County pays out for info on crimes

We often read about rewards being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for certain murders and other crimes, but rarely do we read that those rewards have been doled out.

Well, believe it or not, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be distributing two separate $10,000 rewards this week paid to the individuals who provided information that led to the conviction of those responsible for:

–The assault of a Rowland Unified School District police officer while he was investigating a school burglary at Jellick Elementary School in Rowland Heights on August 15, 2006

–To the individuals who provided information to law enforcement that led to the conviction of Tonya Shaefer, the person responsible for the death of a newborn baby girl whose body was found on March 11, 2006, along the railroad tracks in the City of Alhambra.

Former councilman gets eight years in state prison

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This is out of our coverage area, but of public interest nonetheless:

Former Gardena City Councilman Oscar Medrano was sentenced to eight years in state prison to child molestation and continuous sexual abuse of a minor.

He pleaded no contest.

Medrano served on the Gardena city council from March 2003 until he resigned March 11. (Some cities lag when it comes to pulling the bios off the Web sites when council members move on from their seats, but not in Gardena’s case.)

The victim was molested on a regular basis beginning when she was nine years old. The molestation started in 1999 and continued through 2006, according to the District Attorney’s office. Read more.

The price of informing the public

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Fred Sykes, a retired sheriff’s deputy who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the West Covina City Council, questioned the council at the last meeting how it can afford keep paying for a public information officer and monthly city newsletter, Discover West Covina, yet halt the broadcasting of its council meetings online and on TV.

The decision came at a time when the city is facing a nearly $2 million deficit.

The cost savings associated with stopping the broadcasts is $150,000. I will be sending off a request later today asking how much it costs to publish the newsletter.

What do you think is more important?

A city newsletter or the access to watching the council meetings online and on the television?

Be honest. Who has actually watched those meetings online or on TV?

El Monte business

This week, there are two meetings in El Monte this week.

On Tuesday, the City Council will host its regular council meeting. Appearing on the agenda is the “Administrative Summary: Sister City Dinner/Dance May 3.” What does that mean? They will be talking about the “investigative report” prepared to look into the alleged actions of Mayor Ernie Gutierrez.

Councilwoman Pat Wallach requested the item be placed on the agenda.

On Wednesday, the council will host a special meeting for a budget workshop. The workshop is at 5:30 p.m.

This week in West Covina

Big League Dreams, Artie Fields, sewer rate hikes and a water conservation plan are all on schedule for this week’s City Council meeting.

Big League Dreams: There will be a presentation about the statistics from the sports complex, Big League Dreams. Also, the city will vote against a round of bids turned in for the last phase of the complex for the 18-hole golf course and maintenance. The proposed bids were as much as $32 million.

Artie Fields: The assistant city manager, who has worked with the city for nearly 10 years, will be leaving West Covina to take a job as city manager in Salinas. On Tuesday, he will be presented with a commendation. Colleagues of Fields have nothing but glowing things to say about him.

Sewer fee increases: There is a proposed 18 percent increase in sewer rates, which comes out to a nearly $7 a month increase per household. The city sent out letters to nearly 24,000 homes, informing property owners about the increase. Only one person wrote a letter in protest. The increase in rates is not unusual. El Monte just voted on sewer rates at its last council meeting.

Water conservation plan: The State Department of Water Resources declared that drought conditions exist in the state, and Southern California’s largest imported water supplier has been calling on its customers to develop a water conservation plan. So, West Covina has come up with a plan that calls on residents to voluntary reduce their water consumption. And if they don’t, they could be cited.

The Council meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Old building to get new life

A health care facility designed to help low income immigrants will soon have a facility in Alhambra that will serve nearly 9,000 people a year. The building is a national and state historic site, and is right off of Valley. Read more.

ALHAMBRA – A former county health center that has been boarded up for nearly a decade will reopen to offer low-cost care in the West San Gabriel Valley.

