Claremont Insider: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Village Ice Cream Fundraiser

Tony Krickl has a COURIER City Beat post about a number of events in the Claremont Village. Besides last night's Claremont Family Festival, née Claremont Wednesdays, Krickl mentions a fundraiser at Bert & Rocky's tonight beginning at 5pm:

On Thursday night, you can have the Mayor serve you up a cone or sundae at Bert & Rocky's Creme Co. Money raised will go to Team Claremont supporting Relay for Life. The event goes from 5 to 7 p.m.

Like the Le Mans road race, Claremont's Relay for Life runs for 24 hours, beginning at 9am on May 16th at the Claremont High School track.

Bert & Rocky's is located at 242 Yale Ave. in the Village. A portion of sales tonight will go to Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

Krickl also notes that Friday Nights Live returns to the Village tomorrow, which will coincide with the monthly Friday Night Art Walk.

The City's website has more info on Friday Nights Live:

Friday Nights Live is Back in the Village!

The City of Claremont, in conjunction with the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Village Marketing Group, and the Tolkin Group's Village Square, is pleased to announce that Friday Nights Live is coming back to the Claremont Village! Starting May 1 and running every Friday from 6-9 p.m. through September 1, 2009, two bands will be providing musical entertainment to patrons of Village shops and restaurants. The bands will be located at Second and Yale Avenue, as well as at the Public Plaza. Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy some great entertainment while shopping Claremont's restaurants and stores. Also, every dollar spent shopping in Claremont helps pay for the City's programs and services that makes Claremont the wonderful community it is. For more information on Friday Nights Live, please visit or contact the City's Human Services Department at (909) 399-5490.

Protest Is in the Air

A friend sent us a couple of snaps of some bedsheet signs that went up Tuesday (and probably came down shortly thereafter) on the Mills/210 overpass near the Vons market. They were readable to westbound traffic--ignoring the fact that at rush hour Tuesday afternoon most of the traffic would be eastbound.

This is probably Pitzoids doing some of their "protest for credit" that was alleged in connection with the local Republican Club event that was chased from Buca de Beppo last week. (note: the whole "protest for credit" idea seems to have been debunked.)

We are not to sure, but the proponents seem to be--it's just a guess--against David Dreier, for more college grants, for, for reading, thinking, and acting, and against clean coal, or we should say, with the usual academic scare quotes, "clean coal". Here, through the magic of Photoshop, we are able to present the signs in readable form, even though the originals came to us reading through the back of the sheets.

We are once again on notice that the rebellious juices are not dead, even with (or perhaps because of) the impending end of the semester. Will these causes be the topic of future council meetings? Only time will tell. At least at recent council meetings all the agitation by committees in South Claremont and Coalitions in Claraboya has been for apartment dwellers and low and very low income rental dwelling dwellers...not for these issues.

Reminds us of the last protest at the graduate school housing, which had much better graphics:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Night Family Fest Begins Tonight

The Daily Bulletin's Wes Woods has an article about the Claremont Family Festival (a.k.a., Claremont Wednesdays). The weekly street fest begins tonight in the Claremont Village Expansion at 5pm an runs through the end of October. Woods tells us:

Organic produce, arts and crafts, health and wellness products as well as other items will be sold at the festival while music - which tonight will be performed by Big Papa & the TCB - will be performed on the Second Street Stage.

The festival runs from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Village on Second Street west of Indian Hill; Oberlin Avenue between First and Second streets; and First Street between Oberlin and Cornell.

At the same time, a green market will be taking place at the Packing House.

Woods' article also says that an organization called Volunteer Network International and its "beneficiary project Xela Aid" have organized the festival, along with the City and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce. Woods says there will be 100 vendor booths.

The Claremont Family Festival has an official website, complete with printable coupons that you can redeem with vendors tonight. If you want 50% off a donut boat from Tina's Tiny Donuts, make sure to print out your coupon and take it with you tonight.

The City's website has more info:

Claremont Wednesdays!

Experience an evening of fun for the whole family at Claremont Wednesdays launching on April 29. There will be live music, taste-tempting entrées and specialty finger foods, fresh certified organic produce, quality wares and services of local merchants, gift-perfect local arts and craft items, wellness services, products and new technologies for green living. Plus, there's a whole street of fun for children of all ages, featuring a climbing wall, bouncers, and petting zoo.

Date: Wednesdays, April 29 through October 28
Time: 5 pm to 8 pm
Where: Claremont Village (First Street, Oberlin, and Second Street), North of the 10 fwy. on Indian Hill Blvd.

Valuable coupons and special offers at

Listings about Festival musical entertainment can be found weekly at

Volunteer Network International ( and beneficiary project Xela Aid ( is presenting the Celebrate Claremont Family Festival in partnership with the City of Claremont and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call (951) 733-2588.

