Claremont Insider: C-L-A-R-E-M-O-N-T, Where the Cash Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain

Monday, March 16, 2009

C-L-A-R-E-M-O-N-T, Where the Cash Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain

We were just sitting alone talking the other day, watching a hawk making lazy circles in the sky, when it occurred to us that we had the answer to Claremont's municipal finance problems.

You may not realize it, but back on November 14, 2000, the City extended a loan of $175,000 to the Candlelight Pavilion. The money was to help re-roof the Pavilion and to refurbish the old place.

Drive by today, and you can see how the money was put to good use.

Mostly, it was a favor to the Bollinger family, whose Ben Bollinger Productions, Inc., operates the Pavilion. The city staff report for the proposed loan was written like all Claremont city staff reports - as an advocacy piece rather than an actual objective analysis weighing the pros and cons of the deal. The council, of course, approved the loan.

On May 9, 2006, the matter came back before the council. Under the original arrangement, the Bollingers were supposed to pay back $80,000 in 2006, with another $80,000 due in 2011. However, the Bollingers wanted to restructure the repayment terms, partly because all the construction going at the Griswald's-Old Schoolhouse site had caused a decline in revenue at the Pavilion.

What did the City do? What they almost always do for their friends. Wanting to get along in polite Claremont society, they went ahead and renegotiated the terms of the loan, allowing the Bollingers pay back only $25,000 of the $80,000 due in 2006. For the remainder, the Bollingers pledged "over 20 theater production sets as security," and the $55,000 outstanding was rolled back into the loan.

The Candlelight Pavilion doesn't look to be doing all that well now, what with the construction around it dragging on and the economy being what it is. Our suggestion is this: In the best Hollywood tradition, we say, "LET'S PUT ON A SHOW!"

We can take those collateralized Candlelight Pavilion sets and put them to work. With all the money we make from the gate receipts, we can balance the City's shaky budget, finance a new police station, buy the water company, and build Marilee's Marsh.

The City Council, led by Councilmember Sam Pedroza, has apparently been thinking along the same lines. We saw this poster popping up in store fronts around town and on the Claremont Downtown Trolley:

(Click to Enlarge)
We know we belong to the land,
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we sa-a-a-a-ay
Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Sam Pedroza!
Sam Pedroza S. A.!
(spelled quickly, then with emphasis) MPED-R-O-Z-A
Sam Pedroza! OK!

The City's just waiting for the money to come rolling in. Meanwhile, next door to the Pavilion in Claremont's Piano Piano bar, Sam is in rehearsal for the City Council's production of "A Chorus Line":

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