Claremont Insider: May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Art Auction Next Week at HMC

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) will hold its annual silent art auction at Harvey Mudd's Galileo Hall next Sunday, June 7, from 2-4:30pm. The charity is a national non-profit that helps students of all ages who have vision or learning disabilities. RFB&D's website says the organization provides students, from kindergarten through post-graduate studies, with "textbooks and education materials in accessible formats."

The June 7 event has been renamed this year in honor of the late Milford Zornes. There's always plenty of good art to be had, as well as refreshments, and the money gets put to good use.

Milford Zornes Memorial Art Event 2009

Milford Zornes Memorial Art EventIn memory of world-renowned California style watercolor artist Milford Zornes, and thanks to devoted supporters Nancy Arce, John Faranda, Ruby Leavitt and Steve Siegel, more than 70 professional artists will contribute a variety of art pieces to the silent auction. Join us for this low cost, highly anticipated fun and enriching annual event!

The date is Sunday, June 7, 2:00 - 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 which includes admission, wine, punch, and hors d'oeuvres. The location is Galileo Hall, Harvey Mudd College. Contact or call Katie at 323-664-5525 x106.

Flush with Pride

Click to Enlarge
With California in the midst of its third year of drought, water agencies have begun instituting water conservation measures. The search for ways of reducing water consumption is on, and the City of Claremont announced a toilet exchange program sponsored by Golden State Water Co. (see flyer at right) If you have an old toilet (3.8 gallons per flush), you can trade that for a new, high-efficiency model at no cost.

The exchange takes place at Claremont High School on Saturday, June 27, starting at 8am. The event also helps support the Claremont High girls softball team. Here's the information listed on the City website:

Free High-Efficiency Toilets for Golden State Water Customers

Golden State Water Company will be distributing free, high-efficiency toilets at Claremont High School (1601 N. Indian Hill Boulevard) on Saturday, June 27, 2009, starting at 8:00 a.m. By participating, you are supporting Claremont High School Softball Boosters. Click on the link below for participation requirements and information on how to reserve a free high-efficiency toilet.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Disturbance in the Force

You might remember those odd out-of-town visitors one of our readers caught checking out the Claremont Trolley last month:

We never did figure out what they were up to. The costumed figures slipped into town as if dropped from the sky and didn't stick around very long. Maybe they heard the trolley's service days were numbered. They popped up again in South America, again with an interest in public transit:

Reuters image/Victor RuizCaballero

Farewell and Adieu

Claremont Unified School District said goodbye to CUSD Superintendent David Cash (left) this past Thursday. Wes Woods II covered the fĂȘte in in the Daily Bulletin.

Cash, swapping one alluvial fan for another, heads off to the Fresno suburb of Clovis ("Gateway to the Sierras") in the San Joaquin Valley. We wish him the best of luck in his new district when he begins there on July 1.

The Bulletin article said most of the attendees at Cash's farewell party spoke highly of him. However, as any Insider would know, there's always a Debbie Downer in the crowd:

Suzanne Miller, president of the Claremont Faculty Association, was reserved with her comments.

"We're not sad he's leaving," Miller said. "He gives the illusion of transparency, but it's not."

For example, the association found out through a newspaper report earlier this year that K-3 classes would have an increased student to teacher ratio of 24 to one, she said.

"It was not told to us," Miller said.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Assemblyman Adams Defends Vote

Our area's State Assemblyman, Anthony Adams, spoke before the local Mountain View Republican Club last night at Harvard Square restaurant and explained his reasons for supporting the state's budget compromise in February. The agreement, which included a mix of budget cuts, tax increases, and borrowing, was supposed to balance California's then-$42 billion budget deficit.

The budget fix didn't last very long, as you know. Two things quickly threw the budget back out of balance. First, state tax revenues declined more than expected because of the ongoing recession. Second, the ballot propositions that were supposed to have provided the final pieces of the budget puzzle failed in the May 19 special election.

Adams said that by June 15th the State needed to come up with some $17 billion in cuts against a projected $23 billion deficit. He argued that there is no legal provision to allow California to go bankrupt and thus renegotiate its contracts and write down its debt; instead, he invoked the specter of insolvency and Federal receivership, accountable to no one, similar to the prison health care receiver J. Clark Kelso who under the aegis of the district court is demanding $7 billion of the $9 billion California corrections budget for prisoner healthcare.

Adams defended his vote last February by saying that California would not have qualified for "payday" loans--tax "revenue anticipation notes" that had become SOP in financing State operations between tax collection dates. (This sounds more than a little suspect to us; don't most of our readers match their expenditures to their income cash flow? Why can't the State do that? And doesn't your employer withhold state tax weekly?) Adams claims that Wall Street made him break his "no tax" pledge.

This sounds a lot like our Congressman David Dreier who kept saying he hated his votes even as he supported the huge stimulus packages last fall--"Somebody stop me before I vote again"

In any event, the state's Republicans were incensed at Adams and five other Republican State legislators who supported the February budget agreement. Adams was berated on KFI AM 640's John and Ken Show (recall the head-a-stick business), and he is now the target of a recall petition campaign.

The Daily Bulletin covered Adam's remarks:

Adams admitted Thursday that he knew his vote was unpopular and "dangerous."

"I have no allusions [sic, Bulletin error] about that," he said.

"I made a decision to keep my state alive."

Adams said passage of the state budget was vital to generate new tax revenue in order to keep credit available to the state.

"I did not raise taxes because I thought it would stimulate the economy," he said.

"If we cannot make our state run, we run the risk of having the federal government take over."

Cats Comes to Town

A reader was kind enough to tip us off to a big event this weekend:

DATE: Thursday, May 28, 2009 9:30 AM
SUBJECT: [ No Subject ]
TO: Claremont Insider

Hey Claremont Insider. Being the foremost blog out there on the city of Trees and PhD's, I thought you'd like to be the first to break this.

Something big is going to hit Claremont this weekend. Something with 9 lives. Claremont High School Theater is putting on Cats at Bridges Auditorium this weekend, and it's fabulous. All information and ticket prices are on the flyer here -->

[Click to enlarge for ticket info & showtimes]

Hope to see all of Claremont there!

DUI Checkpoint Tonight

Watch out all ye revelers. If you're planning on hitting any Claremont drinking establishments tonight, make sure you're good and sober before you get behind a steering wheel. The Claremont PD will be conducting another sobriety checkpoint tonight from 6pm to 2am, according to the City's online information:

DUI/License Checkpoint on Friday, May 29, 2009

On Friday, May 29, 2009, the Claremont Police Department will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint at an undisclosed location within the City. The checkpoint will start at 6:00 p.m. and conclude at 2:00 a.m. Drivers will be stopped long enough to ensure they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Officers will also ensure that drivers are wearing their seatbelts and possess valid driver licenses.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Let's hope this one doesn't get off the script the way last week's checkpoint on Foothill Blvd. did through no fault of the CPD.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Buy High, Sell Low

The mortgage meltdown has left a lot of homeowners across the country feeling pretty blue, especially those who bought at the height of the real estate mania in 2007. Those unlucky buyers have seen the values of their homes melt away so that they now owe more than the amount of the loans they took out to buy their houses.

With real estate we should never forget, as Groucho Marx's real estate scammer Mr. Hammer says in The Coconuts, "Oh, how you can get stuck-o!"

The real estate bubble reminds us that when Claremont voters approved the Measure S bond to purchase Johnson's Pasture in November, 2006, they were getting into the real estate market just before the bubble burst. The City agreed on an $11.5 million purchase price in June, 2007, still at the market's peak.'s price graph shows what's happened with the price for Claremont real estate between late 1999 and May, 2009:

Click to Enlarge
The red arrow on the graph is where the City of Claremont appraised the Johnson's Pasture land. You can expect the Pasture's value to have done pretty much the same thing as any other property in the area following the City's purchase. That would bring our $11.5 million investment down to around $8.5 million and falling, assuming the open space market approximates the area's real estate in general. Of course, it wasn't purchased as a financial investment, but the point is that the land could have been had for much less with a little patience, and even back in 2006 there were plenty of signs that the real estate market was headed for a fall.

We're don't want to pick on the City for the mistake they made in miswording the deed for the land - a $1 million boo-boo. We've commented on that error elsewhere. But we do want to remind people that during the many years the Pasture purchase was being debated, one scare that was constantly thrown out was the threat that real estate developers were licking their chops at the prospect of gaining control of the land.

Of course, as cooler heads tried to argue, if the developers really wanted the land that bad, the land wouldn't have sat in probate for a decade. The developer threat seemed to be floated mainly by the sellers, which should have given Claremonters a clue that it was probably a bluff. But, the Claremont 400, never ones to believe in deferred gratification, and always devoted to overpaying for anything, played right into the hands of the sellers by insisting that the land had to be purchased NOW NOW NOW!

So it was.

And that, ladies and germs, should be a lesson to us all. Stick that Zillow graph on your refrigerator as reminder to not take counsel of your fears. The Claremont 400 has over the years shown a signal talent for stirring up fears in order to manipulate people into a false sense of urgency: The world will end if so-and-so is elected; City Hall will come tumbling down if Glenn Southard ever leaves; we must have this or that now.

Next time, be patient and call their bluff by carefully verifying the claims being bandied about on any topic from open space to affordable housing. Or, as UCLA basketball coach John Wooden often said, be quick, but don't hurry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New City Video Archive

The City of Claremont's online new video archive is up and running. So far, there are only two meetings, May 12 and May 26.

Now the meetings are "on demand," which makes it much easier to view an item of interest at your convenience without having to tune in to the live streaming video on Tuesday night and wait for the particular item of interest to come up for discussion.

The video archive allows you click on a given council meeting - last night's, say - and watch the meeting in its entirety. Or you can click on a particular agenda item (box, lower left, see image) and the video will start playing from that point.

Hats off to the City for improving its website functionality and for the added transparency and convenience the improvement brings to the table.

City Seeks Commission Applicants

If you were looking for a way to get involved in municipal issues, here's your chance. Claremont seeks applicants for city commissions. Applications are due by 5pm Friday, June 5, according to the City's website.

Applicants Sought for Various Claremont Commissions

Applications are currently being accepted to fill vacancies on various City of Claremont commissions. Persons interested in being considered for appointment are encouraged to file an application with the City Clerk's office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2009. Click on the link below to download an application. For more information call (909) 399-5460.

Commissioners are appointed by the City Council based on the results of application reviews and personal interviews. It is the Council's goal to appoint members who reflect the diversity of the community.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City Council Meets Tonight

The Claremont City Council has its regular meeting tonight. The council meets at 5:15pm at City Hall for a special closed session, and then will have its regular session at 6:30pm.

The council's regular session takes place in the council chambers at 225 W. Second Street in the Claremont Village. You can watch the meeting streamed live on the City's website.


There are two items on the special session agenda. Both have to do with litigated matters.

The first is the lawsuit brought by the neighborhood group Protect Our Neighborhoods. This has to do with the change in the city's leafblower ordinance, which was approved by the City Council last fall without the proper initial study being done as is required under the California Environmental Quality Act. A settlement has been worked out, and the only thing remaining to be done is for the parties to negotiate the amount the City will pay for the plaintiffs' fees and costs.

This one's a flub that falls directly at the feet of City Attorney Sonia Carvalho, who failed to advise the City Council of the need for the CEQA initial study when the council approved the ordinance change. Tell us again, why are we paying Carvalho's monthly retainer fee?

The second special session item has to do with litigation over pollution from rainwater runoff.


It looks like another full schedule for the city council tonight, says the regular session agenda:

  • There's a ceremonial matter starting things off. Claremont Human Services Commissioner Jeff Camacho will honor the recipients of the Youth Award and the Dick Guthrie Award. (Claremont may be the only town we know of that names awards after its consultants. Don't what you have to do to win a Guthrie.)

  • The council will consider exempting non-profits from the $300 annual business and home occupation fee. The council will also discuss refunding fees the City has collected from non-profits since July, 2008.

    The fact that the City has been charging non-profits came to light on April 28 when Claremont Finance Manager Adam Pirrie gave a presentation his efforts to increase the City's revenue by applying fees to businesses and organizations that had been overlooked in the past. Pirrie's efforts have increased the amount collected in business fees by $40,000, from $725,000 to $765,000. Looks like we'll be giving some of that back now.

