Controversial San Dimas businessman closes downtown liquor store

San Dimas residents are reporting that local businessman and perennial city council candidate Sid Maksoudian has shut down his high-end liquor store.

Assistant City Manager Ken Duran confirmed what many people were telling me: Chalet Gourmet, 120 W Bonita Ave., is closed for business.

After calling Sid a few times, I finally got him to pick up the phone on Tuesday. With some hostility he asked why his business is any of my business.

I persisted, but my efforts were rewarded only by an obscenity-laced response that I’ll assume means “no comment.”

Then he hung up.

Sid has during the years tangled with councilmembers, other downtown business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and organizers of the San Dimas Rodeo. As far as anyone knows, Sid still lives in San Dimas, so while he might not be a presence downtown anymore, it’s probably too soon to assume this is the last of him.

Azusans allied against parking proposal


A group of Azusa residents who oppose the city’s plans for a four-story Gold Line parking structure behind City Hall are planning a protest rally on Saturday.

The original plans for the parking structure placed it on the north side of the railroad tracks, across Azusa Avenue from Target. The city, hoping to use the Gold Line site for a retail establishment, has proposed building it on the site of Veterans Freedom Park

The Save Azusa Civic Center Park Committee (SACCPC), naturally opposes the idea.

To show just how ugly the parking structure will be, the group has put together a simulation of what they think it will look like. They photoshopped a picture of an Irwindale parking structure over the park – with remarkably realistic looking results.

For those interested in the rally, it will start at Azusa Avenue and Fifth Street on Saturday at 11 a.m. The marchers will head from there to the park for the rally at noon. Mayor Joe Rocha and Azusa Unified School Board Member Yolanda R. Pena may even be there.

La Puente Mayor’s next appearance will be …

At a special La Puente council meeting earlier this month, Mayor John Solis requested moving the regular Jan. 10 council meeting to Jan. 11.

“The reason I did that was because I don’t think we’re going to have a quorum that day,” Solis said.

He explained that Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza recently had a few deaths in the family, so she likely wouldn’t be able to attend.

Solis also mentioned that he and Councilman Vince House would be out of town at a conference in Sacramento for “one-on-one” time with legislatures and to voice their concerns about the end of redevelopment.

Councilman Dan Holloway wasn’t so convinced – was there something specifically on the agenda that Solis didn’t want approved by a majority vote?

“I want to make sure that we’re being told (Mendoza) won’t be here,” he said. “I will support this if I have assurance that there’s not going to be a quorum. I don’t want to move a meeting just because two council members will be out of town and three of them will be here.”

No fuss, no muss. It was easily approved by the three present members.

And then on Monday, Jan. 9., County Sheriff’s officials released a sketch of a man suspected of raping a La Puente girl. The TV crews were all over it – and so was John Solis.

Residents captured glimpses of Solis being interviewed by several local television stations that night. (Too bad I can’t find any online videos to post. Except this one.)

Anyway, I go about my business and attend a very late night public hearing in West Covina the next day – the day Solis was supposed to be at a conference, right?

Nope. He was at the same West Covina meeting I was at. His friend, Mayor Mike Touhey, is on the council.

“I thought you were going to a conference?,” I asked Solis.

Looking a little flustered, he said he was sick and dragged himself out of bed to do interviews that morning. I guess he was fully recovered by the time the West Covina meeting came to an end at about midnight.

Solis assured me House went to the conference.

Still, at the Jan. 3 meeting, both Solis and House got defensive about the number of conferences they attend and the expenses they incur.

Council members have come under heavy scrutiny for the trips they take by members of the Coalition of Concerned Residents, a watchdog citizens group that recently formed.

“I keep hearing and hearing over and over again that we’re blowing the city’s money going to these conventions,” House said. “We don’t go up there to party and have a good time. I don’t get paid one penny more for those days I’m out of town. I only get my expenses and that I have a legal right to have.”

“Don’t just assume we’re out having a party every time we’re out of town,” he added. “I’m doing my duty. Please don’t berate me for doing it.”

Solis agreed.

“We do go and we’re going to continue to go to it because it benefits the city,” Solis said.

Maybe that stance changes when TV cameras are around.

A forgotten milestone

In Jay Chen’s 2011 Year-in-review, he mentioned various milestones from 2011 for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. These included a failed recall attempt against him, a HLPUSD board ;member, and his free college application seminars.

But what he did not mention may be more important:
The changing of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. School will start three weeks earlier and end three weeks earlier. The change was controversial and may be trend- setting.
Here’s a section from our story which ran in December:

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District board voted 4-1 Thursday night to start the next school year on Aug. 7, three weeks earlier than usual. It is the first local school district to adopt an early start calendar for the entire PreK-12 population.

School will let out May 21, 2013, instead of in late June. A similar calendar was adopted for the 2013-14 school year.

Some may call that decision of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest school district one that affects the most people — parents and children.It affect thousands of families in La Puente and Hacienda Heights. It could also lead to other districts doing the same thing.

Quite a milestone.

La Puente’s election gets underway

The nomination period for La Puente’s April 10 general election has opened, with three seats up for re-election.

Seats for Council members Nadia Mendoza, John Solis and Dan Holloway are open for four-year terms.

Incumbents Holloway and Solis pulled nomination papers. Mendoza has yet to pull papers, elections official Carol Cowley said.

Residents who also pulled papers include Planning Commissioner Charles Klinakis, former Puente Pride Award Committee chairwoman Violeta Lewis and Raul Alvarado.
The nomination period ends at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 13.

If nomination papers for an incumbent are not filed by Jan. 13, voters have until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 to nominate candidates other than the incumbents, Cowley said.

La Puente to discuss hiring new city attorney

The La Puente City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss city attorney services at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 15900 E. Main St.

The council will recess to closed session to discuss city attorney services and then discuss appointing a law firm and/or individual to provide city attorney services.

Jaime Casso has been city attorney on an interim basis for more than a year.

Council members John Solis and Vince House appointed themselves to an ad hoc committee to discuss retaining a new city attorney.

Word on the street is Alvarez-Glasman and Colvin Law Firm – which also represents West Covina, Montebello and Pico Rivera – is a finalist.