Claremont Insider: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Points of Clarification

We had a couple clarifications regarding the photo we ran yesterday showing the tire tracks running over from the newly patched asphalt placed by the Verizon work crews that are installing the company's fiber optic system (FiOS) in Claremont.

First, the photo's location was Scripps Ave. between Mountain and Oxford:

Click on Image to Enlarge


Second, the reader added that the tire track marks in the photo were caused by Verizon, not by people just driving along. All in all, the reader felt Claremont could learn a lot from Fontana, where there seemed to be much more of a resident-friendly effort on the part of that city and the contractors doing the work:
DATE: Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:52 AM
SUBJECT: FIOS
TO: Claremont Buzz

Dear Buzz,

Just a quick one… the marks on the city streets are not caused by cars crossing the patch. They are all caused by Verizon. They poured the patch and immediately drove through it over and over again with their own equipment. They blocked off the streets to residents as they did this. Verizon FIOS and Claremont can take lessons from Fontana!

City Camp Out

For all of those thinking of saving a little money by stay-cationing this summer, here's a thought - how about gathering up the kids and the ol' tent and sleeping bags and heading on over to the Alexander Hughes Community Center for a campout?

The City of Claremont announced its summer family campout beginning Friday, August 29, at 4pm to 9am Saturday, August 30. The City website says:

Sign Up! - Family Campout Under the Stars

Spend your stay-cation camping under the stars in Claremont with your family and friends! Campout fun will begin Sat., August 29 at 4 p.m. and will go through the night to Sun., August 30 at 9 a.m.

Starting with a good 'ol fashion BBQ, campers will sing songs, participate in a flashlight scavenger hunt, enjoy nature crafts, and other family games. The adventure, hosted by the City's Human Services Department, will take place at the Alexander Hughes Community Center's East Lawn and participants will have access to the center's amenities.

Cost, which includes all meals, snacks, and activity supplies is $25 per peron. Register by August 21. Links to a registration form and additional information are provided below, or you may contact our Human Services Department at 909-399-5490.

Flyer and Registration Form

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Verizon Comments

We received a couple more emails on Verizon's ongoing trenching and road repair for Verizon's fiber optic system (FiOS), which promises to bring speedier Internet service to the area.

The first email, as with the last couple we received, complained about the quality of the construction work and the tracks left behind on city streets by cars that had to cross the patched areas:

SUBJECT: FIOS Constuction
DATE
: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:29 PM
TO
: Claremont Buzz

So the city thinks by painting fresh stripes will dress up the FIOS construction? The phrase "Lipstick on a Pig" comes to mind. The attached YouTube video is what I think of the construction.


[Here the reader attached a link to a commercial by cable company Comcast lampooning Verizon FiOS and the whole system installation process.]

The reader also sent along a photo of work in his/her area:



Then, we received an email from a very satisfied FiOS customer who works in Claremont and lives in Fontana. This person says that the Fontana experience with Verizon's construction crews has been much better than what are readers are reporting. The correspondent also says that the end product offers superior service to the cable company in Fontana. One thing the reader included was a link to the City of Fontana website, which offers residents there information about construction as well as a very useful Verizon contact number for people with questions about the street work:

DATE: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:05 PM
SUBJECT: FiOS in Claremont
TO: Claremont Buzz

Dear C-Buzz,


I wanted to comment on the recent FiOS comments as they seem out of line with what I experienced when Verizon came through my Fontana neighborhood.


A few weeks prior to work commencing, my neighbors and I received notification from Verizon that they were about to install FiOS in our neighborhood. The notification included the scope of work as well as what we could expect as far as street/yard trenching, sidewalk removal, restoration, etc. The notification went on to include a number to call if there were questions.

The city of Fontana also went the extra mile and put up a web page on their site covering the FiOS deployment within the city. It was a great help as it included expected start/completion dates for each section of the city. Additionally, the site included valuable Verizon contact information in case of questions/complaints (hint: could still be helpful to Claremont residents). It's really a shame that Claremont isn't providing the same.


Here is the link to the City of Fontana FTTH (Fiber to the Home) web page.
http://www.fontana.org/main/pr_releases/2007/verizon_fttp2.htm

Back to the install:

A day before the work was to start, a placard was placed on each door outlining what was to happen along with a questions/complaint number.
The construction process was a bit of a mess with temporary patches in the street, sidewalks removed, lawns chewed up, etc. It was only at the point that the fiber-optic cable was installed a couple of weeks later that most of the mess was cleaned up. According to the fiber techs, the final clean up and patching isn't done until they know they can get the fiber through the conduits. This saves having to dig up freshly repaired areas to correct a broken conduit.

Once the fiber was in, the contractor came through the neighborhood and patched the street, poured new concrete sidewalks, repaired/planted lawns, and even sand-blasted the dig-alert marking from the curbs/street. Obviously, the fresh concrete and street paving stood out, but after six months, it was hard to tell that Verizon had
been there.

All in all, the process was as smooth as any major utility overlay could be. Perhaps the two commenters with issues are only partly through the process and the final cleanup has yet to be done? I took the opportunity to drive down Scripps today (I work in Claremont), and while I could see where Verizon had been, the quality of the patching looked good to me. Hopefully, that's an indication of how the rest will look when it's finally completed.

As for the FiOS service... It will be worth every bit of the current construction hassles. I remember my Time Warner "extreme" Internet service where I could only get the advertised speed at 3 am. At 6 pm, with everyone else on-line, is was the "extremely slow" Internet service. My FiOS Internet (current package is 25/15) is always fast and running at the advertised speeds no matter the time of day.
Fontana just got the FiOS TV service, and again, Time Warner's offering now looks weak. Where on Time Warner I had only one HBO in High Definition, FiOS has all the HBOs in HD (14 in total). Oh, and I'm paying must less than when I had Time Warner.

I suggest a bit of patience as the process runs its course, but if there are unresolved problems, have a look at the Fontana link for help.


best,

Fontana FiOS Customer

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

They're Baaaack!

The Claremont 400 don't rest long, nor do they take their losses very seriously. You have to grant them this much: they are persistent.

