Claremont Insider: February 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

City Election News


Besides the story of Flyergate, last Saturday's Claremont Courier also carried to Courier's endorsements for the March 8 municipal election.

Like the Daily Bulletin, the Courier endorsed incumbent Sam Pedroza, who looked a little gaunt in his Courier photo, his weight loss apparently the by-product of a bicycling regime of one sort or another. As much as we hate to admit it, we really can't fault either paper for choosing Pedroza as one of its endorsees. We don't usually agree with him, but he gets the nod incumbents usually get absent any scandals or missteps in office.

The Courier also echoed the Bulletin in its endorsement of Opanyi Nasiali, who is running for the third time. The Courier cited Nasiali's volunteer work and his participation as a City commissioner and economic sustainability committee member. The Courier also pointed out that Nasiali worked both on the successful Johnson's Pasture Measure S bond campaign in 2006 and on the campaign against the $95 million Measure CL school bond.

While the first two picks were easy calls, the choice for the third and final seat was a tough one. Claremont 400 candidate Robin Haulman might have been the Courier's pick, but her campaign continually shot itself in the foot, with the final disgrace coming at the February 17 League of Women Voters candidate forum when Haulman's husband Alexander Sweida swiped a bunch of candidate Jay Pocock's fliers and threw them in the trash. So between her actions and her hubby's, Haulman's chances of that coveted Courier endorsement were nil.

Presuming the Courier didn't take Citizen Michael John Keenan, Joseph Armendarez, or Rex Jaime seriously, that left the Bulletin's third choice, Jay Pocock, and former Democratic State Senate candidate Joseph Lyons. The Courier went for Lyons, who because of his lack of past civic involvement has been something of a cipher. Lyons really is the a great Claremont 400 candidate, relying on them for their votes, especially from local retirement communities like Pilgrim Place, and apparently without any of his own opinions or experience in city issues to muck things up for the 400.

We'll see how the Courier and Bulletin endorsements hold up. The last three or four council elections the Courier has been the more accurate of the two newspapers, but a lot can happen between now and March 8. We await the Claremonsters' usual election eve surprise, either through a letter or ad in the Courier the Saturday before the election, or through a last minute mailer landing in the last few days of the campaign. The 400 usually tries to stir up some imagined scandal very late in the game - too late to be rebutted by their target.

As Flyergate, Pasturegate, Signgate, and Shillgate (say, they really are giving new meaning to the term "gated community") have shown in this election, the one thing we can count on is that the Claremonsters will do just about anything to win, and, much like Wile E. Coyote's schemes, their tricks often blow up in their faces.

* * * * *

Speaking of Flyergate, Courier reporter Tony Krickl has the Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" on his Courier City Beat blog. LWV president Ellen Taylor doesn't come off much better than Haulman's husband does in Krickl's post:
Further defending his actions, Sweida said he was just following the League of Women Voter's policy on negative campaign material. He asked Ellen Taylor, president of Claremont's chapter of the League, if he could remove the fliers. Taylor told him to go ahead, even though she didn't inspect the material beforehand to see if it actually contained "negative" information.

This incident is troubling from many perspectives. With his actions, Sweida has certainly embarrassed his wife and may have cost her the election. Dirty tactics like this just don't sit well with voters.

Taylor defended her decision by saying the League is anti-biased in local elections. However by approving this behavior, she showed a clear bias against Pocock. And that reflects poorly on the entire organization.

And what do other League officials think about what happened?

"It would be better to actually look at the material before making a decision on what to do with it," said Jack Mills, Vice President of the League.

Krickl also quotes Mills as saying that he is unaware of any LWV policy against negative campaigning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

City Council Meeting Tonight

The Claremont City Council meets this evening for their last session before the municipal election on March 8. The next time the council meets, it will be to have the three winning candidates sworn in on Tuesday, March 15.

The council will meet in the council chambers at 225 Second St. across from Saca's Mediterranean restaurant (you're welcome for the free product placement).

As always, you can watch the meeting here.


Tonight's council action starts with a closed session meeting beginning at 4pm. These closed session meetings typically start at around 5:15, so there may be some longer discussions involved in the three items on the closed session agenda.

The first agenda item involves undisclosed potential litigation. The second has to do with negotiations involving the Peppertree Square shopping center at the southeast corner of Indian Hill Blvd. and Arrow Hwy.

The last closed session item has to do with a lawsuit filed in Pomona Superior Court in June last year. We haven't had a chance to run down to the courthouse to review the suit, but the plaintiff is a dentist named Dan Sizemore. The case is a civil rights suit, and the defendants are the Claremont Police Department and several of its officers, the City of Claremont, and a Glendora marriage and family therapist named Ilissa Banhazi:

Case Number: KC058857

Filing Date: 06/02/2010
Case Type: Civil Rights (General Jurisdiction) Status: Pending

Future Hearings

at 08:30 am in department O at 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766 Conference-Case Management (M/STRIKE)


SIZEMORE D D.S. DR. DAN - Plaintiff

BARUCH JOEL W. ESQ. - Attorney for Plaintiff



J. TING. OFFICER - Defendant

GROSSBERG SCOTT J. - Attorney for Defendant


CAUDILL O. BRANDT - Attorney for Defendant


Tonight's regular session convenes at 6:30pm. You can see the agenda here.

There's one ceremonial matter, recognition of Jerry Tessier of Arteco Partners, developer of the Claremont Packing House and the Padua Hills Theatre; Jonathan Tolkin of The Tolkin Group, developer of the Claremont Village Expansion; and Harry Wu, developer of the Old School House and Griswold's complex.

After public comment, the meeting moves on to the consent calendar, which includes a couple items of interest:
  • The Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) for the City of Claremont and the Claremont Redevelopment Agency. This is something of particular interest this year thanks mostly to Governor Jerry Brown, who has proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies.

  • A memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Claremont Management Association, unrepresented employees, and the Claremont Employees Association.

