPSL team gets to use Vista del Valle School for their training. The Stars' other teams have also been given the Vista fields, and the Storm get to use June Vail Park, taking those fields out of play for AYSO for certain days of the week.

There are also adult soccer and adult softball leagues drawing from neighboring cities for participants. Those adult leagues further reduce the available fields for local kids. Either directly or through added wear and tear on the fields, which then need to be rehabilitated, taking them out of play for a time.

As we noted last month, Claremont Fastpitch Softball was advertising for participants in Upland, which makes us think they may be reaching outside of Claremont for participants. The Fastpitch league, like AYSO, relies on volunteer parents for its leadership. So, the league's governing board should reflect the league's residency as a whole.

We took a look at the Claremont Fastpitch website's list of the phone numbers for the league's boardmembers and their phone numbers. Using Google and Zabasearch, here's what we found:



Co-President Kevin Keirns
(909) 593-****, Pomona, CA 91767

Treasurer and Website Administrator Christopher R. Olmsted
(909) 593-****, **** Glen Ivy Rd., La Verne, CA 91750

Sponsorship contact Arnold Vigoa
(909) 596-****, **** N. White Ave., La Verne, CA 91750


And these Fastpitch boardmembers had Upland and Pomona phone numbers listed on the league's website:


Co-President Tony Jimenez
(909) 931-****, Upland

Vice-President Vinnie McLachlan
(909) 593-****, Pomona

The point of all of this is to show that this hue and cry about sports fields shortages is our own fault. Arguing for more fields is fine, just don't couch in in false terms about "our kids" as if every single person using this fields is from Claremont and that we've somehow shortchanged "our kids" by not building a thousand fields. And don't use false numbers to make the arguments. These tricks are simply and purely lies.

If our sports fields are over-utilized because we've got a lot of other non-Claremont oriented sports activities going on, then we need to address those problems realistically. That doesn't mean spending $10 million on facilities like Padua Park that won't even address the problems.

If we are really supplying sports fields for area wide, regional activities, then it means we need to be working with neighboring cities to build shared facilities on a large enough scale to supply six or eight soccer fields and four or more softball/baseball fields. This shared approach has the advantage of sharing the costs of construction and maintenance. But it also requires thinking outside of our self-imposed box and working with our neighbors - talents that are in short supply in Claremont.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mailbag

We had a couple responses to our post from yesterday:

First off, great blog!!!

This may, or may not mean anything but it sparked my curiosity. I recently queried a property database for parcels owned by the edevelopment Agency of Claremont to research the affordable housing
issue. What caught my attention was a parcel well north of Baseline that showed it’s ownership as the Redevelopment Agency of Claremont I had taken note of it and filed it away for future research.

However, when I read your post todayregarding the park, I wondered if they are pushing this project because of the Redevelopment Agency’s ownership? I know there is an obligation for revenue generated within redevelopment agencies to go towards such things as affordable housing. Perhaps there is a component regarding funding here as-well?

Take if for what it is, a theory. Furthermore, I haven’t validated that the ownership information is accurate (the database has been known to be wrong at times). To do that, one would need to look at the recording documents. But, I thought I would bring it to your attention since I’m sure you have snippets of information and this may be another piece to a puzzle you might have…

Keep up the great work.

We're not sure about the redevelopment angle. It's news to us. If anyone has any information on this this, by all means pass it on.

And:

I hope this meeting with the Houston Group and the city manager's office is open to the public. If not, when will the discussion be public? Want to bet the answer is: "after it is a done deal."

Also, I remember Ellen Taylor saying that she wanted to go back to the original design of the park where it would have even more fields and lights than are now proposed. And, of course, Peter Yao wants to light up every park in the city whether or not the residents near those parks want lights or not. Sam Pedroza has always been a cheerleader for more lighted sports fields and so has Linda Elderkin. Once again, the city asks the people for their input and does exactly what it wants anyway. Utterly diabolical, and, as you pointed out, sheer hypocrisy.

As for the sustainability of the park, during the election all the candidates practically fell over one another getting to the microphone so they could prove how committed to a green city and sustainable principles they all were. It is sad, but predictable, unfortunately, that the city has not kept it's promise to the people in the northeast section of Claremont to keep the area rural. Can any of these people trust the city again? Some are dead, some moved away, but there are enough veterans of the city wars there that do remember the promises.