At last night's City Council, we noticed several of the traditional power brokers present or represented by their surrogates. For instance, Helaine Goldwater, the former Police Commission Chair and keeper of The List (the 400's index of all potential candidates for city committees, commissions, and candidates for City Council), was present and spoke about Oakmont School.

Speaking of Helaine, her unsuccessful candidate for the March City Council race, Bridget Healy (pictured, left), got a mention in Saturday's Claremont Courier. The Courier ran a letter from a few members of Claremont Heritage board (Ginger Elliot, former Claremont Human Services Commissioner Suzanne Hall, and Don Pattison), thanking the all the people who made the July 12 Padua Hills Theatre open house a success, among them:

In particular, former Mexican Players were there along with many others who had enjoyed meals and plays at the Padua Theatre during its heyday from 1930 to 1974. Thanks to Bridget Healy and the Friends of the Padua Hills Theatre, a newly formed group of neighbors and friends, who planned the open house.
The letter was notable for a couple omissions:
  • The Mexican Players and all Latinos (as well as any non-Caucasian) were barred by the racial restrictions from owning land around the Padua Theatre. Thanks for the entertainment, guys, but remember: Play, don't stay.

  • The letter also praised the shuttle service Claremont Heritage got to ferry open house guests from the overflow parking at Mills and Mt. Baldy Rd. What they didn't say, however, was that so many people (over 1,000, according the Heritage) showed at the theatre on July 12, that traffic backed down Padua Ave. to Mt. Baldy Rd. Cars couldn't turn around easily in the parking lot after it filled up, and the someone removed the barriades that were supposed to prevent people from parking along Via Padova in front of homes there. So traffic flowed out onto the neighborhood around the theatre.

    Naturally, no one took responsibilty for the mess, and all the parties - the City of Claremont, Claremont Heritage, and Chantrelles (one of the partners in the Padua Theatre) - pointed the finger of blame at each other.

History is once again erased in Claremont.

If past behavior is any indicator, the Claremont Heritage letter to the Courier would represent an opening salvo for a 2011 Healy campaign for council. The 400 usually gets their candidates to front for civic-minded organizations in order to add to their communitarian resumes (something that Healy notably lacked in the last election). If Healy is indeed thinking of running, you'll see a parallel effort by the 400 to attack the current council by getting hot-button issues on the council's agenda and through letters to the local papers.

The 400 strategy has always been to divide and conquer: talk up your candidate, talk down your opponents.

Our thinking on Healy hasn't changed much at all. She represents the worst of the Glenn Southard years, left the City to follow Southard to Indio when the going got tough for her boss, and returned in retirement after having looted Claremont, Indio, and Pomona to the tune of a $150,000-plus CalPERS pension thinking that she could get a free pass in her failed bid for a council seat.

The 400 are in Healy image rehab mode now, but they have 18 months to fix things and to spin whatever image they want. The question is, will people buy into it?

* * * * *

We saw an article in the Onion about a new Apple product, the invisible iPhone, that reminds us a lot about about the forgetfulness and gullibility of Claremont voters:
SAN FRANCISCO—In a move expected to revolutionize the mobile device industry, Apple launched its fastest and most powerful iPhone to date Tuesday, an innovative new model that can only be seen by the company's hippest and most dedicated customers.

"I am proud today to introduce to those who really, truly deserve it, our most incredible iPhone yet," announced Apple CEO Steve Jobs, extending his seemingly empty left palm toward the eagerly awaiting crowd. "Not only is this our lightest and slimmest model ever, but as any truly savvy Apple customer can clearly see, it's also the most handsome product we've ever designed."

The packed auditorium, which had been listening to Jobs in hushed reverence for several minutes, then erupted into applause, with hundreds of men and women suddenly jumping to their feet and shouting, "I can see it!" "Look, there it is!" and "God, it's so beautiful!"


Remember, voters: No clothes, no clothes.


Another Dissatisfied Customer

Progress has its downside. A second resident chimes in regarding Verizon FiOS:

DATE: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 5:45 AM
SUBJECT: Another resident very unhappy with Verizon and Claremont Officials
TO: Claremont Buzz

I concur totally with the complaint made about the Verizon fiasco or another word for fiasco is fios. I have lived in Claremont since 1972 and am very unhappy with the shoddy job and furthermore, no explanation from our city government. Complaints have been made to city officials that have all fallen on deaf ears. Who is getting a financial gain for this? There was absolutely no information given to the residents regarding the installation, nor the condition of how the streets/neighborhoods would be affected by this. I find this a total disregard for the citizens, aka taxpayers, of this city. The former employee of the city that was supposed to be overseeing this job must be laughing all the way to the bank on the back of Claremont taxpayers. He gave out incorrect information and definitely did not have Claremont's best interest. His words were "he stopped them from going on his street in Upland". So what does that tell you????

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Budget Results Are In

At last Saturday's city budget meeting, the Claremont City Council approved a $2.32 million budget makeover, the Daily Bulletin reported. The changes were need to help the City deal with what the city was saying was going to be a $2.69 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2009-10. This comes on the heels of a $1.5 million deficit for FY 2008-09.

That's total shortfall of $4.19 million through July 31, 2010, and it could have been worse. Luckily for Claremont, the state of California didn't touch local transportation funds when state legislators and Governor agreed the budget compromise last week, otherwise the hit for local governments would have been $1 billion worse. As it is, because our leaders can agree to a permanent fix to the budget process, our state leaders will probably be having another budget showdown in a few months. The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters is calling it our state's five-month budget cycle.

So, Claremont's budget solution may not represent a real fix at all, and that 2009-10 deficit could still grow, depending on how the economy performs and what future revenues the state tries to take.

The cuts the City Council approved last Saturday include "golden handshakes" to encourage employees to take early retirement, raising fees for some city programs, and increases in parking ticket fees. The City will also have to workout an agreement with employee associations for either a 38-hour work week or a four-day work week. This will amount to a 5% pay cut for most employees. The City is also likely to eliminate some positions entirely.

The Bulletin article reported that Councilmember Peter Yao was the sole vote against the measure:

Councilman Peter Yao voted against the proposed changes. His objections were the cost of the Public Employees Retirement System "Golden Handshake" retirement package, where an employee receives two years of PERS service credit, and a larger police department budget in 2009-10 than in 2000-01, despite a similar budget projection.