    The MOUs lock the city into agreements that the employees will start contributing their share of their CalPERS pension payments (a total of 8% per year). The employees will start contributing 2% each year until they reach 8%. CMA safety employees (police management) will end up contributing a total of 9%, which is supposed to be their contribution.

    Currently, the employees pay nothing with the City picking up the employees' share. This proposal came out in the Mayor's Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Sustainability's recent report and has been a council campaign issue.

    Candidate Opanyi Nasiali, who was a dissenting vote on this matter while on the Mayor's committee, believes the employees' contributions shouldn't be graduated because the City can realize an immediate savings of $1.2 million per year if the employees simply switched to paying their entire contributions - something the city's waste management workers agreed to do in their contract last year.

  • Authorizing NBS Corporation to prepare the City's annual Landscaping and Lighting District (LLD) engineer's report. Always a point of contention, this. We'll undoubtedly have more on this once the report is released. We'll see if the LLD gets increased this year.

  • Request for council approval of a land acquisition agreement for the 150-acre Cuevas Property, which will be added to the Claremont Wilderness Park. The purchase price, "not to exceed $4,850,000," was negotiated by the Trust for Public Land and will be paid through two grants of $2,425,000 each from the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and from the state's Wildlife Conservation Board.

As to adminstrative items, the council will also receive and consider the City's Youth Sports Facilities Needs Assessment report, of which we'll try to have more at a later date.

There's also a police department staffing report that will disappoint some of the candidates and the police officers' union with it's assurances that the police department should be able to get along fine at its current staffing level. The police officers and some of their allies in the Claremont 400 have been working hard to put a scare into the public about understaffing as the City prepares to negotiate the CPD officers' contract.

Lastly, there's a recommendation from the Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Commission Appointments (council members Larry Schroeder and Corey Calaycay) to appoint residents Donna Lowe and Glen Hood II to the Community Services Commission.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gloria Johnston Starts as CUSD Sup: On Holiday

A friend of ours went down to the CUSD offices to greet the new Interim Superintendent, Gloria Johnston on her first day of work in Claremont, Monday February 21, 2011. Remember the opening paragraph of the press release proclaiming Johnston's hire:

The Claremont Unified School District Board of Education voted to appoint Dr. Gloria Johnston as their Interim Superintendent of Schools at their February 17, 2011, Board meeting. Dr. Johnston will begin her service on Monday, February 21, 2011, replacing Dr. Terry Nichols who will become Superintendent in Duarte.

Surprisingly, by our friend's account, the District parking lot was empty except for a lone contractor dribbling what appeared to be some kind of pesticide on the plants in the parking-lot planters. The doors to the offices were locked tight. Returning home in puzzlement, our friend realized that this was Presidents' Day and, according to the CUSD calendar, school is not in session. And there is no administration going on either.

That got us to wondering, and this is small beer, we admit, why did the Board start Johnston's contract on a holiday? Couldn't it just as easily start tomorrow? If she was in the building, according to our friend, she walked or took public transit and broke into the building.

In any event, maybe the ink isn't dry on her contract and this discrepancy, worth $874 to the District, will be adjusted.

By the way, her Facebook page indicates she is well-regarded by 78 people, but backed the wrong horse, Larry Aceves, for State Superintendent of Schools. Tom Torlakson won. That can't be too good when she needs Tom to take a call from her on some Important School Matter.

One curiosity: when you click on her "Contact" information on her FB page, you get the dreaded 403 Forbidden error. Wonder why. appears to have some access issues.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Here We Go Again

Reporter Tony Krickl has an article in yesterday's Claremont Courier that tells of a post-debate incident at last Thursday's League of Women Voters forum. Krickl's article said that Alexander Sweida, the husband of City Council candidate Robin Haulman, took about 50 fliers belonging to candidate Jay Pocock and threw them in the trash.

Not surprisingly, former Claremont mayor Ellen Taylor, a/k/a The Cookie Monster, a/k/a Queen Ellen, was centrally involved. Taylor (photo, right) is the Claremont LWV chapter president.

Krickl reported that after the LWV forum ended, Betty Crocker, who works for candidate Opanyi Nasiali's campaign, was talking to Sweida when she saw him accidentally drop "about 50 [Pocock] fliers" onto the floor. Sweida scooped up the fliers and by his own admission threw them away. Krickl quoted Crocker as saying "He looked like he got caught caught with his hand in the cookie jar," which turned out to be a apt metaphor, considering Taylor's involvement in Thursday's incident.

Krickl spoke with Sweida, who claimed he took offense to the fliers because "he felt they contained lies about his wife." The article said the part Sweida took exception to was a line that said "Haulman and [Joseph] Lyons support tax increases (DO YOU?)."

For your reference, here's a Pocock flyer insert from yesterday's Courier. It contains the exact quote cited by Krickl:

Click on Image to Enlarge

In the Courier article, Sweida defended himself by saying he checked with Taylor first and asked "if he could dispose of the material because he felt it contained negative claims about his wife." Notice that he did not used the word "lie." Taylor gave the okay, and Sweida said, "I was just complying with the League's policy on negative campaign material...."

Incredibly, Taylor, who was quoted in the Krickl article, said she didn't review Pocock's fliers before giving Sweida permission to throw them away, she just took his work and allowed him to do it.

Well, we just don't know where to start. Setting aside the First Amendment, which Taylor and the LWV apparently support only on a situational basis, from our perspective this incident simply underscores what we've said all along: The LWV is very closely aligned with certain candidates in every election, picking and choosing who wins and who loses, their hypocrisy is embodied in their actions, and anyone considered an outsider in Claremont local politics faces an unlevel playing field.

Taylor tried to claim that the local LWV is an unbiased organization, and she cited the fact that they had San Dimas resident Ruth Currie moderate the candidate forum. Taylor didn't say that this is a new development for the LWV and that during the last City election in 2009, former LWV president Barbara Musselman moderated the LWV's forum. Musselman, along with people like Katie Gerecke, another former LWV president, supports Haulman and Lyons in this election.

