UPDATE: ‘I am so hung over’

This just in from reproter Bethania Palma Markus:

Walnut City Councilman Joaquin Lim came to a press conference regarding the city filing a lawsuit against Industry over a proposed stadium hung over.

The former mayor told a handful of reporters at the 11 a.m. press conference that he got tanked the night before at a local bar that was closing down.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” he said. “I am so hung over.”


Walnut Councilman and NFL stadium opponent Joaquin Lim revealed to reporters in an 11 a.m. press conference that he had met twice with billionaire developer Ed Roski, Jr, on March 6 and 13.

“I was asked to meet with him and I said I would,” he said. “I

simply asked if he would consider issuing a new EIR and his answer was no.”

Roski’s Majestic Realty Co. VP John Semcken said Roski asked Lim to meet with him to see what his concerns over the stadium were.

“(Lim) asked us to keep it confidential and we did,” Semcken said. “Nothing came of it unfortunately.”

Semcken said Lim had requested to meet alone with Roski but a trusted third party facilitator was called in. Lim was not available to respond to this statement Wednesday evening.


Retiree medical and pension costs in the SGV cities

Here’s a spreadsheet I developed by requesting retiree medical costs, annual pension costs, unfunded pension liabilities and unfunded medical liabilities from 24 public agencies in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas:  

Retiree costs city by city.sxc

Depending on space issues, we will print my story this weekend that details how much 24 area cities spent on retiree medical costs, and of those cities, how many have started planning for the future retiree medical costs — which will only increase due to rising health care premiums, increasing life expectancy rates and a growing retiree base.

Santa Fe Springs shows us a slide, Santa Fe Springs.ppt,
 of what will happen if it starts paying for these long term costs, estimated at nearly $55 million, today versus what will happen if it continues on a pay-as-you go approach. That is, pay for the expenses as they come year-by-year. Problem with the pay as you go approach is that eventually these costs could overwhelm some city budgets.

These costs will vary from city to city for several reasons: number of retirees, number of employees, services offered by the city, such as having its own police or fire departments, and types of benefit plans offered.

The spread sheet is still a work in process…I’m now collecting the number of current employees to get a better understanding of why some cities have the pension costs they do. The pension story will come later.

(City administrators: If you see any figures that are incorrect, please shoot me an email so we can correct them. Thanks!)


Candidate list keeps growing

We got another one running for the 32nd Congressional District. Democrat Rafel Nadal (not to be confused with tennis champion from Spain) of Rosemead pulled papers for the seat. Here’s a list of other candidates, according to Los Angeles Wave.

Here’s Nadal’s press release:



Contact Lynette Bigelow – 323-230-5467 Ext 600

Los Angeles – Democratic congressional candidate Rafel Nadal is

the first candidate to return his filing papers to run for the seat

vacated by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Nadal indicated that his main concern is Protecting

Social Security and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Nadal Stated:

“It is a National Insult to the Taxpayers the poor care
we are providing our seniors and veterans. If elected
I will resolve that problem.”

Mr. Nadal is available for Press Interviews

Bigelow Associates
5786 Rodeo Road Suite PMB 150
Los Angeles. CA 90016

Intimidating tactics in Montebello

MONTEBELLO – Three council members attempted to attend a Montebello Police Officers Association meeting where officers rescinded an endorsement of Councilman Robert Urteaga, officials said.

On a 18-14 vote the MPOA voted Feb. 3 to revoke its political support of Urteaga as a result of a prior felony conviction.

Councilmembers Mary Anne Saucedo-Rodriguez, Kathy Salazar and Mayor Rosie Vasquez tried to influence the decision, according to three MPOA members. The MPOA members asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Salazar and Saucedo-Rodriguez waited inside the Park and Recreation Center, where the meeting was held, but were asked to leave before the meeting started, the members said. Urteaga was also inside the meeting quarters though he was not near the two councilwoman.

