Canyon City Alliance changes website to include Vulcan Materials

It was brought to my attention (Thanks, commenter David) that after reporting on this blog the Canyon City Alliance did not list Vulcan Materials as part of its coalition on its website, it has now been changed.

This also comes following a letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission that outlines an investigation into the group for alleged violations of the Political Reform Act. The group has been accused by an anti-mining group for not clearly listing its sole donor, Vulcan Materials Co., on campaign material.

Canyon City Alliance officials said they did not plan to change any material because they believed to be in compliance.

The website change must have been some sort of exception…

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An addendum to the FPPC investigation into the Canyon City Alliance with bonus analysis

I reported in today’s newspaper about a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation into “potential issues” regarding campaign literature from the Canyon City Alliance.

The first thing I want to discuss is the assertion by Azusans Against Mining Expansion that the FPPC found violations the CCA was guilty of violating the Political Reform Act.

Is that claim true? To my best knowledge and understanding, that answer is: undetermined.

Let me explain.

The FPPC’s letter is highly ambiguous regarding any violation. In the second paragraph it states:

In our investigation of this allegation, we have identified several potential issues that may be violations of the Act

The key words in this sentence are “potential” and “may be.” If you are citing someone for a violation, you don’t leverage your claim by adding crutch words like potential and may be. That suggests there is room for error, interpretation or argument. I think that is what we have hear.

That is demonstrated by the claims of a violation over the 410 committee statement paperwork. That potential violation was already taken back by the FPPC after speaking with Vulcan, according to FPPC spokesman Roman Porter. A new letter was issued without that allegation and Porter said the CCA was previously in compliance regarding the 410, prior to the original FPPC letter being drafted. If this letter was citing steadfast violations, the FPPC wouldn’t have changed its tune on one of the “violations” in just a few days.

When I asked Porter what this letter meant, he declined to speak about an open investigation. The fact this is an open investigation directly implies that CCA has not be found in violation. If this was a done deal, Porter would speak freely about the investigation, the violations, and all the documents related to that would be posted on the FPPC website. Maybe they will in the next couple days, but right now, that just isn’t the case. It is very possible that by the end of the week, Vulcan is fined. It is possible this all will be taken back. The point I am making is that none of this is solidified yet.

For now, Porter said this was a “cease and desist” letter, but wouldn’t comment on any actual violations due to the open investigatation. Whether or not anything needs to be stopped or changed, is still a matter of debate. I think we will have our answer soon, but the fact is, we don’t have it yet.

QUICK UPDATE: I did go to the Canyon City Alliance website and found it curious that in the “Who We Are” section, it lists “Yes on A, Canyon City Alliance is a coalition including the Azusa Chamber of Commerce, the Azusa Police Officers’ Association, community leaders and local residents.”

Where’s Vulcan?

Item number two.

There has often been the argument that if the development agreement doesn’t nullify the entire conditional use permit for Vulcan’s mining plan amendment, why are they fighting to support the referendum election?

Jeri Vogel said just as much to me yesterday.

“If Yes on A gets rid of all the money they have to pay the city of Azusa, then why do they plan to fight that unless they plan on making a whole lot more money later on?” she said.

To her credit, I think it is an easy conclusion to assume. I wondered just the same myself when the referendum was first proposed. In fact, that same thing happened in Rosemead with its Wal-Mart referendum. When the people came forward to the City Council to ask them to take back the development agreement, Wal-Mart stepped forward and said sounds like an awesome idea. Guess what? The city lost the money and Wal-Mart kept its use permit.

So the question arises, why is Vulcan promoting Measure A?

For Vulcan this situation is a lose-lose. Fight for Measure A and you get accusations like Vogel’s (which aren’t without merit).

Yet, if they fought against Measure A, they would make themselves an easy target to be cast as the greedy mining company out to squeeze whatever they can out of the community, including tricking the people into giving them a mining plan without Vulcan giving anything back (except its regular tax rate) to the city.

I posed the question to Vogel.

“That is kind of a hard one. They are in a lose-lose position as far as that goes,” she agreed. ” I still think they are going to make a whole lot more money on the other side.”

For Vulcan, it was an easy choice, especially since they made a promise to the city they would defend against any referendum.

