Claremont Insider: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Measure CL Update


A reader sends word that the student paper at Claremont High School had an editorial urging a NO vote on the school district's $95 million Measure CL. One of the reasons the Wolfpacket cited for recommending a NO on CL was that it doesn't make any sense to fund operational costs with bond:
Though all of the 95 million dollars are supposed to go towards the Claremont schools, only about a third of the money will actually benefit schools. The high interest rate of the bond will result in increased prices for basic purchases--If the school was to buy a computer costing $1000, due to the interest rate, that computer would cost the school $3000.

The students are right on this count. Although the Claremont Unified School District and its superintendent, Terry Nichols, have refused to release the financing details for the bond, we do know that the bond proponents have acknowledged that the CL bond will be financed over 40 years and that the total costs, with interest payments, will approach $250 million. The district has essentially stipulated to that much.

So for every dollar we borrow and spend, we'll be paying back more than $2.50. The CUSD board of education's enabling resolution for this bond stated that some of the borrowed money from CL will go towards paying operational costs. It means a ream of paper that costs you and I $5.00 would end up costing CUSD $15.00.

Using the bond money in such a way is no different than using a credit card or borrowing against your house to pay for a car. And like a car, that computer the Wolfpacket editorial referred to is going to be worth much less by the time it's paid off. In the case of a computer, it'd be worth nothing at all, except as a collector's item. Ask yourself how much is your own computer going to be worth in 40 years?

We're surprised to see that many people associated with this extremely flawed district finance plan are affiliated with the Claremont Colleges. Pomona College president David Oxtoby, Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe, Claremont McKenna College president Pamela Gann, Claremont Graduate University interim president Joseph Hough, CGU president emeritus John Maguire, retired CMC president Jack Stark, and others like Pomona College professor David Menefee-Libey have all endorsed CL.

Yet, if those same parties tried to run their own institutions with bond money financed as proposed under Measure CL, the trustees of their respective colleges be screaming bloody murder. It's simply foolish to spend money in such a way, and the CHS students are on target with their commentary.

Incidentally, this reminds us of some information buried in that the pre-election polling commissioned at a cost of $35,000 by CUSD earlier this year. The poll, conducted by our favorite district consultant, Jared Boigon of TBWB Strategies, indicated that a bond would have less support among people with kids in Claremont Unified schools than it would with people who were older and who didn't have children attending the schools. We suspect that this is because the closer one is to the actual day-to-day workings of our school district, the less wonderful it actually is.

As they do with most things they want you to pay for, the Claremont 400 have romanticized our schools to the point that their idealized vision of our local schools bears no relation to the reality of the situation.

Here's the Wolfpacket editorial, courtesy of our reader:

Click Image to Enlarge

Dept. of Corrections

A couple readers wrote in to comment about our post on the missing developmentally disabled person who went missing for a few days. We had noted that a reader had written in to ask why the City's CodeRED system wasn't used to notify the public about the missing person.

Turns out the Claremont police did use the CodeRED system as well as its E-Watch email alert system to let people know about the teen they were looking for. However, the reader who wrote in on this point noted this and was actually wondering why the CodeRED alert didn't get to him/her until four days after the person went missing.

Nationalizing Measure CL

Get Out the Pig Grease, Dave, and Start Smearing

We think we've now finally seen the single most childish argument to vote for Measure CL. It appeared in Saturday's copy of the Claremont Courier:

What is with this seeming attempt to nationalize Measure CL? What Could This Mean?

The intellectual foundation, if you want to call it that, for this otherwise inexplicable injunction is helpfully provided in the same issue of the Courier by the redoubtable Dave Nemer. We are not going to reproduce his Piece (O.S.) here. We have standards. But suffice it to say its a bunch of paranoic drivel with schizoid overtones. It also shows a pathological need to "belong". It is a smear, done up in his trademark smarmy tone.

Where most people in this community would applaud diversity coming together, Nemer sees "strange bedfellows". He very quickly dismisses the other personalities publicly associated with No on CL, to focus in on the one who supports his strained argument. Here it is (to save you the trouble of reading his screed): No on CL is a Tea Party Plot.

It appears he expects the No on CL side to spend their "less than $4000 (total reported raised in Daily Bulletin, Friday, October 29) restating the Yes side's arguments. Hey--here's a thought--maybe the Yes side could spend some of its $130,000 from outside Special Interests to honestly address some of the cost and planning issues instead of sending out ten or twelve glossy city-wide mailers filled with nothing but Pablum--or maybe it's Ensure. These political mailers don't even tell the community this is a bond. Instead it's presented as some sort of "Magical Mystery Initiative" that will make Claremont schools all better if we just vote for it. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain. (big contractors, architects, investment banks, and consultants)

Where did this stuff take root and grow? No place other than the airy-fairy precincts of Pomona College. Four of the five named signers of the ad above, David Menefee-Libey, Eleanor Brown, Dan O'Leary, and Len Seligman are on the Pomona College faculty. Wendy M.-L., spouse of David, is at Harvey Mudd College.

We hope Claremont is smarter than to be taken in by the middle-school social group politics that passes for informed discussion in Our Town. We are not sure.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Mailbag

Public Nuisance?

Not a Stadium. Can't you See?

We received the email reproduced below in our Inbox this morning. It brought to mind the promises the school Superintendent made a decade ago about how Claremont High would not use any Measure Y bond money to build a stadium on the south edge of the high school. There was even an emergency agenda item and a Board resolution to this effect. This was done to mollify the Towne Ranch neighbors and defuse an uprising against Measure Y.

Unfortunately (for the CHS Neighbors) the neighborhood bought what the District was selling, fell into a hypnotic trance, and Measure Y passed narrowly.

By November of 2001, the district deep-sixed that promise and proceeded with the stadium construction, as was reported in the Courier on November 10th of that year:

Anyway, we're not supposed to talk about Measure Y. And its faults. And lies. And broken promises. And mismanagement. Put away those gloomy thoughts. On to Measure CL! Forward thinking! Vision!

The email appears immediately below. The reader invites response, so...both of you Insider readers be sure to swamp the inbox:

CHS Neighbor
From: CHS Neighbors,

Dear Insider,

I have been a residential neighbor of Claremont High School for almost 10 years, and this has always presented its challenges. However, over the past few years, the high-school has shown an increasing disregard towards its neighbors. It seems like there is always some activity going on at the track after hours, including Sunday mornings when loud music and voices on PA systems can began as early as 8 AM. Apparently when these activities are scheduled, or permission is given for use of this track, no consideration whatsoever is given to those who make their homes around the school’s perimeters. At this Friday night’s football game (10/29), an extended fireworks display was set off at 8:30 PM. Certainly the high school should have the decency of alerting its neighbors—especially those with pets—of any planned fireworks activity in advance. This is basic courtesy.

These are two blatant examples of the disinterest and disrespect the school shows towards its neighbors. In the past, an attempt I made to address some of the issues with the principal at the time was completely ignored.

I would like to know if other neighbors are frustrated with the level of noise, the traffic problems, the parking problems, or any other issues. If you might be so kind, can you provide my email address on your site so others might communicate their experiences/concerns?

Thank you.

* * * * * * *

Thnx to a reader for the Courier clip.

Red Alert?

A reader contacted us to say that they wished we would devote less space to the Measure CL school bond and more to other issues such as the disappearance last week of a developmentally disabled teen named Deontay Antone Barlow.

Deontay, who disappeared from his home on Thursday, October 21, was found five days later at a Kaiser Permanante facility in Downey. Claremont Courier reporter Tony Krickl wrote about the happy ending to this story on his Courier City Beat blog.

Our reader wondered why the Claremont Police Department didn't employ their CodeRED system to alert the community immediately after Deontay's family discovered he was missing. CPD's used the system before for community-wide emergencies like fires, so why not in this instance?

The CPD website does list missing persons as one of the emergencies CodeRED is for:


CodeRED is intended to supplement our local law enforcement and public safety first responders with making timely emergency notifications. Examples of its use include:

  • Evacuation Notice
  • Fires or Floods
  • Missing Persons
  • Hazardous Material Spills
  • Water Contamination
  • Identifying Evacuation Centers
  • Emergency and Critical incidents where rapid notification is essential.

Now, the CPD did use their Neighborhood E-Watch newsletter to email residents that Deontay had been found. Our reader wonders, why pay spend all that money for CodeRED if we don't use it for something like this?

Halloween Fun Downtown Tomorrow

Those of you with young children will probably want to take the kids to Claremont's annual Halloween Celebration tomorrow from 1-4pm in the Claremont Village. The main events will take place in front of the Claremont Train Depot at 200 W. First St.

Here's what City Manager Jeff Parker's weekly newletter had to say:


The City of Claremont, Village Marketing Group and local businesses will host Claremont’s Annual Halloween Celebration in the Claremont Village on Sunday, October 31 from 1 – 4 p.m. Enjoy trick-or-treating at Village businesses as well as Halloween-themed games and entertainment at the historic Claremont Depot. The YAC and Teen Committee members will volunteer and will assist with game booths, handing out prizes and helping out where they can during the event. Youth volunteers are excited to help out the community. For more information on youth volunteering, please contact the Youth Activity Center (YAC) at (909) 399-5360.

For more information about the City of Claremont’s Halloween Celebration, log onto the City’s website at or call the Human Services Department at (909) 399-5490.

This year’s schedule is as follows:

1:15 - 1:45 p.m. Franklin Haynes Marionettes
2:00 p.m. Howl-O-Ween Dog Costume Contest
2:15 - 3:15 p.m. The Animal Guys
3:30 p.m. Children’s Costume Contest

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Claremont Unified is a "Pay to Play" School District

Big Donor Cash Tops $125,000

Only about 2% Raised Locally

Drudge Siren Pictures, Images and Photos

There is more big money pouring into the Yes on Measure CL campaign, even as the local contributions are very weak. Recent filings with LA County elections officials show over $125,000 in contributions from 8 district vendors and a teachers' union. Totals after the October 18th filings are as follows, new money in red:

  • $25,000 from Adolph Ziemba, Architects, in Burbank

  • $20,000 from Telacu Construction Management in LA

  • $10,000 from Vanir Construction Managment in Sacramento

  • $10,000 from Flewelling and Moody (architects) in Pasadena. $5,000 previously reported, $5,000 new money.

  • $5,000 from Northcross Hill Ach (financial advisors) in San Rafael

  • $1,500 from the California Teachers Assn, Burlingame CA
With 98% of the cash received by the Yes on CL side coming from big businesses outside Claremont with a direct financial interest in the outcome, it's pretty clear the CL's supporters and the District leadership have put out the word that CUSD is a Pay to Play district, and a little baksheesh in the form of help on Measure CL is necessary to get business down the line.

What other conclusion is there that is not, well, ridiculous? Certainly no one is buying Yes on CL Treasurer J. Michael Fay's assertion that "There is no quid pro quo." That's an insult to our intelligence.

We post the report for the Period October 1-October 16 below. The earlier report is covered here. Following the first report is a single-page "late contribution" filing detailing $21,500 (included in the above totals) from Ziemba, Flewelling and Moody, and the teachers unions.

One interesting fact is that named contributions from residents of Claremont number only nine and total only $1,100. Even crediting all of the unitemized contributions ($115) to Claremont brings the total Claremont money to a mere $1,215. This is only 1.9% of the total cash reported since October 1 of $63,715.

This is nothing like a grassroots cause, and doesn't appear even to have the financial backing of the President of the Board of Education, Hilary LeConte, nor board supporters Jeff Stark and Beth Bingham. Only board member Mary Caenepeel and her husband kicked in a hundred bucks.

For those whoe worry about big money influencing elections, possible corruption, pay to play, sweetheart deals, bid-rigging, and the like, there is plenty to worry about here.

Yes on Cl Campaign Finance Report Oct 18 2

And here is a report dated October 18, 2010. "Late" reports of contributions exceeding $1,000 are required to be overnighted to the county campaign finance disclosure office.