If nothing else, this latest incident should put to rest any idea of impartiality or credibility on the LWV's part, at least when it comes to Claremont's local issues. In this campaign, as in every Claremont city election, the LWV is very much in the corner of their chosen ones. For instance, at the beginning of the debate Thursday, Haulman was introduced as the only woman running this time. Odd how the LWV used gender as a factor to single out one of their favored candidates and overlooked race with respect to the only African-American running, Opanyi Nasiali, or Rex Jaime, the only Filipino-American in the contest. Consistency, as is usual with the LWV, is not in evidence.

Now what about Alexander Sweida's claim that the Pocock flyer contained a lie about his wife's position on taxes? We checked the video for the mid-January Active Claremont candidate forum and discovered that the very first question posed by moderator and former council member Jackie McHenry was:
Do you believe that a tax increase is necessary to address revenue shortfalls [in Claremont]? If so, what taxes do you believe should be raised?

The first two candidates to answer were Joseph Lyons and Robin Haulman. Both cited the Mayor's Committee on Economic Sustainability, and both Lyons and Haulman supported a hike in the City's utility tax. So you tell us, where's the lie in Pocock's line about Haulman and Lyons?

Here's video of Lyons and Haulman answering the tax question last month (notice how Haulman refers to her cheat sheet for her response):

Those of you out there in the real world, those outside the Claremont city limits, can see here just how crazy our local politics are. A truth refracted through the narrow lens of the Claremont 400 and the Claremont League of Women Voters becomes a lie, the perpetrator lays blame on his victim. Just as in the case of Haulman's false claims about her involvement in saving Johnson's Pasture, the truth matters not one bit.

Let's not let the Claremonsters confuse the issue. The central point in this instance is not whether a given candidate does or does not support tax increases; the heart of this matter lies in the sorry ethical behavior of those who control the reins of power and in the corresponding actions of those who would be kings and queens of this ridiculously small and silly fiefdom.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pinocchio Haulman

Robin Haulman Claims "Vigorous" Support
for 2006 Measure S.

However, Did Not Vote
in Measure S Election;
Did Not
Join Supporter List.
Statement Questioned

We received a mailer earlier this week from the Friends of the Bernard Biological Field Station. "Friends of what?", we hear you ask. It is true that the Friends have been a bit moribund in recent years. The last updates on their website seem to be from a couple of years ago--well, 2007 to be exact. We guess being a biological friend is a busy demanding time-consuming task.

It seems that what awakened the friendly Friends from stasis is the upcoming city election. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry organization in town sends a questionnaire to candidates, publicizes the candidate responses, and in some cases endorses a candidate or two. Except the Sierra Club. It reflexively endorses Sam Pedroza with no interviews, statements, muss or fuss.

You may see grave and serious candidate statements in the Claremont Heritage Newsletter. Four years ago the crisis du jour was Mining; how often have you heard about that recently? It was just enough of a hook to get Pedrozancrantz and Lindanstern elected--indifferent children of the earth, they. The leader of the mining group, we hear, after inflicting Sam and Linda on the town, sold his $3 million mansion and decamped to Laguna. We should all be so lucky.

But back to the Friends of the Bern. Bio. Fld. Sta. What caught our eye was the candidate statement by Robin Haulman. Now, we could spend a whole post just deconstructing this statement. But read it yourself. Click on the image to enlarge it.

click to enlarge

Really. When we read this to Mrs. Insider, she wondered aloud if it had been ghostwritten by Robert Burns, with the Golden Currant in full yellow bloom, the Sage luminescent, and the snowy white flowers aplenty.

Still, our pleasant pastoral reverie was snapped by a gloomy thought called up by the statement highlighted in the graphic above. We wondered, was there a White Lie in there? Did Robin Haulman really campaign vigorously for the bond measure to purchase Johnson's Pasture? We didn't think so. Couldn't remember her one way or the other. Given her, shall we say, "exotic" looks, how could we have possibly forgotten her?

So, we asked around. Nobody on the steering committee could remember her, and her name does not appear in any of the ads for Measure S. We even dug back into the Insider Archive to check. We reproduce below the ad that appeared in the Courier the week before the Measure S election in 2006. Click on it to enlarge.

click to enlarge

Three council candidates appear on the ad: Opanyi Nasiali, who got slammed by an uninformed dowager in a recent Courier who said he was against Johnson's Pasture; 180 degrees incorrect--Sam Pedroza, who made sure he was on the steering committee but didn't actually do much as we hear it, and Michael Keenan. Notable by their absence are current candidates Robin Haulman and Joe (my middle name is "Sustainability") Lyons. What's that all about? How can you say you campaigned "vigorously" for the measure and your name's not even on the list?

Now Claremont has a history of council candidates making statements that are fibs, tall tales, whoppers, misstatements, prevarications, lies, damned lies, etc., etc., usw., --and excuse us for being all judgmental, but those shadings of the truth seem to come from the Claremont 400 side. The most recent notable example being God's Gift to Claremont Bridget Healy who was caught two years ago lying about her involvement or non-involvement in the acquisition of the Wilderness Park. In that case, the unplanned and unforeseen existence of a deposition was her undoing.

Why do these people, such as Robin Haulman and Bridget Healy, have the urge to take credit for something they have nothing whatsoever to do with? Maybe Haulman, as Healy before her, thought no one would notice. But as we've said before, character is something you have when no one is looking. And statements like this show an astounding lack of character.

If you want to know the truth, Robin Haulman didn't even vote in the November 7, 2006 election where Johnson's Pasture Measure S was decided. We had to go to our political sources in County government to figure that out, and it's a little hard to show in a compact graphic, but it is a fact. You could look it up. Moreover, her voting record in City elections is only recent and is very spotty in school board elections over the past decade. She appears to have first registered to vote in Claremont in February 2003.