We need to preserve more flatland open spaces and you could do that easily here with a more inclusive, accessible and less intensive park that meets the needs of the neighborhood, not the sports groups whose participants are not all Claremont residents. The question is, is there the will as well as the votes to do this on the council, or will they shove another overdeveloped project down our throats and spoil the very things that made people move to Claremont in the first place? Time will tell, but time is running out.

CUSD Board Election

The Claremont Board of Education election is coming up this fall, and Tony Krickl in the Claremont Courier Saturday reported on two of the candidates, Elizabeth Bingham and Hilary Leconte.

Bingham is a minister at the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Pomona, and her son attended Claremont public schools. The Krickl article said that Bingham's son is now a student at Pomona College.

The other candidate profiled in the article is Hilary Leconte, who from 1989 to 1995 taught at Claremont's Vista del Valle Elementary School. Krickl reported that Leconte has lived in Claremont most of her life and has two children in the CUSD system.

We hadn't heard much about Bingham. Leconte, however, does seem to be the clear Claremont 400 candidate and was listed on the endorsement lists for Claremont City Councilmembers Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin.

One bothersome note about the Krickl article. It stated:

Barring some last-minute surprises, the Board of Education for the Claremont Unified School District School may avoid having an election his year. The last time Claremont failed to have a Board of Education election was back in the early 1970s, according to Linda Hunt of the CUSD superintendent’s office after conferring with some long-time district employees.

....

If no other candidates decide to run, the CUSD would be able to save quite a healthy chunk of change. According to Lisa Shoemaker, assistant superintendent for business services at the district, Board of Education elections typically set the district back between $50 to $70 thousand dollars. Board elections are held once every two years.

While we would hate to see someone run just for the sake of holding an election, we were troubled by the notion that holding an election is financial set back. The idea that local government ought to be tidy and efficient is at the core of the Claremont 400's autocratic tendencies.

If they had their druthers, we'd dispense with elections altogether and just appoint our city and school board leaders the way Judy Wright and the other councilmembers in 1988 appointed Glenn Southard - meet at dinner at one of their houses and give him the job.

We are still a democracy, after all, and that seems to imply holding elections, whether we like it or not. It also means that we ought not to look at the chance of not having an election as a convenient fiscal windfall.

In any case, the Daily Bulletin reported today that a third candidate, Barbara Miller, had filed papers to run for the school board, so there will be an election after all.

Three Forks Opens

Three Forks Chop House is open for business in the Claremont Packing House. The restaurant, owned by Mick and Mark Bollinger, opened this past weekend. Tony Krickl covered the opening in the Claremont Courier yesterday.

According to the article, entree prices range from $18 for the roasted Jidori chicken to $80 for a Kobe ribeye steak. The restaurant will also have banquet facilities that can seat up to 40-80 people.

The Bollinger family also operates the Candlelight Pavillion dinner theatre on Foothill Blvd.


Three Forks Chop House
580 W. 1st St.
Claremont, CA 91711
(866) 9-3FORKS


Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday: 11:30 - 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm,
Sunday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm



_______________________


Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker's weekly report last Friday also carried a list of openings for the Village Expansion. Bua Thai Restaurant on the first floor of the parking structure on 1st St. and Chico's women's clothing store were set to open this past Monday, August 13th.

Bedol, a boutique selling gifts for the office and home, is supposed to open on September 1st.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Theater of the Absurd

A BRIEF NOTE APPEARS

A reader pointed a short, one-sentence note at the very end of the June 6th Human Services Commission meeting minutes:

There will be a meeting on June 19 with the City Manager's office and the Houston Group to discuss Padua Park and funding options.

We thought this worthy of interest because the sports complex at Padua Park has been a particularly contentious issue for the past six years. As Human Services Chair Valerie Martinez and the rest of the Claremont 400 are wont to do, the opposition to the sports complex has been framed around several false notions: "They [opponents] hate kids"; "They hate parks"; "They're just a small group of NIMBY's."


DISSECTING PARK OPPOSITION

The Padua Park opposition, as we understand it, is composed of several different cohorts. The Claremont 400 has been too lazy or arrogant or both to bother to look at the dynamics involved. They just sort of lump everyone together under the heading "HATERS."

One component of the opposition is the population of newer residents of Northeast Claremont, neighbors of the park site, who live in an area that had been designated Rural Residential and which had severe street and landscape lighting restrictions that created a very dark at nighttime atmosphere. The Claremont 400, in their autocratic way, simply did away with the Rural Residential designation so that they could put sports stadium lighting on the park, even though the majority of people in the area seem to enjoy the darkness.

