Environmental groups worried about another NFL stadium exemption


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). (



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

Are Supervisor Antonovich and Jack LaLanne friends?


Politicians receive gifts from a number of sources. Some are more interesting (such as overseas trips) than others (say, a basket of fruit). One local supervisor received a small, but nonetheless, intriguing one.

Of the three gifts (pictured) Supervisor Michael Antonovich, 70, reported receiving gifts last year, one of them was a $100 juicer from the “godfather of fitness,” 95-year old Jack LaLanne, according to the supervisor’s disclosure forms.

Has anyone tried one of them?

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

NFL stadium battle moves online with new website opposed to downtown concept


Two months ago, local billionaire Ed Roski Jr.’s grand plans of returning the NFL to the Los Angeles region encountered an interesting twist. A former business partner, Tim Leiweke, and Casey Wasserman announced they were exploring their own idea of building a $1 billion NFL stadium next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

As some predicted, Roski (pictured) wasn’t the only one gunning for an NFL team in L.A. And some of that jockeying for position has now moved online.

A new website and Twitter account in opposition of the downtown stadium concept were recently started. The site, nostadiumatstaples.com, is a collection of news stories and items relating to the Leiweke-Wasserman plan. It covers everything from questions about L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s tickets from Staples Center owners to the mayor’s hopes of luring Comic-Con to the L.A. Convention center (which could be torn down as part of the downtown stadium concept). Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, which owns and operates the Staples Center, is a political ally of Villaraigosa.

It’s unclear who runs the website or Twitter account. The website was created on May 30, according to a website registry. And the tweeting didn’t start until June 1. Here’s who is behind it, according to a vague description on their website:

We are a group of concerned citizens of the Los Angeles area bringing you current news information regarding the possible development of a 80,000 seat stadium at the Staples Center.

A Twitter message to the group wasn’t immediately returned. And a call to a Roski representative wasn’t either.

Roski, CEO and Chairman of Majestic Realty Co., has said he won’t build his shovel-ready 600-acre, 75,000-seat stadium in Industry until he lands a team.

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

Violent crime down in largest San Gabriel Valley cities


The amount of violent crime in the San Gabriel Valley’s three most populous cities dropped dramatically last year, reflecting a national trend, according to 2009 crime figures released Monday by FBI.

All three Valley cities of over 100,000 residents — El Monte, Pasadena and West Covina — saw a drop in both violent and property crimes with one exception. El Monte property crime saw an uptick from 2008 to 2009.

Highlights from each of the cities, according to the FBI and police chiefs:

  • West Covina brought back a crime analyst in 2008, which allowed the city to aggressively target certain areas and criminals, Police Chief Frank Wills said.
  • West Covina was also able to keep patrol officers on the streets, but had to cut its S.W.A.T. team to do so, Wills said.
  • Murders in West Covina jumped from three in 2008 to eight in 2009.
  • El Monte Police Chief Tom Armstrong said the drop in murders to three in 2009 from 12 in 2008 is proof that the spike was an aberration.
  • Pasadena had five murders in 2009 compared to three in 2008.

For more, read the story here.

Final note: We keep track of homicides in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the FBI which relies on data provided by the law enforcement agencies. In some cases, we have a couple more murders than the FBI’s tally. Here are the totals from 2009, and what we have so far for this year. (The map pictured above shows all the 2009 murders across the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas.)

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

How far can a city go when it comes to code enforcement?


How far can a city go to ensure neighborhoods and homes are uniform, clean and meet a general community standard?

Richard McDonald, 76, has been fighting back against his city. His two-acre property has a $36,750 lien stemming from dozens of code violations he racked up over the years. Walnut is trying to recoup some of the money it spent trying to address his case.

A city prosecutor charged he and his wife with 279 code violations and both were eventually conviction of 33 of those counts last year. McDonald admits to having had as many as 20 dogs, 15 cars and 200 pigeons on land which sits a top a hill on Camino de Teodoro. The city says neighbors have complained since 2003 about the appearance of the property, the smell and dogs.

At the heart of McDonald’s challenge is differing opinions on property maintenance. He claims that no one has complained about his home since he moved there in 1972. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said McDonald, who retired in 1993 from 33 years of teaching at Fullerton College.

Do you agree?

For more on McDonald’s story read the rest here.

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

La Puente approves trash rate increase

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to raise residential trash rates by 5 percent and commercial rates by 10 percent.
Trash hauler Valley Vista Services proposed raising monthly residential rates by $1.13 to $23.32, according to a city report. Commercial monthly rates would increase by $18.93 to $208.27.
The new rates are effective April 1, according to city documents. The city began its exclusive contract with Valley Vista in Jan. 2009.
The city’s staff recommended the council approve the increase, after the trash hauler asked for the rate adjustment. The residential rate is little less than average for area cities.
Glendora, for instance, charges $25.61 monthly for residential customers.
In neighboring Hacienda Heights, Valley Vista charges $17.50 a month for residential customers, but that rate is expected to increase in the coming years.

Lujan’s resignation letter

It’s a little late but here’s former Mayor Louie Lujan’s resignation letter. Lujan resigned hours before he appeared in court Thursday to plead guilty to one count of perjury. The letter is time-stamped 5:25 p.m. Wednesday.

City of La Puente:

For personal and professional, I hereby resign from the City Council effective today at 5:30 p.m. Thank you for the support and the opportunities that you have provided me during the last several years. I have enjoyed my time working with each and every one of you; you will all be missed.

Louie Lujan

Charged with perjury = no show

On Saturday, the La Puente City Council held a special meeting to discuss the future of the city and to set some goals. Nothing gripping.

Four of the five council members showed up, but freshly-indicted Mayor Louie Lujan didn’t.

Lujan pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of perjury for filing an allegedly false campaign finance report, officials with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

Lujan, 33, is accused of failing to report money from a December 2008 fundraiser. He also failed to report how his campaign account spent the money, according to the criminal complaint.

If convicted, Lujan would be removed from office and barred from ever holding elected office again, prosecutors said.

There is a council meeting scheduled for Tuesday night, so residents may have a chance to see their mayor again. Or not.

Diamond Bar councilwoman Chang already on notice

Welcome to the big leagues, Diamond Bar councilwoman Ling-Ling Chang.

You won a council seat in November and have occupied it a mere four weeks.
But you’ve already done something to irk some people.

Already, a group (or what appears to be one) is bent on keeping tabs on you.

A recent example: “Citizens Watching Councilmember Ling-Ling Chang” has been circulating e-mails about a recent Chang vote.

(We received a couple this week.)

At a Dec. 15 meeting, the city council approved the contract of a city consultant Gary Neely by a vote of 3-2 with Chang voting in favor.

The problem, however, the group alleges, is that Chang took $198 in contributions from Neely in her successful council run.

She did, according to her campaign finance statements. A review of the other Nov. city council candidates — from current council members Steve Tye and Ron Everett to newcomers David T. Liu, Robert Velazquez, Lucy Huang and Shawn “S” Dhand — didn’t reveal any other Neely contributions.

The group didn’t return two follow-up e-mails seeking comment and more importantly, questions of who they are.

But there is one telling paragraph in their e-mail to us that shows we likely won’t be getting a response:

Unfortunately, we are not willing to disclose our names out of fear of political retaliation and rebuke by the New Diamond Bar Council Majority, because we will be ridiculed by the Councilmembers Herrera and Tye on the truth that we are trying to convey if anyone would listen and wake up!