Her participation in statewide elections is equally checkered. She voted in the 2004 gubernatorial recall, and the primary and general in 2004, but took a pass on the two primaries in 2008 and the special ballot measure election in May 2009--as well as having passed on the November 2006 general election. She voted absentee in the June 2006 primary election, just before the property owner ballot for the ill-starred "Parks and Pasture" assessment district. Which made us wonder, did she cast a property owner ballot in that election? Claremont election wonks will remember that four years ago vanity candidate Mike Maglio claimed to have voted for the assessment district until confronted with a copy of his ballot indicating a NO vote. [note: Nothing illegal here. Assessment District property owner ballots are not elections under State law; they are not secret; the filled-out and signed ballots are subject to public disclosure.]

Asking around elsewhere, we found out that she did not participate in the property owners ballot for the "Parks and Pasture" Assessment District. There was no ballot cast, YES or NO, for her home at the time in Claraboya. Now, you'd think that someone who purports to "firmly believe that we have narrow windows of opportunity to own our hillsides and open spaces" might also have AT LEAST VOTED in this campaign, and maybe even attached her name to the Parks and Pasture supporter list. Nope. Since she voted absentee just before the 45-day balloting period that ended July 25, 2006, maybe she was out of town, in Europe or some exotic locale, missing in action, for the assessment district.

click to enlarge

We are thinking Robin Haulman's Jiminy Cricket must be having a coronary--or whatever it is that crickets have. Here you have an ostensibly credible city council candidate conveniently misstating her involvement in an issue and measure that took most of 2006 in Claremont, where the method of financing divided the town and took months and two tries to get right. Maybe she ought to get out her granny glasses--or as her campaign literature would state it, her "glamma" glasses) and read a little more carefully from her briefing book or iPad. Or maybe she, like Mr. Dooley's Supreme Court, "follows th' election returns", and wants to be on the right side of the 70 percent plurality of Claremont voters who approved Measure S.

Sorry Robin, they did it without your help.

Haulman's New, More-Truthy Brochure

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CUSD Appoints Old Hand Interim Superintendent: Litigation Magnet

Drudge Siren Pictures, Images and Photos

CUSD announced Thursday night the appointment of Gloria Johnston as Interim Superintendent. She will be paid the same money as Terry Nichols was getting--according to his contract $196,650 per annum. Shockingly, she was a consultant to the headhunter hired by the District to conduct the search.

It's just like President George W. Bush hiring Dick Cheney to find the best-qualified person to be his vice-presidential nominee and Dick Cheney coming up with, well, Dick Cheney.

click to enlarge

The press release is reproduced below (the release is not on the CUSD website as this is written Thursday night).


The Claremont Unified School District Board of Education voted to appoint Dr. Gloria Johnston as their Interim Superintendent of Schools at their February 17, 2011, Board meeting. Dr. Johnston will begin her service on Monday, February 21, 2011, replacing Dr. Terry Nichols who will become Superintendent in Duarte.

Dr. Johnston has devoted over forty years to a career in education. Her years of service in pre-kindergarten through high school education included roles as a teacher, principal and central office administrator. She retired from public education after serving twelve years as the superintendent of schools for the Banning Unified School District and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District. She subsequently served as Dean of the School of Education at National University, a private, nonprofit institute of higher learning with headquarters in San Diego, California. Dr. Johnston has worked in urban, suburban and rural school districts in Illinois, California and Caracas, Venezuela. As a coach and mentor, Dr. Johnston facilitates meetings, provides professional development for principals, central office administrators, superintendents, and school boards. The current focus of her work is on systemic strategies that lead to improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap.

Throughout her career Gloria has been an invited speaker at state and at national professional conferences, served on state and national educational and research committees, and has been awarded major professional development grants. She is coauthor of three books, Eight at the Top: A View Inside Public Education, a collection of stories about the work of school district superintendents, Effective Superintendent-School board Practices: Strategies for Developing and Maintaining Good Relationships with Your Board, and The Superintendent's Planner: A Monthly Guide and Reflective Journal.

Dr. Johnston earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago, her M.S. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and her B.S. in Humanities (magna cum laude) from Northern Illinois University. She has been living in San Diego, California, close to her two children and three grandchildren; however, Gloria will be relocating to Claremont while serving as the Interim superintendent for Claremont Unified School District.


When Johnston was Sup. of the West Contra Costa District, one of her middle school students made national news. He was brutally beaten in a school locker-room by another student and an 18-year-old non-student. There was a video that got national notice, the school district was sued, and two years later settled for the usual--an "undisclosed amount".

* * *

The vote to approve her appointment was 4 to 1, Steven Llanusa dissenting. We guess he's still not satisfied with the Thursday meeting night and would rather have Monday. Maybe she will at least get another book out of this--in addition to the lavish salary. It might contain tips on the handling of difficult board members.

Yet Another Reader Writes

We're heard talk on the street that two of the three Claremont 400 slate candidates, Joseph Lyons and Robin Haulman (Sam Pedroza is the third), have been struggling of late.

Lyons, who at the Active Claremont candidate forum admitted that he hadn't attended any city council meetings until he decided to run for council, seems lost at times when it comes to understanding the details of the issues (pensions, cuts in services, and economic development, to name a few) that the City is wrestling with. Other than environmental sustainability, which he seems genuinely interested in, Lyons has been limited to mouthing positions laid out for him by his 400 handlers (i.e., Lyons' campaign treasurer J. Michael Fay).

Haulman, as we've noted, can't even be counted on to memorize talking points and has to recite them from a script.

Given these relatively weak candidates, the 400 have resorted to their traditional dirty campaign tactics. Word comes to us from one of the eight campaigns that the 400 have spread a lie about one of the candidates being a child molester. And the 400's false information has found its way into the Claremont Courier's letters to editor:

From the Claremont Courier, 2/16/11 -

No on Opanyi, Pocock

Dear Editor:

The purchase of Johnson’s Pasture was one of the best and smartest things ever accomplished by the city of Claremont. I am very glad to learn Opanyi [Nasiali] did not get his way on that issue. A good reason to vote against Opanyi for council. As I read the literature put out by Opanyi and [Jay] Pocock, it is clear they are against everything I value about our city. I will be voting against both of them.

