West Covina City Hall may be open 7-days a week

WEST COVINA – Councilman Mike Touhey wants City Hall open seven days a week to accommodate working people, at a time when civic centers are slashing hours.

In a Dec. 3 letter to City Manager Andy Pasmant, Touhey requests a “one-stop counter” in City Hall where a cross trained part-time employee works Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Touhey asked for the idea to be placed on the next City Council agenda.

This comes at a time when cities such as Covina are changing its hours and moving to a four-day work week to save money.

Below is the letter sent last week:


I would like to agendize a one stop counter for the next council meeting. A counter on the 1st Floor of City Hall where we have one cross trained Part-Time employee to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also volunteer counter people to help the staff member similar to our SHOP Program. So residents can take care of business when they are off of work. Making City Hall more available for the people. City Hall open 7 days a week to serve you, I like the sound of it.

Friday 4 PM 9 PM

Saturday 12 PM – 5 PM

Sunday 12 PM -5 PM

I have had great concerns since we have gone to a 4 Day work week I think it’s poor customer service for the Residents.

Mike Touhey

U.S. Labor Secretary Solis mum on Industry NFL stadium

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was in town Tuesday morning, visiting the Los Angeles Electrical Training Institute, a union center in Commerce that teaches electrical skills, and talking green jobs.
So we asked Solis – the former U.S. representative for El Monte, West Covina and Baldwin Park – what she thought of the plan to build a $800-million, 75,000-seat “green” NFL stadium in Industry.
Solis punted the question, saying she was “not really aware of it.”
When asked if she had any thoughts, she replied: “Not really because I’m here mostly to talk about what our investments are.”
Solis was referring to the federal grants and contributions made to California to promote green jobs.
Maybe Solis was caught off guard by the question but the NFL stadium issue has been a hot topic for the region and state, given Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval of the stadium plan.
Labor unions heavily backed the stadium plan as billionaire developer Ed Roski and his Majestic Realty Co. touted the project as a way to create 18,000 jobs and create $760 million in yearly economic output.

Fond farewell

By the time you read this, I’ll almost be gone.

Sounds like an opening line to a bad runaway note, but it’s the truth.

This is the last blog entry I’ll be writing for the Tribune as I’m moving on from journalism to that other side of information sharing — internal communications at USC’s health sciences department. My last day here is actually today. In in about four hours, my last shift will be over.

It’s been a crazy two and half years here filled with missteps, personal growth, opportunity and of course loads of experience.

I’ve been working in professional newspapers since I was 19, but I have to say no newsroom has been quite like this one. Working in the San Gabriel Valley gave me a crash course in real crime, real politics and real people.

And now it’s really time to go. This isn’t to say I won’t ever return to journalism (readers out there are either smiling or cringing at that thought) — journalism and writing has always been my passion.

It’s the art of storytelling that compels me. But for now, the transition is right for me and my future.

Lucky for you, it isn’t the end of this column or the blog. City Editor Ben Baeder will be taking over and he’s already got a list of ideas of to flesh out.

He’ll also have the help of the rest of the reporters in the newsroom for inspiration.

Keep reading …

Challenger takes lead over incumbents in La Puente race

With six out of 11 precincts reporting late Tuesday night, La Puente council candidate David Argudo took the lead over two incumbents in the race for a pair of open seats on the council.

By 11 p.m., Argudo had 589 votes. Councilwoman Lola Storing was behind him with 508, and Mayor Louie Lujan trailed with 493. Former City Councilwoman Renee Chavez was the lowest vote-getter with 445 votes.

Union-backed candidates lead in El Monte

Again from reporter Rebecca Kimitch, but this time early El Monte elections:

EL MONTE — In early voting results Tuesday night, three incumbents appeared to be headed for defeat in the races of El Monte mayor and two open City Council seats.

Voters instead favored union-backed candidates Andre Quintero, 34, for mayor and Norma Macias, 38, for City Council.

Quintero had a significant lead over incumbent mayor Mayor Ernie Gutierrez.

“If these results hold, the community is definitely looking for new leadership,” Quintero said.

Quintero is a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles and a former Rio Hondo Community College District trustee.

In the City Council race, Macias, an architect who oversees infrastructure projects in South El Monte, and Kien Lam, 30, an information security specialist for a biomedical company, held the number one and two spots.

They were followed by Planning Commissioner Richard Garner, 60, a 32-year city employee; incumbents Juventino “J” Gomez and Art Barrios; and finally Angel Ralph Nunez, 57, a 20-year city employee.

West Covina city staff allegedly asked to unlawfully approve development project

WEST COVINA – Mayor Roger Hernandez at a meeting Tuesday called for an investigation of the West Covina Senior Villas project after a city employee told him that fellow employees are being asked to unlawfully approve parts of the project.

Hernandez said a city employee approached him because city employees are being asked “to unlawfully approve things to move the project forward.”

Hernandez asked City Manager Andy Pasmant to investigate the project and all employees involved with the development.

Developers Pacific Development/TELACU Industries proposes to build a 24-unit condominium complex on Workman Avenue. The complex would provide affordable housing to seniors.

Irwindale reports own election results

From reporter Rebecca Kimitch about the Irwindale City Council race:
(As a side note, Irwindale was the only San Gabriel Valley area city that did not turn over its election to the county)

In Irwindale, the city’s voters put Council members H. Manuel Ortiz and David “Chico” Fuentes ahead for two open seats on the council, with all but a handful of ballots counted, according to unofficial results.

Ortiz and Fuentes were followed by Raul Anthony Hernandez, Darlene Osmonson, and Patricia “Patsy”Gonzales.

“All the hard work paid off,” Ortiz said.

The winners will be responsible for selecting a new city manager and police chief. City Manager Robert Griego and Police Chief Sol Benudiz both announced they will retire at the end of the year.

They will also face challenges regarding city finances.

“The economy has hit our city, so we just to continue working hard to bring our city back to the way it was. Residents will see changes coming,” Ortiz said.

The two measures on the ballot – Measure T, a transient occupancy tax and Measure U, a utility users tax – are also headed to victory.

Lujan, Storing leading in La Puente council race

More early reporting, this time out of La Puente:

In early election returns Tuesday night, two incumbents were leading against two challengers in the race for a pair of open City Council seats.

Mayor Louie Lujan and Councilwoman Lola Storing, both seeking third terms, appeared to be winning against former City Councilwoman Renee Chavez and businessman David Argudo, a newcomer to local politics.

Storing could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

“I’m happy at the possibility of returning to the council for another four years,” Lujan said.

“I think all the candidates worked really hard,” he said. “We all had individual messages but for the most part, I don’t anticipate this being a change election.”

Lujan is currently under investigation by the District Attorney’s Office over alleged campaign finance violations. He said what role, if any, the investigation played in the campaign was always up to voters.

Lujan is also mulling a run for state Assembly and said if re-elected to the council, he would continue to explore that option.

Argudo, co-owner of JDL Financial in La Puente, ran for City Council in 2007 but lost to Councilman John Solis by just 27 votes. He said he decided to run again to bring change to the council.

Chavez also ran for council in 2007 but as an incumbent. She lost, finishing 94 votes behind Solis.

She also ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic ticket for the 57th Assembly District seat in 2006. At the time, she was trying to fill the seat being vacated by her husband, Ed Chavez, who was being termed out.

Both Argudo and Chavez did not return calls seeking comment.

There are 14,098 registered voters in La Puente.

Lozano, Rubio take early leads in Baldwin Park mayor, council races

Some early reporting from the Baldwin Park race:

Incumbent Manuel Lozano led in early election returns Tuesday night against former Councilman Ricardo Pacheco in the race for mayor.

Meanwhile, in the City Council election, City Clerk Susan Rubio appeared to headed toward an upset win over incumbent Anthony Bejarano, according to early voting results.

“I’m definitely happy, but these are very preliminary,” Lozano said. “Obviously, we have to wait and see what transpires when all precincts report.”

If elected, this will mark Lozano’s sixth term as mayor. He was first elected in 1999 and ran unopposed in 2007. There are no term limits in Baldwin Park.

Lozano said he was not concerned about where the figures would fall for write-in candidate Greg Tuttle because, “he’s not on the ballot and he’s not a resident.”

Figures for Tuttle were not available Tuesday night. His nomination papers were initially rejected by the City Clerk because he was not registered to vote in Baldwin Park at the time.

He later qualified as a write-in candidate, although his name did not appear on ballot information mailed to voters.

Tuttle, who owns Tuttle’s Parts Exchange on Ramona Boulevard, has been a vocal critic of the City Council and was a strong opponent of the city’s failed downtown development project with developer Bob Bisno.

Although they were running against one another, Tuttle still supported Councilman Pacheco in the mayor’s race. Pacheco’s current term doesn’t expire until 2011. Because he hasn’t relinquished his seat, Pacheco will continue to serve on the council if he loses the mayor’s race.

In the City Council race, Rubio and Garcia took an early lead against incumbent Anthony Bejarano and candidates Cruz Baca Sembello and Henry Huang, respectively.

“I’m not focusing on Anthony or anybody else right now, I just really want to speak for people who do not have a voice,” Rubio said. “I’m super excited about the possibility of serving the people of Baldwin Park.”

Despite their early leads, Rubio and Garcia cautioned against calling the race before ballots were counted.

“It’s early … right now,” Garcia said. “We always think (absentees) are kind of a mixed bag.”

Garcia — who was “optimistic about her candidacy — said it appeared that more voters had turned out for this election than in years past. She believed that larger turnout would help her in the race.

As for the city clerk’s seat, Christina Berumen led over Alejandra Avila and Brandie Rivera Woods, respectively.

City Treasurer Maria Contreras ran unopposed for her seat.

Have you voted yet?

And what’s you’re experience been like so far?

We’ve already gotten a lot of calls today about polling drama in La Puente, where school officials are accusing Bassett Unified school board candidate Art Sandoval of violating campaign laws. The sheriff’s deputies have been called out to several polling places, and deputies were even stationed at Van Wig Elementary School.

What’s voting been like for all of you?