"I can't honestly support it," Yao said, adding he felt the proposal was a temporary and not permanent fix.
* * * * *

The council also meets tonight for their last meeting before their August break. The city website was down for much of today, or we'd offer you a breakdown of some of the issues. Try checking out the city's website yourself at www.ci.claremont.ca.us.

Some interesting items on tonight's agenda:
  • The College Ave. affordable housing project.
  • The official city flower (staff says, "Sticky-leafed Monkeyflower").
  • Expansion of the Oak Park Cemetery.
  • Renaming the 100 block of East 11th St. The new name would be "Drucker Way." This is being proposed by the Claremont Graduate University.
  • The City's investment report for FY 2008-09 (not all financial news is bad, it seems).
  • City commission appointments and reappointments (some surprises here, including Butch Henderson, who landed a spot on the Human Services Commission).

The council meeting begins at 6:30pm in the City Council Chambers at 225 W. 2nd St. in the Claremont Village.

Crime Log

Even though it's been hot, you may want to keep your window and doors locked at night. The Claremont Police Department website reports a home on the 1100 block of Briarcroft Rd. near Towne Ave. was burglarized over the past weekend while the occupants were asleep:

Residential "Hot Prowl" Burglary

Overnight from Saturday night to Sunday morning (July 25-26), unknown suspects entered a residence in the 1100 block of Briarcroft Rd. and stole a wallet, computer and car keys while the residents slept. The suspect(s) then stole a 2003 Suburban from the driveway. Entry to the residence was made through an unlocked side kitchen door.

Residents are reminded that it is a good precaution to keep your doors locked even when you are home.

Summer Music



The Ravelers play in Montclair tonight and then at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens on Thursday night, or so says the latest Raveler spam:

Hey Now...

The Ravelers continue to have a blast at every summer concert! Last Saturday night up at the Silent Valley RV Park in the mountains above Banning was a great summer family event.

This week, The Ravelers are here for more summer fun...

Tuesday, July 28 - Montclair Concert in the Park!
Alma Hoffman Park
5201 Benito Street
Montclair, CA 91763

The Ravelers play from 7:00pm-8:30pm

Thursday, July 30 - UnRaveled show at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens!!!
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens
1500 N. College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711

Call for info 909.625.8767

The Ravelers play from 7:00pm - 9:00pm. Get there early and be ready to have some fun!
See you for a nice summer evening...

Hai, Pat, Martie, Rob
The Ravelers

By the way, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens have a regular Thursday night summer concert series. There are three more concerts left, including the Ravelers on Thursday. Here's the information from the RSABG:

August 6 - Susie Hansen Latin Band
A six-piece Latin jazz and Salsa band

August 13 - Chet Jaeger’s Dixieland Jazz
Jam session of popular oldies.

Gate Admission: $8 adults; $6 students & seniors (65+); $4 children (3-12 yrs.) Garden Members and children under 3 yrs., admitted free.

Come early and enjoy picnic dinners in the Sycamore Café. Food by Gourmet Gourmet Catering, wine selections from the Packing House Wine Merchants, and cool treats from Bert & Rocky's Cream Co.

Concert series proudly sponsored by Golden State Water Company.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Allen

Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen recently celebrated his 10th year in Claremont. Allen wrote that for a journalist, 10 years in one place is a long time indeed, and he touched on some of the things about the Claremont Village that he likes.

From my house, a half-mile walk takes me downtown. And Claremont's downtown is the gold standard. It's a functioning neighborhood with a lively street scene.

L.A.'s planning director once said her three criteria for a neighborhood are being able to walk to a coffeehouse, a bookstore and a movie theater. I can do that.

(Although Claremont could really use a better bookstore.)

The colleges are even closer. I count myself lucky to have attended free talks on campus by so many cultural figures: cartoonists Art Spiegelman and Marjane Satrapi, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, humorist David Sedaris, journalist Elizabeth Kolbert and essayist Gore Vidal, among others.

South Claremont doesn't get of a mention in the piece, and Allen says that compared to the Village, the north part of town is pretty much like any other bedroom community, but then those two parts of town don't usually get much attention, unless it's has to do with the Claremont Auto Center or a big project like the Padua Theatre or the Padua Ave. Park. The only time something gets left alone is when it's on a slope, like the Claremont Wilderness Park.

I'd have to agree with Allen that the Village's attraction is its walkability and the intellectual and cultural energy of the Claremont Colleges. There is another kind of community, though, and that one happens at the neighborhood level, and that's happening all over town, not just in the Village.

The Claremont General Plan even makes point of the uniqueness of our neighborhoods as being a hallmark of our city. Outside of the Claremont Village, the uniqueness part sometimes gets forgotten, especially when someone wants to build a big project or expand the Claremont Auto Center. It makes me think of a philosophy professor I used to know who taught a comparative world religions class. He used to say, "I don't want you tell you what a Hindu is or a Muslim is or a Christian is, but I want you to learn to see the cow the Hindu sees, the cow the Muslim sees, the cow the Bhuddist sees."

In Claremont, that's been a big problem. Our friends who make the decisions don't take the time to see the neighborhood the neighbors see. People in the south part of town are looked down on for being from " Baja Claremont" and people in the north part of town are snooty rich folk. But they're really people who are interested in their own immediate community as much as anyone in the Village is.

Infrastructure Monday

VERIZON DIGS CLAREMONT

As you probably know, Verizon has been slowly upgrading its wiring in the area. The company is replacing the old copper wires with a new fiber optic system (FiOS), which promises to bring us faster Internet access and a television system to compete with the Time Warner cable franchise.