April Quintet

A reader wrote in to ask if anyone else had noticed a bumper crop of hummingbirds this year. The reader sent along some photos and a link to some useful information from the Pomona Valley Audubon about the birds with tips for planting a hummingbird garden:

Hummingbirds are attracted to bright red or orange, tubular flowers. While the tubular shape compliments [sic] their bills, they also feed on other types of flowers, as well as other plants that may contain the insects that satisfy their fat and protein needs. They also have very fast metabolisms, and accordingly, need to feed continually during daylight hours. At night, they store food in their crops. While in the winter, or during cold weather, they can lower their metabolisms, and enter a temporary state of dormancy.

Click to enlarge:





Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Air Force One Claremont Flyover

To add a little class to our lowbrow blog, we decided to commission a flyover photo-op of Air Force One above Claremont, chased by an F-16. Unlike the event approved by the White House, ours caused no panic.

Thanks to Katie Couric and Jon Stewart for the advice: Photoshop.

See here for 10 good reasons why the flyover of New York was a good idea.

We wanted to get this shot in before the City of Claremont requires an expensive permit for still photography in Claremont:

click to enlarge

Doesn't this proposed ordinance language seem a bit over-broad?

Securitizing Claremont Investments

Too Clever by Half?

What with all the discussion these past few months about bundling of mortgages, securitization of these sub-prime instruments, and the ever-opaque concept of "tranches", we were a little surprised to see that the City is doing much the same thing with its investments.

Claremont's investment report, to be presented at tonight's city council meeting, contained the following description that caught our eye:

"In February, the City transferred its holdings in a CD held with Community Bank into a new CD program known as Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS). By utilizing the CDARS program, the City is able to take advantage of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) limits to protect the funds it has on deposit, while investing amounts in excess of these limits. CDARS allows depositors such as the City to place deposits in amounts lower than the FDIC limit at numerous banking institutions while maintaining a single banking relationship with the bank that registers the account, in this case First Bernie Madoff Trust*..."

We don't know much about CDARS, but follow this link to a web page, and read the part about how "with the help of a sophisticated matching system, network members exchange funds. This exchange occurs on a dollar-for-dollar basis, so that the equivalent of your original deposit comes back to your institution and effectively stays local..."

Does this sound as fishy to you as it does to us?

Bundling. Securitization. Tranches. Straw Depositors. Sham Deposits. Sophisticated Matching System. Can anyone still spell O-R-A-N-G-E C-O-U-N-T-Y?

* * * * *

The Daily Bulletin discussed the reasons for the decline in value shown above, accelerating to a $1.6 million drop last quarter in the City investment holdings. The City attributed most of the decline to spending for ongoing operations.

We were intested in putting this in context and prepared the leadoff graph above from the past 5 years investment reports. See the City website, agenda reports for the last meeting in April for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, with the relevant charts reproduced below (click to enlarge):

* * * * *
*Just kidding about that; the City staff report really said "Community Bank", not "First Bernie Madoff Trust". The Insider regrets the lowbrow humor.

City Council Meeting Tonight

Claremont's City Council meets tonight, beginning at 5:15pm in the Council Chambers at 225 Second St. in the Claremont Village.


The meeting begins with a special closed session meeting for the council to hear City Manager Jeff Parker report on negotiations with Golden State Water Co. on the purchase of a parcel of land from the water company, apparently for affordable housing. Here's the closed session agenda.

Parker will also report in the closed session on negotiations with Jamboree Housing, the company that wants to build the proposed affordable housing project at the old Claremont Courier site at 111 S. College Ave., across from the Pooch Park. You can read more about the proposal on the city's website.

One odd thing about the way the city s touting the proposal - the city's Affordable Housing Task Force employed the VERY same arguments made by the people who opposed failed Base Line Rd. project last year. Recall that those folks suggested a couple downtown locations as alternatives superior to the Base Line Rd. site.

We quote from the city's information for the current proposal:

This site was recommended as the top site in the City for the development of affordable housing by the Affordable Housing Task Force that was appointed by the City Council in Spring 2008. This recommendation was based on the site's close proximity to transit, parks, schools, and other services in the downtown.

[Emphasis added - ed.]

If you stick around long enough, you'll notice that two groups can make precisely the same suggestions to the City, but where one will be ignored and dismissed, the other will be lauded for thinking creatively - about the same idea!

* * * * *

In tonight's closed session meeting, the two agenda items concern two particular parcels of land: the water company parcel (L.A. County parcel number 8312-022-800, according to the agenda) and the old Courier property (parcel number 8312-022-001).

We tried looking both those up on the L.A. County Assessor's website, but it kept telling us those parcel numbers do not exist:

Click to Enlarge

We don't have time to run this to ground, but doesn't the city at least have a problem with the public notice of the phantom parcel negotiations? Just wondering....

Click to Enlarge


The council meeting continues at 6:30pm with a report on the closed session, followed by the council's regular meeting. You read the regular agenda here or watch it streamed live tonight here.