There are also older residents who remember when they agreed to be annexed by the city long before the new developments like Stone Canyon Preserve went in. Those people, many of whom have lived there 30, 40 or 50 years, submitted to annexation by the city in exchange for Claremont's promise that the area would remain rural with one-acre lots. These folk say they can see how well the city kept that promise and simply don't trust what they view as the city's false promises downplaying the park's traffic, lighting, and noise impacts.

The largest opposition to the park comes from fiscal conservatives and extends throughout the city. The park - which the city in 2001 was advertising as costing $3 million - is now estimated to be a $10 million-plus project for there currently is no funding, other than $900,000.00 to clear rocks off the land. As we pointed out recently, the city's own survey in December, 2005, showed that only 39-
percent of the respondents felt that building new park facilities was a priority. New parks and recreation facilities were, in fact, last on a list of eight priorities named in the survey.


THE GREEN FACTOR & VULCAN MINING

There is also a "green" factor to the opposition. According to the readers who've written in on the subject, about half of the park site's main 20 acres is comprised of a habitat called Riversidean Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub (RAFSS). The green opponents to the park have argued that a smaller park should be built and that the RAFSS should be preserved as an interpretative park.

There is more than a little irony to the green bit. First, in the Environmental Impact Report for the park, the city's consultant used a biology expert whom the Claremont Courier reported had a Ph.D that he got for $100 from the Internet's Universal Life Church. The biologist downplayed the significance of the RAFSS.

And, whereas with the Padua Park site the city claimed the RAFSS was not worth saving, with the adjacent Vulcan Materials Co. project they are are using the opposite argument, saying that Vulcan should not be allowed to mine gravel there because of the sensitive RAFSS habitat. Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E-S?

Which brings us back to the Human Services Commission note about a June 19th meeting with the Houston Group. That company is a lobbying concern that advertises its services as "Governmental Affairs Consulting." The Houston Group's website lists among the company's clients:

  • California Nevada Cement Promotion Council
  • California Concrete Contractors Association
  • California Portland Cement Company
  • Cemex California Cement LLC
  • Construction Materials Association of California
  • Hanson Aggregates Mid-Pacific, Inc. and Affiliates
  • Hanson Permanente Cement
  • Lehigh Southwest Cement Company
  • Mitsubishi Cement Company
  • National Cement Company of California, Inc.
  • RMC Pacific Materials
  • Riverside Cement Company
  • U.S. Borax, Inc.
These companies are all in the construction materials business, just like Vulcan. So, the city's money is going to a lobbying group that represents a large number of companies in the very industry the city is currently fighting on a plot of land right next door to the park site.

What all of this really shows is that the Claremont 400 has pushed a $10 million-plus project that it acknowledges will not provide the fields the town's sports groups say they need. Why push such a misconceived project rather than simply build a smaller park on the Padua site for much less money and work for a partnership with La Verne or Upland on a shared regional site that would spread the costs and provide all the fields needed?

Because it's all about punishment now. The Claremont 400 and Valerie Martinez don't care about real solutions, they just want to shove a flawed project down the throats of anyone who has opposed it for any reason, fiscal, environmental or otherwise.

Rather than looking rationally at the situation and considering all options, they just keep repeating to themselves, "Stay the course, stay the course."

CMC: Hot! Hot! Hot!

No, not the current ambient air temp. Claremont McKenna College has been named by Newsweek magazine as one of the 25 Hottest Universities in the country.

The article says:

Two of every five CMC students major in government/international relations. Most of the rest are also talking politics, the campus obsession. Few selective colleges in America have such ideologically balanced faculties and student bodies. Speakers like Bill Clinton and Justice Antonin Scalia dropped by last spring, and neither was tarred and feathered.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reader Question: Monrovia

We got this inquiry from a reader:

Hi,

Maybe you can answer this? When I was a kid, in the mountains above Monrovia was a village called Happy Jack. It was built by former Disney people, and it was all teeny little small scale winsome fantasy cottages.

NO ONE seems to know what I'm talking about, and I can't find anything about it on the web, which is how I found your claremont buzz log. Have you ever heard of Happy Jack?

Thanks
We've never hear of this place, but if you have, let us know and we'll pass it on.

August Blues

DOG DAYS

It's August - that time of year just before schools start back up, and when the city power brokers take a collective vacation. The City Council and City Commission take a month-long break, and the town relaxes.

But, the Claremont 400 never takes a break. For them, late-July and August have traditionally been harvest time, the time when they can let city or school district staff take action on all those controversial agenda items that have been festering through the year. Last year, for instance, the votes for the Parks and Pasture Assessment District were counted on July 25th, and the council had a special meeting on August 1st to certify the vote before slinking out of town to lick its wounds after the assessment failed by a 12-percent margin.

