What’s going on in Industry?

Nearly every city in the San Gabriel Valley posts its council meeting agendas online. Some, of course, take it further by providing staff reports and even broadcasting the meetings online. And then there’s the city of Industry, which doesn’t do any of that. Nope, it doesn’t even post its meetings online.

But then again, can you blame them? The city has 82 registered voters.

If you do want an agenda, you can send an email to cityclerk@cityofindustry.org

The last time I inquired about getting an agenda and staff report packets sent to the Tribune, I was told that it would be no problem, but I needed to leave money for stamps.  

UPDATE: Sure, take the time off..but forget about pay

Reporter Dan Abendschein was told this morning that El Monte staffers will be on an unpaid furlough through Jan. 5, starting some time this week.

Of course, El Monte is not the only state agency imposing furloughs, the LA Times reports. *But is it legal.

Schwarzenegger orders mass layoffs, unpaid furloughs

Union leaders for state employees vow to challenge the legality of the mandatory time off, which amounts to about a 9% pay cut according to the governor’s finance department.
By Patrick McGreevy and Jordan Rau
December 20, 2008
Reporting from Sacramento — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered mass layoffs and unpaid furloughs for state workers starting in February to address California’s growing fiscal crisis.

Under his executive order, 238,000 employees will be forced to take off two unpaid days per month through June 30, 2010. Managers will receive either the furlough or an equivalent salary reduction during the same period.

 
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s finance department, said the mandatory time off is the equivalent of about a 9% pay cut for affected workers. He said the furloughs would save the state more than $1.2 billion.

It is unclear how many people will lose their jobs. Palmer said each department will have to cut its payroll by 10% and will make its own decisions on how many workers must go.

Felony charges pouring down on silent water board member

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In case you missed it, Three Valleys water board member Xavier Alvarez – yes, the same guy who lied about receiving the Medal of Honor – pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of grand theft, insurance fraud and misappropriateing public funds on Thursday.

Here’s the breif we ran last week:

Water board member pleads not guilty

Xavier Alvarez pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday morning in Pomona Superior Court.

Alvarez, the Three Valleys Municipal Water District board member who had three felony charges filed against him, will have a preliminary hearing on Feb. 24 in Pomona.

Alvarez was charged with grand theft of personal property, insurance fraud and misappropriating public money.

Alvarez, who represents south Pomona on the water board, reportedly placed Juanita Ruiz, his ex-wife, on his insurance from Jan. 24 to Oct. 31, 2007.

He was elected to his water board position in 2006.

He was previously fined and sentenced to probation in July for violating the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes false claims of military valor.

When repeatedly asked if he had any comment before the Thursday morning arraignment, Alvarez wouldn’t answer and just kept looking to the left, the right or downward.

After the hearing date was set, Alvarez again wouldn’t answer when asked if he had any comment and went to the elevator.

Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller said “it was pretty much a standard proceeding.”

*photo found on Claremont Insider blog

UPDATE: Pay day for West Covina council members

In case you’re wondering:

For the fiscal year 2007-2008

City Manager Andrew Pasmant made $219,320

And here’s what the council members made:

Councilmember     City Council           Development Commission          Total annual pay
Steve Herfert            $9,180                     $7,130                                       $16,310
Roger Hernandez      $9,180                     $7,130                                      $16,310
Sherri Lane               $9,180                    $14,400                                     $23,580
Shelley Sanderson     $9,180                    $14,400                                    $23,580
Mike Touhey              $9,180                    $14,400                                    $23,580

*In response to some of the comments, here is a salary tracker that we together nearly a year ago that details pay for the city managers and top tiered employees. Click here.

And you guys are right, we need to come up with a comparision of pay for council members.

Friends of Glendora loses lawsuit against city

Erica Landmann-Johnsey and the Friends of Glendora had their lawsuit against the city rejected Friday by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. The judgment may signal the end to a case against a proposed assisted living facility in Glendora that Johnsey and her group felt was approved without the city vetting it the necessary environmental process. The court disagreed.

Johnsey is a regular speaker at City Council meetings, along with others who are apart of the Friends of Glendora group.

There is a scheduled council meeting for Tuesday night, and it could be expected that this decision may come up during the public comment portion of the evening.

It should be a fun time to kick off the long Christmas weekend. Here is an excerpt from today’s story and look for more online and in the paper tomorrow.

GLENDORA – A lawsuit against the approval of 125-bed assisted living facility was rejected Friday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

The lawsuit brought against the city of Glendora by a group called the Friends of Glendora claimed the project didn’t meet environmental standards and failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.

But the court saw it differently as Judge James C. Chalfant denied the claim.

“We are disappointed in the decision and we are weighing our options for an appeal,” said Friends of Glendora Attorney Cory Briggs. “I think the judge simply views the law differently from the way we view it. Judges are human, sometimes they make mistakes. We think he made a mistake.”

The living facility is intended primarily for seniors and is a two-story, 97,000 square foot facility on the northwest corner of Gladstone Street and Bonnie Cove Avenue. It was approved in February by the council and Planning Commission. The lawsuit originated shortly after that decision.

“Certainly, from the city’s perspective, per the city council’s direction, we undertook extensive investigation and analysis on the project, not just once, not just twice, not just three times, but four times to ensure all the environmental impacts were reviewed and analyzed,” said Glendora City Attorney D. Wayne Leech. “We feel the city not just met the level of expectations required by (California Environmental Quality Act) but went over and above that.”

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.

South El Monte interested in feed lot next to City Hall

City officials in South El Monte have expressed some interest in the Kruse Feed & Supply property, according to owner Richard Kruse.

After 73 years, the former grain mill and feed store direcly north of City Hall on Santa Anita Avenue is finally closing, Kruse recently announced.

He declined to discuss any specific plans for the 1-acre property.

There should be a story about the store’s closure coming soon. At one time, it was the only bulk feed mill in the area, Kruse said.