Among the regular session items up for review and discussion are:
  • A report from City Treasurer Adam Pirrie on the state of the City's investments, which were off by $1,556,831 for the first quarter of 2009. The investments, totaling $18,769,480 as of March 31, 2009, are supposed to be in pretty conservative instruments. You'll recall that as a backlash to the city's investment of over $5 million in the defunct Orange County Investment Pool in the early 1990s, the City has tried to keep things mostly in safe CDs and cash accounts.

    The Claremont Redevelopment Agency's investments also lost money, the treasurer's report says. The CRA had a total of $2,128,190 in investments as of March 31, and that was down $739,144. Just as with the City's investments, the report attributes that CRA investment decline to having to pay for CRA's operational expenditures.

    So why the decrease? According to Pirrie's report, the city has been spending the money on operations because revenues have been decreasing. They're dipping into savings to cover the costs of services.

    More on this item later

  • Current economic conditions have the City scrambling for revenue, which means we should look for fees to increase anywhere and everywhere city staff can possibly find a buck.

    To this end, staff proposes that the council approve some changes to its film production permit process to allow for inflation-indexed increases in current permit charges. Staff also wants the council to add commercial still photography to the list of activities covered by the film production permits.

    Here's the staff report for the matter.

  • The council will also consider the recommendation of its Ad Hoc Commission Sub-committee (Councilmembers Linda Elderkin and Larry Schroeder) to appoint Jeff Camacho to the Community Services Commission.

    A side note: This commission seat seems to be the ticket to the City Council. Both Schroeder and Councilmember Sam Pedroza served on this commission before being elected to council.

CHS Baseball vs. Los Osos at the Epicenter

Sid Robinson sent out word that the Claremont High School baseball team will take on Rancho Cucamonga's Los Osos on May 9th at the Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga. Come on out and root for the Wolfpack:

Wolfpack to Play at Epicenter May 9

The Claremont High School varsity baseball team will play against Los Osos High at the Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, May 9, at 1 p.m.

The Epicenter is home to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes minor league baseball team, the single-A California League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Tickets to the event are available for $10 each in advance and are good for admission to all three Baseline League games at the Epicenter on May 9. The Claremont-Los Osos game gets the day started at 1 p.m., followed by Upland against Etiwanda at 4 p.m. and Alta Loma versus Rancho Cucamonga at 7 p.m.

All tickets are general admission and parking is free. Re-entry to the stadium will be allowed. Gates will open at noon.

To obtain tickets for sale and purchase, download a form from the Claremont High baseball Web site at Ticket orders are due Monday, May 4.

For more information, call (909) 455-4059, (909) 238-7153
or (909) 227-9589.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Health Officials Investigate Claremont Cases - UPDATED

Update: No Swine Flu in Claremont

[Update, midnight Tuesday - from NBC news:
"Meanwhile, tests were completed to determine if the mother of a student at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Claremont had swine flu or another illness. Both tested negative for the swine flu, according to the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles."]

[Update, 7 a.m. Tuesday - Still no word on outcome of tests on student referred to below. Statement from Our Lady of Assumption School was dated Monday, 4/27 (and is now, Tuesday night, replaced with an all-clear message). OLA school is closed today, Tuesday, "out of an abundance of caution". More recent coverage without much new information here.]

[Update, 8:45 p.m. -
Tony Krickl's Courier City Beat blog had a post earlier today on this item. Krick's post includes OLA's statement on the matter.]

The Pasadena Star News carried a report today that Los Angeles County public health officials are investigating two cases of people in Claremont who reported flu-like symptoms after returning from a trip to Mexico.

The cases have not been confirmed as swine flu.

The Star article said:

CLAREMONT - Los Angeles County Health Services is investigating a possible Swine flu case at a private school in Claremont, officials said.

A student at Our Lady of the Assumption School fell ill with flu-like symptoms four days after returning from a visit to Mexico with her mother, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which oversees the school.

The girl's mother also became sick, according to the Archdiocese. Both are awaiting test results to see if they are infected.

Los Angeles County health officials confirmed they are investigating the case.

"There are no confirmed cases of the swine flu in L.A. County," said spokeswoman Sarah Kissell. "Claremont is one area we are looking at."

The article went on to say that the OLA school has not been closed, but classes have been cancelled for Tuesday. School officials notified the county of the cases Monday, according to The Star.

Incidentally, Google Flu Trends lists flu activity in California, and in the U.S. in general, as low:

Click to Enarge

Called Out (Or Let's Settle It in the Parking Lot)

We received an email responding to Saturday's post about the Claremont Earth Day speakers:

DATE: Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:41PM
SUBJECT: See You There!
TO: Claremont Buzz

I recently read your comments on the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and wonder what kind of JACKASS speaks so harshly about senior citizens who are working voluntarily, without desire for profit, to secure Claremont's water future and improve our ecological resources? Your ridiculous and disrespectful 'insights' on the motivation of these very good, intelligent, and giving people, who are working very hard for our community, is nothing short of offensive. To describe a public presentation given on Earth Day (precisely to generate public interest, involvement, and to inform on the proposed endeavor) a 'Dog and Pony Show' is nothing but a disrespectful and dishonest slur.

