Claims of liar may have been exaggerated at Glendora council meeting

Wendell Phillips, the attorney representing the Glendora municipal employees association, took a beating at the council meeting Tuesday night.

In the process of making a unanimous vote to impose contract concessions on the association, many council members questioned Phillips handling of the truth.

Watch for yourself toward the end of the council meeting video.

But Phillips may not have been fibbing about the motivation behind concessions made by the police officers association and police managers association last year.

Phillips has said that the POA and the PMA took the bullet for the employees association last year by making concessions with the understanding that the employees association would not have to.

At time time, Councilman Doug Tessitor called those claims “B.S.”

Well… I spoke with Police Officers Association President Michael Henderson and PMA President Sgt. Scott Strong and both confirmed Phillips’ claims to be true.

Henderson said that part of the motivation for agreeing to defer their salary increases as well as making other concessions was to avoid the employees association being hit. Henderson said they made their motivation clear to the city during negotiations.

After agreeing to those concessions, Henderson said they later learned the city wanted a 3 percent concession across the board.

Strong echoed those remarks, saying they made clear that they were making the concessions with the understanding the GMEA would not be asked to make the same concessions. Those negotiations were with City Manager Chris Jeffers, Finance Director Josh Betta and then deputy city manager Culver Heaton, Strong said.

Considering the council’s remarks from last night, Strong said there must have been some “misunderstanding.”

Councilman Doug Tessitor called me today and apologized for his remarks. He said he was wrong on that particular issue and planned to clarify that at the next council meeting.

“That was an error on my part,” Tessitor said. “I intend to make a public announcement at the next council meeting that I was in error and apologize for making that statement.”

Jeffers, in remarks to this newspaper, and in city staff reports regarding the negotiations, an argument made in favor of approving the city’s recommended concessions was that the employees association had not made concessions in the previous year.

Fair?

The one thing that seems to be clear is, at least for this one, Phillips may have been telling the truth.

More on this story online tomorrow and in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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

Insults, snide remarks no stranger at Glendora council meetings

This won’t be the last thing I post regarding Tuesday night’s Glendora council meeting where the city battled against the general employees association.

But I wanted to discuss something unrelated to that matter before we get into the hot debate of the moment.

I have been to my fair share of council meetings. I have been in packed auditoriums in Azusa with 300 people for meetings about Vulcan Materials Co.’s mining proposal. I have used the wi-fi and watched council members (one in particular) roll their eyes at public speakers in Newport Beach.

I have covered various school board meetings and others.

But there is one thing that stands out in Glendora. When they don’t like a public speaker, they don’t hide it.

Most cities, when they get speakers that are highly critical of the council, will often listen, nod their head and move to the next speaker and/or subject. If anything, they may ask a city staffer to make a note to follow up with some facts or clarification.

In Glendora, you saw a different way of handling things.

Ed Brubaker and Mark Smith are speakers at nearly every council meeting. Brubaker in particular, who spoke first Tuesday, is extremely critical and often insults the council and staff. Whether or not Brubaker’s and Smith’s comments have merit is not something I am discussing here.

But some people in the audience were upset about how Mayor Ken Herman responded with sarcastic remarks following both Brubaker and Smith.

After Brubaker, Herman said “Your inaccuracies are really astounding.”

Following Smith’s remarks, Herman said “Birds of a feather.”

The third speaker, Sharon Green (also a common speaker), took issue with Herman’s comments.

The Ralph M. Brown Act, which sets the law for council meetings, has two applicable parts to what transpired Tuesday.

(2) No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not
appearing on the posted agenda, except that members of a legislative
body or its staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions
posed by persons exercising their public testimony rights under
Section 54954.3. In addition, on their own initiative or in response
to questions posed by the public, a member of a legislative body or
its staff may ask a question for clarification, make a brief
announcement, or make a brief report on his or her own activities.
Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or the body itself,
subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a
reference to staff or other resources for factual information,
request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting
concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a
matter of business on a future agenda.

(c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit
public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services
of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body.
Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection
for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.

Herman doesn’t appear to have violated any rules, but he would probably be better served just letting speakers he disagrees with go on without him chiming in off the cuff. In all fairness, I think anyone would find it difficult not to speak up when you are publicly attacked every two weeks.