Dawn Sharp

We certainly hope the Dawn Sharp who penned this letter is not the same Dawn Sharp who taught history at Chaffey College, though her rewriting of Claremont history would be in keeping with the revisionist practices of Claremont 400. Note to the ironically named Sharp: Nasiali did get his way.

The information Sharp related about the Johnson's Pasture purchase is completely false. As we've remarked, Nasiali not was not only crucial to Claremont's securing Johnson's Pasture at a quarter of the cost of the assessment district the Claremont 400 had tried to force on us, but he helped build a community-wide consensus that resulted in the open space bond passing with 72% of the vote. Only in Claremont could an individual's positive contribution to the community be turned on its head.

Dawn Sharp's letter to the Courier prompted this response from one of our readers:
DATE: Wed, February 16, 2011 10:28:07 AM
SUBJECT: letter to the editor
Claremont Buzz

Check out the letter to the editor in the Courier today (Wed. the 16th)from Dawn Sharp about Opanyi. I do not know if the lady was referring to the previous letter to the editor about how Opanyi was right about so many things and when referring to his being right about Johnson’s Pasture she interpreted it as his being AGAINST Johnson’s Pasture purchase. How stupid. Opanyi was instrumental in getting the bond passed and helped get the College President’s on board. Can we now expect a letter to the editor from the members of that committee like Lissa Petersen, Jill Benton or Suzanne Thompson correcting this misperception by Mrs. Sharp? It would be nice if they did, but I am not holding my breath. Let the games begin.

We're not waiting around for a correction forthcoming from Petersen, Benton or Thompson, either. They're all either captive or party to the "mean girls" psychology that's held us hostage for the last 30-plus years. Thus does peer pressure make cowards of us all.


We received this note in response to our post from a couple days ago regarding the Claremont Police Officers Association and their preparations for contract negotiations with the City (to be filed under "Prepping the Battlefield"):

DATE: Wed, February 16, 2011 1:26:41 PM
SUBJECT: "crime scenes"
Claremont Buzz

Really smart post -- nice work connecting the dots, and a pleasure to see. I like Dieter Dammeier, and think highly of Claremont cops, and still thought you righteously nailed them to the wall on this one.

Yes, it's unfortunate that the CPD officers give residents the false choice of having to either support their contract demands or else fear for their collective safety. We don't doubt that our police work hard for their money, but let's face it, a Claremont officer doesn't face nearly the same daily challenges as, say, an officer working the LAPD's South Bureau. The CPOA needs to set aside its own selfish interests and start thinking about what sacrifices they can make rather than insisting that everyone else - their fellow non-safety employees, people who count on services provided by the City, and cash-strapped taxpayers - pay for the CPOA's every demand.

Driven by an Inland Empire unemployment rate of 13.9%, public sentiment is lurching away from support for the CPD officers refusal to pay their share of their CalPERS pension plans. Witness the Daily Bulletin's editorial on just this subject. The Bulletin noted that Claremont's Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Sustainability came to the conclusion that the status quo for the City's budget is no longer viable.

That committee report, which was released last week, recommended a 1.5% hike in the City's Utility Users Tax, from the present 5.5% to 7%. The report also called for all city employees, including police officers, to start picking up their share of the costs of their pensions. The Bulletin agreed that the employees need to pay their fair pension shares, but they disagreed with the committee's proposal to increase the utility tax:

We admire the committee's thoroughness, looking at all sorts of possible tax and fee hikes before settling on the utility users tax as the most feasible and effective. But we do not favor raising the tax in this economic climate, nor did the three council candidates we have endorsed - Sam Pedroza, Opanyi Nasiali and Jay Pocock. We doubt that voters would approve the hike.

Nasiali, one of nine members of the economic sustainability committee, was the only one to oppose any utility tax hike. He was one of two who wanted employees to pay their own share of pension costs as quickly as possible, rather than phasing the change in over four years as the majority favored. (The employee share for public safety employees is 9percent of salary, for other employees 8percent.)

Requiring employees to pay their share ASAP - or perhaps, to reduce the discomfort somewhat by requiring them to pay 4percent in 2012-13 and the full amount from the next year on - is a reasonable course of action. (Glendora has imposed such a change on its employees; Claremont sanitation workers have already agreed to pay their own full amount.)

Government agencies started picking up employees' share of pension obligations as well as paying their own employer share when times were good - but times are no longer good and, besides, such largesse never was sustainable in the long term. Better for employees to pay that share than for mounting pension costs to require more and more layoffs and reductions in service over the years.

There are two items worth noting here. First, according to the Bulletin, incumbent Sam Pedroza is opposed to a utility tax hike. So it seems unfair and hypocritical to us that Pedroza supporters, some of whom are working behind the scenes to elect a slate consisting of Pedroza, Robin Haulman, and Joseph Lyons, are lambasting Nasiali and Pocock for being similarly opposed to raising the utility tax. Second, the same Pedroza-Haulman-Lyons supporters are spreading false rumors that Nasiali wants take away employee pensions. As the Bulletin piece stated, Nasiali is simply advocating that employees pick up the eight- or nine-percent that they are supposed to be paying in the first place. And, by the way, the city would continue to pick up its share of the employee pension payments.

So any talk of a wholesale elimination of the pensions is a lie, and we urge readers to get the name of any campaign volunteer who makes such statements, along with the name of the candidate they're working for. Better yet, ask for them to commit such statements to paper or to a recording, and forward those to us for a future post.

With election day only a few weeks away, the gloves are coming off those Claremont 400 fists, and it's up to the rest of us to hold them accountable for their silly games.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

March MWD Water Plant Closure

The City's website reports that the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies about half the water to Claremont, will close its F. E. Weymouth Treatment Plant in La Verne for seismic retrofitting for 10 days in March. The MWD is asking residents to voluntarily reduce outdoor water usage during the closure.

