4 in running for 2 seats on La Puente council


There are two open seats in La Puente’s November City Council race, and only four people running.

Incumbents Lola Storing and Louie Lujan will face former Councilwoman Renee Chavez and former council hopeful David Argudo in the Nov. 3 election. Lujan is currently under investigation by the District Attorney’s office over allegations of campaign finance violations. 

Moving on to Argudo — he’s a business owner and La Puente High School graduate. He ran for council in 2007, but lost to Councilman John Solis by just 27 votes.

He sent this press release out earlier this week —

ARGUDO release.doc

Then there’s Chavez, who fought to keep her seat on the council in 2007, but also lost coming in at 94 votes behind Solis. Chavez also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic ticket for the 57th Assembly District seat in 2006, but lost to Ed Hernandez. At the time, she was trying to fill the seat being vacated by her husband, Ed Chavez, who was termed out.

Should be an interesting race.

Dyers make an appearance in court

Joseph Dyer and his wife were in court today in connection with an embezzlement case involving the city of La Puente.

Dyer, 53, was indicted last month on charges of grand theft, embezzlement, crimes by a public officer and five counts of filing false tax returns.

He is accused of stealing $501,747.91 in tow fees from La Puente between 2001 to 2007

Dyer’s wife, Lydia, was also indicted on five counts of filing false tax returns, based on allegations she knew about the false money but failed to report on their joint tax returns.

The couple went before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley for a pre-trial conference. They were ordered to return to court on Oct. 19 to set a trial date.

Both were present with their attorneys. Alan Baum is representing Joseph Dyer and Mark Waecker is representing Lydia Dyer.

Both Dyers declined to comment.

Their attorneys didn’t say much either — they seemed like they were in a hurry to get copies of the grand jury transcripts from the 13th floor of the courthouse. That being said, if they did in fact pick up those copies today, the transcripts will be available to the public in 10 days.

Speaking of La Puente …

Now retired Industry Sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Dyer is due in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday for a pre-trial conference.

Dyer is accused of embezzling $500,000 in towing fees from the city of La Puente over the course of several years. He was indicted in July on charges of grand theft, embezzlement, crimes by a public officer and five counts of filing false tax returns.

Also charged in the same indictment was Dyer’s wife, Lydia, on five counts of filing false tax returns based on allegations she knew about the alleged stolen money and didn’t claim it.

Lydia Dyer will also be in court on Tuesday. The hearing is supposed to be pretty bland – setting dates and such, according to the Dyers’ attorney.

But it’ll be our first opportunity at meeting couple – all other attempts, including visits to their Chino home, have been unsuccessful.

Hernandez off the hook in Lujan investigation


Looks like the District Attorney’s Office isn’t going to need Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, in their case against La Puente Mayor Louie Lujan.

Hernandez’s staff was contacted about two weeks ago about setting up a tentative meeting between him and the District Attorney’s office. The meeting had to do with a Dec. 4 campaign fundraiser Hernandez attended in Lujan’s honor.

The fundraiser is now the focal point of a campaign finance violation case against Lujan, in which Lujan is accused of collecting donations but not reporting them. Lujan has said that there were errors in his campaign finance forms, that he has since reformed.

Hernandez said his staff initially set the meeting for Aug. 3, a day before former water board member Leon Garcia was supposed to testify in front of a grand jury in the same case.

But shortly after setting the date, Hernandez said the DA’s office called back and said they didn’t need him anymore.

I put in a few calls to Garcia last week to follow up on his subpoena before the grand jury, but haven’t yet heard back.

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La Puente employees to take furloughs

All La Puente city employees are being forced to take two furlough days a month over the next year in an effort to offset growing revenue losses.

The furloughs — which will amount to a 10 percent annual wage cut — were approved last week and are effective immediately for the city’s roughly 30 part-time and full-time employees.

They will also lose their 3 percent cost of living increase for this fiscal year, which began July 1 and ends June 30.