Form 497

Monday, October 25, 2010

Daily Bulletin Opinion on Measure CL Influenced by Supporter

Why the Bulletin Editorial Sounded Like Regurgitated Measure CL Talking Points

It was just a little too pat. The phrases had the ring of a familiar cant even if there was nothing of the truth in them: improvements that will save operating costs in the long run ... $45 per $100,000 of assessed valuation ... long-term investment ... sustainability improvements ... construction costs are low ... modern-day computers ...

It was a bunch of pedestrian nouns decorated with jargonish adjectives.

The words seemed to be cut and pasted from the Yes On CL 4-color glossy mailers that have been arriving at about the rate of one per day in Claremont recently.

It was a disappointment but not much of a surprise, this Daily Bulletin opinion.

Who writes these things?

We have our ideas on this.

Take a look at the masthead below. The Bulletin uses an editorial board. Presumably the editorial positions are hashed out by said board, and whaddya know? The name "Nick Quackenbos fairly jumps out at you.

Click to enlarge

Could this be the selfsame Nick Quackenbos whose name appears as a supporter of Measure CL? We are pretty sure it is. How many N. Q.'s could there be?

Click to enlarge

When we tumbled to this, the similarity of the article to the Measure CL propaganda was instantly explained. We wonder if the Daily Bulletin is willing to reveal whether or not Mr. Quackenbos, a local commercial real estate broker, participated in the discussion leading to the decision of the paper to endorse Measure CL? We think he should have recused himself from that discussion based on his obvious bias and conflict. If not, he should have been excused by Editor Mike Brossart. And if Mr. Quackenbos participated in the decision, did he reveal to the board his public position on Measure CL? And if he participated, was Mr. Brossart careful to include a member, from Claremont, with a counter-balancing bias to ensure robust, informed, and fair discussion?

The Bulletin could clear up any questions about the objectivity of its endorsement of Measure CL by publishing a short statement of the facts of its deliberation and decision.

Meanwhile, we see that the NO on CL people, on their website, have posted a deconstruction of the Bulletin opinion piece. We clip it below along with this link: nocusdbond deconstruction

Although the point and counter-point in the aforementioned deconstruction is lengthy, it is complete. It's beginning to get out, for example, that the first $10,000,000 in bond money, should CL be approved, does not go to the kids, to safety, to technology, to modernization, but rather to bail out the District from a tricky financial scheme it entered into in 2001, where it leased out Claremont High School to investors. This garnered the District an immediate $11,300,000 payment to refurbish the District Offices at 170 San Jose by the 10 freeway but obligates it to an ANNUAL payment of some $930,000. This payment is what the district would like to shift to the taxpayers.

But we digress.

The Bulletin opinion has the air of illegitimacy if Mr. Quackenbos participated in it. But Claremont should not be surprised, The Yes on CL people have their tentacles everywhere in town and, to mix a metaphor, have been assiduously working their traplines in all of the Better Organizations: The Claremont League of Women Voters (endorsed CL without hearing from the opponents), The Claremont Chamber (endorsed CL without hearing from the opponents), Sustainable Claremont (endorsed CL without hearing from the opponents), Claremont teachers' union (endorsed CL without hearing from the opponents and also has a pecuniary interest in its passage), California School Employees Assn (ditto).

Even the Claremont Police Department. Here, here, and here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Sermon

As we've often said, some Claremonters (the ones that count, anyway) possess a peculiar, almost religious devotion to their city workers with members of groups like the local League of Women Voters or the Claremont Community Foundation acting as oracles or priests. Sometimes they are even actual religious leaders.

A mere hint of outsourcing any of city services will result in widespread hysteria among the true believers, the Claremont 400, as the recent civic discussion over Claremont's waste management showed. Imagine the wailing that would ensue if the city were to consider disbanding Claremont's police department and entering into a contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. The pitchforks-and-torches set would be out in force at the next City Council meeting.

Yes, Claremont loves its public servants.

As if to prove our point, the Yes on Measure CL campaign, the folks who are trying to pass a $95 million school bond, sent out a mailer last week adorned with photos of one of Claremont's finest, CPD Officer Sean Evans, who was quoted and featured in a couple photos.

We were mulling over our politicized police department, which seems intent on lending the Measure CL campaign a helping hand or two, no matter how many claims of non-partisanship City Hall makes. Looking at the recent flyer, it struck us that, as Officer Evans blessed the children gathered around him in one of the photos, he might have possessed just a touch of that beaming, beneficent, iconic presence leaders of all types, religious and political, like to affect in order to inspire the masses:


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Mailbag

The mail's been piling up here the last couple weeks, so we thought we'd pass some of our readers' thoughts along.

One soccer parent wrote us because, in addition to copper theft problems, the city of Claremont still has some kinks to work out at Padua Park:

DATE: Sat, October 9, 2010 6:44:50 PM
SUBJECT: [No Subject ]
TO: Claremont Insider

Re: Padua park

FYI - AYSO soccer games today at Padua park were interupted several times because the sprinklers kept coming on. They first came on at about 11:30am and continued in different sections for more than an hour. Why was the city watering in the middle of the day?

* * * * *

Another reader wrote in to say that, rather than floating it's $95 million Measure CL bond on the November 2 ballot, what the Claremont Unified School District should be doing is cutting back on interdistrict transfers--students from outside CUSD's enrollment area, that is.

DATE: Tue, October 12, 2010 4:41:57 PM
SUBJECT: Does Claremont need to tax itself for the benefit of students who have transferred from adjoining districts?

TO: Claremont Insider

I have read someplace, either in these pages or in the Daily Bulletin, that as many as one out of six students in Claremont schools comes from an adjoining district. The "benefit" to our district supposedly is that Claremont schools get the normal state funding for each student. That brings in a little money to the district. (Cui bono?) However, as we have found out repeatedly, state funding is not sufficient to run the Claremont District. Each student in Claremont costs more than what the state provides. Hence, we have been persuaded to pass bond issues from time to time in addition to a parcel tax.