Vasquez could be seen in her car circling the street several times, according to MPOA members.

“They (the council members) said they were there to show support for Robert,” an MPOA member said. “They wanted to intimidate all of us. I have never seen anything like this.”

Terry Francke, president of a government watchdog group Californians Aware, said the council members did not violate the Brown Act because they did not stay for the meeting.

“The problem would start when the actual presentation or discussion starts,” Francke said.

The MPOA’s decision to rescind its endorsement comes after Urteaga’s felony conviction became public in October. In 1998, Urteaga pleaded no contest to grand theft of personal property totaling $30,000, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office in February 1999 accused Urteaga of five counts of check forgery and one count grand theft. In a July 1999 plea agreement between Urteaga and prosecutors, the forgery counts were dropped by the district attorney.

Bye bye Bonifacio

The city attorney known for his late – and high – billing habits resigned from his post as Rosemead’s legal defender on March 19, reporter Rebecca Kimitch confirmed today.

Bonifacio Garcia was hired on April 3, 2007, the same day that the city was slapped with a lawsuit by a former city employee alleging that former Councilman John Nunez subjected her to sexual harassment. The lawsuit was later dropped and there was a settlement, and officials have said that Garcia’s hiring date was just a coincidence that it fell on the same day the lawsuit was filed.

During the time that Garcia was employed, he charged the city more than double the amount it budgeted for legal fees. Garcia and Nunez worked together at the Garvey School District.

The City Council will consider hiring Joe Montes of Burke, Williams and Sorensen as the interim city attorney.

Chavez won’t run; supports Cedillo

This just popped into my inbox:

Assemblymember Ed Chavez (ret.) announces he will not run for Congress and Endorses Gil Cedillo

El Monte, CA – Former Asseblymember Ed Chavez, who has represented parts of the San Gabriel Valley for over two decades in public office, has announced he will drop his bid for Congress and support Senator Gil Cedillo. In various offices over the years, Chavez has represented about 70% of the 32nd Congressional District. Most notably, Chavez served for six years in the California State Assembly and ten years on the La Puente City Council.

Chavez’s announcement makes him the third prominent elected official to announce they will not run for the 32nd Congressional District and instead back Gil Cedillo. Senator Gloria Romero and Senator Ron Calderon surprised many pundits in January when they both elected not to run for the vacated Congressional seat and threw their support behind Cedillo.

“After much consideration, I have decided not to run for Congress,” said Chavez. “Gil Cedillo understands the needs and priorities of this district and I think he is the clear frontrunner in the race for the 32nd District. We need Gil in Congress fighting for the San Gabriel Valley’s fair share and I am proud to be supporting him.”

Ed Chavez was born and raised in La Puente and still lives in the same home he grew up in. Chavez has spent most of his career as a teacher in the San Gabriel Valley. He was first elected to public office in 1987, earning a seat on the Board of Education for the Bassett Unified School District. In 1990, he ran for and won a seat on the La Puente City Council and he was subsequently re-elected to the Council in 1994 and 1999. From 2001 – 2007, Chavez represented the 57th district in the California State Assembly. Chavez currently serves as a member of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Board.

California’s 32nd congressional seat was vacated after Congresswoman Hilda Solis was confirmed as the new Secretary of Labor. The Los Angeles County district encompasses a swath of the San Gabriel Valley from East Los Angeles to Covina. An election date for the special primary election to replace Congresswoman Solis has been set for May 19, 2009.

Leftovers from City Hall: Tough times ahead in El Monte

Leftovers from City Hall:
Tough times ahead in El Monte

Wow. Things keep getting worse when it comes to the budget situation in El Monte.

Rebecca Kimitch reported that El Monte laid off 17 police officers, and it is still projecting a $2.5 million shortfall.

Now city officials are considering placing an initiative to increase property taxes to support fire and paramedic services. Yes, this comes right after voters approved a half-cent sales tax, which goes into effect on April 1.