City officials said while they understand the economic impacts of such a wage reduction to its employees, they also are doing what they can to weather an economic downturn that’s ravaged city revenues.

Officials initially planned to implement 15 percent pay cuts across the board for its employees. But after negotiations with the union, they came back with the furlough option.

The union countered with its own concessions — they agreed to accept the twice-a-month furloughs, but asked the city only forego employees’ cost of living increases for six months.

Jason Elias, a lead work site organizer for Local 721, said the city would have only needed to save $28,000 to give employees a 3 percent raise for the last six months of the fiscal year.

“If by November, we couldn’t find that $28,000 then would have agreed to forego our raise for the rest of the year,” Elias said. “But they wouldn’t budge on their negotiations. They weren’t willing to work with the employees.”

Mayor Louie Lujan said he would have liked to go with the union’s option, but he lacked enough council support.

“What they were asking for was not unreasonable,” Lujan said.

In order to implement the current furloughs, City Hall will be closed every Friday versus on alternating Fridays.

Employees at the city’s maintenance yard, the senior center, the community center and the youth activities learning center will alternate their furloughs on Mondays and Fridays so that those facilities can stay open five days a week.

Councilwoman Lola Storing said while the union may not be happy with the city’s final decision, the employees are.

Elias said the employees are willing to make sacrifices, but “nobody is happy.” He also pointed to interim City Manager Frank Tripepi’s unwillingness to negotiate with the union.

Home of La Puente Councilman searchd by D.A.’s office this morning

From Reporter Tania Chatila…

LA PUENTE – Investigators from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office served search warrants today at the home of La Puente City Councilman Louie A. Lujan and his campaign treasurer.

Spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the warrants were executed at the homes of Lujan and Carmen Torres as part of a criminal investigation. Specifics of the investigation were not immediately available.

Various campaign records were seized, including checks, Gibbons said.

The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division is leading the probe.

Lujan did not immediately respond to a message left for him early this afternoon.

Lujan was first elected to the City Council in March 2001.

La Puente Councilman


La Puente wants to crack down on sex offenders

Here’s a few graphs of a story I wrote to run in Tuesday’s paper about La Puente wanting to tighten rules on where sex offenders can live:

The City Council will vote tonight on whether to approve regulations further limiting where sex crime convicts can live.

Among the proposed regulations are prohibiting more than one registered sex offender from living in a multi-family dwelling or a hotel, and expanding state laws that already prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.

There are currently 136 sex offenders registered in La Puente, according to state records.

“I think it’s time we put this on the books,” Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza said, “to let people know that this is something we’re going to be watching out for, for the safety of our children and for any victims and for any families that will be moving in.”

In 2006, California voters passed Proposition 83, more commonly known as Jessica’s Law, which requires sex offenders to register their addresses with law enforcement and bans them from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.

In La Puente, if approved, in addition to parks and schools this ordinance would also make it illegal for sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of open space, trails and child care centers.

There’s been a lot of debate on whether Jessica’s Law – and these tougher city ordinances – essentially restrict sex offendres from living anywhere once they finishing serving time. What do you think? Are these ordinances too restrictive or just right?


Earth Day in La Puente

Louie Lujan is circulating this e-mail about the success of La Puente’s Earth Day celebration:

The City of La Puente’s Earth Day 2009 was a huge success!

Over 400 volunteers cleaned over 10,000 linear feet and 20,000 square feet
of graffiti removal throughout the City. Over 500 trash bags and 3 large
dumpsters were filled.

A press release about it can be viewed here.

Back to her roots


Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will be returning to her alma mater on Saturday — La Puente High School — to talk to community members about education and her accomplishments.

Solis is the first Hispanic Labor Secretary and the first Latina cabinet member of any presidential administration. She also has deep roots in the SGV, as a graduate of local secondary schools and colleges.

It should be a big turnout. Wonder if any of the dozen people running for her former Congressional seat will be there?