What surprises does the 400 have in store for us this year? We'll just have to wait and see....

_______________________


FORGETTING THE PAST, AGAIN

In other news, Will Bigham writes in the Daily Bulletin today of Claremont Progress, a group funded by a Riverside attorney who sent out a citywide mailer in the last election that the article says "urged support for incumbent Jackie McHenry and candidate Opanyi Nasiali, and opposed Pedroza, Linda Elderkin and Mayor Peter Yao."

The article quotes Councilmember Sam Pedroza:

"That's the thing with the anonymous campaigning: You don't know who it is, and it allows for people to lob bombs and not have to account for it," said Councilman Sam Pedroza....

As opposed to Pedroza, who, thanks to his Claremont 400 support, doesn't have to be accountable for anything either. We did some checking and found that in the 2003 Claremont municipal election, a group calling itself Residents United for Claremont also sent out a city-wide mailer on the eve of the election.

The group was organized by Claremont Human Services Commissioner Valerie Martinez, who is a professional political consultant by trade. The Residents United mailer urged Claremonters to reject candidates Jackie McHenry and Peter Yao and to vote for the three incumbents: Al Leiga, Karen Rosenthal, and Sandy Baldonado.

The Residents United mailer was not anonymous. It used the opposite strategy - to use the names of influential Claremont 400 members to try to convince voters to go their way. Among the signers were: Former mayors Nick Presecan, Diann Ring, Bill McCready and Judy Cody; city commissioners Bill Baker, Nancy Brower, Suzanne Hall, John Seery, Muriel O'Brien, Bob Ryan and SAM PEDROZA.

Also on the list were Randy Prout and Nick Quackenbos, both of whom would two years later participate in the Preserve Claremont campaign, for which Valerie Martinez was a co-spokesperson.

The mailing address for Residents United was Randy Prout's insurance agency on Baseline Rd.



Don't see any accountability there, do you? What Pedroza and his Claremont 400 supporters want is accountability for everyone but themselves.

_______________________

Current Councilmember Linda Elderkin was also quoted in the Bigham article:


"I just feel the society benefits so much from open dialogue," said Elderkin, who was elected to a City Council seat in March. "These anonymous approaches are very regrettable."

"We have the most fabulous disagreements on every subject here," she added. "It is one of the great strengths of Claremont that we have so much open dialogue."


Here, Elderkin is just so typically Claremont 400 in her remarks. The problem is that what she calls "open dialogue" has been anything but that. The 400 has controlled all the levers of power and has effectively stifled dialogue.

They talk, you listen. Elderkin conveniently ignores that behavior. Our main complaint with the 400, with Elderkin and Pedroza, is that they themselves refuse accountability. And they have all the power in town!

Until Bigham and other observers wake up to the reality of this power relationship, the 400 will continue to play the victim while all the time playing out their petty politics without consequences.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Reader Writes

We got a quick reader response to our posting earlier today about Alijandra Mogliner's article titled "Growing Up Republican" in the American Chronicle, a left-of-the-aisle online news site.

Our reader questions the accuracy of Mogliner's piece:

I just read the article "Growing up Republican" and it just does not pass the smell test.

Is there really a person with the credentials indicated, or is this column a plant for whatever reason. Attention to spelling failed with one word in the text. (I will let you find the word.)

The person's name, schooling, and bio info, not to mention the lack of reference to local people or institutions, look phony to me.

Truth be told, we don't know. Never heard of Mogliner or the American Chronicle before. However, seems like she's a real person (unlike we here at the Insider, who are just a bunch of 1's and o's).

Look Eastward, Angel

Here in Claremont, we tend to look westward for our identity. We like to think of ourselves as part of the San Gabriel Valley, and the Gold Line, if and when it's ever completed, will tie us more strongly to Eastern Los Angeles County.

But we Claremonters are also part of the Inland Empire, and when we take a regional outlook, we ought to look eastward as well. The Daily Bulletin certainly covers our neighbors in Upland and Montclair, as well as Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario, and perhaps we should pay more attention to those cities, considering how fast they have been growing.

There's a lot of talk about extending the Gold Line east to Ontario Airport, which will be a boon to people wanting an easy transit option to catch a flight. Ontario Airport will be expanding as people seek alternatives to driving to LAX for longer flights. The Claremont Courier's August 8th edition had a profile of the airport's general manager, Claremonter Jesse Romo, who has big plans for the facility, including expanding from two to five passenger terminals in the next 25 years .

