Claremont Insider: Friday Mailbag

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Mailbag

The proposted 7-Eleven at Foothill Blvd. and Mills Ave. received a final "No" vote from Claremont's Planning Commission Tuesday night. The commission voted 5-2 for the denial of the 7-Eleven's conditional use permit. Wes Woods II has an article about the meeting in the Daily Bulletin.

According to Woods' article, the 7-Eleven applicant has until March 23 to appeal the CUP denial to the Claremont City Council.

On that subject, a reader wrote us our recent comparison of the 7-Eleven CUP and the Padua Theatre:

SUBJECT: 7-Eleven Padua Hills Theatre
DATE: Wed, March 3, 2010 7:33:52 PM
TO: Claremont Buzz

I was really sorry to have missed the 7-Eleven community meeting. I live on Via Padova and I'm so glad The Insider caught the 7-Eleven and Padua Hills Theatre incident. The Insider as usual hit the nail on the head in the inconsistencies that Claremont shows. Least we forget in our fair city it is who you know and what you can do for them that counts.

As for the 12,000-21,000 in sales revenue I highly doubt that will be gobbled up in law enforcement costs, unless we are talking about a donut shop.

I do find issuing an alcohol license where the proprietor [Padua Theater operator Chantrelles Catering] is requesting alcohol be allowed to be served from 9:00 am-2:00 am, 7 days a week, extreme in a totally residential neighborhood in the most northern la de da part of Claremont. I know of no other precedence set nor of any other city that this has been or would be allowed. But, then again I know of no other city quite like that of Claremont. They do take the cake and they should eat it too.

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And then there was this note about some not-so-subtle manipulation by Mercedes Santoro's Human Services Department:
SUBJECT: Using Black Kids
DATE: Mon, February 22, 2010 1:55:13 PM
TO: Claremont Buzz
Dear Buzz,

At the Claremont City Community Budget Workshop on February 16, 2010, three black youths testified in support of the Youth Activity Center (YAC). What made me notice that testimony was the fact that no youths of other racial groups were present to offer their testimony for the YAC program. I also noticed that a staff member from the Human Services Department sat at the same table with the black youths. Coincidence? Maybe! Nevertheless, this seating arrangement made me wonder if the staff person was orchestrating the black youths' testimony. It appeared to me that the staff was - questionably - manipulating public opinion by "using" the black youths.

Why am I concerned? I believe that the YAC program serves youths of various races in the city. Were the black youths the only ones who were concerned about the fate of the program? Or are the black youths the only ones who need the program as their "concern" and presence seemed to imply? I would like to believe that this was all coincidence, but it appeared awfully suspicious that only black youths were the ones sufficiently concerned about the YAC that they came to testify, sitting at the same table with the staff from the Human Services Department which oversees the program.

We don't know, but we've certainly seen this sort of manipulation in the past. We remember nine years ago during the all hoopla over the Padua Park planning process some folks showing up at more than one meeting with a gaggle of children dressed up their soccer or baseball or softball uniforms.

We've also seen plenty of manipulation of Claremont's vaunted public process by people like former Police Commission chair and League of Women Voters doyenne Helaine Goldwater who stand in the foyer of the council chambers deciding who in the assembled group speaks, what part of the overall message they are to deliver, and in what order they are supposed to go.

In the bygone days of the Southard administration, staff contributed to the show as well, offering up reports to buttress the message du jour, and the councils and commissions of those times would echo what the speakers said, often using the same catchphrases heard in public comment (remember words like those old LWV favorites, "vision" and "consensus"?). This still happens, though there is more independence on the council and commissions than we ever saw in the past.

What our Claremonsters never realized, and what some of this city's staff still don't get, is that in the long run, those manipulations end up undermining their credibility and insults their audience. The public is generally more sophisticated than it gets credit for, and people have enough common sense to know when a message fails to ring true.

In any case, it all strikes us as simply more of the faux-liberalism that Official Claremont has showcased for the past 30 years or so. For better or worse, this is still Inland Empire; West L.A. we are not.