Before I leave for the weekend, I just wanted to leave everyone with one very meaningful, sentimental and powerful message:


My alma mater is playing Charter Oak High School tonight in the second round of CIF Basketball playoffs after they creamed Cerritos Wednesday 90 to 76.

I was born and raised in Apple Valley and was the editor of my school newspaper there, The SunDial.

I was the sports editor there as a sophomore and I can remember that year covering an early CIF game when our boys team hit a buzzer beater to win the game. The crowd rushed the court and I shoved through to get a quote from the player who hit the game winning 3-pointer. I was so excited myself that I could hardly think of a question to ask, and as a young reporter mixed up in the furry I asked the question that many reporters often do in those situations (much to my chagrin now).

“How do you feel?”

Besides that, it was one of my favorite moments as a reporter in high school.

I hope for similar heroics tonight versus Charter Oak.

Photo update for Naccachian

Azusa City Council candidate Paul Naccachian’s photo in Friday’s newspaper was a file photo we used of him from years back. At his request, Naccachian prefers if in the future we used a more updated photo. In compliance with that, here is Naccachian today.


Azusa City Council election story: the encore

Being that the Azusa City Council election story was a bit short, I wanted to give all you fans out there an encore of sorts – that is, if encores were longer than the original performance.

Here are some excerpts of what the candidates have said about the various issues:

Paul Naccachian

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

“Vulcan (Materials) has to be a better neighbor. They need to come forward with a plan that makes sense to the community. I don’t think what they are proposing is what the community would like to so.”

“If the proposal includes moving the mining operation to the Duarte side, I am not in favor of that.”

On eminent domain:

“I have said this is many communications with constituents. Eminent domain is an issue of last resort. I want to make sure that when we are doing that, we really have a development in place – not something that is a potential development.”

On business:

“We need to be business friendly. I can’t stress that enough. I know because I have done it. We need to become more receptive to new ideas. I think we haven’t done a good job of that. We have to be open minded for different types of business. Show businesses that this is a potentially winning situation to invest dollars in Azusa.”

“The question becomes an issue of retention. We need to have outreach and be more open minded to be able to serve the needs once (businesses) come in. We need to make sure they are having their needs met, such as parking.

On Target:

“Based on my information, Target is an iffy situation. Talking to community members in the city, some are dissatisfied, some are wanting Target to come. It is a good business and a good anchor and something we need for tax revenues. We need to look into the concerns of how much traffic it is going to create. I might question the location at which (the city) is going to build that structure in the downtown.”

General statement:

My campaign is all about outreach to make sure every factor of the community is being well taken care of. I don’t think that has been the case for quite some time. I am very familiar with the issues. The market of getting a grocery store in Azusa is top priority. I believe in Azusa and I am hopeful that a lot of things change. Hopeful that all the changes and progression we need can be competitive int he future.”

Robert Gonzales

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

Gonzales, as well as other incumbent Keith Hanks, have declined to take an official position on the proposal per request from the city attorney. But Gonzales had some thoughts on the issue.

“I am against proposed mining if there is not an environmental benefit to our city. I have to hear everything that is going to be put on the table.”

On eminent domain:

“Eminent domain is a tool. Our council has not used it on anything residential. We use it when it is blighted, crime infested, and there is need for redevelopment. 95% of the time we don’t even need to get to that. We are very aware of where we are with eminent domain. We aren’t the big bad city taking land. There is a benefit for the residents as a whole.”

On Target:

“With them coming in, they have been able to attract bigger, national brand names to the table.”

On Business:

Answering a question about what businesses should the city bring in.

“It ranges from a shoe store, to a bicycle store, to a stationary store. We listen to the residents and continue to do that. There is no preference to take.

On development:

“Of course, we always wonder if we put too much on our plate. Our philosophy is to have follow through and see what we have on the table before we have anything new. Construction costs are down. Now is the time to do those types of things. We should do things now. Price of concrete is down. Now is the time to build. When the economy resets, we will be built for the market.”

General Statement:

“Fortunately, we have handled a lot of quality of life issues. We have done a very good job with street sweeping, and public safety is a key element. I am always looking to find ways to better protect. I don’t feel there are any significant issues rather than completing the projects we are working on now. Quality of life issues are always key to us. We have the best parks in the valley, but always want to improve on those.”

Edward Alvarez:

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

“I think most of the people are against expansion of course. It raises a lot of concerns. A lot of residents definitely don’t want them to expand. As far as the expansion goes, I have always been against it.”

On Eminent Domain:

“The thing with eminent domain, I have never been a big fan. You can only use as a measure of last resort. But that is an important corner because it is the entrance to our city. But it has to be used as a measure of last resort. I feel like they need to continue with negotiations first.”

