Claremont Insider: December 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heading for the Exit

Terry Nichols Resigns as CUSD Superintendent

The Duarte Unified School District website has a crawler welcoming Dr. Terry Nichols, CUSD (lame duck) superintendent as it's new superintendent in 2011.

click image to enlarge

The Courier has this breaking news on its website, here. (link will go stale soon, but paragraph is quoted below; buy the Courier for more news)

From the Courier:

Claremont Unified School District Superintendent Terry Nichols will no longer be with the district come January. After recently submitting his resignation, Dr. Nichols was appointed as the new superintendent of the Duarte Unified School District at a special board meeting on Monday night. Duarte Unified confirmed the appointment to the COURIER on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Nichols appointed superintendent of CUSD in July 2009 after the resignation of former Superintendent David Cash earlier that year. More news as it develops.

The Contra Costa Times has picked up Wes Woods' story which fleshes out some details. There is a lot about "going home", as if Claremont was not much more than a bad vacation, a rained-out camping trip, or a deployment in Afghanistan.

Lisa Shoemaker, Claremont Unified's assistant superintendent of business services, said she was surprised by Nichols departure.

"I don't think it was something he anticipated," Shoemaker said. "I'm not sure how it went down, but it went down quickly."

We don't know if the Nichols pull-quote in the article contains any subtext below the text. You decide:

"I consider this move as going home and am very pleased," Nichols said. "It is an honor and a privilege to be working closely with the board and the community that continues to focus on student success."

Terry Nichols (standing, fourth from left)
Not feeling at home with the
Claremont Chamber of Commerce Board

Friday, December 3, 2010

Local Attorney Loses License


The California Bar Journal reports that Claremont Community Services Commissioner Stacey Matranga (photo, right) was disbarred on October 28. According to the Bar Journal's December edition:

Matranga committed 17 acts of misconduct in seven matters. Among other things, Matranga misappropriated $21,000 of client funds without any explanation for five months. She also “flagrantly breached her fiduciary duties in seven client matters,” State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn found, and she abandoned clients, did not comply with a court order, and failed to perform legal services competently, return client files, communicate with clients, promptly return client funds and account for or maintain client funds. She also she commingled funds in her trust account and committed acts of moral turpitude.

Matranga had her office in Ontario, but is a Claremont resident.

It's our understanding that the State Bar Court takes client trust account issues very seriously, and any sort of irregularity can be grounds for disciplinary action. Generally, however, the Bar is not quick to pull an attorney's license, so any first offense that results in disbarment must be a serious matter, at least to the Bar.

It appears from the State Bar's records that the combination of client fund issues, together with Matranga's failure to return client documents and files, her lack of communication with clients, and her failure to cooperate fully with the Bar's investigation led to her disbarment. As Judge Honn explained in his decision in this matter:
It is settled that an attorney-client relationship is of the highest fiduciary character and always requires utmost fidelity and fair dealing on the part of the attorney. (Beery v. State Bar (1987) 43 Cal.3d 802, 813.) In this matter, respondent had flagrantly breached her fiduciary duties in seven client matters, including failure to return unearned fees of almost $5,000 to two clients and misappropriation of more than $21,000 in five months. Such misconduct reflects a blatant disregard of professional responsibilities.

Moreover, the misappropriation of client funds is a grievous breach of an attorney’s ethical responsibilities, violates basic notions of honesty and endangers public confidence in the legal profession. In all but the most exceptional cases, it requires the imposition of the harshest discipline – disbarment. (See Grim v. State Bar, supra, 53 Cal.3d 21.)
Commission Roster; Click to Enlarge
It's always painful when something like this happens, for Matranga and her clients, and for the community as well. Matranga seems to be generally well-liked, and she hasn't really been involved in a lot of the political maneuvering that goes on in and around our City Hall.

The State Bar's website has the Bar Court's decision online or you can find it here:

Village Event for Scripps and CMC Students

We don't usually do product placements in here, but we received notice of an event that might be of interest to students at 2 of the 5Cs.

Tonight from 9pm to 11pm, the American Apparel store at the southwest corner of Indian Hill Blvd. and First St. is hosting a college night for students from Claremont McKenna and Scripps Colleges. They're offering 30% off all store merchandise, as well as $10 coupons to first 40 customers.

For details, click to enlarge

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Coming Seasons: Holiday and Election

No matter how hard we try to go gentle into that good night (and believe us, we do try), we're always compelled to start yakking again, usually after the powers-that-be start stirring things up.

Now that the Measure CL school bond has come and gone, Shelob-like they've been in their lairs licking their wounds, but rest assured, you'll see many of the old familiar faces back in action in the next City Council election, which should be hitting high gear in another month or so.

If things follow form, we'll see a number of unforeseen issues come to the fore at the next two City Council meetings. These issues will have been carefully chosen to position the insider (small "i") candidates in their campaigns. In the past we've seen things like false rumors of council members harassing city staff or the imminent threat of gravel mining rise up in the months before the election and then fade as soon as the polls close. As always, they'll use a false sense of urgency to instill fear into people - we need to act NOW or else....

We can't wait to see what surprises the next month will bring. We know this much: there will be at least two new faces on the council come next March. Incumbent Sam Pedroza is running, but Mayor Linda Elderkin is not. Peter Yao, the third council member whose term is up, had to step down after he was appointed to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Incidentally, Yao was named interim chair at the commission's first meeting yesterday.

The city council candidate pool will these people, all of whom have pulled the necessary papers but haven't filed yet:

  • Joseph Armendarez, unknown
  • Robin Haulman, former Architectural Commission chair
  • Rex Jaime, unknown
  • Citizen Michael John Keenan, man about town
  • Ed Leavell, former Human Services Commission member
  • Joseph Lyons, unknown
  • Opanyi Nasiali, former Traffic Commission member
  • Sam Pedroza, incumbent and America's Got Talent 4th Runner Up

We've got some thoughts on these folks, but we'll hold those until the race firms up. We'll be curious to see which one(s) will end up as the straw candidates the Claremonsters encourage run in order to siphon off votes from the people they don't want on the council.

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In the meantime, there's plenty going on around town, beginning with the City's tree lighting ceremony this coming Friday beginning at 5pm at the Claremont Depot (from the City's website):

Annual Holiday Promenade & Tree Lighting

The evening will include a variety of entertainment throughout the Village, as well as the following activities:
  • Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at City Hall
  • A Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Train Depot
  • An arts and crafts fair, hosted by Gypsy Sisters, in the Packing House
  • Performances by holiday carolers and the Claremont High School Chamber Singers
  • Many shops and restaurants hosting "Holiday Cheer Stops"

You won't want to miss this magical Claremont event. Please join us on Friday, December 3 from 5 - 8 p.m. at the Claremont Village Holiday Promenade and Tree Lighting. Enjoy the festive atmosphere and remember to shop Claremont this holiday season.

For more information, please call (909) 399-5490 or visit us at

They'll have a skating rink set up as well, and if you've got any old holiday lights and want to exchange them, you can do that at the tree lighting. Southern California Edison customers can bring in one strand of the old-style lights and exchange them for a strand of LED lights.

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It's also the first weekend of the month, which means the City Council will be at the Farmers Market in the Claremont Village on Sunday, December 5, between 8am and 1pm.