Chu making her rounds

Two weeks ago it was El Monte, this week it’s Baldwin Park.

Judy Chu – head of the State Board of Equalization and a candidate for the 32nd Congressional seat – is opening up a campaign headquarters in Baldwin Park on Saturday.

She’s having a big shindig at 9:30 a.m. to celebrate the office’s opening, at 4153 N. Maine Avenue – yes, Bisno Development Co.’s old office.

Expected to be there are: “members of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ family, California State Controller John Chiang, Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-El Monte, and scores of local mayors and council members from the 32nd District,” according to a press release sent out today.

Baldwin Park’s numbers game

Business owner Greg Tuttle is at it again.

He spent the last two Baldwin Park City Council meetings accusing developer Robert Bisno of owning the city $286,526.01 in back payments.

“I guess maybe the council needs a little help on reading statements of financials for the city. Bisno left the city with $286,526.01 (in debt) … Did the city know about this? Oh yes they did, way back in May.”

Tuttle claims he has city documents proving that when Bisno pulled out of a proposed downtown redevelopment project last year, he failed to pay the city more than $200,000 in costs related to the project.

City officials were quick to contend the allegations Wednesday night, stating that Bisno actually owes money to a third-party consultant, not the city.

According to City Attorney Joseph Pannone, when the city signed the agreement with Bisno for the plan, it was clear that if money wasn’t received from Bisno, the city did not have to pay consultants involved in the project’s planning.

“The consultants would get paid only when the city gets paid,” Baldwin Park’s Chief Executive Officer Vijay Singhal said. “They have a claim against Bisno, not against the city.”

Singhal went on to say that, “as of today, we have not paid any taxpayer money or any city money in this project. We actually are holding deposits somewhere in the range of $8,000 or $9,000 to cover ay expenses that may come up.”

Program continues its attack on fat in Baldwin Park


The Healthy Teens on the Move Advocacy Committee, also known has HEAC, has been doing a lot over the last few years to fight youth obesity in Baldwin Park.

The group, made up of area teens interested in living and promoting healthy life-styles, has been especially active in the last year, going before the Baldwin Park City Council pitching ideas and getting programs off the ground.

Their latest endeavor? Logos at several Baldwin Park markets that flag healthy food options, which comply with the state’s standards for snacks and drinks in schools.

The “Healthy Selection” logos are currently being used at markets like La Blanquita, Mercado del Pueblo, El Mambi, J & J Liquor, Jay’s Liquor, Vallarta, Smart & Final and 7-Eleven. They were designed by Baldwin Park high school students.

A recent study found Baldwin Park has the highest rates of youth obesity in suburban Los Angeles County.



Tropical Islands in Baldwin Park

With all the talk about day laborers and illegal street vendors in Baldwin Park, I hope these guys — who were selling funnel cake and smoothies in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Friday — had a permit.


You might remember Councilman Anthony Bejarano’s attempt a few weeks back to bring a controversial ordinance back to the table amid continued complaints of day laborers at the Home Depot shopping center, and other illegal vendors in parking lots across Baldwin Park. The ordinance would have banned such practices in parking lots.

But the bid wasn’t very successful — most of Bejarano’s colleagues on the dais weren’t very responsive. Bejarano argues the issue must be dealt with eventually.

APU professor appointed to Baldwin Park school board


A university professor and Baldwin Park pastor has filled a recently vacated seat on the school board.

Paul Flores was appointed by a unanimous vote of the Baldwin Park Unified School District Board of Education on Thursday.

He is replacing Marco Dominguez, who resigned Jan. 1 after accepting a full-time position to teach Spanish at Texas Tech University.

Flores is director of the Azusa Pacific University Liberal Studies/Undergraduate Education K-8 Program, and an assistant professor of liberal studies. He is also a pastor at Church of the Redeemer in Baldwin Park.

Flores will finish out Dominguez’s term, which is up in November. He plans to run again during the board’s November elections.

A total of five candidates initially applied for the open seat — Flores, Luis Carranza, Olga Morales, Leonor Garcia and David Olivas, the former Baldwin Park city councilman who announced early last year he would not be defending his council seat because he wanted to focus on his law career.

Olivas and Garcia withdrew their applications before Thursday’s special meeting, district Superintendent Mark Skvarna said.

Olivas said he only applied because at the time, no other applications had been submitted.

Baldwin Park school board to appoint new member

Tonight’s the night.

The Baldwin Park Unified School District Board of Education is expected to appoint a new member today to fill the seat recently vacated by former member Marco Dominguez.

Here’s the list of interested candidates:

Luis Carranza
Paul Flores
Leonor Garcia
Olga Morales
David Olivas

A few interesting notes. Anthony Bejarano, Sr. and Mary Ferrer —- who ran for the board in the last election, but lost —- aren’t up for the job. Bejarano, Sr. had expressed no interest in it, and actually, he said the board should appoint Ferrer since she got more votes than he did.

And also worth mentioning, Olivas is the former Baldwin Park city councilman who announced early last year he would not be defending his seat because he wanted to focus on his attorney career.