A reader wrote in to complain about the disruption and shoddy road patching done by the Verizon work crews:

DATE:Friday, July 24, 2009 7:27 AM
SUBJECT: FIOS construction
TO: Claremont Buzz

Hi. Just wanted to let you know that FIOS construction in Claremont is horrific. Long story short, they spent 6 weeks on my block of 6 homes. Verizon went through 3 crews from Simmons Court to Athens Court which is a matter of a few homes and trust me, once you see these guys in your neighborhood you will understand why. The quality of work, the clean up, the misinformation given to us as residents is unbelievable. Long story short, I have contacted Verizon officials and Claremont officials trying to get some straight answers and the bottom line, I wish I had never gotten involved. Verizon is supposed to come into a neighborhood and leave it as if they were never there…come drive Fairmont, Athens and Simmons Courts all the way up to Scripps and look at the streets. (Athens has been given more attention because 3 of the 6 of us called and complained.) The patch we can live with. The fact that Verizon construction drove immediately through the black tar and left marks from one end of the neighborhood to the other and Claremont is ok with this shouldn’t surprise me but it does. Claremont tells me we are on slurry schedule for 2010 so until then, I guess I should just be grateful I have FIOS underground! WOW!! So…Claremont BEWARE! FIOS is coming to a neighborhood near you and when they are gone…you will know they were there and definitely not for the better. FIOS had to come in but give me a break, I don’t have a “road degree” but sure know a good paving job when I see one and there isn’t one to be seen in my neighborhood.

WHAT WATER CRISIS?

In other infrastructure related news, there was some sort of burst water pipe yesterday morning at College Ave. directly across from the affordable housing project site at 111 S. College Ave. The leak was on the east side of the street and was just north of the Pooch Park. The source was hidden by the chainlink fence and the landscaping, but you could see the water pour from under the fence wire and flow down College Ave. in a torrent. One young fellow tried surfing the stream on a boogie board.

Work crews (presumably from Golden State Water Co.) got the leak under control by around 10am. Sorta makes you wish Golden State had reinvested some of those rate hikes from the last 10 years into infrastructure maintenance rather than stock dividends.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Affordable Housing Moves Forward

The College Ave. affordable housing project cleared another hurdle Wednesday night when the Claremont Architectural Commission gave its conditional approval on a 4-2 vote.

Wes Woods explained the vote in a Daily Bulletin article:

The commission - which approved the project by a 4 to 2 vote but requiring that several conditions still had to be met, including details on the project's color, windows, soundwall, carport, roofing and other details.

The Claremont Redevelopment Agency and the Jamboree Housing Corp. - the project's applicants - told the commission they may appeal the conditions.

"In the next day or so, we'll evaluate and see if we want to come back here, but we need to consult with other people," said Brian Desatnik, housing and redevelopment manager.

You can see why the Architectural Commission would want to impose their conditions. The lack of important architectural details would seem to make it difficult for the commission to do its job. But, the City and Mr. Desatnik have a lot of pressure on them from the League of Women Voters and others to get to project done. So, details or no, on we go.

If you haven't reviewed them, the Insider has posted the project plans here.

Woods' article said a number of residents spoke out against the project, citing things like cost and child safety (we're not sure if this refers to concerns about kids having to deal with traffic or the nearby Metrolink or some other issue). Another resident complained about the lack of an environmental impact report for the project.

The housing units are being built by Jamboree Housing Corp. and the Claremont Redevelopment Agency (whose board consists of Claremont's five councilmembers and whose executive director is City Manager Jeff Parker). Having already been approved by the Planning Commission, the matter moves onto the City Council, probably by next Tuesday, according to the Woods piece. You can see how this works - CRA project has to be approved by the City Council, which is the CRA.

Getting the project to the council by Tuesday is important because the council and city commissions go dark in August for their traditional summer break. If the College Ave. project doesn't get to the council next week, it'll have to wait until September. Also, getting it done in July means Desatnik and the city staff assigned to the project have all of August to work with less scrutiny than the rest of the year because people are preoccupied with vacations and recreation.

Claremont's other August tradition is to get hot button issues shaped and fully dressed by staff during the council break. Affordable housing is no different. You can expect Desatnik to be ready in September to rattle off answers to critics' questions with absolute confidence and certitude, no matter how substantive those responses may or may not be.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Bill Comes Due

It was difficult for Claremont officials to paper over the bad news at last week's State of the City luncheon. The event, hosted by Claremont Chamber of Commerce, was by all accounts well-attended, and all five councilmembers took shots at finding silver linings in Claremont's fiscal state.

Mostly, they had to point to projects already under way or recently completed, from mundane things like road resurfacing to grander projects like the Padua Ave. Park or the College Ave. affordable housing development (thanks, Sam Pedroza, for that bit of sunshine).

The council was wise to tout its public works now. With the City already facing a $2 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2009-10 because of falling sales tax revenues and the state poised to borrow more local funds to balance its books, it may be a while before the Council can spend as freely as they've become accustomed to. The Claremont Courier quoted Councilmember Peter Yao (right), who acknowledged the City's budgetary realities:

“Despite the best efforts of the city council and staff earlier this year to balance the budge, the economies of California and Claremont have continued to deteriorate,” Mr. Yao explained. “Due to further reductions in local revenues and the turbulent environment of the state legislature, the city is facing an addition shortfall of $2 million.”

The Courier also noted that the City will hold a special budget workshop this Saturday from 9am to 1pm in the council chambers at 225 W. 2nd St. in the Claremont Village. Now that the state has a budget deal semi-worked out, the City can make some projections about the size of the hit it's going to take.

From what we've picked up on our Twitter wire, it ain't pretty, folks. Thanks to the state's borrowing of funds owed to local governments, that extra $2 million shortfall Councilmember Yao alluded to may grow considerably. And that has to be added to the pre-existing $2 million 2009-10 deficit, as well as the additional (as yet undisclosed) amount the City will have to pay CalPERS for its underfunded employee pension account (CalPERS reported a 23.4% loss in its investment portfolio for FY 2008-09.)

As a result, at Saturday's budget meeting you may hear talk of staff and service cuts for the first time. You hate to see anyone lose their jobs, and the City is quite understandably pinning much of the blame on Sacramento's inability to manage their own finances without stealing from local governments.

However, Claremont and many other cities and counties bear a certain share of the blame for their own budget problems because of thoughtless spending on things like costly and unnecessary projects (insert Claremont Trolley photo here) and overly lavish employee pensions and benefits in good times. Claremont has also never been shy about feeding at the state grant trough for any number of projects, and, in doing so, it made its own small contribution to Sacramento's current fiscal state of affairs.