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

Azusa dips more than 8 percent in assessor’s annual property roll report

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The county assessor’s office put out its 2010 Annual Report you can read for yourself.

But if you are busy with work, the kids, or are just being lazy reading about lazy, slacker movie characters wearing hoodies played by Michael Cera, then here are some highlights of the report.

What stood out to me and others in the newsroom is the considerable drop in overall value for Azusa properties – a whopping -8.5 percent. That is compared to a -1.5 percent drop in Baldwin Park, a -2.1 percent decline in El Monte, -0.3 percent in neighboring Duarte, and for opposite side neighbor (the right side for the map viewing audience) Glendora a -0.8 percent drop.

Other notable drops was -6.8 percent for Inglewood (also pronounced IngleWOOD), -14.4 percent for Lancaster, -12 percent for Palmdale, -7.8 percent for Downey and an uptick of 4.4 percent for Arcadia.

Overall there was a $18.5 billion decline (Holy crap, I think i just swallowed my tongue. Wait…yep, I swallowed my tongue) which computes to about -1.7 percent (oh, well that doesn’t seem so bad if you say it that way. I am feeling more sprite. Maybe I’ll go running. Oh yeah, it is 270 degrees outside).

UPDATE: I realize some of you might be a wee bit confused or at least not up to date on your property tax/value laws and meanings. If you need some background reading to understand the significance of the report, go here.

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

A tale of two letters: Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers vs. employee association’s Wendell Phillips

In tomorrow’s paper there will be a story on the failed negotiations between Glendora city staff and the general municipal employees association and how it will now be incumbent upon the council to make a decision Tuesday night.

The two groups have been going at it for months now, and it doesn’t appear that the attorney for the employees association Wendell Phillips and Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers get along very well.

While the pair have traded subtle barbs at each other in articles in the newspaper and with the way negotiations turned out, those don’t seem to have been tea and crumpets type meetings either.

Now we have two letters, both sent to Glendora employees, one from Jeffers, one from Phillips, at the apex of this battle.

Take a look and tell me what you think. Phillips’ letter is decidedly more aggressive and is a rebuttal to Jeffers. It goes as far as to call Jeffers petulant.

Jeffers letter has a political tone. It paints a picture of today’s environment for public employees, is trying to sway opinion in favor of the city’s efforts, and makes a case that the employees association’s negotiators are being unreasonable.

Both seem to use taxpayer angry against public officials/employees to their advantage.

What do you think? Who makes the better argument?

FYI: Both letters were obtained anonymously, but were both confirmed to exist by Jeffers and Phillips.

Glendora Chris Jeffers letter.doc
Glendora employees association attorney letter.doc

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

Glendora to vote on dissolving Traffic and Safety Commission due to lack of interest

Remember when I wrote about city commissions and committees, the necessity of them and the interest (or lack thereof) from community volunteers to apply for them. You don’t? Well, read it here.

Anyway, it looks as if Glendora will be dissolving one of its commissions Monday night at the City Council meeting.

They have not had enough applications to fill the five positions for the Traffic and Safety Commission so they will vote to dissolve it tonight. In fact, since its inception in 2007, the commission has remained vacant, according to city documents.

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

Going beyond the check-out line: Glendora Albertsons’ store manager receives industry honor

Got this e-mail Albertsons about a Glendora store director Kathy McClard.

Apparently she received the honor of being named one of the “Top Women in Grocery” by industry trade magazine “Progressive Grocer.”

She received the nomination through her leadership and influence, according to the news release.

I don’t mean to take away from McClard’s accomplishments – I am sure she is proud of the acknowledgment and her hard work – but I had no idea this kind of stuff existed.

Here is an excerpt from the release.

FULLERTON, CA (July 13, 2010) – ALBERTSONS/SUPERVALU announced today that Glendora ALBERTSONS Store Director, Kathy McClard was named to Progressive Grocer’s fourth annual “Top Women in Grocery” listing for her outstanding efforts, involvement, leadership and success in the supermarket industry.

McClard is one of seven women to represent SUPERVALU, ALBERTSONS parent company, on this year’s distinguished list. She was honored in the Store Manager category. Progressive Grocer is a leading grocery industry trade magazine. All of its honorees were profiled in their June 2010 issue.