It's a good thing you remain anonymous! If I ever heard anyone speak publicly of a senior citizen the way you have, or treat ANY retired volunteer in such a way, I would sock them square in the face! Have some respect. Perhaps your lowest common denominator readers appreciate your slanderous low brow humor, half truths, and misinformed viewpoints ... but if you truly want to make a positive difference in our community perhaps we should all remember and espouse some basic principles: don't slander people just because you disagree with them; arguments should be based on fact, sincere philosophy and values and not your brand of name calling low brow rhetoric; and most important of all in this instance ... RESPECT YOUR ELDERS.

See you there JACKASS!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Projects, Projects, Projects

It looks like the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) is back in business now that Governor Schwarzenegger has lifted the state's moratorium on selling bonds.

The RMC's website had this bit of information:


GREAT NEWS!!! Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Wednesday, April 22 that more than 5,000 projects will be restarted as a result of the State’s recent bond sales and funding from the federal Economic Recovery Act. This includes projects approved by the RMC Board prior to the bond freeze on December 17, 2008, even if those projects did not have a signed contract. Funding for new bond-funded projects is still on hold. Over the next week staff will work with our grantees to re-start projects as quickly as possible. If you have questions please contact your project manager.

The City of Claremont can now cash that $850,000 RMC check for Padua Park.

Unfortunately, CGU grad Tim Worley may be a permanent casualty of the state budget crisis. Worley, RMC's former director of water policy, was laid off several months ago, and he's no longer listed on the RMC staff page. Don't fret, though, we hear Tim's keeping plenty active far below the radar in closed, non-public meetings shaping our local water future. You won't have a say in these matters, but you'll likely get stuck with the very large tab.
Click to Enlarge
By the way, you can hear Worley, and his friends C. Freeman Allen and Marilee Scaff plugging their ideas tomorrow at Claremont's Earth Day Celebration. Worley and friends will bookend the Earth Day speakers at City Hall. Worley speaks at noon on "A [his, Allen's and Scaff's] Vision for Water Sustainability."

Allen and Scaff close the speeches with a talk about Marilee's Marsh, a huge, $24 million-plus extravaganza dreamed up by water interests and relentlessly pushed for the past year without public input by Worley, Allen, Scaff, and the Claremont League of Women Voters. The Marsh got some RMC seed money last year, with a little help, no doubt, from Worley, who was still on staff at the time. It's really been fascinating to watch how these sorts of projects develop with minimal involvement on the part of the real stakeholders: YOU.

The talk by Allen and Scaff is titled "Water Restoration and Reclamation in Claremont" and takes place at 4pm.

You can see that Scaff's idea of public involvement is to hold series of dog-and-pony shows like hers and Worley's tomorrow in order to sell a public works project cooked up in closed-door meetings and planned by the water interests who will build the project and benefit monetarily from it. Slipping their talks in before and after other, far more credible speakers, lends a certain verisimilitude to their PR campaign. One almost feels sorry for Scaff, an earnest, very well educated and accomplished matron with high standing in the LWV who's being manipulated by people far smarter and far more cunning than her into being the salesperson of this coming boondoggle.

Tomorrow's sales hype should be fun to hear. It's not too different from going to the county fair and hearing the ShamWow!® guy: One cloth can soak up the ocean! Go tomorrow and hear Marilee's ScamWow!® pitch.

Fulbright Association Honors CGU's McGuire

CGU Image
Claremont Graduate University President Emeritus John McGuire (photo, left) will receive a Fulbright Association Lifetime Achievement Medal May 12 in Washington, D.C. CGU's website has more information on the award, including a short video interview with McGuire.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, composer Philip Glass (who performed here in Claremont at the end of February), and Scripps alumna and entrepreneur Ruth M. Owades will also be honored at the May event.

The Fulbright Association's website describes the award:

The Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal honors Fulbright alumni whose distinguished careers and civic and cultural contributions have sought to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy, and perception. Recipients of the Medal show exemplary commitments to creative leadership and liberal education.

The CGU news item gives more background on McGuire and his life's work:
Dr. Maguire was named president emeritus of Claremont Graduate University in 1998 after serving as president for 17 years. He is engaged in racial and social justice community building projects as director and senior fellow in the Institute for Democratic Renewal in the University’s School of Politics and Economics.

Dr. Maguire was a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and is a life director of the King Center where he served in its initial year (1968-69) as chairman of the board. He also serves on the boards of Union Theological Seminary, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, and the Claremont Museum of Art. He is co-creator of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Awards.