Like everyone else, Claremont is having to rediscover the idea of limited resources and deferred gratification. Rather than pointing the finger at the state government, the City ought to take a good, long, honest look in the mirror and figure out what lessons it can take from the present situation. Some city employees and the services they provide may end up suffering because of this mess, and it's a shame that Claremont set itself up for fiscal failure by making revenue projections that didn't take into account the possibility of a recession as severe as the present one.

The good times never go on uninterrupted, but Claremont's movers and shakers have consistently refused to acknowledged this rather obvious fact of financial life. Sustainability, Claremont's favorite buzzword, begins with fiscal sustainability, and the City risk management strategy failed in the most basic way - by neglecting to hope for the best while planning for the worst contingency.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tweets from City "All Hands" Meeting

Our Twitter feed captured the following tweets from someone who appears to be a City employee at an "all hands" meeting at City Hall this morning:


●Parker: $6 million bite out of $20 million budget.

●Employee next 2 me: "At least he got his $14,000 raise."

●$2.? million "borrowed" by State.

●$1/2 million gas tax? hit

●On top of $2.5 million earlier, $5-6 million total hit.

●Permanent?

●Dept heads: plans for cutting staff.

●Prizner release = need for cops.

●Not just attrition-cheezit, here comes Ramos.

At this the tweets ended.

More when we have it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

College Ave. Project Plans Unveiled

The designs for Claremont's affordable housing project at 111 S. College Ave. (the old Claremont Courier site) go before the City's Architectural Commission this Wednesday, July 22, at 7pm. The commission meets in the City Council Chambers at 225 W. 2nd St.

Here is the meeting information listed on the City website:

Affordable Housing Architectural Plans to be Reviewed

The Architectural Commission will review the College Avenue Architectural Plans for the affordable housing project, at their meeting on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Click on the link below to view the architectural plans.

For more information, please contact the City's Economic Development Department at (909) 399-5341.


For your convenience, we've posted the plans below. As always, click on the box in the upper right-hand corner to enlarge to full screen:

Friday, July 17, 2009

CMA Art Happenings



Time to take a look at what's going on at the Claremont Museum of Art. The retrospective of Claremont artist James Hueter at the Claremont Museum of Art continues for one more week:

James Hueter, Reflections: Blue Triangle Left,
1992, Oil on wood, glass, 24 x 32 in.
Image from Artslant.com
James Hueter: A Retrospective surveys Hueter's art from his early realist and surrealist paintings, through a long period of investigating and refining hybrid forms of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and architecture. The exhibition culminates with recent works that meld all of these disciplines, exploring multi-faceted realms of representation and illusion. With more than 75 works on view, new generations will discover an artist of diligent devotion to a vision sustained through decades of experimentation, refinement, and perseverance.

This is the first such exhibition to examine the entire range of James Hueter's unique artistic vision, realizing a core mission of the Claremont Museum of Art to celebrate the region's rich artistic heritage through in-depth exhibitions of its most prominent local heroes.

The next scheduled exhibit, featuring new additions to CMA's permanent collection, opens September 20.

CMA will also hold its Sunday Family Art Day this weekend. The event is open to everyone, young and old:
Sunday, July 19, Noon to 3pm
It’s A Puzzle!

Turn your very own artwork into a puzzle. Children and adults will begin with a blank puzzle template and draw or paint a masterpiece, or write a secret message to send to a friend. Very cool. As always, it’s free!

Claremont Museum of Art
536 W. First Street
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 621-3200

The Heat is On

With temperatures in the triple digits this week, you may want to escape to one of the city of Claremont's Cool Zones, scattered throughout town. The city website gives more information on the locations:

Cooling Centers in Claremont

The City of Claremont offers several "Cool Zones" for residents to come and get out of the heat. The following locations are designated as "Cool Zones" and are open the hours listed below. In extreme heat conditions (2 or more consecutive days of temperatures over 100 degrees), the Human Services Department may extend the operational hours to include weekend hours beyond the normal operating hours. Please call the Alexander Hughes Community Center at (909) 399-5490 for further details.

  • Hughes Community Center, 1700 Danbury Road
    Hours: Monday - Thursday 7:30 am - 9:00 pm, Fridays 7:30 am - 6:00 pm, Saturdays 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Joslyn Center, 660 North Mountain Avenue
    Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Blaisdell Center, 440 South College Avenue
    Hours: Monday - Friday 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Claremont Library, 208 Harvard Avenue
    Hours: Monday -Thursday 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Friday - Saturdays 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Youth Activity Center (YAC), 1717 North Indian Hill Blvd.
    Hours: Monday - Friday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Tracks Activity Center (TAC), El Roble 665 North Mountain Avenue
    Hours: Monday - Friday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Wading Pools (Memorial Park, Wheeler Park, El Barrio Park)
    Hours: 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Never Too Late to Learn

The City of Claremont, in partnership with the Claremont Colleges, offers a program that allows seniors to audit classes at the 5C's. If you're 60 years or older, you are eligible for the Claremont Avenues for Lifelong Learning program, says the city:

Claremont College Auditing Program for Seniors

The City of Claremont Senior Program is pleased to announce the continuation of its FREE Claremont Avenues for Lifelong Learning (CALL) Program. This program is designed to permit those 60 years of age and older to audit courses at the Claremont Colleges during their Fall 2009 semester. Claremont residents are given first preference for course selection, but the program is open to outside residents as well.

The CALL Program is part of the Claremont Senior Program's Senior Master Plan and it's emphasis on successful aging. Participants are invited to audit classes at Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer and Scripps colleges. Each auditor is entitled to enroll in one course. Auditors are expected to attend classes regularly throughout the semester. For some of the courses little or no background is necessary, others require some prerequisite knowledge or skills to attend. The courses are designed primarily for full-time students enrolled at the Claremont Colleges.