Now, we have been asked to supplement the state funding with a whopping $95 million bond issue. The question is, how much of this money will be used to benefit students other than Claremont students? One would think that if one out of six students is from outside the district than almost $16 million dollars out of the $95 million would be for the direct benefit of other than Claremont students.

Do Claremont citizens really want to take over a tax burden that properly should be borne by adjoining towns? Should the School District not be encouraged cut back on its expenses, for example, by limiting the number of transfers to a more reasonable number so that the bond issues paid by Claremonters actually benefit Claremont students? Maybe the whole District could be downsized to a size adequate for Claremont students. In that case, we might not be confronted by such an outrageous funding request.

The matter of CUSD's interdistrict transfers hasn't really been discussed too much by the local papers. We saw this with the Daily Bulletin editorial endorsing the bond. The editorial simply parroted back the Yes on CL campaign's mailer language without digging into them to see if they were true statements, and they ignored several of the arguments against the Measure CL, including the fact that 17% of CUSD's students have transferred in from outside the district.

Claremont is able to absorb that 17% because they have too much capacity and too many teachers. Yet the school district refuses to consider cutting back on the transfers and won't trim staff or downsize its facilities. CUSD's school board stubbornly clings to the idea that they must keep their enrollment numbers artificially inflated.
[CORRECTION: After we wrote the above-section of this post, we opened up today's Claremont Courier and saw that the interdistrict transfer issue did come up at Thursday night's Active Claremont Measure CL debate. So at least the Courier is trying to delve into all the nuances of the bond campaign. According to Landus Rigsby's article, Yes on CL representative Bill Fox claimed that CUSD would have to shutter its elementary schools, El Roble Intermediate School, and Claremont High. Highly unlikely. Mr. Fox was just being true to his nature.]
Another related issue is the fact that, because all those interdistrict transfers don't live in CUSD's area, their families don't have to pay for any taxes or bonds the district levies. They aren't paying off the $30 million we still owe for the Measure Y bond, and they don't have to pay for CUSD's annual Recreation Assessment District. They won't have to pay a penny of the Measure CL costs either, costs that amount to a total of around $250 million over 40 years.

In essence, the school district has asked property owners within the district's boundaries to subsidize those children from outside the enrollment area.

The involvement of people from outside the district extends to the Measure CL campaign. Besides a Bay Area consultant running the Yes campaign from behind the scenes, there are a good many people listed as Measure CL endorsers don't even live in Claremont. For instance, many of the CUSD teachers and administrators who were listed in the first Measure CL ad in the Claremont Courier reside out of town, including CUSD Superintendent Terry Nichols, who lives in Glendora.
[BTW, IS SUPERINTENDENT NICHOLS A LIAR? Maybe not, but he comes perilously close.

In the Courier article today, Superintendent Nichols was quoted as having said the district trimmed Measure CL from its original $160 million to $95 million before submitting it to the voters. Superintendent Nichols casts the district as being frugal, saving property owners tens of millions. The truth is, $95 million is just about at the state's limit of bonded indebtedness for CUSD: 2.5% of the total assessed value of all the properties in Claremont. The district wasn't pinching pennies; CUSD was making a money grab, maxing out their credit card.

Nichols is well aware of the limit to the amount of debt CUSD can take on, and he is behaving no better than a scamming telemarketer. If he could grab $160 million, he and the school board would.]
The faculty members who support the bond and who are working on the Yes on CL campaign don't really care about the long-term consequences of the measure. The teachers, like CUSD's contractors and vendors, will benefit financially if Measure CL passes, and the teachers union agreed to its latest contract in exchange for endorsing and working to pass the bond measure. It's pocketbook issue to some of them -- moving as much as possible from your pocketbook to theirs.

Because so many, including the Daily Bulletin's editorial board, think that we have to pass just about any school bond that comes up, these things will continue to pass, and the cumulative debt in Claremont and all around the state will continue to pile up. These bonds are simply financing schemes that are incredibly wasteful because of all the extra dollars that have to be diverted from actual projects to service debt and to line the pockets of the contractors who underwrite the bond campaigns. One way or another, it's going to have to stop.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

Not OK

We've seen the trailer sign brought into town by the NO on Measure CL folks, or maybe it's just one opponent "going rogue". This is the kind of thing that is Not Done in Claremont, and as such is probably driving the proponents bonkers. As an aside, it is notable that the opponents can't even fit the amount of the proposed bond on their sign. They've only got 8 spaces and $95,000,000 takes eleven. That's a lot of money.

We are hearing that the NO on CL folks are getting heat from the proponents for the trailer sign. This is being done "the Claremont Way" of course, through official channels: the proponents' enforcement arm, the CPD or maybe it's Code Enforcement.

We are the first to admit we don't know all of the ins and outs of the sign ordinance. Believe it or not, Title 18 of the Municipal Code: SIGNS, runs 41 pages, and prohibits most things. Take a look at it here if you are really interested. You may have to scroll down to open Title 18.

Anyway, if the lit trailer sign is prohibited--and how does the City get by prohibiting a legal vehicle on the street?--then what about the permanent (and in our opinion very tacky) lit message board sign at Claremont High School? How come that's OK?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nothing to See Here Folks!


In response to Claremont PD Officer Sean Evans appearing in uniform in a political mailer for Measure CL, the City of Claremont issued this statement:

A recent flyer sent out and posted on the campaign committee website for the Yes on CL measure contained the photograph of a uniformed Claremont Police Officer. While the uniform is indistinguishable and the flyer does not mention the Claremont Police Department, it may give the impression that the officer is speaking on behalf of the Claremont Police Department. The officer was photographed for this flyer on his day off and any statements made by the officer were his own personal views and not that of the Claremont Police Department. The Claremont Police Department strives to be apolitical and is neutral on this local measure.

Click Image to Enlarge

For a while, the statement that the flyer didn't mention the CPD by name and you couldn't tell from his uniform he was CPD will be on the City website.

More about Officer Evans' duties here.

On His Own Time
Uniform Indistinguishable
Claremont Police not Mentioned
Not Speaking for Claremont
Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Claremont Police Department Used to Push Measure CL

CPD Officer Sean Evans. Let's Hear it, Kids, for Measure CL!

Is there no advantage that the proponents of Measure CL will not press?

Another mail piece hit our mailboxes today using Sean Evans, school cop, as a prop in the advertising campaign. We reproduce part of it above. You'd think that the Claremont Police would have a policy against officers in uniform advertising for a political campaign, but then, this is Claremont. It's probably only a policy when someone outside the power elite wants to do it. Did Officer Evans have no idea he was being used?--or did he readily assent to a photoshoot in costume? So many questions...

He gave them a nice quote, anyway. Or at least the consultant in San Francisco put a nice quote in his mouth. Really. Does anyone actually say, "Local funding for student safety that can't be taken away by Sacramento is a win-win for Claremont schools."

We think this doesn't help the street cred of the CPD when one side gets to use the badge and the patch as props. We know that the police command a lot of respect in town but can't see how trotting out friendly SRO Officer Evans in the tawdry search for votes for an ill-advised, unsustainable, $95 million school bond does anything to advance the interest of public safety in our community.

Look for there to be a short flurry of noise, ritual wringing of hands, and the matter will be swept under the rug because, well, it's for the kids.

Anything goes when you're doing it for the kids, and Piper Jaffray.

And while we are on the subject of kids, we've been noticing this: there are a lot of kids in those flyers and their faces are more or less recognizable. Since we here at the Insider really do put kids' safety first, we've been careful to blur out our kids faces (or otherwise obliterate them, see below). Does the consultant have permission from the parents to use these kids this way? And is it OK to use pictures of kids and classes, apparently taken on school time, for political advertising? So many questions...

From the reverse of the Measure CL mailer

As we post this late Wednesday, the mailer is still on the website.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On the Money Trail

As you may have heard, Saturday's edition of the Claremont Courier raised a lot of questions about the financing behind CUSD's Measure CL campaign.

Courier reporter Tony Krickl got a Nancy Mintie-style response from Yes on CL treasurer J. Michael Fay as he answered Krickl's questions about the source of the majority of the Yes money. Fay's response seemed to underscore rather than refute bond critics' concerns about the enormous amounts of money pumped into the Yes campaign by out-of-town school contractors:

“These aren’t just outside interests,” said J. Michael Fay, campaign treasurer for Yes on Measure CL. “Most of the companies have already conducted business in the district with Measure Y. So now they’ve volunteered to support the [Measure CL] campaign.”

Fay went on to say that any future school district contracts would have to go out to bid, so there's no quid pro quo involved. Fay, however, overlooks the fact that these bond servicing companies and contractors have a big picture to consider. This could just be thank-you money for past contracts, and dollars given here in Claremont can translate to contracts with other districts.

We got to thinking about this and looked back at the sources of some of the big money for Measure Y, CUSD's last bond measure in the June 2000 election. One of Measure Y's campaign donors was the architectural design firm Flewelling & Moody. On 5/11/00, F & M donated $2,500 to the Yes on Measure Y campaign. On 5/30/00, the week before the election, F & M made a second donation of $2,500.

Did they receive any consideration in return? We can't say for sure, but F & M's website does list Claremont Unified as one of their clients from 2005:

Click on Images to Enlarge

Flewelling & Moody has kicked in $5,000 so far for the current Yes on CL campaign. Judging from the way it went after the last Claremont school bond, if Measure CL passes, there's no telling what sort of contract they might land five years hence after everyone's forgotten about this election.

When one roots around, one starts to find all sorts of things. For instance, F & M, as well as the San Rafael financial advising firm Northcross Hill & Ach (another $5,000 Yes on CL donor) and Rancho Cucamonga-based WLC Architects (a whopping $25,000 to the Yes on CL campaign), are all sponsors of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce. So we shouldn't be surprised that the Chamber's governmental affairs committee voted to endorse CL after meeting with the Yes on CL campaign team and without seeking to hear at all from the No side.

The best CL information on the contract side of things comes from the agenda for the July 22, 2010, CUSD school board meeting. That was the same meeting where the school board approved the resolution to go forward with a bond election. Item 4 on that agenda was the approval of an agreement with Minnesota-based investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. (see page 3 of the full agenda at the end of this post).

Piper Jaffray has so far donated $25,000 to the Yes on CL effort. Getting back to that July 22 meeting, the Claremont school board agreed to employ them as bond underwriters should CL pass. In return, Piper Jaffray would receive the following:
Total compensation for all of the pre-election and post-election services shall not exceed 1.10% of the total principal amount of each individual General Obligation Bond issue.

Hmmmm, let's see....1.10% of $95 million (the maximum amount CUSD could seek under CL)? That's $1,045,000. Not at all a bad return on $25,000 in what amounts to, uh, marketing costs. All CUSD has done is put the big money carrot up front instead of at the end of the campaign.

Bond counsel Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth also stands to make a decent bit off CUSD property owners from a successful Yes on CL campaign - up to 1% of the total bonds issued.

This is precisely where Yes on CL campaign consultants like Jared Boigon and TBWB Strategies could easily act as facilitators, getting contractors to underwrite bond campaigns in some places and then offering introductions between those same contractors and other districts that have successfully passed their bond measures with the aid of these ever-helpful consultants.

It's a great business model, earning Boigon and TBWB $35,000 from the school district for pre-campaign polling services, along with another $10,000 as of September 30 from the Yes on CL campaign. And the money wheel keeps spinning as long as voters are naive enough to believe the misinformation issued forth from the mouths of people like Michael Fay, who manages to remain credible in our community no matter how many times he and his friends play this game.

We can't help but stand in awe at the hypocrisy of those among the Claremont 400 who are pushing this incredibly flawed school bond. One sees this when the League of Women Voters complains about the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision opening up the floodgates to corporate election contributions as the local LWV chapter stays silent when companies with financial stakes in a successful bond campaign donate all but $2,000 of the $66,027 (and counting) raised by the Yes on CL campaign.

So, let's get this straight. Investment banks contributing to the campaigns of elected officials in charge of financial reform? Bad. Investment banks contributing to school bond campaigns they stand to earn $1 million from? Good.