On Business:

“Right now, the recession, of course, is hitting a lot of businesses. We have to work on retaining the businesses we have. Meet with business owners to make sure there needs are being met.”

“I think we need to get a move on with improving the downtown. With Target coming, we need to use it as a tool to attract new businesses. Other businesses are going to look at that and that is what they want.”

On development:

“We do need to continue with development. I know we are in a recession, but development doesn’t have to come to a standstill. There are a lot of businesses still willing to expand right now.”

Keith Hanks

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

Hanks was also instructed not to take an official position on the proposal. But Hanks is looking forward to lengthy and healthy debate and discussion on the subject. Some of his major areas of concern are how the mining may affect dust movement and air quality as well as the legal ramifications of either accepting the proposal or denying it.

On Eminent Domain:

“It really is tough to go to somebody and say ‘I am going to take that property.’ It requires us to justly compensate. We are not going to come in … and squash you. Often we take these things to court for (the businesses) protection. Let a jury decide what they are owed.”

“It is a tool. A legitimate tool.”

On Business:

“One of the things everyone says is they want to attract business. But how are you going to make it happen? And it is tough. We have talked to every super market around. The best place to go is the International Council of Shopping Centers.”

Hanks attended the group’s conference and was in awe at its size. With Target, he believes Azusa can attract business and that much desired grocery store the city wants.

On Electrical Rates (a passion for Hanks)

Hanks foresees a 26% increase in electricity prices for consumers when the city switches over to meet new renewable energy standards. Gas and wind are much more costly than coal, Hanks said. But Hanks is looking at a way to use a waste product of coal in a new form of cement. If successful, Hanks believes the city can get credits on their energy use and keep prices down.

General Statement:

“I just want to handle things. There are more things than any one person can handle. I just want to focus on Target, the Goldline [Hanks sits on the Goldline committee] and keeping our electrical rates low.”

Nick Rosales

On Vulcan:

“I would hold Vulcan to that original contract. Not a new modified agreement. As far as the new, no, I wouldn’t want it. I would vote no on Vulcan.”

On eminent domain:

“I see a much more proactive way of dealing with eminent domain. We have a situation there, where a furniture company is there for almost 40 years. They voted overwhelming to evict them. Eminent domain should not be used to destroy people’s life long dream and hope and inspiration. That deal was done inappropriately. It was strong armed. They don’t have to use hard ended tactics to get the end result. There has to be a better way of negotiating with owners.”

On business:

“(The city) has been less than business friendly. We have existing businesses that need assistance. Il Forno is a new restaurant for the past 3 years and the city attracted them, gave them money. That’s great, that is nice. Came back last year for more money to get liquor license or they threatened to close. City gave (them more money). But there are other businesses that don’t ask for hand outs, work hard and don’t get assistance and they may have a more attractive business and menu.”

“We need to look at existing businesses that have been here long term and assist them.”

Rosales also said the city tends to play favorites.

“America has a history of that”

On Target:

It is going to make that particular part of town more heavily trafficked. It is going to be the main attraction.”

General Statement:

“This is a working class community and we have got to reflect that. We need variety. We need more service businesses, like tax services, mortgage service businesses, we need a florist, health food services. A combination of chains, and mom and pop stores.”

Azusa special meeting

Budgets, budgets and more budgets.

I know we all feel a bit inundated with budgets with the state just now getting their act together and voting on the state budget. (As a side note: if you had a job, and you were say, late on a big part of your job… really late …. in these touch economic times how long do you think it would be before your employer decided to make a round of cuts including you?)

Anyway, despite the fact that most don’t even want to hear the word budget again, Azusa has called a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday to do the mid-year budget review. The meeting is at the Azusa Light and Water Conference Room, 729 North Azusa Avenue, Azusa.

More than just the city council race in Azusa

As we will have a short story coming out tomorrow on the city council election in Azusa, it is important to note that there is more than just the city council to vote for on March 3.

There are also races for city treasurer and city clerk up for grabs.

Both incumbents are facing challengers in each race.

City Clerk:
Vera Mendoza, incumbent
Ar Morales, military veteran

City Treasurer:
Arthur Vasquez, Jr., accountant
Marcene Hamilton, certified public accountant and incumbent

On the steps of the Capitol


Bassett Unified School District Superintendent Robert Watanabe was at the state Capitol last week as part of the “Save Our Schools” event.

About 20 county superintendents went and stood on the steps of the Capitol to protest budget cuts to education.

“it is time for you to stop concentrating on being right — it is time for you to get it right,” Watanabe said.

The district will actually be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Torch Middle School in Industry to discuss the budget and how it will affect Bassett.

