Claremont Insider: Forked Tongues

Monday, September 8, 2008

Forked Tongues

Jack Crabbe: ...we come to a place knowed as the Indian Nations. It was a tract of land by the Washita River that had been give forever to the Indians by the Congress and the President of the United States. We was safe there. This was Indian land as long as grass growed and wind blowed and the sky is blue.
I reckon right then I come close to turning pure Indian, and I probably would have spent the rest of my days with Sunshine and her sisters. But sometimes grass don't grow, wind don't blow and the sky ain't blue.
- Screenplay, Little Big Man (1970), Writers: Thomas Berger and Calder Willingham

Broken promises are a Claremont 400 thing, and people who've lived here any length of time could tell you about any number of misrepresentations made by this group, either through the city government they run or through their educational arm, the Claremont Unified School District.

So, the 400 will routinely speak with forked tongues to get whatever it is they want, then eventually go back on their word.

For instance:

Daily Bulletin writer Wes Woods II had an article that also appeared in the Contra Costa Times about the installation of some temporary bleachers at Claremont High School's football field. As Woods explains, the 25-foot high bleachers are a point of contention with people living next to the field, who've complained that people standing atop the bleachers can see into the residents' homes:
"It's not even a nice thing to look at," said Erik Ennerberg, 69, inside his residence Friday. He and some neighbors explained Friday how the temporary bleachers for Claremont High School's athletic field are an eyesore.

"The worst part is, it doesn't have to be here," Ennerberg said of the football bleachers.

Ennerberg and residents like Deedee and Landis MacIntosh are in agreement and showed up Thursday night at a Claremont Unified School District board meeting to voice their complaints.

On Friday, the bleachers near the residences were shrouded by a green cover, because residents had complained that people could stand on the bleachers and look into windows.

The green cover solution hasn't helped, neighbors said.

"If you look out of the window, you used to see sky," an exasperated Ennerberg said Friday.

On Thursday, neighbors told the school board about an agreement in 2000 between the board of education and residents who live near the athletic field.

The agreement, of which Ennerberg has copies, describes how the board would compromise with the neighbors by not building a stadium complex in exchange for their support for a $2.5 million bond to refurbish the athletic field.

There was also a matter of stadium lights, which were once temporary but which are about to become permanent fixtures. Saturday's Claremont Courier had that story:
Spectators who attend Claremont High School home football games will have a better view of the field action this season. In fact, so will the players and coaches.

The installation of 4 new permanent light fixtures at the CHS Stadium brings more light to the field and replaces the rental units used in the past.

“The 4 fixtures are permanent and provide much better lighting,” said Jeff Shoemaker, assistant director of Claremont Unified School District’s Service Center. “Before, we would rent the lights. We used to have 3 fixtures that were all on the south side and there were none on the north. What would happen was that there would be light spillage and plus, we were using a diesel generator for the lights. So this cuts down on pollution.”

The district has worked with Musco Lighting and Mechanical Electrical Instrumentation (MEI) in order to bring the new lighting system to life. Musco Lighting provided the rental lights last year, but the district decided to incorporate a permanent set of lights this year.

Bait-and-switch, again; or game, set, and match to the Claremont 400, who were able to swindle the football field neighbors into not opposing the bond for the CHS athletic field. If history (real history, not the Judy Wright variety) shows us anything, it's that the Claremonsters will promise the moon to get what they want. Keeping their word of honor is another matter. Then again, you have to honor to pledge to in the first place for one's word to mean something.

By the way, Musco Lighting seems to be the Claremonsters' vendor of choice when it comes to outdoor sports lighting. Besides the school district, the city of Claremont looooves Musco to the point that city staff schills for Musco at every opportunity. You'd think they owned stock in the company the way they stand up for their friends at Musco.

In February, we noted that Musco would be providing the new field lighting for College Park. Also, Musco did the quick and dirty "study" during the run-up to the Padua Sports Park EIR. No surprise then that Musco, who will undoubtedly get the contract (they seem to be hard-wired into every contract; other vendors don't even bother to bid) for the Padua Sports Park lights, found that the 100-foot lighting standards for the Padua project would have no adverse impact on the area which has strict limitations on lighting. (There's another bait-and-switch on that count, as we noted last week.)

The 400's operational strategy in all these sorts of things is to avoid a drawn out conflict if possible, and then go ahead with whatever it was they wanted in the first place. They promise all sorts of things, even come up with detailed, official processes in which they promise to take certain steps to mitigate any potential issues. But after 5, 10, 15 years go by, they ignore all those promises and do exactly what the folks opposed to the given project had warned they would.

If you've had a problem with the city making these sorts of pledges and then failing to follow through on them, write us and send photos if you can. We'll post them as an ongoing "Claremont Bait-and-Switch" series.