Hypocritical? Certainly. But, heck, if you're a Claremont 400 critic, we suppose it's job security.

* * * * *

Here's the business operations agenda for that July 22, 2010, CUSD school board meeting:

Monday News Briefs


The Claremont Courier and Daily Bulletin both reported on the arrests of two suspected copper thieves last week. The Claremont Police Department, with help of three other nearby city police agencies, had the thieves under surveillance as they tried to steal copper wire from La Puerta Sports Park. There's been no word on whether or not the two suspects were responsible for the September 22 theft of wire from Padua Park.

Here's what the CPD website says:

On October 14 2010, two suspects were arrested for copper theft at La Puerta Sports Park during a surveillance by officers at the park. Following recent copper thefts at the park, officers were assigned to conduct surveillance operations. At about 12:30 a.m., two suspects were observed entering the park and going from light pole to light pole removing the copper wire.

Additional officers from the Pomona and La Verne Police Departments responded to the park, along with a helicopter from the Ontario Police Department to assist the Claremont officers in taking the suspects into custody. Upon hearing the helicopter approaching, both suspects fled the park. After a short foot pursuit and fight with officers, one suspect was taken into custody. The second suspect fled into the rear yard of a home in the 2400 block of San Jacinto Ct. where he was taken into custody with the assistance of a Pomona Police K-9.

Arrested: Brian Arnold, 24 yrs old, Ontario resident
Arrested: Ryan Lawrence, 23 yrs old, Transient


The City of Claremont is hosting another of its neighborhood forums tomorrow. Two council members and city staff will be on hand at the Padua Theatre to talk with North Claremont residents about anything that's on their minds (you don't have to be from the area to attend):
City Council Neighborhood Forum -Padua Hills Theatre

7:00 PM
4467 Via Padova
(909) 399-5460

Council Members are also hosting a series of Neighborhood Forums. Neighborhood Forums give residents from different neighborhoods the opportunity to talk with City Council Members in a relaxed and informal setting. Neighborhoods can discuss issues that are important to them, air concerns, share ideas, ask questions and get the latest information about topics and projects that are specific to each neighborhood. Although forums are scheduled for specific neighborhoods, you do not have to live in that immediate area to attend.


Claremont's annual Village Venture happens this Saturday in the Claremont Village:

Village Venture Returns To The Village On October 23

The annual Village Venture craft faire will return to the Claremont Village on Saturday, October 23 from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The event attracts hundreds of craft vendors and thousands of attendees each year. The Claremont Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, which features entertainment, food, and a children's costume parade. For more information on Village Venture, please call the Claremont Chamber of Commerce at (909) 624-1681.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Measure CL: Truth in Advertising

We think that any campaign materials from SupportClaremontSchools should come with this disclaimer:

"This advertisement paid for by Committee to Support Claremont Schools - Yes on CL. FPPC # 1330811, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Piper Jaffray, investment bank of Minneapolis, WLC Architects of Rancho Cucamonga, Stradling Yocca Carlson, bond counsel, Newport Beach, Northcross Hill Ach, financial advisors to public agencies, San Rafael, and Flewelling and Moody, educational facility architects, Pasadena, California, dba the Claremont Unified School District. Any resemblance of this campaign to a grassroots campaign is purely coincidental."

The Courier had an interesting juxtaposition on page 3 in Saturday's paper (October 16). We reproduce it nearby, and suggest you go to the newsstand and buy the paper if you don't have one. Click to enlarge and read the article. The page contained an article on corporate donations to Measure CL just above a photo spread of a demonstration in Claremont against corporate donations.

This must induce cognitive dissonance in the wee minds of some of the "good government" types in town. The Claremont Area League of Women Voters comes to mind. The campaign dear to their hearts, on the one hand, accepting huge private money; and on the other hand the very idea of huge Corp. Contrib.

Read the article before continuing.

There is much to be said, but J. Michael Fay, treasurer of the Yes On CL group must think we just fell off the pumpkin wagon if we are to believe his breathtaking assertion that there is "no quid pro quo". Of course there is; just go back to Measure Y, see who contributed to it, and then find out who underwrote and advised on the bonds and then lease financing done in 2001, who got architectural engineering and design contracts worth gazillions, and who got other largess spread around by the CUSD.

We've already alluded to the fact that the bid process can be rigged to result in the selection of a desired vendor.

On a side note, it appears as if the NO on CL people are trying to draw the YES side into a debate on numbers. More than one person has noted that none of the material put out by the YES side thus far even mentions that--er--Measure CL is a $95,000,000 bond with a probable total price tag north of $250,000,000. Saturday's paper was folded with a flyer by the NO crowd (right, click to enlarge) that contains cockamamie numbers on Measure Y. We won't bother to dissect it. We'll let the YES folks do that. And why does it refer to Measure CI instead of Measure CL?

Subtle are some peoples' minds in this town. Mrs. Insider posits that this is bait put out to draw the proponents into a real debate on facts, with plausible deniability built right in. If so, and if it works, very clever.

* * * * *

Acknowledgment is made to the Claremont Courier for not complaining--yet--of our use of the headline on page 1 and the material on page 3 of Saturday's paper. The opinions herein are ours and not those of the Claremont Courier.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Scared Straight

With Halloween fast approaching we might have expected to get a good scare from our beloved Claremonsters. The sky-is-falling strategy has traditionally been one the Claremont 400's favorite tactics to get people to vote for someone or something.

They used fear-based strategy when current council member Corey Calaycay was running in 2005 ("our city staff will all quit if he's elected") and again in 2006 with the failed Parks and Pastures assessment district ("developers will buy Johnson's Pasture if we don't act now"). Somehow the Claremonsters always manage to disregard reality in their attempts to get voters worked up for or against anything. With the park assessment district, for instance, they ignored the fact that the open space they were trying to save had been stuck in probate court for nearly 10 years without changing hands and that the City was the only likely buyer. The urgency they tried to create was false.