_______________________


We also came across a Rancho Cucamonga blog that carries area news, including a link to another Courier article about the coming logjam in wine bars. An odd development for a town that only 40 years ago was a dry city.

Speaking of those times, a reader pointed us to an article by a former Claremont who recalled growing up during those times. We're not sure if her dates are completely correct, but she does seem to capture the spirit of the time and the place - something you might not find in Claremont historian Judy Wright's work.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Medical Marijuana

The Inland Empire Weekly also had an article about the recent city decision on Claremont's medical marijuana dispensary ordinance. The article mentioned the Claremont Colleges On The Record blog and gave a nod to Councilmember Sam Pedroza, who was portrayed as the deciding vote in the 3-2 decision.

Thanks to the reader who passed this on.

Now that school will be back in session in a short few weeks, Claremont Colleges OTR should be posting more. They had a interesting note recently on the possiblity that some colleges have started charging differnt rates for different degrees.

City News

Folk Music Center Concert

The Daily Bulletin had an entertainment section article on Peter Case, a folk-rock musician who will be playing at the Claremont Folk Music Center in the Village next Saturday night. The show will start at 7:00pm. Tickets are $15.

Case played with a number of bands including the Plimsouls. He debuted with a 1986 solo album that was produced by T-Bone Burnett, an influential producer who also worked on albums with artists as diverse as Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Los Lobos, and Tony Bennett.

Should be a great show!

The Folk Music Center will also be on "Visiting with Huell Howser" on KCET on October 4th at 7:30pm and again on November 12th. Huell was recently in town filming in the old Village and in the Village Expansion.

Claremont Folk Music Center
220 Yale Ave.
Claremont, CA
(909) 624-2928

_______________________


Also in the Bulletin today was a news bit about the Claremont P.D. apprehending a home invasion robber. The robbery occurred early Tuesday morning in a home at the 300 block of Mater Dei Circle, a cul-de-sac about a block north of Base Line Rd. between Bonnie Brae Ave. and Mills Ave.

The Claremont Courier's Police Blotter had more details on the robbery.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Are They High?

The smoke from medical marijuana dispensary controversy may have spilled over to the Claremont Unified School District's meeting last Monday night. At least, that's the only explanation we can find for some of the things the school board does - they're stoned!

Apparently, the Claremont Board of Education has decided to ban peanut butter sandwiches from Claremont schools. Or so reported the Daily Bulletin yesterday.

This action is being taken in order to protect the 49 peanut-allergic district students (out of 6,858 total K-12 enrollees) from the possibility of anaphylactic shock. The board not only wants to ban peanut products from Claremont schools, but they want to discourage students from bringing their own peanut products to school.

Now, we understand the seriousness of peanut allergies and the potential for serious complications and even death, but come on! P & J sandwiches are the All-American lunch, not to mention an inexpensive, semi-healthful food. So we have to ask, "Are they high?"

This is really the Claremont 400 at their hysterically Orwellian best - thought speak! food crime! The school district has always been the 400's playground, and they've beaten down any criticism by declaring anyone who questions the Board of Education's wisdom as anti-kid: "Why do they hate children?"

This really is the reducio ad absurdum though. The Claremont 400, in particular its five Board of Education members, seem to have too much time on their hands. Not content to contemplate the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin, they've taken up the latest educational fad - the peanut-free school. According to the Bulletin, one district representative (and 400 member) gave the reasoning: "'It's the only sensible thing for us to do,' said board member Mary Caenepeel."

We have a better idea. Why not just supply all students with self-enclosing plastic bubbles to protect them from all possible risks - falls, second-hand smoke, Ebola virus, etc....

_______________________


In more absurd CUSD action, Will Bigham in today's Bulletin writes that the school board apparently violated the Brown Act during Monday night's meeting.

Of course, this comes as no surprise to long-time school board observers. The Claremont 400 has had little respect for the Brown Act and has fairly consistently sought to conduct its business behind closed doors. In its heyday controlling the city council, the 400's actions earned Claremont a Black Hole Award in October 2000 from the California First Amendment Coalition.

That philosophy no doubt informed the decision to remove the faculty advisor from Claremont High School's student paper, the Wolfpack, as we noted yesterday. One good thing about these small-town Savonarolas' actions - through their attempts at hiding their business from the public eye and at controlling what news gets out, they're helping shape the resolve of a few future journalists and artists who are now students under this absurdist regime.