“The city can’t campaign in favor of it, but we can and we said we would,” Vulcan spokeswoman Peg Casey said. “The development agreement requires that if there was a challenge, that Vulcan would defend against that action. It is perfectly appropriate that we defend and support Measure A.”

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‘Extreme’ carolers pull early morning Christmas prank in Glendora (Video)

I am a little late to the party on this one, but it was a late night party so I am going to let myself slide.

A group of kids pulled a Christmas caroling prank by orchestrating a small band of merriment for Glendora residents to enjoy a few days before Christmas. Oh, and they did it between about midnight and 5 a.m.

Not surprisingly, some neighbors were none too pleased and called the police.

Glendora officers were pretty cheerful about the whole thing, having a couple laughs and approaching the whole thing with a sense of humor. In context, I am sure we would rather this than those kids playing mailbox baseball or tee-peeing someone’s house? OK, maybe you would rather have the tee-peeing than a little 4 a.m. drummer boy.

The video, for what it’s worth, is pretty funny. At the same time, I am sure most people feel for the residents who were stirred from their slumber by the music and, incidentally, made viral video famous.

The whole thing seemed to be orchestrated by Mike Diva or Dahlquist, who promotes his prank videos on twitter and his website.

For my take, the best part is when they break out into a rap song at the end.

I also let out a few chuckles when the kids were talking to the police.

“Three police cars for angry Christmas carolers?” one said to a Glendora police officer. “We are the happiest carolers you could ever imagine.”

“Think about being woken up to something so lovely as a Christmas carol,” another said.

The kids hit up any 24-hour or late night establishment they could find, including Target, Wal-Mart, Denny’s and 24-Hour Fitness.

It is interesting to see kids doing what kids normally do when they are young, playing pranks they think are funny and having a good time with friends when you are bored and have the time. When I was younger we did much of the same things (often worse) but, fortunately, we were not made famous by YouTube, or even tried to be.

For once, I am happy to be too old for that.

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My Christmas gift to you: weekend links

I know presents are more important, so I saved these important weekend links for you. This is a one-time offer exclusive that you can’t get anywhere else!

How did the past week’s rainfall help our water coffers? Rebecca Kimitch has some answers.

After years of haggling, the city finally agreed to sell the site of a former bowling alley to a developer – taking an $8 million write-down in the process.

And finally, if you Christmas spirit and holiday hope is beginning to wane, read Hector Gonzalez column from Friday where he writes updates us on a story from long ago.

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We Didn’t Start the Fire: a discussion on political reporting

Note: I changed the headline because when I have the opportunity to make an 80s pop music reference, I take it.

Common blog commenter “David” responded to a recent post about Duarte possibly trying to turn a fire at a Vulcan Materials facility into a political affair.

As a response to that post, David said “Pot meet Kettle” implying that, for my part, I was guilty of the very thing I was writing about. In response, I left the following comment that I thought would make for some good discussion:

I expected this response and I can’t say it isn’t wholly unwarranted. I conferred with several colleagues and outside friends wondering if I was being critical. The resounding answer was no.

But that is outside of the point I want to make in response. I think that argument – media fans the political fire just as much as politicians – is circular reasoning.

If we lived in fear of that criticism and chose to ignore stories to avoid adding to the fervor, how would we ever write about politics? Any story that is in any way critical or shows a politician in a negative light could be criticized (and often is) as a media creation meant to urge feuds and feed turmoil.

Just because we write about politics doesn’t make us political. When we write about political turmoil, that doesn’t make us tumultuous. If I report on a political argument, I am not being argumentative. So, if I write about one entity turning an apolitical incident into a political one, I don’t believe I am guilty by association.

Think of the slippery slope of your comment outside the context of the media. If you go and talk to your friends about this story, are you inciting or sensationalizing the episode? Or merely making an objective statement about something you witnessed?

Obviously, it can’t be ignored that writing about something naturally raises a situation to a different level of awareness. What I try to decide is if something is worthy (information that is pertinent/necessary/interesting to the people) of giving it the added attention. I felt this situation warranted the post and I believe I was fair in reporting it.

I will also admit that there are reporters and media outlets who do use their abilities for evil and pour gas on the fire or push something to be more than it is. It is a fine line that we walk. Every time I report on something, I weigh its newsworthiness, run a check list of pros and cons, consider the consequences, who this would be important to and why. For a blog post, this passed the test.