This campaign season they're at it again, telling Claremont Unified School District residents that we need to pass the $95 million Measure CL bond because our schools are falling apart. They tell us that our school buildings will collapse on top of our kids if we don't pass this bond. This past Wednesday, the Claremont Courier carried just such a letter in which Uncommon Good executive director Nancy Mintie compared the state of Claremont High's theatre to a slum. Mintie writes with the famous Claremonster voice of authority, saying she was an attorney who fought slumlords, so she should know.

In her letter, Mintie went on to say that the sorry state of CUSD's facilities is proof that Claremonters should support the proposed school bond. But if we read Mintie's letter correctly, what she's really saying is that CUSD is a slumlord! Just like the slumlords Mintie opposed in the past, our school board and the district's admnistrators took the $48.9 million from the last school bond in 2000 and squandered it. They didn't pump all of that money back into fixing up their properties, and they neglected the young people who occupied those building. We clip the first three paragraphs of her letter, right. Buy the Courier to read the rest. Click to enlarge.

Following Mintie's argument to its logical conclusion, one should be compelled to deny CUSD access to any further bond money because they can't be trusted with it. But, this being Claremont, Mintie drew the opposite conclusion, despite her rather persuasive evidence to the contrary. Instead, Mintie said she supports this bond in order to fix our decrepit school facilities - precisely what CUSD and its supporters said the last bond was going to accomplish.

If Mintie were being truthful with us and herself, she'd say that CUSD needs to borrow more money because it mismanaged the last bond and didn't keep its promises from 10 years ago. But, as we've seen, the Claremonster capacity for deceptions of all sorts is limitless.

We have every right to be fearful - of Mintie's screwball logic, of our school district's waste, of the money being pumped into the Yes on CL campaign by bond and building contractors, of the willingness of our school board and its friends to hide the truth and rewrite the past. Run as fast as you can away from these people!

Downtown Beer Fest

Downtown Claremont plays host to the California Beer Festival tomorrow, October 16, from 12:30 to 5:30pm. The event will take place in front of the Claremont Packing House on First St. between Oberlin and Cornell. Tickets are $40.

They're also offering a designated driver ticket for $25. That includes a free meal and free non-alcoholic beverage. Yellow Cab will also offer discounted cab rides -call (909) 622-1313 for information.

The event's website says there will be three live bands and food from various local restaurants, including a preview from Eureka!Burger, which is supposed to open in the Packing House sometime this winter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cui Bondo?* --Part 3

Ahead of the Power Curve

Like Nero Wolfe's sidekick Archie in the Rex Stout series, or the enigmatic Joe's bestboy Tom in William Saroyan's 1939 Pulitzer winner The Time of Your Life, our own Junior Insider went yesterday on an important errand on our behalf. We wondered how the Measure CL fund-raising was doing and wanted to compare it with the funding for Measure Y in 2000.

Fortunately, Insider Junior was able to find the information we needed in the dusty musty archives of a local government office. We found a plot of contributions to Measure Y, prepared by some highly-paid, highly-pensioned Government Employee, and were able to use the information in our previous post to add the Measure CL funding as an overlay.

We show the data below.

click to enlarge

The data show that, first, Measure CL is about a month ahead of the contribution-collection profile of Measure Y, thanks solely to the two $25,000 contributions by CUSD vendors or vendor-wannabees, WLC Architects of Rancho Cucamonga and Piper Jaffray, investment bank, of Minneapolis.

We are not privy to the SupportClaremontSchools budget, but we assume that eventually school board members such as Jeff Stark, honorary campaign chairs such as John Maguire, and ballot argument signers such as Randy Prout, will be shamed into contributingg money to the cause. Perhaps they have done so already.

Let's just say with under $2,000 in contributions from Claremont by the September 30 reporting date, the Yes on CL side has lots of room to get even more $$$ from the supporters in the Claremont community.

We note that without the $25K contributions from WLC Architects and Piper Jaffray, augmented by the four and five thousand dollar payments from Stradling Yocca, Northcross Hill, and Flewelling/Moody, the take to date would be a bit anemic.

Measure Y in the year 2000 was the most expensive campaign ever conducted in Claremont, by a wide margin, with some $80,000 raised by one side alone (the proponents). This campaign is on track to exceed that total--maybe even break into six figures. We are sure TBWB Strategies, who is preparing all the campaign materials and who gets the bulk of the payments hopes that is the case.

* * * * *

*Latin: Who benefits from the bond? Answer: TBWB.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who Really Benefits?*--Part 2

Drudge Siren Pictures, Images and Photos

Measure CL Primarily Supported by Large, Out-of-Town Businesses

$66,027 Cash Raised as of September 30

  • Only $1,050-$1,577 in Claremont Contributions: 1.6% to 2.4% of Total

  • $10,000 in fees (so far) to campaign consultant Jared Boigon and TBWB Strategies

  • $1,492.52 for Cell Phones!!!

The Campaign Finance Disclosure shown below is from the SupportClaremontSchools--Yes on Measure CL group. It just came our way. We will have comments later, but we are afraid they are going to be pretty obvious: Like, uh, where is the community support?

And what are they doing with fifteen hundred dollars worth of cell phones???

And, "Who benefits?" "Cui bono?" "Cui bondo?"

Answer: The Education Mafia--Piper Jaffray, WLC Architects, Flewelling and Moody, Northross Hill Ach, and Stradling Yocca Carlson Rauth. For these big businesses, this is just a business development expense.

The teachers or even the kids? Way down the list.

Grassroots Measure CL support? Minimal. Money from bond servicing firms and public school design and building contractors? Big. Really big. Which ought to be enough to tell you these businesses are just trying to buy their way to the public feeding trough, something they've done up and down the state.

If the very people footing the bill for a ballot measure are going to profit from it, that should be enough to tell voters to think twice. These companies aren't tossing in thousands and tens of thousands of dollars out of the goodness of their hearts. They're in it for the profit motive, and that doesn't necessarily translate into good public policy or fiscal prudence.

And you can bet that if Measure CL were to pass, those same campaign contributors would look to the bond to recoup those contributions. There is a lot of discretion in the bidding process, specs can be written a certain way, etc., etc., and so on and so on...

