Sorry Rosemead

I was reviewing a staff report for Rosemead’s city council meeting when I came across my name. It looks like each time I call the Rosemead City Attorney Bonifacio Garcia, it comes at a cost. I’m feeling a little guilty now, knowing that my actions come to a $714 cost to Rosemead residents.

Here’s how it broke down

Date             Description                                                                     Hours        Charge
4/11/2007      Phone conference regarding records request by Trib                 1.6           $336
7/20/2007      Phone conference with Trib reporter re: Brown Act violation       0.3           $63
8/22/2007      Phone conference with Jennifer McLain re: Mazone matter       0.6            $126
10/10/2007    Phone conference with Jennifer McLain re: Gary Taylor’s           0.9            $189
                            recommendation to the Grand Jury

Former mayor calls the cops

I got a call this morning about an incident that happened over the weekend at former La Puente Mayor Lou Perez house.
Apparently, the cops were called. But deputies with the sheriffs department Industry station found no criminal conduct, so no arrests were made and no police report was filed, sheriffs Sgt. Gerard Velona said.

Heres Perez side of the story:
My daughter was here causing some problems and so forth. She didnt want to leave. It was a family gathering.
Perez said he called the police on his daughter because she was causing a ruckus: Shes always off the handle anyway, he said.

All’s well that ends well.

Water woes

My story today looking at some area water districts is only the first layer of this big onion.

Two local water officials have incurred more than $170,000 in district expenses over two years for meetings and travel expenses, records show.

Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District board President Leon Garcia was paid $82,769 from July 2005 to July 2007 in meetings and travel. Expenses include a six-day trip to Hawaii and $1,155 for a stay at the Disneyland Hotel, 26 miles from Garcia’s home.


4673-Willard Murray.jpg

Willard Murray, director at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California was paid close to $90,000 in two years for attending meetings and for travel expenses that included a trip to Mexico City.

Both board members’ expenses are within their districts’ policies.

Garcia’s and Murray’s expenses stand out in a records review of 12 local water districts and 60 board members, but their expenses represent only a portion of the nearly $1.6million paid to directors for board meetings and travel among the 12 districts, which provide water throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County.

I’ve already received a couple of calls this morning, asking whether I looked into other water districts. The truth is that when I started this story nearly three months ago, I thought that I was getting most if not all of the water districts, suppliers, and retailers in the San Gabriel Valley. But I soon realized there are many more than the 12 district that I came up with.

Hopefully, the story will bring on many more follow up stories. I welcome your comments and any direction you think that stories in the future could take.

FOLLOW-UP: And the previous post about the “Elected official does not want to be bothered” was about Leon Garcia. But if you notice, Garcia already said that was him in the comments section of that post.


Let’s get green


It feels like everyone is jumping on the Go Green bandwagon.

Star-News reporter Robert Hong reports about the city of San Gabriel adding three hybrids to their fleet of city vehicles. The cars – two Ford Escape hybrids and a Toyota Highlander hybrid – cost the city $83,000.

Its all part of a bid by officials to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles whenever possible.

Read on here.

Tribune supplements

We’ve made reference before to Covina’s For the Record page – a spot on the city’s Web site where Covina officials make “corrections” to stories in the press. Mostly, they call out reporters from the Tribune. Sometimes they say we got the facts wrong. Other times, they offer supplemental information they feel will help residents be more informed.

A recent example stems from a February letter to the editor about the effects of Proposition 1-A on Covina. City Manager Paul Phillips sent this to our editors after that letter ran. Looks like they call out readers sometimes too.

Response to Letter to the Editor

Regarding City revenues are up letter of February 11, 2008, the author provides partial facts, but does not include complete and very important information. Readers interested in facts rather than skewed opinions have many ways to verify the information regarding the real impact of Proposition 1-A, passed by the voters in 2004, including independent web sites and numerous articles from newspapers all over the State. While the passage of this proposition was intended to prevent the State from continuing its practice of taking money from local governments to meet its other obligations, it does not reverse the previous actions that have taken a cumulative total of more than $17.8 million from Covina and shifted the money to Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF) to help the State meet their Proposition 98 mandated school funding levels. This money has not been returned and is still being taken. Check with the local school districts’ budgets and you will see that they are still relying on and collecting this ERAF money. Before the passage of proposition 1-A Covina received only 16% of the property tax dollar. After the passage, the same is true. What will happen this year with the State facing a $14 billion shortfall? Stay tuned! A Fiscal Emergency (one element needed in the complicated formula by which the State can maneuver around provisions of Prop 1-A) has already been proclaimed on January 10, 2008.

I’ve never seen any other city work so hard to save face in the paper. What do you think? Are these helpful tidbits of supplemental information that provide the REAL story? Or are these stabs at damage control?

Blueprints for Hacienda

Reporter Amanda Baumfeld wrote a story in today’s paper about a community meeting Wednesday in Hacienda Heights that will address the area’s master plan. Apparently, the plan – which essentially serves as a developmental blueprint for the area – hasn’t been updated in 30 years.

More than 60,000 people reside in Hacienda Heights. The population is expected to exceed 70,000 by the year 2010, according to Southern California Association of Governments.

The original plan was adopted in 1978 and contains policies on transportation, environmental resources, housing and noise. It is the oldest plan in the county.

You would think with population in the SGV having grown steadily, the county would have thought about updating the plan a decade ago.

Better late than never I guess.

Political mug shots

Youve heard about em. Now you can actually see em!

Looks like web masters in La Puente have finally uploaded photos of council members Nadia Mendoza and Dan Holloway up on the Web site. They were elected to office in November.
Also, John Solis, Louie Lujan and Lola Storing have updated their mugs.

Go ahead, take a look. You know you want to keep an eye on them.

Budget woes


Brace yourselves people. Millions of dollars in state moneys are on the chopping block.
Star-News reporter Fred Ortega looks at the effect these budget cuts will have on local schools and cities.

Officials are being cautious about the prospect of layoffs at district levels, and the impact a hiring freeze in state agencies is going to have on residents. We’ll see what happens.