Here's what the City's website had to say about the closure:

Residents Asked To Reduce Outdoor Water Usage March 18-27

The Metropolitan Water District has announced it will be closing its Weymouth Water Plant for repair in March. The Weymouth Water Plant is a major water treatment plant in La Verne that supplies water to 1.7 million Metropolitan Water District Customers. Claremont residents receive imported water from the plant through Three Valleys Water. Beginning March 4 the plant will reduce production of water and will stop completely from March 18 through March 27. Claremont residents are asked to reduce their outdoor water usage during the closure period. Residents should are encouraged to limit watering, hand washing vehicles, filling swimming pools, and hosing down driveways. The plant will be at full capacity by April 17, 2011.

Back when the City was still considering a municipal control of the water company, the League of Women Voters for the Claremont Area issued a report on water issues.

The report carried a useful graphic that showed how water gets to your tap in Claremont:

Click to Enlarge

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crime Scenes


From reading the local papers one would think we in Claremont are in the midst of a crime wave. The February 12 edition of the Claremont Courier carried an article about a Claremont Police Department neighborhood meeting organized by resident Jim Keith. The Courier didn't identify Keith fully - he and his wife Sue are firmly ensconced in the ranks of the Claremont 400, a/k/a the Pod People, and Sue holds the 400's seat on the Citrus College Board of Trustees.

The article, by Courier reporter Tony Krickl, said that Keith organized the meeting in response to a burglary at the Keiths' home in March 2010. It turned out that three other homes on the same street had been burglarized that same day. The article went on to say that, "According to police, nearly 30 burglaries have been reported in southwest Claremont since August."

And the upsurge in crime hasn't been confined to South Claremont. The same Courier edition had a police blotter item reporting that 17 vehicles were burglarized in North Claremont in the evening and morning hours of February 6-7.

So what gives? How is it that at a time when crime is supposed to be down nationwide, Claremont has become perp central?


We're beginning to think that at least a portion of this crime wave may be due to the confluence of the March city council election and the City's upcoming negotiations with the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA). It certainly wouldn't be the first time Claremont employees inserted themselves into an election.

Back in 2005, Preserve Claremont supporters carried on a two-pronged attack to try to prevent current council person Corey Calaycay from being election. The first goal was to go after council person Jackie McHenry, who had been elected two years earlier as a reform candidate. The second was to tie Calaycay to McHenry with the use of full-page ads in the Courier, public comment at council meetings, and letters to the editors of the local newspapers.

Then-City Manager Glenn Southard (photo, right) and some of his senior staff, including Southard's Assistant City Manager Bridget Healy, worked behind the scenes to feed information to the PCers, which they then used to publicly pressure McHenry, as well as Calaycay's campaign. In January, 2005, in the middle of the municipal election season, four of the City's employee unions submitted a joint, written complaint against McHenry, whom Southard had accused of harassing employees, thereby creating a hostile work environment. The employee complaint was, of course, run as an ad in the Courier.

It's important to note that all the details in the complaint were based on hearsay, and none were ever substantiated. Southard tried to have McHenry censured, but he backed off when it became clear that there was a chance of a real, independent investigation into the charges. Not coincidentally, two of the four employee unions that signed onto the joint complaint against McHenry happened to be in contract negotiations with Southard and the City.


So, given the community's fairly recent experience with city employees and election games, when we see some of the same PCers, including the now-retired Bridget Healy, stoking fears of a crime wave driven by staff reductions caused by budget constraints, we have to at least take a second look.

Healy's friend and supporter Barbara Musselman has been among those who've complained about current City Manager Jeff Parker's cuts, which she and former council member Sandy Baldonado claim were one of the driving reasons behind CPD Chief Paul Cooper's applying to Glendora for their top cop job.

A number of the same people and their present candidate of choice, Robin Haulman, have claimed that we've rolled back police staffing to 1984 levels. They neglect to tell us that crime has also rolled back, at least according to last year's CPD stats, and Part I crimes (violent crimes and property crimes) dropped 23% between 2008 and 2009. We'll have to wait until March to see what the 2010 crime numbers look like.

Healy, et. al., also don't like to tell us that, while police staffing has dropped to 1984 levels, the costs of safety employees' have soared, in part due to overly generous pension benefits (3% at 50) for which Healy and Baldonado are responsible.

All of this leaves City Manager Parker in an awkward negotiating position with regards to the CPOA's contract. Because of the state of the economy, as well as Sacramento threat to go after redevelopment agencies, the City has to watch every penny, and Parker will need to take a hard line with the police union. But, at the same time, he has people like Healy and Musselman undercutting him by trying to frighten residents with talk about the allegedly weakened state of Claremont's PD.

If the public pressure gets great enough and if Healy and Musselman get a majority on the council that they can control, then Parker will have to roll over for the police union.


Claremont Police Officers Association counsel and former CPD officer Dieter Dammeier

And where, exactly, does the CPOA fit into all of these machinations?

More than one reader has pointed us to the website of the CPOA's counsel, Upland attorney and former CPD officer Dieter Dammeier, whose office is in Upland. Dammeier (photo, above) has apparently carved out a niche as a public safety employee contract negotiator.

Dammeier's website makes it clear that to have the strongest negotiating positions, police unions need to pursue a political strategy, as well as a kind of public relations program to shape (skew?) public perception about their safety. It's the sort of fear-based strategy that the Claremont 400 and their political arm, Preserve Claremont, love to use.

The attorney's website has posted a blueprint for dealing with stalled contract negotiations that states:
The association should be like a quiet giant in the position of, "do as I ask and don't piss me off." Depending on the circumstances surrounding the negotiations impasse, there are various tools available to an association to put political pressure on the decision makers.

Public Message

Always keep this in mind. The public could care less about your pay, medical coverage and pension plan. All they want to know is "what is in it for them." Any public positions or statements by the association should always keep that focus. The message should always be public safety first. You do not want wage increases for yourselves, but simply to attract better qualified candidates and to keep more experienced officers from leaving.
Storm City Council - While an association is at impasse, no city council or governing board meeting should take place where members of your association and the public aren't present publicly chastising them for their lack of concern for public safety.

Here the CPOA have the advantage of being able to have civilians like Sandy Baldonado or Barbara Musselman do the chastising. Dammeier's negotiation training materials go on to say:
Press Conferences - Every high profile crime that takes place should result in the association's uproar at the governing body for not having enough officers on the street, which could have avoided the incident.

