LP gift cards salvaged


The debate surrounding holiday gift cards for La Puente employees was a little more in-depth than I had expected.

I wrote this story earlier this week about city staff members recommending the City Council axe the annual holiday gift cards given to employees in an effort to save money. It’s $75 for full-timers and $25 for part-timers.

The gift card tradition started back in 1999 as a replacement to a holiday party, which has since been reinstated. Still, at Tuesday’s night meeting, council members voted unanimously voted to keep the gift cards — at least for this year.

Councilmembers seemed to agree it was a little late in the game to cancel the tradition, though, “I would like to see, as we move forward, that in the future maybe we can give an option to employees that they can either have the dinner or the gift card,” Councilman Dan Holloway said.

Apparently, the holiday party is a negotiated item in employees’ union contract. As of Tuesday night, only 35 people had RSVP’d for this year’s party, despite the fact that the city is reserving a room that can accommodate 120 people.

“I’m not in favor of taking the holiday gifts from these guys,” Councilman John Solis said. “These guys work all year long for us hard … We just gave ourselves a raise for $300 for faxes and phones for us and we’re gonna take their gift cards away?”

Looks like the employees are getting some nice end-of-year perks.


South El Monte faces rejection

Getting a sit-down restaurant to set up shop in South El Monte is apparently a lot harder than it looks, Ben Baeder reports:

SOUTH EL MONTE – With the economy sagging, this little blue-collar city is facing the cruel sting of rejection as it tries to attract a restaurant to a freeway-close street corner.

The city is offering financial help to any sit-down restaurant that would open on a pair of adjacent parcels at Santa Anita and Merced avenues near the 60 Freeway, according to city officials.

So far, sixteen out of 17 restaurants rejected the city’s offer, according to city documents. Twenty others did not respond.

Only Panda Express expressed interest, but officials opted to locate to a different location in South El Monte.



Installation of traffic light finally begins


Residents are always pushing for more traffic signals near schools and in residential neighborhoods — especially after tragic traffic accidents.

The process, however, to get such devices installed is a long one.

In La Verne, one resident claims it took five years and a fatality to get a light installed at Fruit Street and Base Line Road, Daily Bulletin reporter Wes Woods II reports.

The results are in

Daniel Tedford’s story on the top cities in the San Gabriel Valley ran in today’s paper.

Here’s a snippet:

Best place to live in the San Gabriel Valley?

It’s Walnut, according to statistics gathered by CNN/Money Magazine, which recently released a list of the 100 best places to live in the United States.

While no San Gabriel Valley city ranked among the magazine’s national top 100, a comparison of local cities based on CNN/Money’s statistics and methodology yielded some interesting, and in some cases unexpected, results.

Behind Walnut came Diamond Bar, with La Verne weighing in third.

Covina came in dead last among the area’s 25 cities.

Pasadena – considered by many to be the jewel of the Valley – came in 18th of 25 San Gabriel Valley cities for which information was available.

Other notable numbers showed Baldwin Park and El Monte with the greatest job growth since 2000, while Covina and Montebello had some of the poorest math and reading test scores when compared to the state average.

Read the entire story to see how your city did…

Dancing up a storm

This story from reporter Bethania Palma:

INDUSTRY – Owners of a nightclub say they are going to sue Industry after the City Council shut down their business.

City officials voted last week to close the 5150 Bar and Lounge at 15455 Valley Blvd. and said owners Cheri and Rene Cota failed to follow city rules restricting live entertainment.

“During these tough economic times, the City of Industry has chosen to revoke our business license,” the Cotas wrote on their Web site. “We are forced to sue the City of Industry to gain our right to stay open for business.”

Rene Cota said the only way the business can thrive is to have live entertainment and dancing, which the city says violate his use permit.


Cota said he applied for a conditional use permit to have live entertainment, but city officials rejected the application because of insufficient parking, they said.

Do you think Industry should allow 5150 to stay open?

Former La Puente employee claims harassment because “Latina”

I’ve been pretty much out of the office since Wednesday, so blogging has been a little slow. Hope everyone had as good a holiday as I did. Now getting back to local politics….