    A number of non-profits in town squawked at the fees. In response, the City Council expressed a desire for a non-profit exemption.

  • The council will consider raising its 2009-10 appropriations limit by about $738,000 t0 $29,314,127. The City is required by state law to come up with this limit.

  • The council will receive its annual Landscaping and Lighting District engineer's report and will be asked to keep the LLD at $147.12 per parcel since the Consumer Price Index remained essentially flat from March, 2008, to March, 2009.

  • The council will also debate the elimination of the Claremont Trolley. Chaffey College is interested in taking over the trolley's lease, so that would provide the City with an easy out. However, expect members of the Claremont Community Foundation, including former Claremont mayor Judy Wright, to fight for keeping the trolley. They want it for their own use once or twice a year for fundraisers and don't really mind the fact that they are taking money away from other city transit programs like Dial-A-Ride for their favorite toy.

    The CCF's main talking point will be the one you've seen in letters to the Claremont Courier: The trolley just has a routing problem. Change the route, and more people will ride it. We've written in the past why this is a foolish notion.

    Expect Sam Pedroza and Linda Elderkin to follow the CCF's lead and vote to keep the trolley but use a different route.

  • City Manager Jeff Parker has a report to the council on the intersection at Indian Hill Blvd. and 10th St. The report also discusses the city-wide crosswalk policy (yes, there is one). Parker tries to point the finger at the Protect Our Neighborhood group for delaying the removal of the 10th St. lighted crosswalk in January because the said any change would require an initial study under CEQA.

    This, of course, does not explain the 3-1/2 year delay by the City in changing the crosswalk after the Traffic and Transportation Commission reviewed the matter in October, 2005.

    Parker's report also said that with left and right turns at that intersection, the crosswalk is not the only contributing factor in accidents.

  • The council will move forward with site selection for a new police station. Three sites are under consideration: The current site on Bonita Ave., the Corey Nursery site at 1650 N. Monte Vista, and the former affordable housing site at the southeast corner of Base Line Rd. and Towne Ave.

    Actual construction on the new station will have to wait until funding becomes available.

Freudian Slip

Last Friday's number of the City Manager's Update contained a Freudian slip that might amuse at least one reader. On page 4, City Manager Jeff Parker informs the community that Claremont volunteer Gladys Parker received a County award for running the desk at the Joslyn Center. Our thanks to Ms. Parker for her good work.

However, Parker takes just a bit away from the honor by telling us that "Award recipients...were treated to a festive awards presentation at the Dorothy Chandelier Pavilion." [our emphasis]

click to enlarge

We've been to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles Music Center, and we suspect that Parker was thinking of the lighting fixtures in the three-story foyer when he penned that sentence.

More State Capitol News

State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has a video posted on YouTube in which she addresses the state's budget problems. There's more than a little buck passing as she lays the blame strictly on the recession and the failure of the budget initiatives in the May 19 special election. Bass also warns of coming cuts in public services.

The fault, dear Karen, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. We are masters of our fate, Republicans, Democrats, and voters of all ilk. Voters want the services we want, but we don't want to pay for those services or take responsibility for the gridlock our voter initiatives have created. Nor do we want to acknowledge the level of idiocy we've allowed to rise to leadership levels in both major parties.

The day of fiscal reckoning is at hand. On the local level, that means a $2 million Claremont municipal budget deficit for 2009-10 automatically grows by a third.

Here's Assembly Speaker Bass:

Prop. 8 Decision Today - UPDATED

The California Supreme Court will hand down its decision of Prop. 8 today. The court's opinion will be posted on its website at 10am.

We'll find out today if the court will choose to uphold Prop. 8's constitutionality and, if so, what will happen to the 18,000 same-sex marriages that were performed prior to Prop. 8's passage last November.

The Los Angeles Times website parses the various legal issues involved in the three lawsuits that were reviewed by the court.

Stay tuned.

UPDATED, 10:15AM: As expected, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8's legality with a 6-1 decision, but the court also unanimously allowed the same-sex marriages that were performed between May and October, 2008, to stand.

The LA Times has an article posted on the court's rulings.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One More Sign of the Times: Layoffs at CMC

An article in the Daily Bulletin noted that the Claremont McKenna College is eliminating 11 administrative positions by the end of June as a cost-cutting measure. Three of the positions were vacant, so that means that eight people were handed pink slips.

The cuts come in response to a significant drop in CMC's endowment, according to Richard Rodner, CMC's associate vice president for public affairs. Rodner did not disclose the exact amount of the cuts CMC needed to make to balance its books, but he did note that the college had already slashed $1.5 million from its operating budget through faculty and staff early retirements.

The Bulletin article, by Wes Woods II, quoted Rodner on the cuts:

"It's important to know we haven't done this lightly and we've certainly have looked at the process of making certain that our core mission is maintained," he said. "We focused efforts on minimizing the level of tuition increases, supporting financial aid and meeting every student's needs."

"When I say financial aid, we don't do loans. It's not financial loans. What I said was we will continue to support the financial aid program, and meet 100 percent of financial need without any packaged loans.

He said it was "private information" on who these people are who were laid off.

"As far as we know, we are not planning anything further in the near future," Rodner said. "We sincerely hope we don't have to go through this again. Economic circumstance dictates how to evaluate circumstances in the future."

The article also said that CMC was facing a deficit of between $10-12 million by 2012-2013.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day News

The City of Claremont's website has a couple Memorial Day items to take note of. First, the City's annual Memorial Day ceremony will take place, as usual, at Oak Park Cemetery 11am Monday:

Claremont Memorial Day Services

Memorial Day Graphics

The City of Claremont's Oak Park Cemetery has the honor and privilege of hosting Memorial Day services presented by the American Legion Claremont Post 78. The program will consist of speakers, music and refreshments. Everyone is encouraged to come out and take a few moments to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. This is a free event open to the public, and will be held on Monday, May 25, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. at Oak Park Cemetery (410 Sycamore Avenue). For additional information, contact Oak Park Cemetery at (909) 399-5487.

Also, don't forget that all City offices will be closed Monday and that trash pickup will be delayed by one day this week:

City Offices Will Be Closed Memorial Day

On Monday, May 25, all City offices will be closed in recognition of Memorial Day.

Trash collection will be delayed one day during the week of May 25th. Please place your containers at the curb for collection one day after your normal pick-up day. For example: if your trash is normally collected on Monday, next week your trash will be picked up on Tuesday; Friday's collection route will be picked up on Saturday. Also, the street sweeping schedule has been adjusted accordingly to accommodate the sanitation collections. If you have any questions or if there is a problem with your service, please call the Community Services Department at 399-5431.

Sunday Crime Watch

There's some truly odd crime news to report this weekend. First, the Daily Bulletin reported that early last Wednesday morning Pitzer College student and former Claremont High School wrestler Zack Lester and apprehended a stolen car suspect who was being chased by police.

According to the article, the sound of the police helicopter chasing the suspect woke Lester at around 2am. The suspect jumped into Lester's family's backyard and was trying to enter the main house when Lester caught him. Bulletin reporter Wes Woods II wrote:

"I ran outside and tackled him," Lester said. "We got in a brief fight, but I subdued him. He stopped fighting back. Then I told him to lie on his stomach and I twisted his arm behind him."

Police broke through the fence and ran in with shotguns drawn, he said.

"I held him until the cops grabbed him," he said.

Lester said he was later told by authorities that [suspect Gabriel] Acosta had a knife. That information could not be confirmed.
The article also noted that besides attending Pitzer College Zack Lester hosts the Lovelectric show Tuesday nights on the Claremont Colleges' radio station KSPC 88.7FM.

* * * * *

The Bulletin also had an article about a man who tried to commit suicide at a Claremont Police Department DUI checkpoint. The Bulletin said that the man, who was not identified in the article, was stopped at 8:05pm Friday night and was waved over to a screening area after Claremont police officers discovered the man had an outstanding arrest warrant. When police approached the car, the man started slashing at his throat with a folding knife.

The Bulletin article stated the unidentified man was taken to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, but his condition was unknown.

* * * * *

Completing the odd crime news trifecta is our old friend Three Valleys Municipal Water District boardmember Xavier Alvarez. Alvarez, who is awaiting a June trial in Pomona Superior Court for felony insurance fraud and grand theft charges has already been convicted of a federal misdemeanor charge of lying about being a Medal of Honor recipient.

Meanwhile, since he has yet to be convicted of a felony, Alvarez continues to represent South Pomona on the Three Valleys board (thanks Assemblywoman Norma Torres!).

On the Bulletin's Claremont Now blog, Wes Woods II wrote about a run-in he had with Alvarez following a Three Valleys board meeting on May 13:
When I asked who his probation officer was, he said it's "none of [my] business."

Then he asked why I keep bringing up the Medal of Honor case. He said "nobody" wants to hear about it and if they did he would be getting recalled.

"Who cares? Nobody cares. You keep bringing up the past ... if they wanted me out, I'd be out."

I told him I get calls and e-mails about the case but he didn't want to hear it.

"What you write is a bunch of bulls***." I think he repeated this phrase, emphasizing "buuuuuulls***."

After this, he said I only wrote "negative" stories.

Then he said "you're full of s***" and that I had "s*** for brains."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sam Maloof: Woodworker, 1916-2009

Woodworker Sam Maloof has died. Maloof passed away Thursday at his Alta Loma home, the LA Times reports. Maloof was 93.

Maloof was raised in Chino and graduated from Chino High. The Daily Bulletin's obituary notes that while in high school, Maloof won a poster contest and that led to a job with Herman Garner, who owned a good portion of what is now Padua Hills and who built the Padua Theatre. Following World War II, Maloof worked for several years with the artist Millard Sheets, who was teaching at Scripps College.

The Times piece described Maloof's work:
The seventh of nine children born to Lebanese immigrants, Maloof in 1985 became the first craftsman to receive a MacArthur Foundation grant. His designs could not be categorized as Arts and Crafts, modern, Scandinavian or Italian. The self-taught designer would select a piece of wood -- walnut was his favorite because of its texture and durability -- and cut out parts freehand on a band saw.

Instead of following plans, he matched an image in his head. He refined the shape with hand tools to make the finished piece of furniture comfortable, functional and beautiful. He carefully considered the appearance of every angle of the piece, even chair backs and cabinet interiors, as well as grain pattern and his innovative joinery.

Pieces were assembled without nails or metal hardware. Even hinges and underbracing were wood. Once, to test the strength of the joints for a set of chairs, he made a prototype and dropped it from the roof of his garage onto his driveway. The joints survived.

Maloof's modern furniture fit handsomely in the post-and-beam dwellings blanketing new suburbs after World War II. In the postwar housing boom, the wood, leather, cork and other natural materials he used softened the hard edges of emerging minimalist architecture.

After construction on the 210 Freeway began, Caltrans moved Maloof's home and studio, which were in the freeway right-of-way, to its present location. Maloof's original house is now a museum and home to the Sam Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts.

A 1994 LA Times article described the house:
Like Simon Rodia's towers in Watts, Maloof's home is a monument to the creative impulse. Unlike those towers, which seem to reflect a reckless scramble for the sky, Maloof's home clings respectfully to the earth.

From the outside, its totality is impossible to grasp. What's clear is that the conglomeration of living space, workshops and studios have spread through the grove with the slow, organic aesthetics of a tree. A growing limb took an odd twist. Maloof sculpted an exterior post to mimic it. Where roots surface, walks rise in response.

Inside, big windows draw in the surrounding jungle and douse the warm redwood walls with cool light filtered through leaves.

"This was going to be a studio, then I decided to make a house of it," Maloof says, gesturing to a kitchen with cabinets and counters of mahogany, maple, walnut and a rock-hard wood called apitone, which a friend salvaged from packing crates and Maloof couldn't bring himself to burn.

When the freeway went through, the state proposed a number of options, including going over or around the house and studio, and Caltrans had to negotiate with Maloof before settling on moving the home to its present location, which was supposed to recreate, as much as possible, the quiet, secluded, rural feel of the original site.

The confrontation with Caltrans in a way epitomizes the artist's life. He didn't make concessions to many of the changes that modern life thrusts upon us. Maybe Flannery O'Connor's Haze Motes had it right: "They ain't quit doing it as long as I'm doing it."