After graduating from Washington and Lee University, Dr. Maguire received a Fulbright fellowship to Scotland in 1953. He graduated summa cum laude from the Yale Divinity School, then completed a Yale doctorate in theology and psychiatry.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Earth Weekend

Claremont's Earth Week observance culminates this Sunday with an Earth Day celebration. The city has an online invitation:

Join us for Claremont's first community-wide Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 26, 2009, from 12 to 5 p.m. in the Village.

Activities will include:

  • Speakers and presentations on the environment, alternative transportation and sustainability
  • Tips on how to "Green" your home or business and save money
  • Music and entertainment
  • Fun and educational activities for kids
  • A bicycle "rodeo" and safety training
  • Educational workshops and displays
  • Exhibits by "Green" organizations
  • Additional lectures and workshops will be held throughout the community during Earth Week (April 19-26).

Event co-sponsors include the City of Claremont, Claremont Toyota, Pitzer College, Pomona Valley Medical Health Center, Claremont Smile Design, Hartman Baldwin, Le Pain Quotidien, Pomona College, Coates Cyclery, Friends of the Bernard Field Station, Maria J. Andrade, Mountain View Republican Club and Suntrek Solar.

Organized by Sustainable Claremont, the Claremont Interfaith Committee on Sustainability and the Claremont Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

For more information, call Chris Veirs, Senior planner/Sustainability Coordinator at (909) 399-5486.

In addition to Sunday's events, on Saturday there's a free tour of what the city's Earth Week flyer says is a newly-rebuilt sustainable home at 4326 Via Padova near the Padua Theatre. The house, replacing one that burned in the 2003 Padua/Grand Prix Fire, was featured in a Los Angeles Times article a few years ago.

The home tour goes from 1pm to 4pm tomorrow, April 25.

As the Night Follows the Day

Wouldn't you know. It only took a couple of hours after this morning's accident for these posts to hit the Internet:

Highway 210 Crash Involves 3 Motorcycles--Injures 5 - California Car Accident Lawsuit Center::888.400.9721

Linking to:

...motorcycle accident lawyers in Claremont...

Accident on 210 Freeway

[Update, 8:30 a.m. has posted a video of the cleanup. Early reports are that the four injured persons are not believed to have sustained life-threatening injuries.]

[... Later, 10:39 a.m. Friday: the number injured is now placed at five.]

Screengrab from KABC Video

Many in the Club area, along Baseline, and in west Claremont north awoke early this morning to helicopters hovering over the 210. They remained for nearly an hour watching a cleanup of an accident in the eastbound lanes just west of Mills. Gawkers were lined up on the Mills overcrossing.

See link following for early KABC video.

From the incident report, two victims were taken by ambulance to the Pomona Valley Medical Center; two were airlifted to LA County Medical Center. No information on their condition.

By 7:40 a.m. all lanes were reported open.

Click on map image to enlarge, or click on the incident report below to view it in readable form.

From the KTLA Traffic Blog:

A Sigalert for the 210

6:18 AM April 24, 2009

The CHP has issued a Sigalert for the 210 East past Towne Ave or at Baseline. This crash involves as many as three cars and possibly three motorcycles. The two right lanes are blocked. An SUV is facing the wrong way and a Los Angeles County fire helicopter may need to land near the freeway to take the injured parties to the hospital. It doesn't sound like the helicopter will land on the freeway so for now, the lanes that are blocked are the two right.
Posted by Ginger Chan

Incident Details
Click image to enlarge

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Square Head, Round Hole

Whatever else you have to say about Claremont Trolley supporters, you cannot deny their persistence.

A reader wrote in to tell us about a Facebook event this afternoon from 12 noon to 2pm in the Claremont Village. The event is a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored rally to support the trolley, which went belly-up at the last City Council meeting.

As part of the event, you can follow it live on Twitter. Here's the tweeting party's description:

Join me, Joey Coombe, as I Twitter Live from the Claremont Trolley. This event approaches the issue of public funding for transportation related uses through new media and technology.

Follow at

[NOTE: This was actually a joke by Coombe. No real involvement form the Chamber of Commerce -ed.]

* * * * *

Yesterday's Courier had a letter from reader Rochelle Darrow, who wrote that she liked the trolley but thought the routing was sketchy:
The trolley was a good intention, but I for one was confounded with its route. If you were for instance visiting the theatre you would just drive there. Once in the village area everything is in walking distance. The trolley route served no purpose.

It would be wonderful if the trolley made a wider route, say north on Mills taking people to Vons. West on Baseline then south on Indian Hill stop at Trader Joes and proceed back down to the village.

The real problem wasn't just the route. Cost was the limiting factor. The trolley runs only three days a week. That really isn't a regular enough schedule to be considered a true transportion service. After all, who'd utilize a bus service that operated less than half of the time?

