This week’s column

Leftovers from City Hall: Old issue back on city agenda

It’s back.

The debate over allowed uses in Baldwin Park parking lots is, again, at the forefront of the city’s agenda.

Councilman Anthony Bejarano is concerned over continued complaints about day laborers and street vendors in parking lots.

Baldwin Park has unsuccessfully tried several times to address the day laborer situation at its Puente Avenue Home Depot since the summer of 2007. But pressure from Latino advocacy groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund have squashed those efforts.

The most recent one was about a year ago. The proposed ordinance would have limited the uses of parking lots for things like parking and accessing buildings, and would have banned day laborers from soliciting work or street vendors from selling products there. But the ordinance was tabled.

“This ordinance was never just about the Home Depot and the day laborers,” Bejarano said. “It was about parking lots in general and what goes on in those parking lots.”

Bejarano talked about his experiences with street vendors at the Baldwin Park Boulevard Food For Less shopping center.

“Some guy parked his camper in the parking lot, pulled out a lawn chair and a grill and was selling hot dogs,” he said. “… It started off with CDs, then it went to corn, then it went to tamales and now they’re setting up kitchens.”

It seems South El Monte Mayor Blanca Figueroa has risen to international stardom for her nocturnal work habits.

The story of her late, late nights at City Hall – and her colleagues’ disapproval of the habit – has generated reader interest as far away as England.

Just a few weeks ago, the City Council voted 4-1 to ban council members and city staff from using City Hall facilities past 11 p.m. on most nights. Figueroa – who apparently works into the wee hours of the morning – dissented.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

Last week, fellow Councilman Hector Delgado accused Figueroa of making City Hall her home sweet home, something Figueroa has denied.

Though she does take pride in her office, which she has called her own for the past five years. Fish tanks, stashes of snacks, a microwave, booties, a flat screen TV, and dozens and dozens of plaques, photos and nick knacks line the walls.

No bed was found in the office.

“I don’t know what Hector is talking about. How can I sleep here when there isn’t a bed?”

For a complete look at her office, check out the Web site.


There’s something different about the two bronze plaques sitting inside the La Puente Community Center and Youth Learning Activities Center – actually, a few different things.

According to a set of original designs, a few former city officials’ names didn’t make the final cut.

The preliminary plans called for the inclusion of former councilwoman Renee Chavez, former Mayor Lou Perez and former City Manager Carol Cowley on the dedication plaques. Their names appeared alongside the names of current council members John Solis, Dan Holloway, Lola Storing, Nadia Mendoza and Mayor Louie Lujan.

The pair of plaques sitting inside the center now show no sign of Chavez’s, Perez’s or Cowley’s name.

According to Perez, the Chevron official overseeing the project said Lujan asked the names be removed. Perez also said after Lujan disapproved of the designs, Chevron refused to pay for the plaques.

In a recent conversation, Councilman John Solis backed up the claims.

Lujan called the allegations ridiculous, said he knew nothing about any “original” designs and questioned why Perez was even concerned about the situation since he’s not on the council anymore.

Casey declined to comment.

Industry experts say it’s standard practice from the contractor to usually absorb the cost of dedication plaques.

La Puente paid for their own – $1,467.