The Board of Supervisors last week approved a 40-year lease agreement with Los Angeles-based Chinatown Service Center. The center provides health care to thousands of low-income residents from the San Gabriel Valley.

“We long recognized that with all of our clients in the San Gabriel Valley, we need to make our services more accessible,” said Lawrence Lue, chief executive officer of the Chinatown Service Center. “Having them drive to Chinatown is just not convenient.”

The new site, which will be at 612 W. Shorb St., is expected to open in two years. It will serve nearly 9,000 residents annually.

Corona gets dissed

I got this e-mail from a reader about Baldwin Park School Board member Sergio Corona’s most recent absence from a school board meeting…..

It amazes me that the superintendent seemed like it was ok that Mr. Corona had missed two board meetings in a row….

1. The board excused him for his May absence calling it DUE TO ILLNESS. Since when is being arrested and embarrassed to see the public an illness.

2. You should ask for his attendence record at school board meetings from Sept. 2007- June 2008…he would attend one, miss one, attend one, miss one… it was cronic.

3. It amazes me that Mr. Corona thought anyone would take his “rebuttal” to the Tribune articles in the BP Neighborhood News seriously.

Leftovers column…

Here’s monday’s Leftovers column. This week we chose to look at the criticism surrounding Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke’s support of two of his son’s friends in a case where a reserve deputy’s gun and vehicle were stolen.

I have to say, when I called Beilke Friday to talk about the issue, he was less than pleased that we — like other news outlets, according to him — were getting this all wrong by focusing on tagging. Well, the two he’s supporting are alleged taggers … but that’s another story, I guess.

Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke said Friday he is “absolutely, positively in no way in support of taggers.”
But he supports 19-year-old Miguel Perez and 24-year-old Ivan De Jesus Marquez, who Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators believe are members of the “Pico Drunk Punx,” a Pico Rivera tagging crew.
The two are suspected in a case where a reserve deputy’s .45-caliber revolver and vehicle were stolen.
They are also employees at Beilke’s Wienerschnitzel and friends of Beilke’s 17-year-old son who was originally detained by deputies in the case, but wasn’t charged.

“I’m as confused as anyone as to why this has turned into a tagging story,” Beilke said. “They are not being charged with any tagging crime.”
Beilke’s right. The two face charges of receiving stolen property — namely, the gun — charges Beilke thinks will eventually go away.
But some of Beilke’s colleagues are concerned with the fact that Beilke is “throwing his weight” behind these alleged taggers, even if the case has nothing to do with tagging.

“It doesn’t look good for the city for something like this to be happening,” said Pico Rivera Councilman David Armenta. “It just sends a bad message, possibly a wrong message, to the kids that if they do something as serious as this, that there could be someone to bail them out.”

Beilke reportedly told The Los Angeles Times, “There’s tagging crews and party crews, and nine times out of 10, you find out it’s a party crew. A few may tag, and all of a sudden, they’re all called taggers.”
Armenta took issue with the quote, especially since the city is trying to “send a firm message: no tagging, no party crews, no gangs.”

Councilman Gregory Salcido said the issue, while personal, has now become the city’s problem.
“Once city employees become involved to protect Ron, it becomes city business,” he said.
Salcido said the city manager, assistant city manager and public information officer have spent hours working on ways to “spin” the mayor’s involvement in the issue.
Beilke said he doesn’t know of any staff time being used on the issue — which he called a “non-event.”

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said if staff time is being used, it could be considered insignificant, depending on the kind of work they are doing.
For example, if staff members are just putting out a press release on the mayor’s position, that’s not such a big deal.

“Basically, (this is) propaganda from some of my colleagues,” Beilke said, adding that his opponents on the dais are using the incident as a political tactic.
Beilke said he’s known the kids for years and is just trying to provide them with direction in their lives.

“If you have the sheriffs going around saying they are taggers I’m not going to disagree or argue with (that) … I think they are good kids.”