All these stories about council members and traveling has prompted me to take a vacation of my own. But unlike some of our elected officials, my trip is not paid for by tax payer’s money.

Nope, this family vacation to Hawaii is paid for my parents.

I’ll back at work on Jan. 7. In the meantime, look for posts by reporter Tania Chatila.

What’s in a name?

Covering City Hall can be boring. (Gasp). It’s usually in that third hour during the meeting that I have my hand on my head, am slumped over, and remember, after looking at my doodles, why I never pursued my “artistic side” (because it doesn’t exist).
And that’s when I start looking around the Council Chambers, for any detail that will let my mind wander as a councilman wraps up his 20 minute speech on, well, probably nothing.
So in my last council meeting, I got to thinking: Who comes up with the mottos at City Hall?

In Rosemead, it’s “Where City Pride is Justified.” No comment.
In Irwindale, it’s “El Jardin de Roca.” It does sound a lot better than Garden of Rock.
In El Monte, it’s “Friendly El Monte” and “The end of the Sante Fe Trail.” Haha. Who wants to be the end of anything?
In Baldwin Park, it’s “Hub of the San Gabriel Valley.” I can think a lot of things Bolen Parque is hub of, and that’s not one of them.
In West Covina, it’s “Headquarters of the San Gabriel Valley.” I wonder what the difference is between hub and headquarters.

What’s your city’s motto? Better,yet, what should your city’s motto be?

Rowland Heights and cityhood

Bethania Palma reports that a group of strong-willed residents are pushing for cityhood in Rowland Heights, which has not yet seen an election to incorporate.

My gut tells me that they won’t be able to get the support they are looking for. After all, next-door neighboor Hacienda Heights tried and failed in 2003 to get incorporated.

Rowland Heights is a community of nearly 48,000. The Rowland Heights Coomunity Coordinating Council – the closest they have to a City Council meeting – meets once a month, and usually attracts between 50 and 75 people. They are hoping that if they can incorporate, Rowland Heights could get a handle on development in its own city as well as have a stronger voice in developments in neighboring cities.

But it seems they will have a hard time convincing people that this won’t hit the pockets.

An underlying theme — whether it’s right or wrong, I can’t say — in many communities is change is bad, and I doubt that the community activists will be successful in getting support for their cause, even if the ends would be better.

What’s the point of a badge, anyway?

La Verne, along with other cities in the SGV and the state, is following a state opinion that dissuades police departments from issuing badges to their city council members,
Tania Chatila reports.

But what I don’t get is why a council member needs a badge. Some city officials said it is for ceremonial purposes, and others said it is for security reasons. For example, if the city is under attack and the council member needs to go to a command post to lead the city through the crisis, the council member would then flash the badge. But come on. You’re a city council member. I’m sure a card and license would be enough.

Sex sting nets 9 in Rosemead

I just got back from a two-day prostitution sting covering the cities of Rosemead, Monrovia, Arcadia, Alhambra, Pasadena, Monterey Park and San Gabriel. I haven’t made any calls yet, but it sure will be interesting to hear what the council members have to say about prostitution, human trafficking and brothels in their cities.

Arrest totals by city (not final):
Rosemead: 9
Monrovia: 3
unincorporated Pasadena: 6
Pasadena: 5
San Gabriel: 4
unincorporated San Gabriel: 1
Monterey Park: 2
Alhambra: 4
Arcadia: 2

City clerk announcement

Rosemead City Council picked a new city clerk Tuesday night out of 15 applicants. Gloria Molleda was unaimously chosen by the council members.

The other applicants were: Margarita Macias, Marianna Amirkhanyan, Florina Arroya, Valerie Guzman, Dale LaCaselle, Kitty Lam, Ana Maria Lara, Sarah Lo, Jackie Nutting, Lisa Ramirez, Roselle Rios, Beatriz Torres, Lannie Tran and Jessica Duban.

The only problem with the meeting: The doors to get inside City Hall were locked. I just happened to stumble in City Hall by catching the eye of some poor employee and begging him to let me in. When the meeting reconvened from a closed door meeting to an open door meeting, staff members said they checked and saw no members of the public there. I wonder if they unlocked the door and poked their heads to look outside in the pouring rain.

But I’m sure no one was there. After all, who really cares about a city clerk, other than the annoying people – such as myself – who make repeated records requests.

Go ahead, take the week off

I am reminded weekly of the perks of being a city employee.

In Rosemead, for example, city employees will get a week-long vacation. Instead of just having Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off, they will be off from noon on Dec. 24 and reopen on Jan. 2. As if squeezing out stories for the paper during the holidays wasn’t hard enough.

But even without the holidays, we have to deal with the 4-10 workweek and need to remember that cities are closed on Friday. I can’t tell you how bad it screws up reporters when we are planning for the week, scramble for our story for the weekend, and then it hits us: “Crap! My city is closed on Friday.”

It must be nice. I would love to skip out on Fridays. Sure, you’d have to spend 10 hours a day at work, but come on, it’s not like many of us don’t do that already. I’ve always wondered whether employees on theat 4-10 schedule really stay until the end of their day. There have been many a time when I call at 4 p.m. only to find out that the person I am looking for has “left early for the day.”

Late night council meetings

Anyone who has ever attended a council meeting knows how excruciating they can be, especially in that third, fourth, and fifth hour. But when I heard that a South El Monte City Council meeting went until 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, I felt happy that I chose to cover the Rosemead meeting instead (that only lasted until 11 p.m.)

Some city council’s have informal time limits. In Monterey Park, former Mayor David Lau was adament about stopping the meetings at 11 p.m. It seems that it is a wise thing to do. Sure, the city council has work to be done and sometimes hefty agendas. But going that late poses a couple of problems. First off, what member of the public in their right mind is going to stick around until even midnight? Secondly, who really makes their best decisions at 3 a.m.?

Since I wasn’t at the South El Monte meeting, I don’t know what state the council members and city staff were in. But my hunch is they operated similarly to me at that hour – tired and slightly incoherent. And the decisions I make at that hour usually only affect me and my late night cravings, not the entire population of a city.

I’m back…

I know, I know. It’s been awhile since my last post. The good news is that I am back and have more cities to report on. The bad news is that a lot has happened since disappearing from the blog – complaints to the District Attorney’s office regarding travel expenses in South El Monte and Irwindale, Edward Roski’s interest in bringing a football stadium to Industry and new elected officials throughout the SGV.

Consider me officially back from my hiatus…