“It’s the point in time when I should be at my peak in terms of number of clients, earnings and I simply cannot do that when I’m spending a good portion of my day being a council member,” Olivas said. 

One more candidate up for Solis’ seat


Baldwin Park Unified School District President Blanca Rubio just told me she’s running for Congress.

“After much consideration with my family and members of the community, I am going to throw my name in the hat for (Hilda Solis’ seat).”

Solis was recently tapped to be President-Elect Barack Obama’s labor secretary. Since then, several local politicos have jumped in and out of the race to fill her vacancy.

Rubio will be going up against heavy-hitter Judy Chu, who is chariwoman of the Board of Equalization, as well as some others. But Rubio isn’t fazed.

“I know I can do it, I know I can,” she said. “No disrespect to anybody, but I’m from Baldwin Park.”

Day laborers, supermarkets and trash, oh my

It’ll be a busy meeting next week for members of the Baldwin Park City Council, who will me discussing several interesting agenda items.

Among them is a proposal to bring Superior Market into the city, work out a deal with the day laborers to build a day laborer site, discussion of a trash sorting facility bordering Baldwin Park and Irwindale, and an innovative plan to encourage contractors to hire city residents for construction jobs.

Straight from the city’s mouth:

Staff recommends City Council approve a policy to encourage the hiring of city residents or businesses by contractors of city-funded public works projects and direct staff to develop guidelines as to when these incentives become applicable: a) if a contractor of a City-funded capital project hires a city resident or business for a substantial portion of the work, the contractor is entitled to the following incentives: 1) City will expedite the payment of contractor’s invoices by fifteen days (instead of payment in 30 days after approval, the payment would be 15 days after approval) and 2) City will provide a cash incentive of $100 per resident/business hired; b) in addition the following language shall be included in City contracts: PURCHASES OF SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS AND USE OF RESIDENTS WITHIN BALDWIN PARK. For work performed, Contractor agrees (i) to seek bids for supplies and materials from businesses located within the City of Baldwin Park, with the intent to make purchases from those businesses if such purchases can be made at competitive prices; and (ii) to employ residents of the City of Baldwin Park to the extent feasible.


***Request for Council consideration and discussion to repeal Ordinance No. 1290 and reconsider the Superior Market Urban Downtown Development project. Due to the recent withdrawal of the Bisno Development proposal the Council must proactively pursue other development alternatives. Direct staff to place on the next City Council agenda the repeal of Ordinance No. 1290 and staff report on Superior Market development proposal for review; and


***Request for Council consideration and discussion of the proposal from Jornaleros Unidos of the San Gabriel Valley to sign a non-binding community agreement with the city to organize and implement a Day Labor site plan. Direct staff to place on next City Council agenda a staff report with agreement and designate Jornaleros Unidos of the San Gabriel Valley as site organizing committee


Staff recommends City Council 1) direct staff to explore options to protect residents and visitors from the negative and adverse impacts as a result of the construction and operation of the MRF/TS in the city of Irwindale; and 2) consider forming a City Council ad-hoc committee to monitor the city of Irwindale’s activities and proceedings directly related to the MRF/TS and strategize and conceptualize potential directions to oppose the MRF/TS; and 3) waive further reading, read by title only and adopt Resolution No. 2009-002 entitled, “A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BALDWIN PARK EXPRESSING OPPOSITION TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF A 322,972 SQUARE FOOT MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY AND TRANSFER STATION WITHIN THE CITY OF IRWINDALE IMMEDIATELY ABUTTING THE CITY OF BALDWIN PARK.”

One-way ticket to the inauguration

I just got off the phone with Baldwin Park Unified School District Superintendent Mark Skvarna and he told me Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, gave him a ticket to the Jan. 20 inauguration.

President-Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in during the historic ceremony, and whether you voted for him or not, the opportunity to attend is an honor.

Skvarna said he, unfortunately, had to give the ticket back to Solis’ office because all the flights and hotels in Washington, D.C. are booked. He still appreciated the gesture.

“It was very kind of her to give me a ticket,” Skvarna said.

Taggers hit up former RV dealership


It seems taggers have taken over the former site of Altmans Winnebago Inc. in Baldwin Park. The Caltrans-owned property that fronts the 10 Freeway has become an eyesore, according to city officials, as a myriad of graffiti lines the building’s walls.

City officials are in contact with Caltrans to clean up the site. Caltrans spokeswoman Judy Gish told me today they plan on meeting with contractors tomorrow for graffiti removal. But she warned: “Within a very short time of the clean-up, the graffiti will be back.”

It seems graffiti removal is costly and timely, and Caltrans simply doesn’t have the resources to continously clean up the site everytime a tagger gets his spray paint can on it.

The city monitors the site regularly to make sure all gates and fences are secure, but they can’t do anything more —– it’s not their property.

“It is a priority (for us),” Mayor Manuel Lozano said. “Unfortunately, it’s probably been a little more slow-paced because the property does belong to Caltrans.”