Gloria Allred to Octomom’s recue


Support for Octomom may be rare, but a high-profile attorney is stepping in with some help.

Gloria Allred is set to host a press conference at 11:30 a.m. today to unveil a proposal to provide the medical and emotional needs of Nadya Suleman’s 14 children — without any taxpayer money.

Reports that Suleman, of Whittier, is receiving financial assistance to care for her children — all born through in-vitro fertilization — has sparked outrage in the public domain.

The usual gifts of diapers, baby food and other baby items afforded to other moms with multiple births are absent in Suleman’s case. And even the Diamond Bar church and public relations firm that once offered help to Suleman are keeping their distance.

It will be interesting to see where Allred’s plan goes ….

Election tidbits: San Gabriel

Like I said in an earlier post, the run-up to the March 3 election will be filled with stories from our paper on the local races.

Today’s paper featured the San Gabriel City Council election, which has four candidates running for three open seats, Robert Hong reports.

The candidates are:
Mayor Harry Baldwin, incumbent
Kevin Sawkins, incumbent
David Gutierrez, incumbent
Mario De la Torre, resident

According to Hong’s story, the major issues seem to be infrastructure improvements, revitalization of the historic Mission District and other capital improvement projects.

Now that the state budget and the stimulus plan have passed, it’ll be interesting to see how local officials intend to grab available funds.

Congratulations California

We’ve got a budget … under certain conditions, but we’ve got one.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.(AP)– The California Legislature passed a
long-awaited budget early Thursday after an epic battle that involved several
all-night sessions, sending the governor a package of bills that raise taxes and cut
spending to help close a $42 billion deficit.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, praised the bill, passed by the
Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly. He came out of his office after the
budget vote and disconnected a large deficit clock counting the number of days — 106
as of Thursday — that the Legislature had failed to act since he declared a special
session to deal with the state’s fiscal problems.

“I’m absolutely delighted about the budget passing,” Schwarzenegger said outside his


Senate leaders secured the final vote needed from moderate Republican Abel Maldonado in late-night negotiations by agreeing to his demands for election changes,
government reform and removal of a gas tax increase, giving them the two-thirds vote
needed to pass the package.

We haven’t heard from any local pols yet, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them throughout the day.


Notes on Glendora election

Some additional notes on Glendora’s City Council election and some recap:

Each council candidate has seemingly put the budget and the economic crisis as the major issues for this election.

Joseph Tweini wants to initiate an immediate hiring freeze, salary freeze, promotion freeze, and explore cutting bonuses.

Mayor Karen Davis wants to avoid layoffs, but “golden handshakes” are definitely on the table.

Kristen Parisi wants no one department to bear the whole burden, but instead wants it shared.

Gene Murabito wants to look at group purchasing agreements. Attack revenue streams before cut services.

In terms of business, all of them say they want to help business stay strong in Glendora.

Murabito feels the city is already “built up” and the building boom the city has seen over the last 8 years or so will begin to slow down. With that, the focus should be on attracting consumers to area businesses.

Davis points to Route 66 as one area that still could use some work, as well as building to prepare for the future Gold Line.

Tweini is all about the Gold Line. The project will “revitalize” the downtown area, in his words. People will commute to Glendora just to shop and eat, he said.

Parisi thinks the city’s efforts to help business should be more broad as some areas and businesses get more positive attention than others.

And on the issue of the often 5-0 vote council (which I think is an interesting):

Parisi doesn’t think it is healthy. Many of those who speak at the public comment time during council meetings, often chastising the council, support Parisi. She wants to add some perspective to the council.

Tweini, who isn’t very critical of the council, still believes they are often guilty of “groupthink”.

Davis says “Having a 3-2 vote doesn’t make a point more than a 5-0.” As long as there is healthy discussion, it is good for the community, she says. Also, each council members various background adds to the dynamic.

Murabito has said he has voted differently than the council on some of his Planning Commission votes, but still supports the council. His opinions are similar to that of Davis on the issue.

Some interesting quotes:

“When I hear the word cut, I hear the word eliminate and that is not what I want to do. Would I be willing to reduce a service from 8 hours to 6? Certainly. My fear is when we eliminate a service it is always difficult to bring it back.”
Gene Murabito

In response to a question about the often contentious public comment portion of City Council meetings, Davis had this to say:

“I think that comes with the job. When we agreed to put ourselves in public service, with that comes the good and bad. We have to be willing to listen to people’s input even when sometimes you may not particularly like it.”

“We need some balance on the council. Some common folk. I don’t think Glendorans are all one mind”

“It is on us to come up with a different approach. We can improve in that area.”