Even in death, Maloof spirit remains in his work and in the work of all the people he mentored and taught in his workshops. The Times obituary quotes Maloof remembering an encounter with Ray Charles:
"Ray Charles couldn't see my furniture," Maloof told a reporter. "But he said he could feel that it had soul. When he asked about my rocker [at a friend's house], his host told him, 'That's a chair made by Sam Maloof.' Ray ran his hands over the wood shouting, 'I know this man! I know this man!' On his next visit, the first thing Ray Charles said was, 'I'd like to touch that furniture again that Sam Maloof made.' "

Maloof was a magnificent anachronism: a craftsman dedicated to unique handmade furniture in an age of dull, mass-produced sameness. Say this about the human spirit, it will endure.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Solis Hard at Work on Job Creation

If you were curious about how Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has fared in Washington, wonder no more. The Onion ran an article about the work the Cal Poly Pomona grad is doing.

If The Onion is any guide, Solis seems to have transposed her experience in the California state legislature directly to the Obama administration. The headline read: "Department of Labor Spends $40 Billion to Create One Amazing New Job."

The Onion piece said:

WASHINGTON—In an effort to stimulate economic growth and boost the confidence of the American workforce, the federal government has allocated $40 billion to create one unbelievably mind-blowing new job, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced Monday.

The position, which will require the selected applicant to relocate to a sprawling, white-sand-beach facility on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, will begin immediately after the employee is hired. In addition to a $500,000 annual salary, Solis said that the job also includes 12 weeks of paid vacation, a generous pension, bimonthly bonuses for adequate attendance totaling more than $2 million a year, a company rocket pack, and full health benefits.

Reader Bites Courier

We've poked fun at the Claremont Courier's occasional typos and misspellings before. Of course, we're as guilty as the next non-professional blogger when it comes to errors. We do try to get things cleaned up when we can, but we have no copy editors on staff to do this, and sometimes it's just too easy to press the "publish" button.

That said, here's an email we received last week from a reader who commented a couple errors in the Courier's May 13 edition:

: Thursday, May 14, 2009 12:47 PM
SUBJECT: I know the errors in the Courier are too plentiful to catalogue
TO: Claremont Buzz

. . . but I laughed out loud at this one.

I parted with 75 cents for the May 13 edition because my daughter is featured in the cover photo (for which she declined to give her last name on the premise that the Courier photographer may not have been who he claimed to be). Here she is in the center of the photo, with a predictable error in the on-line version’s caption: [sorry, there's a different top-story now -ed.].

However, page 5 featured a brilliant phonetic error in the article about local businesses and specifically the Bagel of Claremont: “Maureen Aldridge, CEO of Claremont’s Chamber of Commerce, said that advertising is the greatest coo to any business.” Poor Maureen; I doubt she was referring to the murmuring trill of a pigeon.

Our apologies to the reader for not getting this posted sooner.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anatomy of An Accident


Click to Enlarge

The Claremont Courier reported yesterday on the details of last week's accident at Indian Hill Blvd. and 10th Street. The Courier confirmed that five-year-old Noah Witt is out of intensive care now but remained at Pomona Valley Hospital.

The Courier article, by Tony Krickl, also said that neighbors and parents of children at Sycamore Elementary are working to try to get the City to make the intersection safer. Krickl described the intersection's history:
The city is well aware of the dangers at Indian Hill Boulevard and 10th Street. In 1996, Fred Neal, a retired professor from Claremont Graduate University, was killed while crossing at the same intersection. Neighbors complain they hear weekly screeching of tires and witness near miss collisions. They say that lighting and blocked views from the rows of trees that line the street can make turning onto Indian Hill difficult.

The intersection sits at the northwest corner of Memorial Park, with students and park goers often using the crosswalk to traverse Indian Hill Boulevard. The current speed limit on that stretch of Indian Hill is 30 miles per hour, but neighbors say drivers are regularly seen speeding or talking on their cell phones while zipping by.

In July 2001, the city installed flashing pavement lights on the crosswalk that are activated by a push button on either side of the 10th Street. Questions about the light's effectiveness and overall safety at the crosswalk have come up at a couple different city forums over the years, most recently at the Traffic and Transportation Commission meeting in January 2009.

Regarding the crosswalk system's maintenance, one of our readers wrote in earlier this week and said that the button on the intersection's southwest corner wasn't working just a few nights before the accident. So much for the crosswalk's pedstrian-activated flashing lights. Coincidentally, this is the same corner the pedestrians who were hit on Thursday were crossing from.



We decided to look back at the history of the 10th Street crosswalk. The matter of installing the current in-pavement flashing light system came before the Traffic and Transportation Commission on January, 25, 2001. As you might expect, the staff report, by City Engineer Craig Bradshaw, laid out some very rational arguments for why he was recommending installing the crosswalk system:

The Traffic and Transportation Commission TTC recently approved a city-wide crosswalk policy. One of the unprotected crosswalks that met the criteria of the new policy to stay in place is the Indian Hill Boulevard crosswalk at 10th Street. Since the crosswalk is staying in place and is located on a busy street near large pedestrian traffic generators it is desirable to provide additional safety measures. The two pedestrian safety features being recommended for the Indian Hill Boulevard crossing are the in-pavement warning lights and self-flagging. These features have proven successful in improving pedestrian safety in locations where pedestrian lights are not warranted. Staff recommends that the Traffic and Transportation Commission direct staff to install the crosswalk warning system utilizing in-pavement flashing lights and self-flagging at the crosswalk located on Indian Hill Boulevard at 10th Street and return this item to the Commission in six months for further review.

As with any Claremont staff report, it included some marketing material from the system's manufacturer that touted the wonders the crosswalk system would work in improving pedestrian safety.

The minutes show commission voted 5-0 (two members were absent) in favor of the system. Some familiar names popped up. The commission's Vice-Chair at the time was Tim Worley, who pops up again and again on local issues. At that time he was a traffic expert. Now he is a water expert. Worley presided over that meeting on 1/25/01 because the commission chair was absent.

Another person who is listed in the minutes is then-Traffic Commissioner Ellen Taylor. Taylor, who seemed to be on the commission primarily as a resume builder for her city council candidacy in 2005, made the motion to go forward with the in-pavement lighting system. Apparently, she liked the marketing materials provided by Bradshaw.