A schedule of classes and application are available at the Joslyn Center, 660 Mountain Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Registration begins July 13 and closes August 6. Classes will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority given to Claremont residents. Most classes begin the week of September 1 and end December 18. For further information about the CALL Program, please call (909) 399-5488.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Antonovich Pans Wagner

Soundrack for the Holocaust

Claremont's County Supervisor, Michael D. Antonovich, weighed in on the plans by L.A. Opera to stage a "Ring" Festival next year, featuring composer Richard Wagner's famous work, Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Antonovich is not amused.

It seems Antonovich doesn't have enough to do riding in local Fourth of July parades, solving the County budget isses, doling out County largesse and getting backroom deals made. These days everybody's a critic, and Mike has become an opera critic.

He issued a statement Tuesday decrying the idea that that the "Ring" Festival should bring out any pieces by that ol' anti-Semite, Richard Wagner. His press release, which we haven't found on his County website, is quoted on LA Now:


“To specifically honor and glorify the man whose music and racist anti-Semitic writings inspired Hitler and became the de facto soundtrack for the Holocaust in a countywide festival is an affront to those who have suffered or have been impacted by the horrors of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialistic Worker Party.”

He goes on to suggest that maybe the Wagner "Ring" Festival could “delete the focus on Wagner and incorporate other composers as headliners including Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Schubert, Schumann, Meyerbeer, Mendelssohn and others.”

So Supervisor Mike joins that band of modern-day censors--Pomona President David Oxtoby is another--who subscribe to the Cootie Theory of Historical Cleansing and Rewriting: Because we find objectionable something, somewhere, related to a piece, let's do some feel-good hand-wringing to put our own goodness and superiority on display and trash everything related to the "badness" we have identified.

Supervisor Antonovich in Claremont's 2009 Fourth of July Parade

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deny! Deny! Deny!--UPDATED

Update Below
click to enlarge
Our previous post didn't even mention what has become a ritual agenda item at City Council, the traditional Denial Of The Claim. The hapless citizen this time was one James Tripp III, whose car was apparently towed and impounded. Every time there is a claim, the City denies it. Go back through several months of City Council agenda items and you will see that this is so. We post the relevant portion of the agenda item, with the ritual imprecation circled.

This was brought to mind by the confluence of the above-mentioned claim and a Youtube video that is making the rounds. The video is the singer's way to publicize unfair handling of a claim he had with United Airlines over damage to his guitar.

Certainly this piece will resonate with anyone who has ever had to deal with a large organization whose bureaucratic default mode is "NO".

Give the song thirty seconds and chances are you'll be listening to it more than once. And remember the only reason we haven't had such a song written about Claremont is that no one has bothered. God knows there is enough material.



UPDATE: Mirabile dictu, last night the City Council actually accepted Mr. Tripp's claim and agreed to pay the towing/impound charge. It was a unanimous call. We take full credit for this.

Not that Council actually would have seen our post; they would've had to have been hitting "refresh" on their browsers during the closed session that preceded last night's meeting, and we don't believe that was happening--except maybe Sam Pedroza.

No, it's more a Karma thing. When people are called out, when a tree falls in the forest, the Universe shudders.

City Council Meeting Tonight

The City Council meet tonight in the council chambers at 225 W. 2nd St. You can watch it all here.

The council will meet in closed session at 5:15pm to discuss possible future litigation in two unspecified cases. The council will also hear a report from City Manager Jeff Parker and Assistant City Manager on labor negotiations with the City's employee organizations.

The regular session begins at 6:30pm. We don't have time for an in-depth breakdown, but you can read the regular session agenda here. The specific reports for each agenda item are here.

A few items of interest from tonight's agenda:

Affordable Housing Traffic Study Available

Those of you interested in the affordable housing issue may want to review the traffic study commissioned by the city of Claremont for the project at the old Claremont Courier site on College Ave.

The report is posted on the City's website, with the following information:

College Avenue Affordable Housing Traffic Study Completed

The City has completed a traffic analysis for the proposed affordable housing project at 111 S. College Avenue. Click on the links below to view the Traffic Study and Appendices.

For further information or questions, please contact the City's Engineering Division at (909) 399-5465.


If you have any experience with these sorts of reports and studies, you know that the science associated with them is highly dubious. For instance, when the City of Claremont ordered its Environmental Impact Report for the soon-to-be-open Padua Ave. Park, the City's EIR consultant employed a biology expert who listed a Ph.D credential in his report that he purchased from the online Universal Life Church (true story!). And it wasn't even a Ph.D in biology. The doctoral title Claremont's consultant listed when he signed his report was a Ph.D in theology. The City Council nonetheless approved the EIR unanimously.

The EIR process counts on an independent review by the agency holding jurisdiction over the project. Usually, when the developer is a private party, the system works. However, when a city is both the proponent and the agency responsible for the EIR review, conflicts inevitably arise because the municipality is acting as both advocate and judge.

Having municipal approval of an EIR also makes it difficult to challenge in court because judges typically prefer to defer to legislative bodies, and this gives local governments a great deal of latitude. Courts seem to be slow to recognize when cities acting as project proponents have conflicts of interest that affect the integrity of the EIR process.

The EIRs and the supporting studies that accompany them sound very rational because they have professionals who are trained to bullet-proof the documents while at the same time pushing the science to the limit (and past) when necessary to get a project approved. For this, the really good consultants are well-compensated - well into the six-figures for the Padua Ave. Park EIR, for instance.

Once the projects are built, when one actually looks at how they affect things like traffic, the reality is usually much different - and much worse - than what the city-hired traffic engineers promised in their studies. Just look at the traffic on Indian Hill Blvd. on any given weekday afternoon, especially when a Metrolink station is passing through. The traffic studies for the Village Expansion promised no significant impacts. Yet, now if you want to make a right turn onto Indian Hill Blvd. from westbound 1st St. after 3pm? Fuggedaboutit!

It's a shame that the City and other municipalities stoop again and again to gaming the system in ways that they would not tolerate from a commercial developer working on a private project. But that is why regional urban planning in Southern California has been such an utter failure. It's exactly what you saw in any episode of the HBO series "The Wire." Everyone involved in the decision-making has their own selfish self-interests in mind, no one wants to deal honestly with the data, and the pseudo-scientific reports are, in the final analysis, nothing more than political tracts designed to move the project along to its preordained outcome.