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Appointments all around in Covina, West Covina

If you are a politician in Covina and West Covina, times appear to be good (in the sense of getting elected).

In West Covina, Karin Armbrust went from second loser to being appointed on the council to replace newly minted Assemblyman Roger Hernandez.

Armbrust will serve the remainder of his term, which ends in November. She was selected from a pool of 19 applicants.

Then in Covina, with no challengers for incumbents Peggy Delach and Walt Allen, the election was canceled.

Instead the council appointed both incumbents, saving the city a cool chunk of change.

Duarte fans the political flames after Vulcan Materials fire


Duarte officials are trying to throw some coals on a fire at a Vulcan Materials Co. facility last week.

I can’t say I am surprised. When has an opportunity ever been lost in politics?

More to the point, after a fire broke out at a plant run by Vulcan last week, Duarte jumped at the opportunity for some bad press for the company.

On Duarte’s city website, the city issued a press release regarding the incident entitled “Fire erupts at Vulcan Materials plant.”

Duarte immediately notified AQMD of the fire, according to the release. The release goes on to discuss air quality briefly before tacking on a picture.

Did the fire warrant a reaction from Duarte? Duarte residents would resoundingly say yes, while Vulcan officials and mining plan proponents would probably argue this was politically motivated.

I understand the excitement about the incident. When I first heard there was a fire at Vulcan, I immediately realized the implications and the possibilities arising from any incident at one of the company’s plants.

The company is the middle of a political battle in Azusa where they are trying to get a development agreement passed for a new mining plan amendment for the Azusa Rock Quarry. A referendum election is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Duarte has opposed the mining plan and is challenging it in court.

If this had been a serious fire, there would have been political implications and opponents of the plan would be armed with additional ammunition.

But, alas, it was not to be. The fire was small, the affect minimal, and it went relatively unnoticed to most people.

But Duarte posted a story on its home page in somewhat of an alarming fashion. Should the city have informed its residents? Yes. I mean, we wrote about it. It would be kind of hypocritical to say no.

But does it smell of political motivations? (besides the burning rubber smell) Of course, which somewhat taints the action all together.

Fires happen in cities, often times at businesses, and without the help of the fire department or local residents, we may never know about them. Cities aren’t often in the business of writing press releases when a roofer starts a small tar fire or a restaurant has a minor kitchen fire.

When Duarte decides to write a story on this subject, one assumes it is with a purpose beyond reporting the news.

It’s to provide a spark.

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What you may have missed while you were dreaming of sunshine

A lot of national news this weekend dominated the headlines including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the defeat of the DREAM Act. While you were absorbing all that, here are some of the things you might have missed.

An ethics scandal may have ended former congressman Jay Kim’s political career and marriage, but in failure he found a new love.

Everything you want to know about the new smart meters rolled out by Edison.

As predicted, there was a shake up with the Water Quality Authority as a South El Monte councilman overtook longstanding representative Margaret Clark.

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Tessitor named chairman of Gold Line construction board

Glendora Councilman Doug Tessitor was named the chairman of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board of Directors (try saying that title in one breath).

A councilman since 2003 (up for re-election in March 2011) Tessitor has been the Pasadena City appointee to the board since Jan. 2009 and served on the Joint Powers Authority board since Nov. 2008.

“This is a very exciting time for the project and the Construction Authority, and I am honored to lead the board as we begin construction on the nearly $700 million project that will connect communities from Arcadia to Azusa to the entire L.A. County system, create thousands of jobs and generate nearly a billion dollars for our region,” Tessitor said in a written statement.

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Glendora council candidate connected to allegations of misconduct at Rio Hondo College

Reported in today’s paper that Rio Hondo college is investigating potential problems with its Police Academy beyond a testing breach being investigated by the state.

At the heart of the allegations – that include employees watching porn and improper range training – is the school’s former Dean of Public Safety and the academy’s supervisor Joe Santoro.

Santoro, the former Monrovia Police Chief, is also a Glendora resident that announced his bid for the City Council this week. With his background, both educational and administrative, Santoro was a potential favorite in that election. Now, the fate of that election bid may be directly tied to the outcome of these allegations.

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