JULY, 2001

The Traffic and Transportation Commission minutes for June 28, 2001 (page 9), state that City Engineer Bradshaw reported that the in-pavement lighting system installation at 10th Street would be complete by the first week of July. Bradshaw promised that staff would come back to the commission with a report on the crosswalk's effectiveness after six months.


We checked the Traffic and Transportation Commission minutes from November, 2001, to December, 2002, but did not see where Bradshaw made his six-month report on the crosswalk to the commission.


At some point in this period, accident victim Noah Witt was born.


The 10th Street crosswalk did make it back to the Traffic and Transportation Commission almost four years after it was installed. On September 22, 2005, Craig Bradshaw presented a report on city staff's findings. Bradshaw's report said:

As a means of improving pedestrian safety at the intersection of Indian Hill Boulevard and Tenth Street in-pavement crosswalk lights were installed in July 2001 along both edges of the southerly crosswalk to provide improved visibility of the crosswalk to approaching drivers. The lights are connected to a pedestrian actuated push button and flash when pedestrians push the button before crossing the street. Staff has received substantial feedback since the installation of the pedestrian lights with most of the feedback being negative in nature and combined with requests that the crosswalk lights be removed. In reviewing the pedestrian lights and whether they are serving the safety function for which they were originally installed staff believes that the pedestrian lights may be creating a false sense of security and a potential safety concern for pedestrians.


Based on feedback from the public and staff findings it is recommended that the Traffic and Transportation Commission determine if it is appropriate to remove the crosswalk lights at the intersection of Indian Hill Boulevard and Tenth Street.

According to the minutes for the 9/22/05 meeting, Tim Worley, like any Claremonster, was averse to reversing a decision. Rather than going with the staff recommendation to remove the crosswalk, he moved for two alternative choices to try to keep the lighted crosswalk in place with some adjustments. Worley also moved that commission ask staff to obtain more information and report back to the commission. The commission unanimously approved Worley's motion.

At the 10/27/05 meeting, staff came back to the commission with the supplementary information Worley had asked for:
3. Indian Hill Boulevard and Tenth Street Review of In-Pavement Crosswalk liqhts continued from September 22, 2005

Associate Engineer Loretta Mustafa gave an updated staff report She stated that the commission had recommended that the in pavement lights remain in place but wanted additional information to make the intersection safer and the crosswalk more visible. She reviewed the measures included in the report of some of the measures that have been or will be implemented. Staff has met recently with manufacturers that are looking at some new pedestrian signage LED signs that could be possibly wired into the pedestrian push button which will light up at the same time as the lights in the crosswalk. Staff has talked to Human Services Department about relocating the banner and will be pursuing handing out pamphlets at community events and educate the residents to make that crosswalk safer and more successful.

The commission received and filed the report, which also recommended seven measures for improving the crosswalk's visibility and effectiveness. The report said the matter would come back to the commission for review in one year.


We checked the agenda materials for City Engineer Bradshaw's one-year, follow-up review, but we couldn't find a record of that.

As we wrote last week
, the matter did come back to the commission in January this year with a recommendation that the in-pavement system be removed. The commission directed staff to do an initial study under the California Environmental Quality Act, but there was no timeline on that. Those studies have various boxes to check off and include some sort of traffic analysis to justify the proposed change.

We wonder if the box for "five-year-old hit" gets checked.

To recap: January 2001 - crosswalk system approved; July, 2001 - crosswalk system installed; 2001-2005 - complaints pile up, staff recommendation to remove crosswalk system; January, 2009 - commission asked to approve crosswalk system removal, initial study requested; May 14, 2009, pedestrians struck.

Claremont: Competence in Action.

Affordable Housing Meeting Tonight

The City of Claremont will hold a neighborhood meeting tonight on the proposed affordable housing project at 111 S. College Ave. The meeting will take place 7pm tonight at Oakmont Elementary School.

The Daily Bulletin mentioned the meeting in today's paper:

Irvine-based Jamboree Housing Corp., a nonprofit affordable-housing developer, will develop the site at 111 S. College Ave.

The city Redevelopment Agency recently acquired the site after the Affordable Housing Task Force ranked the 2.5 acres as the top site in the city for affordable housing.

The site will have about 75 units, including 45 units for family housing and 30 units for senior-citizen housing. There will be 30 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom and 23 three-bedroom units.

The City Council unanimously approved the site at its May 12 meeting.

The article indicated some concern among existing residents about the project's housing unit density. It also said that the same people who supported the failed Base Line Rd. project, including former Claremont mayor Ellen Taylor, are in favor of the College Ave. site.
Affordable Housing Neighborhood Meeting - 7pm
Oakmont Elementary School
120 Green St.
Claremont, CA 91711

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Props 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, and 1E Lose

Prop 1A failed 65.9% to 34.1% statewide

Prop 1B failed 62.6% to 37.4% statewide

Prop 1C failed 64.6% to 35.4% statewide

Prop 1D failed 65.8% to 34.2% statewide

Prop 1E failed 66.4% to 32.6 % statewide

Prop 1F passed 73.9% to 26.1 % statewide

See this link for results from the California Secretary of State. Hover your mouse cursor over the map to see individual county results.

Voter turnout was low, in the 20% range according to early numbers:

From the Silicon Valley Mercury News:
"Statewide numbers also set a record low. With more than 68 percent of California precincts counted, voter turnout was just 19 percent. The previous low for a special election was 36 percent, set in 1993."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Washington D.C. on election day, probably looking for alms.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cast Your Ballot Today

If you haven't already voted by mail, don't forget to get out and vote in today's special election. For those of you have waited until the last minute to decide, you can find all the information you want about the six ballot measures on SmartVoter's website. You can also look up your polling place by typing in your street address and zip code.

Governor Schwarzenegger, who has already voted by mail, won't be around to watch as voters head to the polls. says the Governor will be in Washington, DC, today. Politico's article, by Andy Barr, quoted Claremont McKenna College political science professor John J. Pitney Jr. on Schwarzenegger's woes:

"He's morphed from The Terminator to The Incredible Shrinking Man," said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at California's Claremont McKenna College. "He came to office promising to set our fiscal house in order. Now the house is collapsing and the best he can do is pull bodies from the wreckage."

If successful, the propositions would leave the state with a projected $15 billion budget shortfall rather than the expected $23 billion hole.

