Claremont Insider: Wonky Ellen Taylor Picks Herself for Affordable Housing Task Force

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wonky Ellen Taylor Picks Herself for Affordable Housing Task Force

No, she didn't literally pick herself. But she couldn't have done better if she had taken her genetic material and injected it into the cells of partially-formed automata. Shades of the Pod People.

At the meeting of April 22, 2008, the Claremont City Council ratified the recommendations of the ad hoc committee composed of Mayor Ellen Taylor and her trusty sidekick, Sam Pedroza. We don't blame Sam; as usual, he was without a clue.

We introduced this issue a couple days ago, here.

The people composing the task force are, Sharon Hightower, Jim Keith, Bruce Mayclin, Barbara Musselman, Kirk Pelser, John Tullius, and Andrew Winnick.

Claremont always makes a lot of its diversity. What about diversity in this group?

Age diversity? Nope. The median age is 62 years compared with the median age in Claremont of just under 36 years, according to the census. There is only one member of the committee born since 1950.

This committee is nothing if not geriatric. Does this look like the appointing authority? Mayor Ellen's age is within two or three years of the median age of the committee.

What about geographic diversity? Another failing grade, we're afraid. six of the seven members of the committee live north of Foothill. Only one lives in South Claremont, just south of Arrow. And that member is culturally and socially not really South Claremont, being the husband of a certified member of the 400 who was on the CUSD School Board and is currently on the Citrus College Board. (See the adjacent map for an idea of where the task force members make their homes. Click on image to enlarge) Northeast Claremont is, as usual, excluded.

Economic Diversity? Not so good there. The median home value of the members is some $600,000. (Much higher, by nearly $100,000 recently, but the economy is tanking. The Claremont Chamber gives the 2006 median home price as just under $506,000, whatever that means now.) The committee is diverse with respect to swimming pools: four of the members have them; three do not.

Political Diversity? Here, again, the committee does not reflect Claremont. The membership breaks 6 Democrats to 1 Republican, while Claremont as a whole splits roughly 6 to 5, Democrats over Republicans. A member of the public spoke up at Council meeting last night to note that four of the seven members of the committee were members of the Claremont Area League of Women Voters. Barbara Musselman serves as the LWV president. Thus, the League, which counts as its members far fewer than 1% of Claremont's residents--far fewer--has a voting and veto-proof majority on the task force.

We don't see too many "people of color" on the task force, though some did apply. The members are vastly white, old, well-off, and wonky. If not the fact of Claremont, then the stereotype of it. This committee is disconnected from the community and is as homogeneous a group as you could find. In fact, it looks like Ellen Taylor.

With the connections these people share (with each other), you don't have to worry about the views of Helaine Goldwater going unrepresented on the task force. Helaine Goldwater and Sharon Hightower were seldom seen apart at public meetings on affordable housing, and some even say they believed Helaine and Sharon thought with one mind.

The governing elite of Claremont like to pay lip service to the idea that it is a representative democracy. Paul Held--his absence in the public City precincts is unlamented--used to justify his actions that way. But given the composition of this task force, it's much more representative of the ruling clique headed today by Ellen Taylor.

Was the selection of this committee hard for Ellen? Let her explain it in this 40-second clip: