12 local cities get with the program, put easy links to salaries on city homepage

The last time we looked at how many cities posted their salaries online in the wake of the Bell salary scandal and state government officials calling for more transparency, we had just a few that had fallen in line.

As the days have worn on, more cities are jumping on board. To date, here is a list of San Gabriel Valley cities who post salaries online and links to those pages.

Diamond Bar
San Dimas
La Verne
West Covina
Baldwin Park
Sierra Madre
La Mirada
UPDATED: Lucky 13 is San Marino
UPDATED: Monterey Park joins in. (Note: I couldn’t get some of the files to download. Let me know if you can.)
UPDATED: Karen Herrera, Assistant City Manager in Duarte, left me a message while I was away informing me that some city salaries were posted online here.

Only cities with a quick link on the city’s homepage directly to a city salary page or document have been included in this list.

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

La Puente council pay mirrors other San Gabriel Valley cities

In a story over the weekend and in a continued effort to give a broad look at what cities are paying their employees, we took a snapshot of pay for City Council members.

In that story, La Puente was identified as a city that did not respond in time to have its figures presented. Since then, the city has responded.

Council members receive a monthly stipend of $536. They can also get a maximum of $150 per month for attending Community Development Commission meetings ($75 per meeting, two meets per month).

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

Paul Krugman says a lot of the fuss over state, local employee pay is much ado about nothing

Ran into this blog post by Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times, regarding public employee pay.

Krugman clearly isn’t talking about the scandalous issues going on in Bell, but the general rage against state and local employees and what they make.

We at the Tribune have been covering the issue of pay for local leaders and employees over recent weeks and Krugman’s article addresses specifically how some people react when they hear a city manager is making $200,000 a year and what affect that salary really has.

What are your thoughts on Krugman’s opinion?

(PS – the blog post by Krugman is short, so it won’t eat away your day to read it)

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

Glendora to vote on dissolving Traffic and Safety Commission due to lack of interest

Remember when I wrote about city commissions and committees, the necessity of them and the interest (or lack thereof) from community volunteers to apply for them. You don’t? Well, read it here.

Anyway, it looks as if Glendora will be dissolving one of its commissions Monday night at the City Council meeting.

They have not had enough applications to fill the five positions for the Traffic and Safety Commission so they will vote to dissolve it tonight. In fact, since its inception in 2007, the commission has remained vacant, according to city documents.

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

Council pay, a WWII vet is honored, bedbugs and the final piece in our doctor series = weekend roundup

I’m convinced bed bugs are trying to take over the world.

OK, my general fear of bugs mixed with the paranoia I have had about bedbugs for the last four years probably contributes to my earlier exaggeration. They aren’t out for world domination. Just our blood. That’s not so bad, blood is only MY LIFE FORCE!

Seriously though, the bedbug problem seems to be getting out of hand. Ben Baeder’s story today say calls about bedbugs have ballooned and that the bugs have become immune to certain pesticides.

One expert went as far as to say it is an “epidemic” of bugs. I won’t sleep for a week.

Let’s switch to a happy hero story. Remember Carl Harstine, the WWII veteran who had his American Flag stolen twice? Well, following that initial story, the community rallied behind Harstine.

An event at his home turned into a community block party. Seriously, it was like something out of a Disney film. People walked out of their homes, children rode their skateboards, people generally flocked to see Harstine presented with new flags and a pole for an overall tribute to the man. It was awe-inspiring.

Also over the weekend, we continued to look at how cities pay their executives, this time at city councils.

No councils are making outlandish pay, generally speaking. But many do receive benefits that are more common with executives: $600 car allowance, executive health benefits, reimbursement stipends.

Finally, everyone should take the time to read Rebecca Kimitch’s two-part series about how a doctor shortage could cause a health care crisis. Read the first part here and the second part here.

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

Surfers are a sharks best friend?

There is this old phrase in journalism that points to what makes a newsworthy story. It is when something is so out of the ordinary that it is something you have to cover, usually we call them “Man bites dog” stories.

Well, this story is one of those.

“Surfer saves Great White Shark (almost).”

This Discovery News piece (strangely, this happened at the same time Shark Week is on) is about a surfer in Australia who found a beached Great White Shark and decided to try and save it.

Rosemead councilwoman turns Tribune photo op into press conference


With staff cutbacks at newspapers large and small, sometimes press conferences these days are lucky to get one reporter or photographer in attendance.

So for Rosemead Councilwoman Sandra Armenta, apparently one photographer has come to equate a press conference.

Yesterday Pasadena Star-News reporter Dan Abendschein was working on a story about a proposal to bring the high speed rail through some San Gabriel Valley communities, including Rosemead.

Councilwoman Armenta opposes the plan – saying it would destroy neighborhoods – so Abendschein asked if the paper could get a photo of her in front of her house for the story. They scheduled it for 4 p.m.

Hours later, Rosemead’s spokeswoman sent out a press release announcing a press conference at 4 p.m. at her home:


WHAT: Council Member Sandra Armenta, residents who could possibly lose their
homes, and businesses who may be adversely affected by the California High
Speed Rails Authoritys (CHSRA) project are gathering today to voice their
opposition to a route that the CHRSA is exploring as an alternative. The
CHRSAs current draft proposed alignment would cause many residents,
including Council Member Sandra Armenta, to lose their homes.

Based on limited information provided by the CHSRA, it is estimated that
homes and businesses located within a 250-foot zone to the north or south of
the I-10 freeway along Ramona Boulevard, would be affected either through
displacement or through the negative impact on property values.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 4, 4 p.m.

WHERE: Armenta Residence

Baldwin Park joins with other cities in posting city salaries on website

We are keeping track of the cities that are starting to post city employee salaries online after Gov. Schwarzenegger and the State Controller called for more transparency from local governments. Also, various news outlets (the Tribune) have made numerous public record requests from cities in recent weeks.

We already have Monrovia and Diamond Bar on the list of cities that have put the salaries online.

We can now add Baldwin Park to that list.

Know any other cities that have posted their city salaries online? Let me know.

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

Are police departments abusing their DUI checkpoint privileges?

I can hardly believe the recent events in Baldwin Park.

Last night the council unanimously agreed to suspect all DUI checkpoints due to protesting residents who felt local police were abusing their power.

This is unheard of (by me) to see a council suspend DUI checkpoints and for such protesting to occur.

DUI checkpoints, for most people, have just become a fact of life. Busy weekends, neighborhoods with bars, etc. all bring on the checkpoints proposed to help prevent or catch drunk drivers. Most of the checkpoints are run by local police departments, but are funded by the state through a grant program from the Office of Traffic Safety.

But the reality is most checkpoints don’t catch drunk drivers and while they are hailed as a deterrent, there really is no empirical data to support that assertion.

Opponents often look at the checkpoints as more of a “papers” check, a place where police can happen upon unlicensed, uninsured, unregistered drivers, parolees, people with warrants for arrest, etc.

In fact, most people arrested or that have their cars impounded at checkpoints are of that variety than of the drunk driving group. Vastly.

Here is an editorial from a police Lieutenant defending checkpoints that makes a similar point that even without much DUI arrests, checkpoints serve the health and safety of society.

But is it constitutional?

At a recent Baldwin Park checkpoint leading up to the suspension, 150 cars were impounded but a source said the majority were unrelated to issues of sobriety.

Prior to that, Tom Himes reported about a woman suing the Baldwin Park Police Department for unlawfully impounding her car.

In El Monte last month, police checked more than 2,000 cars, impounded 27 vehicles and made one arrest for driving under the influence.

Those numbers are contradictory to the purpose of checkpoints. In 2005, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Miranda v. City of Cornelius established that many impounds are “unreasonable seizures” that don’t jive with the Fourth Amendment.

Still, police departments don’t seem to be listening too closely to the appeals court decision, but this newspaper is.

Editor Frank Girardot took the practice to task in his column here.

The paper’s editorial board also took a stance against the checkpoint structure and system.

More background on the issues in Baldwin Park here.

I think it is safe to say, that in Los Angeles Courty, a system of checkpoints that worked relatively under the radar without critique or oversight is finally getting a dash of its medicine.

What are your thoughts? Is using sobriety as a reason for checkpoints misleading? Should they no longer use the guise of DUI deterrent if they continue checkpoints? Are police officers stepping on the rights of citizens? Or, despite the contradiction between their name and the outcome, do the results of the checkpoints, (i.e. arrests of wanted individuals, impounding vehicles of unlicensed drivers, etc.) outweigh the potential infringement of the Fourth amendment?

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

Prop. 8 statements rolling in

After the major news that the California Supreme Court overturned gay marriage ban Prop. 8 in a ruling announced today, the statements from the various political groups are starting to roll in.

I mean, what is the point of having a political or advocacy group if you can’t send a mass statement to 1,000 reporters each trying to write their own unique, insightful and informative piece.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, some of the statements I have received thus far:

From the California Democratic Party’s Southern California Chair of the LGBT Caucus Jess Durfee
“Today’s ruling is a victory for equality and an affirmation for all Californians who believe that our state must never be party to keeping committed, loving couples apart. This is but the latest victory in a long march toward full equality that has yet to be realized for the majority of LGBT couples and families in the United States. California Democrats will continue to fight on the side of basic fairness and equality under law until the right to marry is extended to all couples.”

From the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
“Today is a great day for anyone who believes in the power of justice, family, and love. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community have the right and freedom to form unions that are just as loving and respectful as any other Californian. The ruling today makes it unconstitutional to take away that right. We celebrate the judge’s decision and we join LGBT organizations nation-wide in rejoicing this long-overdue ruling.

As an immigrant rights organization it is our responsibility and commitment to ensure that all members of our family are treated equally, humanely, and justly.”

From the Interfaith Alliance

“We are pleased to see that Judge Vaughn Walker was sensitive to the concerns of people of faith who oppose same-gender marriage on religious grounds but that he recognized, as do we, that their religious freedom will not be impacted by the legalization of same-gender marriage. America’s diverse religious landscape leaves room for a variety of theological perspectives on same-gender marriage; indeed, some faiths enthusiastically support it and others vehemently oppose it. Under this ruling, as with any constitutionally based marriage equality law, no religion would ever be required to condone same-gender marriage, and no member of the clergy would ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony not in accordance with his or her religious beliefs.

But in a country that guarantees both religious freedom and “justice for all,” the laws of our land must be based on what is fair and equal, not simply on the religious views of any faith community.”

I have yet to receive any statements from local conservative groups, but when I do I will add them to the list.

In addition, here is a lengthy post I found interesting regarding today’s decision.