So, the traffic study for the College Ave. affordable housing project has the inevitable conclusion on its first page: "...there are no significant project impacts, and no mitigation measures are required." Once the project is built, though, we should expect a very different reality, just as in every city-sponsored project. That much is written.

Tuesday Raveler Spam

We got some more Raveler spam in the email bin yesterday. The news including some 4th of July photos and a notice of a concert and movie tonight in Upland:

Hey Now...

The Ravelers had a blast at last week's Calimesa Country Club "Concert on the Green". Nice people out on a perfect evening for some fun!

This week has The Ravelers traveling to a variety of venues around Southern California for summer evening fun.

We hope to see you at one of these events:

Bring the whole family, a blanket and some snacks...

Wednesday, July 15
Upland Concert & Movie in the Park!
Magnolia Park
15th St & San Antonio
Upland, CA 91786

The Ravelers play from 7:00pm - 8:30pm before the movie. This week's flick is IGOR.
Click here to see the movie trailer...

_____________________

Join us on the patio for great Mexican food and some margaritas as we play "quietly"...

Thursday, July 16
Impromtu UnRaveled gathering!
Casa de Salsa
415 West Foothill Blvd (at Indian Hill)
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 445-1200

Filling in for Michael Ryan & Ken Soderlund while they are on tour in Germany. The Ravelers play acoustically from 6:00pm-9:00pm.

_______________

Friday night and the beach is across the street...perfect...you can even get a room to wake up at the beach...

Friday, July 17
Huntington Beach Hyatt-Pete Mallory's Sunset Grille!
Pete Mallory's Sunset Grille patio courtyard at the Huntington Beach Hyatt Resort
21500 Pacific Coast Hwy. (at Beach Blvd.)
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
714.698.1234

Join us in Surf City...The Ravelers play from 7:00pm-10:00pm.

The website has lots of info.

We hope to see you this week...

Hai, Pat, Martie, Rob
The Ravelers


Monday, July 13, 2009

Mailbag

We received an email from a reader who noted more than a wee bit of hypocrisy from Claremont League of Women Voters Action VP Ellen Taylor. Taylor had an opinion piece on global warming in yesterday's Daily Bulletin.

You may have noticed the former Claremont mayor using her LWV position to try to rehabilitate her image with a series of white papers on various issues. Taylor has been sending these into the local papers with some regularity. (Glad to see Ellen's gotten over her irregularity, it might explain her smiles since leaving office.)

If you paid careful attention when Taylor ran for the Claremont City Council in 2005, in the months leading up to that election she did a similar thing with long letters to the Claremont Courier on various public interest issues. Whatever the merits of her arguments, she may just be running another kind of Ellen-centric campaign.

In any case, here's our reader's note:

DATE: Sunday, July 12, 2009 10:06 AM
SUBJECT: Ellen and LWV Positions on Science
TO: Claremont Buzz

Dear Buzz,

In the Sunday (07-12-09) Daily Bulletin Section B1 (front page), Ellen Taylor as Action VP for Claremont area LWV has a statement supporting the "cap-and-trade" Bill now being debated in U.S. Congress. She is invoking scientific evidence for global warming. She says "the scientific evidence is clear that climate change ... is here now." She further states: "It is our nation's responsibility to take immediate action to curb the environmental and public health damages ..." This is the same woman (on Claremont City Council) and the LWV who would not accept scientific evidence that children living within 500 feet of a freeway develop lung and other respiratory health problems. They insisted on locating affordable housing for low and lower income families at the Base Line and Towne site, despite the EIR identified health issues. Can you say hypocrisy and double talk?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Fires: La Verne, Upland, Pomona - UPDATED

A brushfire burned about 10 acres in La Verne's Marshall Canyon this afternoon. The wind was from the west and, judging from the direction the smoke was carried, the fire seemed to be about in line with the Padua Theatre, where Claremont's open house started at 5pm.

The fire department got things under control pretty quickly. According to the Daily Bulletin, the fire started around 4pm near the Marshall Canyon Golf Course. As of 9pm Sunday, there was no word on how the fire started.

UPDATED, SUNDAY, 10:00PM: The Daily Bulletin is now reporting the Marshall Canyon fire ended up burning about 100 acres and was the result of arson. Thankfully, the winds abated as the sun went down, and firefighters had a handle on the situation before things could turn ugly.

* * * * *

Other local cities had to deal with fires this weekend. A home on 23rd St. in Upland caught fire Saturday.

Also Saturday, a fire in Pomona that started in a shed near Kingsley Ave. and Gordon St. destroyed two homes on Garey Ave. and damaged two other houses and an apartment complex. Meg at M-M-M-My Pomona had a lot of information about what happened and the families who lost homes.

Meg also pointed us to the rejuvenated Goddess of Pomona site, which has added a new blogger, 15-year-old Juan Cabrera. Cabrera posted a dramatic video of the fire on his My Space page.

Here's a link to Juan's video. You can see Dawn and Fred Van Allen's home and nursery, The Garden, in flames. Claremont's own experience with the 2003 Padua Fire is still fresh in all our minds, and our thoughts go out to the Van Allens and to the others that suffered lost or damaged homes.

If you are interested in helping out victims of the fire, keep checking the Pomona blogs. We'll also pass on any information we can.

Sunday Crime Report

It may just be the recession making people more desperate, but crime, or at least our perception of it, seems to be on the rise.

The Claremont Police Department's website had some information about an armed robbery on Mt. Baldy Rd. last month:

Armed Robbery on Mount Baldy Rd

On Tuesday, June 23 at about 11:00 pm, two victims in a parked vehicle were robbed at gunpoint on the Evey Canyon Rd. turnout of Mount Baldy Rd. (near the north-east City limits). The victims were ordered out of the vehicle and held at gunpoint by one suspect while a second suspect ransacked the vehicle's interior. The suspects fled south on Mt. Baldy Rd. with the victim's wallets, books, and other personal property.