I teased this story about former La Puente Community Services Director Rozanne Adanto suing the city for wrongful termination a little over a week ago.

The full version ran in today’s paper. In a nut shell, Adanto is alleging that former City Manager Carol Cowley created a hostile work environment and harassed Adanto because she is “Latina.” Adanto also claims she was unjustly fired.

She’s not talking, and neither is Cowley, for the most part. Though Cowley did say she wanted to let her track record at City Hall “speak for itself.”

Most of the information I got is from the actual complaint, which was filed in court just six days before Cowley’s retirement.

I doubt the suit will actually make it into a courtroom. It will be interesting to see what kind of concluson will be reached.

Read the suit here:


Elected leaders and their lawsuits


Montebello Councilwoman Kathy Salazar is still suing the city she serves because she was booted out of a community patrol group. But Salazar is definitely not the first council person to sue a city.

One example is El Monte Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki sued El Monte several years back, according to this story. Do you know of any other council members who have sued the cities they served?

Ishigaki settles with El Monte council
Whittier Daily News, The (CA) – Thursday, September 4, 2003
Author/Byline: Karen RubinStaff Writer
Section: News

EL MONTE — The El Monte City Council approved a settlement with Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki , who agreed to drop her lawsuit against the city, officials announced Wednesday.

In a closed-session meeting Tuesday, Mayor Ernie Gutierrez and councilmen Art Barrios and J. Gomez voted to approve Ishigaki’s proposal. Councilwoman Pat Wallach was absent and Ishigaki recused herself.

The 59-year-old Ishigaki says she is relieved it’s over. “I truly appreciate the sensitivity of the City Council,” she said. “It was a huge misunderstanding and at times it was hurtful, but being patient worked everything out.”

The terms of the proposal are spelled out in a Wednesday letter from Michael B. Montgomery, Ishigaki’s attorney. Ishigaki has agreed to resign voluntarily and will not have to pay back approximately $27,500, the money she earned working from March 20, the day she was sworn into office, to July 17, the day she was forced to resign.

In addition, she is entitled to her retirement benefits and accrued sick leave and vacation. She can also pursue retirement benefits with the Public Employees Retirement System.

The final settlement will be signed by Sept. 23 or sooner, said El Monte City Attorney Clarke Mosley. “This is a case of misunderstanding,” Mosley said. “Mrs. Ishigaki operated under the honest belief that she could (work for the city) while in office.”

Mosley said his firm made a mistake when they told Ishigaki she could continue working for the city while serving on the City Council. “We though it would not be a … conflict,” Mosley said. “We missed it. We honestly missed it.”

In June, Ishigaki sued the city for an undetermined amount of money and “declarative relief” over a dispute concerning the amount of her final salary that could affect her retirement benefits. Ishigaki was forced to retire July 17 because a state mandate forbids a city employee to be sworn into office unless they resign. Ishigaki says she planned to retire Aug. 1.

Ishigaki claimed the city was cheating her out of $108,000 in retirement. Under CalPERS, a retired person’s monthly retirement is based on the highest salary made during the last year of employment. For this to occur, Ishigaki, who earned $82,000 per year, needed to retire Aug. 1.

Under the August date, she would be eligible to $680 per month in state retirement. — Staff Writer Cindy Arora contributed to this story.

Taking one for the team

I’ve written a few stories about prostitute stings, and I always wondered whether any officer goes a little further than he should during an undercover operation. The answer is yes.

According to the Beaumont Enterprise on 8/21/08:

Officer Keith Breiner, suspended from the police force in Beaumont, Texas, for crossing the line during an undercover prostitution sting (that is, he actually had sex), defended himself in an August hearing: “It was a job, sir. I didn’t have pleasure doing it.” It was, he said, “something I did for the city.”


Rude Dogs expanding

The popular bar in Covina is hoping to expand. Rude Dogs has been around for 16 years, and it is a great venue to watch live music, shoot pool or even dance. But it is getting so popular that the bar wants to add more pool tables, outside dining, a restaurant, game machines and add another bar.

Rude Dogs is at 114 North Citrus Ave., and it will expand to the next building at 118.

To get more details, scroll down to page 5.