Why only three days? The trolley ran the schedule it did because the City couldn't afford to spend more than the $887,000 it did on the current level of service.

To run the trolley five days a week would have raised the cost to $1.27 million on its current route. And that's for one trolley that takes 15 minutes to circumnavigate it's little 1.5 mile circuit of the Claremont Village. If you were to add on stops at the Claremont Colleges and trips up to Foothill and Base Line Rd., you're talking about potentially quadrupling the time it takes one trolley to complete a circuit. With only one trolley that could mean up to an hour wait - only 12 circuits in the trolley's 12-hour day on its three days of operation.

To extend the route and keep the stops at the same 15-minute level of service, you'd have to add two or three trolleys, depending on how much you lengthened the route. And to really make the trolley a functional transportation service, you'd have to run it at least five days - and probably seven - a week. You're not only talking about multiplying the $887,000 cost by adding more trolleys and their drivers, you'd also be adding at least two more days of service, not to mention the expense of building the new stops and the added cost of fueling, insuring and maintaining the extra trolleys.

The City bought all it could afford with the money it had and couldn't come close to spending millions more to turn the trolley into a true transportation service. City staff has said as much, maintaining that the trolley was not a transportation service but an economic engine designed to bring more customers to the Village - a mission it failed miserably at.

* * * * *

David Allen was at the April 14 City Council meeting when the council voted 3-2 to pull the plug on the trolley. Allen neatly summed up the non-Trolley boosters' take:
And if you happen to gaze in the trolley's windows as it passes by, you rarely see anyone inside except the poor driver. It's like a - gaaaahh! - ghost trolley.

Condemned to endlessly circuit the Village, making a series of hard left turns, the drivers are on a voyage of the damned, the Claremont equivalent of the Flying Dutchman.

At last, city leaders voted this week to lift the curse, free the drivers and allow the trolley to head into the sunset.

Allen also quoted a clearly out-of-touch Sam Pedroza, who typically did not get it, sounding a lot like former Councilmember Sandy Baldonado.

You might recall when Baldonaldo, along with Pedroza and the rest of the Claremont 400, tried to foist a $48 million assessment district on Claremonters in 2006. After property owners resoundingly rejected the assessment, Baldonado said, "'s not the city that I know and love."

Pedroza, as quoted by David Allen, displayed a similar tin ear, bringing up another failed Claremont transportation idea:
Councilman Sam Pedroza, however, said another trait of Claremonters is to rush to condemn new ideas. He brought up the traffic circle, which was torn out within weeks of its installation in 1999 due to jeering.

It's simply stunning that Pedroza can reinterpret history so freely. The traffic circle he spoke of, at Indian Hill and Bonita Ave., failed not because of any "jeering," as Pedroza calls it. It failed because it was a potentially good idea shoehorned into much too small of a space to handle the volume of traffic safely. The radius of the circle had to be fitted into the corners marked by the existing sidewalks, which left too tight a space for the number of cars passing through. All it did cause more delays than the existing traffic signal because of driver confusion.

These circles can work if they're in the right places and if they're sufficiently big enough to allow the traffic to flow smoothly - they're everywhere in Europe, and in a number of places here in Southern California - but the Claremont circle, much like the trolley, was jammed into the wrong place without any forethought and with very predictable results.

But, in Pedroza's mind, it's much easier to blame public rather than rationally assess the facts at hand.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Enjoy Claremont*

*Some Restrictions Apply

No Fruit Booters or Wood Pushers Allowed C.M.C. 12.30.020

From Marmot on Flickr via The Foothill Cities blog. See here for for more Claremont street banners. And here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Around Town


The Claremont City Council will hold another in its series of neighborhood forums tonight. Councilmembers Linda Elderkin and Larry Schroeder will be on hand at the city's Joslyn Center from 7pm to 9pm to meet and greet residents and to hear their concerns. The City's website gives the lowdown on the forums:

City Council Neighborhood Forum - Joslyn Center
7:00 PM
660 N. Mountain Avenue
(909) 399-5460

Council Members are also hosting a series of Neighborhood Forums. Neighborhood Forums give residents from different neighborhoods the opportunity to talk with City Council Members in a relaxed and informal setting. Neighborhoods can discuss issues that are important to them, air concerns, share ideas, ask questions and get the latest information about topics and projects that are specific to each neighborhood. Although forums are scheduled for specific neighborhoods, you do not have to live in that immediate area to attend.


Claremont's soon-to-be ex-Village Trolley
seeks a new home. We wrote last week week about some of the possibilities for repurposing the poor mini-bus. Troop transport wasn't one of them, but we could see that happening. A reader sent in this photo of some potential buyers from far, far away checking out the trolley not too long ago (as far as we can tell, no photoshopping here):

Imperial stormtrooper holds up line.
Driver, does this stop at Tatooine?