While the California governor is staring an electoral beating in the face, spokesman Matt David said the governor intends to fight on.

"This is an important election where the governor will be trying for the third time to fix the state's broken budget system," David told POLITICO. "He believes the state will continue face deficit problems until there is reform."

Schwarzenegger though, won't be present to make much of a last minute push.

After receiving a call from the White House Saturday requesting his presence Tuesday when President Barack Obama unveils stricter fuel-economy standards, Schwarzenegger will spend the day in Washington rather than Sacramento.

Schwarzenegger is not "solely or even mainly responsible for the state's problems," said Claremont McKenna's Pitney. "The political system thwarts reform and the economic system leads to a boom and bust cycle of state finance."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Mailbag

More traffic news.

As you might expect, the traffic accident at Indian Hill Blvd. and 10th St. last week generated a few responses, a couple of which we've posted below. The accident left two pedestrians hospitalized, one of them a five-year-old boy. (See paragraph at the end of this post for a Sunday, May 17th update on Noah Witt's condition) Here are the emails:

DATE: Friday, May 15, 2009 8:04 AM
SUBJECT: Crosswalk
TO: Claremont Buzz

Hey Buzz,

Thanks for posting the information about the crosswalk. I was at the Film Festival last night and overheard people talking about the accident.

It's sad, but just a few nights ago my friends and I were talking about that exact same intersection. I was on 10th street trying to cross to the east side of Indian Hill. I kept pushing the stupid crosswalk button over and over again, but it wouldn't register. It wasn't "clicking" to indicate that I had pushed it, and it definitely wasn't turning the lights on.

Traffic was heavy and it was dark, so I waited on my side of the street until my friends came up on the opposite side. They were able to get the lights to turn on, but traffic on Indian Hill didn't bother to stop, so we had to dart between cars anyway.

Claremont isn't as pedestrian friendly as it should be, especially Indian Hill. Sooner or later, someone is going to be hit at Indian Hill and First street, another terrible spot where pedestrians need to cross but are fighting turning cars.

It's a shame a little boy had to be hurt before anyone would fix the 10th and Indian Hill crosswalk. I am keeping him in my thoughts and hope he recovers.

* * * * *

SUBJECT: re: Pedestrian-vehicle "accident" @ 10th St & Indian Hill Blvd
DATE: Friday, May 15, 2009 5:02 PM
TO: Claremont Buzz

I'm surprised there haven't been more such incidents at/near this very dangerous intersection. Over the past nine years I have witnessed vehicles - especially southbound - drive through the "flashing" crosswalk signal, without the slightest hesitation, on occasions too numerous to recall. The city needs to install a formal, four-way traffic signal at this intersection. We need to put a stone in the shoe of the fast-moving traffic that pollutes Indian Hill Blvd daily, but especially on Saturdays. Often is the case that I am beeped/cursed at by my fellow motorists, "passing through" (?) Claremont enroute to G#d knows where, as I respect the posted Speed Limit. I have been tail-gated too many times by these cretins, especially in the southbound lane. I have witnessed very few speeding stops on IH over the years. Where's the CPD? Too busy patrolling the Claremont-Pomona border regions?

PT in Claremont

Tony Krickl's blog had two posts, both of which had some pointed comments.

* * * * *

Councilmember Sam Pedroza blogged Sunday just before noon that,

"As you may have read in our local papers, a really horrible accident took place on Indian Hill and 10th Street. The crosswalk at Indian Hill and 10th is a very controversial intersection. We are all praying for the Witt family. The good news is that both mother and son are recovering, the latest updates that I am receiving show that Noah Witt, Tony's son, is showing good signs of improvement... "

TV Today

A reader asked us to pass this on:

There's a Claremont angle on the Dr. Phil show today. Carrie Stewart-Dixon, whose daughter Courtney Stewart was killed after the car she was riding in was struck by drunk driver last month, will be Dr. Phil's guest. Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart and Henry Pearson was also killed in the collision.

The show, KCBS Channel 2 today at 4pm, focuses on the problem of DUI drivers:

Monday - May 18, 2009

DUI Outrage

A drunk driving fatality happens approximately every 40 minutes. The rate of alcohol-related accidents is 22 times higher than the death rate for American soldiers killed in the Iraq war. Why is a person with one, two or more DUI's allowed to get behind the wheel of a car? Is the system failing to protect us? Recently, Nick Adenhart, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was killed in a crash involving an alleged drunk driver. But he wasn't the only person who lost his life. His friends Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson were also killed, and Jon Wilhite was left in critical condition. Hear Courtney's mom, Carrie, tell the tragic story of how her only daughter was "murdered" by a man who was reportedly driving with a suspended license and had one DUI conviction. Next, Mary was in the car with her husband and 22-year-old son when they were hit by a drunk driver, and her was killed. Mary is now a representative for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Then, Dawn is a repeat offender with two DUIs. She spent a night in jail, had a breathalyzer installed in her car and paid over $12,000 in legal fees, but says she still occasionally drives after drinking. Will she put down the bottle after Dr. Phil gives her a wake-up call, and she meets Carrie and Mary? Also joining the discussion is Jeanine Pirro, a hard-hitting, lock-'em-up judge who says Americans should be outraged and repeat offenders should behind bars, and Neil Shouse, a high-powered DUI defense attorney who says people are overzealous in prosecuting drunk drivers. Are drunk driving laws harsh enough? You decide. And, do you know when you've reached the legal blood-alcohol limit? Dr. Phil gives you pertinent information so you know when you've tossed back too many.

Calling All (Convertible) Cars

With Claremont's annual 4th of July Celebration coming up, there's much to do get ready for the event. Last week, the call on the city website went out for convertibles to carry dignitaries in the 4th of July parade.

We understand convertibles of all types are converging on City Hall as we speak, as the car owners rush to answer the call of our city leaders in their hour of need. See you on the 4th, same Bat Time, same Bat Station:

FYI ...
Calling Claremont Convertibles Cars

Those owning convertibles are invited to be in the 4th of July parade to transport dignitaries, honored community members, and elected officials. Applications are available at Applications are due by June 12, 2009, to the Alexander Hughes Community Center (1700 Danbury Road.)

Those who volunteer their vehicles and drive in the parade will have their car respectfully decorated with patriotic ribbons and signs indicating the dignitary riding with them. The parade route is approximately 1 mile and travels south on Indian Hill Blvd, west on Harrison, and finishes at the Joslyn Center parking lot.

For additional information, contact the City of Claremont's Human Services Department at 909-399-5490.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fire in the Bernard Field Station

Drudge Siren Pictures, Images and Photos
Just after lunch Sunday a fire erupted in the far southeast corner of the Field Station, adjacent to the corner of Foothill and Mills. By 1:30 p.m. the Fire Department appeared to have extinguished it. The Claremont Police Department closed Mills Avenue at Foothill for a time.

The fire appeared to burn only a small fraction of an acre, probably only a few hundred square yards.

Earlier Sunday morning there were a crew of people cutting down weeds on the east side of the Field Station. It is our strong suspicion--with no confirmation from the Fire Department--that this fire was not unrelated to that activity. There were several vehicles parked along the fence on dry grass and weeds--we hope it wasn't some of the BFF* of the Bernard Field Station-- and it is known that catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite dry brush.

We are not even sure that's the most likely cause; here's another possibility. The crew were using one of those super-sized rotary lawnmowers you see advertised on late-night TV, the kind that eats entire woodlots. Maybe it was just a regular rotary lawnmower. It is entirely possible that the steel blade from that machine hit a rock and threw a spark into the just-pulverized grass which then become the moral equivalent of tinder. This is the kind of fire that can smolder unnoticed until bursting into rather uncontrollable flame.

It will be interesting to find out who was doing the brush clearance, and what safety measures, if any, they were observing. We can hear it now: "Nothing could possibly go wrong... go wrong... go wrong... go wrong..."

It wouldn't surprise us if Community Services Director Scott Carroll, or Bulldozer-in-Chief Larry Wheaton had some hand in this, but perhaps we are being unfair to suggest it.

Then again, this was just before Commencement at Harvey Mudd. Everyone knows Harvey Mudd has no love for the Bernard Field Station and in fact plans to pave some land adjacent to it for--you won't be surprised--a parking lot. Here's the speculation: Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe runs over in her academic robes, sets fire to the Field Station, all while everyone is distracted with Commencement. This somehow makes the building of the parking lot easier. This scenario is a bit of a stretch, being arson and all, but some of the images are entertaining.

* * * * *
*Best Friends Forever. Get with it.


If you saw last Tuesday night's Claremont City Council meeting, you heard City Manager report on the current state of the City's budget. There was good news and bad news.

You'll recall that the City scrambled to balance the budget for the fiscal year ending June 30th. The cost savings were met by a combination of across-the-board departmental cuts, reductions in employee compensation, a hiring freeze, and some one-time accounting maneuvers.

So, the good news is the city budget is balanced for the next six weeks, through June 30.

The bad news is that Claremont's projected $2 million budget deficit for FY 2009-10 may grow significantly if the state pulls local funds to fix its own budgetary problems.

You've no doubt read that because of the recession, California's tax receipts have declined significantly, so that the state is facing a projected $15.4 billion deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. And that's without the key ballot measures (1C, 1D, and 1E) passing in this week's special election. If the measures fail, the deficit is projected to grow to over $21 billion.

City Manager Parker also described the budget situation in this in his weekly Friday report posted on the City's website:


On May 14 Governor Schwarzenegger released his May budget revise for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The state is now projecting a $15.4 billion dollar shortfall, assuming the Propositions on the May 19 ballot pass and a $21.3 billion dollar shortfall if they do not. While the majority of cuts to balance this shortfall will affect state agencies and state employees, there are some impacts to local government.

The county is likely to have mental health and other medical related responsibilities increased as the state shifts the responsibility. There also may be reassignment of prisoners from state prisons to county jails.

The largest impact to the City of Claremont listed in the May revise at this time, is a $640,000 loss to the general fund due to the state plan of borrowing $2 billion dollars from local government under the provisions of Prop 1A. Prop 1A allows for the state to borrow 8% of local agencies property tax. It also requires the state to pay back local agencies within three years.

Staff is continually monitoring the state budget situation and will provide updates and more information as it becomes available.

Governor Schwarzenegger unveiled two possible budget plans, one to be used if the ballot measures don't pass, and a more Draconian one to be employed if the measures fail. Besides borrowing $2 billion from local government funds, the later includes: laying off 5,000 state employees, selling off state-owned assets like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (sorry Trojan fans), cutting healthcare spending, reducing the school year by seven days, cutting education spending by $5 billion, trimming the school year by a week, and borrowing $6 billion. Oh, and then there's that release of 38,000 prisoners from state correctional facilities.

That last one smacks a bit of blackmail: Vote for my propositions or I'll loose the howling hellhounds! The Governor isn't really going to release them. He's talking about moving 19,000 illegal immigrant prisoners to federal prisons and transferring another 19,000 low-level inmates from state facilities to county jails.

It doesn't sound as if voters are buying this. Polls show the props losing, and the Los Angeles Times had an analysis yesterday that indicated the electorate is all for forcing Sacramento to take responsibility for the mess. The article, by Michael Rothfeld, said:
Many voters don't understand the propositions' crazy quilt of provisions, drafted to please different politicians and constituencies, and some see them as another empty promise. David Wells, 64, a retired procurement officer from Hawthorne, said the measures seem like elected officials' way of pawning off their responsibilities onto the people they represent.

"What's the governor's function if it isn't to control normal, everyday spending of the state?" Wells asked.

In any case, even under Schwarzenegger's best scenario, there will be a lot of cutting to be done. Maybe at long last we've finally reached the end of rationalization in Sacramento. Governmental budgets at all levels are the last remaining speculative bubbles, and economic realities are bursting those. We wondered for years when voters were going to demand that the politicians they've elected give up their respective ideological ground and face the fiscal facts.

Democrats, that means less spending and more truth about the real costs of services; Republicans, that means higher taxes and an admission that most people like a certain level of government service beyond mere public safety. Both parties need to stop worrying about the proverbial next election and act as public servants.

Lastly, voters of all ilks, stop being stupid about things and take time to actually educate yourselves about real the real costs and benefits of government and then get off your butts and vote. We really have no one to blame but ourselves for the gridlock.