Suspect Vehicle: 2002-03 Black Nissan Altima, three chrome wheels and an emergency spare tire on front right, chrome door handles, and a dim left taillight

Suspect 1: Male Hispanic, 20-25 years old, 5-8/200 lbs., wearing a black t-shirt, khaki colored pants, and a white bandana covering face; armed with a handgun

Suspect 2: Male Hispanic, 20-25 years old, 5-8/200 lbs., wearing a white long sleeve t-shirt, blue jean shorts, and a white bandana covering face

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Claremont Police Department at (909) 399-5411.


The CPD also had information about five people in a Chevy Tahoe who may have been casing homes around Base Line Rd. and Mills Ave.

We'd expect property crimes to be on the rise as the recession drags on, along with increases in scams targeting the elderly or people who might be in danger of losing their homes because of the loss of a job. These sorts of scammers prey on the weak or the desperate.


* * * * *

Speaking of scammers, the FBI indicted 42 people last week as part of an investigation into a multi-million Medi-Cal fraud scheme. According to the Daily Bulletin, the group used unlicensed nurses to provide in-home care for disabled patients. The group then turned around and billed the state's Medi-Cal system for providing licensed nurses.

The Bulletin article indicated that two Claremont residents were among 20 people arrested last Thursday in connection with the fraud scheme:
The unlicensed nurse defendants visited the patients at home and at school to provide services, such as administering medications, adjusting ventilators and feeding through tubes.

Those named in the indictment from the Inland Valley were Juan Alanguilan Igamen, also known as Nestor and Gidmar, 40, of Claremont; Lovelyn Guiang Gonzaga, also known as Lyn Marivic, 25, of Ontario; and Asher V. Mosqueda, also known as Luis Tan and Ryan Galang, 63, of Claremont.


The worse things get, the more of this sort of thing you should expect to see. Remember the movie "Paper Moon"?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

State Delays Payments to Local Schools

The state of California delayed $4 billion in Prop. 98 payments to California school districts, the Daily Bulletin reports.

The Bulletin article says the payments were supposed to go out last Friday but have been pushed back 20 days. The article explained the ramifications for our area:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and state Controller John Chiang announced Friday that $4 billion scheduled to be distributed Friday - the last payment for the 2008-09 fiscal year - will instead be issued on July 30.

"The delay of this school funding payment is a consequence of California's economic crisis and our very serious cash shortage. Public education continues to bear a disproportionate share of the cuts needed to solve our state budget shortfall. And delays in funding as a result of the state's cash flow problems transfer those problems to our local schools," O'Connell said.

The payment, known as the Principal Apportionment, is the largest annual distribution of state funds to the public education system through Proposition 98, which constitutionally requires minimum-funding for K-12 schools and community colleges.

For San Bernardino County schools, the IOU amounts to $348 million. In Los Angeles County, the figure is $1.33 billion.

For districts counting on that money, the delay could cause a cash flow problem. The Bulletin piece also says that federal stimulus money has eased some of the fiscal pain.

Stimulus money or no, the pain continues to trickle down. The Bulletin also reported that Claremont Unified School District has had to make additional cuts in its 2009-10 budget. The cuts include the elimination of three non-teaching positions at Claremont High and San Antonio High, as well as reductions through attrition and reductions in school transportation.

City News

Claremont's website has a couple items of interest:

DUI CHECKPOINT


Party animals beware! The Claremont PD is holding another sobriety checkpoint tonight from 6pm to 2am at an undisclosed location.


FREE MOVIES

The Claremont PD will once again host free movies this summer at various parks throughout town. More City info:

2009 Movies in the Park

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of outdoor movies and the Claremont Police Department invites everyone to its 4th Annual Movies in the Park event. This is a great community event for families, neighbors, and friends of all ages.

We will be serving hot dogs, chips, and drinks prior to the show. The Human Services Department will be on site with games and crafts for kids to enjoy. Pre-movie activities will start at approximately 6:30 PM, with the movies starting at dusk.

We will cap the season off with a special National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 4th. National Night Out is a night that citizens across America can send a powerful message about neighborhood unity, awareness, safety and police-community partnerships. Free In-N-Out hamburgers will be served to the first 750 guests that evening.

Here is our 2009 schedule:


Thursday, July 16th - Wheeler Park: Kung Fu Panda
Tuesday, July 21st - Lewis Park: Madagascar 2
Thursday, July 23rd - Blaisdell Park: Firehouse Dog
Tuesday, July 28th - Larkin Park: Sandlot
Thursday, July 30th - June Vail Park: Open Season 2
Tuesday , August 4th - Memorial Park: Night at the Museum 2

All of the events are FREE, so bring your family, friends, and a blanket to enjoy the show.

**Please remember that dogs, alcoholic beverages, and smoking are not allowed in the park.

CHANGE OUT YOUR BULBS

If you're looking to phase out your old incandescent light bulbs, you can get some new, energy efficient ones for free next weekend at Montclair Plaza. Here's the info from the City:

Operation Light Exchange

Operation Light Exchange is an energy efficiency program that allows residential customers of Southern California Edison to exchange inefficient halogen and incandescent light fixtures for new, Energy Star labeled lamps. SCE customers may bring up to 10 lamps for exchange. To participate, please make sure you have your California drivers license showing a residential ZIP code in SCE's service territory or a residential SCE bill. Operation Light Exchange also accepts used CFL bulbs for recycling (no fluorescent tubes). The event will take place on July 18 and 19 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Montclair Plaza. For more information, please visit www.scelampexchange.com.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bunny Gunner's 2nd Anniversary

Click to enlarge


Pomona's Bunny Gunner Gallery will be celebrating its 2nd anniversary with the opening reception of its Summertime show tomorrow, July 11th, from 6pm to 11pm. There will be plenty of works of local artists featured, plus snacks and drinks.

Bunny Gunner is located at 266 W. 2nd St. in the Pomona Arts Colony. The Summertime show runs through August 4th. Call (909) 868-2808 for more information.

Tomorrow night is also Pomona's 2nd Saturday Art Walk, so there should be lots going on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Poor Trolley - R.I.P.

David Allen found a YouTube video tribute to the Claremont Trolley. The screenshots say everything you need to know about the ol' Ghost Trolley's popularity, which steadily declined following its debut last October:

Headless Trolleyman: "Room for one more."



Into the sunset.

You can watch the video here.