So where is all the money going in El Monte? One place is retirement.

In a survey of 25 cities in the San Gabriel Valley, El Monte’s annual pension costs in 2007-08 was $12 million, which is the highest out of all cities surveyed, according to city finance records. The next highest annual pension cost was in West Covina, which spent $9 million. And because the statewide CalPERS pension fund lost a quarter of its value this fiscal year due to the stock market crash, pension costs for cities could soon skyrocket.

We hope to flesh out the impacts of these costs within the next few weeks.

In Irwindale, city council members cut travel from their budget effective March 1.

In Monrovia, a city of nearly 36,929, the council lowered travel budgets by $1,100. Now, council members have $13,166 each per year to spend on travel and other community-promotion efforts.

During the 2007-08 fiscal year, Monrovia council members spent a total of $33,649 out of this budget, nearly $19,000 of which was on travel.

In West Covina, a city of nearly 105,000, council members spent nearly $20,000 in travel to cities across the country to attend conferences during the 2007-08 fiscal year.
Here’s how it broke down per council member: Councilman Michael Touhey spent $6,694; Mayor Roger Hernandez spent $5,255; Councilwoman Sherri Lane spent $3,655; Councilman Steve Herfert spent $3,058; and Councilwoman Shelley Sanderson spent $1,618.

But even if council members went to one less conference, the overall impact on the budget is barely noticeable – although the symbolic gesture is what matters to the voters, Public Policy Institute Director Max Neiman said.

Covina council members are still on the hunt for a permanent city manager. On Friday morning, the council held a special meeting to interview candidates for the position.

Since the termination of former city manager Paul Philips on Aug. 11, former Pasadena City Manager Cynthia Kurtz has filled the role as interim.

Kurtz’s first day was Oct. 1, and city officials said they expected the search to take up to six months, whoch comes April 1 – the same day Kurtz takes over as President and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership.



(626) 962-8811 Ext 2477, 2109


Fighting to the end in Rosemead

Former Rosemead Mayor John Tran was voted out by five votes, Bethania Palma Markus reports. So what happens next? I guess we’ll see at the swearing in ceremony whether Tran is going to try to get a judge to intervene.

The ousted first-time councilman is considering a legal challenge, saying some ballots were not counted because they were disqualified by the county.

“I’m weighing my options right now,” he said. “There were 112 ballots that were never opened and per the election code that can be challenged.”

Registrar tells El Monte “no”

The parcel tax is off the table in El Monte, although not beause the council members had a change in heart: It’s because the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office said that cities would no longer be allowed to submit consolidation requests for the May 19, 2009 ballot.

To read more, scroll down to page 90 of the staff report for tonight’s meeting.

The proposed parcel tax would have generated $2 million to pay for fire and paramedic services, according to the staff report:

The purpose of the parcel tax was to generate approximately $2 million in additional revenues to pay for fire and paramedic services contracted with the County of Los Angeles and to raise revenues sufficient to avert the planned closure of County Fire Station No. 167 located in the City of El Monte near the intersection of Bryant Road and Peck Road. County Fire Station No.167, whose operational costs are approximately $2 million per year, is home to the County’s only paramedic response unit in the City of El Monte. The closure of Station No. 167 will compel the relocation of the paramedic unit elsewhere within El Monte increased emergency response times for certain parts of the City.

Woes in El Monte

Wow. Things keep getting worse when it comes to the budget situation in El Monte.

Rebecca Kimitch reports that El Monte laid off 17 police officers, and it is still projecting a $2.5 million shortfall. Meantime, now city officials are considering placing an initiative to increase property taxes to support fire and paramedic services. Yes, this comes right after voters approve a half-cent sales tax.

As a side note, in a survey of 25 cities in the San Gabriel Valley, El Monte’s annual pension costs in 2007-08 was $12 million, which is the higest out of all cities surveyed. The next highest pension cost was in West Covina, which spent $9 million.