Claremont After Dark

From the Daily Bulletin last week, here's something you don't see every day in the City of Trees and Ph.d's:

Hengxiang Chen, 39, of Alhambra was booked on suspicion of prostitution Tuesday and is being held at the Claremont Jail pending court, according to a police news release.

About a month ago, police investigators received an anonymous tip that an apartment in the 500 block of West San Jose Avenue was being used exclusively for prostitution.

The Bulletin has more information now, including the news that Claremont's alleged house of ill repute may be linked linked to similar operations in the town of Lemoore, California:
The woman who leased the two-bedroom unit in the 500 block of West San Jose Avenue -- Liang Gao -- wasn't present during Tuesday's bust, said the complex's leasing manager.

Police arrested two women inside, and one of the women -- 39-year-old Hengxiang Chen of Alhambra -- said after she was released from Claremont city jail that she didn't know Gao.

The phone number in the 559 area code Gao left on her lease agreement is listed in numerous online advertisements for massage services in Lemoore, west of Fresno.

According to the Bulletin article, Chen maintains her innocence, claiming she was a victim who was visiting the South Claremont apartment for the first time when she was arrested.

This underground brothel may be similar to a multi-state operation run beginning in the late 1990's by a West Covina woman who was convicted last October in federal court. The woman, Jong Ock Mao, was alleged by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials to have amassed over $10 million in assets from her business. The ICE press release for Mao's conviction said:
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A West Covina, Calif., woman, who ran a string of brothels out of chiropractic offices, acupuncture clinics, "spas," tanning salons and massage parlors in Southern California and Dallas, was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison for her role in the scheme.

Jong Ock Mao, 50, a.k.a. "June," appeared this morning before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna. Mao pleaded guilty to two felony counts in August - conspiring to use interstate commerce to promote prostitution and using the proceeds from her six brothels to purchase real estate. As part of her guilty plea, the naturalized Korea native agreed to forfeit more than $10 million dollars in property and assets she derived from the prostitution scheme. The forfeited properties include four private motocross tracks in California, Texas, and Florida operated by MX Oasis, a company owned by Mao.

Today's sentencing stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oliver Chi for Claremont City Council?

From the Mailbag...
We received an email last week from a reader wondering whether Oliver Chi, ousted Rosemead City Manager and former Claremont Assistant City Manager, would run for Claremont City Council next time around, in March of 2011.

This was a scary thought, but as we reflected on it, an obvious one. Despite one obvious difference between Bridget Healy and Oliver Chi, there are already some parallels: Both are proteges of Glenn Southard; both left the city of Claremont; both are acceptably malleable in their veracities; neither had notable success here in town; both merely labored in the vineyard and did the bidding of the overseer; both have their nest lined with hundreds of thousands of dollars of money from their cities--Bridget in her six-figure pension payment for time spent (honest graft), Oliver in his extraordinary $300,000+ severance payment for services not rendered with a little extra to get him out within 90 days of the Rosemead municipal election (dishonest graft).

The email:

so when does...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 4:45 PM

...Oliver Chi run for a seat on the Claremont City Council

We can already imagine the signs placed by the Powers That Be on the Porkchop Park at Indian Hill and Harrison as shown above, but are not sure we are ready to see Oliver Chi every day:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Life Imitating Art

If you wanna buy you a home or a farm,
That can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or the sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car,

You better stay right where you are,
You better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
And the headlines on the papers always say:

If you ain't got that do re mi, boys,
If you ain't got the do re mi,
Oh, you better go back to beautiful Texas,
Oklahoma, Georgia, Kansas, Tennessee.

California is a garden of Eden,
It's a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

Do Re Mi
Woody Guthrie

Sure, we were joking last week about a reverse Dust Bowl migration out of California for Oklahoma and other Midwest destinations. But comes now the news in the San Bernardino Sun about the bad economy pushing people out of the Golden State:
California's population continues to grow, but in recent years, more people have left the state than moved in from other states.

What remains to be seen is whether California has reached a point where financial opportunity itself has fled eastward or whether the state is experiencing a short-term trend.

The Sun article goes on to say that this net outflow (not including legal and illegal immigration from other countries) preceded the current recession by a few years:
California Department of Finance statistics, released in December, show that California recorded domestic outmigration of about 135,000 people. It was the fourth consecutive year that more Americans left the state than moved in.

Each person who leaves the state has a different story. Bertha at Base Line U-Haul in San Bernardino declined to give her last name but said she has noticed people who recently moved to California are moving east again.

One woman who made the trip from Florida didn't find what she was looking for and rented a trailer for the return trip. Several families have returned to Colorado recently, she said.

Alaina Harris, now of Oklahoma City, said she grew up in Vacaville and went to college at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.

She said she moved to Oklahoma City to take a public-relations job after earning a master's degree from Georgetown University in 2007.

