Weekend links

Live downstream from the Whittier Narrows or Santa Fe Dams? You have reason to worry, according to a new report.

Speaking of water, one of the areas most prominent local innovators for water projects died recently. Tim Jochem spent almost a decade as the general manager of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District.

California is leading the pack nationally when it comes to implementing federal health care reform, and has already passed legislation and allocated federal resources to do so.

U.S. Army Corps cuts ribbon on new break room! Oh, btw, local dams might break…

The Santa Fe and Whittier Narrows dams have Dam Safety Safety Class II – URGENT (Unsafe or Potentially Unsafe), but there isn’t a press release about that on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website.

You know what there is a press release for? This:

LOS ANGELES–More than 30 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District team members welcomed the addition of a much-anticipated break room on the 11th floor during a ribbon cutting ceremony here Jan. 19.

Col. Mark Toy, district commander, said one of the first things he did after taking command July 1, 2010, was to examine employee work stations and brainstorm ways to improve them. One of the things Toy noticed was there was nowhere for workers to take a break and recharge their batteries throughout the workday. Since the compression of the building at 915 Wilshire Blvd. was completed last year, there was no designated location for employees to relax.

“You can’t work 14 hour days and then [take a] break in the hallways, parking lot or the bathrooms. I was really concerned there wasn’t a place for our people to get away from work. Now we have a great flat screen TV, really nice furniture and vending machines,” said Toy.

Completion of the break room was made possible thanks to a partnership and coordination between the executive office; Lincoln Properties, which manages the building; the Logistics Office and General Services Administration.

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

DA’s office says no decision on misuse of public funds allegations against Duarte prior to Tuesday’s special election

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office of Public Integrity said an investigation into the misuse of public funds by Duarte officials regarding an Azusa referendum remains open.

Furthermore, Head Deputy District Attorney for the department, David Demerjian, said he doesn’t expect any decisions on the case prior to the special election based on the referendum in question which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Azusa Mayor Diane Chagnon alleged in a complaint filed with the district attorney’s office in November that Duarte hired a public relations firm to help with a referendum campaign in Azusa and illegally discussed certain items in closed session.

Officials in Duarte rebuked the claims and submitted hundreds of documents to the attorney’s office in response.

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

Details hard to come by regarding Glendora retail development

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I tried to get the lowdown on the new Glendora Plaza development being built near the corner of Route 66 and Grand Avenue.

I called the project’s developer Georges Attar, and I got some basics. It is a 19,000 square foot development with a restaurant pad. He purchased the property a couple years back, but development was slowed by the economy.

I asked him about any concerns getting tenants in the building – after all, the Fresh and Easy anchored center just a couple blocks south remains mostly vacant – but he shook it off.

“It is a totally different location,” Attar said.

For any more details, he referred me to his partner Elie Attar.

I called Wednesday and left a message. I called today and spoke to a Frank. He said Elie was out and I should call back. I asked if he would be in today, and Frank’s response was a quick “I don’t know.” In the middle of asking when would be a better time to call back, Frank hung up.

I called back to ask when the best time to call back would be, but just after introducing myself again, Frank clamored, “He is not here right now,” before hanging up.

I thought about calling back a third time, but realized I would just look foolish when he hung up on me again. The lack of control in a phone call is infuriating at times.

Maybe we will get the details in the future, but for now it looks like a dead end.

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

Notes on the Glendora candidates forum

Last night was the Glendora council candidates forum where the seven contenders sparred (not really, more like, politely conveyed their views) over various city issues.

First and foremost, I must say that Ken Herman was a gracious moderator. Despite the questionable choice to choose a once candidate, incumbent Mayor to be the moderator that adds the opportunity for someone to cry foul over the forum’s fairness, it wasn’t an issue.

Herman read the questions, kept everyone within their allotted time, and commended the candidates as a group. He never singled out a candidate, interjected or gave his opinion.

Now for the highlights.

- In a forum where many of the candidates talked about leadership styles, the need to communicate better with residents and listen, incumbent councilman Doug Tessitor showed his experience.

For my two-cents, he had the money quote of the night – right or wrong. “Any decision you make has two sides. No matter what decision you make, it makes someone mad and someone happy. The person who is happy thinks you listened. The person who is mad thinks you didn’t listen.”

- Jason Nagy pulled a John Boehner, choking up during one bit.

OK, I feel genuinely bad for that joke. Nagy was clearly passionate last night and often spoke about his run being from his heart. No ill will intended.

