Returning to the SGV

Sorry about the lag in posts. I’ve been out of the area since Christmas Eve, the night of the Covina massacre. On Covina’s Web site, they refer to a donation set up for the families involved.

Donation Information

On December 24, 2008 a devastating tragedy occurred that took the lives of nine family members in the City of Covina. From the onset of this tragedy members of the community and public at large have requested information as to how to donate to the families of those involved. The families of those directly impacted by this tragedy have appointed a trustee for any type of financial donations and his information is listed below.

Ortega Family Fund
c/o Scott Nord
500 N. Brand Blvd., Suite 550
Glendale, CA 91203

San Dimas Wine Shop squaring off with the city

The San Dimas Wine Shop and Tasting Room is in the news again over another instance of a lack of a permit. Owner Heidi Daniels had a canopy and heater constructed in her patio area to keep customers warm and dry during the winter. But the downtown area doesn’t allow such things and Daniels didn’t get a permit through the city. Now the city is telling her to take it down and she has refused.

More to follow on this story this weekend, but for now here is a sneak peak.

If the city of San Dimas has their way, for the time being, some patrons of the San Dimas Wine Shop may have to drink their wine chilled.

But not if the owner has anything to do with it.

Heidi Daniels, the owner of the Wine Shop and Tasting Room, recently had a canopy and heater constructed for a patio area outside her store.

Daniels hired a contractor to build the more than $1000 membrane structure and didn’t know she needed a special permit from the city. San Dimas doesn’t allow stand alone projects such as the canopy in the historic downtown district.

“The policy is a very long standing policy, been reviewed a few times and been upheld,” said Mayor Curtis Morris. “It is against the policy. She should have gone through a process to see about getting that done.”

After building it, Daniels was denied a permit by the planning commission. Her appeal was brought to the City Council and the council voted unanimously to review the policy to possibly make a change.

But at the same time, the council split 2 to 2 in a vote on whether to take down the canopy until the policy is reviewed. In the event of a tie, the recommendation carries and the city’s decision asks for the canopy to be taken down.

“It is a ridiculous request,” Daniels said. “I am the only viable business downtown after 5 p.m. I am trying to keep my customers warm and dry during the winter.”

Councilman Denis Bertone and Jeff Templeman voted to allow Daniels to keep the structure while the policy is reviewed, while Mayor Curtis Morris and Councilman Emmett Badar voted against. Councilman John Ebiner recused himself because he owns a business within 500 feet of Daniels’.

“Unfortunately, John Ebiner had to recuse himself or it would have been a slam dunk,” Daniels said.

Daniels was instructed to have the canopy torn down by Friday, Dec. 19. She ignored that request and doesn’t have any intention on abiding by the city’s rules.

“The fact of the matter is this, my customers love sitting out there in the evening, when it is cold, enjoying themselves,” Daniels said. “When you own a retail business in a down economy, you better listen to your customers.”

“I am sorry to hear she is not going to comply with the law,” said Morris. “She wants to do what she wants to do. You can’t let everybody make their own decisions on the law.”

Glendora Library back in business

The Glendora Library, recently closed due to flooding, has reopened after the damages have been fixed.

Story time, unfortunately, has still been canceled until the new year.

WF Construction’s subcontractor (who bore responsibility for the recent flooding) fixed the damaged areas and their insurance company paid for the effort to the tune of about $100,000, according to WF Construction officials.

More to come on that subject tomorrow.

Monterey Park Mayor to endorse Romero

Monterey Park Mayor Frank Venti announced he will endorse Gloria Romero in her run for Rep. Hilda Solis’ seat a day after former Mayor Judy Chu said she is vying for the same seat.

“No doubt in my mind Gloria Romero is the better candidate,” Venti said. “Not willing to allow such a precious seat to someone that I believe is a lightweight legislature.”

Chu is on the California Board of Equalization.

In 1988 she was elected to the city council of Monterey Park, where she served as mayor for three terms. She ran for the California State Assembly in 1994, but lost the Democratic primary to Diane Martinez; in 1998, she lost the primary to Gloria Romero.

Mayor made comment about breast size, employee claims

21321-mike mendez 2.jpgA Norwalk employee filed a lawsuit against Mayor Mike Mendez, who previously worked for the city for nearly 30 years in the parks and recreation department. He’s got a gym named after him at Sante Fe High.

In the 22 page suit, employee Toni Tucker claims Mendez commented about the size of her breasts, hugged and kissed her on the lips, and that he made hand gestures to demonstrate how her breasts had grown, according to the story:

She also said Mendez repeatedly asked if he could visit her at home. At a Dodger Day event in June 2007, Tucker said in her suit that Mendez insisted on sitting next to her, then put an arm around her and put a hand on her knee. He also held her hand while they were in a car, and tried to persuade her to go with him to a conference in Santa Barbara.

Tucker alleges Mendez asked inappropriate questions about her dating life and sexual orientation.

Mendez also allegedly told Tucker that although he was a nice person, he could “become very mean,” and told her that her “job was secure as long as I’m in office.”

The allegations sound similar to those made by former finance employee Valerie Mazone employee in the city of Rosemead when she claimed Councilman John Nunez harassed her over a period of several years. The city settled nearly a year ago with Mazone for $330,000.

Chu puts name in hat


21319-judy chu.jpg

Judy Chu, Board of Equalization chariwoman, announced her interest late last night in Rep. Hilda Solis’ seat. Chu lives in Monterey Park, and is a former Assemblwoman and Monterey Park councilwoman. She is married to Assemblyman Mike Eng.

LOS ANGELES – The race for Rep. Hilda Solis’ soon-to-be vacant seat in the House of Representatives grew more crowded Monday, as California Board of Equalization Chair Dr. Judy Chu announced she intends to run.

Solis, D-El Monte, will leave a vacancy in the House of Representatives when she takes a position as Secretary of Labor in President Elect Barack Obama’s cabinet.

“Today I am announcing my intent to run for the seat representing the 32nd Congressional District, parts of which I have represented for the past 23 years,” Chu said in a written statement.

“In the past few days I have received many encouraging calls and e-mails from supporters and constituents urging me to run and I have decided to heed those calls,” she said


AQMD advice for the winter season

The Air Quality Management District wants people to know there are alternatives to a wood burning fire place this season and is offering a voucher to help those who want to convert to a gas burning fireplace.

In addition, they had some advice for those who still plan to use their wood-burning fireplace this winter.

Excerpts from a release/e-mail sent to me follows:

AQMD provides $125 for the conversion of a pollutant wood-burning fireplace to a cleaner, more efficient gas log fireplace set. Information about eligible residents and gas log retailers is available at, along with the 10 helpful wood burning tips. For quick reference, here they are in a shortened version:

1. Choose not to burn when air quality is already poor.

2. Reduce your need for fuel.

3. Have your chimney professionally cleaned.

4. If you do burn wood, start fires with softwood kindling such as pine or fir.

5. Never burn garbage and other materials.

6. Watch chimney for smoke.

7. Beware of overnight heating.

8. For heating, switch to a cleaner wood-burning alternative.

9. Replace your wood-burning fireplace with a natural gas insert.

10. If you can smell smoke, you are breathing smoke!

On another note, the green trend is more popular than ever, and Southern California residents will undoubtedly be looking for ways to “give green” this holiday season. There are many environmentally friendly gift ideas out there: organic cookies, hemp T-shirts, bamboo plants and many others. But we can’t forget the gift of cleaner air – that’s something the whole family can enjoy.