This story sound familiar, and we recalled a 1977 Second City TV film spoof called "The Grapes of Mud" that took up the Tom Joad story after he gets out of prison and meets up with his family just as they're escaping the California mudslides for safe, dry Oklahoma.

"Grapes of Mud" wasn't SCTV's greatest effort. They didn't have much of a production budget to play with when they were starting out, but the bit was still funnier and smarter than just about anything else on TV at the time. The SCTV troupe went on to do some hilarious pieces, like Martin Short's over-the-top Jerry Lewis in an Ingmar Bergman-directed "Scenes from an Idiot's Marriage" - something that only a Frenchman could love.

In any case, SCTV preceded reality by a good 30 years. We always knew they were a couple steps ahead of the entertainment crowd, we just didn't fully appreciate their prescience at the time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CUSD Moves On

The Claremont Unified School District will hold a special board meeting 7pm Monday, April 20, to address the departure of CUSD Superintendent David Cash for the Clovis USD.

Cash's resignation is effective July 1, and the Claremont school board will have to move quickly to find a replacement. The agenda for Monday's meeting indicates the board will accept Cash's resignation and then take steps to hire a firm called Leadership Associates to "develop the necessary timeline and facilitate the [superintendent] search."

Leadership Associates is based in Mission Viejo, and their website says this about the company:

As California’s premier executive search firm, Leadership Associates has assisted school boards in their selection of superintendents in over 170 California school districts and organizations since 1994. We have also assisted other educational organizations in the selection of their executive leaders.

Pomona Lives

Pomona Public Library Image
We were in downtown Pomona last night, grabbing a bite to eat at El Merendero #2 and picking up some panes dulces for breakfast, and we noticed the Fox Theatre sign up and running in blue and red revolving neon. The marquee, too, was lit up and announced that the theater was having its sneak preview fundraiser tonight. It looked like the work wasn't quite complete, but, with all the shiny new neon, you couldn't help but feel transported back 60 or 70 years.

The non-profit Friends of the Fox Theater website
tells the event is sold out, but the public will have plenty of opportunities to check out the new old Fox, beginning with the Smogdance Film Festival, which runs April 24-26.

The Daily Bulletin has plenty of coverage, including an an article by David Allen, who details the restoration work, including the job done by Pasadena-based ForSight Creations:

A crane with a 90-foot boom was used last August to haul down the sign, which was taken by the contractor to Pasadena for refurbishment.

ForSight Creations stripped, sandblasted and repainted the red sign. Workers also replaced all the neon, returning its original colors: red on one side, blue on the other.

They also rebuilt the motor that spins the sign, then used a crane to reinstall the sign in November.

ForSight, which in 2001 replicated historic signs at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, also restored the Fox marquee, which dates to 1947.

"It has over 1,100 pieces of new neon in it," ForSight president Rob Jobson said. "It's definitely the old-school theater marquee brought back to life."

John Clifford has more information over at M-M-M-My Pomona, and a comment from Meg says us that Gogol Bordello will be playing at the Fox come May.

Art Imitating Art

A recent NPR story about an updated Jane Austen classic surely had the ladies of the Jane Austen Book Club up in arms. Is nothing sacred?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith, has Austen's Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy facing off against legions of the undead. George A. Romero, welcome to Hertfordshire:

As Mr. Darcy walked off, Elizabeth felt her blood turn cold. She had never in her life been so insulted. The warrior code demanded she avenge her honour. Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.

But no sooner had she grabbed the handle of her weapon than a chorus of screams filled the assembly hall, immediately joined by the shattering of window panes. Unmentionables poured in, their movements clumsy yet swift; their burial clothing in a range of untidiness. Some wore gowns so tattered as to render them scandalous; other wore suits so filthy that one would assume they were assembled from little more than dirt and dried blood. Their flesh was in varying degrees of putrefaction; the freshly stricken were slightly green and pliant, whereas the longer dead were grey and brittle – their eyes and tongues long since turned to dust, and their lips pulled back into everlasting skeletal smiles.

Personally, we'd like to see Mrs. Bennet match up against the living dead. We think Elizabeth's excitable mother would take your average zombie in three rounds, her palpitations notwithstanding. We've seen first-hand what mischief a whole community of fully mobilized Mrs. Bennets can achieve.

Now, taking on a human-hunting alien, that's quite another matter. In February, the Guardian carried the news that there's a movie project called "Pride and Predator" in the works:
It might prove something of a boon to those who reach for the remote control when yet another costume drama comes on television: Elton John's Rocket Pictures is developing a new spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this time featuring a nefarious seven-foot extraterrestrial with hideous mandibles and a penchant for human blood. Yes, it's Pride and Predator.

Will Clark, best known for his award-winning gothic comedy short The Amazing Trousers, will direct the film, which is being produced by Rocket partners Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish.

There's definitely something aloft in the ether. A sign of Apocalypse, perhaps?