- Cynthia Carrasco told me she is training for a bicycle marathon. So don’t be surprised if you see some bicyclists with some “Vote for Cynthia” jerseys.

- John Fields, while responding to a question about lawsuits from residents, said he felt some lawsuits were based on personal vendettas. He went onto say that some public records requests are also based on vendettas and he wondered if there was a way to filter such requests.

Short answer: No. Public records are just that. Public. Anyone person has a right to view them, vendetta or not.

- On the flip side, Fields promised to bring some flair and excitement to the council in the form of entertainment. This is actually a pretty good idea. Get people wondering what you might do if elected and maybe you get the curiosity vote. I can dig it.

- When asked the fully loaded question of what new state taxes the council candidates would support, the candidates had this shocking reply: None.

Who would have guessed? I am glad we got that question out of the way because otherwise who knows what could have happened.

- As a footnote, two candidates – Fields and Erica Landmann-Johnsey – graduated from Cal Poly Pomona representing the green and gold. Go Broncos! (If you haven’t figured it out, I am an alum)

- Landmann-Johnsey defended herself well with the forum’s most personal question regarding lawsuits against the city. Landmann-Johnsey was part of a group, Friends of Glendora, who filed a lawsuit against the city. In response, she said “”Lawsuits are sometimes necessary for people … who feel they are not being represented.”

- To the same question, Joe Santoro said “You’re really in jeopardy when someone wants to sue you.”

- Meg Whitman should have taken some lessons from Judy Nelson. Nelson, a business owner in Glendora, said she had not voted or paid attention to city politics for many years as she focused on her life. She owned it.

“I learned that is the wrong way to go,” she said.

Friendly reminder: Candidates Forum. Tonight. Glendora.

The seven candidates vying for a seat on the Glendora council will meet for a forum tonight.

All seven candidates have been confirmed to attend the event at 7 tonight at the Citrus Valley Association of Realtors Community Room, 504 E. Route 66, Glendora.

Incumbent Mayor Ken Herman – who is not seeking re-election – will moderate the forum.

The candidates will introduce themselves to the public at the event. Pre-determined questions will be asked of the candidates, who will be given a short time to speak on each issue.

The city election is scheduled for March 8. There are three open seats in Glendora with only one incumbent seeking re-election.

Rooster sauce gets a cookbook

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Huy Fong Foods Inc., which is moving to a new location in Irwindale not far from the Tribune offices, is famous for its “Rooster Sauce” the common name for the company’s Sriracha Hot Chile Sauce.

Well, if you are a fan, there is now a cookbook centered around using the ingredient in various recipes. If you love rooster sauce, but haven’t been brave enough to try it in your every day cooking, this is your chance.

Personally I am a Tabasco sauce kind of guy. As for most of my friends, they love them some Tapatio Hot Sauce, but Sriracha has some major fans in the newsroom.

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

West Covina doesn’t wait long to adjust council photo

Most city websites have employee and city council pictures that last for years, sometimes more, and are rarely updated. But in West Covina, it didn’t take long before the council members got together to take a group picture without now Assemblyman Roger Hernandez in it.

The new picture, showing four of the council members but not newly appointed member Karin Armbrust, includes Steve Herfert, Shelley Sanderson, Mike Touhey and Sherri Lane.

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Car allowances in Alhambra, San Gabriel and La Habra

Just to follow up on the car allowance stories we have been running in the paper that showed El Monte spending about $228,000 a year on the benefit and Pasadena nearly $300,000, I just got a reply from Alhambra showing the cities spending amounts.

Only two employees receive car allowances, one for $500 to city manager and a $150 allowance for assistant city manager. The city does provide quite a few cars for 22 employees. The newest car is a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid for the planning director worth about $20,000, according to city estimates. Another two Ford F-150s are worth just over $20,000. The remainder of the vehicles are Ford Crown Victorias that are about eight or nine years old. Most of the vehicles are older and worth around $5,000.

In San Gabriel, the city spends about $23,400 a year on car allowances and then owns about $30,000 worth in city take-home vehicles for five city employees. The car allowances are $450 to four executives, the deputy city clerk, the city manager, the Mission Playhouse manager, and the community development director.

In La Habra, a city of about 60,000 people, the city spends $45,300 annually on car allowances for 12 employees, including the city clerk, the assistant city manager, two finance administrators, and several planning or engineering officials. In addition, the police chief, two police captains, the director of community services and the city manager each have a take-home Crown Victoria – none newer than 2002. The water/sewer manager has a 2007 Ford F-150 and the street maintenance supervisor has a 1997 Ford Ranger.

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