UPDATED: Rep. Gary Miller celebrates Social Media Day by joining Twitter

23783-garymiller.jpg

In my inbox today I was greeted by the news that Republican Congressman Gary Miller had not only joined Facebook, but would also be keeping us up to date via twitter, as well.

Miller’s first tweet: “Crawling out of my dinosaur cave and into the 21st century … Hello, Twitter World!”

The representative already has 39 followers at the time of this post. A sampling of some accounts he follows includes House Minority Leader John Boehner, Politico, CNN, Drudge Report, Fox News, other house representatives, and San Bernardino Sun reporter James Koren (@jrkoren).

What up, Gary? No follow back at @dgtedford? I also didn’t see fellow Leftovers contributor James Wagner (@jmswgnr) in there? My social media feelings are hurt. (UPDATE: Breaking news alert: Gary Miller is now following @dgtedford and @SGVTribune. I can now begin to pick up these tears.)

You can check out both of Miller’s new accounts at www.facebook.com/RepGaryMiller or www.twitter.com/RepGaryMiller.

For more on Social Media Day, check out this The Awl post. I laughed and then I was kind of sad, and then I watched videos about kittens and all was forgotten.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

How much does patriotism…er…fireworks cost?

42712-fireworkssss-thumb-400x320-11771.jpg

Working on a story about how the economy has affected cities’ ability to produce fireworks and Fourth of July celebration events.

In the process, I spoke with the president of fireworks company Pyro Spectacular, Jim Souza.

Jim said the average fireworks show starts at about $25,000 and goes up from there. At a place like the Rose Bowl’s Americafest in Pasadena, the cost can be as much as $200,000, Souza said.

(Souza said the Rose Bowl show is his favorite show to produce and his favorite firework is the Golden Eagle, which he described as being like a weeping willow that stretches nearly to the ground and lasts for about 12 seconds)

Pyro Spectacular does the fireworks for shows in Monterey Park, Whittier, Irwindale, Pomona, South Pasadena, Monrovia, and San Marino, among others, Souza said.

The average show has a 24 foot rent-a-truck full of a ton of hardware, several hundred pounds of fireworks, has mortars, launching equipment, and a crew of 8 to 12 people that work on one show all day.

Each show lasts about 20 minutes, with the exception of the larger shows, he said.

As for some cities, Pico Rivera is spending $25,000 on fireworks and Monterey Park is spending about $35,000 for weekend events.

More to come in tomorrow’s story.

El Monte getting what it’s owed

You know that friend that is constantly not bringing enough money for dinner or always needs some help buying his movie ticket or paying rent? Well, it seems Phoenix Waste and Recycling Services was kind of like that friend to El Monte. Except in this case, while you were letting your buddy slide on rent, you also had to fire the maid.

The trash service is selling its route to Valley Vista Services and will finally pay back some $500,000 to $1 million to El Monte in debt the company racked up.

I could insert various movie or T.V. references here in regards to owing someone money, but I’ll pass and instead skip to a quick preview of the story and a link.


EL MONTE – A large debt long-owed to the city by one of its trash collection companies is finally getting paid.

Phoenix Waste and Recycling Services, which collects waste from homes and businesses in various parts of the city, is selling its route to Valley Vista Services, which already collects trash in other parts of El Monte.

That transaction means Phoenix’s growing past-due bill with El Monte will get paid, according to city manager Rene Bobadilla.

Bobadilla would not reveal the amount of the total debt, saying the final accounting is still in the works. Estimates from council members and employee union watchdogs range from $500,000 to $1 million.

The debt comes from unpaid franchise fees owed to the city, as well as fees required under state law mandating recycling, the city failed to collect for years.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Weekend roundup

42606-20100627_120628_6-25-10-8 VALINDA01_400.jpg

I know it doesn’t seem like anything else matters after the U.S. lost its FIFA World Cup match against new soccer (futbol for those speaking the Queen’s English) nemesis Ghana, but there was some news over the weekend, believe it or not.

Reporter James Wagner and I combined to become something of a super group with this piece on crime in the Valinda corridor.

The Glendora City Council had a special meeting last week where they decided to lay off five city employees and combine two engineering departments.
An attorney for the employee’s association is not pleased.

And while we have chronicled the problems La Puente is having in dealing with its marijuana dispensaries, Monrovia has the seeds of a developing controversy of their own. (My apologies for the pun. I couldn’t resist.)

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

This is your side of the council chamber and this is our side…

14890-rocha.jpg

In the future, if you want to walk to the Azusa City Council dais and speak to your favorite councilman (for handshakes, serving petitions, autographs or general public scolding) you may have to practice your limbo skills … or just ask for assistance.

One thing that Mayor Rocha questioned at Monday’s council meeting – and garnered a couple laughs from the audience – was a provision in the 2010/2011 budget that called for some updates to the City Council chambers.

The $31,000 allocation included, among other things, a kind of barrier or rope line between the audience and the council.

The line would probably consist of the same thing you see at banks or movie theaters used to organize lines, but in this case would be used to keep people away from the dais, unless allowed, City Manager Fran Delach said.

It was recommended by Azusa Police Chief Robert Garcia.

“It would be similar to the board of supervisors hearing room,” Delach said. “We committed to the Mayor that any tentative plans would be brought back to council.”