The website counsels police unions to take more time to complete their activities (this would generate concerns or complaints about lowered response times and reinforce concerns about public safety):
Work Slowdown - This involves informing your members to comply closely with Department policy and obey all speed limits. It also involves having members do thorough investigations, such as canvassing the entire neighborhood when taking a 459 report and asking for a back-up unit on most calls. Of course, exercising officer discretion in not issuing citations and making arrests is also encouraged.

And Dammeier tells his clients to get involved in local elections:
Campaigning - If any members of the governing body are up for election, the association should begin actively campaigning against them, again for their lack of concern over public safety. If you are in a non-election year, make political flyers which you can explain will be mailed out the following year during the election season.

In the present election, the CPOA is using its influence to try to undermine any candidate who might support an attempt by City Manager Parker to negotiate a CPOA contract that would rein in police salaries and pensions.

The website also says police employees should remember to get their message out, even if they have to pay for newspaper space:
Newspaper Ads - Again, keep the message focused on "public safety."

All of which places the CPOA's activities in proper perspective. The February 12 Courier also carried a small CPOA ad endorsing three city council candidates: Robin Haulman, Joseph Lyons, and Sam Pedroza:

Click on Image to Enlarge

We can't help but think how nice it would be if we got to hire our own bosses. Who wouldn't go for a deal like that? We rail against businesses that try to influence elections by supporting candidates, so how is this any different? In dealing with contract issues, we want council people who are impartial, not ones beholden to or afraid of their employees.

The ad raises some big conflict of interest concerns for the three chosen ones. When it comes down to the CPOA's contract negotiations later this year, if elected, would Haulman, Lyons and Pedroza place the CPOA's wants above the City's fiscal well-being?

But, as we say, none of this is new to Claremont. The lines between employer and employee get blurred constantly, and the Claremont 400 ideal is a kind of vertical integration of council and staff, hence their desire to have Bridget Healy on the council or to have a native Claremonter like Paul Cooper running the police department. They fail to see the need to have checks and balances built into the system and want staff, council and commissions to be one, with the result that dissenting voices and ideas are disregarded, poor decisions get made and staff are vulnerable to pressure from the 400.

The 400 wants us to forget the past, but one must look in the rear view mirror once in while to avoid the kind of costly and divisive crises we've had before.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ghoul That Stole the Fourth of July

Proclaim Liberty throughout All the Land
unto All the Inhabitants thereof*

If you want to have a festive Fourth in Claremont this year, you'd best hang on to the red, white and blue Robin Haulman brochures and flyers coming your way. We reproduce one, right, so you can at least have something to wave around in Claremont on the Fourth of July.

It seems as if Robin Haulman came out against Claremont's celebration of the Fourth at the Active Claremont candidates forum. This caused enough consternation in town that Charles Gale, this year's Chair of the Fourth of July Celebration, saw fit to come to the City Council a few days ago and bemoan becoming a political football (see the 2:39:25 mark of the video here).

If Robin H. is elected to Council and has her way, the brazen proclamatory peals, bright sparklers, and crackling fireworks of the traditional Fourth will be replaced by the flat claps of Edgar Allan Poe's iron bells**:
Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their queen it is who tolls;
And she rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And her merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And she dances, and she yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As she knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

"A glory in so rolling on the human heart a stone..."

* * * * *
*Leviticus 25:10
**Apologies to Poe for gender-shifting his ghoul king

Smogdance Film Fest at the Fox

We almost forgot, but the Smogdance Film Society is holding their annual film festival today at the Pomona Fox Theatre beginning at noon. Tickets are $5.

The Smogdance fest returns to the Fox after using the Claremont Laemmle for last year's event. You may recall there was a bit of power struggle connected to Smogdance. Pomona's dA Center for the Arts accused former festival director Charlotte Cousins of hijacking the event.

Cousins is out of the picture now, and the dA is back in charge.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dept. of Freudian Slips


We received a number of responses to yesterday's post on the campaign shenanigans of Rudy Mann and Zephyr Tate-Mann. Our minds must have been on the proposed changes in the dog-walking rules at Padua Park when we were composing Friday's bit.

From the mailbag (or dootiebag, as the case may be):

DATE: Fri, February 11, 2011 10:36:00 AM
SUBJECT: Don't be The Courier
TO: Claremont Buzz

Hi Buzz -

You’ll probably want to edit today’s post (or at least clarify what the Manns are actually doing while they walk):

We hear, but haven't been able to confirm, that the Manns and company will be out walking in two sh*ts from 10:30am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 3:30pm, so keep your eyes peeled.

* * * * *
DATE: Fri, February 11, 2011 10:32:53 AM
SUBJECT: Freudian Slip or Precision in Reporting?
TO: Claremont Buzz

For local politics I like the Insider. You usually hit the nail on the head. But I almost spilled my coffee when I read the following quote:

"We hear, but haven't been able to confirm, that the Manns and company will be out walking in two sh*ts from 10:30am to 12:30pm..."

I would like to see that, although I probably would hold my nose. Keep up the good work.

And there were a few more along the same lines.

All we can say is, "Guilty as charged." Forgive the flub and thanks, readers, for pointing out the slip. The Courier, unlike the Insider, is a professional operation, so we strongly doubt that such gross errors (sorry) ever make it to their newsstands.

We at the Insider aren't quite in the same league as Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the English royal printers who were responsible for the so-called Wicked Bible. Ah, but a blogger's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Blogspot for?

* * * * *

I knew the tyme when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the beste, but now the paper is nought, the composers boyes, and the correctors unlearned.

- George Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury

Around Town (and Pomona, too)


The Claremont City Council will hold another neighborhood forum Tuesday night in the Claremont Public Library. We're not quite sure which two members will represent the council. Since it's the Village, we'll go out on a limb and guess Linda Elderkin and Sam Pedroza.

Here's the info listed on the City's website:

City Council Neighborhood Forum - Claremont Public Library

6:30 - 8:00 PM
208 Harvard Avenue
(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.