Read committee treasurer J. Michael Fay's report below. Download it. Print it. Pass it out to a dozen friends. Everyone in town should know just where the money for the Yes on CL campaign is coming from:
CLYes460 Oct 1 2010

* * * * *
*This time the title is in English.

Cui Bondo?*

More than a half-dozen readers have pointed out that the advertisement for Measure CL that appeared in the Claremont Courier last Wednesday contains the names of numerous CUSD employees and names of many persons who are not residents of the school district.

This was uniformly jarring to our correspondents, because the heading over the "social register" list of names is: "Please Join Us and Vote Yes on Measure CL".

Uniformly our correspondents interpreted this injunction to mean that people in the list were going to vote for Measure CL and wanted the reader to join them in doing so.

Problem is: many, many of the names are of people who are not residents of the district. We were given various counts: eighteen, twenty-five, forty-one, and sixty-nine of the 168 names.

We do know that there are a couple of prominent administrators listed who don't vote in the Claremont district: Dr. Terry Nichols, the Superintendent, for one--and Mike Bateman, Executive Director of Student Services. Joe Tonan, a teacher and head of the teachers union in the district also signed on but lives outside the district. It is indisputable that another dozen or two--at minimum--don't vote in the district.

So why are their names on the list? Because they would benefit directly from the bond. As the opponents of measure CL state in their ballot argument,

Then there’s the legal requirement that bond money “not be used for teacher and administrator salaries”. The District emphasizes that. But “ANY MONEY FROM A BOND NEEDS TO GO TO SALARIES,” the Claremont Courier quoted a senior District administrator. “Before the District can spend money on other things, a certain percentage will go back to salary restoration for all the employee groups,” he added.
Forget all of the nebulous atmospherics about "high-quality education in our neighborhood schools" and "education is highly valued in our community". This measure is about money in the pockets of teachers and--make no mistake--administrators.
click to enlarge
The recent advertising for Measure CL (there have already been at least three four-color glossy mail pieces--who's paying for those?) is subtly de-emphasizing the legal requirement that no bond money be spent on teacher salaries. This is because it's hard to make that statement and at the same time make the statement that Measure CL will "help attract and retain great teachers". Even the flexible minds of the proponents and their consultant can't square that circle.

We have been told that district teachers were told to sign the ad whether or not they lived in the district. There can be no doubt that pressure is great to conform to the Measure CL party line. The pressure is being exerted by the District staff their cohort who have the power, literally, of professional life and death over all serving under them.

Perhaps the community would like to give a little bit more to the teachers, but isn't a capital bond--money that is intended to build, "furnish and equip" school facilities, with tens of millions of dollars in interest costs to muni-bond investors, the wrong way to go about it? Because of the nature of the bond, and even with the loose accounting of CUSD, only a fraction of this bond money will reach the intended beneficiaries. Even less will improve the lot of the students.

* * * * *

*Our title is in Latin. Translated, it means, "Who benefits from the Bond?"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Heard This One Before?

Former Claremont City Manager Glenn Southard (photo, left) may be settled into retirement, but he continues to cast a long shadow over the city of Indio, where Southard fled to in 2005 after it became clear his days here were numbered.

Just as was the case after he left Claremont, Southard remains a factor in Indio's politics. Southard, you'll recall, engineered a golden parachute for himself earlier this year, leaving Indio to contend with the $9 million budget deficit he left in his wake. Now he's a humble pensioner struggling to make ends meet on $255,600 a year from his CalPERS retirement plan, of which Claremont is on the hook for $131,500, according to the Daily Bulletin.

The Desert Sun reported last month that most of the candidates for Indio's November 2nd city council election are running as fast as they can from Southard's record:

During a meeting with The Desert Sun's editorial board last week, five of the six Indio council candidates distanced themselves from controversial former city manager Glenn Southard.

The only candidate expressing full support was Elaine Holmes, a local businesswoman who helped organize a half-page newspaper ad commending Southard for his work after he retired amid the credit card saga.

Maybe Holmes' support is part of the reason she's also the only candidate to get a $1,000 donation from Southard.

When he was still in Claremont, Southard never shied away from maneuvering behind the scenes in city elections. Perhaps our man Glenn is angling for a consulting gig with Indio and is just trying to ensure he has a friendly face on their council when he makes his pitch. A call to arms has been circulating Indio, and it seem that some citizens there are trying to head Southard off at the pass by removing the incumbents who supported Southard and his policies.

Strange, isn't it, that Southard somehow managed to elicit the same "throw the bums out" fervor in Indio that he did in Claremont? And, just as he did here, Southard slipped off just as things were heating up, leaving the sitting council members to take the fall for the wreckage he wrought. As a result, the Indio voters are feeling mighty chippy:

A group of concerned Indio citizens have formed a "Committee to Oppose Melanie Fesmire, Gene Gilbert and Ben Godfrey for Indio City Council, 2010". This committee wants to remind the taxpayers of Indio about the past few years of City Council issues and why everyone should vote against the incumbents.

The issues are simple: honesty, integrity, character, and leadership.

The Indio City Council has repeatedly said "we have $14 million dollars in reserves and we do not have to lay off employees". Even the public spoke out about financial concerns. The incumbents lied to us the taxpayers. They failed miserably to be honest, truthful, with integrity and show leadership.
Show up to heal the current City of Indio Council and The People we are hoping to replace them.


Date: October 19th – Tuesday, 6:00PM SCSH Club House

Bring your questions and if you have a broom Sweeping bring it to show that we want to sweep out the Incumbents

See more below the signs and make sure you pass this to everyone you know that votes in Indio. Help save our city !

What are we the voting public to make of this failed leadership?

· Are we to turn our heads?

· Are we to simply overlook the facts that they chose not to lead by example?

· Are we to settle for City Council members who are not trustworthy?

· City Council members who do not have character?

Are we to believe their word has any value?

So when you hear them say "I'm a leader with honesty and integrity", you know these are untruths and their prior actions speak louder than words. For these reasons SHOULDN'T CHARACTER MATTER?

Our group is supported by donations and we need money to purchase signs -

PHONE # 760-342-6115

The incumbents of Indio are not deserving of your vote to be re-elected.