While Delach said other venues use such things, giving the example of the Los Angeles County Supervisors hearing room, other council chambers like Glendora, Duarte, La Verne, El Monte, Rosemead, and South El Monte don’t have barriers. Some cities, like Walnut, do have something that separates the audience and council members.

Delach was clear in saying it wasn’t something meant to decrease transparency or public access and whatever was put in would be removable.

“We are not going to put glass up or anything, no wall,” he said. “It is a number of measures to help improve security and technology of the council chambers.”

Besides the rope line, the $31,000 includes updating computer monitors for council members at the Dais, among other improvements, Delach said.

What do you think? Is this a wise use of city funds in the name of safety and modernization?

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Environmental groups worried about another NFL stadium exemption

42412-ceqaletter.JPG

Environmental groups are revealing the opponents’ apparent playbook.

Concerned that another group may be seeking relief from state environmental laws, the environmental lobby is circulating a letter this week urging legislators not to support an exemption for a potential stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

The Sierra Club California and Planning and Conservation League are among nearly 70 groups warning legislators that AEG shouldn’t be granted the environmental exemption it seeks, according to the letter (pictured). (

PDF

)

Tim Leiweke, CEO and president of AEG, which operates the Staples Center, announced in April, along with prominent sports agent Casey Wasserman, their hopes of building an NFL stadium in downtown L.A.

Tina Andolina, the legislative director for the Planning and Conservation League, said her group has been told and heard that AEG was seeking an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act. She said the company was citing an exemption granted to local billionaire Ed Roski last year as precedent.

Last year, the state legislature approved an environmental exemption for Roski’s $800-million stadium in Industry. The bill, signed by the governor in October, nixed a lawsuit against the project, which had already completed an environmental impact report.

It’s unclear whether any legislator was willing to author the exemption bill. But Andolina said she believes it’s a real possibility.

“I take these threats very, very seriously,” she said. “We did not see the Industry bill, tops 42 hours, before it was passed.”

A message for an AEG spokesman wasn’t returned.

Note: For more coverage on the prospect of the NFL in L.A., check here.

Email: james.wagner@sgvn.com | Twitter: @jmswgnr @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Appropriately, decision on marijuana dispensaries involves procrastination

For all the huffing and puffing going on in La Puente regarding marijuana dispensaries, it is taking the city some time to decide if they are going to outlaw the businesses.

Debate sparked late last year when 10 stores opened before a cap was placed on marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Now four months since city officials said they wanted to ban the businesses, they have decided to wait until July before further discussion after business owners threatened litigation.

Now city officials are trying to decide if they are willing to take a hit from lawsuits if they decide to oust the dispensaries, or if they are going to pass and allow them in the city.

LA PUENTE – Nearly four months after saying they wanted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries here, the City Council decided late Tuesday to postpone a vote to push the shops out and consider its legal implications.

The council will meet behind closed doors to discuss potential lawsuits from dispensary owners on July 13 and publicly deliberate again on the ban on July 27.

“We need to know what it’ll cost us before we go down this road,” said Councilman John Solis, who proposed the delay.

Although the threat of lawsuits loomed for weeks, the council decided at the last minute to seek more time. Several owners of the city’s 10 dispensaries have threatened that any action to push them out of the city would face a stiff legal opposition.

The council’s move was approved 3-2.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Antonovich takes a jab at Mexico’s government

Just grabbed this from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s twitter feed:

“@mikeantonovich: If Mexico continues with this frivolous lawsuit, then Arizona ought to counter-sue for the cost of services to illegal aliens”

Antonovich is referencing Mexico’s government’s decision to offer a legal opinion in support of five lawsuits against Arizona’s new immigration law.

Mexico’s legal brief doesn’t make them a party to the lawsuits, but argues in favor of the lawsuit’s position.

Apparently, though, Antonovich is none to pleased with the Mexico’s government getting involved with Arizona’s bill.

Thoughts?

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Azusa councilman (incorrectly?) clumps school board with city

42331-azusa2.jpg

It was a quick comment, maybe one said in the moment, but there were some whispers and shaking heads on Monday night after one of Uriel Macias comments on the budget.

The city was about to vote on their budget and Macias was commending city staff in explaining how Azusa was in good shape.

Macias said it was good to see Azusa having a balanced budget when you see other cities and school boards cutting, and “we don’t have that in Azusa.”

Well……while the city isn’t laying anybody off, the Azusa Unified School Board sure has. In May, 22 teachers lost their jobs.

In fact, in this instance, it was those other cities that were able to hold onto teachers: Baldwin Park Unified, Hacienda La Puente Unified, El Monte Union, Covina-Valley Unified, El Monte City, Glendora Unified and Charter Oak Unified school districts all avoided layoffs.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Interest in Glendora commissions, committees remains limited

Remember when I told you about Glendora’s issues with getting volunteers for come of its city’s commissions and committees? It is OK if you don’t, I got the link for you right here so you can eagerly get the background before reading on.

Waiting…

Go ahead….

Not long now….

Ready?

OK, so out of the 17 vacancies the city had, they are now interviewing eight people to fill positions.

So, the question still lingers: What should a city do when these commissions/committees see lack of interest? Can they still perform a needed advisory role with limited community involvement?

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune