Claremont Insider: August Blues

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August Blues


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

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

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



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

The article quotes Councilmember Sam Pedroza:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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