The Parks and Facilities Committee of the City's Community Services Commission will meet 6:00pm Wednesday, February 15, for a special meeting at the Community Services Department at 1616 N. Monte Vista Ave.

According to the agenda The committee will discuss a recommendation to the Community Services Commission to amend the City's Municipal Code to allow police to enforce park closures and to allow on-lease dog walking on the Padua Park trail.

Let's hope this doesn't lead to the sort of brouhaha at Padua Park that has happened in the past at the Pooch Park off College Ave.


If you're an opera buff, you can catch Pomona's Repertory Opera Company this afternoon at the First Christian Church at 1751 N. Park Ave., where they are staging a production of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. Admission is $30.

Click here for more information.


Also, don't forget that it's the second Saturday of the month, which means it's time for the Pomona Art Walk from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Pomona Arts Colony.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On the Campaign Trail


The Daily Bulletin came out with its endorsements earlier this week, and there was at least one surprise.

As expected, Sam Pedroza made the cut, which we would expect given that he's the incumbent, and the local papers generally defer the such. Also, Sam's brought home plenty of Sacramento pork in the form of three large grants totaling several million dollars from the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (more of which in a future post). So Sam's done Claremont's part to both save and destroy the environment while at the same time contributing to California's $25 billion budget deficit.

The Bulletin also endorsed Opanyi Nasiali, which was a mild surprise, seeing that the Claremont 400 have never liked him because he's not their black man. Ever since the Irvin Landrum shooting in 1999, the 400 have been all for supporting African-Americans (have we dropped the hyphen? - we can't keep it straight). Nasiali's both African and self-made American, but that seems to irk the 400 to no end and also, for some reason, the local Democratic Club, who are apparently desperate enough to have their volunteers running around generating complaints while putting up Pedroza and Robin Haulman signs.

Nasiali, by the way, is living proof that no good deed goes unpunished. In 2006, Nasiali argued successfully against the $45 million or so Parks and Pasture Assessment District, saying that it was wasteful and that a more limited general obligation bond would be a better way to go. To prove his point, after the assessment lost 56% to 44%, he turned around and helped lead the successful Measure S campaign, which ended up winning 72% of the vote. Nasiali also convinced the Claremont College presidents to agree to allow the colleges to waive their non-profit status under the bond, which lowered the overall Measure S tax burden to individual property owners. The 400, hypocrites that they are, ignored Nasiali's key contributions in building a true community consensus on the Johnson's Pasture issue and worked actively to defeat him in the 2007 council election.

Lastly, the Bulletin endosed newcomer Jay Pocock, who (with Nasiali) helped lead the No on CL campaign against the Claremont Unified School District's $95 million school bond. That measure lost 60% to 40% and was eerily similar to the Parks and Pasture/Measure S campaigns in that the No side argued, again successfully, that there was a better way help the schools. Sore losers that they are, the CUSD school board and the Claremont 400 are aiming for payback in the city council election. Still, the Bulletin went for Pocock over Haulman, the 400's candidate of choice, for the last of the three seats up for this election.


And word comes to us from another candidate, Citizen Michael John Keenan (image, left), that the Claremont Forum, which also sponsors Claremont's Sunday Farmers Market, will be the site of a Keenan campaign even tonight from 7pm to 9pm, so says CMJK:

Bill McClellan has agreed to play some of the folk like-struggle-getting-to-the top inspirational acoustic music. Some buddies may sit in too! Find Bill at or

There will be a table of Trader Joes fare and a table of Trader Joes drinks. Definitely a Sangria and an Ale selection. Tea, Coffee and Juices for the ineligible imbibers should they show up.
The Claremont Forum is located at 586 W. First St. in the Claremont Packing House.

* * * * *

Oddly, in this council race the Claremont Democratic Club is not supporting Keenan, who is a registered Democrat, nor are they supporting another Dem, Joseph Armendarez. As we've said, they are actively campaigning for Haulman, Pedroza, and candidate Joseph Lyons, who admitted at last month's Active Claremont forum that he had never attended a City Council meeting before deciding to run in this election and who has never really been involved at all on local issues.

To be fair to the Democratic Club, Joe Armendarez has been similarly disinterested in Claremont issues, at least for the past 10 years or more. Keenan, however, has been very active in nearly every important Claremont issue for at least the last dozen years, and he has probably attended more City Council and city commission meetings than Haulman and Pedroza put together. So the lack of support for him from the local Dems puzzles us, since they claim to not endorse any single candidate and say they're merely trying to support the Democrats running for council. Based on his community involvement, Keenan deserves the club's support as much as Pedroza or Haulman and certainly has earned it more than Lyons, who may be a nice guy but who seems lost when it comes to what's happening locally.

If you want to ask the club or their president, Zephyr Tate-Mann, about this, you can take it up with them this weekend. Our friends within the Democratic Club who aren't happy with the direction the club's taken, have told us the club will be precinct walking tomorrow for Haulman, Pedroza and Lyons. A special Insider shout-out to any reader who forwards a photo of Zephyr or her hubby Rudy on one of their walks! Rudy, who hails from Louisiana, brings his own muddy bayou brand of electioneering to Claremont. Rudy runs every local issue through the narrow prism of his party politics rather than any out of any sense of community interest or fairness.

We hear, but haven't been able to confirm, that the Manns and company will be out walking in two shifts from 10:30am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 3:30pm, so keep your eyes peeled. You can start watching for them at the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Local 1428 hall at 705 W. Arrow Hwy., where they'll assemble before their morning and afternoon walks.

We understand that the Manns and the Democratic Club will also be phone banking. (A special Insider award to whomever can forward us a digital recording of one of these calls.) If you like what you see and hear from them, or if you want to complain, you can reach them at the club's phone number, (909) 632-1516, or you can contact Zephyr at (909) 626-2858, which is the contact number listed by the party for her here.

We'd give you the same information for the local Republican club, but they seem to be sitting this one as an organization, apparently because it's supposed to be a non-partisan race.