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

Interest in Glendora commissions, committees remains limited

Remember when I told you about Glendora’s issues with getting volunteers for come of its city’s commissions and committees? It is OK if you don’t, I got the link for you right here so you can eagerly get the background before reading on.

Waiting…

Go ahead….

Not long now….

Ready?

OK, so out of the 17 vacancies the city had, they are now interviewing eight people to fill positions.

So, the question still lingers: What should a city do when these commissions/committees see lack of interest? Can they still perform a needed advisory role with limited community involvement?

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

Glendora department directors try to lead by example

In an effort to save money, cut the budget, and show their willingness to make the same sacrifices they are asking of employees, Glendora department directors voluntarily agreed to pay an 8 percent employee share of their retirement benefits.

The restructured payment was approved Tuesday and will take affect in July.

The 8 percent is the maximum amount allowed for an employee to pay into the PERS retirement system, according to the staff report.

According to the staff report, “These individuals want to lead by example and are committed to being part of the solution to ensure the health and stability of the city organization.”

The city estimates this will save $68,000 in the next fiscal year, according to the staff report.

The department directors include City Manager Chris Jeffers, Deputy City Manager Brenda Fischer, Finance Director Josh Betta, City Clerk Kathleen Sessman, Director of Community Services La Shawn Butler, Director of Planning and Redevelopment Jeff Kugel, Director of Public Works Dave Davies, and Library Director Robin Weed-Brown.

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

Davis named district’s Woman of the Year

Assemblyman Anthony Adams, in dire need of some positive press after he has taken a beating on the state budget from fellow Republicans, has named Glendora Mayor Karen Davis the Woman of the Year for the 59th Assembly District.

Davis just won reelection in Glendora as the highest total vote getter in that election. It was her first bid for reelection since being first elected in 2005.

Davis is also a Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Glendora.

Release to follow:

ASSEMBLYMAN ADAMS HONORS MAYOR KAREN DAVIS

AS 59TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT WOMAN OF THE YEAR

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia) today honored Karen Davis as the 2009 Woman of the Year for the 59th Assembly District during a special Assembly ceremony at the State Capitol. Davis currently serves as Mayor of the City of Glendora and has been a Pastor at First Christian Church for over 15 years.

“Karen has shown extraordinary leadership within her community that extends far beyond her civil service as the City’s mayor,” said Adams. “She leads by example through her philanthropy and inspires others to engage in and participate in their community. I appreciate all that she does to make the City of Glendora and California a better place to live.”

Davis was elected to the Glendora City Council in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, currently serving as the City’s Mayor. She has been involved in many youth programs and committees including the Glendorans for Drug Free Youth and the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth. She helped organize the Community Forum on Teen Drug Abuse, Teen Violence & Tolerance and has been serving as volunteer chaplain for the Glendora Police Department since 2002. She is past president of the Glendora Community Coordinating Council, receiving the Humanitarian Award in 2001 and received the YWCA Women of Achievement award in 2005. In addition, she has organized and participated in numerous philanthropic activities and events with various churches within the community.

“I’m very humbled and appreciative of having this honor bestowed upon me,” said Davis. “I encourage women and men alike to always give their best and serve their community with pride.”

Held annually, the Woman of the Year ceremony celebrates California’s extraordinary women. Started in 1987 to help commemorate Women’s History Month, the event has become one of the Capitol’s most anticipated celebrations of community service each year. Honorees are presented with a certificate from the State Assembly recognizing their outstanding contributions to their community during a special ceremony in the Assembly chambers.

A sign of the times?

A story I wrote came out in the paper today about the Elwood Family Apartments in Glendora that offer some affordable housing as part of their complex.

Often when I write about businesses or things like that, I could some phone calls from people thinking I represent the business. Nothing unusual. I just take the phone calls and point them in the right direction.

But I have had a large response to this story, with more than the usual phone calls asking me about the complex and calling with interest.

It seems there are a lot of people out there who are interested in affordable or low-income housing. Could it be a sign of the tough times out there? Likely.

Unfortunately, the complex is already at more than 50 percent capacity and was already reviewing numerous applications for apartments. Now, with the story they may be fielding more interest than they can accommodate.

So, if Glendora or any other city is thinking about getting a low-income housing project going, know this: The demand is there.