Claremont Insider: Corrections: Judy Loses It

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Corrections: Judy Loses It

The Courier today has an odd letter to the editor from former Claremont Mayor Judy Wright, who just may be losing it.

The letter is in reaction to an exchange that began back in early June over Claremont's Landscaping and Lighting District assessment, a controversial municipal revenue source.

Wright's letter in the Courier today is the second one she has submitted recently. On June 12th, she, former Mayor Diann Ring and former Councilmember Bill McCready submitted a letter to the City Council and to the Courier at a time when the Council was voting on how much they should increase the LLD.

That earlier letter by the three former Councilmembers had a number of factual errors, which we pointed out. You can read the text of the Wright-Ring-McCready letter here.

To recap, in our view, the Wright-Ring-McCready letter contained the following inaccuracies and misstatements:

  • The letter failed on its second sentence: "As three members of the city council (the other two are deceased) who passed the Benefit Assessment District in 1990...."

    In fact, only one of the other two Councilmembers who voted on the LLD in 1990, Nick Presecan, is dead. The other, Dick Newton, is alive and well and still resides in Claremont. Wright, the historian, surely knows this.

    The letter attacked Courier Editor JamesCourie for not researching the background on the LLD. In fact, Wright, Ring and McCready need to take a good long look in the mirror. People in glass houses, you know.

  • The letter writers were selective in the numbers they cite to support their claims of vast community support for both the 1990 LLD and the later Utility Users Tax (UUT). For example, they claimed that 32 0f 35 speakers asked for a utility tax at a town meeting at Bridges Auditorium in December, 1992, on the campus of Pomona College.

    In fact, the minutes for that 12/12/92 meeting showed only 16 people getting up to speak at public comment. Of those, only three gave clear support for the UUT.

    And in their arguments in favor of the LLD, the letter writers ignored the 3/6/1990 mail count report submitted to the City Council. As of that date, the city had received 60 letters supporting the LLD, 475 opposing, and 14 withdrawing opposition.

    Additionally, a citizens group headed by a man named Les Boring, collected 7,000 signatures opposing the LLD. No mention of that in the letter.

    Wright, Ring, and Claremont 400 die-hards like former Police Commission Chair Helaine Goldwater (who spoke at last Tuesday's Council meeting in favor of increasing the LLD assessment) constantly ramble on about responding to citizens. They cite the number of public meetings held on one issue or another, they manipulate the events to try to steer the discussion towards what they want, then, if the debate doesn't go their way, they ignore the record of those meetings.

  • The letter writers didn't just ignore public speakers, they ignored the recommendations of city committees and commissions. Wright, Ring and McCready ignored the fact that the city's Citizen Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC) on 11/28/89 strongly recommended sunseting the LLD, which was imposed because of a budget crisis in the early 1990's.

  • The letter rewrote the actual history of events. The writers claimed that there was never any discussion of sunseting the LLD and assert that "We repeatedly and specifically said that we believed that this assessment would be permanent."

    Yet, an examination of Claremont City Council minutes from 1989 and 1990 when the LLD debate was going on, showed no such statements. As our analysis on 6/17 showed, the record of those meetings showed statements by both CFAC Chair Dennis Smith and repeatedly by Judy Wright in favor of sunsetting the LLD.

    The letter writers claimed no such statements ever occurred. One suspects they would say anything to justify an action, relying on the short memories and apathy of a disaffected, disillusioned electorate to allow their false promises to go unfulfilled.

Now, in her current letter (she apparently lost her two co-signers from the first missive), Wright digs herself a deeper hole.

Wright begins with the worst sort of propagandist's trick: by purposely misrepresenting her opponents' arguments. Wright claims that "Only once, not repeatedly, (see 11/28, p. 446) did I suggest a sunset [for the LLD] and it was never a motion nor picked up by my colleagues."

In fact, the claim was not about Wright "repeatedly"making a motion for a sunset clause. The actual claim was that Wright repeatedly mentioned sunsetting of the LLD beginning in 1989 and as late as 1993.

The second part of the sentence claiming that Wright's one suggestion for an LLD sunset was never a motion and was never picked up by her colleagues, is untrue, pure and simple, and Wright has apparently been selective in the supporting documentation she sent to the Courier with today's letter. The editor's note to the letter indicates that Wright submitted 126 pages of documentation but omitted the one set of city council minutes from 1/23/90 which noted on page 15:

"Mrs. Wright requested the resolution be amended to include,'It is the city council's intention not to continue this assessment district beyond June 30, 1995, without first holding a protest hearing.'"
As Courier noted today, the motion was passed by Ms. Wright and her colleagues, including Diann Ring.


The last two paragraphs in the Wright letter today make us wonder if Judy has really crossed over into non compos mentis territory. One involved a remark that:

No the LLD did not kill Dick Newton, it probably aggravated Alex Hughes’ heart condition and killed him.

As we noted above, in the Wright-Ring-McCready letter from June 12th, the writers claimed that of the five councilmembers who voted to institute the LLD, only three (the letter signers) were still alive. In fact, a fourth, Dick Newton, is very much alive and kicking. So, the Courier noted this, and we made a joke of it, saying they "killed Dick Newton." Judy obviously missed the joke and at the same time admitted Alexander Hughes, who was on the council when the LLD was being studied and debated, was done in by the her precious LLD.


The last paragraph of Wright's letter today was particularly odd because it had nothing to do with the Courier. It appeared to addressed to us here at the Insider. Wright says:

By the way, I was not present at The El Barrio Park dedication. I was present at the Rosa Torrez Park dedication. That was a wonderful day! Where were you?
Wright seems to be referring to a June 8th Insider post where we incorrectly placed her at the El Barrio Park dedication in May. We apologize to Ms. Wright and have corrected that point. We obviously confused that with the Rosa Torrez park dedication. We stand by the rest of the post.